Our services include moms from pregnancy (pickle cravings) to post menopause
(prunes for regularity). There is a REASON behind the food we crave.

Laid-Back Breastfeeding, a Lesson Learned.

By Jen Jester, Birth Educator & Doula

In the dark, quiet of a hospital room I learned a valuable lesson at my most recent birth.  On this occasion, my lesson was given by an amazing doctor whom I will refer to as Dr. X. I am entering into the “seasoned” portion of my doula career, and I have realized that I always have something to learn from each birth.

This particular learning experience actually had nothing to do with birth.  This lesson was about breastfeeding and patience. 

Allowing the mother, encouraging her, to stop “doing” and start trusting – That is one of many things that I do for my clients during their labor and birth.  “Stop thinking. Allow your body to do its work,” I might say.  But, I lost that mentality regarding breastfeeding somewhere along my path as a doula who works largely in a hospital setting.

Although I know the benefits/advantages/necessity of “Laid-back Breastfeeding”, it escaped my practice with mothers.  I teach it in my birth classes, yet I have ceased to encourage the practice with my clients.

WHY? Well, in the hospital births that I’ve participated in – even the most “natural” births – the baby is usually placed on the mother’s abdomen for “immediate” breastfeeding. *And they mean it!*  I learned early on that if I didn’t dig in and help that mother latch her baby on right away, a nurse in the room would assume my incompetence, roll her eyes, grab the baby and a breast, and set to teaching that kid how to latch on.  She’d typically lay the baby horizontally across the mother in the “cradle” position, grab the mother’s breast, and force the baby to nurse by encouraging it to open its mouth, then shoving the mother’s breast in.  This was contradictory to the education that I had and the reading I had done, but most of the time it worked and everyone was happy.  The nurses are really good at and trained to get their tasks completed within a prescribed period of time for each patient in a very effective and methodical manner.

  • Baby latched on? Check!
  • Mom nursing immediately? Check!
  • Countdown to postpartum floor admission?  Check!
  • Countdown to newborn procedures? Check!

So, I learned to jump in BEFORE the nurse, and get that baby latched on!  My clients were paying me to help them breastfeed after all.  I wouldn’t want them to think I’m falling down on the job, right?  Well, I believe my actions actually did my clients a disservice.  I knew in my heart I wasn’t doing the best for mom and baby, or that initial breastfeeding could have been a better, more natural experience, but I felt limited or trapped by the system around me.  Imagine how my clients felt.  Perhaps they didn’t think twice about the “help” the nurses or I were giving them.  So it was.  I was a cog.  I would get to help the mother breastfeed before the nurses.  Healthy attitude, right?  Not. At. All.

BUT, what if breastfeeding doesn’t magically happen within our postpartum time frame of one hour?  What about those babies who don’t like to be force fed?  I have seen this play out, and it usually results in a crying baby, a crying mother, and feelings of inadequacy. Sometimes the baby is carted off to the nursery traumatized and hungry for newborn procedures.

At one point, I decided to only encourage “laid-back breastfeeding” with my clients that were new mothers; to help set the stage for their future breastfeeding experiences with subsequent children.  They had no breastfeeding baggage.  I quickly dropped that when at a homebirth the midwife poo-poohed my laid-back breastfeeding “idea”.  She watched the baby working hard to get to the breast, and then jumped right in with the scenario I described above.  I felt foolish. Was I losing my mind?  Did no other birth professional know about laid-back breastfeeding?  Was I wasting valuable bonding time?  I wonder if the laid-back approach was just taking too long for these professionals’ comfort.  I wonder if they truly thought the baby was struggling unnecessarily with its head bobbing as it made its way toward the breast.  Perhaps it makes them uncomfortable.

With my clients that have nursed previously, I resigned to letting them choose their method of newborn nursing.  They have wisdom, right?  I didn’t consider that perhaps these mothers did not learn laid-back breastfeeding, or that it had been so long since they had a newborn to the breast that they may not recall the best way to handle this tiny new baby.  I saw most of these moms holding their newborn like a 6 month old veteran nurser.

