Placenta Encapsulation... What you Need to Know.

Consuming your placenta postpartum can balance your hormones after birth, boost your mood and your energy, increase your milk production and help to restore your iron levels.
— Napa Valley Midwives
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Why Encapsulate?

“Baby blues” is a common occurrence – 80% of mothers experience it in the first days and weeks after giving birth.  Because it is so common, nothing is typically done about it until it worsens into a diagnosis of postpartum depression, at which time anti-depressants may be prescribed.  Anti-depressants, like almost all drugs, are passed to the baby through breastmilk, and mothers who don’t want to expose their babies to these medications are often faced with the decision to either stop breastfeeding or struggle with depression.  Women suffer through the baby blues almost as a rite of passage to motherhood – but it doesn’t have to be this way.

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Placentophagy, or consumption of the placenta, has been reported for decades to help stop the baby blues and diminish postpartum fatigue.  Some women have cooked the placenta in a stew, mixed it into a smoothie, or even taken it raw to tap into its powerful effects. For many who feel squeamish about this or want to reap the benefits of placenta for more than just a day or two, there is another option: encapsulation.  The placenta can be dried, ground, and encapsulated. The capsules can then be taken daily for a number of weeks. Powdered placenta has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries.  In the postpartum period, placenta capsules have been shown to:

  • Balance hormones

  • Increase and enrich breastmilk

  • Increase energy

  • Decrease baby blues and postpartum depression

  • Decrease lochia, postpartum bleeding

  • Decrease iron deficiency

  • Decrease insomnia or sleep disorders

  • Decreases postpartum “night sweats”

Placentas are rare and powerful – make the best use of the ONE available. Encapsulation is by far the optimum choice for ingestion and preservation.

Your placenta is picked up from your place of birth and returned to you in 3 days.

Your placenta is picked up from your place of birth and returned to you in 3 days.

The Placentas Healing Chemicals:

The known ingredients that give the placenta its healing properties are:

  • Gonadotrophin – the precursor to estrogen, progesterone and testosterone

  • Prolactin – promotes lactation

  • Oxytocin – for pain and bonding; produced during breastfeeding to facilitate bonding    of mother and infant. In pharmaceutical form this is a very addictive drug because it promotes a feeling of connectedness with others and is often referred to as the “love” hormone

  • Interferon – stimulates the immune system to protect against infection

  • Thyroid Stimulating Hormone –  boosts energy and helps recover from stressful events

  • Cortisone – combats stress and unlocks stores of energy

  • Prostaglandins – anti-inflammatory

  • Hemoglobin – replenishes iron deficiency and anemia

  • Gammaglobulin –  immune booster that helps protect against postpartum infections

  • Urokinase Inhibiting Factor & Factor XIII – stops bleeding and enhances wound healing

The placenta is full of feel-good hormones and healing chemicals, so it makes sense to safely welcome them back into your system during your postpartum period, in order to have a happy babymoon.


Methods of Encapsulation

  • RAW

  • TRADITIONAL CHINESE (TCM) METHOD

  • TINCTURE

  • SMOOTHIES

Napa Valley Midwives & Doulas have perfected the placenta encapsulation process to make it as seamless as possible for our clients. We allow our clients to pick from both the Traditional Chinese medicine and raw method of encapsulation.

Raw Method

With the raw method of encapsulation the placenta is also cleaned, sliced and dehydrated, ground into a powder and then placed into (vegan) capsules. As a result of being dehydrated at a lower temperature and not steamed the raw method capsules can have a more potent effect on energy levels.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TMC) Method

With the TCM method of encapsulation the placenta is cleaned, steamed, dehydrated, and then ground before being placed into (vegan) capsules. With the traditional Chinese medicine method pills can be stored indefinitely for help with hormone balancing later in life as well as early postpartum.

Why You Should Hire a Doula!

Napa Valley Midwives doulas have an outstanding relationship and good rapport with the local hospitals and staff, ensuring that your transition to the hospital will be smooth and pleasant. Women supported by a doula have approximately a 60% reduction in epidural requests.

Doulas provide loving support throughout your labor and birth.

