Category Archives: Flax Seed Oil

Some updates

Danielle and I were just laughing because she sent me an email from her client (GoodNites) about a free confidential conference call about bedwetting they’re sponsoring with an expert tomorrow (Thursday in North/South America) and then discovered that yesterday’s post was about bedwetting, and the reader even mentioned GoodNights. Ha. Anyway, here are the details of the call:

"The client is GoodNites, the disposable
sleep boxers and sleep shorts for children who have issues with bedwetting. Our
original plan was to reach out to bloggers who are talking about their struggles
with bedwetting (with advice and free product), but when we did a conversation
audit, we were very surprised to find out that NO ONE is blogging about

This is kind of upsetting, because as we all know, the best source of
information for moms is from other moms. If no mom bloggers are talking about
bedwetting, then the only sources of information are on product websites and on
medical sites like WebMD.

So, what we are offering up is a conference
call this Thursday at 2pm CST. The call will be with Judsen Culbreth (her bio is
below). She will answer any questions that anyone has about bedwetting, and can
offer up both professional and personal experience and advice. The call is
anonymous, we are just asking participants to register via a completely
confidential email to an account we have set up. They can also submit questions
via the email, and we will pass those on to Judsen. Also, we are inviting any
bloggers to the call who aren’t facing the issue, but would like to educate
their readers. Oh, and if you want to pass on questions for readers who might
feel embarrassed to email them, you can invite them to post them in your
comments, if you like.

Again, the call is this Thursday, September 20th
at 2pm CST. To get the dial-in information, just send an email to

Judsen’s Bio:
Judsen Culbreth is a mother, parenting expert and author
with both professional and personal experience on the topic bedwetting. 
Formerly Editor-in-Chief of Working Mother
magazine and Executive Editor at Redbook, Judsen’s editorial work has been
honored with many awards, including two Parents’ Choice Silver Honor
Awards.  Culbreth has also appeared on hundreds of TV and radio news programs, including NBC’s Today
show, CBS Evening News, ABC’s Prime Time Live and

2 CST is 3 on the East Coast of the US and Canada, and noon on the West Coast. Check the world clock to find out what time it is where you are. If you don’t want to email in a question you can leave it in the comments here anonymously.

Heather writes:

"Even though I’m only an aunt I read your stuff daily, especially
about PPD which I am scared of.  I’ve bookmarked you series and already
told my husband that when the time comes he is in charge of everything
in those articles.

Imagine my surprise as I was watching Good Eats on the Food
Network tonight and saw him rework rice crispy treats in a way that
made me think of you {it was the flax oil that did it for me}.  I
thought maybe your readers {who aren’t hopelessly addicted to Alton
Brown & Good Eats} might like it."

Recipe for Brown Rice Crispy Bar from Alton Brown at

(For those who don’t want to click, the ingredients are puffed brown rice, flax seed oil, honey, mini marshmallows, slivered almonds, dried cranberries, dried cherries, and dried blueberries.)

"Only an aunt," pshaw. Anyone who’s interested in kids is welcome here. As for these bars, though, well, I love flax seed oil more than most, but I don’t think I could go this far. The flax seed oil and dried fruit would be great for postpartum moms (the dried fruit has a lot of great fiber), but this recipe reminds me of the stuff my mom used to try to pass off to us when I was a kid. (I have lots of memories of going to co-op breakdown day to divide the huge bags of carob chips and wheat germ into packets for the individual families. Good times.) Even the lack of raisins doesn’t make me want to try it. I’d eat the dried blueberries by themselves, though.

And now for an anticlimactic update on my Kindergarten situation: I still don’t like the teacher and don’t trust her as far as I can throw her, but she seems to think my son is kind of funny so she’s being nice to him. I worry that if what my son says is true, the teacher is scapegoating another kid in the class (call me crazy but I don’t think a 5-year-old should be sent out of the classroom three times in the first three weeks of school unless the behavior is violent or seriously disruptive). I’m still going to talk to the principal, but it may be more of a general "what’s really going on with her?" session than a "help my kid" session.

He was fine about going to school yesterday, but then freaked out when
it was time for me to leave, and wouldn’t go back into his room for
awhile. But at least he wasn’t sobbing uncontrollably like before.

