A Good Question

What needs to happen, in order to fix a broken system? Your probably wondering what I mean by a broken system. I am talking about the care of women, and especially birthing.

In a nation that has been considered “advanced” we are so far behind the eight-ball that it becomes shameful. Our c-Section rates were seriously through-the-roof, and although some improvement has been made still higher than most “civilized” countries! The average being around 31%.

Along  with that outrageous number of c-Sections are the ever-climbing mortality rates of women in birth, predominately women of color. This is shameful in a country that is supposed to be “advanced”!

On top of both high c-Section rates, and high mortality rates for birthing, is the across-the-racial-board birth trauma. It should NEVER happen! But, we have nurses and doctors who force women into procedures, who intimidate and threaten.

The media makes it seem that birth is both dangerous and extremely painful. When that consciousness is embedded in the psyche of women, and you have a medical field that relies on mechanical means to monitor births… the stage is set. We have normalized bad birthing practices, and outdated concepts about birth.

That is without discussing the current political scenarios.

The next few blogs will address the history behind, and the current information about birthing in the United States. The outdated concepts surrounding birth practices need debunking. The normalization of bad birthing practices needs to have a light shown upon it, in order to make it STOP.

It is time to become educated,

get angry,

and create a change!

Also published at my sister site: Hoksiyuhab Oti

Anemia

blood-75302_1280
Normal Red Blood Cells

What is it?

Anemia is a condition of the blood in which there are less red blood cells (hemoglobin) than what would be considered normal. This would indicate a low amount of iron in the blood. The main function of the red blood cells is to carry oxygen to the lungs and body tissues and remove carbon dioxide. The symptoms of this condition reflect the lack of oxygen and build-up of carbon dioxide.

There are three classifications: excessive blood loss, excessive red blood cell destruction, and low red blood cell production. To identify which of the classifications, a series of labs are necessary. Just in the “excessive blood loss” classification are many causes, such as a slow-bleeding ulcer or excessive menstruation. Deficient production is the most common cause, but even it can have different causes. It could be due to iron deficiency, low B12, or lack of folic acid.

Symptoms

If the deficiency reaches appoint of concern, it has already become serious. The symptoms often do not get recognized.

  • Loss of appetite
  • Constipation
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Coldness of extremities
  • Pallor
  • Pale and brittle nails
  • Soreness in the mouth
  • Cessation of menstruation

Anemia often is the indication of an underlying health issue.  It should always be investigated, lab tests will assist in determination of the classification of deficiency and the treatment used. It is not recommended that you self-diagnose due to the problems that arise from iron supplementation when not necessary. Too much iron will damage the liver, heart, pancreas, and the activity of immune cells, it has been linked to cancer.

Recommendations 

Certain foods bolster the levels of iron in the blood.  These are: calves liver, Blackstrap molasses (at least one tablespoon twice a day), broccoli, egg yolks, asparagus, red raspberries, plums, prunes, purple grapes, bananas, kelp, whole grains, yams, and squash.

Oxalic Acid in certain foods will block or interfere with absorption of iron. The foods high in Oxalic Acid are almonds, cashews, chocolate, cocoa, rhubarb, soda, spinach, swiss chard, and most nuts and beans. Eliminate these foods or at the very least, limit their consumption.

Note: eating fish with vegetables high in iron will increase the absorption of iron. As does the elimination of sugar from the diet. When taking iron supplements, avoid taking calcium, vitamin E, zinc or antiacids…these will interfere with absorption.

The Following Herbs Are Also Helpful[1]

  • Alfalfa (as a tea)
  • Bilberry
  • Cherry
  • Dandelion
  • Mullein
  • Nettle (tea)
  • Red Raspberries

REFERENCES

James F.  Balch, M.D. and Phyllis A. Balch, C.N.C.  Prescription for Nutritional Healing, 2nd Ed. (1997) Avery.

