Monday, February 22, 2010

A Week of Links: News

I've read some great posts lately, and I want to share several of them with you. First, the news items:

From the Motherwear blog, Study: Common antidepressants can delay milk coming in. According to the study, women who were taking an SSRI drug like Prozac, Zoloft, or Paxil had a median onset of lactation difference of about 17 hours - 69.1 vs. 85.8. This is especially important given that milk is termed "officially" delayed if it takes more than 72 hours to come in.

Of course all this is not to say that mothers taking an SSRI drug should not breastfeed! Just that they should be aware that it may take a bit longer for their milk to come in, and that this longer length of time is normal for women taking an SSRI drug. Ideally, they would also be aware of the problematic sequence of events mentioned in the post, and take steps to prevent longer-term challenges:
"delayed milk "coming in" can have some serious consequences, especially if it isn't managed well. The drill goes something like this: delayed onset of mature milk leads to higher than normal weight loss in the baby, which leads to supplementation, which can lead to compromising of the milk supply and/or nipple preferencing if the supplementation isn't done carefully. It can also increase the risk of jaundice.
Talking to a local lactation consultant, a La Leche League leader, and/or doing some reading ahead of time are all suggestions I would make to moms who want to prepare for this potential challenge.

And, from a link from Woman to Woman Childbirth Education blog, a blog post from the San Diego Birth Network on Cervical Scar Tissue – A Big Issue That No One Is Talking About. This is an incredibly valuable post for professionals who work with women during pregnancy and childbirth, as well as for women themselves who may have scar tissue on their cervix, from cryo surgery or other surgeries.
The midwife proceeds to explain to my sister that she is going to try and massage the cervix and break the scar up. With some discomfort for my sister, she went from a finger tip dilated to 3 cms in a matter of minutes. An hour later she was 4 cms and an hour after that my nephew was born. Once the scar tissue had completely released, she flew to 10 cms.

As you can imagine, I asked that Midwife a ton of questions. I wanted to know all I could about this scar tissue stuff. Besides “massaging”, what can you do before hand? She shared her knowledge with me. Told me that HPV is so very common and more and more women are having these standard procedures done, but are never informed that it most likely will leave scar tissue. Although less common, this includes women who have ever had a D & C after a miscarriage or abortion.

Once I was armed with the knowledge, my successful VBAC rate shot up as did my vaginal birth rate in general. I would ask the question and if the answer was yes, I would tell them what I knew."
There is more useful information on the blog post, so I highly recommend clicking on the link and reading the whole post!

More links tomorrow!

Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine
Mamas & Muffins: New Moms Group

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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Free Photography Sessions

I received an inquiry from a young woman who is a photography student at USM. She is interested in doing a photographic study on birth and is looking for a woman (or more than one) to photograph before, during, and after giving birth.

She writes:
"In return for the photography I will supply the mother with all of the photographs on a CD and at least ten 8x10 prints of favorite images. I would like to do at least one pregnancy session, one infant (or infant and mother) session, and a session during the actual delivery and birth. I am interested in starting as soon as possible with someone due as soon as this month, but I do believe (if I can find the right people) that this could be a long term project so I am open to any woman at any point in their pregnancy."
If you, or someone you know, may be interested, get in touch with her via email.

One reason I'm passing this information along is that I really wish I had more photos of myself during my pregnancies and of me and the new baby shortly after birth. And having someone along to photography frees up dad/partner to support the mama instead of snapping pictures!

Here's a bit more information about the project:
"At the moment this is just a class project that will only be shared with related people. But I am hoping that this could turn into a larger, more long-term project that may have a wider audience. At that point I would consult with the mothers and get their permission before showing any work in a public or online setting. My aim is to photograph the birth in a unobtrusive but realistic manner. Meaning that I would like to capture everything that comes with the birthing process but will not knock over your significant other to get a shot. I am very laid back and open to many options and am looking to work with woman and families who feel the same."
Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine
Mamas & Muffins: New Moms Group

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Monday, February 1, 2010

Mamas & Muffins: Babywearing

We had fun today playing with slings and other ways to "wear" babies. In case you wanted to come but couldn't: here's the handout with resources that I gave out, complete with pictures of Owen in the sling during his first year, from two days old to 13 months old. I have my ring sling (Maya Wrap) always available for demos, and I'll continue to have my sister's Kangeroo Kozy Pouch and Moby Wrap on loan for a few more months (she has a new baby due this summer!), so stop by another time if you want to check them out.

And, because chocolate and pumpkin are so yummy together, and these are my favorite pumpkin muffins ever, here's the link to the muffins I made for the group.

Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine
Mamas & Muffins: New Moms Group

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Status Quo: Not Good Enough

As usual, I enjoyed Peggy O'Mara's article in the most recent Mothering magazine, "The New Health Journalism: Challenging the Status Quo". What stood out to me most was this part, "Barbara Loe Fisher asked me if I have suffered for challenging the status quo. My job as a mother is to challenge the status quo . . . It is not my job to follow the current fashions, but to forge my own way, to develop my own personal ethic of parenting."

The status quo (defined by as "the existing state or condition") is not good enough. Just yesterday I got an email link to an msnbc news article, "C-section rates around globe at 'epidemic' levels", which makes a perfect Exhibit A.
"In the U.S., where C-sections are at an all-time high of 31 percent, the surgery is often performed on older expectant mothers, during multiple births or simply because patients request it or doctors fear malpractice lawsuits. A government panel warned against elective C-sections in 2006.

“The relative safety of the operation leads people to think it’s as safe as vaginal birth,” said Dr. A. Metin Gulmezoglu, who co-authored the Asia report. “That’s unlikely to be the case.”

