Health and medicine

Dealing with postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety

New mother with baby

So many new mothers deal with postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety. In fact, up to one in seven mothers face postpartum depression after birth. On top of that, seventeen percent of mothers (or more, depending on who you ask) experience postpartum anxiety.

But it’s not enough to just assume, “Well, it’s hormones, I’m supposed to feel this way,” and keep carrying on. Yes, it’s true that most mothers experience “baby blues” during the first few weeks after birth, but postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety go deeper than that, and can occur later.

(By the way: Looking for uplifting reminders that you’ve got this parenting thing? Get your free set of empowering mantra cards. Seriously, I use these pretty much every day myself!)

What do you do when you’re overwhelmed by new motherhood?

If you’re reading this looking for help, you need to get support! I talked to my friend, Dr. Marcy Rowland, about the common emotional difficulties that new mothers face and how to get help. Check out the interview below!

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How to take care of yourself postpartum – 6 tips


Congratulations on your new baby! If you’re checking this post out, you’ve likely had a lot going on the past few days (or you will soon!)

The adjustment to having a new baby is huge. And while there’s lots of information on how to take care of that precious bundle of joy (in fact, we have a great post on what to expect for the first few weeks of your baby’s life), there’s a lot less out there about how self-care for new moms.

And frankly, that sucks. Your body and mind deserve better. If nothing else, your baby deserves for his mother to be treated better.

There’s a lot to cover on postpartum care! Of course, there’s the down-and-dirty, practical things to discuss (it’s not very often on this site that I’ll be talking about pooping, but today’s the day!), as well as more sensitive topics about mental health and relationships with others.

Let’s talk about what to expect after childbirth and what should be done to take care of you. You matter too. Continue Reading

Elderberries during cold and flu season

elderberry syrup


 

Despite us all being immunized, we had the flu run rampant through our house for the first time earlier this year.  I even missed my first day of class because all I could do was sleep, shuffle to the couch to take my temperature, drink a little chicken stock, shuffle back to bed, and repeat. It was especially scary when my kids got it since at the time my youngest was under a year old, but thank God the symptoms were nothing more serious than the general suckiness that is fever, achiness, and fatigue caused by flu.

When our family first started getting hit with the flu, we took a kid (whichever was sick first; it’s all a blur now) to a clinic (because of course she got sick on a weekend).  They did a test to tell us that yep, she had the flu and asked if we were interested in Tamiflu.

I’m not averse to medicine.  I’m a chemist, and I know that there are so many new drugs that can save lives.  But we asked the doctor how Tamiflu would benefit our child before we agreed.  We were told that the treatment would shave about 12-24 hours off the course of illness, and that there were side effects associated with the drug such as nausea and vomiting or (very rarely) even mental and behavioral effects.  The risks didn’t seem worth it to only take a day off of the illness, so we decided to forgo that route.

I started researching natural remedies and preventative measures we could take to avoid getting sick and to shorten illnesses with fewer side effects.  And by research, I mean I asked Dr. Google.  I found a lot of people recommending elderberries to boost the immune system.

What I read sounded promising, but I couldn’t help but wonder,  Is this legit, or is it just hype? After all, “natural” doesn’t always mean “effective” and sometimes is actually dangerous.  So I decided to deepen my search and see what I could find in the scientific literature about elderberry use. (more…)

Living with diastasis recti (aka, Nope, I’m not pregnant)

newborn baby and mother

***Sign up for a link to a video containing exercises designed to heal your diastasis recti!***

About a year and a half ago, I was at an obligatory social function, but having a nice enough time.  I sat down with some people, made pleasant small talk, and sat through a presentation.  Afterwards, the man beside me turned and said, “Now, I know you’re never supposed to ask this of a woman…”

I turned and brightly said, “Yes?”  I had no clue what was coming.

“…But how far along are you?” (more…)

Dangers of teething meds

Teething sucks.  There, I said it.

And it basically never ends, right?  From when they’re about six months old (earlier, if you’re unlucky!) until they’re at least two and a half, there’s always a tooth that’s about to come through, a tooth coming through, or at tooth that just came through.

On the plus side, you always have an excuse for whatever socially-unacceptable behavior your child exhibits (Oh, sorry he doesn’t want to go to you, Auntie Em, he’s teething).

Teething means that for at least two years, you can be woken up any night, at any time, any number of times, by a crying, fussing baby.  And sleepy parents are not happy parents.  So we’re desperate to just make it stop.  Which means we’re susceptible to endless marketing aiming to get us to buy whatever might get them to just go to sleep.

With this in mind, we’ll look at several remedies, both currently in use and recently pulled from US shelves, and determine what can be helpful, what isn’t helpful, and what is potentially harmful. Continue Reading

What is chlorpyrifos and how can it hurt my child?

organic fruit

In part I of this post, we talked about how to protect your kids from pesticides in foods.  That’s about to get easier for us!

If you’ve been keeping up with the news, you may have heard that it has been mandated that the US bans chlorpyrifos.  Whether you know it or not, this is fantastic news for all of us, but especially children!  As someone who has actually done research on this pesticide during my Ph.D. work, let me explain why.

Chlorpyrifos is one of many pesticides in the organophosphate class.  Originally, organophosphates (OPs) weren’t pesticides, they were nerve agents developed by the Germans during WWII (ever heard of Sarin?).  After the war, OPs were tamed a little by changing their chemical structures, and they began to be used as pesticides.

We used them unchecked for decades both on crops and as pest control in homes and lawns.  In the 90’s, we realized we needed to update regulations on pesticides, so the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996 was instated.  This law required that, in order for pesticides to be allowed, there needed to be “reasonable certainty of no harm” and it called for a special focus on children’s health, since children are more susceptible to pesticides than adults.  (more…)