Friday, December 28, 2012

The Risk of Unassisted or Unattended birth

The Risk of Unassisted Birth By Martha Artyomenko

Peace. Intimacy. Family Togetherness. This sounds like the ideal picture of what your dream birth could be. When you are researching and choosing this way to give birth, you may know someone that had a beautiful birth story they share with you on how peaceful and lovely it was, having an unattended birth. There was no medical interference and they raved about it. You think back on previous births and think perhaps that the midwife/doctor didn’t actually do that much. Maybe you barely made it to the hospital before the baby was born or the baby came so fast, the midwife or doctor missed the birth altogether.

The stories you do not hear as frequently are the stories with the poor outcomes. They really are often seen as scare tactics or simply something that happens to other people and not you. Imagine that peaceful scene, laboring quietly with your husband, suddenly becoming as busy as an accident scene, complete with ambulances, EMT’s, and police. That is not what anyone wants for her birthing scene, but while birth is a normal and natural process, it is also one that carries risk. Women, without the medical inventions that even home birth midwives utilize, often have a higher risk of waiting until they are beyond minimal intervention and instead run the risk of serious medical intervention. These stories below are fictitious, but could be true based on true stories that I know.

Penny was planning a hospital birth. She has received prenatal care from a local OB, but the OB is not satisfying her need for hands off care. She makes the decision to just gather a few supplies and wait at home until the last minute before heading to the hospital, hoping to actually have the baby before heading to the hospital or be on the cusp when she arrived. “Women have been doing this for generations! I have had 3 healthy babies that I had no issues with, why would this one be different?” Penny goes into labor and when she starts to notice a lot of pressure below, decides to head to the hospital. Arriving, she gives birth to a healthy baby boy 5 minutes later. She starts to question the need for any kind of care during labor. It had been so peaceful at home; she could easily just buy some supplies and have her husband help her next time. Pregnant for the 5th time, a year later, she decides to plan infrequent prenatal visits to a local midwife, and lets her know that she is not planning on using her for the delivery. While the midwife warns her of the risks, she shrugs her shoulders. “How risky can it actually be?” she asks her husband. “ I almost did it before without anyone, why would this be different?” She enjoys the hands off approach and when the time comes to give birth, she gives birth in her bedroom, kneeling next to her bed. Everything was beautiful. She notices when she goes to the bathroom that there is a lot of blood. She couldn’t remember if that was normal or not, but sits down and rests with her baby. She feels a little shaky and asks for some food. She wonders if she should call the midwife and finally does, but is not even able to recall why she was worried. Her tongue feels thick and hard to speak. Her husband speaks to the midwife, whom encourages him to call an ambulance. When the ambulance arrives, she has already lost a lot of blood. They did have the correct medications to stop a hemorrhage on board the ambulance and rush her to the hospital, while hydrating her with an I.V. She comes back home, weakened from her severe blood loss, highly anemic and works for months to regain her strength. She struggles with breastfeeding because of the traumatic start and wonders why her body failed her. She would have been more of a woman if she could have done it without anyone, right?

Alice has had her previous babies at home with a midwife. She has had no complications, but resents the amount of payment she has to pay to the midwife. She is well informed, researches everything widely and feels that she is almost as educated as her midwife. She prepares her house for birth, and while, she knows that there can be emergencies, she has not experienced one. She decides that her husband and her will deliver this one and they commence on reading up more on the topic. She asks her husband to read Emergency childbirth and when she goes into labor, all is peaceful and well. The labor is longer than normal, she listens to the heartbeat sometimes with the Doppler she bought off of eBay and thinks everything is fine. “Isn’t this nice?” she comments to her husband. “Just the way God created it to be, with just you and I.” When the pushing stage comes, something feels weird and as the baby is born, they realize that the baby is not in a good position. They try multiple things, attempting to get the baby to come down and out, but she is so tired, she cannot remember what her midwife used to do in that situation. Her husband is starting to worry and talking about the hospital. There is green fluid appearing now, and she remembers that was not a good sign. She talks herself into pushing the baby out and with some mighty pushes; the baby is born. She is limp and unresponsive, and finally with much stimulation, gives some weak cries. Her color is bad, and her husband calls the ambulance. The baby is whisked away, leaving the mother alone at home. She follows shortly in a car, to find out upon examination, she has torn quite badly. “I had no idea! I thought it was supposed to hurt awhile after having a baby.” She exclaims to the doctors. The baby is struggling to breathe and has to spend 2 weeks in the hospital for meconium aspiration and an infection. She is thankful when she gets to take her home, but has to wonder to herself if she had the midwife there, letting her know, maybe they could have prevented this.

As I said previously, these stories are fictitious. They are based on many, many true stories of things that happen in birth, labor and delivery. Home birth is a wonderful thing for a low risk mother. Statistics have not proven it unsafe under the right criteria, but without a trained professional to recognize the signs that something is going downhill and the need for the transfer for care, things can go badly in a matter of minutes. You may choose to have an unassisted birth and it may go swimmingly for you. You may also choose to have a birth assisted by a doctor or midwife and have complications. There are things that happen with both, but while there are not many studies done on the difference between unassisted birth and midwife-assisted homebirth, the informal studies prove that there are more complications with unassisted birth because of not recognizing simple things before they turn into major issues.

When you are deciding your birth strategy, please consider the risks you are taking as well as the overall risk you are taking in endangering the legality of homebirth as well. Licensed midwives fight for your right to give birth where you choose, but that does mean they have protocols to follow to make it as safe as possible. When you operate outside those perimeters, you are adding a risk to your home birth to begin with, adding the lack of a care giver with proper equipment, can lead to an experience that both of you can regret. The statistics are not readily available to us because of the nature of this, often unassisted births are not reported as such, but in informal survey’s the risks of having an attended home birth with trained professionals versus an unattended home birth without extra hands of any kind or even with a person that believes they have knowledge of birth attending are so vastly different they should be in a whole separate category.

Please consider before choosing to have an unassisted birth the repercussions if something does go wrong, and ask yourself if the risk is worth it. Ask yourself why you truly desire this for yourself and if there are other options available, why you shouldn’t use them.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

When your plans go awry...

This birth story shared below...(with the author's permission) is a story that many would wonder why I would want to share it. I share this story because even with the best laid plans, sometimes it can become medically necessary to have interventions. I want to share this story with you to encourage you that you can overcome obstacles and as the author of the story shares, breastfeed twins even after a rough start! Photobucket The Birth story Well, I have finally typed out my birth story! Many of you have requested it, and I too have been anxious to share it. As I have shared before, it will be long and detailed, but I thank you for taking the time to read it. So get some coffee, tea, hot chocolate, or your favorite beverage with a treat or snack of your choice, and enjoy as you read 7 pages that have become one of the chapters of the story of my life.

