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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Top 10 Best Smells of the Holidays (with an Essential Oils twist!)

Top 10 Best Smells of the Holidays with an Essential Oils Twist

Last week Huffington Post published a Top 10 list called the  “Very Best Smells of the Holidays.”   These Holiday smells really resonated with me but I thought surely my oily peeps would want to know how to mimic some of these fragrances with their essential oils collection.  And thus, the following list was inspired! So check out my

Top 10 Best Smells of the Holidays (with an Essential Oils twist!)

Peppermint Hot Chocolate

1.   Hot Chocolate

Number one on Huffington Post’s list was Hot Chocolate, always a cold weather favorite of mine, especially during the Holiday season! I used to think that there wasn’t much you could do to make Hot Chocolate taste any better… until I met the heavenly combo of Peppermint essential oil and Hot Chocolate! Just 1 drop = Heaven in a cup!

 

Essential Oil Sugar Cookie Recipes

2.   Freshly Baked Sugar Cookies

Adding essential oils to your favorite sugar cookie recipe can take your party from traditional to something your friends and family will be talking about for years to come! Check out a few of these awesome sugar cookie recipes with Young Living essential oils!

No time (or just not in the mood) to bake? Try diffusing 5-6 drops of Stress Away essential oil blend! It’s a lovely blend of Copaiba, Lime, Cedarwood, Vanilla, Ocotea (which is very cinnamon-like), and Lavender.  Perfect for making your home smell like you just baked something delicious without the hard work or mess!

 

Fireplace Oils

3.   A Fire

A fun and creative way to use essential oils is to add a few drops to your logs for your fireplace to amplify the energy of your fire and enhance the smell of evergreen in your home!  You can add the drops to dry firewood days or weeks before you burn it.  Also a great gift idea for family and friends who have a wood burning fireplace in their home!

Fireplace Oils – When adding essential oils to fireplace logs use 1 drop of essential oil per log and only one log per fire. After applying the essential oil to the log be sure to let it sit for enough time that the essential oil soaks through the log (at least 30 minutes). Some choices are Royal Hawaiian Sandalwood, Frankincense, Myrrh, Cypress, and Cedarwood.

 

Peppermint

4.   Peppermint

Who doesn’t love Peppermint?  Candy canes are so symbolic of the Holiday season and Peppermint everything infiltrates our coffee shops and supermarket shelves.  And I, for one, don’t mind at all! There are so many ways you can enjoy Peppermint essential oil this season in addition to the aforementioned Peppermint Hot Chocolate.

  • Love baking? Try making some Peppermint Brownies! Just add 3 drops of Peppermint essential oil to your favorite brownie mix for a tasty Holiday treat!
  • Want your house to smell like one of my favorite peppermint treats? Try the Peppermint Bark Diffuser Recipe = 2 drops of Peppermint + 2 drops of Stress Away essential oil blend!
  • Looking for the perfect DIY gifts? Someone on your list is sure to love a Peppermint Pedicure in a Jar, or Candy Cane Bath Salts, or how about Raspberry Mint Lip Balm? Check out my DIY Holiday Gift Guide for these, and many more, recipes!

 

Spiced Apple Cider with Young Living essential oils

5.   Mulled Cider

Ah cider! One of my favorite Holiday drinks! I love sitting back, relaxing in front of a toasty winter fire with a warm glass of spiced Apple Cider!  I was super excited to find a recipe for Spiced Apple Cider using Young Living essential oils as the spices and tried it out at my DIY Holiday Gift Guide essential oils class I taught back in November! It was a huge it!

