February 16, 2018

Does Taking Fenugreek Increase Breast Milk Supply?

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The short answer to this question is: No one knows. There is basically no evidence that Fenugreek works to increase breast milk production and no evidence that it doesn't work to increase supply.

The reason I chose to write this post is because it seems almost every other mom blog out there, especially ones that support breastfeeding, praises Fenugreek as if it some magical cure to low supply. As someone who experienced low supply and saw a lactation consultant about it,  this is just a slap in the face and so I decided to do my own research.

I have had some breastfeeding moms claim that "Big Pharma" is the reason why Fenugreek isn't talked about like it's some hidden gem, but the truth is, if Fenugreek was proven to work, "Big Pharma" would totally jump on it and turn it into a pill. After all, what struggling mom out there wouldn't jump at the chance to take a daily pill if it was guaranteed to boost her milk supply? They would totally be making money off it. The fact that they aren't using Fenugreek to make medicine just shows that they aren't confident enough in its abilities to increase milk supply, which should make us hesitant as well, right?

Well, the thing is Fenugreek is regarded as "safe" (source), so even if there is no evidence that it works or doesn't work, it's not going to kill you if you take it. After all, there are women who claim it works, but as Toronto pediatrician, Jack Newman, says "They seem to, and many mothers swear by their effect, but the placebo effect of any medication is very powerful" (source).

I am a firm believer in the placebo effect, which is why I believe it is hard for researchers to determine if Fenugreek actually works for increasing breastmilk supply. They are also probably lacking the funding and resources to continue doing research.

Drugs.com even provides a list of studies, where the majority of the results aren't even useful because the studies were flawed, lacking control groups or had Fenugreek mixed with other herbs, so they can't determine which one actually helped, or if it even did (source).

I put "safe" in quotes above because there are still side effects and risks of taking Fenugreek. The big thing is to not take it when pregnant as it can cause uterine contractions (source). Here is what WebMD lists for Fenugreek side effects:
"Side effects include diarrhea, stomach upset, bloating, gas, and a "maple syrup" odor in urine. Fenugreek can cause nasal congestion, coughing, wheezing, facial swelling, and severe allergic reactions in hypersensitive people" (source).
Also, it seems the medical community is hesitant to say it's "safe," without some kind of "maybe" wordage in front of it. For example, this is what WebMD says about Fenugreek for breastfeeding:
"Fenugreek is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth to increase breast-milk flow in the short-term. Some research shows that taking 1725 mg of fenugreek three times daily for 21 days does not cause any side effects in infants" (source). 
Another thing to keep in mind is that Fenugreek is considered a supplement, so in that case, it's not entirely FDA approved:
"Dietary supplements do not require extensive pre-marketing approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Manufacturers are responsible to ensure the safety, but do not need to prove the safety and effectiveness of dietary supplements before they are marketed. Dietary supplements may contain multiple ingredients, and differences are often found between labeled and actual ingredients or their amounts. A manufacturer may contract with an independent organization to verify the quality of a product or its ingredients, but that does not certify the safety or effectiveness of a product." (source)
This post isn't meant to scare, but to inform you before you decide to go the Fenugreek route. Fenugreek should only be used as a last resort, as the popular breastfeeding site, Kelly Mom, states:
"Keep in mind that in almost all cases, non-pharmaceutical methods of increasing milk supply should be tried first, as there can be significant side effects from both herbal remedies and prescription medications used to increase milk supply." (source)
One study also came to this conclusion:
"Nonpharmacologic recommendations should be exhausted before adding therapy. Although anecdotal evidence encourages the use of metoclopramide, fenugreek, asparagus, and milk thistle for their galactogogue properties, efficacy and safety data in the literature are lacking. Oxytocin and domperidone are potentially available for compounding purposes, but safety data are limited. More studies are needed to evaluate the effects of available galactogogues on breast milk production." (source)
After having done the research, I chose not to go the Fenugreek route and instead turned to formula. To me there just wasn't enough research to guarantee its safety and/or if it even works to boost supply. Others obviously feel differently, but my hope is just to get the information out there so others can make an informed decision rather than believing what they hear from word of mouth. Remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is!


