Saturday, April 25, 2015

Trusting Birth?

"I am having a home birth with just my husband. I am so excited to have it just the people there when the baby was conceived. I trust birth."

The swirling juices in my stomach threatened to overflow into my mouth as I overheard this statement. I struggled to keep my knees steady, even as the room swirled around me. "It is not my business. It is not my circus, not my monkeys." I reminded myself as I maintained my composure and sought to keep smiling.      

Why such a strong response to a simple statement?

Home is a peaceful place to give birth. 
I personally love home birth. It can be one of the safest places to give birth with a trained care provider. 
It can also be the cause of PTSD, which is what the statement above triggered for me. 
I had two unassisted home births. As I stated, I love home birth. I was naive and frankly to be honest, stubborn in my ideal that it was normal to give birth. Why did I need anyone else to help me? 

I have observed, as a doula many births now. I know that not all unassisted births will have trauma related to them. But the statement "I trust birth." can make a mom that has experienced trauma feel like a lesser person. "Birth" this entity has somehow forsaken her and let her down. 

Our bodies were created to give birth. However, in this world, there are many variables that can cause a birth to not go according to plan. A baby may somehow not be in the optimal position. Nutritional intake may not be ideal. Small things which are often discussed at prenatal appointments will often be missed when a woman participates in "Freebirthing", "Unassisted Birthing" or "Unattended Birthing". 

This is where a midwife can come in. 

A midwife should not be a last resort, or looked at as an unnecessary expense. 
While often I have heard the complaint when they just go in and do the same thing every prenatal appointment and they never have any red flags. "Why should I bother? Can't I skip one or two? Is this really needed?" If you have nothing they are catching, that is a good thing. It is often because you are doing regular prenatal care that you are doing okay. The small tips the midwife or OB gives you, those prevent problems if you listen to them. 

I figured that since I was educated, I could do my own prenatal care. I took my blood pressure, checked my urine, measured my uterus. I couldn't listen to the heart beat, but if I had had the equipment, I would have done that as well. The problem was, I missed some major components of the whole idea behind having a trained care provider. I was well educated, but I missed what extent my hyperemesis had on my long term health. My lack of nutrition was apparent in my complications postpartum and in my babies. After my second son, at five months of age, I broke my foot. The bone refused to heal from the high demands I had put on my body. When I gave birth, my skin was fragile and shredded was a nice term as to what happened to my perineum. It was linked to the lack of nutrition and prenatal care. 

You would think some of those things were common sense, but when you are pregnant, your mind is elsewhere. I struggled, in spite of all my learning and knowledge to follow what I knew was right. 

I never want to swallow bile because I am relieving my birth experience again at the words of another. 
I share this story with you as privacy was important to me. I longed to be alone while giving birth. However, I learned that a great, trained care provider can give you that same atmosphere, while at the same time helping provide a protection if an emergency occurs. 

No one should have to live with the aftermath that I did. 
Be wise in your choices. Listen to the experiences of others to protect yourself. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Making Educated Choices

We often speak on making educated choices in pregnancy. What does this really mean?

We all know that parenting, pregnancy and anything related involves a myriad of options that face us. From the moment we see the positive pregnancy test, the options are slamming us in the face. <p>

Doctor or Midwife? <p>

Early Ultrasound or skip it? <p>

Unassisted Birth, Home Birth, Birth Center, Hospital? <p>

And the tasks, tests, decisions are laid out for us as we travel down this new path. And, although I hate to be the one to tell you, the decisions do not stop with the birth of your child.

Before you know it, you feel like you have been through a butter churn. You have some nausea (likely from the new pregnancy), but also from the pressure surrounding you on all sides.

So, how do you make an educated decision?  Search the internet? Talk to your friends?

First, tread carefully. Too much info can be overwhelming. Start with determining what you think you want. Write it down.

Secondly, find a care provider you can trust. This is essential. OB/Gyn's, Midwives and other care providers go to school to learn about pregnancy and there are some amazing ones out there. They can help guide you to the right sources often.  The key is finding one you click with. When choosing a good care provider, you want to find some check lists that line up with what you want, what you think you want and then what you actually want! Clear as mud?