So it was for my most recent birth.  I was aiding this mother in the delivery of her third child, a daughter, in a quiet hospital room.  The doctor quietly encouraged this mother to follow her body’s instincts for labor and birth.  There was no rush.  No bright lights.  No noise.  An already unfamiliar scene at the hospital, but it felt right.  The room was filled with love and encouragement for this mother.  She was surrounded by a team of 4; the father (feeling comfortable enough for the first time to watch his wife deliver their baby!), her nurse (following the doctor’s cues to be respectful, quiet and hands off), me (at the mother’s head giving hushed encouragement and physical support), and Dr. X.

What was Dr. X doing?  Nothing.

Well, she was really doing something by “doing” nothing.  She was observing; keeping a watchful eye. She knew this woman would deliver her baby just as she needed to.  She trusted the baby would find the right position, like a key in a lock, as she descended down her mother’s canal.  Patience.  Dr. X applied a warm compress and a soft voice when needed.  Not my typical delivery experience.

You may know what I’m referring to:  Although I try to encourage the staff to follow my clients’ wishes, the nurse continually checks the mother’s cervix as the mom continues to feel “pushy”.  Doctors, nurses, residents flood the room with lights, noises, loud talking, wheeling in equipment, and everyone in the room is instructing the woman just how and when to push while they watch the monitor.  Alas, routine care pervades.   Patient wishes, and an ancient wisdom are dismissed. Pressure.  Direction.  Passive process.

Not this time!

Back to our unusual scene:

The baby girl is born over an intact perineum and placed on her mother.  Baby is assessed and nursing can commence!  Since this mother has 2 other children, I wait and see how she does on her own with breastfeeding.  She struggles with the baby as she cradles her and manipulates her breast into her mouth without any cues from the child.  The baby cries.  I quickly glance at the nurse, and then jump in to the “rescue”.  I ask, “Would you like some help?” “Yes!” the mother replies.  I help calm the baby and massage the mother’s breast to encourage colostrum to the nipple.  I tickle the baby’s face with the nipple several times and wait for a nice gape.  I roll the mother’s breast into the baby’s mouth.  Baby lets go.  We repeat.  Baby lets go.  Repeat, again.  With the breast in her mouth, baby closes her eyes and stays still, uninterested.  Mom is frustrated. Dr. X – patiently watching this whole scene – gently says something like, “You know, there is something called the breast crawl that I’ve seen where the baby is placed on the mother’s chest, and finds its way to the breast, and attaches itself when it’s ready.  Want to try that?”

Of course! She’s right.  I snap out of it and everything I know spills into my conscious mind.  I step back.  No pulling, pushing or manipulating of body parts.  We adjust the baby vertically between the mother’s breasts.  I watch the ancient magic happen.  I “do” nothing.  The little one acts on instinct kicking her legs, crawling, smelling, reaching, bobbing.  All is done without instruction – without “help”.

The mother looks at me and asks, “Can I help her?”  “Sure”, I say, and I show her how to guide (not force) her to the breast.  Success!  The baby latches on, and actively suckles.  The mother releases a big sigh and melts into the bed.  She lovingly beholds her daughter.

I am surprised at the tension in my body at this time.  My shoulders.  My breath.  I had been poised and ready for action that was not helpful or necessary.  Dr. X sat and watched with a knowing look.  She reminded me that I should still help mothers nurse in a laid-back style no matter if it’s their first baby or their sixth.  She also reminded me that birth and breastfeeding in the hospital (with proper leadership and respect) can be mother-led and beautiful.  I am thankful to her for jolting me out of my hospital routine.  We need more doctors like Dr. X.  And, I need to be a doula that remembers that “doing” or helping with breastfeeding as well as birth,  is sometimes doing nothing.

Lesson:  On most occasions, letting the baby exhibit its ancient wisdom is exactly what the doctor ordered.

Guidelines for laid-back breastfeeding: Download pdf here, from the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding

Laid- back breastfeeding,  or Biological Nurturing, means getting

comfortable with your baby and encouraging your own and your baby’s

natural breastfeeding instincts. See biologicalnurturing.com for further


  •  Dress yourself and your baby as you choose.
  •  Find a bed or couch where you can lean back and be well  supported— not ?at, but comfortably leaning back so that when you put your baby on your chest, gravity will keep him in position with his body molded to yours.
  •  Have your head and shoulders well supported. Let your baby’s whole front touch your whole front.
  •  Since you’re leaning back, you don’t have a lap, so your baby can rest on you in any position you like. Just make sure her whole front is against you.
  •  Let your baby’s cheek rest somewhere near your bare breast.
  •  Help her as much as you like; help her do what she’s trying to do. You’re a team.
  •  Hold your breast or not, as you like
  •  Relax and enjoy each other.

