How to Make a Silky Blanket

How to Make a Silky Blanket

Growing up, I loved the special little blanket that my mother sewed for me by hand. I carried it everywhere until it wore away to shreds. When she made me a new one as an adult, I was thrilled beyond words and slept with it every night…until I had children of my own, one of whom laid claim over my silky blanket. I keep vowing to make myself another one, but with all of the blankets I’ve made for my children, I just haven’t had the time! Plus, I’m always cuddling one child or nursing another, so I always seem to have a silky at hand anyways.

Making a silky blanket is a simple process, and without hardly any sewing experience, I was able to throw my first one together. Now, over the years, my process has become much more refined, and even though my blankets aren’t riddled with mistakes (that children don’t notice anyways) like they used to be, I still can’t make the intricate patterns and designs that my mother does.

A Silky Blanket My Mom Made

A Silky Blanket My Mom Made

Another Silky Blanket My Mom Made

Another Silky Blanket My Mom Made

Yet, my simple blankets have pleased not only my children, but they have made great baby shower gifts for my closest friends and loved ones.

Four Homemade Silky Blankets

Four Finished Silky Blankets That I Made

I think that having a good sewing machine (I have one like this), is a very good investment. Even though I’m not making clothes from scratch, I really appreciate being able to hem pants, sew holes, modify clothes that are too big, patch anything that needs it (including our tent once), and make blankets and any other sewing project I feel like tackling.

Why Should You Make a Silky Blanket?

  1. Why Silk? I personally have always LOVED silk! I remember stealing my mother’s slips just so that I could rub the silky fabric between my fingers, and to this day, I love running my hands through racks of silky clothes on hangers. I think that if you’re going to be holding a baby and nursing them all the time, you deserve to be in contact with your favorite kind of fabric. So if silk really isn’t your thing, feel free to swap it with something that is.
  2. Nursing: My favorite part of having a silky is to use it while nursing.
    • I love being able to cradle it under my baby’s head so that it doesn’t get all sweaty against my arm.
    • I love using it as a nursing shawl when I’m breastfeeding in public. (By the way, I’m all for “breastfeeding rights”, I just prefer my privacy when it comes to my boobies.)
    • I love using it to cover up his eyes to shield them from the light he drifts off to sleep.
    • I love wrapping his whole body in it to keep him warm and snug.

      Nursing Julian Wrapped in Silky Blanket

      Nursing Julian

  3. Sense of Touch: Our sense of touch is a more important sense than we give it credit for. The emotional context of touch has a huge effect on the physical sensation, and so by linking the tactile contact we have with our children to a physical object that they can take and carry with them everywhere, it essentially magnifies our love!
  4. Sense of Smell: Smell can bring up memories almost instantaneously because the olfactory bulb is part of the brain’s limbic system, which controls memory and feeling. If you always carry your baby in his silky blanket, it will smell like you and provide an ongoing sense of security all the time.

    Julian Wrapped in His Silky Blanket and Sucking His Thumb

    Julian Soothing Himself

  5. For Years to Come: You’re not just making this blanket for your newborn, but for your toddler, young child, and beyond! My five year old still sleeps with her special silky every night. She also cuddles with it on the couch while reading or watching movies, takes it with her on long road trips, uses it to comfort her when she needs it, and of course brings it along on overnights at Grandma and Grandpa’s. Her Grandma Di actually made her favorite silky, and she loves knowing that.

Supplies Needed

  • Batting: You’ll want the 45″ x 60″ crib batting. I usually go with a heavier cotton batting like this for a winter baby and a lighter polyester batting like this for a summer baby. You can also find organic cotton batting like this.
  • Fabric: I usually go to the fabric store and pick out the silkiest feeling fabrics they have. (I value the feel over the color.) I typically get 1 ½ yards each of two main colors (for the front and back) and a ½ yard of a third color (for the edging).
  • Thread: I like to keep my eye out at thrift stores for thread to fill my sewing box, but when I’m at the fabric store getting my material, I’ll make sure I have thread to match the colors of my fabric.
  • Good Scissors: Cutting silky fabric is tough because it’s so slippery, so you’ll appreciate a good pair of sewing scissors like these.
  • Pins: Pinning the silky fabric is absolutely essential to getting straight (or somewhat straight) lines, so you’ll definitely want some pins. You’ll also appreciate a good pin holder like this.
  • Erasable Marker: This marvelous little invention allows you to draw on your sewing lines and then have them easily wash away. (Just a note: Children’s markers won’t wash away.)
  • Seam Ripper: You might not need one of these, but if you make a mistake, having one is absolutely essential!

Directions

  1. Prepare Materials: Before you begin, take stock of all your materials to make sure you have everything you need.
    Materials to Make Elliot's Bones Silky

    Elliot’s “Bones” Silky

    Make sure you have a nice, big, flat spot where you can spread out the fabric. (The floor is great, but the top of a bed works too and can be a little easier on your back.) If you have cats, get a spray bottle with water to keep them away. If you have kids, either enlist their help or get them busy doing something else.

    Materials to Make All of the Kids a Silky

    Materials to Make All of the Kids a Silky

  2. Lay Out the Fabric: Sometimes one side of the material looks better than the other. If so, make sure the best side is facing out when you spread out your first piece of fabric. Then, unfold the batting and put it on top of the first piece of fabric, and finally spread the second piece of fabric on top.

    laying out silky fabric to make a silky blanket

    Spreading Out the Fabric

  3. Pin Together: After you smooth out the material as much as possible, you’ll need to pin it together.
    cat and child help pinning sewing a silky blanket

    Peeka and Elliot Help Me Pin

    Start by making a horizontal line of pins spaced about 4-6 inches apart. Then, fold/roll the material to make about a 4-6 inch fold and pin another horizontal line. Continue doing this along the length of the entire blanket.

    Pinning Julian's Silky

    Pinning Julian’s Silky

  4. Draw Lines: Fold the pinned blanket in half length-ways and draw a dashed line along the middle. Fold the edge of the blanket to the middle line and draw another dashed line. Repeat on the other side. Then, fold the blanket in half going in the other direction, and draw dashed lines in the middle and on either side of the middle. This will make sewing straight lines much easier!

    sewed lines on a homemade silky blanket

    The Sewed Lines Will Look Like This

  5. Sew the Lines: Start by sewing the middle lines. I usually like to match my thread to the fabric color, so I’ll load the top color in the top of the sewing machine and the bottom color in the bobbin.
    sewing the lines on my homemade silky blanket

    Sewing the Lines

    If you really want to avoid getting ripples and bumps as much as possible, you could start sewing in the middle of your middle line, but I don’t usually do this. I just sew from one side to the other, removing any pins that get in my way in the process. After you sew the middle lines, you can sew the rest of the dashed lines. When you’re done, you should have taken out all of the pins, but you can save some for a child to take out too. 🙂

    child helping with sewing taking out the pins

    Elliot Helps Me Take Out the Pins

  6. Trim: Even though you may be tempted to trim your fabric beforehand, don’t do it until now. The silky fabric moves around a lot, and it will get bunched up in ways you can’t predict. By saving the trimming until now, you give yourself a bit more leeway.
  7. Prepare the Edging: Cut the fabric you’ll be using for the edging into about 4 inch strips. I usually just eyeball this because it doesn’t need to be exact. Sew the strips together, and make sure it will be long enough to fit around all of the edges.
  8. Sew On the Edging: Take one of the corners and line it up with the edging. Sew as straight of a line as you can, and make sure that all four layers are going under the thread. When you get to the corners, leave about an extra ½ inch or so (you really don’t need much), lift up the needle, and start sewing the next edge.
  9. Sew the Other Side of the Edging: This is probably the trickiest part of the whole blanket, and the part that I’m still trying to perfect to this day. Basically, you want to fold the edging around to the other side, tuck the edge underneath, and sew so that your line goes over the line you made on the other side. I’ve tried ironing the folded under edge to make it easier, but I don’t really think it’s worth the effort. When you’re done, flip the blanket over and sew any spots you’ve missed. *The corners have given me the most trouble over the years, and I still don’t think I have the perfect method for doing them. Sometimes, I just skip them, sew the other side, and come back to them at the end. Basically, you want to keep sewing into the corner as far as you can, lift your needle, arrange the fabric so it all comes together, turn, lower the needle, and sew into the next side. If all else fails, just sew over it a bunch of times until you can’t see any batting or loose edges. 🙂
  10. Final Touches: If you have the option on your sewing machine, you might want to sew a little message on one of the edges. Then, clip any loose strings and give the blanket a good once over to fix any weird spots. Finally, wash the blanket to get rid of the markings and to make it super duper soft.
Four Homemade Silky Blankets

Four Finished Silky Blankets

Pictures of Julian with His Silky

I love how in just about every picture I have of Julian, his silky is tucked lovingly around him. I’m sure he will love this blanket for years to come!

Ruby Holding Newborn Julian

Ruby Holding Newborn Julian

Elliot Holding Newborn Julian

Elliot Holding Newborn Julian

Andrea Holding Newborn Julian

Andrea Holding Newborn Julian

Grandma Jan Holding Newborn Julian

Grandma Jan Holding Newborn Julian

Grandpa Karl Holding Newborn Julian

Grandpa Karl Holding Newborn Julian

If You Don’t Want to Make One

You can buy a silky online like this or this, but there’s just nothing like a handmade silky. If I know you and I’m invited to your baby shower, be warned, I WILL make you one of these! If I don’t know you, and you’d like me to make you one, message me, and we can work something out!

Why We Don't Make Our Kids Share

Why We Don’t Make Our Kids Share

In our family, I guess you could say that we have a “policy” that if someone is playing with something, it’s not okay to take it away. Basically, we do not make our kids share just because someone else wants what they are playing with. I never really thought about this as being our policy, however, until I read this article and I realized that yeah, this is kind of a policy with us. And with our four children, it has worked really really well. But when we’re out and about, the real question is: How can we enforce this in public…with other children whom we do not control?

