natural motherhood, part 5: breast care

i googled “natural breast care” tonight—just to see what would pop up.  to my great disappointment, seven of the nine links were for breast augmentation or “enhancement.”  i cringed and peeked through one eye as i changed it to an image search—while i was glad to see as many pictures of breast self-exams as  i did pictures of blown-out self-tanned porn-star racks, i was horrified by the wide selection of machines that apparently use intense and prolonged suction for the purpose of “growing” larger breasts for you.  oh, and there were the creams for larger breasts, the contorting bras (watch how your pulled-around back fat can be made into more side-boob!), and the scary mixes of unnamed “herbal supplements” just shipped in from china—and all this from searching natural breast care.  what’s wrong with us? Read the rest of this entry »


herbal preparations: honeys, oxymels, and elixirs

a bee from an egyptian hieroglyph

i figured i would take a short break from the series that i’m doing on natural motherhood and crank back up on a couple of my other projects.   something that i’ve been meaning to add for a while is a basic herbal preparations entry for sweet medicine—for honeys, oxymels, and elixirs.  honey (the common denominator between all three of these preparations) is a mysterious substance.  in the archaeology of beekeeping, author eva crane posits, based on neolithic cave paintings in valencia, spain, that honey has been a food source for humans for at least 10,000 years.  since the beginning of written history, thousands of medicinal and culinary uses of honey have graced the tablets and pages of our past.  yes, dried bee puke has held our interest for quite some time!  it has been used to treat wounds, to aid in the mummification process, to preserve food and drink, to sweeten things, and, as every granny knows, to stop a cough dead in its tracks! Read the rest of this entry »

natural motherhood, part 4: downstairs maintenance

whether you’re planning on getting pregnant, are already pregnant, or have just given birth, it is essential to do your research on “downstairs maintenance.”  odds are pretty much in favor of your having to deal with at least one of these issues, and (although we’ve gotten better about it) women tend not to have as many frank discussions as we should when it comes to our lady parts.  actually, this post branches out a little further than “lady parts”–the uterus and vagina are not the only bits of anatomy affected by pregnancy, labor, and delivery.  you’ve also got to talk about your bowels, your bladder, your vulva, and your rectum.  how many of you cringed when you read that last sentence? lol. see what i mean?  we don’t talk about this stuff enough. Read the rest of this entry »

natural motherhood part 4 coming soon!

greetings all!  as you can tell by the infrequency of my posts lately, my schedule is nuts!  no worries though…. part four will be out this week, and then i’ll take a short break with that series and post some more general herbal goodies.

on a slightly related noted, i’ve been accepted to birthwise midwifery and will be moving to maine to start school in the fall!!  can’t wait! 🙂

natural motherhood, part 3: the big, bad list of “no-nos”

you knew this was coming, right?  amidst talk of all the wonderful new things you get to do (be goddess-controller of the air conditioning, add frivolous things to grocery lists, stop sucking in your gut for the first time since you were eight) is the dreaded list of “thou shalt nots.”  now, i’m not a doctor, so my word isn’t law here (funny how we assume that five extra years in college=always right!) but i do have some good source material and a lot of common sense.  i’m a teacher and a researcher by trade, and birth is my subject of choice.  just sayin’……this isn’t THE list; it’s the herbwife’s list.  amend as you see fit.  ask for second (and third, and fourth) opinions.  also, don’t assume that doing a few of these things a few times=sure trouble.  repetition increases risk with any harmful substance.  plenty of women have had beautiful, healthy babies after doing a whole slew of these things—-these are just guidelines for giving yourself and your baby the best chance at health. Read the rest of this entry »