Laid-back nursing Video here: http://www.biologicalnurturing.com/video/bn3clip.html

Breast crawl video Here:


Heart Rate Zones & Pregnancy

By Joy Holdmeier, CPT

Is there a heart rate zone we should stay within while pregnant? Have you heard you should keep your heart rate below 140?

This used to be the rule…..back in 1985! The guidelines have since changed. Would you think a marathon runner and a sedentary person should workout at the same heart rate? It’s crazy to suggest that all pregnant women work out at the same intensity. We all have different resting heart rates, therefore we all have different target heart rate zones.

New guidelines do not suggest measuring intensity by heart rate at all. Our heart rate and blood volume changes throughout pregnancy, so it’s hard to determine where you should be. Instead the American Council on Exercise suggests using the Rate of Perceived Exertion scale.

How do you use Rate of Perceived Exertion?

This is a scale of 1-10 with 1 being no effort at all (sitting) and 10 being all out effort (barely able breath)! It is suggested to work between 5 and 8. You can also use the talk test. You should be able to carry on a conversation while working out. If you are unable to talk, you are working too hard.

Remember, the rating of your exertion should be completely independent of the pace you think you are walking; it is dependent solely on the feelings caused by the exertion. Increase the pace to a run and add a hill and you could work your way up to a 10 on the scale.[1]

Of course always follow your physician’s guidelines, especially if you are high risk and do what feels good to you. You know your body best!

[1] http://www.acefitness.org/fitfacts/fitfacts_display.aspx?itemid=2579

Anti-Inflammatory Thanksgiving? You can do it!

by Ashley Nanney, Professional & Boutique Chef

What if this year, Thanksgiving dinner left you feeling relaxed and energized? Just thinking about a delicious Thanksgiving feast makes my mouth water.  It’s brilliant really.  The savory flavors of fall balanced perfectly with sweet soul soothing desserts.

From a culinary perspective, its the perfect storm.  From our bodies perspective, I have to admit, it is a little less perfect.

According to Nutritiondata.self.com, many of our thanksgiving favorites may be increasing inflammation in our system and leaving us feeling tired, and inflamed.  The increased stress (good and bad) many people feel around the holidays, also contributes to the problem by increasing our cortisol levels.  The combination leaves us feeling a little sick and tired.

Don’t worry, I am not about to take your Thanksgiving away!  By making a few shifts in your holiday meal preparation, you can enjoy the flavors of your holiday favorites, and actually decrease the inflammation in your body!

Consider switching your inflammatory mashed potatoes to a delicious mashed cauliflower.  I know what you might be thinking, but trust me.  We trick even the pickiest of pallets with this recipe.  It is creamy, delicious and it is anti-inflammatory.

Mashed Cauliflower

  • 1 head fresh cauliflower
  • 4 cups chicken stock (this is the trick to delicious flavor)
  • ¼ tsp white pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed (or to taste)
  • Clarified Butter to taste (if dairy is not an issue for you, feel free to substitute butter)
  1. Cut cauliflower head into smaller chunks of the florets and stem.
  2. Place cauliflower and chicken stock in a medium saucepan or Dutch oven and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium and cover, allowing to cook for 20 minutes or so until the cauliflower is very tender and easily mashed.
  3. “Mash” in food processor with butter, white pepper and garlic.  Be sure not to over process. I think leaving them a little lumpy adds character;)

Inspired, try Google searching “Paleo” recipes for your holiday favorites and you will find a wealth of options.  (See our menu below for inspiration).  Not feeling it this year?

Let Feed Your Vitality do the work for you by preparing your favorite side dishes or the entire feast using healthier options.  No work, no stress. For only $199 (plus tax) you can feed ten people an entire feast. 