A Bit More About Our Sharing Policy

Even though I’m the one with a teaching certificate, a Master’s degree, and seven years of teaching under my belt, my husband is the one who comes up with some of the best one liners that shape our family’s “Mission Statement” if you will. Our kids repeat, “Treat others how you want to be treated; An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind; Don’t tell me what I can’t do, tell me what I can do”, and other phrases that help them to figure out how to navigate their own way in this world. I love it! So even though we came to these policies together, he’s the one who comes up with all of the cool phrases that the kids repeat, like “It’s not okay to take something away!”

Our sharing policy pretty much follows these guidelines:

  • It’s not okay to take something away. If someone is playing with something, it is not okay to come up and take it away. Let’s say that we see Elliot take a toy away from Ophelia. If so, we will intervene and give Ophelia the toy back while reciting our policy, “That’s not okay to take away so-and-so’s toy while they are playing with it”.
  • Make a trade or wait your turn. Now that Elliot has given Ophelia her toy back, he has two options: He can wait for Ophelia to be done with the toy, or he can make a trade. This part of our policy is really cool, and the children love it. So basically, Elliot can find a toy to entice Ophelia with, and if Ophelia drops her current toy to play with the toy Elliot has offered, then Elliot can now play with Ophelia’s toy. (This is provided that Ophelia is truly happy once the trade has completed. If Elliot has coerced her into something she didn’t really want to do and she is now upset, the trade will be null and void.)
  • New toy policy. We also have a policy about new toys that were specifically purchased for a particular child, like a birthday present or something. Now, any toy in any common area is open season for any child (provided that no one is playing with it at the time). But if a child has a toy that is “new to them”, they can elect to not have that toy in the common area until it’s not “new to them” anymore. Usually, a child doesn’t realize that they don’t want anyone else playing with their toy until they see someone else playing with it, at which point we’ll say, “Is that toy still new to you?” And if they say yes, we encourage them to put it in their rooms or somewhere where no one else can get to it until they are ready to keep it in the common area and let anyone play with it.

Why Do We Have These Sharing Policies?

It may seem a little complicated, a little convoluted, and a little time intensive to establish and enforce these sharing policies, but trust me, having such policies in place eliminates A LOT of fights. I mean, pretty much 99% of what kids fight about is wanting to play with the same toy at the same time, because, hey, that’s their world! Having a policy in place during these fights allows you, as the parent, to be a neutral party just there to enforce the rules. No favoritism detected at all.

Do you know what happens when you don’t have such policies in place? You end up caving in to whoever is screaming the most. Trust me, I’ve been there! And if your policy is that you always give the toy in question to whoever is screaming the loudest, you are setting yourself up for some very stressful situations in the future! The goal in parenting is not to just get through each moment or each day, the goal is to teach your children how to function when you’re not around. And sooner than you think, they will be out of your sight living with the skills you have provided them. Learning how to share is probably one of the most important skills for children to master as they gain independence.

What About Other Children?

Now enforcing this policy with your own children is all well and good, but what about when other children are involved? Let’s say your child is at the park, or a part of a play group, or at an organized activity, and they are happily playing with a toy, when another child comes up and tries to take that toy away. What then?

You know what we typically do in these situations? We do what we think we’re supposed to do and say to our child, “You’ve played with that toy long enough, why don’t you give so-and-so a turn,” or we’ll just say loudly enough for all to hear in our mommy voice, “Shaaaare!” We say this because we think it’s what everyone is expecting us to say, not because it’s what’s best for our child!

Everyone wants to look like the good parent whose children know how to share, but when we allow children in our groups to just walk up and take something away from another child, and even worse, when we encourage it to happen, we are basically encouraging bully behavior. We are saying,

“It’s okay for someone to come up to you and take things away from you.” We are saying, “You don’t have any control over the behavior of others so you just have to accept the fact that others can do whatever they want to you.”

By allowing children (especially children they don’t know) to take things away from our own children, they are left feeling vulnerable, unprotected, and let down. We let them down, and so inevitably they scream and cry, and then we pick them up and say loudly so everyone will hear, “You need to learn how to share. If you can’t share, then we are going to have to go home right now!”

Now, doesn’t your mommy heart just break when you hear it put like that? So what are we supposed to do?

How to Enforce Your Sharing Policy…with Tact

Okay, so you’re at your mommy group or at the park, and all of the children are playing in the middle while you sit off to the side casually chatting with each other, when you see a child come up to your child ready to take their toy away. This is what you say and do:

  • Walk up to both children, crouch down so you are at their level, take the toy away from the other child (gently) and give it back to your child saying (calmly, but firmly), “So-and-so is playing with this toy, when they are done with it, you can have it.” It’s important to make eye contact here with the children, don’t look to the other mothers!
  • You can also ask your child if they’d like to give their toy away (don’t say share, because it’s not sharing). And if you say, “Would you like to give this boy/girl your toy?” and they say no, it’s OK! Don’t belittle them and say sarcastically, “Sorry, so-and-so doesn’t want to share right now!” because that defeats the whole purpose.
  • If the child who wants your child’s toy doesn’t want to give up his or her pursuit and seems somewhat willing to listen, you can say, “If you want to play with so-and-so’s toy, you can find another toy to give them in trade.” Then, if your child accepts the trade, voila! But if not, then you need to stand up for your child and protect them. You can say to the other child, “There are plenty of other toys here that you can play with, and when so-and-so is done playing with this toy, you can have it.”

Okay, so I can see the eye rolls coming from the other mothers too. “Look at that horrible mother,” they’ll whisper to each other, “She doesn’t know how to teach her child how to share!” And you know what? Let them whisper, let them talk, let them see you stick to your guns and time and time again to defend your child, to teach your child, and to guide your child towards proper behavior in both the giving and the receiving end. Your children only have you for a little while to guide them and stick up for them like this, and when they see you standing up for your policy in front of others, they will have a MUCH easier time following it themselves.

Moving Forward

So now that you’ve burned all of your bridges with the mothers in your group and at the park and have no friends left…okay, so I hope that doesn’t happen, but what if it did? Are you okay with losing the supposed approval of other mothers at the cost of your own child? If you enforce your policy with confidence and explain yourself to the other mothers whose jaws are left agape in disbelief after you so brazenly influence their child, you may just gain a few supporters. And after a bit of time, if everyone in your circle can see the positive benefits of your policy, maybe they’ll adopt it too, and then you can all work as a community to teach your children that they matter, that they are important, and that they come first. Because in the end, your mommy friends aren’t the ones you are accountable for, your children are, and they deserve to come first.

When You Tell Children They're Smart, It Makes Them Dumb

When You Tell Children They’re Smart, It Actually Makes Them Dumb

When children do something praiseworthy, it’s easy to tell them, “You’re so smart!” But what about when they fail? Does failure imply stupidity? Quite the contrary! Failure, and persevering through it, is actually one of the hallmarks of success! But when we repeatedly praise children for “being smart”, for “getting the right answer”, or for “getting good grades”, we are implying that the outcome (rather than the process) is all that we care about.

In their absolutely riveting book about research-based parenting topics called NurtureShock, Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman touch on a very interesting subject in their chapter, “The Inverse Power of Praise”.

Why Do We Praise Kids for “Being Smart”?

Bronson and Merryman discuss how this idea really took off with the 1969 publication of The Psychology of Self Esteem when author Nathaniel Branden began a movement of belief that self-esteem was the single most important facet of a person. In 1984, California even created a “Self Esteem Task Force” because they believed that raising self-esteem would improve everyone’s quality of life. What ensued was an entire generation of kids growing up feeling entitled because they were constantly and repeatedly told that they were smart. But is this really such a bad thing?

Bronson and Merryman explain how researchers Dweck and Blackwell reviewed 15,000 scholarly articles from 1970-2000 about self esteem, and concluded that having high self-esteem didn’t improve grades or career achievements, it didn’t reduce alcohol usage, and it especially didn’t lower violence of any sort. (Actually, they found that highly aggressive, violent people happen to think very highly of themselves.)

Bronson and Merryman further explain that,

“The presumption is that if a child believes he’s smart (having been told so, repeatedly), he won’t be intimidated by new academic challenges. The constant praise is meant to be an angel on the shoulder, ensuring that children do not sell their talents short.”

But research is actually showing the opposite to be true and that,

“Giving kids the label of ‘smart’ does not prevent them from underperforming. I might actually be causing it.”

Parents mean well when they tell their children that they are smart. They believe in them, and they want them to succeed. But these blanket statements of innate intelligence actually do children a considerable disservice.

Effort Over Innate Intelligence

Take the example of Carol Dweck’s work. She and her team at Columbia spent ten years studying the power of praise on students in twenty New York City Schools. In one example, she designed and conducted an experiment that clearly shows how a belief in innate intelligence discounts the importance of effort. Here’s an overview of the experiment.

  • Researchers would take one fifth grade child into the hall at a time and give them a nonverbal IQ test consisting of a series of puzzles that were designed to be fairly easy so that the children would do well.
  • After giving the children their score, researchers would give them a single line of praise. One group was praised for their intelligence and told, “You must be smart at this.” The other group was praised for their effort and told, “You must have worked really hard.”
  • Then, students were given a choice to take a more difficult test where they would learn a lot, or an easy test. Of the children who were praised for their effort, 90% chose the harder test. Of those praised for being smart, the majority chose the easy test.
  • Why is this? The conclusion Dweck surmised is that, “When we praise children for their intelligence, we tell them that this is the name of the game: look smart, don’t risk making mistakes.”

