breastfeeding

Treating a cold or flu when you're pregnant or breastfeeding: Village Voices

tea in bed

We all have our go-tos when it comes to self-care when we're sick. But it can be hard to know if your approaches are safe when you're feeding someone else via a placenta or your breasts, especially when as a general rule, supplement bottles tell you to avoid or "consult your health care practitioner if you're pregnant or breastfeeding" (which is sometimes a legitimate warning, but might just be there for legal reasons). Some of our conference presenters weigh in on what's safe.

"Lavender essential oil is the perfect antiviral for warding off cold and flu viruses during pregnancy! Many essential oils are far too potent to smell during pregnancy, but not lavender! Chemically speaking, it's one of the most gentle EOs. When you smell it's sweet floral scent, molecules from the oil go into your respiratory system and fight off viruses. Put it on a scarf or lava bead necklace for optimal effect. 

But don't forget: never consume essential oils by mouth regardless of what the big EO companies tell you. Herbs are safe for consumption but essential oils are far too strong and in some cases can even kill you if taken internally Many oils are safe in skin care, though with proper dilution (no more than 15 drops per 15ml of any vegetable oil). When in doubt, consult a well trained aromatherapist, especially during pregnancy (not just a EO company rep!)."
- Tynan Rhea, doula, sex educator and aromatherapist
 

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"When I'm sick, I take extra care with what I eat. I make sure to avoid dairy and sugar, which are mucous-forming and inflammatory. I like a vegetable-rich miso soup, or my Sweet Potato Soup with a bit of extra cayenne. Dairy-free pesto that's nice and garlicy on pasta or a gluten-free wrap with roasted roots is both nourishing and delish.

I make a tea of fresh chopped ginger, a cinnamon stick and a couple clove buds, then I pour in a generous splash of organic apple cider. Or lemon balm tea, because it's calming and anti-viral, maybe with some elderberries added for immune-boosting, and a squeeze of lemon.

Finally, but most importantly, I do whatever I can to give myself a decent amount of time to rest. Sickness is often the way our body tells us to sloooooow down."

- Jae Steele, holistic nutritionist, and trained midwife


"Pregnancy can be hard at times, and even harder when you come down with a cold or flu. These herbs are safe to take when pregnant or lactating, and will hopefully get you feeling better quickly!

  • Probiotics: Your biggest immune system is in your digestive system, so I encourage all my pregnant patients to take a probiotic, like Genuine Health's Advanced Gut Health formula
  • Echinacea: This simple tincture is effective at boosting your immune system and fighting off infections. Start taking at the onset of an illness, and discontinue once better. 
  • Nettle: One of my all time favourite herbs. Nettle is rich in minerals, which provides a lot of nourishment, something all pregnant mamas need, especially those that are unwell. 
  • Garlic, Onions and Ginger: Add them to your cooking! A perfect base for soup, stews, rice dishes and stir fries. 
  • Honey: This liquid gold has amazing antibacterial properties. Add it to a tea, stir some into your morning oats, or take it off the spoon. It helps to soothe sore throats and fight infections.'

- Rachel Schwartzman, naturopathic doctor and doula

 

"I love acupuncture in these situations! It is completely safe in pregnancy and while breastfeeding (as long as you find someone qualified and experienced in pregnancy). Acupuncture can help to boost the immune system to fight off the infection more quickly as well as helping with any annoying cold and flu symptoms. For example, a few simple points can very quickly drain congested sinuses and relieve sinus headache. My husband always knows I have a cold coming on when I'm walking around the house with tiny acu needles stuck in my face!"
- Michelle Kapler, acupuncturist
 

"When it comes to colds and flus, regular whole body movement is your first line of defence. As an osteopath I view the body through a mechanical lens - how are things aligned, and how are they moving? Not only bones and muscles, but fascia and fluids too. For a healthy immune system, lymphatic fluid has to move freely to fight off invaders. There’s no pump; it relies on muscle contractions to help it circulate.