As most of you know, I had planned out a natural water birth at home. Before I even met my husband, I knew I wanted a homebirth. This was also something we discussed as we got to know each other, and we were both in agreement. So when I got pregnant, it was our goal to go all natural and have our babies in our home with our midwife. The pregnancy was going well, and even after we found out we were having twins, I still planned to have them at home, even though people were trying to convince me otherwise. If no problems presented themselves…this was my dream. I tried SO hard to do everything right during my pregnancy. However, towards the end, things got more and more difficult. My midwife was beginning to get concerned that I was forming symptoms of toxemia. We were all confused though, because I had no swelling and many of the other symptoms were non-existent. As we got to the very last two weeks, my urine tests revealed that there was protein. I continued to try so hard to eat well and consume everything I was supposed to. I was determined to keep my babes healthy and have the natural birth I desired. It began to get beyond my control though, because one of the mornings as I fixed up my routine protein shake and drank it, I felt this sudden urge to throw it back up…and I did. My protein intake each day was to be 150 grams…and that was VERY hard. The next day, my shake again came back up, but that day I formed a headache that would not go away, and my blood pressure was high as well. My mom and my Mother-in-law called my midwife to share their concerns…and it very much concerned her also. They called my husband at work and he literally took the rest of the day off to come and see how I was doing. Evidently I was progressively getting sicker and sicker…and I didn’t know it…or maybe I just refused accept it. I don’t know. My husband was talking with my midwife on the phone, and gave the phone to me. I tried to convince her that I was fine, and that nothing was wrong. I was sure I was going to go into labor any time. Then she told me something that still rings in my ears today, “Rachelle…I want you to go and get blood work done. That will reveal if you have toxemia or not. I know this is not what you wanted, and it’s not what I wanted for you. I know that you’ve tried so hard to do everything correctly, but sometimes God has other plans.” I said, “When do you want me to get my blood work done?” She replied, “Today!” This really scared me, because it was already late afternoon, and I was still pretty sick. She once again told me, “I know that you don’t want to hear that, but we need to think of your babies and their safety…they come first .” My husband had previously called one of my cousins who worked at St. Luke’s Hospital in Sioux City. She was very kind and called up one of her friends that worked there and made arrangements for me to get in right away and get all the blood work done. Her friend even had the day off…and she still came in to help me. Before my midwife got off the phone she told me, “Rachelle, you and your husband need to pray, and then you must do what your husband feels is necessary.” I got off the phone and literally cried. My husband drew me to the couch and with his arms around me, tried to comfort me. I said, “I’ve tried so hard…I’ve made it so far!!! What have I done wrong?! I feel like an utter failure!” I cried and cried. We prayed, and then started packing our bags to head to St. Luke’s Hospital. I had no idea what all would be taking place. I was an emotional wreck…and terrified. It was a rainy day and very gloomy…and that did not help things at all. I mustered up the strength I had left, and packed my bag. I asked my husband, “Do you think we’ll have to stay overnight in the hospital?!” The very thought depressed me. I was hoping for the best, and that nothing was wrong with me after all.

My Mother-in-law and my husband and I packed the van and headed off. Over the radio, the song, “Hold My Heart” by Tenth Avenue North, started to play. Here’s the link if you’re interested:

I listened to it closely as tears rolled down my cheeks. The most meaningful lines to me were the following: (As it was raining) One tear in the dropping rain; One voice in a sea of pain; Could the Maker of the stars; Hear the sound of my breaking heart?

(Just my general feelings at that moment)

I've been so afraid, afraid to close my eyes. So much can slip away before I say goodbye. (More this next part) But if there's no other way, I'm done asking why!

(Another general feeling at that moment) So many questions without answers; Your promises remain. I can't see but I'll take my chances, To hear You call my name.

We arrived at the hospital 1 ½ hours later and we were immediately directed to a room where they had me put on a hospital gown and got me ready for everything else. My blood pressure was taken, and she was quite concerned. I tried to tell her that I had “white coat syndrome”….obviously I really didn’t think anything was wrong with me. She told me that my blood pressure was beyond anything that would be considered the white coat syndrome! They took a sample of my blood and within just minutes it came back and I did indeed have toxemia. The protein in my urine was at 700. My heart dropped….my dreams of a natural birth at home were clashing all around me and I didn’t quite know how to respond or what to think. It really all happened so fast! Soon I was lying on the bed, and they were bringing an ultrasound into the room to make sure that I could deliver vaginally. I was informed by my midwife that Baby A was head down and it would be possible. They got me hooked up to the machine, and within seconds we were seeing our fully developed babies! They said that Baby B had a wonderful heart rate!! However, they said that Baby A’s heart rate could be better. Now as a mother, YOU NEVER want to hear those words! I immediately panicked thinking something was wrong and asking if all was okay. Then they told us that Baby B was only measuring at 33 weeks…and I was currently 37 weeks and 4 days. So I knew that wasn’t good news. They told us that there may be slight complications that would need attention once Baby B was born. I asked if it were a serious thing that we should be worrying about, but they saw no reason to be worried too much. However, then they checked the positions…and Baby A had flipped and become breech. They were BOTH breech, but one was in a transverse position. I cannot begin to even tell you what my heart felt at that moment. I knew that a vaginal birth was not an option at that point. They had discussed inducing me, but the ultrasound revealed that a c-section was all we could do. My husband and I both looked at each other….yet another clash in our dreams and hopes. I felt useless and helpless. I had been so excited for this natural birth that we had spent months planning! All I could do was pray and step out into God’s will. I asked the doctor…”So does this mean that I will have a c-section tomorrow sometime?” She replied, “No….TONIGHT! We have to get those babies out!” What she said next hurt, even though I did understand.” She shared, “I know this will be hard to hear, but right now your body is a deadly and toxic environment for your babies…they need to get out…it’s not safe to carry them any longer.” I could understand her comment, but it still hurt to hear that my body was deadly to their health…it just somehow made me feel even more of a failure even though I know I wasn’t.

They quickly got me ready for the c-section, which involved tons of paperwork, more IV’s, and a heart wrenching goodbye to my family and my husband as I was wheeled out to the operating room. My husband had been dressed and ready to go with me to remain by my side, but the doctor had said, “Daddy, I know you won’t want to hear this, but you can’t come with her right now. We will let you know when you’re allowed in.” We looked at each other…and I saw grief and sorrow written all over my husband’s face. We were still in shock at all that was happening and now he actually had to leave me for several minutes. He held my hand, and as they wheeled me out, his eyes spoke volumes, and he whispered “I love you”, as he held my hand until we parted at the fingertips….and away I went out of sight. I remember always wondering how it felt to be in a bed like that with nurses all around you wheeling you into an operating room for a huge surgery. Being in that position was difficult. I was frightened and it was all a blur. I asked the Lord to be with me and help me through everything I was about to endure. I felt a peace about me as I knew that even though they had prevented any family or my husband from being with me, they could not prevent my Savior from staying with me….what a comfort that was! As I entered the room, I saw all these machines and devices used to perform the surgery. There were about 3-4 doctors, and about the same number of nurses. They quickly shifted me from the hospital bed onto the operating table, and then a woman apologized as they told me they’d have to expose me naked waist down for a while. I really hated that, but then again, I really didn’t care at that time, because like I said, it was all a blur and everything happened so fast that I was still trying to figure it all out. One thing I recall is a doctor who was very friendly as he inserted the spinal and then told me that I would begin to feel nauseated. That was one of the worst parts of the surgery for me. I couldn’t feel anything from my belly and down. So when I felt this nausea hit, I couldn’t feel my insides turning….and therefore I couldn’t breathe. It’s hard to explain, but those who have experienced c-sections may know what I mean. I felt like I would vomit my insides out and yet nothing would come up…possibly because I had almost nothing in my body to vomit up. I remember asking the Lord how I could survive this…I could not breathe and every time my body tried to bring up something, it hurt so bad! The doctor told me that he was inserting a medicine that should help….and boy when it did, it felt SO good!!! I was so relieved that I exclaimed, “That medicine is AWESOME!!!!!” That sent the whole room of doctors and nurses into laughter! :D

