Adventures in Living a Natural Lifestyle

Sharing my adventures in living a more natural lifestyle, information about essential oils and natural home, health, and beauty recipes!


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Kicking Off World Breastfeeding Week By Donating 600 oz of Liquid Gold to Alabama NICU Babies!!!

World Breastfeeding Week is August 1-7, 2015.  This year’s theme is Breastfeeding and Work: Let’s Make it Work!  Did you know that the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusively breastfeeding your child up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond? Breastfeeding helps provide optimum nutrition for healthy growth and brain development, provides protection from respiratory infection, diarrhoeal disease, and other life-threatening conditions, as well as protection against obesity and other non-communicable diseases, such as asthma and diabetes, as they grow up.  Yet globally, only 38% of babies born are exclusively breastfed and suboptimal breastfeeding conditions contributes to over 800,000 infant deaths worldwide each year.

Mothers across the globe are faced with the decision of whether or not to re-enter the workforce after their babies are born. For some it’s a choice, to continue a career they’ve worked hard to build or a little added income to help support the family.  For others, its a necessity. A daily struggle to make sure there is enough food on the table.  Yet many work places are not conducive to supporting breastfeeding mothers.  Bringing babies to work is often not an option.  Taking the time off to go feed your baby every 1.5 to 3 hours is difficult to manage logistically.  Finding a private location to pump milk may prove to be difficult.  And many supervisors may not be supportive of taking extra breaks throughout the day to pump milk for your child.  These very real struggles combined with increased formula marketing over the years have led many mothers to choose not to continue breastfeeding, simply because its too much of a hassle.

The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) launched a campaign in 1993 called Mother Friendly Workplace Initiative in order to help women combine breastfeeding and their career.  Over the last 22 years they have been able to help create stronger maternity entitlements, encouraged more countries to get involved in creating breastfeeding and mother-friendly workplace environments, and helped promote a greater awareness of working mothers’ rights to breastfeed.  But they aren’t ready to stop there! By the year 2025 the WABA hopes to increase the number of exclusively breastfed babies worldwide from 38% to 50%.  They hope to do so by working to limit formula marketing, empower women to exclusively breastfeed by supporting paid maternity leave, strengthen health systems by expanding the baby-friendly hospital initiatives, and provide community-based strategies to support exclusive breastfeeding counseling for pregnant and lactating women.

I have been very blessed in my breastfeeding journey. I switched jobs in the middle of my pregnancy, interviewing for what I hoped would be my dream job as a mental health counselor at a local University while 20 weeks pregnant. I’m not a small girl (although somewhere in between average and plus sized) and was still able to hide my baby bump at the time. I knew I didn’t have to disclose my pregnancy but felt that it would be underhanded to hide this information so I confided in my now supervisor about my family way. He was and continues to be a great support. I got the job and started in September 2014 at 7 months pregnant! HR was wonderful and allowed me to take unpaid leave after my daughter was born despite the fact that I didn’t qualify for FMLA benefits (you have to be employed at a company for at least 12 consecutive calendar months to be protected by FMLA).

I knew that I wanted my daughter to have the benefits of colostrum and the nutrition and immunities from continued breastfeeding and swore that come Hell or high water I would find a way to make breastfeeding work for us. I was truly blessed to have almost no problems at all and apparently to have been a dairy cow in a former life. We had some minor latch difficulties the first couple days but through support from the hospital’s on staff Lactation Consultant and a local online Facebook breastfeeding support group we worked through the bumps in the road and found our natural rhythm.

I knew I had to return to work in 6 short weeks, which meant my daughter would have to start daycare and bottle feeding would be a necessity. I didn’t want to give up the benefits of breastfeeding so I started pumping almost immediately after she was born. I had seen so many of my friends struggle to get their babies to take a bottle so at risk of “nipple confusion” we started introducing bottles of pumped milk when she was 5 days old. We were only giving her one bottle a day, an opportunity for her Daddy to bond with her and a bit of me time without the baby attached to my boob which meant that I quickly started to stockpile some milk. I squirreled away my little stash and would peek in the freezer to muse over the fact that I made that! Something so beautiful! Just the idea that my body could create something that could sustain life!!! How freaking cool is that!?!

I had assumed that once my daughter started daycare that I would start to go through my stash of milk so I bagged it, labeled it, and stored it in my deep freeze. But as she started to eat more my body naturally started producing more milk and my stash continued to grow. One day I opened up my freezer and my stash looked like this:

Nearly 1000 oz of liquid gold!!! And I knew that my daughter couldn’t possibly drink that much milk, especially now that we’ve started supplementing with solids as well, so I started really considering the idea of donating my milk.

See, here’s the thing, not all women are as blessed as me to be milk machines. Maybe they tried and struggled to keep up with baby’s demand. Maybe they have an injury or illness that prevents them from nursing. Or maybe they take medication that they don’t want to expose their babies too. Many of these women may want their babies to be able to benefit from the nutrients in an exclusively breastmilk diet. I’ve seen many of these women shamed by other mothers for having to choose to supplement with formula because they didn’t have donor milk available or didn’t even know that donor milk was an option.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to cast judgment on those mothers who knowingly choose to give their child formula instead of breastmilk or choose to supplement their own supply with formula for reasons they’ve discussed with their pediatrician. In fact I think this mommy shaming has got to stop! I am a firm believer in supporting all mothers no matter what they choose as the best option for their families. But I do think that we can make a difference and increase the number of mothers who choose to breastfeed their babies by normalizing breastfeeding, educating the underprivileged on the benefits of breastfeeding instead of just handing them bottles of formula at the WIC office with little to no information about alternatives, and supporting organizations like Human Milk 4 Human Babies and local milk banks.

I had considered donating to local mothers directly and strongly support organizations like Human Milk 4 Human Babies that network communities of local women to help donate breastmilk to families in need.  But about two months ago I learned that a local milk depot had opened up near my hometown in North Alabama that collected and stored milk to deliver to the Mother’s Milk Bank of Alabama (MMBAL) located in Birmingham. MMBAL is a new milk bank that collects donor milk and pasteurized it to send to sick and premature infants in NICUs in Alabama and the Southeast.

I started my application process about two weeks ago and it was quick and easy! I filled out the application and signed release forms for MMBAL to contact my OB and my daughter’s pediatrician to verify the health information I provided. Once reviewed they sent me an order to get bloodwork drawn at a local lab of my choice (they covered the cost) and at my convenience. I bagged up 600 oz, keeping about 400 oz reserve just in case and I scheduled a drop off time with the local North Alabama depot, Connections Breastfeeding.  On Friday, July 31, 2015 we met with Elizabeth, who was really sweet and a pleasure to chat with, to make our donation!

600 oz liquid gold bagged and ready to drop off! 

My She-Ra moment! Me and my rainbow baby in our new Girasol Gothic Cuervo twill wrap dropping off our milk to donate! 

