Saturday, July 8, 2017

My Mistake, Everyone...

Sorry, everyone! I accidentally hit "publish" on an in-process post. For those who read it, I will be working on it and will re-publish later this month or next.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Hyperemesis Prevention Plan: Annual Updated Version! (2017)

(Latest Update: September 2017)

Introductory Comments

It's time for my annual HG-prevention update! The last time I updated was February 2016, just four months before our newest little one (now five months old) joined our family. If we are blessed with another baby it will most likely be sometime in late 2018 or early 2019, so I am now in full-time preparation mode for that possibility.

This year I am starting with a clean slate. Instead of updating my existing protocol, I am erasing everything and starting from scratch. It's time for a change, time to clear my head and re-prioritize, rather than going from the past.

I also have a bad habit of cluttering up my protocols with items that I never get around to, and I want to avoid that. I want to write down what I actually will do, and stick with that, rather than guilting myself over the things that I ought to do but don't. (Exercise comes to mind.)

A couple of notes:

(1) My three focus points are:

  • (a) diet

  • (b) probiotics and probiotic foods 

  • (c) supplements

(2) This year I am intentionally de-emphasizing superfoods - it just didn't yield any real positive results.

(3) I am simplifying and clearing out. Last year's plan just had too. much. stuff.

(3) I am fine-tuning my supplement schedule.

(4) I removed my overly bulky sourcing section and have just provided links within the text.

(5) GIVING CREDIT - I owe a huge debt of gratitude to lots of you HG mamas out there for your wonderful ideas that I have incorporated here! Here are just a couple of thank-yous:

  • Amy from Five Kinds of Happy. Her HG protocol was so stinking good that I literally copied and pasted it into this document. (That's why mine looks like hers. Perhaps an obvious statement.) Thank you, Amy, for all of your hard work! Unfortunately most of the supplements available to her in New Zealand were not, strangely, available from Amazon or Vitacost, so I had to find my own brands. (Bummer.) I am no good at this, so please don't take my brand suggestions seriously. Find your own, because mine are a shot in the dark.

  • Zsuzsanna from Are They All Yours?!?! - Her probiotic method (part 1 and part 2) is one of my foundations. (See also part 3 and part 4! So exciting!)

  • And lots more of you wonderful ladies out there with whom I have had the honor to correspond, and whose blogs have blessed me! Check out links on my left sidebar!
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You ladies are all wonderful. THANK YOU for all you are doing.

Thoughts on the Very Low Carb (VLC) Diet

I have come to the following conclusions regarding very-low-carb diets:

(1) The VLC diet, done pre-conception and during early pregnancy, worked well for me in preventing hyperemesis gravidarum. From uncontrollable vomiting down to "feeling crummy around the clock but never throwing up" - big improvement. I have also, through experimentation, found that I am extremely carb-intolerant during the first half of pregnancy. Even gentle amounts of carbs like cottage cheese with a few blueberries can send me down the NVP spiral in a bad way.

(2) However: While most Americans do need to tone down the carbs, due to years of low-fat indoctrination (i.e. "Let's eat all these corn-syrup-filled cookies that are SO healthy because they're LOW-FAT!!") and subsequent high-sugar diets (and subsequent chronic health problems), I do not believe that carbohydrates in themselves are unhealthy. Nor do I believe that a VLC diet is healthy in the long-term. (It is also extremely difficult to pull off, quite unpleasant, and completely unsustainable on a long-term basis, unless you have the willpower of Attila the Hun.)

(3) Thus, if I am successful in using this diet for HG prevention, I will use it only for that purpose, and I will return to eating reasonable carb levels during the latter part of pregnancy and the postpartum (i.e. before I start preparing for a next pregnancy).

(4) To make the VLC diet a wee bit more livable, I have decided to allow small amounts of the following (all are forbidden foods): berries, raw carrots, cooked carrots or peas in a casserole, beans (tiny amounts in a soup or casserole) and cottage cheese in a smoothie.

Feel free to shoot me questions about this.


Please remember that although I do my best, even I cannot keep up with my best intentions. I do not do everything on this plan perfectly (or at all). I'd say a really-really good day is achieving 25-50% of the below. It's just too much to keep up with on a daily basis with perfect consistency. I simply do my best.

My two main conclusions from past years remain unchanged:

(1) Diet and supplements can have a hugely positive effect on morning sickness and other pregnancy issues, and...