Women undergoing C-sections that are not medically necessary are more likely to die or be admitted into intensive care units, require blood transfusions or encounter complications that lead to hysterectomies, the WHO study found."
This example fits Peggy O'Mara's warning perfectly. She explains that,
"As new parents, we believe that society will take care of us, has our best interests at heart, and will protect us. I want new parents to believe this, but health-care policy in the US is focused on eradicating rather than preventing disease. It is fear-based, interventionist, and compromised by economic considerations. At this time in history, assuming that society will protect you can be a dangerous belief."
Personally, I do not want new parents to believe this. I want it to be true; but until it IS true, I wish opened eyes and hearts for all of us, so we can make the best choices possible for our families' health.

Do you believe it is a mother's (or parent's) job to challenge the status quo? How have you challenged the status quo? What sources do you use to make your best informed choices for your families' health?

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Mamas & Muffins Group Coming Up: Monday, 1/18

We're meeting in Winthrop (15 min from Augusta; around ~30 min from Waterville and Lewiston/Auburn) this Monday, January 18th. Free, fun, with food!

This group's topic is baby-wearing, with demos of a Maya Wrap (ring sling), a Moby Wrap, and a fleece snap sling. Come visit & try them out.

Pregnant moms welcome too!

For time, directions and more information, go to

We'll be meeting regularly, first and third Mondays of the month. Hope to see you there!

Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine
Mamas & Muffins: New Moms Group

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Rixa at Stand and Deliver wrote a short but powerful post yesterday about "Iron in my Soul" that I encourage you to go read. I think the "iron in my soul" feeling is the same feeling that my sister & I talk about when we say something/someone brought out the "Mama Bear" in us. You know how you don't want to get between a mama bear & her cubs... we've all heard about the lengths a mama bear will go to if she believes her cubs are threatened.

If you're wondering about a woman's rights are during the childbirth year, I encourage you to download a free copy of The Rights of the Childbearing Woman. Being informed is so important, and I hand out this document to every woman I work with. In some ways, it goes back to what Diana Korte and Roberta Scaer, authors of A Good Birth, A Safe Birth, said: “If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any.”

But. We parents are powerful - we have iron in our souls. We have a Mama Bear ready to be unleashed. A parent's intuition and the strength to act on the small voice that whispers (or shouts!) "something is wrong, something is wrong" is the most important, in my opinion.

Being informed and confident in one's intuition is an extremely powerful combination!

Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine
Mamas & Muffins: New Moms Group

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Classes, Moms Group & More!

And... I'm back! We've had a wonderful summer in many ways, with terrific company, fun times at the ocean and out on the boat, and a few precious lazy days. Must work in more lazy days for next year! And respectfully request more sun - that was sorely lacking this year, but we surely did take advantage of what we got, going to the ocean and lake beaches, whenever there was a sunny and hot (or even warm-ish!) day. Like today in fact, and yesterday! Now I'm getting ready to enjoy fall, and another school year with the children, who are attending 3-day a week nursery school and homeschooling. Fun times!

I've changed times and format for the moms group... and it has a new name: Mamas and Muffins. It's still free, of course, and open to all new mamas and their pre-crawling babies. I invite all mamas and their "little muffins" ;-) to drop in anytime from 9 to 10am, have a muffin and some tea, and enjoy chatting with other new moms. From 10am to 11, there will be time for women to share their experiences, ask questions & get support.

Groups will be held on the 1st and 3rd Mondays of each month, from 9-11am at the Winthrop United Methodist Church (58 Main Street in Winthrop), upstairs in the nursery. Use the side Wonder Awhile Nursery School entrance. Signs will be posted.

September 21st, 2009
October 5th & 19th, 2009
November 2nd & 16th, 2009
December 7th & 21st, 2009

I am scheduling group and private classes for this fall. If you're expecting your baby in October, November, December, or January, give me a call at 512-2627 or email me!

Preconception & Early Pregnancy Class

An introduction to pregnancy, with activities and discussion on nutrition, exercise, and self-care for a healthy, comfortable pregnancy as well as tips on choosing a care provider and putting together a supportive birth team. Enrollment is limited to women and their partners who are trying to conceive, or who are less than twenty weeks pregnant.

Thursday, September 24th, 6-9pm
Winthrop Middle School Library
Fee: $20/couple

To register, contact the Winthrop Adult Learning Center from 8-2:30 Monday thru Thursday at 377-2265 or Friday 8-10am.

Coping Strategies for Labor and Birth

Introduces a wide variety of coping strategies for labor and birth, including breathing, relaxation, massage, visualization, position change, and water therapy. Some practice time and a short video will help you start thinking about which strategies might work best for you. This class will also be helpful for the birth partner, providing lots of concrete ideas of how to be supportive during labor and birth. Enrollment is limited to women who are in their second or third trimester. Participants are encouraged to bring a support person.

Monday, November 9th, 6-9pm
Winthrop Middle School Library
Fee: $20/couple

To register, contact the Winthrop Adult Learning Center from 8-2:30 Monday thru Thursday at 377-2265 or Friday 8-10am.

I am very excited to be working on a Pregnancy Wellness Fair - if you support women during the childbearing year (pregnancy, birth, postpartum) and are looking for ways to share your expertise, please contact me! I am especially interested in connecting more women with "outside the doctor's office" services with benefits that may not be well-known, like chiropractic care, massage therapy, accupuncture, doulas, and more. If you're pregnant, or trying to conceive, check back for more details!

I am also planning a film screening or two for the fall & winter months!

Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine
Mamas & Muffins: New Moms Group

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Summer Vacation

Summer has started for our family, after a whirlwind of spring recitals and performances. Homeschool and nursery school are over, and the children and I are traveling for most of June, so I expect I won't be blogging much for another month or so. I'll be back in a bit... I've got a bunch of ideas swirling around, so I know I won't be able to keep quiet for long!

I also want to mention that the postpartum support group, New Moms Support Circle is taking a break for the summer. Look for fall meeting dates to be published sometime in August.