And I got this pretty cool t-shirt!


Have you donated milk to a local mother or milk bank? I’d love to hear about your experience! Comment below to keep the conversation going!!!
Find out more information about World Breastfeeding Week at their website – http://worldbreastfeedingweek.org/

More information on the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) and their mission here – http://www.waba.org.my/ 

More information on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendations on breastfeeding here – http://www.who.int/topics/breastfeeding/en/ 

More information about Human Milk 4 Human Babies and their mission here – www.hm4hb.net

Find a local milk bank here – www.prolacta.com/find-a-milk-bank 

More information about the Mother’s Milk Bank of Alabama (MMBAL) at their website – https://www.mmbal.org 

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I haven’t poo’d in 18 months, but it’s not what you think!!! The low-down on my no-poo journey!

Yup! The last time I poo’d was in December 2013!!! Used shampoo that is! And I think my hair looks pretty damn good!

So what’s all this no-poo buzz about anyway? Basically, consumers have started to realize that there are lots of questionable ingredients in shampoo and conditioners, some of which are downright toxic, and can actually cause damage to your hair over time.  No-poo means that you’ve gotten so fed up with chemicals that you’ve given up using shampoo at all.  It’s quite the commitment and generally not the first course of action for most people.  I was so tired of my hair breaking and excessive hair loss that I first chose to go low-poo before I went no poo.  Low-poo means avoiding sulfates, silicones, and parabens (more about these ingredients below) in your hair care products. There was also some unfounded rumors a couple years ago that sulfates were causing cancer.  These rumors helped lead consumers to seek out alternatives to traditional shampoo and thus shampoo companies have responded with the recent sulfate-free shampoo movement. The end result is there are a lot more options available to people who want to avoid using harsh chemicals in their beauty products but creative marketing has made it so that consumers have to be educated to know what to avoid.

So here’s a run down of all the common shampoo and conditioner ingredients you will want to avoid on your adventures in living a natural lifestyle:

Sulfates – Sulfates are harsh detergents that are often added as lathering agents.  Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) are probably the most common sulfates and have gotten the most attention recently. They are powerful cleaners but work so well that overtime they can strip the hair of it’s natural oils (called sebum) causing damage (split ends and hair loss) and halting healthy hair growth. They are especially bad for color treated hair, as they can strip all that expensive dye off, as well as naturally curly hair, because they can make it extra frizzy.  If you have allergies, eczema, or find your shampoo irritates your scalp but aren’t ready to give up shampoo just yet try switching to a sulfate-free shampoo.

Is your shampoo low-poo? Here’s a list of ingredients that sulfates can masquerade as so you can be on the look out: Alkylbenzene Sulfonate, Alkylbenzene Sulfonate, Ammonium or Sodium Xylenesulfonate, Dioctyl Sodium Sulfosuccinate, Ethyl PEG-15 Cocamine Sulfate, Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, Sodium Cocoyl Sarcosinate; Sodium Laureth, Myreth, or Lauryl Sulfate; Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate, and TEA-Dodecylbenzenesulfonate.

**Be aware of SLS or SLES “from coconut” as this is a marketing ploy to make consumers believe it is a safer product.  While the raw materials, or lauryl alcohol may be obtained from coconuts it is still combined with other chemicals to form the SLS or SLES and is a long way away from coconut oil!

Sodium Chloride – Also known as table salt, sodium chloride is often added as a thickener to shampoos that contain sodium lauryl sulfate.  While not a toxic chemical it can cause a dry, itchy scalp and should especially be avoided if you use keratin treatments on your hair as it can reduce the effectiveness.

Diethanolamine (DEA) and Triethanolamine (TEA) – DEA and TEA are foaming agents often added to shampoos as sulfate alternatives to help create the lather consumers have come to expect in their shampoo.  In addition, these ingredients are also found as thickening agents in mascara, foundation, facial cleansers, and body washes.  But DEA and TEA can cause skin irritation and, when combined with nitrosating agents (nitrites), can cause a toxic chemical reaction. Currently cosmetic manufacturers are not required to list nitrites on their ingredient labels so it is next to impossible to know if a product contains them so it’s best just to avoid anything containing these ingredients.

Is your shampoo low-poo? Other names DEA and TEA can be listed as include:  Cocamide DEA or Cocamide Diethanolimine, Lauramide DEA or Lauramide Diethanolimine, DEA Lauryl Suphate or Diethanolimine Sulfate, Linoleaide DEA or Linoleaide Diethanolimine, and Oleamide DEA or Oleamide Diethanolimine.    

Silicones – Silicones, like Dimethicone, are often added to shampoos and conditioners because they make your hair appear shiny, soft, and easy to comb but can cause unwanted build up that can weigh your hair down.  Pretty much you want to avoid anything that ends in “cone,” “conol,” “col,” or “xane,” unless it has the abbreviations “PEG” or “PPG” in front of them as these are silicones that are designed to be water soluable and do not cause the same kind of buildup over time as traditional silicones. I prefer to avoid silicones all together though.

Are your shampoo and conditioner low-poo? Here’s a list of ingredients that silicones hide behind: Cetearyl Methicone, Cetyl Dimethicone, Dimethicone, Dimethiconol, and Stearyl Dimethicone are common silicones.  Amodimethicone, Cyclomethicone/Cyclopentasiloxane, and Trimethylsilyamodimethicone are gentler silicones that will slow down the buildup that traditional silicones leave behind but are still technically silicones.  And lastly, Behenoxy Dimethicone and Stearoxy Dimethicone are still technically silicones but are somewhat soluable in water.

Polyethelyne Glycol – Also referred to as PEG/Polyethelyne or Polyoxyethelyne, polyethelyne glycol is a water soluable silicone often added as a thickening agent to shampooos that can strip the hair and skin of its natural moisture.

Parabens – Parabens are used to kill bacteria and prolong shelf life in cosmetics including shampoo, conditioners, sunscreen, moisturizers, anti-aging serums, mascara, etc. They are the most commonly used preservative and unless your skin or beauty product specifically says “paraben-free” it probably has parabens in it.  Despite their common usage, parabens can cause skin irritation, including dermatitis, rosacia, and other allergic reactions in people with sensitive skin.  There’s even some rumors that they may be carcinogenic or have an estrogenic effect with continued exposure.

Are your shampoo and coditioner low-poo? Look for parabens listed as methylparaben, butylparaben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben, ethylparaben, and polyparaben.

Other Ingredients to Avoid: 

Lanolin, Petroleum, and Mineral Oil – These ingredients are often added to shampoos and conditioners marketed for ethnic hair.   However, they offer no additional moisturizing benefit and can actually weigh the hair down and prevent the natural oils (sebum) from being absorbed by the hair shaft, thus actually having a long-term drying effect making hair more brittle.