(2) It is extremely important for women to pay careful attention to their health during their childbearing years. (It's always important, of course, but during the childbearing years the negative consequences of neglecting one's health can be particularly dire.)

I'd love to hear any input - and also to see your supplement and diet plans, so do let me know what you're doing!


Before Conception
Starting by the time our last baby is 9 months old

I utilize what would probably be called a modified lacto-Paleo approach. Usually Trim Healthy Mama, and sometimes VLC (very low carb, also known as LCHF, or low-carb high-fat).
  • No processed (junk) food.

  • No sugar.

  • No modern wheat.

  • Minimal refined grains (occasional white rice or white einkorn), but mainly grain-free.

  • Very Low Carb (VLC) if I can manage it after baby's six-month birthday.

  • Focus foods: bone broth, cruciferous vegetables, vegetables in general, coconut oil, greens.

  • One bite (or drink) of lactofermented food/drink before each meal: raw sauerkraut, raw pickles, kefir, kombucha, yogurt

  • Plenty of pink or grey salt, no white salt


1. Basics
  • Multi - Starting out by covering the bases.
  • Coconut oil - goal is two tablespoons daily. (Skinny Chocolate helps with that.)

2. Magnesium

3.  B vitamins

The most important ones are:

  • B1 also known as thiamine.
  • B6 in the form of "P-5-P" is best.
  • B12 in the form of methylcobalamin NOT the synthetic form cyanocobalamin
  • Methyl-folate, NOT folic acid

To get my these I will take:

  • B complex 
  • Possibly: An extra B1 supplement
  • Possibly: An extra B6 P-5-P supplement

4. For gut health - important
  • A strong probiotic
  • Fermented Cod Liver Oil - "Blue Ice" from Green Pastures brand - OR a regular cod liver oil supplement
  • Eating fermented foods. I eat one bite (or a couple of bites) or a few sips with each meal: raw pickles, raw sauerkraut, kefir, yogurt, kombucha
  • L-Glutamine occasionally for gut health
  • Yearly: Ten days of 1 tsp. colloidal silver plus 1 turmeric cap, three times daily. 

5. For the liver - also important.

Take these from the time my cycle (period) starts until ovulation, then discontinue until next cycle starts. This is to avoid taking these during pregnancy.

1. Strength exercises when and if I have time. (Ha.)
2. Bible study, Bible verse memorization, prayer - Prayer for strength and guidance, and the ability to trust and step forward in faith. There is no fear like the fear of being open to pregnancy after an HG experience! Also, Bible verses so that I have Scriptures in my head to cling to in those early (and panicky) days.
3. Word HARD on character with the children - obedience, respect, sibling issues (oh, my goodness, the over here), responsibility with chores and schoolwork

My Pre-Conception To-Do List
I'm working through this list of things that I'd like to get done before our next baby arrives on the scene. Most of this will NOT apply to readers - but I thought you might like to see it, just as an example!

  • Clean out both of my freezers - so that I can clear my head and make space for the HG-prevention-plan foods that I want in our life (homemade bone broth, etc.)
  • Try einkorn wheat.
  • Start making homemade yogurt again. (DONE, July 2017)
  • Update my HG prevention protocol, publish. (DONE, September 2017)
  • September 2017 - Begin to order supplements mentioned above.
    • My husband and I have decided on a per-month amount that I can spend, and I will gradually accumulate what I need over the last part of 2017. Since we are in an extremely must-be-careful-with-money time, I will be attempting to lower our grocery bill by the same amount every month. (Hello, beans and potatoes!)
  • Use up old supplements. (Waste not, want not.)
  • Find a good source for cured meats - pepperoni, sausage, etc.
  • Find a good source for organic dairy products.
  • Move our Azure Standard drop closer to home. (DONE, July 2017)
  • Find a functional medical practitioner. 
  • Extra credit if I actually go to see said practitioner. (Can I get points just for finding one, without seeing her?)
  • Find a new bookcase. 
  • Get children's books organized.
  • Complete "easy cook" meal list for family to use while I am unable to cook. (DONE, June 2017)
  • Find 5-10 crockpot freezer meals that are family-friendly and relatively low-carb.
  • July 2018 - Make crockpot freezer meals. Goal is 20 frozen meals.  