“Being Smart” Doesn’t Prepare Kids for Failure

In another experiment, Dweck shows how emphasizing natural intelligence can actually have detrimental effects because it teaches children that if they are “smart” they don’t need to put out an effort. Here is a summary of that experiment:

  • The same fifth graders were given a subsequent test that was designed to be difficult and which all students (predictably) failed.
  • The group who had been praised for their effort on the first test assumed that they hadn’t worked hard enough on this test and Dweck recalls that, “They got very involved, willing to try every solution to the puzzles.” Many even commented that this was their favorite test.
  • This was not the same for the group who had been praised for being smart. They assumed that their failure was proof that they really weren’t smart after all. Dweck remarked that, “Just watching them, you could see the strain. They were sweating and miserable.”
  • Then, all the students were given a final round of testing designed to be as easy as the first round had been. Those who had been praised for their effort did significantly better, by 30%. But those who had been praised for being smart did worse, by about 20%.
  • Dweck concluded that,“Emphasizing effort gives a child a variable that they can control. They come to see themselves as in control of their success. Emphasizing natural ability takes it out of their control, and it provides no good recipe for responding to failure.”
  • In repeating her experiments, Dweck found that these results held true for students of every socioeconomic class and that it hit both boys and girls, but especially the very brightest girls. It even held true for preschoolers.

Teaching Kids That Intelligence Can Be Developed

In this next example, teachers in East Harlem decided to apply Dweck’s research in their own schools to help improve math scores. Here’s what they did:

  • They took 700 low performing students and split them into two groups. One group was taught study skills and the other group was taught study skills and how intelligence is not innate.
  • In the group where students were taught that intelligence is not innate, they took turns reading aloud an essay on how the brain grows more neurons when challenged. They also saw slides of the brain and acted out skits.
  • At the end of the eight week session, the students who were in the group that learned about the brain and how intelligence is not innate showed marked improvement in their study skills and grades. It was further noted  that, “The teachers – who hadn’t known which students had been assigned to which workshop – could pick out the students who had been taught that intelligence can be developed.”

Excessive Praise Distorts Childrens’ Motivations

When children do things merely to hear the praise, they can lose sight of the intrinsic enjoyment an activity can bring. Bronson and Merryman discuss a meta-analysis of 150 praise studies in which they found consistent correlations between a liberal use of praise and students “shorter task persistence, more eye-checking with the teacher, and inflected speech such that answers have the intonation of a question.” They go on to explain how,

“When they get to college, heavily praised students commonly drop out of classes rather than suffer a mediocre grade, and they have a hard time picking a major – they’re afraid to commit to something because they’re afraid of not succeeding.”

Children should be allowed to explore and discover the things that they are passionate about, the things that bring them joy, and the things that make them who they are. If they are always trying to please an adult, they will never truly discover this.

Praise the Process Not the Outcome

The solution here is to not stop praising children altogether or to never tell them that they are smart, but rather to be more mindful of the type of praise we dole out. One of the solutions is to praise children for their process along the way instead of the final product.

The other day, for example, I was working with my four year old son on Khan Academy doing some early math problems. Together we watched the instructional videos and then did the practice problems. When he was done with a problem, he got to push a button that would say whether or not he got the answer right. He was always excited to hear that he got the answer right, and I could have only congratulated him when he got the answer right with a, “Good job! You got the right answer!” But instead, I praised him along the way by saying things like,

  • “I really like how you used the picture clues to read those directions.”
  • “Great job using your finger to count every ______ (object)!”
  • “You’re really good at math because you double check to see if you got the right answer.”
  • “You used the strategy of counting on your fingers! That’s what kids who are good at math do!”
  • When he got an answer wrong, I didn’t make a big deal about it, but said, “Let’s try that again.”
  • And yes, I may have congratulated him a time or two for getting the right answer, but that wasn’t the only praise he was getting during this process.

Another example occurred the other day when my five year old daughter showed me a puzzle she completed. “Look what I did mom!” she said to me excitedly. Once again, I could’ve just praised the end result by saying, “I’m so proud of you for finishing that puzzle! You did such a good job!” But instead, I asked her a series of questions that created a wonderful line of dialogue between us. I said things like,

  • “That’s great honey! What strategies did you use to solve the puzzle?”
  • “After you found the corner pieces, what did you do next?”
  • “What was your favorite part of the puzzle?”
  • “Was it easy for you or hard for you? Why?”

We had a lovely conversation about the puzzle that didn’t end with her simply being encouraged to do things to get my approval. I want my children to be intrinsically motivated to find the things that are exciting for them, not the things that will get me to praise them.

Give Specific Praise

This is something that Bronson and Merryman touch on as well, and it was something that was taught to me time and time again through my education courses. When I was a teacher, I wouldn’t just walk around the room doling out praise willy nilly to boost kids’ self esteem. I would find specific characteristics about what they were doing to praise. I would say things like,

  • “I really like how you’re using a variety of colors to draw your picture. I can tell that you really like to be creative.”
  • “Nice job showing your work on that math problem! Now I can see exactly what is going on in your head!”
  • “When you were solving that problem with your friend, I really like how you used your words to share your feelings.”
  • “When you were reading that page, I really liked how you read the punctuation. That’s what good readers do!”
  • “At the beginning of the year, you didn’t know how to write any of your letters, but now you can write all of them! And every time you practice writing, I can tell that your letters are getting smaller and neater. Pretty soon, you’re going to have handwriting like me!”

I enjoy doing this with my children too. It takes a bit more time on my part because I have to really know what they are capable of, what their progress has been like, what their interests are, and how I can articulate all of this verbally, but by praising them in a way that highlights something specific that they did, it really helps to guide them to the next level.

In Conclusion

As parents, we want our children to be successful, and we want them to be happy, but it turns out that repeatedly telling them that they are smart in an effort to boost their self esteem is not the best way to do this. By instead praising the process and being specific with our praise, we can help our children to be able to articulate the things that they are good at and the things that they enjoy. Because in the end, our children are not our little trophies to show off how awesome we have been as parents; they are unique individuals who can use our encouragement not to be what we think they should be, but to be whatever they want to be in life. Now doesn’t that sound like a smart idea?

For Further Reading

I'm Up in the Night to Nurse My 6 Month Old Every Hour...and I'm Okay with That

I’m Up in the Night to Nurse My 6 Month Old Every Hour…and I’m Okay with That

Now that this is my fourth baby (in the last five years), I really and truly SEE how fast time flies, and rather than spend hours combing the Internet looking for ways to get my six month old to “sleep through the night”, I’ve just decided to enjoy it.

I look at my oldest daughter Ruby who is five, wise beyond her years, so independent, and asserting her personality boldly into the world, and I remember those days when she was a tiny little babe cuddled in my arms and nursing into the wee hours of the morning.

As I pull her close now, she melts into my arms, and as our skin touches, I am intoxicated by the electricity between us. It’s not that I long for the days when she was a little baby again, because I have these incredible moments with her now that are just as amazing, but when I remember the days of long ago, and my mind drifts to the Zelda song Scott and I would sing to her every night before putting her to bed, how I would look at her a thousand times in the night to make sure she was still breathing, and how much we loved her laying inbetween us in our Saturday morning bed as we would ooooohhhh and ahhhhhhh over every little sound and motion she made, I feel a sense of honor and a sense of pride about how I hung on to each of those moments rather than pushing through them to get to the next stage.

All of the sleepless nights that I was up with her and all of the tired mornings that I slugged through, they all melt together into one big insignificant blur. And as I look at my little one now, finally asleep on his own after I held and rocked him all night long, I know that the memories of tiredness are not only but a flash, they are an honor.

When I look at each of my four children and remember our special moments in the night, the thought of it practically brings me to tears. They are only these little helpless babies for but a fraction of their lives, and before we know it, they are sleeping in their own beds and then we are left alone…with empty arms.

The other morning, my husband, who is always so wonderful and supportive as he not only thinks about what’s best for the children, but me as well, saw me asleep on my pile of pillows with Julian tucked in my arms, asleep on my breast, and my head bent back in an awkward angle and my body twisted in a half sitting, half laying position, and he just thanked me for that. And of course I started overthinking things (like I always do), and I thought, “He’s six months old, maybe he should be sleeping on his own.”

So that night, I was determined to get him to sleep on his own, and as soon as he drifted off, I placed him in his crib (two feet away from our bed on the floor). “Well, that was easy!” I thought. But as I climbed into bed, I felt lonely. I missed him being near me, and I could only half sleep because one ear was pricked up listening for any little sound of rustling. But eventually, I drifted off into a very very deep sleep, only to be jarred awake an hour later by Julian’s little whimpering voice.

So I got out of bed, picked him up, cuddled him close, and nursed him until he fell asleep once again. Still determined to have him sleep on his own, however, I placed him inbetween Scott and I in our giant king size bed, and was pleased to see that he layed there peacefully. But that only lasted briefly before he started to stir again, and so I cursed and angrily picked him up wondering what I was doing wrong. Scott woke up to ask me what was wrong, and I complained that he just wouldn’t sleep without me holding him.

I awoke the next morning feeling unfulfilled. All of the getting up and down, all of the strategizing and worry, and all of the anger did not make for a very restful night. As Scott and I chatted about it on our two hour weekly milk run, I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t going to try to do anything differently than I had been in the night. (Do you ever get the feeling that you’re doing everything wrong and that you need to scrap everything and start completely over only to realize later that what you were doing before was actually right all along? Yeah, me neither.) So I decided that if he slept best with me holding him all night, than that was just what I was going to do.

It’s now the second morning after my little epiphany, and I’m sitting here typing on a quiet Memorial Day morning while everybody sleeps. Am I tired? Yes. Am I happy? Incredibly. Am I stressed? Not a bit. Last night, and the night before, I held Julian while he nursed on one side and in the process, we both fell asleep. An hour later, he woke up, and I sluggishly maneuvered him to the other side where he nursed and once again, we both fell asleep. All night long we did this dance of nursing and falling asleep from one side to the other. Never once did I have to get out of bed, never once did I awake fully, and every time I easily and quickly drifted off to sleep. I didn’t worry if I was doing it right, I didn’t fret about not getting uninterrupted sleep, and I didn’t allow myself to think, “Is it going to be this way forever?”