Formaldehyde –  Formaldehyde is often added as a preservative in cosmetics.  However, it is a known carcinogen and can damage the skin’s natural oils causing dryness, flaking, dermatitis, and other allergic reactions.  Excessive exposure to formaldehyde can actually cause hair loss. **Formaldehyde was an ingredient in the original J&J No More Tears Baby Shampoo, which has recently been reformulated as a result of an outcry by concerned parents.

Propylene Glycol – Also known as antifreeze, propylene glycol is often added to shampoo and other cosmetics to prevent them from freezing during shipping and storage. However, it can cause skin irritations, allergic reactions and even alter the structure of the skin which may allow other chemicals to be more readily absorbed into your bloodstream.

Alcohol – Almost all hair products contain alcohol of some sort but it can be drying in high concentrations.  Stay away from products that list alcohol as one of the first four ingredients on the label.

Synthetic Fragrance or Parfum – Synthetic fragrance can be a complex combination of thousands of chemicals that don’t have to be listed individually on ingredient labels.  Many of these can cause skin irritation or allergic reaction.  Best to just avoid products with fragrance or find products that use essential oils to add natural fragrance instead.

Artificial Color – There is no reason other than aesthetics to add artificial coloring to cosmetics.  Yet artificial colorants can cause skin sensitivity or scalp irritation.

My Journey:

So now that you know why you want to avoid these ingredients, here is a little bit about my journey into the low- and no-poo realm.

I first became interested in the low-poo movement after learning about how harsh SLS and SLES was on the skin.  I had thrown out my facial cleansers and switched to castile soap as a body wash alternative so naturally looking into my shampoo and conditioning routine would be the next logical step.  My hair had been dry, brittle, and damaged for years on end.  I had chalked it up to my own laziness and the fact that I only tend to get my hair trimmed every 1-2 years (yes, you read that correctly…).  In addition to dry, damaged hair I had been losing excessive amounts of hair for the last year or so before I started my journey.  It was bad enough that I had even switched to really expensive, department store shampoos, like Aveda, in a desperate attempt to improve the condition of my hair and help prevent breakage and loss (and I’ve mentioned before how cheap frugal I am so you know this was huge!).

Low(er)-Poo:

After being incredibly disappointed that I didn’t get better results spending ridiculous amounts of money on what I thought was a natural line of department store shampoo and conditioner I swore I’d never spend that much again. So when I went on my quest to find a sulfate free shampoo I started looking for brands that I could buy at a drug or grocery store for half (or less) the price of what I had been spending. My quest led to me to discover the Organix line of hair and beauty products. I started using Organix Anti-Breakage Keratin Oil Shampoo and Conditioner because I liked that it didn’t contain SLS or SLES and had the keratin added as a natural hair strengthening ingredient to help prevent breakage.  Overall, I really liked this product.  However, it claims to be sulfate free but does contain Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, which is technically a Sulfate. So in hindsight, it’s not actually Low Poo, hence my classification of Low(er) Poo.  I felt duped upon this discovery, so I continued to my quest and traveled further down the no poo rabbit hole.

**I’ve since learned that a better bet for drug-store low-poo brand is Shea Moisture. They have several formulations for different hair types all of which do not contain parabens, phthalates, paraffin, formaldehyde, popylene glycol, mineral oil, synthetic fragrance, petrolatum, sythetic color, or DEA and (bonus!) NO Animal Testing!  In fact, we use the Shea Moisture Raw Shea Chamomile & Argon Oil Baby Head-To-Toe Wash & Shampoo with my daughter and love the way it lathers (makes a great bubble bath) and smells!

Oh Poo:

I was already using Dr. Bronner’s Castille Soap as my body wash and in my research I had discovered that lots of people used castille soap as a no poo alternative to traditional shampoo so thought I would give it a try.  While my hair certainly felt clean, the Dr. Bronner’s sadly left my hair flat and kinda dry.  (I still use it as my daily body wash and have even converted my not-so-crunchy husband as well!) But, my favorite all natural blogger Crunchy Betty suggests combining Coconut Milk with Castille Soap to get the nice lather your used to with traditional shampoos and the extra moisturizing effect of the coconut milk. I personally haven’t tried it but if you’re up for it, check out her Sorta Poo recipe!

* I’ve listed this as Oh Poo because since my journey started castille soap, as well as shampoo bars, have been reclassified from No-Poo because technically any kind of soap is well… soap.  Just like you will learn below about other cleansing methods, soaps are very alkaline washing methods (some even more than baking soda) and still need to be followed up with an acidic rinse of some kind.  

**I cannot take credit for this witty renaming… The phrase Oh Poo came from here

No Poo:

When you finally get fed up enough and decide to take the plunge and go full on no poo you will see a lot of people recommend using a clarifying shampoo first.  I didn’t use clarifying shampoo, although this is a step commonly recommended.  Clarifying shampoo will help strip the excess silicones and other chemicals that have built up on the hair over time from using traditional shampoo and conditioning products.  This is also supposed to help decrease the amount of time you go through the transition period.  Since I started with low(er)-poo methods I felt I could skip this step.

So what is the transition period? Basically it is a period of detox for your hair as it releases all the toxic chemicals and allows the buildup of silicones and other ingredients to fade away.  The idea is you want the natural pH balance to return to your hair, a sort of homeostasis as it begins to produce just the right amount of natural oils, or sebum.  We’ve done so much damage to our hair by constantly stripping away the oils that our hair compensates by over-producing oil to try to maintain it’s health.  So it makes sense that when you stop stripping the natural oils that you would go through a period where your hair gets greasier.  This is why many people give up on the no poo methods of hair care.  But I promise, IT WILL GET BETTER! The trick is to give it time.  My transition was about 3 months overall, which is a bit longer than normal and probably couldn’t been shortened had I known more about my hair type and found my ideal routine sooner.

It may take several approaches before you find the right no poo method for you.  Do the research, learn about your hair and what it needs (take the porosity test here), and most importantly don’t give up!