I am continuing to teach and schedule classes for this summer and fall, so email me if you'd like to set up a time to meet or join a class. I will be able to check me email and voicemail while I'm away, and I'll get back in touch with you.

Until then, here's a gorgeous poem I received in a Mothering email.


As the baby, from seed to worldly entrance ripens
So does the mother's consciousness mature through revelations
of life's beginnings-
During this, their growing season.

Out of man and woman's union springs the fruit-
A child swelling 'neath a woman's belly,
And the Madonna-ripening fruit of womanhood.

Joining forces, father and mother weed out their fears,
To clear the ground and prepare the way for the day of harvesting.

On that day, they reap as they sow, the fruits of their labor.

-- Author Unknown

There's so much to love in this poem, I had to share it with you!

Hope your summer is off to a wonderful start!

Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine
New Mothers Support Circle

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wisdom from Mothering

Last weekend, I finished teaching two postpartum/baby classes. In this last class, we review birth, and we talk again about preparing for birth by learning about the options, and practicing relaxation techniques, and communicating preferences and then letting go during the birth - being flexible, taking it one contraction at a time: birthing in the moment. We also talk all about the postpartum period, what commonly happens physically and emotionally, preparing as a couple, and lots of discussion and demonstrations about baby care.

One thing I always demo and have mom & dad practice is swaddling. I tell about how I didn't swaddle my daughter because she cried the couple of times I tried it, and as a first-time parent, I let it go. After reading more, and seeing how much swaddling helped my second-born, I realize just how much swaddling would have probably helped my daughter, who is highly sensitive and easily over-stimulated. I mention all this briefly in class, part to underline how though not all babies like the act of being swaddled, it might still be worth doing & seeing if they like it once it's done! And I mention it because it hints at the fact that parenting is about learning, and we don't always know what will help, and sometimes we do something we wish we hadn't, or fail to do something we wish we had. As parents, we're still humans, and as anyone can tell you, humans aren't perfect! So there is no perfect parent.

Two articles in Mothering magazine's weekly e-newsletter (which I highly recommend) recognize the fact that we are works in progress as parents. Here's an excerpt from "Breaking Free of Mother-Guilt":
Our society in general, and the Mothering community in particular, has a problem: How can we advocate for birthing and parenting practices that have proven benefits without making parents who have not achieved them feel denigrated? How, for example, do we discuss the overuse of cesarean delivery without making the one-fifth to one-quarter of us who've had one feel bad, or promote extended breastfeeding without seeming to blame women who haven't been able to do it?

I suggest that the answer lies in achieving a certain perspective. This perspective starts from the premise that each of us does the best she can—given the particulars of our knowledge base, resources, support system, and the circumstances in which we find ourselves (and which we often cannot fully control). No one should ever allow herself to feel judged inadequate for doing the best she could, or the best she knew at the time of choosing. But we must also note that because our knowledge base is one of the keys in our decision-making process, it is absolutely appropriate that every effort be made to disseminate good information as widely as possible—never to blame people for past choices or idiosyncratic situations, but to get good facts out to whoever needs and can use them.

Furthermore, and crucially, those who promote such information must recognize that while such choices as excellent prenatal nutrition, natural birthing, extended breastfeeding, avoiding circumcision, cosleeping, and so on are documentably ideal for most families most of the time, there sometimes really are exceptions, limits on information, and limits on what is possible.
Ahh... circumstances, limited knowledge (for however much we know, there's still plenty we don't know!), and real life challenges... it can be hard to accept that even our very, very best may not feel good enough. Parenting regrets are hard, very, very hard. The other article I highly recommend, "Regrets", by Peggy O'Mara, suggests a lovely metaphor for how to handle regrets productively:
A bad experience is like a dive for buried treasure. There is a wreck. Someone has to figure out what happened and remember what to do the next time. Everyone hopes to find the treasure hidden in the wreck, even though many doubt that it's there at all. Like a bad experience, once we mine our regrets for information about what we might have done differently, and what we might do if the same circumstances arise again, we've already discovered a lot of treasure. When the time is right, we can then let the experience go.
Parenting is definitely the hardest job I've ever had to do - full of sacrifice and the occasional bout of performance anxiety. But on the other hand, I've never been so motivated to do a job well, by the sweet, grateful smile of a snuggled child, by a look of joy & wonder at something new, by a question that shows how deeply my child is participating in life. And, I've certainly never been so well-rewarded.

Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine
New Mothers Support Circle

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Thursday, April 23, 2009


It can be such a challenge to purchase products and toys for infants - most of us want items that are safe, useful, and, if possible, aesthetically pleasing.

I received an email a few months ago about a new baby product called the HeartString Baby's Companion. I requested one so I could show my clients and share it with you because I hadn't seen anything like it before. I handed it to a six-month old at one of my New Moms Circle support groups, and she loved it - turning it over and over in her hands and then gumming it for quite a while.

I think new babies would enjoy looking at it too. I remember back to nursing my infants, and as much as I usually loved their kneading little fists, sometimes their pinchy little nails hurt as they patted and prodded me. It would have been nice to have something like this necklace as a distraction!

More information from the HeartStrings website:
HeartString Baby’s Companion evolved from a simple concept: Babies like to tug and chew on anything they can touch. In a world full of hazards (keys, metal jewelry, glasses, watches etc.), we designed HeartString to be a touchable, tuggable product for your baby and a wearable accessory for you. With many colours from which to choose, our safe and non-toxic product can be used as a breastfeeding and parenting aid that includes Dad, siblings and grandparents!