  • Spiced Apple Cider = In a crockpot, combine 3 qts organic Apple Juice + 5 drops of Clove + 5 drops of Cinnamon Bark + 8 drops of Orange + 2 drops of Nutmeg.  Allow to simmer for at least 30 minutes.  Serve hot and garnish with orange slices, whole cloves, and/or cinnamon sticks.  Have the recipe handy because your Holiday party guests are sure to thank you!
  • Love the way cider smells but don’t want to make a whole batch? Check out this Apple Cider Diffuser Recipe = 3-4 drops Orange + 3 drops Cinnamon Bark + 3 drops Ginger

Evergreen Essence: For that fresh cut Christmas Tree smell

6.   Pine

Young Living has several “woody” essential oils, including Pine, Idaho Balsam Fir, Blue Spruce, Northern Lights Black Spruce, Cedarwood, and Evergreen Essence (which is a blend of Blue Spruce, Ponderosa Pine, Scotch Pine, Red Fir, Western Red Cedar, White Fir, Black Pine, Pinyon Pine, and Lodgepole Pine essential oils)!  They also ran a special promotional oil back in August of 2014 if you were lucky enough to score some White Fir with your Essential Rewards order (but alas, this was before my time)! Any one of these by themselves would make a great oil to diffuse to get into the holiday spirit, especially if you are like me and LOVE the smell of fresh cut Christmas trees but the hippy inside you dies a little every time you think about cutting down a tree!   Here’s a few diffuser recipes to get you started!

Want a simple Diffuser blend? Try adding 4 or 5 drops of Evergreen Essence to your diffuser to fill your home with the smell of freshly cut Christmas trees!  Or try one of these recipes:

 

7.   Potato Latkes

Potato Latkes are a flat potato pancake traditionally served during Hanukkah celebrations.  It is not the potatoes but rather the oil that the latkes are cooked in that is important in this tradition, symbolizing the oil in the Hannukah story that miraculously kept the Menorah burning for 8 days after the rededication of the Temple in ancient Isreal when it should have only lasted for one.  While I haven’t had the pleasure of actually partaking in Potato Latkes (although now I’m inspired to ask my little sister to make some for me sometime) I’m pretty sure this is a smell that is pretty unique to this particular dish.  Try as I might I cannot find any recipes that suggest using essential oils in potato latkes or any friend potato recipe for that matter.   And I’m pretty sure I can’t replicate this smell in a diffuser recipe either…

However, in keeping with the symbolism of the importance of the oil in Jewish tradition, lets look at other oils that hold similar significance.  The little bit of research that I have done (although admittedly I am not Jewish and limited my research to what I could find on google), indicates that the oil that miraculously lit the Temple’s menorah was a sacred blend of olive oil.  But oils have held a long tradition of being important to religious and spiritual practices and ceremonies.  Young Living actually has a whole collection of oils that are frequently mentioned in both the Torah and the New Testament called the Twelve Oils of Ancient Scripture Kit, many of which are not sold individually, and includes:

12 OIls of Ancient Scripture

  • Aloes/sandalwood (Santalum album)
  • Cassia (Cinnamomum cassia)
  • Cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica)
  • Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens)
  • Frankincense (Olibanum — Boswellia carteri)
  • Galbanum (Ferula gummosa)
  • Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)
  • Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha)
  • Myrtle (Myrtus communis)
  • Onycha (pronounced oh-nigh-kah, a very thick oil, remove the plastic orifice and warm the bottle in your hand so that the oil will flow — Styrax benzoin)
  • Rose of Sharon/cistus (Labdanum — Cistus ladanifer) and
  • Spikenard (Nardostachys jatamansi)

Young Living is a Christian based company so there are tons and tons of references to these oils in sacred Christian texts.  Essential oils don’t seem to be quite so popular in Jewish circles, or at least Jewish bloggers aren’t quite so vocal.  But a little bit of digging  (which I didn’t have time to do before writing this blog) would likely turn up references in Jewish scripture as well.  In fact, many of the references I could find were Old Testament references.  Living Anointed has a pretty comprehensive post on Bible and Ancient References to Essential Oils if anyone is curious.  And here is a great training on the 12 Oils of Ancient Scripture Kit and how to use them by Gary Young.