After Conception
As soon as I suspect pregnancy, or from a positive test:

 1. Drop all liver cleanse supplements over ovulation and then once I am pregnant. Most of them are not known to be safe for pregnancy.

2. Magnesium - continue taking in all forms possible (supplement, oil, baths). Move Epsom salts baths from weekly to daily.

3. B vitamins - continue taking. Make sure I have enough B6 (in form P-5-P) and even take this separately if I can.

4. Fermented food, probiotics - continue taking for as long as I can stomach them.

5. Unisom - (known under brand names 'Diclegis'. 'Unisom', 'Restavit' and 'Diclectin' depending where you live.) Two options: Take from first nausea, or take from positive test onward. This takes a while to build up in your system, so mamas expecting repeat HG would be advised to take as early as possible. I would love to be able to get through without this medication, so I will have to judge at the time whether I need it or if I can get along without it.

6. Eat often, always high protein. For me this is often cheese or some form of eggs, or lunchmeat. (All forms of protein that I can get out without having to cook meat.) No carbs until I am past the danger point - usually after week 15 or thereabouts.

7. Start protein shakes - Minimum once before bed, once before getting out of bed, and one during the day. (I am currently investigating whether or not I could do collagen instead, since protein shakes taste so incredibly horrible/disgusting when pregnant. Opinions, anyone?) Also take cheese/nuts to bed in a cooler for middle-of-the-night and early morning snacking. This is crucial.

7. Add raw apple cider vinegar to water. Or lemon. (Lemon tastes better, but I think ACV works better. Too bad, because it's super-gross.)

8. Stop all coffee and chocolate. (This doesn't take any work - these are the first things that I naturally drop.)

8. Baking soda, in caps, 1 tsp. three times daily. Colloidal silver, 1 tsp. three times daily. Do both on a relatively empty stomach.

7. If necessary, try:

  • CBD hemp oil
  • Protandim - I'm always meaning to try this, and never get around to it. 
  • Zofran - Hoping to avoid, as this means getting an OB involved in my care, which is a nuisance. (Unfortunately, homebirth midwives can't prescribe Zofran.)
  • Magnesium/Vitamin B shots at naturopathic college
  • Acupuncture
  • Bentonite clay

9. Clear our schedule.

10. Schedule a house cleaner to come 2-4 times during the weeks when I am unable to clean.

Readers, I'd love to hear your ideas, see your own HG-prevention plans, and answer any questions that I can! Please do chime in!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Cooking With Morning Sickness

A year ago, one of my favoritest-of-favoritest blogs, Like Mother Like Daughter, published a post on cooking while mama has morning sickness:

Plain Cooking: Surviving Morning Sickness and More

At the time, while I wanted to write my own post on the subject. But I couldn't, because... I was suffering from morning sickness.

Oh, the irony.

(By the way, when you're reading the above post, make sure you spend the time to go through the comment section. So much good information there.)

Back to what I was saying:

Now that said pregnancy is over, and baby is four months old, I wanted to come back and write that intended post.

And while I love-beyond-love the blog above linked, the information in that post doesn't work for me during pregnancy.

Cook sweet potatoes while pregnant?

You must be joking.

I can barely handle food or open the refrigerator, let alone do something crazy like cook sweet potatoes.

If I'm ever blessed with easy pregnancy in which I am able to continue cooking throughout the duration, I will rejoice with great rejoicing.

Until then, I am here to provide the big reality check. And while I don't know that this post will be too-too-too useful, as in, of any actual use to a real human being, hopefully it should alleviate some of the guilt occasioned by mamas who suffer from severe morning sickness.

What I've learned about cooking during morning sickness is this:

I don't.

And that's really the main point. I don't, because I can't. 

I've tried to push through. I've tried to tough it out. It doesn't work, and it's actually worse when I try to be brave. Oodles of food gets wasted, recipes and smells are branded indelibly in my forever-mind as "do not touch or try these ever again, because they're now associated with nausea." I get frustrated and teary, and nothing improves.

Instead, when my nausea starts (which is early - current record at 2w6d),

(1) I stop buying vegetables.

Because if I don't, several months later I'll be pulling a slimy mass of goo out of our vegetable drawer and throwing it out (while throwing up some more).

Soon after that...

(2) I stop cooking.

As I mentioned before, when I try to cook while super-nauseated,

     (a) I end up with horrible long-term food aversions to whatever I try to cook. I even end up with horrible aversions to whatever I'm thinking about cooking. (Just ask. I can categorically list all of my trying-to-cook aversions, by pregnancy.) Additionally...