HeartString Baby's CompanionTM is a versatile accessory used by breastfeeding moms and concerned infant caregivers. Initially conceived to be a purposeful distraction while bottle feeding, breastfeeding or holding a baby, the HeartString Companions has also been designed to support bonding, ease caregiver transfers and include a male figure. With the infant in mind, the HeartString Companions is safe, non-toxic and unbreakable, acting as a tactile and visual aid to soothe baby and to encourage cognitive development.
Also important to know that the HeartString:
  • Does NOT contain lead, PVC, phalates, BPA, latex of any known harmful materials.
  • Materials and products are sourced and made in North America.
  • Personally, I think this would be a fun add-on baby shower gift, maybe even as the package decoration. I'm excited to add it to my collection of "show and tell" products (sling, cloth diapers, breast pump) for the postpartum class.

    Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
    Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine
    New Mothers Support Circle

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    Saturday, April 18, 2009

    The Birth Survey in Maine!

    Did you know that The Birth Survey now has information about Maine??! The survey results are searchable by doctor/midwife and hospital/birth center/homebirth. The best way to find information for our state is to type in your zip code, and select the distance in miles you are able to travel.

    Currently, there are only a few reviews for some of our local hospitals and some of our local doctors and midwives. Of course the information is still very well worth looking at! But how awesome would it be if it were even more complete?!! If you've had a baby in the past three years, and would like to help expecting families make an informed decision about the care they choose, consider sharing your experience! The survey only takes about thirty minutes to complete and is completely anonymous.

    I would particularly encourage anyone who has birthed at our state's only independent, free-standing birth center (The Birth House), or with a homebirth midwife to share their experience, because there aren't any reviews yet, and I know there have been some fantastic experiences!

    I would also particularly encourage anyone who has had care that they were not happy with to complete a survey. I think the tendency can sometimes be to "not make trouble" or take some of the blame for a negative experience on ourselves, and therefore decide not to share the experience... but I think it's crucial for as many women as possible to complete surveys, whether it's to recommend a care provider or location, or to express dissatisfaction with a care provider or location.

    "Our goal is to give women a mechanism that can be used to share information about maternity care practices in their community while at the same time providing practitioners and institutions feedback for quality of care improvement efforts."

    "We are dedicated to improving maternity care for all women. We will do this by 1) creating a higher level of transparency in maternity care so that women will be better able to make informed decisions about where and with whom to birth and 2) providing practitioners and hospitals with information that will aid in evaluating and improving quality of care."

    Objective 1
    Annually obtain maternity care intervention rates on an institutional level for all fifty states.

    Objective 2
    Collect feedback about women’s birth experiences using an online, ongoing survey, The Birth Survey.

    Objective 3
    Present official hospital intervention rates, results of The Birth Survey, and information about the MFCI in an on-line format.

    Objective 4
    Increase public awareness of differences among maternity care providers and facilities and increase recognition of the MFCI as the gold standard for maternity care.

    I am so excited by this project, and the difference it could make for birthing mothers and their new babies! I urge you to participate by either spreading the news, or completing a survey!!

    I'll leave you with this inspiring thought from Christiane Northrup:
    "Imagine what might happen if the majority of women emerged from their labor beds with a renewed sense of the strength and power of their bodies and their capacity for ecstasy through giving birth. When enough women realize that birth is a time of great opportunity to get in touch with their true power, and then they are willing to assume responsibility for this, we will reclaim the power of birth and help move technology where it belongs--in the service of birthing women, not as their master."
    Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
    Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine
    New Mothers Support Circle

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    Monday, April 6, 2009

    Scheduling Spring & Summer Birth Classes!

    I'm currently scheduling group and private classes for this spring and summer - moms with due dates from May to September! Classes are held in Winthrop, which is about half an hour from Waterville and the Lewiston/Auburn area, and fifteen minutes from Augusta.

    For more information, feel free to email me or visit Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine.

    Read on for some of the benefits of attending Birthing Your Baby classes!

    Birthing Your Baby classes are centered in a deep belief in a woman’s ability to give birth… that birth can be an empowering, transforming experience in a woman’s life…that birth is an essentially safe process for baby and mother. The philosophy that drives these classes also inspires confidence and joy in the birth process and in your new lives as parents.

    Birthing Your Baby classes are independent. I am not required to teach from a rigid curriculum that only “approves” of certain kinds of birth. This is your birth…your baby!! I will provide up-to-date, evidence-based information and then you can make your best decisions for a healthy and satisfying birth experience, whether it’s an all-natural home birth or a hospital birth with a planned epidural. We will also discuss and practice helpful communication skills so you can maintain an open dialogue with your careproviders.

    I believe small classes work best, so there will never be more than five couples in a class. Small classes allow for more student interaction, for more discussion, and for the class content to be personalized to address each student’s particular needs. Private classes are also available.

    I offer a variety of classes – group classes that last four to six weeks, as well as private classes. We discuss everything from how you’re all feeling that particular week and addressing any questions that have come up, to self-care during pregnancy, prenatal testing, nutrition, and exercise, to the emotional and physical aspects of labor, comfort measures, birth positions, and communicating with your caregivers, to the transitions of post-partum life, new baby care, breastfeeding and a lot more – the time seems to fly by… you’ll be talking, writing, laughing, drawing, moving around (a lot!), viewing videos, discovering sensations, and practicing, practicing, practicing!

    Birthing Your Baby classes are consumer-oriented. In other words, I am not “prepping” you for the policies and routines for any particular birth place or caregiver. As Dr. Sears writes in The Birth Book, “some hospital-based educators, constrained by their own hospital’s birthing policies, prepare parents to more to be compliant patients than to be informed consumers” (53). Instead, Birthing Your Baby classes will teach you (and give you lots of time to practice) a variety of coping skills, relaxation techniques, and positions for labor and birth. Labor is impossible to predict, so the more tricks you can pull out of your bag, the better prepared you will be!

    In addition to the individualized class attention, I provide (free) unlimited telephone and email consultation. Any time (pregnancy, birth, post-partum) you have questions or concerns, I welcome your call or email. I can research a topic… offer emotional support and affirmation… or simply listen.

    I have a well-stocked pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting “lending library” that includes books, magazines, and videos that I encourage you to borrow from at any time. I have read all of these selections and can help you find ones which address the topics that interest you.

