By now you have probably figured out whether or not your hormones are out of whack. Fatigue, emotional ups and downs, trouble falling/staying asleep, PMS, sore breasts around your cycle, the need for caffeine to stay awake, overly oily/dry/acne prone skin, menopausal symptoms, irritability and infertility are all linked to hormones that are not in alignment.
Hopefully you have been able to implement some changes to your diet and life that are helping you to balance your hormones. Foods that cleanse and support the liver (cruciferous vegetables, bitter foods, etc.), maca root, deep belly breathing and morning lemon water are all good starts to getting your hormones in check (for more information on hormone balancing see here).
But I want to give you another tool to help your body come back and stay in alignment.
It's called seed cycling.
Seed cycling can help you balance your hormones so that your menstrual cycle can balance out, you can gain more energy, your skin can become smooth and conception can happen (if that is your goal).
And guess what? It's really easy. With seed cycling you will be rotating different seeds during your cycle to support optimal hormonal balance. The vitamins, nutrients and oils in seeds help support your body's creation, release and metabolism of hormones. The lignans in the seeds help bind excess estrogen and the omega 3's help keep the hormones in balance.
The seeds used in seed cycling are flax, pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds. Flax seeds in particular have been shown to lengthen the luteal phase and result in a less likely chance that you will not ovulate. The zinc in pumpkin seeds helps the body release progesterone, as well as the zinc in sesame seeds. The selenium in sesame seeds also helps the body release progesterone. Try to seed cycle for about three months, or longer, for optimal results.
How To Seed Cycle
During your Menstrual (when you menstruate) and Follicular Phase (the few days following menstruation) :
Consume 1Tbsp raw ground Flax Seeds and 1Tbsp raw ground Pumpkin Seeds daily
During your Ovulatory (just after the follicular phase when you release an egg) and Luteal Phase (the phase following ovulation):
Consume 1Tbsp raw ground Sesame Seeds and 1Tbsp raw ground Sunflower Seeds daily
Grind your seeds in a clean coffee grinder or mini food processor every morning, or if you are short on time, grind your seeds for a few days worth and store them in the fridge to keep them fresh. As with any food, it is best to buy your seeds organically. This lessens the chance that your hormones will be disrupted by hormone disrupting chemicals found on and in conventional foods.
An easy way to eat your seeds every day is to consume them at breakfast. Sprinkle them on your oatmeal, put them in your smoothies/smoothie bowls or on top of your yogurt. You can also sprinkle them on your salads or blend them into energy balls.
Love and light xo,
Breastfeeding is a beautiful way to connect with your baby. The oxytocin released while breastfeeding can bring you and your little one closer. Being able to feed your baby from your very own body can be an empowering experience.
Some women are lucky and produce milk easily, while other women struggle to produce enough milk for their baby. Low milk production can create stress, frustration and sadness in women who aren't able to produce as much as needed for their growing baby.
If you are struggling with low milk production, here are 5 tips for you to help increase your milk supply.
1. Try Galactagogues
Galactagogues are herbal substances used to increase a nursing mother's milk supply. Moringa, fennel, fenugreek, alfalfa and nettle are just some of the different galactagogues that may help increase your milk supply.
You can usually find nursing teas with a mix of these herbs at your local health food store which are an easy way to take them.
2. Eat Fruit
Breastmilk contains a high amount of sugar to provide a baby with the energy it needs to grow and thrive. It is important to start eating in a way that supports this high sugar production to produce as much breastmilk as possible. The best way to do this is to eat glucose containing foods, and the best sources of glucose are fruit, honey and coconut water.
When I speak about eating more fruit I don't just mean add an extra apple a day. I'm talking about eating fruit all day long. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Make it a priority and you may see an increase in your breastmilk production.
3. Stay Hydrated
Breastmilk is about 87% water, so getting enough to drink is going to be important. You need to drink enough water to create your breastmilk and also fulfill all your hydration needs.
The best indicator that you are well hydrated is very pale yellow to clear urine. Make sure that you drink good quality, filtered water. If you have a hard time drinking a lot of water, make it more exciting by adding slices of fresh lemon or limes, fruits like watermelon or strawberries or herbs like mint or parsley.
4. Nurse More
Nursing your baby more often is one of the best ways to increase milk production. Nursing is a supply and demand system. The amount your baby nurses tells your body how much milk to produce, so the more your baby nurses, the more milk you will produce.
5. Take Care Of Your Needs
Your pregnancy is over but that doesn't mean you get to stop taking care of yourself. What you eat and what you do directly affects your baby. Your baby gets all of its nutrition from your milk, so making sure that your body is getting what it needs for baby as well as yourself is very important. The more nutritionally "full" you are, the better your body works. The better your body works the more efficiently it can make milk.
I recommend that women who are breastfeeding continue to take a pre-natal vitamin as well as iron and a probiotic. Continuing to avoid caffeine and alcohol are important. And although it may be very hard, get as much rest as possible. Sleep when baby sleeps, don't take on too many projects and learn to say NO. The more rested and well cared for your body is, the better it will be at making food for your baby.
*On a side note, a great supplement to take during breastfeeding is chlorella. Not only is it a blood purifier and a liver detoxifier, it helps cleanse breast milk by decreasing the dioxins in breast milk. As a breastfeeding mom myself, chlorella is an important supplement in my diet.
Remember, whatever way you choose to feed your baby is the right way for you and your little one. Whether it's breastmilk or formula or a mixture of both, the important thing is to spend the time holding your baby and bonding with it. Skin to skin is one of the best ways to feel close to baby and to help baby feel close to you.
Love and light xo,
Photos by Alexis Feist Photography