Yes, pretty much. 

When you are writing out and interviewing, often you will actually discover what it is you really want. The education process can be a hard one. When you visit your care provider you have chosen and she casually mentions that she prefers that all women get epidurals. She finds that it is less barbaric. You quirk an eyebrow, as you really would like a natural childbirth if possible. She laughs at you and says "That is what you think now!"

You go home, confused and wondering if you are totally off on even trying for a natural childbirth, and you are only 6 weeks pregnant. 
This may not be the provider for you. 
A provider and you may take time to click, but if they disregard your thoughts from the beginning, this is not a good sign. It tells you that you feel that working towards natural childbirth is important to you  and you want a provider that will listen and educate. If the provider explained, offered info on pain management in labor, and choosing natural childbirth, that would be having the option to make an educated choice.

This is only the beginning of making educated choices. A doula can really help you as well, guiding you to the right places to find the education you need. The support a doula can offer while walking through the process can make it feel like you are in the driver's seat throughout, instead of along for the ride.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Judgement or Education? Are we all being too sensitive?

We have all seen the posts on different topics relating to mothering. The ones about mothers that feed their babies formula, and feel judged by breastfeeding mothers.

There are the posts about natural birth, parenting, co-sleeping, tummy sleeping, and parents that defend their choice from everything and anything.

If a person says anything, even in a kind way, certain parents tend to take offense. Instead of perhaps evaluating the concern, seeing it was not something you need to be worried about and letting it go, we seem to easily take offense these days.

Oh, I know. I know there are rabid people out there that will jump down your throat for small things, especially online. I think it is especially good to remember that not everyone that says something is that way.

  1. Listen to the comment. Is this a comment that could possibly be helpful to you? Is it simply an ignorant statement from someone that does not know your circumstances? If so,  smile politely, thank them for their concern and move past it. There is no need to lambast them online or judge them in return. They may have though they were doing what was best. We also do not know their circumstances that led them to comment.  For the purpose of example… Greta was a new mom. She told her support team and her friends she desired to breastfeed. They knew this and supported her in her goals. However, when they observed some choices she was making with her new baby, they were unsure of what to do. A) Mention them to Greta so that breastfeeding could possibly still be successful, or B) Ignore it until she came to them for advice.  This is a hard choice as sometimes, as a support team, care providers or even casual friends, you can see things a mom cannot. There are sometimes simple things you can fix that can make the breastfeeding relationship that much harder or that much easier.  When the friends and support team chose the B option, Greta did come to her friends when her baby was 8 weeks old. She was suffering from guilt and mild PPD after believing her body let her down and she was unable to breastfeed her baby. Her friends felt guilty as maybe they could have prevented it, and Greta said "Why didn't you tell me? I would have loved to try everything I could have." Another option would be they chose option A. They let her know some simple things she could change. Greta became defensive, and cut off communication, believing they were judging her for her choices. She was secretly disappointed that breastfeeding did not go well, but instead read some of the articles about judgmental moms, friends, and medical provider and chose to focus on that instead. When she struggled with mild PPD later, she had no one she felt comfortable to turn to and wondered why life was so lonely, but figured she just needed to make new friends that could support her choice not to breastfeed.   There are a million variations that could have happened with either choice, but in both cases, Greta had the same results, but in both, she felt she lacked support. Did she lack support or did she choose to not be educated? Her friends in option A, were not trying to be unsupportive, in fact, they were trying to support what she had told them was her desire. Top that off with strong hormones and you have to realize that when you feel offended by an opinion that may be given to you. Stop. Process. Evaluate. And lastly…Educate Yourself. See if what they are saying could be true. If it is not, toss it out and move on. If it is, thank them and see what you can do about it. We as moms need support, and sometimes we reject the closest support to us because of hormonal issues. 

2. Educate yourself on topics. This does not mean reading a vast number of blogs written by Mommy bloggers. It usually means, ask your care provider, doula, support people whom you trust, whom they recommend. Here are a few that are reputable for information.                        
Kelly Mom                                                                                                                         

 LactMed- This one is good if you want to double check on a medication safety for breastfeeding.   