    Birthing Your Baby classes encourage you to be open to the possibilities of birth. I will help you create a birth “plan”, but we will also talk about what the “next best thing” is if everything doesn’t go according to plan. Studies have shown that women who feel like they coped well and were active in making decisions about their care had the most satisfying birth experiences. Regardless of your plans for birth, whether this is your first birth or your third, Birthing Your Baby can provide the information and hands-on practice time to enhance your birth experience.

    Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
    Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine
    New Mothers Support Circle

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    Friday, March 27, 2009

    Breastmilk Pumping in the Workplace - Maine

    According to Represenative Melissa Innes, the Labor Committee voted unanimously to pass the nursing bill out of committee, and send it to the House floor for the big vote.

    This is the text of the bill:
    "An employer, including the state of Maine and its subdivisions, shall provide adequate unpaid break time or permit an employee to use paid break time or meal time each day to allow an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for up to three years following child birth. The employer shall make reasonable efforts to provide a clean room or other location, other than a bathroom, in close proximity to the work area, where an employee may express milk in privacy. No employer shall discriminate in any way against an employee who chooses to express breast milk in the work place."
    Definitely a great step forward. And as an extended-nursing mother, I love that the timeframe is three years!

    Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
    Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine
    New Mothers Support Circle

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    Wednesday, March 25, 2009

    Free Postpartum Support Group - Central Maine

    We're meeting again this Thursday, March 26th, from 10-11am, at the Winthrop United Methodist Church! We'll meet on April on the 9th and 23rd.

    For more information, visit

    Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
    Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine
    New Mothers Support Circle

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    Sunday, March 15, 2009


    I've really been enjoying a series of posts at Eco Child's Play, a website the supports and promotes "Green Parenting for Non-toxic, Healthy Homes".

    The latest post in this series is Baby Essentials That Aren't: Baby Food, by Heather Dunham. Other "essentials" discussed in previous posts include the crib, the bucket carseat, the stroller, diapers, tub, and brain boosters.

    I thought these articles were fascinating and well-written, and they included lots of resources to learn more. This series is a great antidote to all the commercialism that swirls around pregnancy and postpartum parenting.

    It's a crazy week here this week and I've been up many, many times the past two nights with a dog who is having digestive issues and needs to go outside every hour or two. Good times. So, this is going to be a week of link posts! Hope you enjoy!

    Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
    Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine
    New Mothers Support Circle

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    Tuesday, March 3, 2009

    Preserving Memories

    I've admitted before that I wish I'd been more faithful in keeping a pregnancy journal with thoughts and especially photographs from my two pregnancies. Once I started a family blog, and made a commitment to keeping it up-to-date for our long-distance family members, I've done a lot better. And someday (when we have more money!), I have a system I want to implement with binders and photo pages and the photos I've stored in Snapfish. It turns out that, although I bought and was given a bunch of scrapbook supplies, I'm not really a scrapbooker. And that's okay, right? Right.

    Anyway, I've come across some really cool ideas lately that appeal to me even though I'm not a scrapbooker, and I want to be sure to pass them on to you. These are the kind of easy projects I wish I had done:

    Scrapbooking Your Belly Shots and Scrapbooking Baby's First 12 Months, both from Adventures in Diapering.

    If you want video inspiration, here is a video from Mothering Media, showing how one mom turned her pregnant belly into a work of art.

    If you are a scrapbooker, here is the site for our local scrapbooking guru, Cheryl Freye. I especially want to highlight the FREE Baby & Toddler Webinarscoming up over the next two weeks - what a fantastic opportunity to learn more about preserving your memories.

    And finally, a professional archivist's take on digital storage, in case you, like me, are holding on to cd's full of photos. Because as Cheryl wrote in her email, "You'll never reminisce over your zip drive .......albums make the memory."

    If you have want to share any of your ideas on how to preserve memories, leave a comment!

    Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
    Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine
    New Mothers Support Circle

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    Thursday, February 12, 2009

    It's a Boy!

    I have two children - a girl and a boy. My daughter was born first, and I was so excited to have a little girl: dresses, braids, someone who might notice new earrings. It's not that I didn't want to have a little boy, too... it's just that I was hoping, in my heart of hearts, to have a little girl first.

    There was another reason, too: circumcision. I read & thought and thought & read about pregnancy and birth... and then I discussed, discussed, discussed choices I had for birth with my partner, my care provider, my family & friends. I didn't know what I thought about circumcision, beyond the gut feeling that I didn't want to do anything that would hurt my newly born child. My husband didn't know what to think either, other than he had been circumcised, so it seemed to him that it would be an okay choice to make for our son. But! Since Madelyn is a girl, we didn't have to hash it out, and I could focus on learning about birth and breastfeeding. Thus, in addition to my joy of having my little girl, I was also relieved.

    Well, when I got pregnant again, it was with my son Owen. I already had learned a lot about birth and postpartum, and was ready to tackle investigating circumcision and the process of explaining my uneasiness to my husband. I had always said - hey, I don't have a penis, this is a decision I'll defer to him on. But when it came down to the fact that he favored circumcision, I realized I couldn't just go with the flow on this one after all (hardly surprising - me not going with the flow!).

    So I asked him - please look at some of the research I've done, and then make an educated, informed decision, like we've tried to do all along regarding medical care and parenting choices. Reluctantly, he agreed. I did some research, shared it with him, and did the best I could to give him the space to make his decision.

    I wish that I could have shared this excellent website, It's a Boy, with him then - it's factual, non-confrontational, not full of upsetting pictures or biased propaganda one way or the other, and answers the most common questions about circumcision.

    Another good resource is this video, The Prepuce, on the Doctors Opposing Circumcision website. It is a clinical take on this issue instead of an emotional one.