 

pumpkin pie

8.   Pie

What smells like the holidays more than a freshly baked pumpkin pie! I love cooking with Young Living essential oils because there are so many recipes that can be enhanced with just a drop of an essential oil.  So you know I had to find the perfect pumpkin pie recipe to share with you! It’s listed below.  But just in case your not into baking, or if you want to enjoy the wonderful goodness of freshly baked pumpkin pie without the calories, here are a few diffuser recipe blends to try out:

Pumpkin Pie with Young Living Essential Oils:

Ingredients:

  • 9″ prepared pie crust
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ cups canned pumpkin
  • 2 drops Cinnamon Bark essential oil
  • 1 drop Nutmeg essential oil
  • 1 drop Clove essential oil
  • 1 drop Ginger essential oil
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup sour cream

Directions:

  1. Combine sugar, salt, pumpkin and essential oils.
  2. Separate eggs, reserving whites.  Beat yolks well.
  3. Stir egg yolks into pumpkin mixture.
  4. Add sour cream and mix.
  5. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form.  Fold into pumpkin mixture.
  6. Pour into unbaked pie crust.
  7. Bake 10 minutes at 450° then lower temperature to 350°.  Bake for 1 ½ hours longer. Cool before serving.  Serve with whipped cream if desired.

 

Just say no to toxic candles

9.   Candles

Candles are overrated.  Scented candles are made from paraffin wax and release toxic chemicals like benzene and toluene when burned (both of which are known carcinogens). In fact, these toxins are the same as those found in diesel fuel fumes…  Blech! Many candles may contain wicks that contain heavy metals, like lead.  In the U.S. candle wicks are supposed to be made from cotton or paper, but some studies have shown that as much as 30% of candle wicks can contain heavy metals.  In addition, scented candles contain synthetic fragrances and artificial colors that can release even more toxins into the air when burned.  And that’s not even mentioning the soot! I don’t know about you but once I learned about the nasty chemicals in my beloved Yankee candles, I tossed them.  Opting instead for my diffuser and essential oils and blends to cleanse and purify the air while filling my home with amazing, all natural frangrances! Here are a few Holiday diffuser blends to use in lieu of candles this year:

 

Gingerbread diffuser recipe

10.   Gingerbread

Gingerbread has a special place in my heart.  My grandmother and I used to make Gingerbread people every year for Christmas when I was a little girl, a tradition that I hope to continue with my daughter when she gets bigger.  So naturally I adore the idea of a gingerbread diffuser recipe.  Try it out and tell me what you think!

 

So there you have it! Some of the very best Holiday smells, with an essential oils twist! What are some of your favorite holiday smells? Do you use essential oils in your home, cooking or DIY Holiday crafts? I’d love to hear about it! Comment below!

 

Diffuser Recipes from or inspired by various sources

 

*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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top 10 Best Smells of the Holidays (with an Essential Oils twist!) was originally published on Naturally Oily Adventures


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How Essential Oils Can Enhance Your Breastfeeding Experience! #WBW2015

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week 2015 I thought I would share a little bit about how essential oils can be used in various ways to help enhance your breastfeeding experience. You will see tons of info about how essential oils should be avoided while pregnant or nursing.  But 100% pure, therapeutic grade essential oils when used appropriately can actually help boost lactation, decrease lactation when ready to wean, and even help relieve pressure and aches associated with engorgement or clogged ducts.

Safety:

Essential oil use should always be practiced safely.  Only 100% pure, therapeutic grade essential oils should be used, especially while pregnant, nursing, or with children.  Some brands of essential oils contain fillers or synthetic chemicals that you don’t want to expose yourself, or your baby, to. Do your research and make sure you trust your brand implicitly before using.

Please review the general safety guidelines listed in my previous blog post What Are Essential Oils?