     (b) It's a futile fight that I end up losing. Wasted time, wasted food, wasted effort.

At that point...

(3) I go into survival mode.

This means 100% cold foods for the children (cheese, crackers, fruit, milk, cereal, etc.), and for dinner, my husband is - unfortunately - on his own.

And that's where we have, in the past, run into serious problems.

My husband is a wonderful man. But he's not a cook. I can't even get the words, "Honey, I don't have anything planned for dinn-" out of my mouth before he's out the door and on the way to getting fast food.

This creates two problems:

(1) The more children we have, the more expensive this is.

(2) Fast food is rotten for your health. Seriously rotten. (Remind me not to tell you that story some time.)

Long story short, we decided that we needed a plan - and I've been working on that plan ever since. We used part of this plan for the rest of our last pregnancy, and I am developing it further to prepare for our anticipated next pregnancy.

Here is THE PLAN:

(1) We developed a list of meals that my husband and children can prepare by themselves, with relatively little work.

We're talking seriously simple, folks. As in, "open can of beans and add chopped hot dogs" kind of simple.

Not super-healthy. But it keeps them away from Taco Bell.

(See my list of super-simple meals (and a shopping list template) at the end of this post.)

(2) I am working currently on developing a list of freezer Crock-pot dump recipes. 

Crock-pot freezer dump recipes are recipes in which you put all of the ingredients into a freezer bag, freeze, and then later thaw and place directly into the crock-pot. Cook, and serve.

Of course, having a crock-pot in the house while I'm nauseated is an absolute NO-GO. (Oh, the smells.) But that's why God gave us back porches and garages, folks. I plan to make use of mine.

(The further from the house, the better. Too bad they don't make houses with electrical outlets two blocks away from the actual house. Gee, that would be convenient for morning sickness. While you're at it, move the coffee pot, microwave, and toaster oven - if you have one - out to the garage too.)

I am planning to prepare several weeks of these when our current baby is 18 months old. That should fit our time frame fairly well, so that they'll be available when I need them.

(Waiting till we conceive is not an option, as I'm usually too nauseated to cook within a very short time of conception - sometimes even before I can get a positive test, like this last time.)

(3) Additionally, I am working to make our children food-independent.

Teaching littles to pour their own water. Teaching the bigger children to prepare simple foods so that they can get their own breakfasts and lunches.

I once had a friend who expected that her serious health problems would take her life at any time. Consequently, she taught her daughter very early in life to be extremely independent in all areas of life - brushing her hair, cooking, doing her homework, etc.

My friend didn't end up dying - she's still with us! - but her work had the pleasant side effect of teaching her daughter excellent life skills at an early age.

That's my goal too.

On the whole, I would say that I tend to be deficient in the area of teaching life skills. My tendency is toward laziness - the "it's just so much easier to do it myself" mode. (Bad. Bad. Bad.)

So while a friend of mine had a ten-year-old out there winning chili cook-offs, my own ten-year-old was more along the lines of, "Mom, can you make me a piece of toast? I don't know how to do it."

(Bad. Bad. Bad.)

But pregnancy has really helped me to loosen up and to allow my children to be more independent. This has been really good for both them and me. Over the past year, our now-11-year-old has developed into an excellent beginning cook. I wish to foster this independence and the development of invaluable life skills as much as I can. Looking forward to the needs of future pregnancies gives me the motivation to do this.

And there you have it. If you can cook while pregnant, great. If you can't, do your best but don't guilt yourself to death over it. (I'm still working on that.) In all cases, simplify, simplify, simplify.

And while you're at it, hire some housecleaning help. I did this - twice - during our last pregnancy, and it was an enormous blessing. Totally worth it.

Continue to fight the good fight, dear mamas!