Sources


Attribution: Image used in blog post photo does not belong to me and was found on pixabay.

February 9, 2018

10 Important Conversations To Have Before Tying The Knot

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I am a firm believer in premarital counseling before marriage as it seems so many couples jump into marriage without thinking it through. Yes, it is important to love the person, but love, unfortunately, can die if you aren’t on the same page.

To me, marriage is a lifelong commitment, so it's worth thinking it through, and since I know not everyone can afford counseling, here are ten important conversations you need to have with your partner before tying the knot.

1.  Children


Do you want children? If so, how many children do you want? And when do you want them? These can be deal breaker questions, but better to break off an engagement than end up having to file for divorce later. Also, remember when discussing children, especially if you have never been parents before, the amount you would like to have may or may not change.  This could be due to financial, medical, or personal reasons, so consider all the “what ifs” when deciding to spend forever with someone just in case.

Another important thing to consider is infertility. What would be the outcome then? Would you be okay not having children at all? Would you go the medical route or are you okay with adopting?

Also if your partner already has children, you will want to discuss your expectations and roles should you become a stepparent, along with the possibility of adding more children to the mix.

2. Parenting


If you decide to have kids, you will also want to discuss parenting styles. So many parents fight after they have kids because they don’t agree how to parent their children. By discussing ahead of time what your ideals are, you can help avoid parenting battles later on.

However, remember all children are different and will require different parenting styles, so, at this point, you are more so focusing on the big picture, such as do you believe in physical punishment, like spankings, or does one of you plan on being a stay at home parent?

3. Finances


How are you going to handle money as a couple? How many accounts do you want to have? Do you plan on having a joint account and that's it, or do you want separate spending accounts?

Make sure you discuss how you like to spend money. A good way to do this is to turn it into a game of "what's the most you will spend." For example: "What's the most you would spend on a car?" or "What's the most you will spend on a pair of jeans?" This will give you input on what your partner's spending habits might be as well as their standards. You will want to make sure you are on the same page or can compromise when it comes to spending money before getting married.

If one or both of you have debt, that is another thing to discuss as when married, you are combining your incomes, so you will have to be okay paying off the other's debt.

4. Holidays


When you are married, spending time with families becomes a battlefield. Now is the time to decide how you are going to handle each other’s families. Who gets Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, etc? You could opt for doing every other year, which I know a few couples who do this.

However, if you have really demanding parents, then you will end up getting suckered into trying to see both over the holidays. This is one of the reasons I do not look forward to the holidays, so I wish you luck when making your battle plan!

5. Household Responsibilities (aka chores)


If you haven’t lived together before marriage then this is extremely important. You should make a list of who is in charge of what, from cooking to cleaning. However, even with the list, be prepared to have some fights as you may or may not like how the other person does things. If that’s the case, you will have to reassign chores as you go.  In my opinion, it is better to switch chores if you don’t like how your partner is handling it rather than trying to get them to do it your way, or just let it go (when you become a parent, you will learn to let a lot of things go).

It is very important to make sure you are on the same page when it comes to household responsibilities as you will be living with this person for the rest of your life, so make sure you also consider how chores are going to be split if one of you eventually decides to be a stay home parent or if one of you does only work part time versus full time, etc.


6. Religion


How important is your religion to you? If you have different religions, are you okay with that and how do intend to handle it when you have children? If one of you is religious and the other is not, you need to be sure that you are both okay with whatever you decide to do, especially if you want your child to be raised a certain way.

7. Sex


If you aren't currently living together, then you probably haven't worked out what your expectations are when it comes to sex. Now is the time to figure out if your sex drives match up before you are stuck in a sexless marriage. You should also discuss porn and flirting. What are you okay or not okay with?

8. In-Laws


Remember, when marrying your partner, you are marrying his or her family as well. If you like your partner's parents, then great! For those who don't, it's not the end the world, but you will have to be okay with that. You will also have to be okay with how your partner handles his or her parents. If your partner doesn't stick up for you when you aren't married, it isn't going to change later.