At this point they let my husband in, and he told me he felt so broken. He saw me lying there just limp…after this whole nausea ordeal I was exhausted. He rubbed my arm, and my face several times telling me he loved me and that I was doing so well. Meanwhile, he was getting his camera ready to record the birth of our babies. Evidently I wasn’t aware that they had started the surgery, because I thought they were still cleaning my skin in preparation. Not so…I asked if they were cleaning me, and they replied, “Oh honey, we are WAY past that part! We’ve already cut into you and we’re about to pull your babies out!” They said, “Ah!!! Here comes the boy!!” I heard my husband say, “Oh I see his butt!!!” Then a minute later, I hear this high pitched tiny scream and cry! My eyes instantly filled with tears as I heard the cries. The doctor said, “Oh, she’s beautiful!!! She is gorgeous!!!” My husband then suddenly got up and rushed over to one of the little baby tables. I found out later, that the cry I heard was our little girl being born!! Our son was born and didn’t cry, so he was quickly rushed to a table as they sucked fluid out of his lungs and nostrils. Then he too let out a big cry! It was rather humorous, because as they heard our little girl cry, they realized that she had a good set of lungs that wouldn’t have been developed if she had only been 33 weeks gestation. They did an assessment on her and found out that she was indeed a full term baby, but so small! That was one thing that shocked my husband. He saw our son being taken out and then as they pulled out or daughter, his mouth dropped open at the size difference. She was preemie size, but she was very healthy and had a better apgar than he did!! They both urinated at the same time…she urinated on herself right after they cleaned her and shortly after, he shot in her direction as well, haha! We got it on camera!

One of the hardest things for me was the fact that I couldn’t hold them right away! I had imagined them coming right out at a home birth and being placed on my chest to bond immediately…I felt cheated of that experience. They brought the babies to me for a quick glance, and then they were taken away…my husband following the nurses as they took the babies after asking if he would be allowed to come back in. I had another one of my nausea fits as they tugged and pulled while stitching me back up. When my husband came back, he wasn’t allowed to come back in as he was told. So he waited until they let him, and he told me later that the sight of me lying there broke his heart and he literally had to touch me to make sure I was still alive. Soon after, I began to shake so uncontrollably that my husband panicked and asked for warm blankets to put on me. I was a miserable sight…my temperature had dropped due to the collapse of hormones, and caused such shaking that I’ve never had before…I looked like I was having a seizure. My poor husband watched in horror as he saw me and knew he could do nothing. He just constantly held my hand when he was able and stayed by my side, never leaving again. I was in the recovery room for 2 hours…2 HOURS before I got to hold my babies. By the time I was wheeled back into my room, I was SO thirsty…but I was not allowed to drink water for several more hours. They gave me ice chips to chew on to help quench my thirst. My lips were dry and I felt so dehydrated.

Photobucket As they brought my babies to me, I melted upon seeing them, but it was so hard, because they wouldn’t latch on. I believe that was in part, due to the fact that I was separated for so long. They hadn’t gotten to know me right away. The next several days were a challenge as I felt I was crashing down into post partum depression from the sleepless nights, the constant wakings for my blood pressure, and the constant separation from my babies as they took them away to perform assessments and different tests. I believe part of it was also the fact that I was not allowed to take my thyroid supplements. I’ve had a low thyroid, which caused my previous 2 miscarriages, and when I started my supplements, I got pregnant right away and maintained it. However, the doctors were very skeptical, and wouldn’t allow me to take them in the hospital…so with my hormones all out of whack it made it all worse. We were finally moved into postpartum after a day or two, where they finally allowed me to take my supplements under supervision after having them tested at a drugstore to make sure they weren’t fake. Yet being in the postpartum area would prove to be even worse than in my original room. I had to learn to walk in my pain, to sleep on a hospital bed that my husband had to share with me, because they had no extra bed for us, and the 1-2 hours that they would take both our little ones away….literally 1-2 hours for each baby. Then they would always ask how often they were nursing and for how long. That was so hard, because I had two to learn with and neither of them knew how to latch. So they weren’t nursing well and wanted to sleep more…or would cry because they couldn’t get anything. I can hardly explain how I felt. Our daughter was 4 lbs. 7 oz. at birth and by the time she left the hospital she was at 4 lbs. My husband loved holding her and hearing her sweet cry. He would pick her up and say, “Hi little Princess!! Daddy loves you SO much!!! You’re my little girl!” She was so tiny and beautiful. She quickly became a favorite with the nurses and gained the nickname of “Little Peanut”. Photobucket The doctor who performed the c-section told me “She is one of the most beautiful babies I have ever seen….and I have seen and delivered a LOT of babies! She was so cute!!!” All of this suddenly put pressure upon me, because as she lost weight being already so tiny, I grew terrified that we would lose her. I could not sleep, I could hardly function, and I felt it was my fault. I tried so hard not to cry, but to no avail. My mother and my husband tried to comfort me as tears streamed down my cheeks. One of the mornings at 3:00-4:00 AM, I tried to wake her up to feed her in my terrified state. I told her, “Daddy and I love you so much!! We cannot lose you, you have to eat!!! Please eat!” My eyes filled with tears…however, she was too sleepy, and refused to wake up…I tried and tried to feed her and get her to latch, but she would only fall asleep. As I just held her and feared the possibility of losing our little angel baby, I looked off into the dark room and felt so helpless and depressed that I couldn’t even cry. My mind kept going back to my desire of a home birth and how different things could have been. Every single thing that had just happened within the last 24 hours was everything that we tried to avoid and everything that we DIDN’T want to happen! It all happened so fast and I was still struggling to face reality. I wanted to go home. My husband would help me get up to walk to the bathroom…oh the feeling of learning to walk again! We entered the bathroom, and my husband was really grossed out by all the blood that I was still expelling. It was hard for us both, because I was not used to seeing the blood after 8 ½ months of pregnancy. My husband was so kind and faithful though and helped me through it all. He would support me as I tried to sit on the toilet. I couldn’t use my stomach muscles to do it on my own, and therefore I needed help.

Our son lost weight also, and he formed jaundice. This then presented me with another fear of losing him when we were home, because now he would scream and cry when placed to the breast. I guess he was sick enough that he was too tired to eat…he didn’t have an appetite. I would pump milk and we syringe fed him for 2 days, because I refused to feed him formula. I was determined to only breastfeed, and so we used the syringe until he seemed hungry enough for us to give him another try at my breast. He did finally latch on and for that we rejoiced. It’s so hard to describe the hurt and the fear in a parent’s heart when they feel that their child is not thriving…even if they are okay. Since I had been drugged up and was still healing, it was harder to keep 2 babies alive when neither of them could latch on to eat. I felt like an utter failure, and a mother that could not take care of my babies. I wanted to wake up from this terrible dream and have my home birth. Yet I knew it was all too real.