Michael Murray, N.D. and Joseph Pizzorno, N.D. Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, Revised 2nd Ed. (1998) Three Rivers.

[1] Other herbs that are not listed may helpful, but not recommended in pregnancy.

How to Maintain Your Gynecological Health

Women tend to leave all the charting of our gynecological health in the hands of our doctors, no one at all.  We can, and we should, and we need to keep our own records for ourselves, at home.

This would entail a few moments a day, at most, of inputting information. I will be creating a down-loadable blank chart you can use for this purpose.

Much of what we see in our charts at the doctor’s office, may seem to be a problem, only because we women do not understand or are not taught about normal feminine health. We can understand them better when we see what would be our “true” gynecological conditions.

These would be:

  • Vaginal infections
  • Abnormal bleeding
  • Premenstrual syndrome
  • Breast lumps
  • Endometriosis
  • PCOS[i]
  • Nabothian (cervical) cysts

“…charting enables a woman to understand her body in a practical way (Wescheler, 230)”. A woman who charts every day is so aware of what is normal for her own body, that she can actually assist her doctor in determining what is not normal based upon her symptoms. Keeping the chart of her menstruation cycle assists In well-being, and working with the doctor.

Normal Healthy Cervical Fluid VS. Real Vaginal Infections

We live in a culture that advertises douche and sprays for vaginal “discharge” giving women the idea that they are “dirty” all the time. Douching and sprays only act to confuse the identity of healthy cervical fluid and what would be a real infection.

Wescheler explains in her book, that doctors say you don’t need either. On a talk show she watched, she says that the doctor stated that the infections from these products were “…enough to send his children to college (Wescheler , 231)”. Then there is also the yeast infection products that women self-diagnose and take every month for a “recurring” problem.

But, using the chart, detection of an actual infection will be easier, and discovered earlier. You can get treatment before discomfort sets in.  Secretions mid-month are normal, but late in the month may indicate infection.

Symptoms of Vaginal Infections That Can Be Distinguished from Normal Cervical Fluid

Once you have routinely charted your normal cervical fluid, an infection can be distinguished by the unpleasant symptoms that set them apart from what is normal.  Vaginal infections can range from STIs (See: The Effects of Sexually Transmitted Infections on Pregnancy) to a variety of forms of Vaginitis and of course the generic “yeast infection”.

  • Abnormal discharge
  • Itching, stinging, swelling, and redness
  • Unpleasant odor
  • Blisters, warts, and chancre sores


Avoiding Infections

Besides the consequences of douching, you should not wear clothing that is damp or too tight, as these create an unhealthy vaginal environment. Also you should wear cotton underwear, or at least cotton crotch underwear as these allow your body to breathe.
Normal VS Abnormal Bleeding

Normal menstruation lasts about five days and usually will follow a pattern, here are two variations:

Light –>  heavy –> medium –> light –> very light
Heavy –> heavy –> medium –> medium –> light
Also, some women may spot (ordinarily brownish) or bleed at other times in their cycle besides actual menstruation. Spotting is one of the most misunderstood aspects of a woman’s cycle. A common mistake is to assume any type of bleeding episode is menstruation.  True menstruation occurs after ovulation, about 12 to 16 days after.  Any other type of bleeding is either anovulatory bleeding, what is considered normal spotting, or is symptomatic of a problem.

[i] Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

 

 

Based upon: Weschler, Toni.  Taking Charge of Your Fertility.  Rev. (2006) William Morrow.

 

 

 

Plains Paleo-Vegetarian Nutrition for Pregnancy

(this information was taken from my sister site hoksiyuhaboti)
The first thing you should know is that there are many types of vegetarians and styles of eating vegetarian.  The two most common are Lacto-Ovo (milk and eggs) and Ovo (eggs). There are also “semi-vegetarians” who mostly eat a vegetarian diet, with occasional additions of chicken, or fish. My vegetarian cookbook mentions crusto-vegetarians who eat shell fish; mollo-vegetarians who eat clams, scallops, oysters or mullosks; repto-vegetarians who eats snakes and other reptiles…as examples of the few of many variations on the vegetarian diet.