American Pregnancy                                                                                                             

 Naturally Born This is a good one to go and ask questions and search for articles.          


There are many more, but use wisdom! Check out the list of books at the bottom of this page for more places for education. Remember before taking any advice from any online source, including this one, check with your care provider for your own personal safety.

3.  Let it go!!  Yeah, I know. That is overused, but really, don't hold it against your mother in law that she recommended using baby food at 2 months old, but thank her and let it go. If she insists, let her know the doctor did not recommend it. 

If a friend insists that you must have not done enough to try breastfeeding and you know you did, let it go. Don't try to convince her. She may have something that makes her believe that, and you likely are not going to convince her. 

Be educated and convinced in your own mind, but also, don't think automatically she is judging you. Remember most people if they are in your life, generally have your best in mind. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Some great weekend posts to check out

This post was interesting. It had some points that were good, but also remember to use the ladder approach with refusal. There are good reasons for interventions at times.
Labor, Delivery, and Saying "No"- 5 more interventions We refuse

I found this post contained some fascinating info on why heavier babies do better in school later. I think that it might have more to do with full term babies, than their weight though.
Heavier Babies do Better in School

We all know choosing a birth control that is right for us is tough! See how likely it is that your birth control may let you down.

How likely is it your birth control will let you down?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

When natural is not the best…how do I plan?

Often women that desire a natural birth plan the dickens out of their births. Some women keep it simple, and have some perspective, but others hold their birth plan up as the absolute gold standard by which their birth is made.

 I find that often when a client is writing up a birth plan, you should keep it short, to the point, covering the important things, but also realize this is more for you. It is a reminder for you more than anyone to be able to remember your plans and desires.

 But, what if your naturally planned birth doesn't go as planned? Babies and pregnancy is unpredictable, and often little things happen that require an intervention. Does this mean your birth plan is useless? I would answer and say no, if you have following my recommendations.

When you write up your birth plan, most women that are planning a natural birth include that they want a Hep-lock instead of an I.V. What happens if that I.V is needed? Does that mean you throw out the whole plan?

An I.V is needed in the case of an epidural, or a c-section to get enough fluids to prevent your blood pressure from dropping too low and in the case of blood loss at times. However, if you are not to that step yet, it is okay to ask to wait an hour or two, to decide on that, even when you feel you need an intervention.

I believe there is a tendency to try to feel like everything needs to be decided right now. Then when you do decide to go ahead with an intervention,  if it is not an emergency, often hospitals do not move very quickly. You are left with a lot of time to think about your decision.

In the case where you are faced with an unplanned c-section, I would really advise everyone to write out a short plan on c-sections.

For example, if you have a doula, talk to the care provider about having your doula in the c-section with you. It can make a huge difference in your mental recovery if you have support from more than just your husband in a c-section. Often, first it is scary to be taken to a surgical room, treated suddenly like a surgical patient, rather than them listening to your needs and you need someone that is focused on you and not the baby, (which your husband will be focused on the baby).

They can talk you through it, what is happening and stay with you if there is a problem with the baby. Sometimes, when things go awry, it seems like there is a higher likelihood of something happening with the baby, where they need to be separated from you. This can be really scary for a mom that is strapped down to a table, your husband walks across the room to be with the baby and is trying to tell you what is going on, but his mouth is covered by a mask and you don't know what he is saying. The panic sets in and complications can occur.

Many surgeons do not think about this. They are surgeons for a reason. They often like their patients sedated and do not think of their mental health in a surgery. For this reason, you need to plan ahead. Plan for support if you think there is a possibility of surgery, confirm and discuss with the care provider ahead of time that you will be having an extra support person. If they talk about how they only allow one person, there is not room etc. etc. You will need to push a bit. They allow students in surgeries all the time. They are generally concerned about liability if someone passes out. Make sure your support person is skilled and has attended surgery before, and has no history of fainting.

I have worked in different hospitals and found it curious that the one that is touted as the most "natural" has the worst policies as far as doulas and c-sections. It was as if they were naturally minded until you needed intervention and then they threw out all of that, and figured it was all a moot point.

I am going to be working on some education on that for the community benefit, but I am not exactly sure how it will happen.