A Delicious Feast For Family & Friends Ready To Heat & Enjoy!
Pick-Up Or Delivery*
Wednesday, November 21st 2012

ROASTED TURKEY BREAST Perfectly seasoned & sliced
1 each of the following

$199 (serves 10)
All menu items are hand crafted in small batches from the freshest seasonal ingredients.
Ready to heat & serve. Simple & Delicious!
*$10 Delivery Fee Greater St. Louis Area
A La Carte: Items Can Be Ordered Individually Or Added To Complete Thanksgiving Dinner.
$16 per lb.  Roasted Turkey
SIDES (Serve 4-6)
$12 Sweet Potato Pecan Souffle
$16 Fresh Cranberry Compote
$16 Southern Style Green Beans
$18 Roasted Seasoned Brussel Sprouts
$16 Holiday Salad w/ Dried Fruit & Nuts
$12 Spinach Salad w/ Bacon Vinaigrette
$18 Roasted Root Vegetables
$12 Rosemary Roasted Sweet Potatoes
$10 Garlic Cauliflower Mashed “Potatoes”
$20 Living Apple Pie (serves 8)
$20 Walnut Pumpkin Pie (serves 8)


Orders accepted through 10am Monday November 19th, 2012
Pick Up & Deliveries Wednesday November 21st, 2012

Feed Your Vitality, LLC
800 N. Tucker Blvd, Suite 412A St. Louis Mo. 63101
PHONE: 314-910-3324

Product Review: Time Manage your kids & get your sanity back!

by Emily Hecker, DC, CNC

My sister, Amy is the ultimate mom. She has two toddling kids ages 3 (Zachary) and 4.5 (Sophie) who has Turner’s Mosiac Syndrome. She is in therapy with the special school district every Monday for 2 hrs to work on physical and occupational therapy. Amy is a pilot turned massage therapist turned mom who knows a good product when she finds one. This is the first of her product reviews on the “On Task On Time” Timer. Read on..

On Task On Timer timer was awesome!!! I ordered 2 (one for sophie, 4.5 yrs, and one for zachary, 3 yrs) Thur and it came Saturday (yesterday). Today was the first day we used it. It’s worth EVERY PENNY and then some! Sophie and Zachary were dressed and fed in 30 min, even had teeth brushed and shoes and coat on!! We have 2 hrs before church starts, but sophie insists playing before church with her coat on since it was on her On Task On Time Timer and she already did it! Sophie followed it exactly, even ate breakfast which is usually a 45 min nagging session in the morning! She did it in 10 min!! WOW!! Zachary didnt follow it quite as well, but he’s younger and not motivated by reward charts as well as Sophie. But i think over time and as he grows he will get it. He did alright, just wanted to brush his teeth for 45 min instead of the 2 min that I scheduled for him! He will get it, it was his first day. Sophie was a Champ!! I am so glad I got it for her! She was my morning routine problem anyway, so I am glad that is solved! You have to read the Amazon reviews since they give awesome tips. I spaced it out so sophie and zachary were not trying to potty or brush teeth at the same time. It worked well! i just think zachary is a bit young but will get it in time, probably within the month. I am glad I got them and I dont dread mornings anymore!!!

The lady who invented this timer has 4 kids! When her TRIPLETTS were 5 yrs old she needed a solution for morning routines and invented this timer! She deserves the Nobel Peace Prize!!!!!

I am so happy with Sophie that I want to give that lady more than the $49 I paid for it! Can I mail her a tip?!?!? HA!!
She was NOT getting dressed by herself, getting on the potty by her self, putting her coat on herself. She is 4 and half!! Today, she did ALL those things HERSELF!! I cant wait to tell her therapist tomorrow!! I highly recommend this Timer to anyone you know who has kids age 4-12! (well, my husband asked if he could get one for himself….)

Click here for the Product website

Watch the video on how it works:

Click here to read Amazon reviews (and they are awesome and helpful with tips!)

Thyroid Gone Wild!?

by Emily Hecker, DC, CNC

“…My thyroid problems began after I had my first kid.”

How many women do you know have said that? It’s not just coincidence…It’s physiology gone wrong.

Hormones, the immune system and digestive tract are unavoidable. Managing the integrity of these body systems is key to identifying where a thyroid problem began and how to manage it clinically. Here are a few triggers of a pregnancy-induced-thyroid disorder:

Thyroid Trigger 1. Hormones.
While a woman is pregnant, her hormones are changing. There comes a time in pregnancy (around 24 weeks) where the estrogen and progesterone hormones produced by the placenta start a rapid climb and surpass the HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) circulating in moms bloodstream. The estrogens that are produced from the placenta actually are derived from mom’s adrenal glands 1. A rapid fluctuation of estrogen is known to trigger an autoimmune response. Hashimoto’s disease, a common disease of the thyroid is an autoimmune attack on thyroid (TPO) antibodies. A whopping, 5-18% of all pregnant women exhibit elevated thyroid-specific antibodies 2.