Additional Safety Considerations for Nursing Mothers: There is a lot of contradictory information out there about essential oil safety and which oils to avoid while breastfeeding.  More often than not literature seems to lump pregnancy and breastfeeding together which makes it much more difficult for consumers to know what they can and can’t use (for instance Clary Sage should be avoided while pregnant as it can cause contractions but it a great oil to use during labor and delivery as it can help speed up labor once contractions have started.  But I’ve read conflicting reviews of Clary Sage during breastfeeding – some say that it can help bring on milk after baby is born and will boost lactation other sources say that it will decrease lactation. As a result, I generally avoid Clary Sage just to be safe).  I would recommend erring on the side of caution and doing your research before using any essential oil while nursing.  Much of the information listed below comes from two of my essential oil bibles Gentle Babies by Debra Raybern (you can buy it here) and Essential Oil Pocket Reference published by Life Science Publishing (you can buy it here).

Essential Oils and Uses: 

To Boost Lactation: 

  • Fennel – Fennel seed is often recommended as an herbal supplement to help increase breastmilk production.  Fennel essential oil may be more effective given that the concentration of the oil is much more potent than the plant or seed.  Fennel can be used as a dietary supplement, 1-2 drops added to tea or a tsp of honey, or it can be taken in a vegetable capsule.  Debra Raybern recommends taking Fennel every 2 hours and follow with a glass of water (hydration is important to keeping your supply up so always make sure you are drinking plenty of water!).  Fennel can also be applied topically.  For topical use, dilute 1-2 drops of Fennel essential oil with 1 Tbsp of carrier oil (Coconut oil or Young Living’s V-6 Vegetable Complex) and apply directly on the breast and lymph area under the arm, avoiding the nipple area*.  (note: Fennel should not be taken internally for more than 10 days as it could cause an increased flow through the urinary tract)
  • Basil – Basil is similar to Fennel essential oil in its lactation boosting properties and can be taken internally or applied topically in the same way.  Basil does not carry the same warning as Fennel, however, and can be taken internally for longer than 10 days if necessary.
  • Joy or Stress Away blends – Stress can have a negative impact on your supply so using essential oil blends such as Joy or Stress away, either diffused, dabbed on your wrist and behind your ears, or combined with Epsom Salt and Baking Soda for a relaxing bath!  Other oils that help reduce stress and promote relaxation include: Lavender and Sandalwood.

To Help Decrease Lactation and Relieve Engorgement (For Oversupply or When Weaning):

  • Peppermint – Most herbalists recommend avoiding peppermint while nursing as it can have an adverse effect on your supply (However, some mothers, like myself, will report that peppermint does not affect their lactation). However, if you have an over-supply issue or you are weaning your baby, adding Peppermint oil to your routine may help alleviate some of the pressure associated with engorgement.  Peppermint is a dietary supplement and can be taken internally.  Debra Raybern recommends taking 5 drops of peppermint orally several times a day to decrease supply.  You can add a few drops of peppermint oil to water, dip a wash cloth in it and wring out the excess water and apply directly to the breast as a cold compress.  Avoid heat application when engorged as this can increase swelling and inflammation.

In addition to peppermint oil, another natural remedy to relieve engorgement and help decrease supply are cabbage leaf compresses.  Simply take a chilled or room temperature cabbage leaf and apply directly to the breast between feedings for up to 20 minutes 3 times daily.  For weaning, you can leave the cabbage leaf on the breast until it wilts.  For more information on cabbage leaf compresses visit Kelly Mom’s blog.

For Sore, Dry, Cracked Nipples*: (Note: painful nursing and dry or cracked nipples could be due to another condition, such as improper latch or tongue or lip tie.  Please see a lactation consultant and/or pediatrician for evaluation)

  • Myrrh, Helichrysum, Geranium, Vetiver, or Sandalwood – When diluted with a carrier oil and applied directly to the nipple these oils can help moisturize the skin and provide relief from dry, cracked nipples as well as help speed up the healing process.
  • Valor blend – a good alternative to the above oils to help provide relief from dry, cracked nipples.  Dilute with carrier oil and apply directly on nipple.
  • Lavender or Roman Chamomile – Sore nipples? Add a few drops of Lavender or Roman Chamomile to your nipple cream or apply directly on your nipples with some organic coconut oil to help minimize discomfort.