The Benefits of Hiring a Doula

  • Fewer medical complications/interventions

  • Collaborative Prenatal Care during meetings in which we co-create a birth plan

  • Access to our expertise and knowledge base of information regarding pregnancy, labor and birth.

  • Resource lists and shared tools such as  books, podcasts, DVDs, websites, groups, and pertinent organizations,

  • Reduced Cesarean rates.

  • Fewer requests for pain medications.

  • Less likely to have postpartum depression.

  • Reduced use of episiotomies.

  • Continuous labor, delivery & postpartum emotional and physical support, in your home or other birth location (birthing center, hospital etc).

  • Postpartum emotional support

  • Assistance with breastfeeding

  • Postpartum home visits

  • More time with your partner to bond together and with the baby.

  • Mother is able to bond with baby more easily and views birth as a positive experience. 

  • Less need for medications to speed labor.

  • Lowers anxiety, stress & pain for mom, baby and partner.

  • Reduced need for forceps/vacuum extractor.

  • Increased confidence in the birth process, one's self and in partner's support.

  • Higher success rate in breastfeeding, latching and bonding with baby.

  • Increased satisfaction with overall birth experience.

  • Reduced rates of Postpartum anxiety

  • Continuity in care through the pregnancy, prenatal, labor, birth and postpartum period.

Doulas learning the art of Rebozo in Guatemala. A traditional technique used to reposition the baby and alleviate pain in labor.

Doulas learning the art of Rebozo in Guatemala. A traditional technique used to reposition the baby and alleviate pain in labor.

The Benefits of Doula Support for Other Parent / Partner:

The Benefits of Hiring a Doula

  • Fewer medical complications/interventions

  • Collaborative Prenatal Care during meetings in which we co-create a birth plan

  • Access to our expertise and knowledge base of information regarding pregnancy, labor and birth.

  • Resource lists and shared tools such as  books, podcasts, DVDs, websites, groups, and pertinent organizations,

  • Reduced Cesarean rates.

  • Fewer requests for pain medications.

  • Less likely to have postpartum depression.

  • Reduced use of episiotomies.

  • Continuous labor, delivery & postpartum emotional and physical support, in your home or other birth location (birthing center, hospital etc).

  • Postpartum emotional support

  • Assistance with breastfeeding

  • Postpartum home visits

  • More time with your partner to bond together and with the baby.

  • Mother is able to bond with baby more easily and views birth as a positive experience. 

  • Less need for medications to speed labor.

  • Lowers anxiety, stress & pain for mom, baby and partner.

  • Reduced need for forceps/vacuum extractor.

  • Increased confidence in the birth process, one's self and in partner's support.

  • Higher success rate in breastfeeding, latching and bonding with baby.

  • Increased satisfaction with overall birth experience.

  • Reduced rates of Postpartum anxiety

  • Continuity in care through the pregnancy, prenatal, labor, birth and postpartum period.

The Benefits of Doula Support for Other Parent / Partner:

  • Doulas are emotionally and physically supportive of both the birthing parent and the partner. The extra support allows the partner to be involved to their own emotional process.

  • Supports partner in focusing on their own needs and comfort level during the labor and birth process.

  • Practical, emotional and collaborative support and help for the partner (be it reminders to rest and eat, or helping them to support their birthing partner).

  • Partner can take breaks, and trust that their laboring partner will be supported and cared for.

  • Increased confidence in self and laboring mother.

  • Advocate for the family's birth plan and needs so the partner can just be in the moment with the birth process.

  • Partner experiences the labor, birth and change in the family structure more positively.

  • Partner bonds more easily and quickly with the new baby.

There are many techniques and tools a Birth Doula may use to ease physical and emotional discomfort during labor and birth:

 

  • Emotional Support

  • Massage

  • Counter-pressure

  • Acupressure.

  • Positioning of momma's body to facilitate easier labor and reduce discomfort

  • Breathing techniques

  • Hot/ Cold therapies

  • Birth balls

  • Walking

  • Relaxation techniques- focal points, imagery, sensory therapy, and more.

  • Affirmations

  • Music.