We were finally released from the hospital even though they weren’t quite satisfied with my blood pressure. So they gave me blood pressure medicine to take. We got home, and it was wonderful, but it also had its sorrows. They still didn’t know how to nurse, and it took a good week or 2 before they were well on their way to perfecting it! It was also so hard with my incision to scoot up in bed every hour to nurse. With 2 babies, I hardly got an hour of sleep, and I felt as if my body would never heal. The first 2 weeks, I didn’t even have an appetite to eat anything and had to force it down. It’s amazing how the hospital and even home has their own challenges. I had to stay on one level in our home for 6 weeks without going up and down stairs. The bed that we used was a hide-a-bed and very much uncomfortable. I was also so afraid of using the bathroom…I didn’t want to see the blood. I didn’t want to see my incision, because I was afraid of it all and it was a reminder of the dream I had lost. Yet, I felt guilty, because it was all worth it for my babies, and I knew it was the best decision for their health and safety. I didn’t want to feel selfish and hurt. I guess to better explain, I felt because I had to have a c-section, that I was less of a woman. I was created to go through labor and vaginally deliver my children! I wasn’t supposed to have to be cut open for them to be born!! I know that my feelings are “wrong” or that I shouldn’t feel that way, because I know it had to be done for them….but the feeling is hard to describe. I still feel like I’m less of a woman. I’m so excited to actually experience labor…I know it will be hard, painful, and all of the above, but I already know that my experience in the hospital and my recovery was far too traumatic for me to desire anything else! It has taken so long for me to heal and for the pain to go away. I had to be helped to sit up in bed and to lie back down. I had to have help getting up to go the bathroom. It was so hard to be so reliant upon everyone else! I couldn’t do anything. I would shed tears as I tried to sit or stand as the pain shot through my body.

I don’t want to sound depressing or selfish at all. I’m trying to share my feelings and how things really were. My husband and I both agreed that it was the worst and best day of our lives….we gained so much, but in gaining those blessings, we also suffered a great deal. It was a nightmare that hurts to remember, but my babies are so worth everything. It reminds me of Christ and His death on the cross….He suffered so much, but I know He did it for us and it was completely worth it to Him. It was hard, but worth it. We feel the same way. I will admit, though, that I am so excited to experience our next birth in the future. I am determined to have a homebirth.

After this long story, I am pleased to say that Isaiah and Lilia are now pros at nursing! They are growing very well. Isaiah is now 12 lbs or more and Lilia is about 10 or more lbs. They are very healthy, and Isaiah is over his jaundice also. I no longer have the worries I did. The challenge now is to still find time to sleep and eat, haha! I am so blessed to have the children I do! Isaiah is our very social one. He can lie down by himself and look around for 30 minutes without crying and interacts constantly with smiles and is learning to attempt to laugh. Lilia is becoming more social and is talking and she must be held. She can’t lay for long by herself without crying soon to be in a pair of arms. Isaiah likes to be held, but isn’t all touchy…you can’t stroke his head much. Lilia loves to be touched and loved on. Isaiah doesn’t currently like to be swaddled and held tightly, Lilia thrives when she is swaddled. They are twins, but VERY different in personality and looks. Isaiah has brown hair and his eyes are already changing…they are a dark grey right now, but we believe they will be brown. Lilia is a dirty blonde with ocean blue eyes. We think her eyes will stay blue…but I guess only time can tell. J Isaiah also only likes one type of pacifier…while Lilia likes any type and will take any given to her. Isaiah is high maintenance and can hardly stand even a small dirty diaper…if he is slightly wet, he cries until he is changed. Lilia will begin squirming when she is full or has had a royal blowout where it’s all up her back and exploding out the sides! Hahaha! Oh the joys of motherhood and getting to know your babies and their characters! It is such fun, and all the trials a mother will go through are always worth it to see her child/children grow into their names and become their own individual.

So my story has been long and emotional. It has been joyful, sad, and life changing all at once. Even though it was a rough road, we have two blessings that are irreplaceable and I could not be happier. We cannot imagine our lives without our children. They are our joy and a great reminder of our love. For all you ladies that are first-time pregnant mommies, you will soon experience something that will change your life forever. One thing I want to remind you of, is that even if you are planning your birth or praying for things to go a certain way, sometimes they go very differently….don’t think you’re a failure if that happens. If God has decided to do things another way, it is because He has something incredible in store for you. A hard trial might prove to be a testimony that helps and encourages others. I’m praying this is the case with me. As you have read my story, I pray it helps prepare you for something that is super hard to prepare for, and yet totally worth it no matter what happens. Photobucket Being a mommy is a joy, and I can’t wait to share in your joy (soon for you mothers that are pregnant and hopefully soon for those of you that are still waiting…keep waiting…God hears your prayers) as you also enter this new world called motherhood!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

I can't afford a doula....and the reasons why you can really not afford to not have a doula..

“I would love to have a doula, but I can’t afford it.”

I would love to convince you that especially if you are giving birth to your first baby, you cannot afford to not have a doula. Yes, even with a doula, you may not have the birth of your dreams, but studies have proven that not only can having a trained doula at your birth help you have a more positive experience, but it also can increase your chances of having a natural birth. (Doula statistics - Reasons people don’t want a doula or think they do not want a doula: 1) “My husband would feel replaced. I want him to be a big part of my birth experience and I am afraid if I had someone else there, he would just feel like I didn’t want him.” Answer: This is a common concern. However, men are not made to be caregivers, they strive to be, but need a little help often. There are some husbands that are the world’s best coaches. Often though, they got that way because they had some guidance along the way. A good doula is there for the husband as much as for the mother. She can guide the father through what to do to feel a part of the childbirth experience. Not only will he feel empowered at the end of the experience, his wife will also feel supported by him. In doula supported births it is not as common to see the cliché anger towards the spouse that you see in the movies. 2)“I would love a doula, but I can’t afford it.” Answer: This is a very common concern and it can be a valid one. But most of the time, there are ways around this. Do you really want a doula? Have you approached local doulas and offered alternative methods of payment? Most doulas offer discounted rates for financial difficulty, trades for payment or payment plans. The going rate for a doula widely varies across the nation, but in our area it is under $500. If you truly want a doula, need a doula; almost always there are ways to get one. A couple of things to try:

A) Call doula organizations. Ask them for names of doulas in training and ask them if they would serve for a reduced fee. Don’t take the first one you call, interview your doulas and see if they are a good fit for you. DONA- ALACE- If they are young and have not had any birth experience, this is their first birth; this may not be a good fit for you. But there are many doulas in training that have a vast range of birth experience and are willing to do the work for you at a reduced rate. I don’t recommend not paying your doula at all. I find that often results in subpar care and you don’t get the full benefit of having a doula. You pay for what you get, basically.

B) Call local homebirth midwives and see if they have any apprentices or midwives in training that would be willing to act as a doula for the training experience and observation of a birth.

C) Check local support groups to see if there are women that are experienced in birth, but not certified as a doula. Interview them on their experience as well. The basic answer to the “I can’t afford a doula!” that I would love to give, is that you cannot afford to not have a doula, especially if you are planning a hospital birth with your first baby, unless…you are not planning on breastfeeding, you could care less about a natural delivery and post-partum depression isn’t something you are concerned about.

3) “I would like to have pain relief during labor. Why would I want a doula?”