When applying any essential oil directly to nipples, always make sure they are diluted.  I would ensure that the oil was fully absorbed into the skin or wipe off any excess before my next nursing session.  While all these suggested oils can be taken used orally for adults it is not recommended that small infants ingest oils just to be safe. 

For Clogged Ducts:

  • Geranium, Lavender, and Melrose blend – Each of these oils individually or used together can help promote circulation, reduce pressure and alleviate aches associated with engorgement and clogged ducts.  Combine 1 drop Geranium, 1 drop Lavender, and 2 drops of Melrose with 1 1/2 pints of cold water.  Dip washcloth into the mix and squeeze out excess water.  Apply as a cold compress directly to the affected area of the breast.  Repeat as often as once per hour for relief.  (Recipe from Gentle Babies)

In addition, hot showers, soaking in a warm Epsom salt bath that completely covers the breast, breast massage, frequent pumping or nursing, pointing your baby’s chin towards the affected area of the breast while nursing, and “dangle nursing” (where you nurse from a position of hands and knees and dangle your breast towards your baby’s mouth) are all recommended to help alleviate discomfort associated with clogged ducts and to prevent development of mastitis.

For Mastitis: (Note: Mastitis is a serious infection and should always be diagnosed and treated by a health professional of your choice.  You may choose to use the following blend to help provide some relief as a supplement to your prescriber’s treatment protocol.)

  • Breast Blend Recipe – combine 3 drops Myrrh, 3 drops Vetiver, 2 drops Copaiba, and 1 drop Blue Spruce with 1/2 tsp carrier oil (Coconut Oil or Young Living’s V-6 Vegetable Complex are good choices). Massage blend onto breasts and under armpits two times daily to help provide relief from pain, swelling, redness or warmth of the breast.  (Recipe from Essential Oils Pocket Reference)

 

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!

 

Have you used essential oils as part of your breastfeeding journey?  I’d love to hear your story! Share it in the comments 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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Set Yourself (or Someone You Love) Up For Breastfeeding Success: Products I Love and Gift Basket Ideas #WBW2015

Nothing is more natural than breastfeeding! And in honor of World Breastfeeding Week 2015 I thought I would share some of the products that I love that have helped me along my breastfeeding adventure.  Not all of these products themselves are “natural” per se, although I do have some DIY natural options as well, but they are proved their worth time and again over the last 6 1/2 months in my home.  Check them out to help you on your natural breastfeeding adventure or even better, build a gift basket for someone you love who is expecting to set them up for breastfeeding success!!!

A Local Lactation Consultant – Few things are as natural as breastfeeding but unfortunately it doesn’t come naturally to every mom and baby.   A Lactation Consultant (LC) is a healthcare professional who has been trained as a breastfeeding specialist who helps teach mothers how to properly nurse their babies.   They can be especially valuable if you are experiencing difficulties getting a proper latch, having painful nursing sessions, or have low milk production.  They are trained to diagnose conditions such as lip or tongue tie in babies, thrush in mothers and babies, as well as clogged ducts and mastitis.  LC’s can offer invaluable advice on how to increase milk production through massage, pumping techniques such as “power pumping,” and recommending vitamins and supplements that may help. Lactation Consultants are certified by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners, Inc. under the direction of US National Commission for Certifying Agencies. An International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) may be found in a wide variety of health care settings, including hospitals, pediatric offices, public health clinics, and private practice.  You may be lucky enough to not need an LC but knowing how to find one locally is important.

Find an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) here: International Lactation Consultant Association: Find a Lactation Consultant.

Find a FREE Lactation Consultant – even if you are not income eligible for WIC you can still speak to a lactation consultant or nutritionist at your local WIC office for FREE.  Find your local WIC office here.