Because the realization is that it’s NOT going to last forever! My husband and I always joke about how every milestone we encounter with our children such as potty training, illness, and sleepless nights have one remedy… TIME. Time will pass, it slips through our fingers now like puke spilling down the middle of my bra, there is nothing we can do to stop it, and there is nothing we can do to slow it down.

If we approach each milestone as something to “get through” and  something that will “pass”, we miss the fact that these are the moments we want to remember, the moments we want to cherish, and the moments we will reflect on and look back on when we are old and gray in an empty house with only our memories to keep us company in the wee hours of the night when ironically we are the ones who can’t sleep through the night.

And so I’ll hold my little Julian all through the night, feeding him as often as he needs, knowing that sooner than I think, he’ll be eating solid food and there will come a time when he won’t even want to nurse anymore, and I’ll look back on these nights of ours together with a warmth and a fondness in my heart that I will cherish for a lifetime.

Easy Meatball Recipe

Easy Meatball Recipe Served with Spaghetti or Stroganoff Sauce

This simple and easy recipe will yield some amazingly versatile and delicious meatballs that will be a big hit with everyone! You can enjoy them plain, top them with spaghetti sauce for a traditional Italian feast, or smother them with a white stroganoff sauce, and then serve any of these options over a bed of noodles. Any variation will be sure to please!

I made this recipe for my daughter Ophelia’s 2nd birthday, and they were a big hit! I wanted to make something healthy that both the kids and the adults would enjoy, and this was the perfect meal. I love serving meatballs at a party because you can keep them warm in a crock pot so that any stragglers or late eaters will be ensured a tasty meal.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Ground Beef (Grass-Fed)
  • ½ c. Milk (Raw)
  • 1 c. Organic Rolled Oats (Not quick or instant)
  • 1 Egg (Pastured)
  • 1 t. Real Salt (Get some here.)
  • ½ t. Pepper
  • 1 t. Onion Powder
  • 1 t. Garlic Powder
  • 1 t. Ground Oregano
  • 1 t. Ground Basil
  • 1 T. Bragg Liquid Aminos

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together all of the ingredients. I like to add everything but the meat first, mix it together really well, and then add the meat and knead it in. *When I add my seasonings, I never measure, I just sprinkle them in. When I add this seasoning mixture to meat, like my taco meat recipe, I always add so much that I think, “Was that too much?”, but it never is.

    Meatball Mixture

    Meatball Mixture

  3. Form the meat mixture into balls. I really had fun using this small cookie scoop, and it was much easier than forming individual meatballs by hand!
  4. Place onto a greased cookie sheet. (You should be able to fit them all on one. I didn’t grease my cookie sheet the first time I made these, and the pan was quite hard to clean afterwards. It also helps to keep them on the middle rack in the oven.)

    Meatballs Ready to Bake

    Meatballs Ready to Bake

  5. Bake them at 350° F for 20 minutes. (You want them to be browned on the outside, so you may need to go 25 minutes depending on your oven.)

    Cooked Meatballs

    Cooked Meatballs

Spaghetti Sauce Meatballs

You can just dump a can of store bought spaghetti sauce on these meatballs, and they would be just great! Or, you can make things a little fancier by mixing some of my Tomato Puree with some organic store bought spaghetti sauce. I like to put my meatballs into a crock pot and let it simmer on low for a few hours before serving so that the they have time to soak up the flavor of the sauce.

Meatballs in Spaghetti Sauce

Meatballs in Spaghetti Sauce

Stroganoff Sauce Meatballs

Just mix together 1 can of cream of mushroom soup, ½ cup of sour cream, some parsley, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt and pepper to taste for a simple and easy stroganoff sauce. Mix the sauce and meatballs together and place in a crock pot on low one hour before serving time to let the meatballs really soak up the stroganoff flavor.

Meatballs in Stroganoff Sauce

Meatballs in Stroganoff Sauce

Serve with Noodles

I personally love angel hair pasta, but my kids really like rotini noodles. Egg noodles are typically served with stroganoff, so that’s a good option too. If you’re trying to lose weight, you might want to skip the noodles, but I think they add such a yummy flavor and texture, that it’s worth it to at least have a little bit!

Angel Hair Pasta

Angel Hair Pasta

Protein Enhanced Rotini Noodles

Protein Enhanced Rotini Noodles

Serve with Salad

The meal just wouldn’t be complete without a big tossed salad. I also created an Olive Garden salad dressing to accompany it, and it was amazing!

Tossed Salad

Tossed Salad

Big Hit

This meal really pleased everyone, adults and children alike! I also served a big plate of deviled eggs, some lemon/apple cider vinegar water, and raw milk. My parents (who raised five children, now all grown and moved out of the house) passed on to us their giant table with three leaves and their beautiful china set. It was really fun for me to prepare this meal and set a fancy table for those that we love. The meal was delicious, but even better was the company that surrounded us as we enjoyed it. There is such a joy in cooking a good healthy meal and enjoying it with those that you love!

Ophelia's Birthday Meal

Ophelia’s Birthday Meal

Homemade Olive Garden Salad Dressing Recipe

I love the house dressing they serve at Olive Garden, and I LOVE the fact that they serve limitless salad and breadsticks even more. To be honest, when we go there (or when we used to go there, before we had all of these kids), I would just fill up on the salad and breadsticks and take the entrè home with me to eat later! But what I don’t love about the Olive Garden dressing that you find at the store, is that like pretty much every other store bought salad dressing, it is made with canola or vegetable oil, white vinegar, and has MSG sneakily hidden in the ingredients (if you see “natural flavors“, that means MSG).

Anyways, I’ve always loved my homemade Italian dressing, but I was looking for something a bit creamier, and so I simplified my Italian dressing recipe, added some mayonnaise, and voilá, a great tasting creation was born! I think it tastes similar to the Olive Garden dressing, but even better because it’s made with only the best ingredients. Give it a try, and see for yourself!

Ingredients

  • Container to Hold Dressing (Get one here. I like using this because it has fill lines for the oil, vinegar, and water pre-marked on the glass jar.)
  • 1 c. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Get some here.)
  • ½ c. Apple Cider Vinegar (Get some here.)
  • 2 T. Filtered Water
  • 4 T. Mayonnaise (I like Hellman’s)
  • Curly Leaf Parsley – 1 Small Bunch (You can add whatever fresh herbs you have here too. If I have it, I like using cilantro and sometimes dill, sage, or basil.)
  • 1 t. Onion Powder 
  • 1 t. Real Salt (I buy my Real Salt in bulk here. You can buy a shaker here, or a refill pouch here.)
  • ½ t. Pepper
  • Optional: 2-3 green onions chopped, 2-3 pods of garlic peeled and finely chopped, or a sprinkle of cayenne pepper for a little kick,

Directions

Basically, you just mix all of the ingredients together, and shake it up! Simple as can be!

Homemade Olive Garden Salad Dressing

Homemade Olive Garden Salad Dressing

 

I find that with salad dressing, there is such a personal preference of taste that it’s really all about finding a base recipe and making it your own. My husband, for example, really doesn’t like the taste of vinegary things, so his ideal recipe might include less apple cider vinegar and a little more water or olive oil. (But honestly, he’s a die hard thousand island fan, so I’m going to be crafting a homemade thousand island recipe for him soon.) I, on the other hand, love vinegary things, so I’ll actually go a little heavier on the apple cider vinegar than this recipe calls for.

In the end, it’s about finding what you love, making it as healthy as can be, and then enjoying the fruits of your labors as you become the healthiest version of you that you can be!

Tomato Cabbage Soup Recipe with Chicken

Tomato Cabbage Soup Recipe with Chicken or Ground Beef

On a cold winter night, or a hot summer day, this soup is good anytime! Filled with fresh, nutrient dense, and delicious ingredients, this soup will help you stay slim, energized, and full. Fresh cabbage is an amazing vegetable filled with beta-carotene, vitamin C, and glucosinolates (that protect against cancer). Fresh tomatoes are also an excellent source of nutrients including potassium and the powerful antioxidant lycopene. So what are you waiting for? Let’s make some soup!

Cabbage, Chicken, and Tomato Soup with Barley Added

Cabbage, Chicken, and Tomato Soup with Barley Added

Ingredients

  • 1 Head of Cabbage (cabbage is on the “Clean 15” list)
  • 1 Bag of My Tomato Purée (or 2 16 oz. home canned jars, or organic BPA free jars from the store)
  • 2 c. Chopped Celery (or whatever other vegetables you have lying around)
  • 1 Whole Chicken or 1 lb Ground Beef (See my Roasted Chicken Recipe or Ground Beef Recipe)
  • *Optional: 4 c. Properly Prepared Barley
  • *Seasonings: I add most of my seasonings to my tomato purée, but if you’re used canned tomatoes without any seasonings, I would add the following:

Directions

  1. Tomato Purée: Add the tomato purée to a large pot and start to warm it up at a low-medium heat.

    tomato purée

    Tomato Purée

  2. Add the Vegetables: Cut up the cabbage (shredding it is even better), chop the celery, and really go ahead and chop up any other vegetable you have in your fridge that sounds good like carrots, bok choy, leeks, green onion, etc. and throw them all in the pot.
  3. Add the Meat (or not): Cut up the cooked chicken into bite sized pieces and add it to the pot. Or, if you’re going the ground beef way, add that to the pot. Or, just keep this a vegetarian dish, it will still taste great! (I have actually always used this recipe with ground beef until I just happened to have some extra chicken around, and it was simply amazing!)