For you, remember natural birth or not, if you educate yourself on all the options, give yourself the chance to make the decision, you will feel better about your choices. If you feel like you are simple taking their word for it, you will be feeling more out of control with your decisions.

Stay in charge of your birth, interventions or not. If they have a policy against something, educate yourself on those ahead of time.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

What do all the titles mean? CIO, AP, etc? What is the Big Deal???

If you are a mother now, you will soon realize that there are all sorts of debates, here or there that many mothers get into. Most mothers want what is best for their babies. But there are some that will go by what their mother taught them, they read in a book or on the internet and ignore any new research. Why? It worked for their relatives, the book people and plus, it sounds great.

This could pertain to anything from baby wearing to breastfeeding. I heard one mom claim that attachment parenting was a fad, a new fad, in fact. She was actually using biblical reasons for forgoing this "fad".

I would love to actually discuss and bring to the forefront that actually, some of the other parenting methods are the fads. The key components of attachment parenting have been around long before this century. I think that the idea AP is coming back around is more because it is what was done and is still done in many countries around the world. I used to stare at the foreign women that lived in the city, where I lived, trying to figure out how they kept that young child on their backs. I worked hard, outside on a piece of land, and had no place to set my baby down that was safe and longed for a way to safely wear him, just to keep him safe.

Baby wearing has been around since bible times. So has bed sharing. If you go to any historical forts and look at their sleeping arrangements, you will find that most pioneers and in history people were not as finicky about room and bed sharing as we are as spoiled Americans that believe we "need" our privacy. It didn't effect their marriage relationships too much. I think they had to use their imaginations a bit more. I have been in old cabins where there was one bed, very large bed above the oven for the whole family. Sometimes that included the grandparents as well.

This is not a fad. Much of it is going back to the roots of society.

However, I believe that above all, you need to make sure to check your heart in all things. But just because you have a wrong heart attitude about something, doesn't make it something wrong to do. I remember a mother telling me that she felt sewing had become an idol for her, so she was going to stop doing it. At that time, their family had no money, she had boxes of fabric and her children were wearing very worn out clothes. She chose to let them wear the worn clothing because she felt she had to give up her idol of sewing. I struggled with being obsessed with cooking. I remember thinking about it when my friend gave up sewing that perhaps I should step back from cooking. I immediately checked myself! I needed to change my heart attitude, not what I was doing. The same with attachment parenting...which was named by modern society. If your heart is not right about it, change it. But it doesn't make the actions of it wrong.

You want to battle it out?

There are plenty of mothers that will battle it out for you! Put 'em up!

Sleep training and the actual definition of the term "Cry-it-out" can bring up a lot of interesting thoughts. In 1985, Dr. Richard Ferber wrote a book about getting your babies to sleep. New mothers loved some of his ideas as it was formed to give them more sleep. His idea was that you can teach your babies to soothe themselves to sleep, rather than the traditional rocking the baby to sleep. This article from BabyCenter explains some of the ideas contained in the book. Here is another article by the author himself...The Truth about Ferberizing

Society was changing from the '70's where it went to some of the earth loving, peace loving, freedom society and parents were realizing that they were having to work two jobs, mothers didn't have time to cook, rock babies and they just were mostly too busy for it all. Ferberizing gave them the freedom to lay down the baby, ignore it, check to make sure he was okay occasionally, but mostly, you let the baby cry until he realized you were not coming for him, he gave up and went to sleep. This method is portrayed to work on every child, if done right.

However, Dr. Ferber has said that he did not agree with this (letting the child cry to no end). But still, much of what is in his book is still widely used by parents today, usually the ones that are sleep deprived, but occasionally, the selfish parent that is just done with the child.

I discovered in my research that some of Dr. Ferber's ideas were actually based on a book from the late 1800's. It is available on Gutenburg for free, if you are interested in reading it. The Care and Feeding of Children by L. Emmett Holt, M.D., LL.D.

The book is very interesting, but most of us would shudder in horror at what was advanced thinking at that time in child care and feeding. Yet, he was trying to encourage society for the best. This was addressing a more formal society, not the tribeswoman or pioneers that wore their babies, slept in a common room and breastfeeding was just second nature.