Since there are large clusters of lymph nodes in your armpits and groin, the swing of your arms and legs while walking is the perfect stimulation. Active breathing gets your diaphragm (a major muscle!) and intercostal (between the rib) muscles working too. More oxygen, better waste product elimination, plus more power if you need to cough.

Here’s an easy way to practice active breathing:

  • Tie a stretchy band or pair of tights around your ribcage at mid-lower chest level.
  • Stand in alignment with feet pelvis width and hips over your heels with butt untucked. Or sit with weight on your sit bones. Allow the front of your ribcage to relax down.
  • Breathe in, expanding the sides and back of your ribcage into the resistance of the band. Pause, then exhale fully.
  • Continue for 5 – 10 breaths. If you feel dizzy or faint stop – you’re overdoing it!

For best results, repeat frequently throughout the day. It's simple, but effective."
- Janet Walker, manual osteopathic practitioner

So what about you? How do you care for yourself when you're sick?
Please share with us in the comments.

Do you have a burning question related to baby-growing that you'd like to ask a bunch of experts all at once? Ask away! Or you'd like to do so more anonymously, send it in an email with "Village Voices" in the subject line.

 

Meet Rhondda Smiley, doula, breastfeeding educator and yoga instructor

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Name: Rhondda Smiley

Workshop: Trimester 4 stream: 
Expectations, Frustrations & Success: staying sane and happy as a parent

What's your best advice when it comes to labour and birth?
Keep upright, keep moving, keep breathing, as much as you are able. Use gravity and gentle movement to support the work your body and baby are doing together. Even if you choose an epidural, there are ways to keep your hips and your options open! As a doula who's spent a lifetime training in movement practices such as yoga and dance, I bring a creative approach to supporting you in positions and movement that will keep your body, breath, mind and heart open. 
 

What's the most important thing you learned from your own experience of becoming a parent?
I learned the hard way to let go of the illusion of control! When I was trying to conceive, I naively thought I'd be able to book my pregnancy around vacations and rush times at work. Ha! My ovaries had other ideas. I thought I'd spend nine months of pregnancy blissfully feeling like a fecund goddess, only to find my head in a toilet with "morning sickness" for the first five. My birth ended up being a total 180 degrees from what I planned. I wanted to birth at home, but my baby ended up needing an emergency cesarean before I'd even gone into labour. And you can be sure the surprises didn't stop once my daughter was born. Breastfeeding challenges, postpartum depression, needing surgery when I was supposed to return to work... In the moments when I could remember to let go of the notion that I could control the situation, and surrender to how they actually were, being a parent became so much easier -- and happier. Someone once said, "make plans and God laughs". To that I'd add, "make plans when you have kids and God is LMAOROTF". 
 

What's something you wish more expectant parents knew?
I wish that new parents who want to breastfeed knew better what to expect once their baby is here. How to know if their baby is actually taking in milk during a nursing session. How often a newborn baby needs to feed (hint: every 3 hours is not enough for newborns). Where to find effective, expert help if things are not going smoothly. I wish expectant parents could spend time around other breastfeeding parents before their birth, because we've largely lost one of the most important ways we have to learn this skill -- through watching other parent-baby dyads doing it. I know now how much easier nursing my daughter could have been if I'd been better prepared. It was my desire to help save other parents this grief that motivated me, 13 years ago, to become a La Leche League Leader (mother-to-mother breastfeeding counselor, since retired). I'm committed to sharing my lactation knowledge and expertise with my doula clients who want to breastfeed, so that they have realistic expectations and feel prepared and confident in feeding their new baby. 
 

What excites you the most about being a presenter at 4 Trimesters first conference?
The other presenters at 4T are my birth heroes! I'm totally stoked to be in the company of these kind and expert professionals. These are the people I respect enough to refer my doula and yoga clients to. These are the people that I've entrusted to care for my family and myself. 
 

TO ATTEND RHONDDA'S T4 WORKSHOP ON OCTOBER 28, SIGN UP FOR THE CONFERENCE HERE