    Roasted Chicken

    Roasted Chicken

  4. Add the Seasonings: If you’re using my tomato purée recipe, you’ll already have most of your seasonings added, but if you’re using unseasoned tomatoes, add the garlic, cilantro, parsley, maybe a little dill, oregano, thyme, sage, or whatever other fresh herbs you might have lying around. Then add salt and pepper to suit your taste.

    Chopping Up Some Fresh Herbs

    Chopping Up Some Fresh Herbs

  5. Simmer: Bring all of the ingredients to a slow boil, then turn down the heat to a low 2 or 3, cover, and let everything simmer for about 30 minutes. If I know that I’m going to be eating my soup for many days, I like to cook things really lightly at first so that every time I reheat it, all of the nutrients aren’t lost from over-cooking it.

    Cabbage Soup Simmering

    Cabbage Soup Simmering

  6. Barley: I love adding barley to just about every soup because it’s so healthy and filling, but sometimes it can kind of take over the soup and then no one else wants to eat it but me! So, sometimes I’ll just cook the barley and leave it separate so that anyone who wants can go ahead and add a scoopful. See my recipe for properly preparing organic barley to get rid of the phytic acid here.

    Serve the Barley on the Side with Cabbage Soup

    Serve the Barley on the Side

  7. Enjoy! This soup is good hot or cold. I really like eating mine with a toasted sourdough muffin with butter on the side.

    Cabbage Soup with Barley Added

    Cabbage Soup with Barley Added

Toasted Sourdough Muffins with Butter

Toasted Sourdough Muffins with Butter

How to Identify and Treat Oral Thrush in Babies

How to Identify and Treat Oral Thrush While Breastfeeding 

I remember nursing my six week old baby Ophelia, when I noticed some white spots in her mouth that didn’t seem to go away. After a bit of research, I learned that the shooting pains I had while nursing and the white spots in her mouth were both signs of thrush.

I had been battling a yeast infection throughout the last half of my pregnancy with her, and I thought I had gotten rid of it…but apparently not. It was quite an ordeal to identify and heal from this fungus, and I just wanted to share my journey of what I did and what I learned along the way that helped us to finally get rid of Ophelia’s oral thrush and my nipple thrush, which essentially saved our breastfeeding relationship.

Oral Thrush in Babies

Oral thrush occurs when there is an overgrowth of the fungus Candida Albicans in the mouth.

Oral Thrush in a Baby (Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Doc James, 2010)

Oral Thrush in a Baby (Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Doc James, 2010)

Candida Albicans lives in the gastrointestinal tract of most adults and children as one of the microbes that helps to break down undigested food. It is only a problem when it grows out of control. This picture below is actually of a young child who had Candidiasis after taking a round of antibiotics, and while not an infant with oral thrush, I think it gives a really nice image of what happens when Candida grows out of control.

A Child with Oral Candidiasis (Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Doc James, 2010)

A Child with Oral Candidiasis (Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Doc James, 2010)

Oral thrush typically presents itself in the fourth week of a baby’s life. It is very rare in the first week of life and after 6-9 months of age. As many as 39% of infants will develop thrush in the first few months of life.

Nipple Thrush in Nursing Mothers

Because breastfeeding provides a warm, moist, sugary environment, which is precisely where Candida thrives, babies can easily pass their oral thrush to the mother’s nipples, especially if they are already cracked or sore because of a bad latch. If the thrush isn’t treated, it can pass back and forth between mother and baby.

Causes of Oral Thrush

  1. Yeast Infection During Vaginal Birth: New babies are born with a clean gastrointestinal tract void of any microbes whatsoever. Within hours of birth, however, they start to build their own gut flora through exposure to the mother’s vaginal and fecal flora during a vaginal birth, breastfeeding, and exposure to the environment. If the mother has a yeast infection during a vaginal birth, however, the yeast will be one of the first microbes entering a baby’s clean and pristine gastrointestinal tract.
  2. C-Section Birth: If a mother delivers her baby by c-section (as one-third of mothers in the U.S. do), the baby will not getting any of her vaginal or fecal flora, which helps to populate the baby’s gut with healthy microbes. This new study shows how the baby’s gut flora can be disturbed for up to 6 months after a c-section birth, and research shows how a c-section delivery leads to more pathogenic microbes (including Escherichia coli and Clostridium difficile) populating the baby’s gut. When the good microbes aren’t there first, it makes it very easy for the bad ones to take over.
  3. Antibiotics: If a mother tests positive for group B strep (which affects 25% of women), she will be given antibiotics during labor that will cross the placenta and reach the baby. Routine antibiotics are also given after a c-section (and sometimes before) to ward off infection. Antibiotics wipe out all bacteria good and bad, and when a newborn baby is having something introduced to its system that wipes out all of the bacteria before there is any, it makes it easier for something like Candida to take hold and grow out of control.
  4. Steroid Use: If a baby needed a nebulizer and inhaled corticosteroids for say, a bad case of croup, any steroids that get in the mouth can lead to oral thrush.

Signs of Oral Thrush

  1. White Patches in Baby’s Mouth: It might look like little milk spots in your baby’s mouth, but unlike milk spots, they won’t go away on their own. If you tried to scrape them off, you’ll notice that it’s actually an inflamed lesion that may bleed.
  2. Refusing to Nurse: Your baby may refuse nursing or be reluctant to nurse because its painful.
  3. Fussy Baby: Your baby may seem particularly fussy or up a lot in the night.
  4. Yeasty Diaper Rash: Sometimes a yeasty diaper rash will accompany oral thrush. Look for a diaper rash that’s red and inflamed with small blistery lesions that won’t go away with typical diaper rash treatments. I battled this with my son on and off for months. We tried the pharmacist’s recommended “magic butt paste” (which is just regular diaper rash cream mixed with Monistat) which kind of worked, but once we gave him some probiotics, the rash immediately went away and never came back again.

Signs of Thrush in Momma

  1. Painful Nursing: Nursing should not be painful. If it is, it might be a sign of thrush, especially if you’ve ruled out a bad latch. I remember Nursing Ophelia (who was two weeks old at the time) in front of my sister (who was pregnant for the first time) and she looked at me in shock and horror as I all but howled in pain as Ophelia latched on. The intense pain subsided after a bit and I just thought, well, this is part of nursing. But after I treated the thrush, the intense pain went away. (With her being my third baby, you’d think I would have known better, but I have had some sort of breastfeeding problems with all of my four children!)
  2. Shooting Pains: You may feel a deep shooting pain that occurs during or after feedings because the thrush can embed itself deep within your breast tissue.
  3. Cracked Nipples: Your nipples may also be pink or red, shiny, flaky, and/or have a rash with tiny blisters.
  4. Yeast Infection: If you have thrush, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve got a yeast infection too.

How to Cure Momma’s Thrush

  1. Limit Sugar: Thrush is caused by Candida and Candida feeds on sugar. You don’t have to give up sugar forever, but if you can get limit Candida’s food source while treating thrush (especially in the form of pure sugar and processed foods), it will be much easier to get rid of.
  2. Probiotics: Probiotics, such as lactobacillus, feed on sugar too (and prebiotics, which can be found in such foods as raw onion, garlic, and asparagus…or as a supplement), and unless they are wiped out by antibiotics or a poor diet, they will keep the Candida in check. You can get them from fermented foods such as kombucha, sauerkraut, sourdough, kimchi, keifer, and yogurt. When battling thrush, however, I suggest getting them in a stronger format as well. My favorite probiotics for treating Candida are Bio Kult Candea and Custom Probiotics.
  3. Apple Cider Vinegar: Apple cider vinegar is an anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral miracle worker. I tried every remedy under the sun, but when I used apple cider vinegar, I was finally able to eliminate the thrush. This is what I did.
    • First, mix a solution in a peri bottle with about 2 T. of apple cider vinegar and the rest filtered water (chlorine free).
    • Then, after every breastfeeding session, squirt some onto some cotton balls and wipe your nipples, then throw those cotton balls away!
    • *If you’re pumping and/or using bottles, you have to really sterilize these components after every use. You can use apple cider vinegar, but really hot water will do the trick too.
    • In addition, wash all of your bras and anything your nipples come in contact with hot water and with apple cider vinegar added to the rinse cycle.
    • You can also mix 6 T. per gallon of water (or about 1 t. per 8 ounces) and drink throughout the day to heal from the inside out.
  4. Coconut Oil: Coconut oil is a soothing anti-fungal topical treatment. After I cleaned my nipples with apple cider vinegar, it felt really soothing and healing to dab a little coconut oil on them. You can also heal yourself from Candida from the inside out by eating it.
  5. Fresh Air: Candida can survive in oxygen, but it really thrives in dark, oxygen free areas. Going shirtless will not only feel good, but your husband/partner might get a kick out of it too! Get some sunlight on those nipples for extra measure because that also kills the fungus.
  6. *Gentian Violet: They say you can paint your nipples with Gentian Violet to get rid of thrush, but when I tried it, it caused Ophelia to go on a complete nursing strike. It was awful. I do not recommend using this on your nipples unless perhaps you plan to pump and bottle feed.
  7. *Grapefruit Seed Extract: I’ve read that you can mix Grapefruit Seed Extract with equal parts water and clean your nipples with it, much the same way that I did with the apple cider vinegar. I did not try this method, but it seems like it might work. (Read more here.)