For the Lakota, your diet could be called a Paleo-Vegetarian diet.

What??

As Lakota people, consider this: your fore-mothers gathered tinpsila (wild turnips), beans (there is story about this vegetable and the importance of “giving back”), blo (wild potatoes), berries, corn (wagmeza), squash (wagmu) and many other fruits and vegetables.  There were healing plants that would have also found its way into the pot, as well.

The people gathered eggs when possible, traded for corn and squash, and gathered wild rice (before coming out to the plains).  In the old stories about the first Huƞka “making of relatives” ceremony,  with the Arikira.  Corn was given in the ceremony, by the Arikira. Corn is used in soup with Tinpsila and Tripe (buffalo guts).  This soup is used in ceremony.

Since many of you do not gather up your fruits and vegetables in the old way, what can you do? First, get fresh fruit and vegetables whenever possible, when in season (less expense).  Next to that would be dried or frozen.

Unfortunately, most of the dried foods found in stores around Native country are sulfured. “Organically made” dried foods are hard to find, and disproportionately expensive.

You can create a garden.  To do so you would need to use an old traditional practice of “the three sisters” for planting.  The garden would consist of beans, corn and squash. You can create low mounds with the squash at the center of the top, a circle of corn surrounding it interdispersing some bean bush plants. The center of the top would have a slight indent to catch water from the summer thunder storms.

Grains are not a part of the Paleo diet, with an exception of wild rice by the northern bands of the Oċeti Ṡakowiƞ. Baked or fried bread never was a part of the old traditional diet, not even unleavened flat breads. But I was told that there was a dumpling made from starchy vegetables and formed into balls then placed into the soup.

Nuts were also gathered when the people were encamped.  So you can add some nuts to your diet for protein.  The best nut is the almond, and of course walnuts would have been gathered a long time ago, from the walnut trees.  If you choose to use acorns, make sure you understand the method to process them into edible food.  Pine nuts are excellent, too.

The Benefits of a Vegetarian Diet

If you have Diabetes, obesity, kidney or heart disease you can be assured that the vegetarian diet will help you to build your way back to good health. Too much meat eaten at a meal is hard for the digestive system, and often is transformed into acids.

“Most digestive disorders, such as indigestion, nausea, bloating, gastric reflux, are symptoms caused by excess acid in the gastric region and not enough alkaline minerals in the intestinal tract.[i]

Can you go Paleo AND do vegetarian? Why, yes.  Remember there are many types of vegetarian diets. You can play with the type of meats you use… but, always remember you need to purchase grass-fed, free-range, and you will be much healthier!

If you add eggs, these too should be free-range.  Milk should not be raw, but you should consider this: it was not a part of the Lakota/Dakota/Nakota diet.  Women breastfed their babies sometimes until 7 years of age, and then no other milk was consumed.
Acid/ Alkaline pH Considerations

Many diseases are caused by pH imbalance.  Such as: diabetes, heart disease, arthritis to name a few.  Also disorders can be healed by eating correctly such as: acid reflux, morning sickness, migraines, and constipation.

A vegetarian diet is mostly alkaline in nature.  This is due to the ratio of vegetables and fruits in the diet to proteins. Meats (red meats, beef, mutton, pork, salmon, herring, mackerel, lobster, shrimp and crayfish), millet, white rice, couscous, semolina, white breads, soda crackers, white refined sugars and items coated with it, lard and some lard-like products (Crisco) used for cooking, are all foods high in acid forming elements.

In general, a good rule of thumb is to plate your food with 2/3 alkaline foods, and 1/3 acidic. Of the alkaline types of foods, you should choose any leafy green vegetables, but the ones highest in minerals and vitamins for re-building and maintaining good health are Kale, Bok Choy, and spinach.  In the Orange to yellow vegetable bracket are squashes, pumpkins, and carrots.  Citric fruits should be eaten early in the day for better digestion.