  • Shower and Baths (water therapy)

  • Advocating for birth plan & supporting family in their unique needs

  • Knowledge of options

  • Coaching 

  • Offering food and beverages as needed

  • Uniquely tailored collaborative support

Prenatal & Postnatal Massage

Holistic massage is an ancient method of healing that clears the lymphatic drainage system and releases toxins from the body. By recognizing that illness and stress affects not only our physical but also our emotional, spiritual and mental well-being, holistic massage allows the body's natural healing abilities to come forth and balance the entire body as a whole.

Specializing in pregnancy and postpartum massage.

Specializing in pregnancy and postpartum massage.

 

These techniques have been used for thousands of years, combining the therapeutic benefits of massage with organic plant extracts, oils and herbs.

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 Holistic Massage can lead to overall better health and wellness by alleviating pain, tension and physical discomfort. These healing treatments improve circulation, reduce inflammation, ease fibromyalgia pain, calm depression, support immune health, reduce migraines, improve sleep and much, much more.


 Bee has been a holistic care practitioner for over 20 years. She specializes in women's health and wellness and is a Licensed Midwife and Doula. She is a certified yoga therapy instructor and skilled body worker, offering a wide range of healing modalities that include massage, acupressure, cupping, moxibustion, herbal and nutritional consultations.

 Treat yourself to a healing and relaxing massage with a licensed midwife. Your massage will be custom suited to meet your needs and focus on the broad spectrum of health-related issues and discomforts you may have without having to worry about common contraindications. Symptoms may include; headaches, fatigue, backache, leg cramps, hormonal imbalance, muscle tension, swelling, high blood pressure, anxiety and sleeplessness.

 Prenatal and postnatal massage focus on deep healing and body connection.

 


Massage combined with a Health Consultation is a way for you to learn more about your growing body, labor, birth, breastfeeding, optimal fetal positioning and holistic induction for postdates pregnancies. 

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Tears of a Midwife

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Recently I had a new apprentice midwife call me to debrief a birth that I wasn’t present at. She just needed to bounce a few thoughts and feeling around with someone she trusted. This was only the third birth she had attended. She described a water birth that quickly needed to become an earth birth a few moments after the baby’s head was born. A change that let the rest of the body easily, (and a little to fast) be born.

As she told me the story I could hear her fear bubble up, I could hear her questions and doubt about what had happened. “Was that right? Was that normal? Why do I feel so traumatized? Will it always feel that way”?

My initial response was to talk through the birth……Step by step. I’ve attended hundreds of births, and I find it so interesting to listen to a student’s perspective, but reflect on the situation from my midwife perspective. Do babies sometimes come faster then we think they will? Oh, yes they do! Can meconium really not present until the whole baby is born? Shouldn’t the midwife have noticed that? Shouldn’t we have moved the mom to her hands and knees instead of standing? Who knows……. The answers are not always clear. Midwifery is an art, not a science and our intuition plays a HUGE part in each and every birth that we attend.

 Having this conversation with the apprentice pulled my memory back to the beginning of my training and to some of the first birth I attended. I shared with this student midwife that I remembered crying at almost every birth that I witnessed. My eyes would be blurred with tears the moment that baby was born… which made it difficult to do my job, but non-the less I was overwhelmed with emotion, even at the sweetest, most simple birth. When you add any kind of sudden shift to the birthing dynamic, be it poor heart tones, meconium, a mother who is frantic and unable to focus, a tight nuchal cord…. Any and all of the above add a significant level of additional stress to the energy of birth. Like I said, even the most straight forward birth is BIG, it’s profound, it’s life changing for everyone in the room.

 So, I was reflecting with her on why I cried. I know now that there were many layers. The first and most obvious is that it’s just so beautiful to watch a women become a mother! That moment of transition is amazingly heartfelt…. And overflowing with Oxytocin!! There was more to it for me though. Sometime I would go home and sit in my shower and just cry a deep cry, letting the hot water wash away my sorrow.  When I started my formal apprenticeship I was 2 moths postpartum with my second daughter. She was a planned homebirth that ended in an unnecessary transport to the hospital. I think, now on looking back, that I cried for those first two years for the beautiful and sacred moments of birth that I missed. Of being honored as the powerful mother I was becoming and having the loving care of my midwife tend to me and my daughter, not a grumpy OB with terrible bedside manner!