No Poo methods I’ve tried, what worked for me and what didn’t:

  1. Honey – I had read so many scary things about the baking soda/vinegar combo (probably the most common no poo method) damaging people’s hair that I was too afraid to try it initially.  So I scoured the interwebz for other options.  I had already started washing my face with honey at the point that I stumbled across the Empowered Sustenance blog about her DIY Honey Shampoo. I was initially concerned that the honey would make my hair super sticky but if it’s mixed right it doesn’t.  The big turn off for me was having to mix up my “shampoo” before each wash because it can, and will, grow mold (which in hindsight isn’t a super big deal and I have to do that now anyway).  My hair was super soft and shiny using honey but it got super greasy really fast.  There is a big possibility that the grease factor was just my transition period.  I’ll be honest, I haven’t tried it again since then (because raw honey is expensive), but it would probably work just fine now that I’m out of transition.
  2. Bentonite Clay – A friend had given me some Bentonite Clay to use to make a face mask to help with my crazy hormonal acne that I had when I went off birth control so when I decided honey wasn’t the right choice for me I figured I’d give the clay a shot.  Mommypotamus has a good blog on using clay for a mud wash and I used her technique.  I honestly wasn’t impressed and only used the mud wash a few times.  I felt like the clay was harder to get out of my hair and felt that it was pretty drying.  My hair wasn’t as soft, shiny, or as easy to run my fingers through as normal.  if you choose to go the mud wash route, try Rhassoul clay instead.
  3. BS/V – After several incredibly frustrating weeks of trying out the honey and the Bentonite clay I finally gave in and tried the baking soda/vinegar combo and eventually found the routine that works for me.  I originally tried the method I’ve listed below and didn’t feel like it worked well while I was in transition.  I then discovered the “paste method” where I would take 1 tbsp of baking soda and mix with just a touch of water until it formed a paste and would massage the paste into my roots.  I found this much more effective at getting me through my transition but I’ve since learned that this can be really damaging to your hair.  When I got pregnant my paste routine didn’t seem to be working as well and I switched to the method I describe below and it worked so much better! In hindsight, I wouldn’t do the paste method again, I would simply try to wait out my transition period. The key to any no poo wash is making sure that you restore the pH balance of your hair.  Wash methods are mainly alkaline in nature so its important that you use some sort of acidic rinse to return your hair to its slightly acidic baseline. This seals the cuticle of the hair, so to speak, and helps the keratin lay flat on your hair resulting in soft, silky, and smooth hair! The most common acid rinse is vinegar.  But I’ve also tried coffee and beer with some success.  If you want to lighten your hair, lemon juice is also a good alternative.  (See link at bottom of blog for more details on different wash routines and acid rinses).
    1. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) – This is generally recommended for people with dryer hair.  My hair actually tends to be a bit oilier so I’m not sure why I originally started with ACV (it may have been because the smell is ever so slightly less offensive to my hubby) but I did and it seems to work well for me.  But if you try it and you feel like it weighs your hair down, a switch to DWV may do the trick. *Some people will tell you to use the ACV “with the mother” (like Bragg’s) which basically means that the raw enzymes used to ferment the vinegar haven’t been removed.  If I was drinking vinegar for health purposes I would totally make sure that I was using vinegar with the mother because it is full of gut friendly bacteria that help promote overall health but to rinse my hair that stuff is just way to expensive and seemed largely unnecessary. 
    2. Distilled White Vinegar (DWV) – Often recommended for people with oilier hair.

BS-ACV routine

Celia’s BS/ACV “No Poo” Routine:

Baking Soda Hair Wash: 1 tbsp baking soda to 1 cup of water.  One trick I learned is that if you have hard water, boil your water first.    The baking soda will fizz a bit when the boiling water mixes in.  I take a spoon and make sure that it completely mixes.  Let cool then use to wash the roots of your hair, scrinching and massaging the scalp. I mix this up a few minutes before my shower and wash dishes or pump while it cools off. *If your head gets a little itchy or you feel like your scalp is too dry, try decreasing the amount of baking soda until you find a ratio that works for you. 

ACV Hair Rinse: I use a 22 oz spray bottle from the Dollar Tree.  Fill 1/3 of the way with ACV and fill the rest up with water.  I don’t boil this water, but I’ve seen some people recommend boiling it for this step too.  Then I add 20 drops each of my essential oils (you can use less if you have a smaller spray bottle).  Currently I’m using Lavender, Cedarwood, and Ylang Ylang.  The Ylang Ylang completely covers up the vinegar smell (and my hubby has a nose like a bloodhound where vinegar is concerned so this is awesome)!  *Check out my list below for details on which essential oils are good for your hair and pick your favorites based on your hair needs! I only use my hair rinse on the hair from my ears down.  All the no poo fanatics will tell you this is wrong and that you should make sure to spray it on the top of your head too in order to restore the pH balance of your hair but I find that if I do this my hair gets greasier quicker, but be warned, my routine is technically “wrong.”  Try spraying your whole head first and make the decision that works best for your hair.  I leave my hair rinse spray bottle in the shower and use it until it’s gone and have never had any problem with mold growing in it.  But I have seen people recommend only mixing up the amount that you will use at a time.

Essential Oils for Hair Care:

* You can use any of these oils as part of a no-poo, low-poo, oh-poo, or poo-poo routine! Just add a few drops to your preferred rinse or conditioner!

  • Cedarwood – Great for a dry scalp or thinning hair, helps prevent hair loss (I chose this for my current rinse because I was battling the postpartum hair loss and wanted an oil to help combat that)
  • Frankincense – Maintains healthy hair and stimulates regrowth
  • Lavender – Helps control hair loss, improves hair growth, and helps get rid of an itchy scalp and dry flakes.
  • Peppermint – Great for an oily scalp.
  • Rosemary – Encourages hair growth.
  • Sandalwood – Helps restore moisture to hair and gives it a nice shine. Also supposedly helps combat premature greying of your hair!
  • Tea Tree – Helps minimize flakes and prevents lice.
  • Ylang Ylang – A natural hair conditioner that stimulates hair growth. Plus it smells lovely!

I use only Young Living’s 100% pure, therapeutic grade essential oils.  Join Young Living to enjoy a 24% off discount. Message me for more details or join today here!

Other considerations and helpful tips for your no poo journey:

  • Learn to love wearing your hair in a ponytail or braids – it will save your sanity while you are going through transition! You need to go as long as possible between washing to help your hair through transition.  Especially with the BS/V routine you don’t want to wash your hair any more often than every 4 days.  It was seriously painful going this long between washes and seeing how greasy and gross my hair looked in the beginning.  Eventually I got to where I could make it 6-7 days between washes.  Now that I’ve cut my hair and have a difficult time putting it in a ponytail I admit that I can no longer go that long between washes.  I generally wash every 4 days now.  My hair looks great for the first three days, the fourth it starts to get a little flat but is still totally presentable. I can go 5 days but my hair is looking pretty rough by that 5th day.
  • Dry shampoo – another trick that saved my sanity during transition. When your hair starts to get greasy on day 2 or 3 but you need to go longer between washes, use an old makeup brush to apply dry shampoo to your roots.  I made my own using a recipe I found on the Wellness Mama blog (find it here).  I used arrowroot and cocoa powder since I have dark hair.  Blonds can get away with just arrowroot. And redheads can use cinnamon or red clay.
  • Boar Bristle Brush (BBB) – A BBB is a natural bristle brush that is used to help distribute the natural oils (sebum) along the length of your hair. This is technically the best type of hair brush to use, but I find that it makes my hair really staticky so I don’t really use it much anymore. But when in transition this is really important because it can keep the shaft of your hair moisturized and keep the sebum buildup from being quite so noticeable.  The Morocco Method is what is frequently recommended for brushing with a BBB.  Check out a how to video here.