Foods to avoid:

Refined sugar, all processed foods (white bread, rolls, etc.), any of the typical sweetening substitutes such as Sweet and Low (a carcinogenic) except for stevia (which is plant-based). Even though you may love your fry bread (as I do) that needs to be very limited (only at ceremony or special occasions). Most of the canned fruits used for Wojapi have an additional amount of corn syrups, so use fresh fruits instead.

 

REFERENCES:

Goodman, Ronald.  Lakota Star Knowledge.
Vasey, Christopher.  Acid Alkaline Diet for Optimum Health, The.  (1999) Healing Arts Press.

[i] How to Balance Your pH to Heal Your Body. http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-6243/How-to-Balance-Your-pH-to-Heal-Your-Body.html.

Symptoms of Marginal Nutrient Deficiencies

 

  • Tiredness or fatigue
  • Stressed
  • Irritability
  • Trouble with concentration or remembering
  • Numbness or tingling of extremities
  • Low immunity or prone to colds or the flu
  • Depression / Anxiety
  • Cravings for sweets
  • Morning Sickness

 

DEPRESSION OR ANXIETY: Deficiencies in vitamin B1.

Whole grains, wheat germ, peanuts, green peas, dark leafy green vegetables, lean pork, cooked dried beans and peas.

CRAVING SWEETS/MORNING SICKNESS: Deficiency in Vitamin B6

VERY PALE SKIN: Deficiency in Folic Acid

FATIGUE:  deficiency in iron

Before becoming fatigued, remember that many foods are packed with iron. So begin eating these foods even before becoming pregnant. These foods are: Black Strap Molasses, Spinach, Kale,

INCREASED COLDS AND SUSCEPTIBILITY TO FLU: Deficiency in copper, iron, selenium, zinc, Vitamin A & Beta Carotine, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, or any of the B vitamins (especially Folic Acid)

DISORIENTATION/NUMBNESS OR TINGLING OF EXTREMITIES/MOODINESS/IRRITABILITY/DIZZYNESS: Vitamin B12 deficiency which causes macrocytic anemia, or if the cause is by a lack of digestive factor, pernicious anemia.  These two are not the same as an iron deficiency.

Found mostly in food of animal origin, i.e. meats, milk and eggs. If found in plant form it usually is due to fermentation such as Miso.

Note: B12 deficiency may put you at risk for a preterm delivery, or a low-birth-rate baby.

 

FOLIC ACID

Folic Acid is one of the B Vitamins.

It is found in:

  • leafy green vegetables
  • wheat germ
  • molasses (especially blackstrap)
  • nutritional yeast
  • whole grains
  • root vegetables
  • beans
  • milk
  • spirulina
  • The liver contains high concentrations of environmental and systemic toxins / not recommended for pregnant women.

For the maximum use of folic acid from foods, eat them: raw or steamed.  You can sautee the vegetables, but remember to do so lightly.  If you boil the vegetables, the vitamin will be leached out of the vegetable into the water.

Eat at least two large portions a day. Also eat the other listed items as well.


SYMPTOMS OF DEFICIENCY

  • The “mask of pregnancy” and other pigment changes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Persistent vaginal infections
  • Because other B complex vitamins may also be deficient: various nervous system complaints

Babies are more likely to to have neural tube defects (such as Spina Bifida) when mothers are deficient in Folic Acid early in pregnancy. Low day intake of folic acid and /or low blood folic acid levels in the third trimester doubled the chances of preterm delivery and low birth-rate babies.

 

 

 

 

 

Pregnancy Diet For Baby

Plan your meals, AND SNACKS around fresh veggies and fruit, grains and legumes, and ample calcium-rich / protein-rich foods.

Start your day with a good breakfast:

-Helps energy levels

-maintains optimum weight

-Even just a small meal with some protein and carbs will be beneficial

Eat meals and snacks every 3 to 4 hours

-snacks should include one fruit or vegetables with one serving from another food group.