 

I finally did learn to stop crying. I become a fantastic and skilled midwife. I have had the honor to love and support many, many families welcome their new babies into the world….. And then, somehow, about 10 years later I started to find my eyes blurred and teary again. The overwhelming power of birth had somehow caught back up to me. I know I wasn’t crying for my lost homebirth any more. I learned too much from my own transport to have regret around that.

Maybe it was my age? Maybe I was just tired and that left me vulnerable? Maybe I started to get scared of bad outcomes or legal prosecution? Or maybe I was feeling the loss and grief that the baby was feeling from being born? Maybe it’s the increase in birth violence and trauma that I have seen?  I still don’t have the answers…. I must not need them yet, but they will come. 

 For the last decade I’ve had the chance to work in second and third world countries providing midwifery aid, and education. I have also learned a great deal of knowledge that is absolutely unteachable through a classroom or books. The indigenous midwifes that I have had the honor sit with, pray with, eat with and birth with have touched my midwife soul with a whole new light. My eyes continually are opened to the mystery of birth, blurry or not.

 

I recently came across a book called “The Smell of Rain on Dust”.  I was on my way down to Guatemala to meet Mayan Midwives who were running a birth clinic called ACAM, a locally run and owned center serving low/no income women in the western highlands. Words can not describe how breathtakingly beautiful it was. Surrounded by volcano’s, shaken a little by earth quakes, drenched in rains, and on clear days the massive blue skies were hanging with white fluffy clouds and full of colorful kites.

If you’ve ever had the opportunity to travel to Central America, you will know that, beside being stunningly beautiful, life…slows…way…down. Electricity is unpredictable, internet is rarely available, and hot water is not a daily luxury. In being able to open myself up to this life style, this pace, and allowing myself to learn the ways of these wise women, I was gifted with the time and space to quiet down and reflect. It’s been an intriguing and soulful exploration of everything! Reading this book has given me a new perspective and understanding of my tears, and of my grief. I still don’t know all of the answers….. but I do have bigger questions.

 

The author of the book, Martin Prechtel says "Our very lives start out from the very beginning by us crying out as hard as we can in a newly found voice, not in a complaining squeal of rage for not having things stay the same, but in a sorrowful musical wail, tiny and beautiful, that says, "Mama, where are you? Where am I? I'm cold and alone here without your drumming heart. It's the first grief pome, a song."

 

My midwife tears are also not a complaining squeal of rage or a sorrowful wail, but a pome of gratitude…  a heart song that sings to all of the women who have become mothers under my watch.  

My daughter Sky giving birth to my first Granddaughter.

My daughter Sky giving birth to my first Granddaughter.

Thanks for staying around to read this long post!

Love,

Bee

 

 

 

 

What is Group Bata Strep (GBS)

All women in the US are offered GBS testing at 36 weeks. The following information may be useful in making informed decisions regarding your Group B Beta Strep (GBS) Screening and Treatment option.



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Your Body…Your Baby.

Education is key.

What is Group B Beta Strep (GBS)?

GBS is a normal bacteria that can be present in the digestive tract of 15-30% of healthy adults.  People who carry the bacteria generally do so temporarily.  If GBS is present in the lower intestines during labor and birth, it may migrate to the vagina and a small percentage of newborns may What pick up the bacteria from the vagina during their birth and can become ill.  GBS infection is a very serious newborn condition, with a mortality rate of 5-20%.  Babies who develop a GBS infection and survive may have long-term neurological problems, such as hearing loss, vision loss or learning disabilities.  



Rates of newborns with GBS infection

In the general population (both positive and negative mothers)   .2-.3 in 100

In mothers who test positive of GBS    .5-1 in 100


Risk factors for infection

It is not clearly understood why some babies become sick from GBS exposure while others are unaffected, however the following factors are known to increase the likelihood of infection:

Babies born before 37 weeks gestation

Prior pregnancy with a baby infected by GBS

Bladder infection caused by GBS at anytime in current pregnancy

Rupture of membranes greater than 18 hours before delivery

Sign of infection in mother during labor (i.e. fever)


Testing and treatment options

Because GBS colonization can come and go in a persons system often, it is recommended that women be tested for GBS every pregnancy between 35-37 weeks (estimated to miss only 3% of women who will be positive during labor).  