Answer: Pain relief is a common choice for women now. It is more common to have pain relief in labor than it is to go completely natural. Yes, a doula can help educate you on the different methods of pain relief. This can help you decide what method you find is safest for you and your baby. Since pain relief that are most commonly used raise the risk of surgical intervention, she can also be supportive to help you avoid that intervention, by helping you through the labor pains for as long as possible before getting pain relief. She can utilize methods such as position changes, even with pain relief to help for optimal fetal positioning in labor, which can help with the descent of the baby. If you desire it, she can help you with pushing in a way to avoid tearing, which is more common with pain relief as well.

I hope this has been informative! Doulas are out there to support women, men, families through the pregnancy, labor and post-partum experience. They train to be able to help you in the personal way you need and desire to get through it. They can personalize their care to you, and will generally set aside their own ideals to make it the best experience possible for you. In light of all they can do for you, I would say that you cannot afford to go without a doula when giving birth.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Natural cleaners

We all love the smell of a clean house and most of us associate that with the smell of cleaners that we have grown up. I, myself enjoy the scent of pine and citrus scents when cleaning. However, I am very sensitive to the smell of bleach where I have had a couple of episodes where I felt like I was going to not be able to breathe and it made me avoid it if at all possible. We just recently attended at class at Family Birth Services Tea and Talk, that are normally held monthly at the midwives home with attached birthing suite, on making your own natural cleaners, baby products and other things. I am very interested in learning more about this as I don't like to use toxic cleaners that we may breathe in while pregnant breastfeeding or even for our children. Photobucket Here was our fine teacher demonstrating how to make your own products. She is a consultant from DoTerra essential oils, but I was so impressed at how she really taught about how to make the cleaners and did not use it to only promote her business. I am going to see if I can find a link to her website to give her some business as I was truly impressed. Photobucket We had quite the crowd of women and babies, which was wonderful to see...there were women, nursing babies, toddlers everywhere! We had a wonderful lunch together, besides learning a ton. I have not tried these yet, but am curious to see if it works, so if you try them, let me know.

Dishwasher Detergent: 1 cup Washing Soda (found by the Borax) 1 cup Borax 1/2 cup Kosher Salt 1/2 cup Citric Acid 20 drops Lemon Essential Oil Mix together salt and essential oils till combined. Add other ingredients and stir. Store tightly covered in a glass jar. Use one tablespoon per load with hot water.

All Purpose Cleaner: 1 cup Water 1 cup Vinegar 2 tsp Liquid Castille Soap 25 drops Essential Oil of choice, i.e. OnGuard, Lemon, Melaleuca, etc. (Those are the DoTerra name brands, but you can, she said, for cleaners use ones you have bought elsewhere) Add all ingredients into a glass spray bottle. Shake before using.

Creamy Soft Scrub: 1/2 cup Baking Soda Liquid Castille Soap 1 tsp Vegetable Glycerin Essential oils of choice, i.e. Add Melaleuca for a mold killer, Lemon for shine, etc. Pour baking soda in a bowl. Add castille soap a little at a time to make a frosting like texture. Add in your essential oils and glycerin. Store in a sealed glass jar.

Wood & Stainless Steel Polish: Olive Oil 10 drops Orange or Lemon Essential Oil Combine ingredients, use a soft cloth to wipe then buff surfaces.

I also found this on Pinterest that I am eager to is supposed to work as a deodorizer. They seem really simple to make. I have some Clary Sage and Lemon essential oils that I think I will try it with. Make your own deodorizing flowers

What is your favorite natural cleaner you use?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Best tips for preparing for labor

When I am asked how to prepare for labor, while there are many tips I can give, there is nothing like experiencing it first hand to prepare you for labor and delivery. I think one of the best descriptions I have heard, is it likened to a marathon. There is pain involved, pushing through each length of the journey as it comes, but it ebbs and flows and if you persevere, work through it, you can make it to the end of the race. I speak of exercise, nutrition, and other topics on this blog often. These are things that are highly important to prepare you for labor. You would not run a marathon with out training, would you? Our bodies are trained for endurance, but when you are planning on an episode of where you are planning on pushing yourself to exhaustion, it is wise to prepare.

1- Familiarize yourself with different techniques of coping with pain. Educate yourself on pain relief methods, why you may or may not want medical pain relief. Pain in Labor- What's the Point? The book, Natural Hospital Birth by Cynthia Gabriel is a worthwhile book to read, that explains many of the medications offered, and other pain relief measures you may be able to use in labor besides drug options.

2- Consider hiring a doula. There are many young mothers, and even husbands that do not understand why they would want to hire someone else to be at their labor and delivery. They balk at the cost, (which is actually usually quite reasonable for the job they do) and generally believe that the midwife, nurses, doctors will be enough support for their partner and themselves. Here are a couple of articles to read to consider why you may want a doula. Why use a doula? Labor Support with a Doula The Importance of using a doula How do you go about finding and hiring a doula in your area? -There are several ways to find a doula. -Through Word of mouth - Online listings- Doula Match, DONA are just a couple of reputable online sites that help you find a doula in your area. - Ask your doctor or midwife for business cards or references to doulas in the area. Depending on what style of birth you want, you would like to interview a doula to see if she fits your style as well. Most doulas are adaptable and are ready to help make this the birth that you desire, despite their own wants or needs.

3-Exercise and actually follow the diet plan your care provider has recommended. Don't fudge and say "I exercised yesterday when I brought the laundry upstairs." Plan and take a 15 minute walk everyday if the weather permits. Have an exercise routine you go through on your living room floor. Generally, a care provider has your best interest at heart when they recommend you eat more protein, get a little more exercise etc. But sometimes, they assume you know that it will make a difference, so if they have not told you, ask them what they recommend for you.

4- Be fluid in your planning. Remember that nothing in concrete in pregnancy and labor. Be educated and ready for every change by reading books and articles that are scientifically based and allow you to keep an open mind to changing your mind. Stay firm when you need to be firm, but allow for changes. Labor and pregnancy can change on a dime and you have to learn to have flexibility.

5- Stay Positive! Do not approach labor with dread or fear! Use means of encouraging yourself that you can do this. This will be hard work, but psych yourself up for it. You are made beautifully and are designed to give birth. There are the rare cases where women are unable to give birth in the naturally designed way, but you are still designed in such a way that you will be able to give birth surgically. You can do this!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Why is diet important in pregnancy?

There are some great articles on why we need calories in pregnancy, but some that I found very helpful are these. What poor nutrition in pregnancy means? It is really hard to eat enough sometimes when you are pregnant. First you start the pregnancy with morning sickness often, which makes you feel like you have the flu. Who wants to eat when you have the flu? -Tips on what to eat in the first trimester

1) Keep it light- yogurt, crackers and cheese, protein smoothies, but don't overdo anything. Sometimes a vomiting episode can put you off a certain food for awhile if you overdo it, so be careful to not overdo any one food. 2) Make sure to get enough rest. If you are overtired, it can make it harder to eat. 3) Keep it small- smaller meals may settle better with your stomach

Second Trimester: Sometimes women get a burst of energy in this trimester, and are very hungry! Notice, I say sometimes! = ) It does not always happen! It is good to make sure to look at the level of protein you are getting now, as often in the third trimester your stomach is more squished and it is harder to get the level of protein you need to grow your baby.