How to Cure Baby’s Thrush

  1. Coconut Oil: If you leave some coconut oil on your nipples, your baby can get some that way. You can also dab a little coconut oil on the thrush spots.
  2. Infant Probiotic: I really like this infant probiotic. If you had to have antibiotics for any reason or delivered by c-section so your baby didn’t get any good bacteria from your vaginal tract, I would highly recommend a good probiotic supplement regardless of whether or not your baby has thrush. But if your baby does have thrush (obviously, because that’s why you’re probably reading this) this will really help your baby to populate his or her gut with beneficial bacteria that can crowd out the yeast and help to get rid of the oral thrush. You can mix a little bit with your breast milk and feed it to your baby with a dropper, and/or you can make a little mixture and paint it on the thrush spots with your finger or a q-tip.
  3. Gentian Violet: Gentian violet is an anti-fungal that can be used topically to help get rid of thrush. When Ophelia’s thrush progressed from a few white spots to her entire tongue being coated white (after I misused Grapefruit Seed Extract), I turned to Gentian Violet as a last resort. It tastes awful, it can cause your baby to have an upset tummy, and it shouldn’t be used excessively because there are claims that it can be a carcinogen (when used regularly for two years at 600 times the recommended dose…sorry mice) and lead to mouth ulcers (when not diluted), but after three days of meticulous treatment, Ophelia’s thrush was totally and completely healed. I highly recommend this as a cure for baby’s oral thrush. Here’s are a few tips for using it so that it will be effective:
    Treating Ophelia's Thrush with Gentian Violet

    Treating Ophelia’s Thrush with Gentian Violet

    • Gentian violet will stain everything purple, so put some Vaseline or Bag Balm on your baby’s lips and around her or his mouth before applying it. This will make it easier to clean up the purple drool.
    • Dress your baby in clothes that you don’t mind ruining. (This goes for you too.) I found it helpful to put a bib on Ophelia as well.
    • Get the 1% solution, and mix with equal parts water. (It is too strong if left undiluted. Don’t be fooled into thinking that it will be more effective if you don’t dilute it.)
    • Using a q-tip, paint every part of your baby’s mouth, especially the tongue. This stuff tastes awful and your baby will hate it. I found it best to paint once in the morning, maybe once in the afternoon if it wore off, and once at night. (Don’t exceed three dosages in a day.)
    • Do your best to make sure your baby doesn’t swallow any. It can lead to an upset tummy.
    • You need to do this for three full days/nights. If you miss a dosage and don’t complete the cycle, the fungus will come back stronger and be even harder to treat.
  4. *Grapefruit Seed Extract: I read a lot of articles, reviews, and blogs about Gentian Violet and grapefruit seed extract when Ophelia had thrush, and I decided to go with the grapefruit seed extract first, but it did not go so well. First of all, I made the mistake of not diluting it, so maybe it would actually work if you didn’t do this. (It should be more effective if it’s stronger, right? Not.) I painted it on the thrush spots in her mouth, and they seemed to completely go away in a day, but then the next day, there were more and more and more spots until her entire tongue was coated white. It was like in the absence of the Grapefruit Seed Extract, the fungus grew even stronger and completely took over. It was at this point that I turned to the Gentian Violet which totally worked.
  5. Nystatin: Nystatin is what your doctor will probably prescribe if you take your baby to the doctor to treat the oral thrush (which I don’t recommend unless this is your last resort). Nystatin is an oral medication that is meant to be used topically on the areas where thrush is appearing. There are claims that it’s 80% effective, but that seems a bit high to me. When Ophelia got thrush, I combed threads on the Internet (not always the most reliable sources, I know, but I like reading about personal accounts) and read time and time and time again about how mothers would go to the doctor, get Nystatin for their babies, deal with the side effects of: mouth irritation, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, stomach upset, rash, skin irritation, and/or allergic reactions, have the first dose not work, try another dose, still not have it work, and eventually give up on breastfeeding. I actually knew someone who got thrush at the same time as I did with her new baby and she used Nystatin as a remedy. It did not work, and she ended up not being able to breastfeed anymore. Personally, I would try all of these other remedies before turning to Nystatin as an absolute last resort.

In Conclusion

Dealing with oral thrush was probably one of the toughest postpartum things I’ve ever had to deal with, and through much trial and error, I’m glad we were able to finally beat it. With baby number four, I made darn sure to get rid of my yeast infection during pregnancy so that we would not have to deal with this again, and let me tell you, prevention is a much easier path! I also enjoyed researching and learning about why pregnant women are more prone to yeast infections, and I learned some fascinating information along the way. The bottom line is that thrush is nasty nasty business and it is worth all of the effort to prevent it and get rid of not just the symptoms, but the root cause as well.

How to Get Rid of a Yeast Infection While Pregnant

10 Tips for Getting Rid of a Yeast Infection While Pregnant

If you are pregnant and have a yeast infection, put down the cake! I repeat, PUT DOWN THE CAKE! If you want to learn how too much sugar (and a lack of probiotics) creates a breeding ground for yeast infections during pregnancy, check out my blog Why Pregnant Women are More Prone to Yeast Infections. But if you’re just “itching” for a cure, read on.

After five pregnancies and plenty of yeast infections, I think I’ve finally figured out how to get rid of yeast infections while pregnant. Getting a yeast infection while pregnant is the worst because it can be painful, bothersome, and really hard to get rid of. In addition, it can lead to thrush in both you and your new baby after birth, and dealing with thrush makes having a yeast infection while pregnant seem like a walk in the park. So you really really really want to make sure your yeast infection is gone by the time you give birth.

28 weeks pregnant at a midwife appointment

28 Weeks Pregnant with Ophelia

How to Know if You Have a Yeast Infection

It’s recommended that the first time you have a yeast infection, you go to the doctor to have it properly diagnosed, but once you’ve gotten them a few times, you’ll just know. Here are the things to look for.

  • Itching
  • Soreness
  • Pain or burning during urination or sex
  • Redness
  • Swollen
  • Possibly a thick, clumpy, white discharge that has no odor and looks like cottage cheese

Bacterial vaginosis (and some sexually transmitted diseases) can have many of the same symptoms, but the bacterial vaginosis discharge will have a “fishy” odor to it. They say you’ll need antibiotics to cure it, but if you take antibiotics, it will wipe out all of your bacteria (both good and bad), and it will make your chances of getting a yeast infection EVEN WORSE. I can only imagine that going from bacterial vaginosis to a yeast infection would be no fun!

When to Try Natural Remedies

Whenever I’m pregnant, I can feel my body changing in many ways, and with each subsequent pregnancy (currently rocking #5 as I update this blog), I can feel my candida issues flare up again. I know this is because of the way my body processes sugar and other things (read more about WHY pregnant women are more prone to yeast infections here), and it’s never any fun to deal with.

I always start with all of the natural remedies first when I feel the faintest itch of a yeast infection tingling, and by doing so, I am often able to keep things at bay…but once my symptoms turn into a full blown yeast infection, then the natural remedies actually seem to make things worse.

When you think about how candida albicans works, you have to understand that first of all it is a natural part of our digestive system living in our colon helping us ferment our undigested food (i.e. prebiotics…read more about the fascinating world of digestion here), and second of all, during pregnancy it can very easily grow out of control. It is a living organism and will fight to survive, hence the reason why it grows stronger and more resilient when you start to battle it. But stay strong sister, and you can win this war!

1. Over the Counter Anti-Fungal Medication

So, if I’ve tried all of the natural preventative measures and things still progress to a full blown yeast infection, I’ll run out to the drug store and shell out the $15 for the cheapest 3 or 7-day anti-fungal treatment. Now, don’t make the same mistake that I did with my first pregnancy and get the one day treatment. You are too sensitive while pregnant to handle such intensity, and it will burn like the dickens!

Most over the counter brands will list clotrimazole or miconazole as the active ingredient. The miconazole is more specifically designed to kill fungus in the vagina and the clotrimazole is typically used for skin fungus, so I would go with that miconazole first. (This is my favorite 3-day treatment.) Then, insert the capsules/cream every day for the full amount of recommended time. Even if your symptoms go away, keep going the full three or seven days or else the fungus will come back even stronger!

Now, it’s important to note that this remedy only treats the symptoms, not the cause. So, if you were to use ONLY this treatment, it is very likely that the underlying reasons that caused the yeast infection to appear in the first place will still be in place and cause yet another yeast infection.

2. Chamomile

I recently attended a nutrition class for pregnant women and learned that chamomile is actually very good at killing candida overgrowth! It is also super safe for pregnant women and has a calming effect as well. You can drink chamomile tea or even take chamomile supplements. You might want to start here before using the over the counter medication as well.

3. Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse

This is what I did during my fourth pregnancy that helped me to FINALLY get rid of my chronic and ongoing yeast infection! All of the other tips certainly help as well, but this was truly the nail in the coffin. Apple cider vinegar is an anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral miracle worker. It acts like a sponge and draws out germs and toxins from the surrounding tissue. It also stimulates acetolysis in which toxic wastes (like candida) are broken down and rendered harmless.

To make an apple cider vinegar rinse, take a peri bottle and fill it with about 2 T. of apple cider vinegar and the rest filtered water (chlorine free), and put it near your toilet. After you wipe (always front to back), squirt the solution on the outside of your vagina and let it air dry. (Stand in front of a fan for extra relief!) I would also do this after getting out of the shower. I continued to do this for at least a week or two after my symptoms were gone to make sure the infection was really eliminated, and this was REALLY helpful!

You can actually squirt it inside the vagina or douche with it if you want, but I would wait until the irritation is gone, however, or else it will really burn. You can also make the solution a little stronger if you’re brave enough, but if it’s too strong, it will burn even if you’re not irritated at the time.

4. Garlic

Garlic is one of nature’s greatest infection fighters. Not only does it help to stimulate the immune system, but it destroys candida (among other pathogens) and inhibits its growth.

At the first signs of a yeast infection, you can take a peeled clove of garlic and insert it into your vagina, usually at night, and then take it out the next morning. If the yeast infection is in the early stages, you might be able to kill it off this way after one or two nights. I have heard stories of this working for others, but it has just never worked very well for me…plus I don’t like how it makes my entire body smell like garlic.

I prefer instead to take these garlic supplements instead. They provide all of the benefits of garlic without giving you garlic breath! Whenever you use any natural method, you want to mix things up a bit so that the yeast doesn’t become resistant to your treatments, so I’ll typically take these garlic supplements for a few days (in the morning, 20 minutes or so after eating some food), give it a break for a few more days while using something else, and then use them again until my symptoms are gone.

