Teas Safe in Pregnancy

Not all teas are safe during pregnancy, and pregnant persons will be told that they have to limit their caffeine to 200 mg a day. This is equivalent to a 12 oz coffee or 10 x 8 oz of black coffee or 5 x 8 oz of green tea. Caffeine during pregnancy has been associated with a decreased birth weight of the baby, and a higher risk of miscarriages. So it's easy to see why some people avoid it altogether!

There are some teas that are safe to drink during pregnancy, and they have additional benefits as well. These teas are listed below, along with a short description of what they do, and when it is safe to drink them because some of them are not safe to drink throughout the pregnancy. Note that these teas, while safe, should be enjoyed in moderation (ie. not drinking 6 cups of a single tea a day).

Ginger - throughout pregnancy

Ginger is one of the teas that are safe to drink throughout pregnancy. It is amazing for nausea and unsettled stomachs. As a root, you want to steep it for 20 minutes to get all of the good phytonutrients and contents from it.

St. John's Wort - throughout pregnancy

This herb is renowned for it's antidepressant or mood elevating properties. It should only be used for mild depression, otherwise seeing a health care practitioner is warranted.

Dandelion Leaf and Root - throughout pregnancy

The leaf has diuretic properties, which is really helpful for fluid retention during pregnancy. The leaf is also high in various minerals. The Root has a laxative effect, to help you have regular bowel movements. As a root, you want to steep it for 20 minutes to get all of the good phytonutrients and contents from it.

Marshmallow Root - throughout pregnancy

Both of these herbs are wonderful for heartburn symptoms. They help to coat the lining of the esophagus to decrease irritation from the acid that comes up during heartburn. As a root, you want to steep it for 20 minutes to get all of the good phytonutrients and contents from it.

Echinacea - throughout pregnancy

Is helpful for boosting your immune system when you think you are getting sick. It can be taken when you notice you are getting sick, and during depending on when you are able to notice it. It can be taken as a tincture, and you know you have found a good tincture if your tongue gets a tingly sensation afterwards.

Chamomile - throughout pregnancy

Can help with calming down the nerves and to improve digestion, especially if you notice that you are more gassy or bloated than normal. The trick to making it helpful for digestion is to cover the pot or cup and steep for 20 minutes, that way you are able to extract those compounds that are more helpful for digestion instead of just the calming effect this tea has with shorter steeps. However, if you have a history of hayfever, this is not the tea for you.

Red Raspberry Leaf - from weeks 18-20 and onwards

Wonderful for tonifying and strengthening the uterus. It is also rich in some minerals that can help to support momma. Add 1-2 tsp of the loose herb into your cup of hot water, and let steep for 10 minutes. Can drink up to 2 cups a day.

Nettle - from 20 weeks and onwards

Nettle is rich in minerals, and as a result, is wonderful for tonifying the body and uterus. It can help support kidney function and connective tissues. Best if you steep for 6 hours. You can put it in the fridge overnight, and drink it throughout the day.

Withania - third trimester

Is a very useful adaptogen and nourishing herb. It is able to help you respond to stress better (making it an adaptogen), and helps strengthen you up by nourishing various parts of your body. As a root, you want to steep it for 20 minutes to get all of the good phytonutrients and contents from it.

Note that there are Red Flags that always warrant medical attention, and should be treated by a Medical Doctor instead of with herbs. These include:

  • Edema or swelling of the hands and face

  • Continual vaginal bleeding

  • Initial outbreak of herpes blisters during the first trimester

  • Severe pelvic or abdominal pain

  • Continual, severe mid-back pain

  • Severe headaches, blurry vision, or epigastric pain

  • Rupture of membranes prior to 37 weeks of pregnancy

  • Regular uterine contractions prior to 37 weeks of pregnancy

  • Cessation of fetal movement (Aviva Romm)

Happy tea drinking!

~ Dr. Charmagne

Holiday Stress

The holidays are a magical season, were friends and families come together to celebrate, spend time together, and create memories. It is a season that is suppose to represent all of the qualities and values that we treasure, and have grown up with. And as children, this season is even more magical; however, as we have grown up - and seen the other side of it - it can become stressful. It becomes a time of immense stress: financially, emotionally, mentally, and physically. Especially if you don’t fill your proverbial cup as you go. There is a lot of people who experience burn out during the holidays, and it’s no surprise, when it’s such a busy time of year, with demand after demand. So how do you keep going during the holidays, and not burn out, or feel as stressed out? Let’s talk about some things you can do.