1) Make every bite count- When you eat a snack, make it protein, high fiber or fruit/vegetable. Aim at getting 80-100 grams of protein. (A small chicken breast has about 30 grams of protein) Aim at about 4-6 servings of protein foods daily. 2) Eat what you can, but don't overeat. Remember that there are certain foods that you need to eat to develop your baby's brain, bones and muscles, but certain foods are non essential. Sugar is one of these non-essential foods. Avoid it, if at all possible. 3) If you are out to eat with friends, it can be easy to eat empty calories...Theater popcorn, tortilla chips, soda pop etc. Remember that an occasional treat is good, but choose wisely and think about what you put in your mouth! When you want to avoid excess weight gain, it is more the non-essentials that put on the weight.

Third Trimester Sometimes women when they reach their third trimester find that they feel like they went back to the first trimester. Nausea, heartburn and other discomforts seem to be in a fight against your comfort and eating. It is one of the most important times to nourish your baby! Those last week count The protein shakes are good, even if you have to gag them down, just try not to throw them up. 1) Eat small meals throughout the day. Many women find it easier to eat 6-8 small snack type meals than full meals with all the compression of their internal organs going on. 2) Make every bite count more than ever!! If you choose to eat dessert, make it something like ice cream or cheese cake that has some protein in it, rather than plain white or chocolate cake. When you eat pizza, choose the veggie one, rather than pepperoni. 3) Help your body to digest your food by staying active. You are preparing for labor, eat like you are going to run a marathon. Healthy, good meals, but stay active so your bowels stay active as well.

Sometimes it is easy to be afraid of gaining too much weight in pregnancy in this day where skinniness is praised above all else. Another thing that is highly praised now, is special allergy diets. Remember that if you have a special diet to follow, you need to work extra hard for your baby. Your baby only has you! No one else will nourish it. Poor nutrition can result in many complications in pregnancy, but if pregnancy and birth goes well, you can also see life long issues with bones, teeth, and other developmental issues as your child grows. Also, remember when you are growing that baby, if it is a girl, she is born with her ovaries filled with all the eggs she will ever have. That means you are responsible for the health of those eggs with your diet you partake in while pregnant and your future grandchildren. Scary thought? It is difficult for those with stomach complaints etc. to sometimes eat enough, or for those that love sugar to forgo it! It is difficult to remember to keep our diets in control, but the outcome can be a wonderful thing!! Keep it up!! You can do it!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Timing matters!!

Small differences in birth timing article Tired of being pregnant? This article talks about how some of the small differences those last few weeks make comparing 37 weeks to 41 weeks even! Those last few miserable weeks really make a difference for your baby in the long run!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Working exercise into your daily routine

When you are the mother of little ones, it can be hard to fit exercise in!!! Often it feels like you never stop moving, but sometimes that is really not enough! Photobucket It seems like sometimes that children never stop moving! If they do, that is often the cue for you to stop moving. There are so many things to get done in the house, it seems counterproductive to take time off to exercise.

Daily exercise can not only help you in pregnancy, it can help you postpartum (when your care provider gives you permission to participate safely) to prevent PPD and to firm up some of those loose muscles.

A couple of tips:

- Remember to bring water and even a light snack for you and the children. It keeps everyone happier.

- Have a goal in mind for the exercise. This could be as simple as that you walk to the library and they get to pick a new book for the week or as complex as keeping track of miles and giving a prize when you reach a miles goal.

-Exercise has to be deliberate, but that doesn't mean it can't be fun! Invite friends to go along with you to the park, a short hike...swimming. Plan ways to put exercise into your daily activities. You will find the children sleep better and are less grouchy as well as you!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Hot, sticky and tired?

When summer heat starts to get to you, it is difficult enough, but top it with pregnancy, it can be downright miserable! Photobucket

#1) Stay Hydrated- This seems like it should be a no-brainer, but women can end up getting more contractions, feel ill, and get overheated often without realizing it from simple dehydration. Water is the best drink to consume, but try some iced water with slices of lemon in it. The lemon can be great for your liver and kidneys!!

#2) Soak your feet- A simple foot soak in a bucket or dishpan can really refresh you and ease swollen or puffy feet. Use a simple homemade foot scrub to make your feet feel refreshed and revitalized. I know at the end of pregnancy it can be really hard to reach your feet, so ask your husband or friend to help you out!

Lemon foot scrub- 1 c. sea salt 1/2 c. oil (any kind, but healthier oils are nicer) 3-5 drops essential oil...I like Lemon Store in tight container.

#3) Spend time at the pool- Swimming is one of the best exercises while pregnant as it is a low impact exercise, that can exercise the entire body. This will refresh you and at the same time get those ligaments and joints ready for labor and delivery. If you can swim 2-3 times weekly while pregnant, you will feel better for labor and it will help you stay cool! If you don't swim, just spending time chasing your kids and standing in the kiddy pool will help you!

#4- Don't cook heavy meals, but make sure to keep the protein up. Sometimes it is hard in the summer to feel like eating or cooking. Big green salads with cooked Rotisserie chicken, grated cheese, sunflower seeds, avocado and other vegetables can be a great way to fill up, get some protein and stay cool! Watermelon, smoothies with protein powder added to them, cheese sticks, vegetables and dip, bowls of cut up fruit like strawberries, mangos, bananas, apples and pears are great served with hard cheeses, and lunch meat that you have heated to prevent any contamination. Make sure to stay away from soft cheeses like Brie etc. This might be a time to look at some easier meals that can be cooked in the microwave and in your crock pot as well.

#5 Stay cool and comfortable!!! Wear loose fitting clothing that breaths. Shorts sometimes are not the coolest clothing to wear, a loose fitting cotton top with a flowy skirt can help you get some air flow and stay cool and comfortable! Comfortable shoes are a need! This is not the time to be wearing high heel sandals, but comfortable shoes that support your feet and are not too tight.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

I love being a doula!

There is so much satisfaction in knowing that you are helping to promote women to make their own educated choices about their care when they are pregnant and giving birth. I love the feeling of knowing you are promoting thinking for themselves and not just following what they are told to do. Photobucket Women have come far in many ways, but one of the ways that women struggle is to be able to choose the way they give birth. In many cases when women give birth, they are told how to dress, when they can use the restroom, bathing or not bathing, eating or not eating, even what position they are lying in. In some cases, this direction is needed, other times it is not. Education can help a women to be empowered to ask questions about the why behind the demands. It can give them the choice to realize if they believe it is important to follow the request they are being given, or to ask if there is another option they could possibly choose. Our bodies and our babies, do not always care about lawsuits, but we do care about the safety of ourselves and our babies. The decisions you make as a mother, choosing a care provider, a facility to give birth in or whether you choose to give birth outside a facility can not only effect the here and now, but also your future. Give yourself a pat on the back if you are educating yourself as far as what is the best option for you and your family. Research your options and make wise choices about giving birth. The wrong care provider for you may not be the wrong one for a friend, evaluate for yourself personally. Listen to advice from friends and family, but ultimately remember that it is you that is going to be going through this experience. It is very important that you, as the laboring mom, feel safe and secure where you are giving birth, trust your care providers and have a good support team. I know many families who feel that money ends up deciding whom they choose as a care provider or support person, and I would love to encourage to work hard to get a provider that you are very comfortable with and the support you need, even if it means you work extra hard to trade that extra work or find other means of paying them. It can make a difference in the mental well being of your family.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Breastfeeding and Lactation Cookies

We are so excited once the baby has arrived! The hard work is over! Pregnancy ungainliness, ill-fitting clothing, and aches are all over with! I think many of us prep, think and wonder about the pregnancy, try to avoid thinking about labor and forget all about thinking about how we might cope with breastfeeding. If this is your first baby, this is especially true! I loved this post on some healthy snacks to have prepared for breastfeeding hunger pangs... Also, over at Life as a Mom, she speaks of the real life joys and sorrows of breastfeeding, while all the while rejoicing that she did it. I think that those last few months of preparing before your baby is born, it is a good idea to help prep the fridge, freezer and pantry a bit too. The first 6-8 weeks when you have a new baby, you may be cooking one handed. There will be times you may be starving to death, and just need a quick snack. It is actually more important with breastfeeding to be eating enough calories, and maintaining a healthy diet for your milk supply. A not so unwelcome treat that can actually help your milk supply would be these oatmeal cookies. Don't overdo it, but a couple will help that oatmeal and flax seed go down smooth with a glass of milk or a cup of Mother's Milk tea. These cookies freeze well and are tasty for anyone, not just breastfeeding moms. Last weekend, we served them at a Early Childhood fair and I heard nothing, but compliments on them!