9. Politics


What political party do you affiliate yourself with and does your partner feel the same way? Do you share the same morals and beliefs? Some hot-button issues that you may want to discuss are abortion, gay marriage, the death penalty, gun laws, etc. If you agree, then great, if not, you have to decide how important it is for you two to be on the same page when it comes to these issues. If you vote for different parties, it's also important that you are okay with this as well.

Just like with religion, some couples are able to separate politics from their marriage. It's up to you to determine if this is something you can or can't do.

10. Pets


If you already have pets of your own, then your partner and you are probably already are in agreement that they will live with the pet as well. However, if you don't have pets, but plan to in the future, now is the time to discuss what kind of pets and how many pets you are okay with having. Also, in both cases, you will want to figure out who is responsible for what (things like cat litter or walking the dog).


Attribution: Image used in blog post photo does not belong to me and was found on Canva.

February 2, 2018

My Favorite Cloth Diaper Brands

Disclosure: Affiliate links are used in this post, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

I briefly mention in my post about our Cloth Diaper Must Haves some of our favorite brands, but decided to make a more detailed post about why we love these brands!

Alvababy Pockets


Alvababy (formerly known as Alva) is probably the best cheap diaper there is and they have the cutest prints! We use their pocket diapers. They are easy to stuff and have so far held up for a year! I was a little concerned since others like to call them "China Cheapies" that the quality wouldn't be great, but after a year the elastic has held up great and no staining!

I found it was cheaper to order Alva diapers directly from their website, but the downside is shipping can take up to two months. You can find them on Amazon, usually through another seller, and then you don't have to wait so long for shipping, but they will cost a bit more.


Mama Koala Pockets


Mama Koala is a small business in the USA, but diapers are still made in China. They are a little more expensive than Alva but are a higher quality, in my opinion, so that makes up for the price.

Their diapers are only sold in bundles and all pockets come with inserts. The nice thing about the inserts that are included is that they are adjustable! The inserts have snaps on them so you can shorten or lengthen them to fit the diaper better as baby grows. 

Another thing I love about these diapers is the pocket opening is HUGE compared to other diapers, making it super easy to stuff! 

The downside to Mama Koala diapers is they aren't the best for newborns, due to their button design, so we had some leaking problems in the beginning and put these aside or only used them if supply was low. Once our daughter hit 4 or 5 months, can't quite recall, we had no issues.

You can find Mama Koala diapers on Amazon.


Thirsties Covers


Thirsties are made in the USA, so they are definitely on the pricier side. However, I heard great things about them and if you're lucky, Target sometimes has a diaper sale, which includes cloth, so I decided to get a few. I didn't want to just have a bunch of pockets since this was our first baby and our first time diapering, so we wanted to have options on hand. 

My husband actually loves these more as you can get multiple uses out of them. With pockets, they only have one use and you need a new diaper. With covers, you just change out the insert, wipe the cover, and put in a new insert. Plus they fit our daughter better (when she was younger) than the pocket diapers. 

I definitely recommend using Thirsties covers in the first few months of baby's life as that is when you will be doing the most changing and these seem to fit a tiny baby way better than the pockets. They are pricey, but that cover does act as 4-5 diapers since you just have to change the insert, meaning you don't have to buy as many, so in the long run it probably comes close to the pocket diaper prices.

You can also find Thirsties covers on Amazon. We chose to get ours at Target because they were having a gift card deal and prices were the same on both sites at the time. 

These are the inserts we used with our Thirsites covers:


Unfortunately, they currently aren't in stock on Amazon, but there are probably similar ones on available on Amazon


Small Shop Pocket Diapers


Cloth diapers I have gotten from small shops appear to be very similar to the Alvababy pocket diapers. Also, some of the sellers often sell Alvababy brand diapers as well as other brands, but their main perk is they sell limited edition prints that you can't find anywhere else! Here is a list of the other shops I have purchased cloth diapers from that we have had no issues with:
Little Oceans Fluff Unicorn Diaper

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