Know your Limits

There are times when your mind and body are going to tell you to stop adding onto your plate, and taking up more demands. These are the times that it is important to listen to your body. It is sending you these messages for a reason, and it is warning you that you are reaching your limit and need to recuperate; otherwise, you’ll burn out. Honouring yourself and your limits is the best way to support your mind and body, prevent from burn out, and decrease any unnecessary stress. Once you learn your limits, and boundaries, you can take this with you throughout your life, because healthy boundaries is something everyone needs to learn and practice for your own health and wellbeing.

Ask for Support

If you do find that you have piled your plate full of responsibilities and duties, and are struggling to get everything done by the time they need to be, or you feel like you are at your limit, the best thing you can do for yourself is to ask for support. Ask your friends, family, and/or partner if they can support you in finishing a task. Dividing the work with people can be a great way of decreasing your stress load. In addition to asking for support, having your priorities set is helpful. Is it really important to pristinely wrap the presents or is it more important to spend quality time with your partner and/ or children? The gift wrapper is going to torn to shreds regardless of how nice it looks, while memories and experiences you gained spending time with your loved ones, can last a life time.

Self Care

You have to fill your cup, so that you can give to others. If filling your cup looks like having a massage to relieve those tense muscles, or having a manicure and pedicure to feel like you’ve been cared for, then do it. If it looks like having a retreat, where you do all the activities you love, or do yoga, meditate, read, then do it. You know what refuels you, so listen to your body. Right now is the best time to use your benefits for what they’re suppose to do - benefit you. You can also see a Naturopathic Doctor so that they can recommend additional lifestyle changes, supplements, and therapies that can help rebuild you, prevent burn out, and make you feel more energetic. They’re your benefits, so use it in a way that will benefit you.

Have a Joyous Holiday Season!

~ Dr. Charmagne

Breastfeeding Series - Self Expression

Self expression is a useful tool to have especially before going into labour. It allows you to collect some colostrum before your baby comes into this world, allowing you to start a stockpile of breastmilk for when you want to go out, or let your partner feed your baby. As an added bonus, if for any reason - doctors or nurses are worried about baby's blood sugar, or baby has jaundice, for example - you can give your baby expressed colostrum instead of formula. 

Colostrum is what your breasts produce before they start making breastmilk. It is yellowish in colour, and has a very viscous and sticky consistency. Some liken it to honey. Colostrum is absolutely amazing and perfect for your baby, especially the first few days of breastfeeding, when your baby's stomach is the size of a grape, and their intestines have not been exposed to any bacteria. Colostrum is rich in antibodies, as your baby drinks it, it coats their stomach and gut - protecting your baby from bacteria. As a result, colostrum is high in protein, and lower in fat than in breastmilk. That being said, it is the perfect transitional food to the outside world because your baby has not had to use their digestive tracts in utero, so they get a few days to practice before breastmilk comes in. 

When you start self expression, you may not collect anything the first few times. Don't be discouraged if you don't collect anything the first few attempts, or if you only collect drops. Collecting drops is amazing, and it will build up! You can collect the expressed milk into a cup or spoon, then use a syringe to collect all of it. Make sure you label it with the date before putting them into the freezer. Let your care providers know you have expressed milk to use instead of formula, so they can let you know when you need to use it. 

Stanford Medicine made an instructional video that shows you the steps of how to hand expression. This is one way you can self express. There are other ways as well - including compressing the breast, pulling back towards the ribs, and pushing forward towards the nipples (instead of compressing more there), among others. Try different ways, some might work better than others, and which ever one works for you is the perfect one for you and your body. 

~Dr. Charmagne 

Pregnancy & Delivery Support

Expecting a baby is very exciting - but also nerve racking. Let’s be honest - the best things in life occur when these two emotions are experienced together!

There are literally hundreds of books, websites, and opinions out there, exploring pregnancy and newborn health. Choosing your health team is key to navigating your way through all the information. Consider having a Naturopathic Doctor who specializes in pregnancy and lactation on your team. Naturopathic doctors provide science based, safe, holistic medical advice to help complement your obstetrical care. 