Thyroid Trigger 2. Immune system.
During the second trimester of pregnancy, the immune system is TH-2 dominant and postpartum, switches and becomes TH-1 dominant 3. This is important because these shifts in these cells will set off an already stressed out immune system which can lead to postpartum thyroiditis. Supporting the immune system with certain immune modulators as well as avoiding foods that can launch an immune attack are essential. A stressed out immune system is defined as one with bacterial overload, microbial overgrowth, food sensitivity/allergy, chronic infections, other autoimmune diseases, and intestinal permeability.

Thyroid Trigger 3. Digestion
Ice cream, pickles and hot sauce, oh the cravings! Our health care providers express the importance of healthy eating for baby in utero, and pass out a list of foods to avoid while pregnant. Healthy eating is important, however, if one can’t absorb the good, nutritive foods– money, energy and health is lost. One of the first lines of defense against microbes and damaging toxins is the digestive tract. Certain stress hormones thin the protective lining of the stomach. If the integrity is lost, healthy tissue wears away and allows for invaders to enter our bloodstream. The food we eat is representative of the integrity of our digestive tract…usually. Meaning, if we can’t eat certain foods because we are sensitive, allergic or it just ‘causes distress’, our digestive tract is a war zone. It needs repair. An impaired digestion affects the immune system because the protective layer lining the digestive tract is covered with sIgA’s, soldiers of our immune system. Which leads back to #2.

Thyroid problems can be a direct result of a pregnancy. Modulating the digestive, immune, and endocrine systems are the most supportive ways to address a sluggish or overactive thyroid, naturally. Did your thyroid symptoms start postpartum? Are you tired of wondering, “why?”, Are you ready to get some answers?

We can help.

1 Guytons Physiology Unit XIV Chapter 82, Pregnancy and Lactation, p. 1033
2 Datis Kharrazian, 2010 Mastering the Thyroid
3 Thyroid diseases in pregnancy. Curr Opin Obstet Gynecol. 2009 Dec;21(6):501-7.

GO (Grain-Free, Raw) DOG, GO!

by Emily Hecker, DC, CNC

Walk in to any boutique, pet store and you will find all kinds of novelty food for your four-legged love of your life. Most all of them are grain free and now there are more and more raw food products coming available to the consumer. Most dog lovers who frequent these boutique stores know that the best food for your pets are these premium raw dog foods without grain. They know that for dogs who have more allergies, skin irritations, and other symptoms, this food is highly recommended.

Fillers such as wheat, corn, potatoes and rice are all carbohydrates. They break down into glucose and can cause unnatural swings in the your pet’s blood sugar, when it was designed to metabolize fat, not carbohydrates, for energy!

Dr. James Coghlan, DVM states that most of the diseases veterinarians treat on a daily basis are the result of feeding diets that utilize starch carbohydrates as an energy source for metabolism that also results in excessive amount of sugars to metabolize.  Diabetes and Cushings disease is a starch carbohydrate disease that does not at all exist among dogs and cats in the wild.1

These premium dog foods come with a high pricetag as well, about $70.00 for a 30-pound bag. Watch this video for an easy way to make your own dog-food.

Homemade Paleo Pet Food

So why a post about dogs on a mother-focused health blog? Because to realize the damage we do to our human-selves, we need a different perspective to really get the point. If the pet food industry recognizes the immune response that grains are negatively impacting the health of animals, why doesn’t the human food industry recognize it?

Well, it slowly is gaining more acceptance and when people experiment with their diet, they are finding the “paleo” way of eating eliminates potential allergenic food triggers.

Nutrition is extremely important and maybe we can learn a lesson from our pets. To find out more about the paleo diet and lifestyle check out my new favorite (cook)book, Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo.

My point is simple. If we love our animals so much to create a market demand for these premium grain-free foods, why don’t we eat that way too?


Dr. James Coghlan, DVM Www.paleopet.com