    I've listened to a lot of clients confront this issue - some couples have been in agreement, others not; some have decided to keep their sons intact and others have decided to circumcise. In fact, one of the dads in a class I taught about a year ago, blogged about the decision process: Circumcision Decision to Circumcision - The Decision to Circumcision - The Final Post - be sure to read the comments, too! So, I try to answer questions and point families to unbiased, understandable information, and then I let it go.

    I'm so happy to have this new website to add to my list of resources!

    Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
    Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine
    New Mothers Support Circle

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    Thursday, February 5, 2009

    Postpartum Links: Listening and Healing

    More postpartum posts to follow, once I'm post-whirlwind-trip-to-Boston and have caught up around here! Until then:

    The Power of Listening

    I love this quote in the recent Midwivery Today E-newsletter on communication, from Dr. Rachel Remen:
    "The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention.... A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words."
    Obviously this relates to all times of our lives, but I think it is especially pertinant during labor and birth. Just listening to a mom talking about how much labor hurts is validating: she may not be asking someone to "fix" it - she just needs someone to hear her. There's a terrific segment on this excellent video, which I highly recommend (and keep in my lending library!): Gentle Birth Choices. And "We Ain't Broke, Don't Fix Us" is a great blog entry on this topic.

    Listening during the postpartum period can also be incredibly valuable. I recently read about a study re: the power of listening for postpartum moms, on a RaisingMaine blog . For more information, read "Peer Phone Calls Prevent Postpartum Depression in at-Risk Mothers". The article explains that,
    "Phone calls from volunteer mothers who overcame postpartum depression prevent depressive symptoms in at-risk mothers, a Canadian study shows.

    "Mothers who received this support were at half the risk of depressive symptoms 12 weeks after delivery," says study leader Cindy-Lee Dennis, PhD, Canada research chair in perinatal community health at the University of Toronto.

    It's the first big study to show that postpartum depression can be prevented without intensive home care, Dennis says.

    The study included 701 women at risk of postpartum depression. Half got standard postnatal care and half got peer support. With standard care, 25% of the mothers had significant depressive symptoms 12 weeks after delivery. About half as many women who got peer support -- 14% -- had such symptoms."
    Another place to listen and be listened to, and that offers peer support, is the New Mothers Support Circle I'm hosting here in Winthrop, on 2nd and 4th Thursdays - this month we're getting together on February 12th and February 27th.

    Perineal Healing

    Another Midwifery Today E-newsletter that fits with entry focuses on Postpartum Perineal Healing, with some great tips from Elizabeth Davis:
    "Physicians commonly have women return for a checkup at six weeks postpartum to assess the healing of the perineum and to make recommendations for contraception, as appropriate. But most women are told little or nothing about how to care for the perineum in the interim, or how to watch for warning signals of infection like swelling or inflammation. Pain is an important signal of problems too, but it may go unnoticed if a woman is taking painkillers during the first few days, the most critical time for healing.

    I suggest that women use ice packs for 24 hours to reduce swelling, and then switch to sitz baths several times daily using hot water with selected herbs. Nothing speeds healing faster than heat, and soaking is far superior to topical application as it more deeply stimulates circulation. Fresh ginger is a good addition to the solution; it helps relieve the itching that often occurs as stitches dissolve and the skin heals.

    Here is how I recommend women take a sitz bath: Grate a 3- to 4-inch piece of ginger root into a large pot of water; simmer twenty minutes; strain and divide into two portions. Save one for later in the day, and dilute the first with water in a sitz bath. After soaking for twenty minutes, thoroughly dry the perineum and expose to air or sunlight for another 10 minutes before putting on a fresh pad (or use a hair dryer to speed the process). If the perineum feels at all sticky, use aloe vera gel to dry and soothe the tissues. Avoid vitamin E or other oil-based ointments until the skin is healed over, as these tend to keep edges from closing."
    The Mother-Hero

    For dessert, read this thought-provoking article from Birthing From Within's Pam England, "Mother-Hero on the Hudson".

    We are strong! Listen, and be listened to.

    Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
    Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine
    New Mothers Support Circle

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    Sunday, February 1, 2009

    Postpartum Life: True or False?

    In honor of the new postpartum support group I'm facilitating, the New Mother's Support Circle, I'm going to be doing a series of posts on postpartum life.

    Here's how the media portrays postpartum life: glowing new mom (who is also clean, thin, wearing clean clothes, relaxed, and looking not-exhausted) holding peacefully sleeping (and also clean! wearing white!!) newborn.

    I'm not saying that it's not a gorgeous picture - it is. And there may be some moments like that during the babymoon. But this picture, also beautiful, is a whole lot more realistic:

    What's the harm in fantasizing about exhibit A? I love this quote from Jennifer Louden's Pregnant Woman's Comfort Book, and think it sums up a lot about why the postpartum period can be a hard one for many women:
    "It is the lack of permission to feel conflicted, inadequate, sad, angry, bored, or irritable as well as grateful, rapturous, tingling with life, and intoxicated with love that makes the postpartum period unnecessarily difficult and lonely".
    So for what it's worth: here's permission - and encouragement! - to come share what's wonderful as well as what's really hard with other new moms this Thursday!

    And if you can't join us in person, leave a comment! What's been one of the most beautiful moments during your babymoon period? What's been one of the most challenging?

    Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
    Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine

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    Thursday, January 15, 2009

    More on Vitamins: Vitamin D & DHA in Formula

    In my last post on vitamins, I included the hugely informative link to Navelgazing Midwife's post on Vitamin D & It's Role in Women and Children.

    I want to add a link to a New York Times article I read that summarizes a study done at Boston University that concluded that Vitamin D deficiency may increase the risk of an emergency cesarean.
    "The researchers studied 253 births at a Boston hospital from 2005 to 2007. After controlling for other variables, the scientists found that women with low blood levels of vitamin D were almost four times as likely to have an emergency C-section as those with normal levels. Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with muscle weakness and high blood pressure, which might help explain the finding."
    I would be interested to know if these cesareans were truly emergency, and even more importantly, what specific, medical reason for the cesarean birth was given.