Things I don’t want to have happen that have happened to different people in my family: Skip a grade and still end up the smart ostracized kid only younger than everyone else to boot, sit in the back of the room bored reading the dictionary until the teacher yells at you and moves the dictionary too high for you to reach (although you end up with a stellar vocabulary up through the letter H), be told by your kindergarten teacher that you’re too "wild" for school (because you have boy energy) so you barely graduate from high school because you believe her, mentally tune out from school from Kindergarten on because there’s nothing for you there, be told you’re so smart so often that you end up afraid to take any risks because everyone’s invested in your success.

That’s what I’m afraid of, not a little boredom. And there are a bunch of reasons we didn’t end up in a GATE program this year. Once of which was that I felt I was going to be able to trust a Kindergarten teacher, because all the K teachers I’ve ever known have been resourceful, smart about little kids, and kind. I’m pretty gobsmacked by my instant mistrust of this teacher (I have to say that everyone else at the school had been great).

Jenni, I didn’t go in telling her he could read because the teacher and former-teacher commenters here told me not to (not me specifically, but parents) a few weeks ago. They said that teachers figure out the kids quickly anyway, and don’t need or want the parents to bring their own prejudgments into it. I was surprised that she hadn’t picked up on the fact that my son’s reading fluently, especially in light of this whole "read at all costs" thing they’ve got going with the forced reading at the beginning of class.

Speaking of that, I’m finally getting my routine down so I’m not as frazzled in the morning. My son is insisting on school lunch ("I don’t know what it was but it tasted good!" Help…me…) and doesn’t eat anything I pack him ("I ate one grape tomato, Mom!"). So I don’t have to pack him anything. My babysitter meets us at school and takes the little one. But still, the whole set-up is basically for the birds. And I’m still pissed about all the school supplies (it’s not like we can all just pile into the car and stop at Target–it required at least two stores for that list).

How are you guys?

Q&A: post-partum insomnia and irrational fears

Continuing with the theme of admitting how hard this can be sometimes…

Wendy writes:

"I’ve developed insomnia. 8 month old baby wakes up only 1x per night now (hooray) sometime between 2-5 am. I breastfeed, he goes back to sleep and I lay awake for a couple of hours. I’ve also lost my ability to nap. Overtired? PPD?

Also, since the baby was born, I’ve become afraid to fly (plane crash), afraid to drive (car crash), afraid to walk around the block (car crashing into the stroller), afraid of sitting in my house (tree falling over and crushing us), afraid to go into the bank (bank holdup)….I have not become a shut-in but find myself preoccupied with worst case scenarios."

I think this is post-partum anxiety, which is technically different from PPD, but I think is also caused by a complex interaction of factors, including hormones.

I am going to hazard a guess that a lot of us have suffered from some mild form of insomnia after having babies. Which is an unbelievable pisser*, because if the baby is actually asleep, it’s cruel that we aren’t, too. I’ve definitely gone through periods of this, even when I was not depressed in any other way. And it seemed to ebb and flow with my hormones and exercise and nutritional intake.

I also noticed (and why do I feel still a little scared to admit this, even now?) that I had preoccupations and almost visions of something bad happening for the first few months with both my kids. With my older one, I was constantly worried that a car would jump the sidewalk and hit the stroller and kill him. Sometimes I couldn’t get the thought out of my head, and I’d lie awake at night worried about it. Then when I had the second baby, the fear was that somehow my older one would accidentally snap the baby’s spinal cord and leave him paralyzed. I could not shake that fear for a good 4-5 weeks, starting about 2 weeks after the baby was born. I’d be sitting with them both, playing with the older one and holding the baby, seeing it happen in my mind as if it was a memory instead of some cruel mind trick.

The one good thing was that with the second one I didn’t worry that there was something wrong with me, and I have the blog world to thank for that. By that time I’d read enough "shameful confessions" online to know that there are things we’re afraid to admit, but that a lot of us are dealing with. Just because I hadn’t heard other women joking around about how afraid they were of really unlikely things in the first few months didn’t mean tons of us didn’t deal with it.

But back to Wendy’s problem: Just because lots of us have dealt with the insomnia and ultra-worry doesn’t mean that you should have to suffer through it. I think that taking Omega 3 supplements (2,000-3,000 mg a day of fish oil or flax seed oil**), getting 20-30 minutes a day of exercise, and getting 10-15 minutes a day of sunshine will probably fix you up in about a week or two. At least to the point that you can catch your breath and figure out what else you need that can ease your load and help you start to reach out to get some help.

You may find that you need counseling and/or anti-depressants, but I’d rather see you do the Omega 3s and exercise and sunshine first, because if your body’s a little off-kilter you should fix that first before going on meds so they’ll be even more effective (and just so your body doesn’t get depleted). I’d give them a few weeks to kick in, then call your doctor if things aren’t significantly better. (Mention "crippling insomnia" and "persistent worries" to get them to take you seriously.)