Notes and References: 

I found a great deal of information and support on my no-poo journey from the No Poo (no shampoo) & Low Poo Hair Care Group Forum on Facebook.  It’s a public group so you can peruse the files without joining but must join as a group member to comment and ask questions.   Here are links to some of their files:

  • Getting Started With No Poo
  • No Poo Wash Methods – a pretty comprehensive list of the no poo wash methods out there.
  • Oh Poo – a list of soaps that can be used to wash the hair without the damaging effects of sulfates, silicones, and parabens found in commercial shampoos.  Note: Soaps are alkaline and you WILL still need an acid rinse of some kind to balance the pH of your hair
  • Acidic Rinses & herbal Rinses/Teas/Infusions – a pretty comprehensive list of rinses that help restore the pH balance of your hair when using alkaline washing methods and provide a conditioning effect

Want to take it even further, check out Water Only (WO) and Sebum Only (SO) methods of hair care!

Another great, non-Facebook, resource is the No Poo Method website.  It has a great list of FAQ’s and describes a variety of methods and problem solving approaches to common pitfalls with the no poo method.

Do you no poo? Share your method below to keep the conversation going!

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Products and techniques mentioned here are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Information here is in no way intended to replace proper medical help. Consult with the health authorities of your choice for treatment.


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My All Natural Skin Care Routine: Plus My Favorite DIY Facial Serum Recipe (using Essential Oils)!

I just hosted my first Essential Oils 101 class two weekends ago and had so much fun sharing all about the oils I’m so passionate about with a great group of lovely ladies! And it occurred to me that it has been awhile since I had written a blog post about how I use my essential oils in my daily life.  I’ve shared a lot about using essential oils to clean and a few hygiene sort of recipes so figured it was time to share some of my beauty routine with y’all! First, a bit about my journey.  My husband and I started trying to conceive after our 1 year wedding anniversary, on May 19, 2013.  I had been on hormonal birth control pills for 17 years and when I went off of them my whole body went bonkers! I later learned that I had PCOS (Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome) and that’s what was causing my crazy hormonal issues and making it so difficult for us to conceive.  My hormonal imbalances were most obvious with my skin.  My once beautiful, soft, smooth skin suddenly became a nightmare of crazy teenage-type acne breakouts… at 32 years old!!!  I seriously tried everything shy of going to a dermatologist (which would’ve taken me 2+ months to get in and they likely would’ve prescribed medication that I’d have to discontinue when I got pregnant and/or antibiotics which I didn’t really want to take).  As a measure of last resort I started researching natural alternatives to skin care to find away to help clear up my skin.  That was when I discovered Crunchy Betty’s blog and started my adventures in living a natural lifestyle.

When I decided to rid my life of toxic chemicals, starting with my skin and beauty routines, I literally threw out 20+ bottles of skincare products, both drug store and expensive department store brands, none of which worked to control my acne. I found a fair bit of success using honey and even more luck when I switched to the oil cleansing method (OCM) to cleanse my face while I was having extreme acne breakouts.  My skin cleared almost completely once I got pregnant and my hormones got back in check (and my skin has so far stayed clear since having my darling little daughter with only the occasional breakouts) and I’m lazy, so I no longer use either of these methods.  But they were great alternatives to traditional, chemical filled store-bought cleansers. So rather than reinvent the wheel, here are some links to Crunchy Betty’s blog posts on both these methods:

Crunchy Betty’s Honey Challenge – all about how to wash your face with honey!

Nitty Gritty on the Oil Cleansing Method – a great intro to oil cleansing with descriptions of the various oils and the skin types they work best with.

Trying and Troubleshooting the Oil Cleansing Method – a follow up to her previous post that gives 5 new tips she learned through 2 years of trials and tribulations with the oil cleansing method.  Read both posts before you begin for the best success!

* I will add this, I personally had the most luck with a combo of Castor Oil and Jojoba Oil when I was using OCM to help reduce acne breakouts.  But try out different oils and find the best combo for your skin type.  You don’t have to have acneic skin for OCM to work for you!

So, want to know my current skin care routine? Of course you do! That’s why you’re reading this blog post after all, right?

  • Water only to clean my face.  No seriously, that’s it! When i take a shower I just rub my face with circular motions using hot water only.  As I’ve mentioned before I’m pretty lazy and I only actually “wash” my face at night.
  • Thayer’s Rosewater Witch Hazel Alcohol-Free Toner as an astringent. I apply this with a cotton round after my showers at night and once again in the morning to get rid of any extra oil that my skin produced overnight. I love the rose petal one for it’s added moisturizing effect and lovely scent but I’ve also used the plain and the lavender as well.  I spend the extra money on Thayer’s because all the other brands I could find in the grocery/drug store witch hazel had alcohol in it and I didn’t want the drying effect that alcohol has on my skin. More info about Thayer’s Witch Hazel varieties here.
  • Tea Tree Essential Oil as my acne spot treatment – Tea Tree Oil is a natural antiseptic and can help cleanse the skin as well as dry up blemishes and reduce future breakouts. I use it “neat” – just a dab on a qtip, applied directly to the blemish.  Note: Tea Tree Oil may cause skin sensitivity with repeated exposure.  I haven’t had any problems yet and have been using it for a couple years now but I do personally know people that have had a reaction to it.  
  • Coconut Oil as eye makeup remover. If you haven’t caught my review of my awesome mascara, check it out here: I’ve found my perfect (naturally based, cruelty-free) mascara!  The downside is that I can no longer be lazy and absolutely must take my eye makeup off or it won’t apply right the next day and it doesn’t come off with water only or with my astringent.
  • DIY Natural Sunscreen as my daytime moisturizer. If you missed my previous post with the recipe, check it out here: DIY Natural Sunscreen
  • DIY Facial Serum as my nighttime moisturizer.  You want the recipe? Here it is!

DIY Facial Serum

DIY Facial Serum:

Ingredients:

  • Fractionated Coconut Oil
  • Melrose essential oil blend – Young Living’s proprietary blend of Tea Tree, Rosemary, and Clove essential oils designed to soothe and support healthy skin. The Tea Tree and Rosemary oils have an added benefit of a cleansing effect and the Clove helps support a healthy immune system.
  • Frankincense essential oil – a natural astringent that helps soothe and tone the skin as well as supporting a healthy immune system.  May help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles to promote more radiant, younger looking skin!
  • Lavender essential oil – In addition to having a soothing effect, lavender essential oil is a natural antioxidant and moisturizer that can help soothe irritation as well as detox the skin and protect it from the daily barrage of sun and pollution damage. Plus it has a calming effect and can promote relaxation and a better night’s sleep!

Directions:

Combine 2 oz of Fractionated Coconut Oil with 7 drops each of the essential oils. Shake gently before use and apply to skin at night before bed (could also be used as a daytime moisturizer).  A little goes a long way!