The test consists of a culture swab of the vagina and rectum. 

If the culture is positive 

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends antibiotic treatment intravenously (IV) in labor with penicillin (or an alternative antibiotic if you have an allergy) to prevent GBS infection in the newborn (by approximately 86%).  

You also have the option of antibiotic treatment only in the presence of one of the previously stated risk factors (50-68% of newborn infections prevented). 

In mothers who have one dose of antibiotics in labor for treatment  of a positive GBS culture, approximately  1 in 4,000 babies may acquire GBS infection.

In mothers who have 2 or more doses of antibiotics in labor that number is reduced 1 in 20,000.

Risk of antibiotic Treatment:

~  Risks of treatment include allergic or anaphylactic response to antibiotics.  

~  Approximately 1 in 10 will have a minor reaction such as a skin rash to antibiotics.

~  Approximately 1 in 10,000 will have an anaphylactic response, which could include increased irritability, difficulty breathing and/or convulsion.  

~   Approximately 1 in 100,000 will have a response so severe it results in  7death.

~ Risk of discomfort and/or bruising at IV site.

~Treatment of mothers for GBS during labor may mask other infections in newborns, making appropriate diagnosis more difficult.

~Increased risk of thrush in the newborn.

~Increased risk of other bacterial infections after the IV antibiotic treatment .


Our next Blog Post will dive into some alternative treatments and preventative options for positive GBS in labor!


Vitamin K for Newborns

There are so many decisions to be made for your newborn baby…….and it’s important to start researching and educating your self before your birth! What ever you decide should be listed in your birth plan.

The medical model of care is for every newborn baby to have a Vitamin K injection within 24 hours after birth to prevent Vitamin K deficiency bleeding (VKDB).

The following information is intended to help educate and inform you of your choices.


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What is VKDB?

Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding is a non-inherited disorder that can occur in babies during the first 6 months of life. There are three different types of VKDB.

  • Early onset VKDB present with bruising or spontaneous bleeding within the first 24 hours of life.

  • Classic onset VKDB is the most commonly seen and occurs within the first week of life.

  • Late onset VKDB typically present by 6 weeks of life, but can occur in babies up to 6 months old. 

When bleeding occurs early on it may resolve on its own or may be treatable with vitamin K supplementation. Classic onset VKDB usually responds well to treatment. Late onset VKDB is the most severe and damaging type of bleeding. It is typically caused by liver disease or absorption problems. This is seen primarily in exclusively breast-fed babies.

VKDB can have devastating effects on a baby. Intracranial bleeding can occur very rapidly and can result in long term brain damage or death. Depending on the severity in which the hemorrhage occurs will effect how severely the baby is affected. 

Frequency of VKDB:

VKDB is a life threatening disease, yet is considered rare. The incidence of bleeding is between 3: 2,000 and 1:10,000 babies. Of the babies affected by VKDB 1 out of 5 will die. 

Risk Factors of VKDB include, but are not limited to : 

Prematurity

Jaundice

Maternal use of anti-coagulant, anti-convulsant or anti-tubercular drugs

Traumatic birth

Vacuum or forceps delivery 

Inadequate nursing in the first days of life


What is Vitamin K? 

Vitamin K is an essential factor in the production of several substances needed for blood clotting. It is a fat soluble vitamin that occurs naturally in the body, and is absorbed in the gut. Normal intestinal bacteria play an important role in the production of vitamin k. Newborn babies are born with out this bacteria and are unable to start the production of vitamin k the first few weeks of life. 

There are many natural sources of vitamin k including alfalfa, olive oil, liver, cows milk and dark leafy green vegetables. No matter how rich in Vitamin K a mothers diet is , almost all babies are still born with very low levels at birth.


How is Vitamin k given?

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Vitamin K can be given as a single injection into the muscle at the top of the baby’s leg.

The injectable Vitamin K is shown to be the most effective prevention against late onset bleeding.