Lactation Cookies From the Kitchen of Martha Artyomenko Serves 50

Ingredients: 2 c. oil 4 eggs

2 c. brown sugar 3 ¼ c. flour (I used whole wheat flour)

1 c. white sugar ¼ c. flax seeds

2 t. vanilla 6 ¼ c. oats (quick cooking)

2 t. baking soda 2 t. baking powder

1 t. salt 2 T. brewers yeast

Directions: Mix oil, sugars, vanilla together. Add eggs one at a time. Mix in all other ingredients. Mix well.

Add craisins, chocolate chips, or M&M’s if desired. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes

This makes a very large batch, but you can freeze them well.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

In going along with the last post...

You can read a story of a first labor and delivery with an induction and epidural and a second labor with naturally. They are interesting to read, although not everyone will have a similar experience.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Pain in labor- What is the point?

The other day a nurse was explaining to a patient that it is somewhat barbaric to have pain in labor. She was laughing and explaining why pain relief measures are completely and totally safe for the baby, and there is no reason to suffer in labor.

I think that pain relief measures in labor can be a wonderful thing, I think they are very varied and does not always mean that pain in labor is barbaric and not useful.

I think we have to remember that pain is different for each individual. Some people struggle with small amounts of pain, while others can handle high levels of pain.
We can see in labor at times, pain, while coping with it can help us as we work towards a goal, delivering a baby. Out of control pain, screaming, without focus can cause trauma, complications, and exhaustion.

Different pain relief measures have different side effects related to them, and in your choosing, you should be educating yourself on these for your particular situation. They do not all happen to everyone, but they are not as rare as you would think.

Some common methods of pain relief offered in a hospital setting, would be an Epidural, occasionally you would be offered a narcotic to take the edge off, until you are dilated to a point where an epidural would not slow down labor. But, depending on your hospital's policies, they may offer it at any time in labor, which is something you would want to weigh carefully.

When you receive an epidural, you will first be usually given 1-2 liters of fluid through an I.V. as it often causes blood pressure to drop rapidly, and this helps with that. You will be asked to sit on the bed with your back curled out, or lay on the bed on your side. You are usually allowed to have one support person in the room with you, while they are wearing a mask. They will sterilize a place on your back before numbing it. A needle will be inserted into the epidural space around the spinal cord in the lower back. A small catheter will be inserted and the needle removed. The catheter will be taped to your shoulder or your back to prevent it from being pulled on. If you received a regular epidural, they will also be giving you a urine catheter as you will not be able to walk to the bathroom anymore. Some hospitals will offer though a walking epidural or Intrathecal instead, which can mean you can still walk around, and be without a urine catheter. Often physicians discourage this if they think the labor could be lengthy, headed for a c-section or other complications, because they wear off. They do have their benefits though as well.

(Info taken from American Pregnancy Association website)

Side effects to receiving this pain relief can be wide and varied....
Some common ones-
- Your blood pressure may drop suddenly.
- Severe headache from leakage of spinal fluid. Less than 1% of women experience this, but it can occur for even weeks after you give birth, in the patients it occurs in. They can treat this by giving a blood patch.
-Shivering, shaking, ringing in the ears, backache, soreness where the needle was inserted, nausea, vomiting, and difficulty urinating.
- It can possibly make pushing more difficult, and cause a greater chance of the need for additional interventions such as Pitocin, forceps, vacuum extraction, or c-section can all be needed to progress.
- A few hours after birth- your lower body may still be numb.
-In rare instances- there may be permanent nerve damage where the catheter was inserted.
-There are some studies that breastfed babies that are born with an epidural, may struggle with latching on after an epidural. There are other studies about some of these other risk factors.

Longer second stage possibly

Severe perinial tearing

Among other studies that possible link it to greater chance of c-sections...

However, with all studies, you have to read, educate yourself, and decide for yourself.

A few observations that I have noticed is that women who never suffer pain in labor, tend to have a greater risk for Postpartum depression, struggle with bonding with the baby, as well as an issue with breastfeeding long term. I am not sure of the studies that have been done on that, but this article has several links to studies on the topic.
Natural childbirth V: Epidural side effects and risks
It seems to be somewhat biased though, so look at the links and learn.

However, I have seen there is a time for pain relief besides the natural methods in labor.
A couple of those instances I can think of...
- A mother who is exhausted and just cannot relax effectively because she is just too worn out. A walking epidural or epidural can be a good option as she can sleep, resting and giving herself strength to be able to push.

- Someone who is having an induced labor. An induced labor can at times be more painful than a natural labor, and the pain can be harder to control naturally.

- If the patient is highly strung, low pain tolerance or is living in a highly stressful life situation, sometimes any pain can be hard to deal with and a medical intervention can be very helpful.

I highly encourage a mom who is planning on receiving pain medication, to learn some coping methods of dealing with labor pain, just in case she ends up being able to receive an epidural or something else in time. I have met many mothers that were very traumatized by going through labor pains, when they expected to have none. Some simple coping methods and preparation could possibly help them to get through without the trauma.

I would recommend that any childbirth classes you take, that you still pay attention to any methods of coping with labor pain without drugs, just in case something goes wrong with your birth plan.

On the other hand, I highly recommend if you are planning a completely natural birth, you research common drugs used in pain relief during labor in your local hospital, just in case you find yourself in a position to need to vary from your birth plan and find yourself caught off guard.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Friday, March 30, 2012

Nutrition and exercise during pregnancy

Pregnancy is the one time in your life when you are encouraged to gain weight! Many people take that as a license to eat anything you want, don't do too much as you might injure the baby, and put your feet up as much as possible! While there is small amounts of truth in it, it is mostly a false idea.

- Should you eat anything you want?
You need an adequate diet. This means not too little and not too much food. You need to look at what is a healthy intake of calories for your size and height, and add an extra 300 calories to that diet. You have to remember that all calories are created equal. You should avoid empty calories as every single one counts for the baby now. Empty calories can pack on the pounds without giving your baby the nutrition it needs. Empty calories might be processed sugars, deep fried foods, white processed breads among others. Soft cheeses, raw meat and some seafood should also be avoided. Caffeine has been linked to issues in pregnancy such as raising your risk of miscarriage , but also can mess with your PH levels and make it difficult for iron absorption.