the wheel of the year, part 4: imbolc

can i be honest with you?  this week has really sucked.  i found out that one of the classes that i’m teaching pays nothing until the end of the semester, and when it does pay, it only pays based on how many students actually completed the class (which means that if i spent 10 hours grading a student’s work before he dropped out, i simply don’t get paid for that time…..poof!  it’s gone.)  not sure how that’s legal.  so all of this boils down to me getting 2/3 of my normal pay (don’t teach college; you’ll starve!) and the little bit extra i get at the end is going to be a pittance compared to the amount of work i put in.  also, i’m working a couple of jobs, neither of which pays very well and one of which verges on eating my life (there’s a dent in the far left couch cushion from all of the “office hours” i’ve had to put in.)  i miss my husband, despite being across the room from him, i’m tired of sitting on my butt, i’m mad at my job, and here’s the worst part—-i’m REALLY tired of bitching all the time!   for the past month my facebook statuses (stati?) have been eeyore-ish, and i’m sick of it! Read the rest of this entry »

natural motherhood, part 2: iron, calcium, and folate

as i began my foray into the world of alternative medicine, i made  the mistake that many (if not most) people make.  i adopted the heroic tradition’s view of the body as a dirty temple–one that must be punished and purified.  go into any health food store and you’ll see aisles of pills and potions meant to purge you from every end.  you’ll see bowel cleanses that work by irritating  your colon so badly that its only recourse is to pull precious water from your cells and flush out all contents.  you’ll see testimonials of people marveling at the horrible things that their bodies pushed out. Read the rest of this entry »

natural motherhood, part 1: easing morning sickness

because many women today don’t track their menstrual cycles, and because some women have very irregular cycles, morning sickness can sometimes be the first sign of pregnancy.   this rather unwelcome herald of otherwise great news was a major focus of the pharmaceutical industry in its 1950s infancy.  anyone familiar with the drug thalidomide (sold as thalomid), given to women in the 1950s to assuage morning sickness, remembers that it was taken off the market a few years later after it was found to cause terrible birth defects.  most notably, “thalidomide babies” were born with phocomelia—they suffered from craniofacial deformities and were often born with missing or underformed arms and legs.  more than 10,000 cases of thalidomide-related phocomelia were reported, and an astounding 50% of these infants died. Read the rest of this entry »

call for natural motherhood topics

perhaps the sweetest thing i've ever seen 🙂

greetings!  i’m going to do a series on tips and products for natural motherhood.  the aim of the series will be to provide people with gentle, natural  alternatives to processed and industrial products, and everything that i write about will be things that you can make. i’m focusing on prenatal, birth, baby, and postnatal/nursing mom.  here’s a list of some of the products/topics that i’m going to talk about, and if you know of something else that would fit or would like to see a particular topic touched on, please leave me a note.  also, i’m going to include a section at the bottom of each post of sources for those who might not be so interested in the d.i.y aspect.  again, share if you have favorites!

herbal solutions for morning sickness

strong-bones calcium tea

medicines and products to avoid during pregnancy/gentler alternatives

iron tonic

downstairs maintenance:  bladder infections and varicosities

balms and butters for growing bellies

herbal allies for healing after miscarriage

reducing tearing/episiotomies with perineum oil

postpartum sitz-baths

nipple cream for nursing moms

herbal and kitchen solutions for mastitis

herbal allies for stopping or starting lactation

talc-free baby powder

lavender baby oil

herbal teething bags

organic cotton baby wipes (and mommy wipes!)

itty-bitty ear aches

herbal allies for reducing infant fevers


diaper rash

cloth diapering

that’s all for now, but like i said, i’ll write on as many topics as i can, so please give me input!


paths to becoming a midwife

since my decision to become a cpm (certified professional midwife), the strangest thing has started happening.  in my many conversations about birth-related issues, several women (mostly older women) have told me that secretly, deep down inside, they’ve always wanted to be midwives.  the feeling, they say, seems irrational given their chosen life paths, and many of them brush it off as a “in my next life” sort of thing.  the rationalizations go something like this: “well, i’m certainly too old for a career change,” or “but i’m almost finished with graduate school for an entirely different field,” or “people would think that i’m crazy!” Read the rest of this entry »

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