There are lots of other essential oils that have amazing benefits for healthy skin, including but not limited to Carrot Seed (high SPF and rejuvenating effect), Geranium (helps regulate oil production and may reduce breakouts), Myrrh (helps improve skin tone and firmness promoting more youthful looking skin), Neroli (moisturizes, improves skin tone and may reduce fine lines and wrinkles), Patchouli (a natural antiseptic that helps soothe irritation and promotes skin regeneration), Rose (especially moisturizing and can promote healing), and Ylang Ylang (helps control oil production and reduce breakouts).  Feel free to mix and match to find the right combination of essential oils for your particular skin care needs!

I use only Young Living’s 100% pure, therapeutic grade essential oils.  Join Young Living to enjoy a 24% off discount.  Message me for more details or join today here!

** Both my DIY Natural Sunscreen and my DIY Facial Serum use Coconut Oil as the base.  However, Coconut Oil is comedogenic, meaning that it can clog pores.  I haven’t noticed any more than the occasional breakout but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this.  If you have acne prone skin or have found that Coconut Oil causes breakouts for your skin, here is a list of alternative carrier oils that you could use for your DIY facial serum.  I’ve also included approximate SPF information of the oils that may offer some SPF protection as alternatives to Coconut Oil in the DIY Sunscreen recipe.

Comedogenic Ratings of Alternative Carrier Oils for Facial Serums*:

Will not clog pores:

  • Hemp Seed Oil
  • Mineral Oil
  • Safflower Oil
  • Sunflower Oil

Low:

  • Castor Oil (SPF 5)

Moderately Low:

  • Almond Oil (SPF 4)
  • Apricot Kernel Oil
  • Avocado Oil
  • Evening Primrose Oil
  • Grape Seed Oil
  • Hazelnut Oil
  • Olive Oil (SPF 4-7)
  • Peanut Oil (do NOT use if you have peanut allergies)
  • Sandalwood Seed Oil
  • Sesame Oil (SPF 1-2)

Moderate:

  • Corn Oil
  • Cotton Seed Oil
  • Soybean Oil

Fairly HIgh:

  • Coconut Oil (SPF 4-7)

High:

  • Wheat Germ Oil

* Adapted from the Lemondroppers Comedogenic Ratings graphic

For more information on alternative moisturizing oil blends check out Crunchy Betty’s Simple Homemade 3-Ingredient Facial Oil Moisturizer blog post! It’s got a lot of alternative carrier oil choices with descriptions of what types of skin they are good for as well as descriptions of other skin nourishing essential oils not listed here!

So there you have it! Do you have an all natural beauty routine? I’d love to hear what works for you! Comment below to keep the conversation going!

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Products and techniques mentioned here are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Information here is in no way intended to replace proper medical help. Consult with the health authorities of your choice for treatment.


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Infant tummies are delicate things! Here’s a DIY Prune Puree and Juice recipe for constipated babies.

So in all my excitement to introduce my daughter to new and exciting healthy solid foods I missed the memo about constipation.  Up until 4 1/2 months my daughter was exclusively fed breastmilk.  We started solids slowly only giving her a little here and a little there for the first two weeks, then once a day for the next 3 weeks or so and only in the last couple weeks have we been giving her solids twice daily.  At home it is usually in between breastfeeding but at daycare they tend to offer her solids first around lunch time and then give a bottle after she has had her food.  I had previously read that babies didn’t need water because they got all they needed from breastmilk or formula.  However, once babies start solids adding a little bit of water, between 2-4 oz daily, can help prevent constipation.  Live and learn…

Little tummies are delicate things. So last weekend we were faced with a very constipated and unhappy baby.  She was super fussy, only wanted to be held, had a lot of excess gas and would cry when she would pass what little she could.  So I immediately ran to my Facebook mommies support group and asked how to help.  The overwhelming answer was give her prunes or prune juice and add a bit of water daily during meal times.  The water was easy, we’ve got a sippy cup that we had introduced a couple times so this just gave us a reason to practice daily (although I’m not convinced she’s getting much as she seems to wear more of it than she drinks on most days!).  But I had no idea how to give a baby prunes.  Since we’ve been making all our own homemade healthy baby food thus far (see my previous post Homemade Nutritious Baby Food Recipes) I accepted the challenge and went off to find a prune purée recipe.  What I found was super simple!

DIY Prune Purée and Juice Recipe: 

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag of organic dried prunes – you can usually find these in the bulk or dried food sections of healthfood stores.  (I was desperate and closer to Kroger than any of our health food stores in town and couldn’t find organic.  But I did find preservative free prunes, so that alleviated some of my guilt.  Prunes, or Plums rather, are 18/50 on EWG’s Full List of Fruits and Vegetables with Pesticide Residue so you decide how important organic is to you.)
  • Approximately 2 cups of water – enough to cover the plums by 1″

Directions:

Rinse prunes well, especially if you were unable to find organic prunes.  Place prunes in medium saucepan and cover with water by 1″.  Bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Let cool then add prunes to Vitamix or food processor.  Add reserved water a little at a time until desired consistency.  It will be a thick paste consistency, however.  You can even experiment by adding it to other foods to keep little systems regular.  Keep the remainder of the reserved prune water to give as a substitute to store bought prune juice.  No added sugar, preservatives or artificial junk! (I served a little and froze the rest in breastmilk storage bags – 2 oz each for when we need to get the system moving again).

Modified from the original recipe at Rookie Moms: Prune Baby Food

 

My little love was blocked up for 3 days with very little movement.  I made this puree on Sunday and gave her 1 oz plus she drank about 1/2 – 1 oz of prune juice that day and sent her with 1 oz of puree and more juice to daycare on Monday.  On Monday she had 3 BM (be prepared for poopsplosions – here’s my recipe for DIY Stain Remover if you missed it) and 2 more on Tuesday.  We served apple puree on Tuesday at daycare as a transition meal then re-introduced greens Tuesday evening for some fiber and froze the rest of the prune purée for a rainy day.  It seemed like this has helped reset her system a little bit.  I’ve been more cautious about giving too much oatmeal or too many bananas and have been trying to give her water every day (although I admit I forget some days).  Overall we are quite pleased with this recipe!

What’s your favorite way to give your little one prunes? Share your recipe below!


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Want an eco-friendly, chemical-free, safe and effective bug spray but don’t want to DIY it? Check out Eco Diva’s Bug Me Not Bug Spray!

I realize that not everyone is a DIYer.  Maybe you don’t have enough time.  Maybe you are turned off by the initial investment to build up your supply cabinet. Or maybe you just like the convenience of pre-made products.  That’s why I jumped at the opportunity to review Eco Diva’s Bug Me Not Bug Spray! It’s a chemical-free formula created with essential oils that is a wonderful alternative to the traditional, chemical-laden commercial bug sprays.

You may remember some of the reasons why I don’t like commercial bug sprays from my DIY Bugspray recipe post.  But in case you missed it, here’s a refresher!