Side Effects of Vitamin K injection:

Pain and redness at the injection site

Rash

Mild bruising 

Local infection

Jaundice- as the liver is working harder to process a foreign substance

All medications carry the risk of a allergic reaction, anaphylactic shock and death

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Vitamin K can also be given in a liquid form that is given orally. The baby must receive a 2g dose ( 4 drops) of Bio-K-Mulsion after birth, followed by a 1 gram dose ( 2 drops) every week for 12 weeks. 

International studies have shown the oral supplement to be very effective, but it must be given carefully to insure that the whole dose is swallowed by the baby, and that follow up dose are given on time. Failure to do so may put your baby at risk of VKBD.

**Bio-K-Mulsion is a high quality vitamin supplement that is used regularly in the midwifery community but it has not been approved by the FDA for use in newborns. 


The most important aspect in making the decision about vitamin K supplementation is understanding all of the information before the baby is born. This is the time to spend researching and educating your self. This is one of the first decisions you will make as new parents and it will reinforce what responsibilities are placed on you in this roll.

All parents, and especially those who chose to make the informed choice to decline vitamin K therapy, should learn and know the early signs of VKDB. This is essential in obtaining early treatment to reduce the severity if bleeding should occur. 

-Spontaneous bruising

-Bleeding from the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, umbilicus or digestive tract 

-Prolonged jaundice

-Pale stools or dark urine 


**Because the majority of babies have received Vitamin K therapy at birth, most pediatricians tend to assume that all babies have been treated. It is essential that you tell you pediatrician or any provider that is treating your baby that your child has not received vitamin K, especially if you are concerned about any of the above warning signs. 

Please talk with your Midwife or Doctor if you have any questions. Feel free to reach out to Napa Valley Midwives as well, we’re happy to answer any questions for you.

Easing Morning Sickness

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I have a dear friend and Midwife who is 8 weeks pregnant right now. We check in every couple of days and the first thing we talk about is this constant state of nausea that so many pregnant women are dealing with. Until you have felt this queasy, hungry, not-hungry state of rocking sea sickness that really never leaves you…. at least not for the first 15 weeks or so, you just don’t understand! It can be hard to conquer even the simplest tasks. But, hang in there mama! All of these feelings are good signs of a healthy pregnancy. Try a few of these tips below.

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Morning sickness ( but don’t be fooled….this is an all day - all night sensation) , nausea, or vomiting can be caused by one or many of the following factors:
 Hunger, low blood sugar, strong smells, hormonal surges and imbalances, pregnancy related changes in digestion, & vitamin deficiencies. 
There are MANY remedies for this common early pregnancy discomfort. You may only need to try one or you may need to try them all. If at any point, you are unable to hold down any fluids or foods for a full day call your midwife or doctor to be evaluated for dehydration. 
Diet- Try eating many small meals and snacks frequently throughout the day and keep crackers by bedside to eat before rising in the mornings to maintain blood sugar and reduce stomach acid.
 Make sure your protein intake is adequate. A high protein and complex carbohydrate diet helps stabilize blood sugar longer then simple carbohydrates alone. 
Dehydration can aggravate nausea, even when the thought of drinking sounds horrible. Take small sips and add a little honey or lemon to your water to help get it down.
 Supplement support- 20-40 mg of B-complex 2x daily
. Herbal Remedies- Ginger tea with honey is proven to help relive nausea. Steep 1 tea. of ginger root in one cup boiling water. You can also take ginger capsules, 2 caps every few hours. Not to exceed 10 caps or two cups of tea. (Ginger should not be used if there is a history of miscarriage)
 Dandelion Root supports the liver in filtering all the extra hormones of pregnancy. 
Chamomile tea relaxes the stomach, reduces acid in the stomach, supports the liver and improves the appetite. It also relieves anxiety and tension.
 Herbs in the mint family relive digestive upset: peppermint, spearmint, catnip, and lemon balm.
 Wild Yam reduces vomiting and nausea by relieving spasms in the stomach. 30 drops of tincture 4 to 6 x daily .
Homeopathic Remedies- Ipecac 30x or Nux vomica 6x
.

Fresh air, sunshine and short walks outside can also ease queasiness and sooth the soul. Be sweet and patient with yourself. You are doing such big work right now!



One Little Bite at a Time

One Little Bite at a Time