Select few NDs have also received additional training to assist women in birth as a doula.  Birth Doulas have a long history - some people say as far back to Aristotle's time. Doulas are trained to provide techniques to assist in pain reduction - such as visualization, massage, counter-pressure, and movement. Coupled with the skills that are uniquely at the disposal of a trained Naturopathic Doctor (acupressure and homeopathy to name a few)- a ND/Doula is an outstanding option to consider. You can read more about the benefits of having a doula here

Birth is only the beginning of this life-changing time for a family...breastfeeding is often an overwhelming hurdle for many women. There is natural uncertainty and often rough patches along the way. Lactation Consultants are specifically trained to help Mothers with latching, milk supply, nipple pain, mastitis, and more. They are amazing at reassuring Mothers. Naturopathic therapies work exceptionally well for lactation needs - supply issues respond well to botanical medicine, homeopathy and acupuncture. This type of support has been shown to increase breastfeeding rates and durations, allowing Mothers to achieve their breastfeeding goals.  To read about some Do's and Don'ts have I have learned, read here

I am dedicated to ensuring Mothers and their children have the best possible start in life together!  As a Licenced ND with training as a birth doula and lactation specialist, my unique approach offers truly holistic medical care. I hope to meet you soon and join you on your journey!

You are welcome to book a complementary 15 minute meet and greet to answer any further questions you may have.

~ Dr. Charmagne

Taking Care of Your Mental Health

I am happiest when I connect to people. When I feel that connection, it feels like I've become closer to the people I talk with - even if we've been friends for 10+ years. You can get this feeling by talking to people online, but it's not the same as being with those people in person. The experience is always richer, and more memorable. Your heart soars.

However, it is hard to connect with people when you don't feel like it, and sometimes you may not even know why. You might feel exhausted, that there's no point in going out, that you would just bring everyone else's mood down. But it isn't about any of that. It is about your mental well being, and what you need to do to help pick yourself up so that you can enjoy and live your life to the fullest. It is said that life is a present, and it can most definitely be.

Positive Self Coaching

Everyone talks to themselves in one way or the other, we all have that voice in our heads that speaks a certain way. For most of us, that voice puts us down. It tells you that you're not good enough, that you suck, that you aren't worth it, the list goes on. It knows your weak spots and will exploit it. For many, this the the only voice they hear. But it is not your voice, it is not you. Change the way you speak to yourself. Be kind to yourself - like you would to your best friend. It is difficult changing that voice to one of love, when it has been so negative for so long. But it can be done. I know it sounds cheesy, but calling yourself "love" can be one way to start the change. In addition to bringing more love to yourself by calling yourself love, you remind yourself that you should practice self-love. 

Support Groups

It is important for you to know that you are not alone - you don't ever have to be alone. There are people experiencing similar things, and when these people come together and support each other, something magical happens. Along with finding a group of people that can support you, new friendships can be made, along with a sense of purpose. This group can be whoever you want it to be. For me it's my friends and family, for others it is a group going through similar difficulties such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, alcoholism, etc. The following link to support groups found in Calgary:

Gratitude Journaling

Many people say that gratefulness is the key to happiness (Huffington Post). Gratitude journaling is an amazing exercise to practice daily, and helps to gently change your attitude to one of gratitude. It allows you to see different perspective, be more empathetic, create a deeper understanding of yourself, and keeps things in perspective. Having this journal can also be useful for when your mood is lower as a way to remind you of all the things in your life that brings you happiness. 

Going Outside

There are so many beautiful things to behold outside, whether it's a tender interaction between two people, seeing someone helping another, the fluffy clouds passing by, feeling the wind caress your face, or the beautiful changing colours of the leafs. There are things you can enjoy. Do the things you've always wanted to try. There's no pressure trying to placate another person, and you can do everything at your leisure, there are not time constraints to see another place unless you want to. After a few times, this is very liberating, this kind of independence is beautiful and something to savour. 