 

 A Nice Water Bottle – Hydration is key to keeping your milk supply up and nursing will make you thirsty, especially in the early days!!!  Our hospital provided us with a big ol drinking cup with a lid and straw that I kept by my side all throughout my maternity leave.  I did really well keeping up with my water intake until I went back to work and started to slack off a bit.  So recently I invested in a pair of really nice glass water bottles, I purchased Zulu brand because I found them for $16.99 for a pair at Costco (you can find them for $14.99 a piece at Target if your Costco has sold out for the season.  I add a drop or two of Lemon essential oil to my bottle (it’s 20 oz – if it was an 8 oz glass I’d only add 1 because it can be a strong lemon flavor).  Having the slight lemon flavor keeps me picking up the bottle and ensures that I get at least 60 oz throughout my work day! Plus, it helps curb my appetite and prevents me from snacking on unhealthy snacks in between meals (Bonus!).  It is important that you have glass or stainless steel (although I prefer glass so it doesn’t have the slight metallic taste that steel water bottles have) if you intend to add any essential oils since the  oils can break down plastics over time.  Otherwise, a nice BPA/phalate free plastic water bottle (like Nalgene) would work just fine!

 

womanly art of breastfeeding Book: The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding published by La Leche League International – The La Leche League International is an international nonprofit agency that advocates for breastfeeding and helps provide mothers with information about the benefits of breastfeeding worldwide.  Their book The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding is a national best seller that helps guide new mothers through what to expect from their breastfeeding relationship with their newborns, helps problem solve some of the most common difficulties with breastfeeding that cause many mothers to give up,  and provides the latest scientific research on the benefits of breastfeeding.  It’s a valuable resource and good reference whether this is your first, or fifth, child!

More information about the book or to buy it visit the La Leche League International website: http://www.llli.org/thewomanlyartofbreastfeeding 

 

tank-top Nursing Tanks and PJ’s – You won’t want to put on clothes during the first several weeks after the baby is born… Hell, you’ll be lucky to get a shower.  But one thing I did before I had my daughter, that I highly recommend to all new moms, was to invest in brand new lounge wear.  I bought myself two nursing tanks, a pair of lounge pants, and a pair of yoga pants. I lovingly packed them away in my hospital bag and never put them on until after she was born.  It was so nice to feel like I was getting something new to treat myself yet something comfy that I actually wanted to wear.  The nursing tanks are amazing because they provide some, limited support, but are super easy to snap down and nurse your little one.  They are especially nice for when those cluster feeding sessions start and you feel like you constantly have a baby attached to your boob! After almost 7 months of nursing, still the first thing I do when I come home from work in the evenings is change into my comfy tank and lounge pants! You can get comfy nursing tanks almost anywhere but I preferred Target brand nursing tanks because they were inexpensive and came up to a size XXL (which is important for all us buxom mamas!).

 

essential-embrace_black A Good, Supportive, Nursing Bra – This is especially important if you are well endowed already because once you decide to brave leaving the house you will likely find that those comfy nursing tanks aren’t supportive enough.  Yes they will get bigger (Ugh, I know! Sorry…) so make sure to get fitted by a professional in your last month of pregnancy to have a better idea of what size the girls will be postpartum. You want to make sure that the bra is supportive but not too tight and many LC’s recommend avoiding underwires in nursing bras because the wire or bras that are too tight can contribute to developing mastitis (which as I understand it is no fun at all!). I know a lot of women really like the nursing bras they can get at Target (because of the price point) or Motherhood Maternity (because they have a cute selection) but I was unfortunate enough to be a large enough cup size prepregnancy that neither company offered nursing bras in my size.  The style bra that I found that I love is the Bravado Essential Embrace (pictured) because it was wire free yet still supportive, comfortable, and came in 3 colors (I hate bra shopping – it’s seriously traumatic – so I’m the type of girl that when I find a bra that fits I buy one in every color!).  The price point is pretty high on these bras, usually around $45-50 each, and while I’m normally quite frugal I cannot overemphasize the importance of a good bra in general, let alone a good nursing bra.  Well worth the money, hands down!