The most common ingredient in bug sprays is the pesticide N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide, or DEET, which aside from preventing obnoxious bug bites has been recommended to prevent mosquito-born diseases such as malaria and West-Nile virus.  But over recent years DEET has faced a great deal of criticism.

According to Popular Science magazine, there is no direct evidence that DEET harms the nervous system and is generally regarded as safe to use on the skin.  However, according to the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Library of Medicine bug spray poisoning from DEET is not only possible but does include nervous system damage.  The most common side effect is skin irritation, including redness, itching, or hives.  But those who use DEET in high concentration may experience more severe reactions, such as blistering, burning, or permanent scars. And if ingested DEET can cause nausea, vomiting, hypotension (low blood pressure), bradycardia (low heart rate), or even neurological damage (such as disorientation, clumsiness when walking, seizures, coma, or even death) in the most severe cases. DEET is especially dangerous for small children and can cause seizures if their skin is exposed to the chemical over a prolonged period. Who wants to risk spraying that on their skin or putting it on their children!?! No thank you!

So, now that your ready to throw out your bug spray, here’s a little about the company Eco Diva and their best selling bug spray.

Eco Diva was founded in 2008 by Jody Norcio in Nashville, TN as a way to provide truly natural, chemical-free, and affordable personal care products.  Since many of their clients had skin sensitivities, Eco Diva vowed to only use pure and natural, plant-based, biodegradable ingredients that are organic when possible. None of their products contain parabens, SLS, phthalates, dyes, chemicals, synthetic fragrances or preservatives.  They are a truly eco-friendly company and choose each ingredient with the environment in mind, working hard to use sustainable practices that keep their eco-footprint at a minimum.  In addition, Eco Diva believes in giving back to their local community.  They support local farmers, provide free bug spray to the homeless, and donate 10% of their proceeds to local charities!  Watch a short video about Eco Diva here.

Eco Diva’s Bug Me Not Bug Spray is an effective blend of essential oils chosen to be safe for your entire family, although they suggest not using on children under 6 months old.  It comes in either a 4 oz or 8 oz plastic amber spray container, with a rustic-looking recycled label and costs $8 or $12 respectively. They list all their ingredients on the website as well as on the label for each bottle.  They include: alcohol-free witch hazel, distilled water, vegetable glycerin, organic lemongrass, eucalyptus, tea tree & juniper berry essential oils, citronella, lavender and cedar wood essential oils.

I’ve had my bottle of Eco Diva’s Bug Me Not Bugspray for a couple weeks now and it seems like every time I think I’ll get a chance to try it out it rains or my plans get changed.  But over the 4th of July weekend we did have a brief let up in the rain and my hubby, daughter, and I went to Grandpa’s house to BBQ so naturally I grabbed my bottle of bug spray to take with us!  My daughter is still under 6 months old so I didn’t use it on her but did spray myself down and figured if it kept the pesky little critters off me then she would most likely be protected since I was holding her most of the day.  The fragrance of the essential oil blends was quite pleasing and the spray went on light and wasn’t too wet or sticky.

I’ll admit that the bugs weren’t overly bad on the 4th of July, I’m guessing that the rain had kept most of them away (now in two weeks when all the new little baby mosquitoes hatch from the puddles all this rain has created we will have to try it out again!).  But I am pleased to say that neither myself nor my daughter were bothered by any biting insects.  House flies were somewhat obnoxious that day but as near as I can tell traditional bug sprays aren’t designed to keep flies from landing on you either. I haven’t convinced the hubby to try it out yet – he will be the true test of the effectiveness of this formula.  I’ll try to remember to post an update after he tries it out.

In summary, the pros and cons of Eco Diva’s Bug Me Not Bug Spray are:

Pros:

  • Safe for the entire family
  • No parabens, SLS, phthalates, dyes, chemicals, synthetic fragrances or preservatives
  • Environmentally responsible ingredients
  • Sustainable business practices
  • Supports a small business that believes in giving back to their community
  • Smells good
  • Lightweight – not too wet or sticky like some commercial bug sprays

Cons:

  • Plastic container – essential oils will degrade plastic over time but it is much more cost effective (and lighter weight) than glass containers and the savings are passed on to you the consumer.  Just make sure to buy the small bottle if you don’t think you will use it all that often and remember to recycle your container when you are finished.
  • More expensive than store bought bug spray – but still cheaper than other eco-friendly, chemical-free formulas

Overall I’m quite pleased with Eco Diva’s Bug Me Not Bug Spray and would highly recommend it to anyone who didn’t want to make their own.  It lives in my diaper bag so that I always have it with me and don’t have to worry about exposing my baby to nasty chemicals if it leaks (but so far it hasn’t).  I look forward to trying it out on days when the bugs are more aggressive than they were on the 4th of July and convincing my hubby to try it for himself since he’s a mosquito magnet!

 

If you’re local to the Nashville area you can find Eco Diva’s But Me Not Bug Spray and other products at FirefliesWhite’s Mercantile, Artistry SpaSalon, and Pumpkin Doodle as well as at the Franklin Farmers Market.

If you’re like me and not local you can order your own Bug Me Not Bugspray from Eco Diva’s website: ecodiva.co.  Also make sure to check out their other products, including eco-friendly sunscreen, eczema relief, and doggie wash!

And make sure to go and “like” Eco Diva on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ecodiva.tn

 

Do you have a natural product you want me to review? Send me a message! I’d love to try it out!

 


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Increase Breastmilk Production Naturally: Plus, a recipe for Homemade Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Lactation Cookies!

I have blessed to have been a dairy cow in another life and have never had supply issues. In fact, I have approximately 700 oz of breastmilk squirreled away in my deep freeze in the garage. I’m not sure why but I have a deep rooted fear that one day I’ll suddenly stop producing enough milk to feed my child, as insane as this sounds. But since starting my daughter on solids I have noticed a bit of a dip in my supply and I only seem to be pumping about a day’s worth rather than having enough to add to my freezer stash like I had been for the 5 previous months.

I had done a little bit of research while pregnant on galactagogues, or substances that promote milk supply, but thankfully hadn’t had to use any of the things I learned. But recently i had been asked by a friend how I had enough milk to be able to use extra milk in my homemade baby food recipes so I thought I would share what I know in case it helps her, or anyone else.

First, most women actually produce enough milk for their baby based on supply and demand.  But if you have concerns or your baby isn’t gaining enough weight a consult with a good lactation consultant (LC) is invaluable!  Check local hospitals, mommy groups, and milk banks for recommendations of LC’s in your area. They can help ensure that your baby has a good latch and offer a number of techniques and tricks to help promote a good supply, which may include nursing more frequently, pumping after feedings, or “power pumping.”

If you just wanted to boost your supply a bit here is a list of commonly recommended galactagogues that I’ve run across while doing my research.  Always do your research to educate yourself on any side effects and always consult with a medical professional before using any herbs or supplements.