You should focus on trying to get at least 6-8 vegetables every day if possible, 4-6 fruits (if you have no issues with blood sugar) Avoid fruit juices, and go for the whole fruits. 2-4 protein servings per day, depending on your protein needs. 4-6 whole grains, again if you have no issues with blood sugar. Be sure to check with your care provider about your own specific needs, this is a basic chart of what you should be eating, but I am not a nutritionist, so this is just a guideline.

-Why is it important to exercise?
We all enjoy the freedom, or some of us enjoy the freedom to gain weight without worrying about going on a diet, but often that causes some issues with getting the baby weight off after the birth. I think if you eat healthy foods, shun sugar and processed foods, and exercise during pregnancy, the weight you gain is healthier weight, instead of stuff that clings to you! It is hard to stay away from that stuff and exercise, when often you lack the energy. But you will find that regular light exercise, can actually give you more energy.

- What are some exercise that pregnant women are advised to do?
Swimming and walking are some of the top exercises recommended. These are safe for almost anyone who is not at risk for pre-term labor. It is not recommended you take up fast aerobic exercise if it is something new for you.

- What exercise should pregnant women avoid?
Horseback riding, skiing, gymnastics, snowmobiling, skating, some doctors do not recommend bike riding as well for balance issues and exercise where you let your heart rate get too high. Pregnancy is a time to listen to your body and obey. Don't push too hard. You will pay for it! If you feel like you are having contractions, heaviness or any other danger signs, put your feet up and talk to your care provider before continuing.

- What are some of the benefits of exercise?
You can help maintain a healthy blood pressure, blood sugar, healthy weight gain as well as give yourself greater stamina and strength in labor. Often women who exercise have babies get into better positions for labor as well, which helps things go smoother. Kegal exercises can help prevent leakage when coughing, sneezing or jumping after pregnancy as well.

Pregnancy can be a wonderful experience that does not take the toll on your body as some people expect with the proper nutrition and exercise.

As always be sure to check with your care provider before following any of this advice!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Great Links for the week

This post is excellent on how to make your kitchen work for you after you have a baby.

No Work kitchen for after baby

This link deals with exercise, what kinds to do and what kinds to avoid after a baby.

How to have a stronger, more flat stomach!

Here is some other ideas...on 100 ways to encourage a new mom!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Interesting study on induced labor

Inductions can be a lifesaver in some cases, but they have been way over touted in the USA. We use them for our own convenience without looking at the damage that is being done in the name of convenience.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Postpartum depression guide

There are all different sorts and levels of depression and PPD. Some baby blues is normal after a baby is born. Your hormones dramatically fluctuate. But if after your baby is born, you are about 6 weeks PP and you find that you are feeling horrible. Everything is irritating you; life seems to heavy to bear, you find yourself thinking things you never thought you would.
Here are some symptoms you should be watchful for....

• Feeling sad or down often
• Frequent crying or tearfulness
• Feeling restless, irritable or anxious
• Loss of interest or pleasure in life
• Loss of appetite
• Less energy and motivation to do things
• Difficulty sleeping, including trouble falling asleep, trouble staying asleep or sleeping more than usual
• Feeling worthless, hopeless or guilty
• Unexplained weight loss or gain
• Feeling like life isn't worth living
• Showing little interest in your baby

You know that some of those things are normal, if you are not sleeping, but if it continues for long periods of time and you have no happy days, you may have an issue that you need to address.
If you ever consider hurting yourself or others, it is time to get help now.

But what does getting help mean?

It can depend on the level of depression you are suffering from.
You may need to force yourself to get out of the house and get some support from other mothers. Counseling (talk therapy…talking to someone about some of the stress you are under, maybe your birth did not go the way you planned it, your husband lost his job, your husband is gone, your baby does not nurse well…the list goes on), and sometimes medication.
Many people do not seek help because they are afraid of medication or assume that it is the only way they can get help.
Some things you can try if you want to avoid medication to start with:

1. Find someone to talk to- this might be a friend, but most often, a professional who knows how to deal with crisis.

2. Get in touch with someone who can help you figure out some things that relieve some of the burden on you.

3. Establish a strong social network. This is hard for many people! You had a new baby; you don’t feel like yourself. A postpartum body is hard to adjust to, and none of your clothes fit. You are struggling with breastfeeding in public. I think what many people don’t realize, is that there are many, many moms who struggle with the same things. When we get out there, we will come away realizing that our feelings are normal and it is okay to struggle. Your friends, if you are honest with them, can tell you if you need to talk to someone else.

4. Find time to do something everyday for yourself, even if it is just 15 minutes. This can be hard when you have little ones. It might mean establishing a quiet time, where they take a nap, watch a movie, read books, spend time in the crib where you know they are safe, while you take a bath.

5. Journal- this can be a great way to process some of your feelings you are having. If there was something about motherhood, birth or the whole transition that has been hard to comprehend, write those down and get it out on paper. The relief can be great!

6. Talk to your care provider. If you used a doctor or midwife during your pregnancy, give them a call and set up a time to go over how you are feeling. It might be time for some blood tests, physical to make sure there is not another reason you are feeling so tired.

7. Realize that you are not odd for feeling this way. It happens to most women! You are not expected to be perfect or super mom. Remember that if you do not care for yourself, you will not be there to take care of your children. It is not selfish to take care of yourself, but a requirement for good mothering.

There can be some small things that can help you feel better. Some need to be done in combination, but go down the list, or up the ladder, so to speak.

1. Good diet- Many times when we are tired and exhausted we may not be eating the foods we need to for proper nutrition. Focus on stocking your house with simple; easy to grab foods, that is healthy for you. For example, apples, oranges, string cheese, Greek yogurt, cucumbers, hummus, canned beans, grated cheese, whole grain tortilla, bags of salad. These foods can be easy to grab a snack or make up a meal and can help you feel better.

2. Exercise- this does not have to be anything strenuous. It can be as simple as putting your baby in the stroller and walking around the block or going to the end of your road to get the mail. It can be putting the baby in the cart and walking around the store at a good pace for 20 minutes. If you have access to a computer, there are many fun, short exercises on YouTube and other places online.

3. Fresh air: Just step outside and breathe in deeply for 5 minutes.

4. Find a hobby that you can do with having a baby. It can be as simple as nurturing a plant in your house, or as complex as detailed scrapbooking. Find something that will work with your likes and is reasonable with having a baby.

5. Vitamins and supplements: Fish oil, flax seed oil, Vitamin B formulas are some of the vitamins and minerals that can help your body to work properly. Ask your care provider for a list of vitamins that they recommend you take daily.

6. Medication- there are some anti-depressants that breastfeeding and pregnant mothers take. There are some risks involved, but the risk of a depressed mother to her baby is also great and only you and your care provider can evaluate the safety of both. Do some research on the safest ones. Here is a link to some of the studies and info from Thomas Hale’s book on pregnancy and breastfeeding with anti-depressants.

This can be a helpful book to check out as well. I don't recommend everything in it, but it has some helpful tips.
 The postpartum survival guide: Everything you need to know about Postpartum Depression by Paul Meier
You can read my full review here:

Monday, January 16, 2012

Two interesting articles on recent studies

This one's title is Study: Homebirth is as safe as hospital birth
The study was done in Canada and is very interesting to read about!

This one was a small study done on whether breastfeeding moms get more or less sleep than non-breastfeeding moms. It was interesting as well.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the topic.