Many people will look back on past methods and claim "Those babies survived. My grandparents survived drinking cows milk at the age of 3 months, being aired outside in cages, and the like. Why can we say that it is not healthy now?" We have to look at the statistics as well. Infant mortality was much higher as well with this type of diets. Women gave birth to babies that were smaller, had faster deliveries often, but also lost a lot of children. It is common to also read books and families would have 2-4 living children, but gave birth to 8-10.

This is a book on infant mortality as far as it related to the occupation of the mother. Infant Mortality and It's relation to the employment of mothers.

If you read book that was by Jennifer Worth, the woman that wrote the books which inspired the "Call the Midwife" TV series. The books detail in very clear pictures, the issues that faced society, not all that long ago, where they were pushing some of the regimented schedules, feedings, and lack of care that women and children faced.

When we are evaluating a parenting style for ourself or others, let's be careful to look at a complete picture. Are we moving forward or going backward? Are we simply cycling around? Is baby-wearing a fad or something that promotes healthier babies for convenience?

When we seek info on a parenting decision, do we simply look to the internet for opinion based posts, or do we look to science based posts? Do we evaluate our decision based on society or what is really best for our own individual child?

Be careful not to parent through emotion, religious ideals or even sleep deprivation. Make sure to evaluate daily what we are doing for our children as they grow.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Our Uterus- a Misunderstood Muscle

A uterus is a muscle. We all know if we know the muscular system that muscles need many things. If we do not take work our arm muscles, how long does it take them to get flabby? Not too long, huh? Uteruses are not as easy to work out either.

You may have a uterus that clamps down one baby and then because of many factors may not the next. Those factors include interventions as well as nutrition.

#1- They need to be fed. Protein feeds muscles, as well as other things that supply good nutrients to your muscles. Iron is a big one of these factors as well as calcium and magnesium.

#2- They need to be exercised and not over the top exercised or under exercised. This is the balance that is hard to find. Often artificial oxytocin will hyper-stimulate a uterus, which makes it unable to clamp down. This can also happen naturally too. A uterus after a hard labor, too many herbs someone took or other things can cause a uterus to be hypertonic. That is why something that is gentle can sometimes be recommended by doctors, midwives etc. to help uteruses stay healthy. Also, a uterus that stretched out, then never has had the chance to reduce in size, heal and begins stretching out again is more likely to struggle. (This would likely be the worry for you, Laura, since your babies are close in age).

#3- Uteruses need support after birth; they look like a heavy ball of muscle, hanging limply on ligaments in your pelvic area. When you are lying down, those ligaments tighten; the contractions of the uterine walls tighten and reduce it in size. When after birth, we stand for long periods of time, especially the first two weeks, sometimes we stretch out those ligaments, cause the uterus to not be able to go back to it's original size and struggle all the way around. Then if you get pregnant in the first 5-6 months PP, before it has had a 9-month healing time, you uterus can struggle.

Something else is hormone level. This can affect things with the uterus as well. If your hormone levels are not right you may not produce normal amounts of oxytocin on your own, or sometimes the baby is struggling to produce it.

Another big one is not your uterus as well, but your pelvic floor. If your pelvic floor is weak, when your uterus contracts, it sort of has a smooth pushing down motion and pushes against the pelvic floor.

I think though, sometimes you can do all you can, and some people just have a weaker uterine muscle than others. That is something you have to be thankful that we have artificial medications to force it to comply.

So, what is a good calcium and magnesium supplement? It differs for everyone. One that I find easy to take and many clients enjoy as well is Lifetime Liquid calcium. I prefer the strawberry flavor, but it comes in a variety of flavors. Vitacost has it for a fairly reasonable cost. Here is a link that as a referral will give you $10 off your first order! Here is a direct link to the calcium Liquid Calcium and magnesium- Strawberry

Where can you go to find pelvic floor exercises? That varies, but there are some online resources available. This website offers some great exercise routines. I have not researched to see what they have available for pelvic floor exercises yet though.

These websites talk about for helping with bladder control issues, but it is the same muscles that help support the pelvic floor. They are easy and cheap to do.

And another one.... I hope these resources are helpful for you!