    I also wanted to offer this link to the Motherwear blog post on Vitamin D. There is great information on breastmilk and Vitamin D in the two links provided in this post. And, there is interesting discussion in the comments.

    Finally, when I wrote the post on Omega-3's during pregnancy, I wasn't thinking about formula, and the attempts on the part of formula-makers to manipulate mothers into buying DHA-"enhanced" formula.

    I believe that adding DHA/ARA is a marketing ploy made to manipulate mothers into buying a more expensive product that contains additives of questionable value. As someone who believes in the inherent superiority of breastmilk for infants, I also would hate to think that any mother ever gives up on nursing thinking that DHA/ARA formula is "close enough" to human milk - that the DHA/ARA confers some magic benefits. I am not anti-formula - there are times when it is necessary; however, I am firmly against the manipulative scare tactics employed by many companies marketing to mothers.

    According to an article in Mothering's May/June 2008 magazine, "test results have shown the additives have negligible positive effects on infant development. The FDA's initial analysis of the additives reached no determination of their safety, while noting that some studies reported unexpected deaths among infants who have been fed DHA/ARA formula" and that there have been an array of symptoms (vomiting and diarrhea) reported by parents and doctors that "disappeared when the infants were switched to a non DHA/ARA formula".

    To read more about DHA/ARA in formula, read the .pdf "Replacing Mother: Imitating Breastmilk in the Laboratory".

    Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
    Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine

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    Friday, December 19, 2008

    New Mothers Support Circle: Postpartum Support Group

    I'm so happy to announce that I'll begin facilitating a postpartum support group, NEW MOTHERS SUPPORT CIRCLE, in January!

    About six months ago, I was talking to a client after her baby was born, and she asked if I knew of any postpartum support groups in our area. I asked around and looked online, but I couldn't find any. There are lots of playgroups, and helpful breastfeeding support groups (see this post), but I couldn't find any meetings that were specifically for NEW moms.

    I started thinking about this lack of support for new moms, and decided to start a group myself!

    We'll be meeting in Winthrop, on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays, from 10-11am.

    The group is only for new moms and their babies, from birth to six months. At six months, babies and moms "graduate" and can form playgroups (if they haven't already!) with other moms they have met.

    For more information, visit!

    If you have any suggestions, let me know!

    Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
    Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine

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    Wednesday, October 8, 2008

    Meals to Freeze

    Many women are approached with offers to help "after the baby comes". I suggest considering asking these generous friends to bring a meal that you can eat and freeze the leftovers (or make two meals: one for now and one for later!). Or, when things are going smoothly during pregnancy, make a few extra meals "for your freezer".

    Postpartum life is busy with lots of new adjustments, and although everyone knows good nutrition is important, it can be easy to sacrifice to sleeping, or baby care. Breastfeeding mothers, in particular, need to be sure they are eating well.

    Here are a few recipes that I've enjoyed postpartum - they do run the gamut from easy/quick to more involved as well as from lower-fat to yum: cheese! They all freeze well, just be sure to store them carefully in freezer bags, foil (line casserole dish with two criss-crossing layers of foil; fill; lift out of casserole and seal foil), tupperware, etc. Many of the recipes can be portioned out and stored in one-person sizes, so they can be reheated easily without waste.

    Keep in mind, too, that other things you already make might also freeze well: soups, muffins, breads, pesto, oven-baked "fried" chicken, pizza dough, pie crust etc. Frozen berries and vegetables are also great to stock up on to round out a meal.


    2 cups regular oats
    1/2 cup pecan pieces
    1/2 cup maple syrup
    1/4 cup packed brown sugar
    2 tablespoons canola oil
    1/8 teaspoon salt

    Cooking spray

    Preheat oven to 300°.

    Combine oats and next 5 ingredients (through salt); spread on a large jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 300° for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Cool completely.

    Serve with plain or vanilla yogurt and fruit (banana, berries, etc).

    Freeze in freezer bag.


    This doubles easily and freezes well.

    6-8 chicken breasts or thighs, boneless
    4-6 Slices Swiss Cheese
    1 Can Cream Of Mushroom Soup
    1/2 C White Wine
    2 C Seasoned Stuffing Mix
    4 Tbsp Melted Butter

    Wash chicken pieces with cold water and pat dry. Cut off any extra fat. Place in a greased casserole dish large enough to hold them in ONE layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with cheese slices.

    Mix wine and soup until smooth and pour over everything.

    Mix stuffing with melted butter and sprinkle evenly on top.

    Bake at 300 F for 1 1/2 hours.

    Serves 4-6

    Freeze cooked casserole in portion sizes to reheat in the microwave, or freeze unbaked casserole, thaw in refrigerator and bake.


    This is more work and a lot of ingredients, but really, really good.

    2 tablespoons (2 turns around the pan) extra-virgin olive oil
    4 cloves garlic, chopped
    1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
    1 cubanelle Italian long green pepper, seeded and diced
    1 large sweet onion, peeled and chopped
    2 ribs celery, chopped
    1/2 cup large green olives, pitted and chopped
    1/2 cup Kalamata black olives, pitted and chopped
    1 (3-ounce) jar capers, drained
    1/2 cup (a couple of handfuls) golden raisins
    1 medium firm eggplant, diced
    1 (32-ounce) can diced tomatoes
    1 (14-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
    1 handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
    Penne pasta (12-16oz)
    Mozzarella Cheese or Italian blend cheese, shredded (8oz)

    Place the cutting board near the stovetop. Preheat a big, deep pot over medium heat. Add oil, garlic, and crushed pepper. As you chop vegetables (peppers, onion, and celery), add them to the pot. Once vegetables are in there, increase heat a bit.