Here’s something really interesting I read in Erica Lyon’s The Big Book of Birth (I have a review copy, so I don’t know if my page number would be helpful, but it’s in the last paragraph of the "Massage" section in Chapter 4):

a recent study showed that if a partner massaged a new mother for fifteen minutes a day it is as effective (!) as medication for moderate postpartum depression.

I think it’s probably a combination of feeling taken care of by someone else and the way massage helps your body regulate itself (the same way getting regular massages helps you fight off colds better in the winter). But if you have a partner or friend who would be willing to massage you for 15 minutes every day, it might help regulate your system, too.

So. Yeah. It’s a problem, but you’re not a freak because it’s not that unusual (unfortunately), and it’s treatable.

Anyone want to share? Bizarre fears you had when your babies were little? The most sobbingly cruel episode of "I finally got this child to sleep and now I can’t fall asleep myself" you can remember? What you’re wearing today? (It’s supposed to be gorgeous and sunny here in NYC on Monday, so I’ll probably be wearing a red-and-white patterned wrap dress and red slingbacks to work.)


* By the North American phrase "pissed off," meaning angry, not "pissed" meaning drunk, which would undoubtedly be more pleasant.

** Hey, I still have no idea what the deal is with flax seed oil, whether it’s completely safe for all of us, or not so great for fetuses but fine for post-partum moms, or whatever. I’m still tempting fate by taking it, but know that I’m not a doctor or nutritionist and am not recommending it specifically so take it at your own risk.

Reader call: stealth health for your family

Katie writes:

"I have used flax oil in the past – as liquid and capsule form.  I just started with the meal (ground flax seeds) mixed in with a little applesauce in the morning.  I want to start my kids on it but wondered about the dose.  I take 2T a day but wonder if that is too much for them.  My daughter is 3.5 and son is 1 year. Any suggestions? Also what else should I include in their meals that I can slip under the radar. I mix in veggies when I can but wondered about supplements. I want to try the same for my husband."

I don’t think you can overdose on flax seed oil (there are studies done with super mega-doses with only positive effects), but too much oil or seed might affect a person’s bowels. I think it would have to be way more than 2 tablespoons, though, even for a kid. I don’t know if you could get a full 2T into a one-year-old, though, since they have such fickle eating habits and tend to pick at a bunch of things, or inhale something one day and then reject it outright the next day. So I’d just say to try to get it into them and don’t worry about overdosing, but don’t be surprised if the baby won’t eat enough applesauce to get in all the ground flax seed.

If you do notice loose stools, just cut back on the flax seed and it’ll work itself out.

A note about flax seed and flax seed oil: It loses its beneficial effects if it’s heated, so don’t cook with it or bake with it. (If you bake with flax seeds you’ll still get the fiber, so it’s not a total wash, but the fatty acids are destroyed.) And you have to grind the flax seeds (or buy it preground like Barleans) or else your body can’t get the oils from them and they just pass through you undigested.

I’ve been trying to think of other things you could slip in so your family won’t notice them. I don’t have a ton of practice with this. I do slip in rolled oats (the 5-minute kind) for extra fiber whenever I bake something, I sometimes put cooked pumpkin in chocolate chip cookies (sounds gross but is really delicious and makes them moist), and I’m notorious for putting beans into too many meals, but that’s about it. I’d ask my mother, but she was never any good at slipping things in without our knowledge. (During her health food days she’d just expect us to happily eat her disgusting concoctions. Finally we just flat-out refused to eat any more carob or brussels sprouts.)

Someone out there has to be good at slipping in healthy things without anyone noticing. Any ideas?

Supplements for Pregnancy and Postpartum

Updated September 2006:

Hold off on the flax seed oil! There is some new evidence that flax seed oil may affect estrogen levels in some people, and no one seems to know exactly what that means yet. To be on the safe side, I’d switch to fish oil (not cod liver oil–too high in Vitamin A) until we get some more definitive answers about the flax seed.

I get a lot of email asking me about supplements I recommend for pregnancy and postpartum, particularly flax seed fish oil.

Remember: I am not a doctor. I am a medical hobbyist, and I tend to err on the side of not taking anything unless it’s really serious (I’ve been working on the same small bottle of ibuprofin for about 5 years). So that means my list of recommended supplements is not that long. I do not recommend anything that isn’t generally recognized as safe, but if you have any doubts, ask your midwife or doctor what she thinks about it.