– Fruit, or vegetable juice (non-sweetened preferably) can substitute for a fruit or vegetable serving.

THE 5-MINUTE MEAL

The trick to preparing a quick, low-calorie meals and snacks are advanced planning, having a basic inventory of ingredients and the right kitchen tools/appliances.

Tools/appliances: microwave oven, slow-cooker, wok or non-stick skillet and a blender

Plan your meals using fresh vegetables and fruit, whole grains and legumes (beans), along with protein rich food.  Try not to have canned fruits packed in syrup, eat oatmeal instead of granola bars, steamed broccoli instead of the packaged broccoli with creamed cheese…

SUPER FOODS
Spinach
kidney beans
Tofu
Wheat germ
Broccoli
Papaya
Salmon
Non-fat Milk

 

Eat fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season, when they are not in season chose frozen before canned.
You can add Nuts such as: almonds, cashews, peanuts, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, and peanut butter.

Also add seeds such as:
  pumpkin, sesame, or sunflower seeds.

 

PROTEIN RICH FOODS

Proportion size should be three ounces of extra-lean meat, skinless chicken, fish or one cup of cooked dried beans, lentils, split peas or chickpeas.
~Limit eggs to just one per day.

CALCIUM RICH FOODS                                                                                                                  

Cooked black-eyed peas
Bok Choy
Broccoli
Low-Fat Cheese
Collard greens
cottage cheese
Rice Dream
Kale
Yogurt

GREAT GRAINS:

Whole wheat bagel
Whole wheat breads
Sourdough bread
Cornbread
Whole wheat Pita
Rice, preferably brown
white basmati rice
Whole grain Total cereal                                                                                                               Noodles or pasta
Kellog’s, Eggo Homestyle waffles
Cooked cereal: Oatmeal, barley, farina

QUENCHERS:  Sparkling water, apple cider, apple juice, apricot nectar, carrot juice, grapefruit, grape, orange, papaya nectar, passion fruit nectar, peach nectar, pineapple juice, prune, tomato juice, V8 juice.
If you eat well, the occasional treat will not be a problem, so long as it is not a substitute for whole nutritious foods.


Drink at least 32 ounces water (by itself), a day.

Dehydration is one of the main factors of early labor in women.

Drink tea instead of drinking coffee (it dehydrates).

You should try to drink these teas, at least two cups a day:

Red Raspberry Leaf / Nettle tea.

Upcoming Topics

Trust the Process

 

Diet for a Healthy Baby

Vegetarian Diet for Pregnant Women

Symptoms of Marginal Dietary Deficiencies

Folic Acid

Anemia

How to Maintain Your Own gynecological Health

 

You can suggest topics to me, as well:

What is a Doula?

doula at work

What is a Doula?

  • A woman who assists in childbirth
  • A woman who is experienced in childbirth, and provides:
    • Physical, emotional, informational assistance
    • Supports the mother before, during, and immediately after childbirth
  • The word “Doula” is Greek and means “a woman who serves”
    • Today it refers to a trained and experienced professional that provides continuous physical and emotional support during pregnancy, birth, and a short time after the baby is born
  • How they assist
    • With reading materials
    • Make prenatal and post-partum visits
    • Birth plans
    • Self-advocacy tools for pregnant women in a hospital setting
    • Pain management
    • Relaxation techniques
    • Can assure a safe birth/honoring the needs of the mother
    • Validation: birth experiences, and choices made for pregnancy outcomes
    • Support immediately after birth (approximately the first 2 hours after)
  • Research has shown, when a woman is present during labor as a support person that:
    • pain relief is needed less often
    • labor is shorter
    • fewer deliveries with forceps or vacuum extraction
    • C-sections
    • More likely to be still breast-feeding 6 weeks after birth
      • Less likely to have depression during the post-partum period.