Written by a newly flu recovered breast feeding mama
The cold season is official upon us. I woke one morning without a voice and spent the next few days putting up a strong fight to get through without seeing even more depletion as a new mom (considering the lack of sleep that tends to go along with that already). The great news is I got through it - and without a resorting to a visit with the doctor and 10 days on pharmaceutical meds for the annual respiratory infection that I my body knows pretty well at this point.
When I felt the throat start to scratch and ache, my mind went almost immediately to, “How am I going to get through this without putting anything in my body that will interfere with lactation or breastfeeding?!” I spent the better part of a week determined to get the answers to this very question, and now I’m passing it along to you.
Throughout the next few days, I went from one voiceless morning through sinus pressure and an abundance of drainage, headache and cough, tight chest and mild fever... Oh it was good times! These were the symptoms that came my way in the week. In addition, I should note that our part-time nanny who is here with my 5 month old son 3 days per week, was away on holiday. So with that in mind, the number one tip I followed each day - was sleep when the baby sleeps. Yes, it was true in the first few months, but the urgency behind this tip came back to life in a big way as my body worked to support not only him, but rejuvenate and restore my own health as this nasty flu settled (temporarily) in our home.
In the next week (while you’re health is at its prime), spend some time stocking the freezer with a couple of the following recipes. The potassium broth was my favorite, and worked so wonderfully for me, relieving my throat and restoring my gut. This is an incredible rejuvenator for illness AND just after childbirth! Use all organic veggies if possible.
3-5 stalks Celery, roughly chopped
6-8 Potato peelings (make sure these are organic)
1 Medium Onion, roughly chopped
½ bunch Parsley
3-4 cloves Garlic
3 medium Carrots (chopped into large pieces)
1 bunch Collard greens or chard (chopped)
¼ stick Kombu seaweed (or any other variety you have to hand
10 cups water
Gently wash the produce so as not to remove minerals with scrubbing. Meanwhile, place the water in a covered pot and bring to a boil. Peel the skins off the potatoes and place these along with the rest of the chopped vegetables into the boiling water. Place the lid back on, bring back to a boil, and then lower to a simmer. Continue to cook for 1.5 hours. Remove the vegetable matter and store the broth in canning jars. The veggies can be saved and used in other recipes if you’d like, or composted. The broth will be good in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, otherwise store in the freezer.
This is another soup you can prepare for yourself in advance and leave in the freezer for when its needed. Ayurveda is big on eating food that is prepared fresh, though in our modern times and the busy lifestyles so many of us follow (especially when there’s a precious 5 month old in toe), we do the best we can. And when we’re sick, that usually means we won’t be up for spending extended amounts of time on our feet in the kitchen. We can save that for a brighter day!
Another option of course, is having a loved one prepare the fresh soup and/or broth for you. If someone in your life has made themselves available to support you while this seasonal flu bug has you down, lucky you! Whether these recipes are followed beforehand and kept in the freezer for when needed, or made the day of - enjoy!!
Here is a link to one of my favorite chicken soup recipes!
6-8 cups water
4 cloves garlic
Press the garlic cloves enough to break them open. In a large pot bring the water and the garlic cloves to a boil. Once the water has reached a boil turn off the heat. Once your garlic tea has reached a sipping temperature, add a bit of fresh squeezed lemon and honey. Sip throughout the day. Keep a lid over the pot of tea. It can be kept in the refrigerator and warmed on the stove when ready to drink.
Honey and Lemon Tea
Boil water and add fresh juice from a quarter lemon along with a tsp of honey. Stir gently and sip to bring throat comfort. Wonderful morning and night.
Health Supplements, found at local health food store:
This one is great for fighting respiratory infections and colds. Make sure you check the label to unsure its ok during pregnancy and/or lactation. A dropper full can be added to water and an earthy, tingly mouth taste (that passes quickly) can be expected.
Incredibly soothing for the throat. When shopping, make sure the original is what you grab and not one of the other versions.
While taking vitamin C during pregnancy and breastfeeding has many benefits (such as enhancing iron absorption), it’s a good one to not pass up when sick. Our bodies are not able to make vitamin C for ourselves, so getting it through foods or supplement is best.
A wonderful wellness support for ourselves and our babies! Heading into flu season makes it a great time to begin your daily dose. When the flu settled in my home, I doubled my dose of probiotics for the week to really strengthen my GI tract with the “good bacteria” needed in order to efficiently fight off the bug. This one is my favorites.
Hoe Hin White Flower Essence
I used this a couple of times each day on my chest and throat (just a small amount topically) and it gave me the relief that I needed from congestion and the feeling of heaviness when your body is overcome by fatigue. The only note I will make is to make sure it does not come into contact with baby as it may be too strong an effect for the little ones. So wait until they are asleep before you apply to yourself. Find it online or at a local health food store.
Usually by day 4 or 5, when the cold bug has significantly made its exit, I start using the neti pot once again to remove any last mucus that’s wanting to hang back in the sinuses. During this time of year and through spring, I regularly use the neti pot a few times per week as part of a daily routine to keep the mind and nasal passages clear. **The neti pot rinse is contraindicated during the cold or head congestion (again, I use it just when the cold has passed).
Nasya Oil can be applied to the nostrils just after the neti pot rinse. In your palm, drop 3-5 droplets of Nasya Oil. With the other hand dip your clean pinky finger in the oil, then massage gently into each nostril. Inhale to draw the oil back deeper through the nasal passageway. I love applying nasya just after the neti pot rinse, especially in the fall and winter months to keep nasal membranes from drying out. This is another practice I follow throughout these months as daily routine to keep from getting sick!
You’ve heard over and over by now, “sleep when the baby sleeps”, and when the feeling comes over you that your body may be fighting something -- adhere to this advice. In fact get support from your husband or partner through the evening to soothe a wakeful baby so that you can get some deep, consolidated rest. This is perhaps the best early remedy there is!
Kitchen Herbs for your Meals:
Antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and lots of antioxidants. Enjoy this throughout the season in moderation for lactating mamas. Know that one of the āyurvedic qualities of turmeric is that it can be drying, so when used in great amounts this may cause unwanted effects for breastmilk production. I began with a small amount and kept my attention on how milk production was effected before I continued or increased use.
This powerful kitchen herb is great for relieving sinus pressure and congestion. It is also used for alleviating fever and chronic indigestion. According to the science of Ayurveda, when its prepared with honey it acts as a powerful expectorant and mucus releaser. Be careful not to use black pepper excessively as it is very heating.
Another wonderful expectorant when used for colds or flus. It also is used for relieving fatigue and is helpful in the absorption of other medicines.
Cardamom is a wonderful kitchen herb when used during the cold months of the year. Ayurvedically it is indicated for colds, coughs, bronchitis, asthma, loss of voice and loss of appetite. It enkindles our digestive fire (agni) and helps to remove heavy mucus from the stomach and the lungs. This is one of my top go-tos!