Finding Your Purpose

This one is really important. Finding your purpose will give you energy to get out of bed on the days you really don't want to. It gives you that extra push because there is something you are trying to achieve. Generally, purpose isn't material based. It is something bigger than yourself that you can dedicate your life to. For some, it's providing for their family, for others is taking care of their beloved pet, and yet, for others it's helping or supporting someone get through something going on in their lives. Finding your purpose can be difficult, so one way to start finding your own purpose is by learning more and discovering who you are. Your purpose can be whatever you want it to be, and it makes you feel like there's a reason you are here.

Remember, it is completely normal for you not to be happy every single moment of your life. It is okay to feel "blah," it's ok for you to feel down, content, etc. These emotions are not bad, and are often needed in life. Life ebbs and flows, and your mood will change accordingly. Social media has made it easier for people to show the best parts of their lives, the parts they feel alive - but behind the scenes, their moods can quite often, be the opposite of what they are displaying. 

With lots of Love,

~Dr. Charmagne

Breastfeeding Do's and Don'ts

When it comes to breastfeeding, everyone has an opinion, and everyone thinks their way is correct. It doesn't help that the information found on the internet is often contradictory, and that physicians, nurses, and lactation consultants have a difficult time agreeing if a baby has a tongue tie or not. So how does this leave mothers? Confused. Very confused. 

In the clinic, there is a number of moms that book appointments to have all of their questions and concerns addressed. To have someone they've met and trust answer questions, give tips on how to help with breastfeeding is very relieving.

I've learned several things from my amazing mentor, Janet Regts RN IBCLC, being at the clinic, here is a few Do's and Don'ts when it comes to breastfeeding:

Don't judge yourself

As women, we tend to judge ourselves harshly. Now add a baby, and you judge yourself 10x harder. There's no need to add undue pressure on yourself to be the perfect mother and wife. Do the best that you can, and trust that it is good enough. If that means you have to feed your baby formula so he is gaining weight while you work on increasing your milk supply, then feed your baby formula. If you give your baby a few bottles of formula to give yourself a break, then do it. What is important is that you and your baby are in a happy and healthy relationship, and if that means you are adding formula, then it's fine.

Don't be pressured to do something you don't feel is right

It seems like everyone is judging mothers. What are they feeding their baby, how they're raising their baby, are they coddling their baby? If someone advises something to you, and it doesn't feel right, then don't follow it. You have the best interests in mind for your baby, and if that means you want to go the natural root and not take medication to increase your milk supply, then go for it. Make this breastfeeding journey what you want it to be, and remember there is always support for you.

Don't limit yourself

If your goal is to breastfeed for x number of months, and you are determined to do it, you should be able to do it without having painful breasts and/or nipples. There are treatments and different strategies that can help you accomplish that. But if you refuse to hear the options, then you will have a more difficult time accomplishing that goal, and may quit before reaching it. As with anything in life, you'll have to weigh the pros and the cons, and decide which route you want to go, but you have an open mind so you can see both sides.

Do trust in yourself

Women's bodies are amazing. We can create and give birth to life, and we can sustain that life solely on breastmilk - which our bodies make! You trusted your body to create your baby. You worked with and trusted your body to give birth to your baby (either through natural means or a cesarean birth), and you can do the same thing with breastfeeding. Trust yourself and your body. You know what to do. There's no need to stress about it. You have people making sure that your baby is growing accordingly. Feed your baby, and have confidence in your ability to care for them.

Do seek assistance when you need it

You should never have to be by yourself when working out something difficult. This goes for your health as well as breastfeeding. Everyone needs support, and encouragement. Find someone to help you through these difficulties. There are La Leche League meetings all over Canada to support mothers breastfeed. These are groups of mothers who talk about their hardships and get support from their Leader and their fellow mothers. Lactation Consultants (LC)are knowledgeable and specialized in helping mothers with any breastfeeding difficulty they may have. La Leche League Leaders will often recommend seeing an LC if your concern requires more knowledge and/or understanding. You are not alone. There are people that want to help support you and know what you are going through.

Do find what works for you

There's a saying in the clinic that is often said: "As long as baby poops, pees and gains weight, whatever you are doing is perfect." Every feeding situation is different for every mother and baby, don't be hard on yourself. You are doing everything you can to make sure your baby grows up healthy. If your feeding your baby a mixture of your breastmilk and formula, and both you and baby are happy, that's 100% perfect for you. 

- Dr. Charmagne