1. Your prenatal vitamin. Duh, of course. But don’t freak out if you can’t keep it down or just forget to take it a lot sometimes. All the research shows that it’s more important to take a vitamin and/or have a balanced diet in the months before you get pregnant. The baby takes from your body’s stores, so you can still have a healthy baby even if you get hyperemesis and can’t keep anything down for months. But you’ll have more energy and you’ll recover faster from the pregnancy and delivery if you can take your vitamin somewhat regularly.

2. Flax seed oil or fish oil. Taking an Omega 3 supplement prevents or eases pregnancy constipation, which alone is enough reason to take it IME. But taking flax seed or fish oil during pregnancy can also make your baby sleep better for the first few months postpartum. (The abstract to back that up is here. Thanks, Amy.) Consumption of flax seed oil can also prevent or alleviate depression, which is the unspoken symptom of pregnancy. I don’t know how great the effect of the flax seed oil is on pregnancy-specific depression. Anecdotally, I was severely depressed during my first pregnancy (no flax seed oil) and only mildly depressed during my second pregnancy (with flax seed oil). There is also evidence that supplementing with flax seed oil or fish oil can prevent some types of premature birth (scroll down to "Omega-3s for Longer Gestation".

What’s the difference between flax seed oil and fish oil? I don’t think there is one in terms of results. But fish oil can give you vile burps (which some people say is alleviated by taking the capsules frozen or by taking them right before bed). Personally, I don’t even want to think about fish burps, so I take flax seed oil capsules. If fish oil doesn’t make you burp, feel free to take that instead. The dosage is 2-3 1,000 mg capsules a day (all together or separated, however you can remember to take it).

3. Chocolate. Eat chocolate. Please, for the sake of the children. The children! (FWIW, I absolutely disagree with Nigel Denby.)


1. Flax seed fish oil. If you thought it was great during pregnancy, you’ll be even more impressed with what it does in the postpartum period. It continues to keep you regular (v. v. important in the first few days postpartum). It continues to prevent depression (one movement in research on post partum depression thinks that PPD is caused by a lack of Omega 3s in the maternal brain because the Omega 3s are depleted during pregnancy to go to the baby). It prevents plugged milk ducts (so does lecithin, but why not take something that will prevent plugged ducts and PPD at the same time?). It will also keep your hairy shiny and your nails strong, and keep your cholesterol low.

Ther’s no official dosage, so I just stick with 3,000 mg a day. If I skip a few days, I start to feel a little blue and a little plugged-ducty.

For more info on Omega 3s and amino acids in mood disorders (depression and bi-polar disorder in particular) check out Julia Ross’s excellent books The Mood Cure and The Diet Cure.

If you are here because you have post-partum depression, please talk to your partner and your health-care provider. Flax seed fish oil capsules, regular exercise, and talking to friends can prevent PPD and cure mild PPD, but if you are having thoughts that you want to hurt someone (like yourself or your baby) or that you need to run away or that you are not worthy of being a mother, you have an illness that can be treated. It is not your fault. Don’t try to "fix it" yourself. Tell your partner or a friend and they will help you get help. If you can’t tell anyone in your real life, email me and I’ll help you find someone near you to help you. You are the perfect mother for your baby, and you have a normal, easily-treatable illness. You won’t have to stop nursing to get it treated, either.

2. Lots and lots of water. It flushes the excess fluids from your system and makes the swelling go down faster. It helps your body heal. It helps you make milk. It helps prevent constipation. It prevents fatigue. Make sure there’s a bottle of water at your nursing station at all times. Water Duty is a great job for someone who wants to help you during the first week or so, but doesn’t know exactly what to do (like a partner or MIL who has no experience with breastfeeding). Water Duty = making sure you always have a glass/bottle of water and a one-handed snack, and holding the baby while you go to the bathroom.

3. Oatmeal. No one is exactly sure why, but oatmeal increases your milk production. A bowl or two a day should help turn you into a fine dairy cow, and it helps keep you regular.

4. Your prenatal vitamin. Keep taking it to rebuild your body’s stores so you’ll have more energy and recover faster.

5. Chocolate. Helps stabilize mood, at least for me.

If you are nursing, stay away from mint in any form and red wine for the first few weeks. They inhibit milk production, so you don’t want to ingest them until your supply is well-established.

As I said, I’m low-intervention, so the list is not that long. If you only do two things today, take your flax seed fish oil capsules and eat some chocolate.