    Stir in olives, capers, and raisins. Salt the diced eggplant and stir into the pot. Add tomatoes, diced and crushed, to the pot and stir caponata well to combine. Cover pot and cook caponata 15 to 20 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Stir in parsley and remove pan from heat.

    Combine half (freeze other half) and pour over cooked penne pasta. Sprinkle with parsley, red pepper flakes, and shredded cheese. Bake until cheese melts.

    I freeze the caponata mix already cooked and then thaw/microwave; make pasta and bake.


    2lbs Italian sausage
    2t garlic, minced
    2C onions, chopped
    5 jars commercial spaghetti sauce (12C)
    ½ C green pepper, chopped
    4 16 oz cans Italian-style stewed tomatoes, cut up, undrained
    ½ C celery, chopped

    Brown sausage, onion, green pepper, celery and garlic in large pot. Add sauce & stewed tomatoes. Simmer on low to medium for at least one hour. Stir occasionally. Allow to cool. Set aside sauce needed for other recipes and freeze the rest in bags/containers for sauce over pasta.


    These freeze very well (as burritos, or the mix) and it's easy to make a much larger batch of filling. I’ve used one chile from a can of chipotle/adobo instead of the jalapeno and that works fine too.

    3/4 cup rice (I use brown)
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    2 medium onions, chopped
    4 garlic cloves, chopped
    1 jalapeño chile, chopped (ribs and seeds removed, for less heat) or 1 canned chipotle chile
    1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    coarse salt and ground pepper
    3 tablespoons tomato paste
    3 cans (15 ounces each) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
    1 box frozen corn kernels (10 ounces)
    6 scallions, thinly sliced
    8 burrito-size (10-inch) flour tortillas
    2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese (8 ounces)
    Salsa and sour cream (optional)

    Cook rice according to package instructions; set aside.

    Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium. Add onions, garlic, jalapeño, and cumin; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, 10to 12 minutes. Add tomato paste, and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

    Add beans and 1 1/2 cups water; bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 10 to 12 minutes. Add corn; cook to heat through, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in scallions. [I just mix rice into bean mixture at this point.]

    Heat tortillas according to package instructions; fill with rice, bean mixture, and cheese.

    Assemble: Mound 1/4 cup rice, 3/4 cup bean mixture, and 1/4 cup cheese on one side of tortilla. Fold, and hold in sides. Starting from filled end, holding sides in as you work, tightly roll into a bundle. Place on a baking sheet, seam side down, and prepare remaining burritos.

    Serve immediately, with salsa and sour cream, if using, or wrap individually in plastic and freeze up to 3 months.

    Reheating From Frozen

    Microwave and oven: Remove frozen burritos from plastic wrap. Place on a microwave-safe plate; microwave on high for 3 minutes. Transfer to baking sheet; bake at 450° until crispy, about 10 minutes. This is our favorite quick method. (I do it this way, but crisp up in my toaster oven.)

    Oven only: Remove frozen burritos from plastic wrap; rewrap individually in aluminum foil. Place on a baking sheet; bake at 450°, 40 minutes; remove foil, and bake to crisp, 5 to 10 minutes. (To reheat defrosted burritos, remove any wrapping, and bake for 10 minutes.)

    Microwave only: Remove frozen burritos from plastic wrap. Place on a microwave-safe plate, covered with a microwave-safe bowl, and defrost at high power for 3 to 4 minutes; uncover, and microwave on high, 3 to 4 minutes longer.


    6 beaten eggs
    12 oz grated cheddar cheese
    6 T flour
    half a stick of butter
    1 - 24 oz carton of cottage cheese
    1 large bag of frozen broccoli (I prefer about same amount of fresh, washed/chopped/steamed - about one large head)
    Garlic powder

    Melt butter in a 9 x 13 dish as oven is preheating to 350. Combine all the rest of the ingredients and pour into the dish. Make for 1 hour or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes and then eat.

    Can be frozen either in a large blocks for dinner or small squares of foil for lunches.


    This doubles, triples etc. very easily.

    Mix 1 pound of Ground turkey
    2 eggs
    enough Pepperige Farm stuffing to hold the loaf shape
    1 jar turkey gravy per loaf

    Shape into loaves, wrap well and freeze.

    Can bake from frozen - put in 350 degree oven for 1.5 hours. Can also be cooked in the crockpot - start in the morning on low.

    Put turkey gravy over it as it bakes. If you like sweet potatoes or baked potatoes, throw in oven to cook while turkey loaf does.


    You can use half sharp cheddar cheese and half Monterey jack cheese. Easy to make half for dinner and freeze other half. To save time, you can use no-bake lasagna noodles and/or shredded cheese.

    2 Lb Low-Fat Cottage Cheese
    1 Tbsp Parsley
    1/4 C Butter -- Melted
    2 Eggs
    1 C Parmesan Cheese -- Grated
    1 Lb Monterey Jack Cheese -- Grated
    9 Lasagna Noodles
    3 Pkg Spinach – Chopped – thawed and drained
    Garlic Powder

    Mix cottage cheese, parsley, butter, eggs, and seasonings.

    Grease a 9x13" baking pan and layer as following: 3 noodles, 1/2 cottage cheese mix, 1/2 jack cheese, 1/2 spinach, and 1/2 Parmesan cheese.

    Repeat, ending with noodles.

    Dot with a little more butter and sprinkle with a bit of Parmesan cheese.

    Bake at 350 F oven for 35-40 minutes.

    Garnish with basil and/or parsley and serve.

    Freeze in portion-sizes, or in unbaked in an 8x8" pan. Reheat in microwave (portion-sizes) or thaw and bake in the pan.

    Do you have a favorite meal that freezes well? To share it, just leave the recipe in the comments section.

    PS. This is my fiftieth blog post - the first one published 4/30/08. My web traffic has more than doubled - almost tripled (!!) since then.

    Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
    Independent Childbirth Classes for Central Maine

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