 

 

breast padsReusable Breast Pads – Boobies leak and reusable breast pads are a must if you don’t want to be throwing them away constantly (and if you’re reading my blog then you are probably hyper aware of your waste and carbon footprint too!).  You can find reusable breast pads at most retailers or boutiques nowadays but they tend to be really expensive.  I’ve mentioned before that I’m super cheap frugal so naturally I looked for the least expensive options.  I originally planned to DIY my nursing pads but stumbled upon a promotion for FREE breast pads so figured I’d give them a go before I took the time and effort to make them (besides I was busy making burp cloths, bibs, and baby blankets in my last couple months of pregnancy.  Apparently “nesting” for me means I must make ALL the things! lol).  My only constructive criticism of the free breast pads is that they do tend to show a bit through tighter fitting clothes.  So if your wardrobe is more fitted or this is a concern for you then you make want to invest in a more expensive brand like Bamboobies, which advertise that they are less visible (but I cannot attest to this as I personally have not tried them because I didn’t want to invest the money).  But the people I know who use Bamboobies swear by them!

Get 10 pairs FREE (just pay s&h – $12.95 – which seems expensive but is still cheaper per pair than buying reusable breast pads other places) from https://www.breastpads.com/ Current promo code for World Breastfeeding Week: WBWBP15 (If this code has expired a quick internet search will turn up several codes that should work on this site, including AThriftyMom1 or PJBABY)

Check out Bamboobies at their website: http://www.buybamboobies.com/

Feeling crafty? Make your own with this tutorial I found on Pinterest from DIY Mommy: DIY Nursing Pads (That Actually Work!)

B10-232-02_natural_nipple_butter_box_and_jar_whiteA Good Salve or Balm – Breastfeeding is hard work and nipples get raw and sore, especially in the beginning (or when those little teefers start coming in!) and a good salve or balm is a must!

medela-pisa1A Good Breast Pump – Thanks to the Affordable Healthcare Act most insurance companies will now cover the cost of a breast pump for nursing mothers. I have a Medela Pump in Style that my health insurance covered in full and I love it!!! There are lots of brands to choose from but availability will depend on your insurance company.  Medela, Ameda, AVENT, and Hygeia all get great reviews so you can choose the one that best suits your needs.  Something to consider, there are two types of breast pump systems: open and closed. An open system means that there is no barrier between the milk collection kit and the pumping mechanism which may allow your milk to be exposed to impurities in the air, such as dust, pollen, smoke, bacteria or viruses.  There is also the possibility that the milk could be sucked back up into the tubing and pump itself where it cannot be cleaned and could allow mold or mildew to grow (This is why you should NEVER resell or buy a used open pump system – no matter how many people you may see selling theirs online or in yard sales. Reputable consignment shops and sales will not accept open pump systems). All current Medela styles are open systems.  Closed systems have a barrier in place that protects the milk from impurities as well as protects the pump mechanism from sucking milk back up into it.  The AVENT Comfort Double Electric, Ameda Purely Yours, Lanisoh Affinity and Signature Pro breast pump series, and Hygeia Q are closed systems.  The Hygeia Q, although less well known, is the only pump endorsed by the La Leche League International.

Call your insurance company for more information on which pumps are covered by your plan.

Tips on how you can get your FREE breast pump in this article by USA Today: How To Get Breast Pumps Covered By Insurance

Also check out Baby Gear Lab’s Top Ranked Breast Pumps and breastpumpratings.org’s Pump Comparison Chart.  Both websites offer great side by side comparison of all the different features as well as lists of pros and cons of each pump.  This is a great resource when trying to decide which pump is the best choice for your family!