Herbals:

  • Fenugreek – Fenugreek is probably the best known herbal supplement to boost milk supply.  Fenugreek is a middle-eastern spice that comes from a plant in the pea family. It is found in capsule form as well as in tea.  The tea may not be as strong as taking it in capsule form. It can be used in conjunction with Blessed Thistle. Warning: a common side effect is that it may make you smell like maple syrup, so if you are opposed to this smell you may want to avoid it.
  • Blessed Thistle – Blessed Thistle is another really common herbal supplement recommended to help increase breastmilk production.  Often recommended to be used in conjunction with Fenugreek, Blessed Thistle is highly regarded by the breastfeeding specialist, Jack Newman. Traditionally used to help with indigestion and with loss of appetite. Blessed Thistle is not the same thing as Milk Thistle, although both have been identified as galactagogues.  Milk Thistle is more often used as a food (peeled, tender shoots) rather than an herbal supplement.
  • Red Raspberry Leaf – Red Raspberry Leaf is a common ingredient in nursing teas and tinctures.  It is high in vitamins and minerals, including niacin (in the B Vitamin family). Also known as a uterine toner it can help the uterus return to it’s normal size immediately following birth.  Some recommend Red Raspberry Leaf to help support uterine health while trying to conceive as well as to prepare for birth after 40+ weeks gestation.
  • Chasteberry (Vitex) – Chasteberry is actually a prolactin-inhibitor usually recommended to help balance hormones but has been proven through repeated studies to increase breastmilk production in nursing mothers.  This may be an ideal choice if you are struggling with hormonal imbalances while breastfeeding, including PMS. Note: Chasteberry may start menses in nursing women so avoid if you are relying on lactational amenorrhea as a birth control method.
  • Other less common herbal galactagogues include: Fennelseed(may help with let down and to ease mother’s digestive issues), Goat’s Rue, Alfalfa (avoid if you have an auto-immune disorder), Wild Asparagus, Nettle and Hops.

Food and Ingredients:

  • Oatmeal – Lactation consultants will often recommend that you start your day off with a bowl of oatmeal, whole or steel cut oats, because they have more of the nutrients to help boost milk supply than instant oatmeal.
  • Brewer’s Yeast – Brewer’s Yeast contains iron, protein, and B vitamins, as well as chromium, selenium and other trace minerals that help boost milk supply. In addition, Brewer’s Yeast may help decrease fatigue and fight off the “baby blues.” Brewer’s Yeast may cause gas, bloating, or diarrhea in some women and/or colic-like symptoms in babies if used too often. **The combination of Brewer’s Yeast and Hops in beer may be why you hear some women say they “breastfed their babies on beer!” You often see women in online chat groups recommend that you have a good beer to relax at the end of the day.  However,alcohol may actually inhibit milk production and if you drink enough it can pass through your breastmilk, so drink sparingly, if at all.
  • Flaxseed – Flaxseed contains phytoestrogens, a plant-based compound that can mildly mimic estrogen and is believed to increase milk supply. In addition, it is a great source of fiber, which nursing mothers also need.  It can easily be ground up and added to oatmeal, cereal, baked goods, smoothies, etc.
  • Other foods include: Fennel, dark leafy greens, other whole grains (including barley, millet, and quinoa), chickpeas (break out the hummus!), nuts (especially almonds), sesame seeds, ginger, and papaya.

Store bought products:

  • Mother’s Milk Tea – Mother’s Milk Tea is often recommended by nursing mothers.  It has several of the ingredients mentioned above, including Fennel Fruit, Anise Fruit, Coriander Fruit, Fenugreek Seed, Blessed Thistle herb, Spearmint, Lemongrass, Lemon Verbana, and Marshmallow root. Some people don’t like it because it has a slight licorice taste and odor, however. Check it out here: Mother’s Milk Tea by Traditional Medicines.

I had been gifted some Brewer’s Yeast by another mother and had been holding on to it for awhile without having used it because I didn’t have all the ingredients for cookies.  But over my 4 day holiday weekend I got a hankering for some chocolate chip cookies and went to the store just to make some! While certainly not the most healthy recipe these were really yummy and a big hit in my house (the hubby approves but was a little weirded out when I mentioned that they were “lactation cookies” lol).  I may research how to make a healthier recipe in the future since we have been trying to get back into a more clean eating routine lately.   But here is the recipe I used.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Lactation Cookies:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp flax seed meal
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 cups oats
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2-4 tbsp brewer’s yeast (I only used 2)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Mix the flax seed meal and water and let sit for 3-5 minutes
  3. Using hand mixer, beat butter, sugar and brown sugar well. Add eggs, vanilla and flax seed mixture and beat until well blended.
  4. Sift together flour, brewer’s yeast, baking soda and salt.
  5. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture
  6. Stir in oats and chocolate chips.
  7. Spoon mixture into greased baking sheet approximately 2″ apart.
  8. Bake for 12 minutes.
  9. Let cool before removing from baking sheet.

Makes approximately 60 cookies (if you don’t eat the batter – I think I got like 55 out of mine…)

Original recipe from Food.com

I found that my supply did increase over the weekend.  In fact, this is what happens when you eat 5 (holds head in shame) lactation cookies before bed, skip pumping because the bed was calling your name, and your almost 6 month old unexpectedly sleeps through the night for the first time in months…

And yes that’s my LEFT supply on the left (like most women, my left breast has trouble keeping up with my right).  That’s how I know the cookies worked!

Do you have a tried and true lactation cookie recipe? Share it below!


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Thieves HouseHold Cleaner: DIY All-Purpose Wipes

Love this idea as a natural alternative to the Clorox Green Wipes I’ve used for years! I recently ditched them for my own DIY Thieves cleaner and DIY Natural Dust Repellent but miss the convenience of my wipes! Looking forward to my July Essential Rewards order because I’m biting the bullet and ordering the Thieves cleaner used in the recipe! Can’t wait to give this a try!!!

The Oil Posse

CW_ContainerWipes

This post is super exciting! It brings together the ease of quick clean-ups with the fresh scent of Thieves Household Cleaner.

It is quick and easy to make your own all-purpose wipes. Don’t worry we will walk you through the process.

CW_AllSuppliesSupplies Needed:

1 Container — we used an empty wipe (or baby wipe) container
1 Gallon Distilled Water
1 Bottle Thieves Household Cleaner
200 quality coffee filters

Instructions:

Fill container of your choice with approx. 4-6 cups of distilled water. We filled our empty wipe container about half full (see below).

CW_HalfWater

Now add 2-4 tablespoons of Thieves Household Cleaner. We added 1/4 cup (4 Tbsp) and this is what it looked like (see below) but we may add just 2 Tbsp for the next batch. Place lid and give a gently swirl.

CW_THHCAdd

Now add coffee filters and mash down until covered with the cleaning mixture. Place on lid, turn…

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