5. Eat Fermented Foods

Fermented foods such as anything like sourdough, kombucha, yogurt, keifer, and sauerkraut are full of healthy probiotics (such as lactobacilli) that help to crowd out the yeast and keep it from growing out of control. I always try to eat as many of these foods as I can anyways, but especially so when I’m pregnant. I always have a jar of sourdough starter on my counter, and when I feel the mere tinglings of a yeast infection, or just as a preventative measure, I like to eat a small spoonful of the starter first thing in the morning (after a bit of food would probably be better, but I never remember that!). Recently, I had a friend make me some lacto-fermented sauerkraut, and I’ve really been enjoying that as well.

When you’re trying to get rid of a yeast infection, it’s really a balanced approach between killing the fungus and then crowding it out with good bacteria. Fermented foods are an excellent way to populate your vagina (along with your gastrointestinal tract) with good bacteria.

If you have good gut health, it’s also important to include plenty of prebiotic foods so that the probiotics will have something to feed on. Prebiotics are different kinds of fiber that we can’t digest, but that encourage beneficial species of gut flora to grow. They include dandelion greens, garlic and onions, asparagus, and chicory (found in teccino, a wonderful coffee substitute). If you have poor gut health, however, these prebiotic foods may cause stomach pains, gas, and bloating.

6. Probiotic Supplements

While fermented foods are great, sometimes you just need an extra boost, especially if you’ve recently taken a course of antibiotics that have wiped out not only the bad bacteria, but the good as well, and you need to repopulate your gut.

I have taken many different types of probiotic treatments, and these two have been my favorite. Bio Kult Candea is specifically designed to deal with candida. It has a garlic component that makes it have a bit of an odor, but it really works. Custom Probiotics come very highly recommended and work very well for eliminating yeast infections. When I have felt a yeast infection coming on, I like to alternate between these two brands and take two every morning after eating a bit of food. I have tried other probiotic supplements (such as the ones you’ll find in the grocery store) in the past and didn’t really notice much of a difference, but with these brands (and by following these other steps), my yeast infection would go away and not keep reoccurring.

*Note: With my fifth pregnancy, I added a probiotic to daily vitamin routine, and it was really helpful with preventing yeast infections.

7. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has capric acid, caprylic acid, and lauric acid that are all medium chain fatty acids that have great anti-fungal propertiesDr. Bruce Fife, a naturopathic physician and certified nutritionist and president of the Coconut Research Center in Colorado Springs, CO, explains that,

“Medium chain fatty acids penetrate cell membranes….when they’re absorbed by an organism that is not beneficial, they penetrate the cell membrane and weaken the cell, so it just disintegrates. Then white blood cells go in and gobble up the waste material.”

I love using as much coconut oil in my cooking as possible to help prevent and treat yeast infections, but you could also put a spoonful in your tea every morning, just batten down the hatches and eat a spoonful straight up, or you can take a caprylic acid capsule. Whenever I feel a yeast infection starting, I pop a few of these every morning.

8. Eliminate Sugar

Ok, so I’m hiding this one towards the end, because it sucks, but it is really THE most important step. If you are pregnant, past your 23rd week, and battling a yeast infection, you absolutely have to give up sugar (which is basically in all processed foods) to help get rid of your yeast infection for good. You can read my blog: The Real Reason Why Pregnant Women Get Yeast Infections to learn more about the science of why this is, but basically, your hormones are causing your blood sugar to sky rocket which creates an optimal breeding ground for candida. In order to really get rid of the candida, you have to reduce its food source…sugar.

Now, I’m not talking about complex carbohydrates here…you need those to fuel your body and your growing baby. I’m talking about pure sugar…Little Debbies, Laffy Taffy, Oreos, white bread, etc.

I think it’s best to eliminate sugar cold turkey. You might feel miserable at first because as the candida dies, it tries to fight it and you get these nasty die off symptoms (head aches, brain fog, fatigue), but they’ll go away after a short time, and then you will feel better than ever. When I’ve gone on a candida cleanse, this website has been really helpful in providing dietary guidelines.

Just beware that if you ever cut out ALL carbohydrates to try to completely starve the candida, it will turn into its most virulent form that can reek even more havoc on your body. You’re not trying to completely eliminate the yeast, just keep it under control. 

9. Take Care of Yourself

If you’re like me, the first trimester tiredness is just brutal, and as you enter the 2nd trimester, you might take for granted how good you feel and start to get a bit lax on the sleep. But by taking care of your body by first of all getting PLENTY of rest, your body’s immune system can work in its optimal state to help you fend off pathogens like candida. Next, it’s important to fill yourself with nutrient dense food and avoid commercial processed crap as much as you can. You are growing a human being and you need to eat…and eat well! Don’t wait until you’re starving and eat an entire box of Oreos! Plan out those meals in advance (check out my favorite recipes here), and feed yourself…and your growing baby some good food!

If you’re feeling a bit under the weather, these Pure Radiance 100% natural vitamin C capsules are AMAZING! I also like taking this Organic Liquid Prenatal Formula (I hate swallowing big bulky prenatal pills!) and this Fermented Cod Liver Oil (or this if our budget is a little tight). 

10. Let Your Vagina Breathe

Candida thrives in warm wet areas where there is no oxygen, and so in order to prevent candida from growing out of control, you want to let your vagina breathe. You can do this by wearing cotton panties like these, which are very comfortable while you’re pregnant anyways!

A big mistake I made while pregnant was wearing panty liners every day for any accidents (Watch yourself when you sneeze, you will pee a little bit!) and/or leakage, but I really think this contributed to my yeast infection problem. A better option would have been something like this or just changing my underwear more often. You’ll also want to avoid wearing super tight skinny jeans, and instead opt for something more comfortable like these. And of course, don’t sit around all day with a wet bathing suit on.

Other Remedies

  • Gentian Violet: When I was researching Gentian Violet for my oral thrush article, I came across a comment from a verified purchase on Amazon where the woman soaked tampons in Gentian Violet and inserted them for seven days and totally healed her chronic yeast infections. Gentian Violet worked wonders getting rid of my baby’s oral thrush, so I would have to say that this sounds like a pretty good idea if you’re desperate for a cure.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide: I have heard a lot of positive information lately about using a hydrogen peroxide rinse to get rid of yeast infections. This makes sense since when the lactobacilli in a healthy vagina “feed” on glycogen, one of their byproducts is actually hydrogen peroxide. But when I’ve tried this remedy, I’ve found that it has no effect.

Remedies to Avoid While Pregnant

  • *Grapefruit Seed Extract: Grapefruit seed extract can be taken orally or applied topically, and in addition to killing yeast, it has vitamin A, E, and bioflavanoids. But it’s not technically recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women because it can be toxic if taken at 4,000 times the suggested dose (so I think it’s okay to use at the recommended dosage). I tried it when I was battling thrush with my little newborn baby, it only sort of worked, and it seemed to bother her, so I’m not sure about this one.
  • *Boric Acid: The link above also mentions putting some boric acid into a hydrogen peroxide douche, and while boric acid is good at treating persistent and recurring yeast infections where you may be battling a different strain of candida, it is not recommended for pregnant women.
  • *Oregano Capsules: Oregano oil is really great at preventing and treating yeast infections because it contains two very effective antimicrobial agents called carvacrol and thymol that react with the water in your bloodstream to dehydrate and kill the Candida yeast cells. Unfortunately, it increases the blood flow to the uterus which weakens the lining around the fetus, so you don’t want to take it while you’re pregnant.
  • *Oral Fluconazole: Fluconazole (or the brand name Diflucan) are both oral antifungal medications. They are processed by the liver and enter the bloodstream where they attack the fungus. but this is very hard on your liver, and if you’re pregnant, it can harm the fetus. Also, if you are taking oral birth control, it can make it less effective. (But geez louise, I hope you’re not taking birth control when you’re pregnant!) The oral medications are recommended for women that have been battling an ongoing yeast infection for a year or more.

In Conclusion

Treating any type of candida overgrowth is really a three step process.

  1. Kill the Fungus/Control the Overgrowth – You can never completely get rid of it because it’s a part of the digestive process, but you can control the overgrowth.
  2. Probiotics – Candida and probiotics both feed on the same thing…sugar, so make sure you have more probiotics in your gut rather than candida.
  3. Diet – Eliminate processed foods and sugar and instead opt for as much nutrient dense food as you can.

Treating a yeast infection while pregnant can be a very stressful and frustrating thing when you feel like no matter what you do, you can’t really get rid of it. It’s not something to be taken lightly, however, because if a baby is born vaginally when the mother has a yeast infection, it can pass the candida on to the baby, which may turn into thrush. Thrush can make breastfeeding both difficult and painful, and it is even harder to get rid of than a yeast infection during pregnancy. Read by blog: How to Identify and Deal with Oral Thrush in Babies for more information about this topic.

So, do whatever you can to completely eliminate your yeast infection during pregnancy by following the steps that make sense to you and your situation. Good Luck!

Why Pregnant Women are More Prone to Yeast Infections

Why Pregnant Women are More Prone to Yeast Infections and Gestational Diabetes

The real reason why pregnant women get yeast infections (or any woman for that matter) isn’t really talked about or widely known in laymen’s terms. The same reasons are what also contributes to pregnant women getting gestational diabetes. When I’ve asked the Internet to tell me about this topic, every single blog, website, and article seems to regurgitate the same simplistic information, but I am sick of treating the symptoms of yeast infections during pregnancy without really knowing WHY, and so I set out to find the root cause, and this is what I found.