 

milksaverproductMilkies Milk Saver – Breastmilk is called liquid gold for a reason! You don’t want to waste even one precious drop and the Milkies Milk-Saver is a reusable, recyclable, BPA/Phalate free tool to help you capture every last drop!!! Simply place on the other breast when nursing or pumping to catch the milk from your let-down.  This is especially helpful in the early months when your supply is still regulating or after baby starts sleeping through the night and you wake up engorged. The down side? The price point on this item is really high at $27.99 but it is so worth it and makes a great gift!

For more information, reviews or to purchase visit Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Milkies-Milk-Saver-Breast-Collector-Storage/

 

Lanisoh TheraPearlCooling Gel Pads – Cooling gel pads are a wonderful idea for when your breasts become engorged or painful.  Simply throw in the fridge or freezer then place over your nipple for instant relief.  Most brands of breast pumps make their own line of cooling gel pads, including Lanisoh, Medela, and Avent as well as a few other non pump brands. I personally prefer the Lanisoh TheraPearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy pads (pictured) because they can be cooled to help with swelling or engorgement, heated to help with clogged ducts or mastitis, or even used as a let down aide while pumping. The Lanisoh TheraPearl pads are available at most major retailers but you can check them out here for more information.

 

Mother's Milk TeaTeas, Herbs, and Oils: 

Traditional Medicine’s Organic Mother’s Milk Tea is a favorite among nursing mothers and widely available at most supermarkets and health food stores.  It is comprised of several herbs known to help promote lactation, including organic bitter fennel fruit, organic anise fruit, organic coriander fruit, organic fenugreek seed, organic blessed thistle herb, organic spearmint, organic lemongrass, organic lemon verbana leaf, and organic marshmallow root.  (Note: some mothers do not like the subtle licorice flavor from the anise fruit)

Get your free sample of Mother’s Milk Tea by sharing your breastfeeding story here: http://www.askthelactationconsultant.com/freebies.html

Other Herbs:

  • 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.  You can buy Fenugreek capsules at most health food stores or through Amazon.  Or you can buy the seeds, extract, powder, or capsules through Mountain Rose Herbs.
  • 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.  YOu can buy blessed thistle capsules at most health food stores or through Amazon. Or you can buy blessed thistle in bulk to make your own tea or get the extract through Mountain Rose Herbs.
  • 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.  You can buy Red Raspberry Leaf capsules at most health food stores or through Amazon. I buy mine in bulk from Mountain Rose Herbs and make my own tea.
  • 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.  You can buy Chasteberry (Vitex) capsules at most health food stores or through Amazon.  Or you can buy the berry, seed, powder, or extract through Mountain Rose Herbs.
  • Other less common herbal galactagogues include: Fennel seed (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.

Get your free Guide to Herbs and Breastfeeding published by Earth Mama Angel Baby here: http://www.earthmamaangelbaby.com/herbs-for-breastfeeding-ebook 

Essential Oils – There is a lot of information out there about essential oil safety that lists oils that should be avoided when pregnant or nursing and you would do well to take heed and research any essential oil before using it to know your risks.  Essential oil use should always be practiced safely.  Only 100% pure, therapeutic grade essential oils should be used, especially while pregnant, nursing, or with children.  Some brands of essential oils contain fillers or synthetic chemicals that you don’t want to expose yourself, or your baby, to. Do your research and make sure you trust your brand implicitly before using (I prefer Young Living – for more information on why check out my blog post Why I Chose Young Living Essential Oils). But there are several essential oils that when used appropriately can actually help boost lactation, decrease lactation when ready to wean, and even help relieve pressure and aches associated with engorgement or clogged ducts, including Fennel, Basil, Geranium, Lavender, and Myrrh to name a few.  For more information on essential oils and nursing check out my previous blog post How Essential Oils Can Enhance Your Breastfeeding Experience!

 

IMG_2779 Lactation Cookies – Want to go the extra mile when making a gift basket for a new mom in your life? How about throwing in some homemade lactation cookies! Check out my favorite recipe in my previous blog post Homemade Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Lactation Cookies!

 

Do you have a product you love that I failed to mention? Share it in the comments below to keep the conversation going!