Easy No-Recipe Dinners

(1) Baked beans with hot dogs

Ingredients: baked beans, hot dogs
Directions: cut up hot dogs, optional sauté them, add baked beans, heat
Serve with: fruit or baby carrots

(2) Rotisserie chicken, macaroni and cheese, frozen vegetables

Ingredients: rotisserie chickens, boxed macaroni and cheese, milk, butter, package of frozen mixed vegetables
Directions: cook boxed mac and cheese, microwave hot dogs
Serve with:

(3) Burritos

Ingredients: GF tortillas, refried beans, shredded cheese, sour cream, salsa
Directions: heat refried beans
Serve with: fruit

(4) Chili

Ingredients: canned chili, chips, shredded cheese, sour cream
Directions: heat chili
Serve with: fruit

(5) Peanut butter and jelly roll-ups

Ingredients: GF tortillas, peanut butter, jelly
Directions: spread tortillas with peanut butter and jam, roll
Serve with: fruit and/or baby carrots

(6) Easy mixed beans and rice

Ingredients: rice, 2 cans chili beans, 1 can black beans, cilantro, spices, sour cream, salsa
Directions: follow recipes
Serve with: frozen green peas

(7) Macaroni and cheese.  hot dogs

Ingredients: boxed macaroni and cheese, milk, butter, hot dogs
Directions: cook boxed mac and cheese, microwave hot dogs
Serve with: frozen green peas

(8) Soup with cheese and crackers

Ingredients: canned soup, GF crackers, cheese, optional ham/tomato/pickles
Directions: heat soup, slice cheese
Serve with: fruit

(9) Spaghetti

Ingredients: spaghetti noodles, jarred spaghetti sauce, optional 1 lb. hamburger, parmesan cheese (green can kind)
Directions: optional saute hamburger, drain, add sauce and heat, cook noodles
Serve with: salad and dressing

(10) Cheese and crackers

Ingredients: GF crackers, cheese, ham, tomatoes, pickle
Directions: slice cheese, ham, tomatoes, pickle
Serve with: fruit

(11) Sandwiches (lunchmeat/cheese or PBJ)

Ingredients: GF bread, peanut butter and jelly OR mayo/lunchmeat/cheese
Directions: assemble sandwiches
Serve with: baby carrots or fruit

(12) Nachos with beans

Ingredients: chips, shredded cheese, sour cream, salsa, refried beans
Directions: assemble nachos, heat refried beans and add
Serve with: fruit

(13) Hummus and vegetable tray, cheese

Ingredients: vegetable tray, hummus, cheese
Directions: slice cheese, serve
Serve with:

(14) Ground beef and macaroni and cheese

Ingredients: boxed macaroni and cheese, 1 lb. ground beef
Directions: cook boxed mac and cheese, saute ground beef, drain, add to macaroni and cheese
Serve with: frozen green peas

(15) Hot dogs with “buns”

Ingredients: hot dogs, GF bread, condiments
Directions: microwave hot dogs, assemble
Serve with: fruit

(16) Hamburger patties, mashed potatoes, peas

Ingredients: frozen hamburger patties, boxed potatoes, milk, butter, peas
Directions: cook hamburger patties, make mashed potatoes, cook peas
Serve with:

(17) Black bean soup

Ingredients: canned black beans, chicken bouillon/broth, salsa
Directions: follow recipe
Serve with: chips and sour cream

(18) Breakfast dinner: Choose fried or scrambled eggs, optional spam, cereal/oatmeal/toast

Ingredients: eggs, optional spam, cereal/oatmeal/bread
Directions: cook whatever your choices are!
Serve with:

(19) Tuna and crackers

Ingredients: tuna, mayonnaise, pickles, cheese
Directions: make tuna, serve with crackers, slice cheese to go with it
Serve with: fruit

(20) Baked potatoes

Ingredients: potatoes, butter, sour cream, cheese, optional hamburger
Directions: scrub and poke potatoes, bake or microwave, optional cook hamburger
Serve with:


Sample Shopping List

Dairy Meat
_____ Milk _____ Lunchmeat
_____ Cream _____ Hot dogs
_____ Sour cream _____ Hamburger
_____ Kefir
_____ Cheese
_____ Shredded cheese

_____ Cheerios
_____ Pickles
_____ Canned pineapple
_____ Canned green beans
_____ Tuna
_____ SPAM
_____ Mayo/Ketchup/Mustard
_____ Salad dressing
_____ Raisins
_____ Prunes
_____ Crackers
_____ Bread
_____ Tortillas
_____ Paper plates
_____ Paper bowls
_____ Salsa

Produce Frozen
_____ Apples _____ Frozen peas
_____ Bananas _____ Frozen corn
_____ Grapes _____ Frozen berries
_____ Baby carrots
_____ Tomatoes
_____ Bagged salad
_____ Vegetable tray
_____ Hummus