Eating Ice Cream While Pregnant

Eating Ice Cream While Pregnant

The real reason why pregnant women get yeast infections has to do with these two main factors:

  1. The increase in estrogen while pregnant (which also occurs during menstruation, from oral contraceptives, and through hormone replacement therapy) leads to an increase in glycogen, which is supposed to “feed” the lactobacilli that reside in a healthy vagina, but if no lactobacilli are present (thanks to antibiotics for one or just poor gut flora for another) and candida is present, the candida will grow unchecked until there is an overgrowth, hence creating a yeast infection.
  2. Human Placental Lactogen hormone (hPL), which is produced by the placenta in increasing amounts until the 23rd week when it plateaus, shuttles incoming glucose to the baby, meanwhile leaving the mother hungry so she reaches for more and more “glucose” which creates higher and higher blood sugar that can lead to insulin resistance and gestational diabetes at an accelerated rate, and this high blood sugar paves the way for candida growth and yeast infections.

So basically, when pregnant women have poor gut flora and continue to eat large amounts of sugar, it sets up an environment that is the “perfect storm” for yeast infections. If you’d like to explore these concepts further, come and learn with me, but if you’re just “itchin'” for a cure, check out my blog: How to Get Rid of a Yeast Infection While Pregnant.

The Role of Glycogen in the Vagina

The vaginal walls are made up of vaginal squamous epithelial cells that store glycogen. Glycogen is how the body stores small amounts of carbohydrates which are later broken down into glucose and used by the cells for energy.

Vaginal Squamous Epithelial Cells (Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Fæ, 2013)

Vaginal Squamous Epithelial Cells (Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Fæ, 2013)

In the vagina, glycogen acts as a prebiotic that feeds lactobacilli bacteria (commonly known as a probiotic, or good bacteria). So basically, the lactobacilli bacteria feeds on the glycogen.

Lactobacillus Organisms and Vaginal Squamous Epithelial Cell (Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Rasbak, 2006)

Lactobacillus Organisms and Vaginal Squamous Epithelial Cell (Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Rasbak, 2006)

During this process of feeding on the glycogen, lactobacilli produce two byproducts. The first byproduct is lactic acid, which helps to further reduce the pH of the vagina. The second byproduct is hydrogen peroxide, which is also acidic and repels unfriendly vaginal flora, such as candida albicans, escherichia coli, and gardnerella vaginalis (this is why there are natural remedies to cure yeast infections that call for the use of hydrogen perioxide). So basically, the role of glycogen (how the body stores carbohydrates, i.e. sugar) is to feed lactobacilli bacteria, which helps to keep the vagina in its optimal acidic state.

How Estrogen Effects Glycogen

When estrogen levels are high (specifically estridol), it encourages more glycogen to be released. Estrogen levels are high during menstruation, from the use of oral contraceptives, through hormone replacement therapy, and they are especially through the roof high during pregnancy. So when estrogen levels are high, the lactobacilli bacteria should have more to feed on due to the increase in glycogen. This is the body’s way of ensuring extra protection against microbial pathogens during a special time when the body is preparing to grow life.

How Glycogen Feeds Candida

Now, let’s say that more glycogen is being released due to an increase in estrogen, but there aren’t enough lactobacilli bacteria (maybe because a dose of antibiotics wiped them all out or there were just never many to begin with due to poor gut flora) to consume them. What then? Well, what we would have then is a vagina ripe with glycogen, which will be released into the vagina as glucose. So there will be a nice sugary vagina. And let’s see, what likes sugar?

Candida!

Candida albicans is a fungus, or a yeast, that lives in everyone’s gastrointestinal tract as one of the microbes that aid in digestion.

Candida Albicans (Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Y tambe, 2005)

Candida Albicans (Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Y tambe, 2005)

It also makes it’s way into most women’s vaginas via the anus and lives there benignly until it’s given an opportunity to feed voraciously. (Don’t wipe back to front!) When someone takes antibiotics to wipe out a bacterial infection, it also wipes out all of the good bacteria (lactobacilli) too. Poor gut flora can also happen over time due to a diet rich in sugar and carbohydrates.

So without the competition of lactobacilli, candida can feed on the increased glycogen uninhibited, and it can lead to an overgrowth of candida. This overgrowth of candida is what is commonly referred to as a yeast infection. (If you want to learn more about how Candida transforms from a benign unicellular yeast to a destructive multicellular fungus, this is a great article.)

Human Placental Lactogen (hPL)

So estrogen is why menstruating women, women on birth control, and women on hormone replacement therapy are more prone to yeast infections, but human placental lactogen (hPL) is why pregnant women (who have more estrogen coursing through their veins than ever before) are even more prone to getting really serious yeast infections that are very hard to get rid of.

hPL is produced by the placenta in a greater amount than any other hormone during pregnancy. Its primary function is to prepare the breasts for lactation by stimulating breast growth and the secretion of colostrum, but it also affects the way that the mother uses food for energy. It does this by decreasing the mother’s use of amino acids (protein) and glucose (carbohydrates) so that it can instead shuttle them over to the growing fetus. It also stimulates the breakdown of maternal fats (lipolysis) which is usually done by Hormone Sensitive Lipase (HSL) when the mother is not pregnant. The mother then uses these fatty acids for energy and saves the glucose for the baby.

hPL Leads to Insulin Resistance

Insulin is what allows the cells to use glucose for energy. I like to think of insulin like a parent and glucose as a lost child. Glucose enters the body, but can’t figure out where to go. Insulin comes along, holds glucose’s hand, and leads it into the cells where it can be converted into energy via cellular respiration or stored for later use as glycogen or in fat cells. When too much glucose is in the blood stream over a long period of time, however, cells can start to become resistant to it, and so the body releases more insulin to combat the increasing blood sugar, but over time, the insulin isn’t as effective, and this is what is known as insulin resistance.

hPL makes a pregnant women rapidly become insulin resistant, and the research that I’ve seen is a little foggy on why this occurs. But by the 23rd week of pregnancy, hPL has reached its peak with a 30-fold increase. This increase in hPL can cause an increasing resistance in the mother’s tissue to insulin that can make her blood sugar start to go through the roof.

I feel like the logical explanation is that diet is at least partially to blame for this insulin resistance. If a woman isn’t fat adapted leading up to pregnancy, meaning that she’s not able to easily use fat (including stored fat) for energy, and is instead a sugar burner who can only use the fleeting resources of glucose for energy, then when hPL shuttles the incoming glucose to the baby and induces lipolysis that breaks down fat to be used for energy that she’s not able to use, she feels absolutely STARVING. And then, rather than cook some wholesome bone broth soup, or make some grass fed beef burgers, or even take the time to cook an organic baked potato loaded with butter, cheese, and sour cream, she instead reaches for a bag of chips or treats herself to a milkshake because, “Hey, I’m eating for two, for once in my life I don’t have to worry about gaining weight, and back off because…I’M STARVING!”.

And THEN, the poor hPL surging, insulin resistant, and constantly hungry mother takes her glucose screening test between 24-28 weeks, and if she finds out that her blood sugar is too high, she will have to practically eliminate all sugar so that she won’t get gestational diabetes.

Gestational Diabetes

When the mother has high blood sugar that leads to gestational diabetes, her excess sugar enters the baby’s blood stream and forces its pancreas to make extra insulin. Because the baby is getting more energy than it needs, the extra energy is stored as fat, which is known scientifically as “fat” baby or macrosomia. This can cause damage to the babies’ shoulders at birth and lead to an increased risk of c-sections.

Because of the extra insulin produced, newborns may have low blood glucose levels at birth and are at higher risk for breathing problems. (Not to mention that they’ll want to give your baby formula or sugar water at birth which could affect your breastfeeding relationship.) It also makes them more at risk for insulin resistance, obesity, and type 2 diabetes as adults. Gestational diabetes affects up to 9.2% of pregnancies

How hSL Contributes to Candida

Just as an increase in estrogen leads to the increased production of glycogen that leads to a more “sugary vagina”, the hormone hSL does the same thing by leading to insulin resistance which creates higher blood sugar, and once again, a more “sugary vagina” that gives the candida more to feed on. In a vagina that has been stripped of lactobacilli that typically feed on the increased sugar during pregnancy, the candida have no competition and can multiply unchecked until they create an overgrowth known as a yeast infection.

How to Prevent a Yeast Infection

When you get pregnant, just know that you are going to be super susceptible to getting yeast infections and take every precautionary measure that you can to prevent one from starting.

  • Don’t take antibiotics, and if you do, follow up with a good probiotic like this or this.
  • Don’t eat too much sugar (or foods that break down easily into sugar, i.e. all refined carbohydrates). Eat a balanced diet that includes lots of healthy saturated fats.
  • Eat lots of lacto-fermented foods (sourdough, kombucha, sauerkraut, keifer, yogurt) to help build a colony of lactobacilli.
  • Avoid douching and keep your vagina clean using mild, unscented soap and water.
  • Wipe from front to back to avoid spreading bacteria and yeast from your anus to your vagina.
  • Wear good cotton underwear like these. And don’t wear pantyliners every day because of “leaking”. Just change your panties! Your vagina needs to breathe.
  • Avoid tight fitting pants. Instead, get comfortable in something like this.
  • Change out of a wet swimsuit right away. This just creates an optimal breeding ground for candida.

In Conclusion

In a nutshell, the real reason that we get more yeast infections while pregnant has to do with our changing hormones, namely the increase of estrogen and the presence and increase of hPL and how they both lead to a “sugary vagina” that becomes an optimal breeding ground for candida, especially when there aren’t any good lactobacilli bacteria to consume the extra sugar.

If you’re pregnant and not experiencing any signs of a yeast infection, just be careful and take preventative measures to assure that you don’t get one, but if it’s too late for prevention, and you already have a yeast infection while pregnant (or think you might), you’ll want to check out my blog: How to Get Rid of a Yeast Infection While Pregnant. Having a yeast infection while pregnant can lead to both you and your baby dealing with thrush, and that is just nasty business. Read my blog: How to Identify and Deal with Oral Thrush in Babies to learn more about this topic.