Friday, August 28, 2009

100th Post Giveaway

It's my 100th post!

Thanks to all of my dedicated readers. I have so many ideas about women's health, childbirth, pregnancy, fertility, etc. I am happy that you have joined me in my journey!

"Enjoy this time with your husband...you will have kids for the rest of your life." - This is the a great piece of advise I hear from all my friends and family who have children.

TO ENTER THE CONTEST:
1. I want to hear the advise you have gotten as a mom or mom-to-be. Leave me a comment on this post. 1 entry

2. Tell your friends and readers about my contest on your blog. 1 entry


And, in honor of my 100th post, Lusa Organics has offered to help me out with a give away. Lusa Organics makes a line of handmade, body, baby, and mama products. Click here to visit the Lusa Organics website for more information. Great products!!!

The
fantastic prize package includes: Booty Balm, Citrus Lip Balm, and a Lavender Sugar Scrub.



Winner will be randomly chosen on Wednesday September 2nd!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ignorance is 'Not' Bliss

Remember the 1991 movie, Fried Green Tomatoes? Evelyn Couch, played by Kathy Bates, goes to a class where at one point the women are given mirrors and asked to take down their panties and explore their vaginas. Evelyn gets so uncomfortable that she has a break down and leaves class in tears.

Ladies.....ignorance is not bliss.

When I was in 8th grade, two years after starting my menstrual cycle, I was convinced I had a yeast infection and asked my mother to get me an OTC medication for it. Oh. Oh. Oh. Little did I know. It wasn't a yeast infection, it had been normal vaginal cervical fluid! But, it wasn't until 12 years later that I would know what cervical fluid would be all about. I know a lot of young girls and even women see "stuff" coming out down there and probably freak out like I did. This is normal ladies! Most likely you do not have an infection unless it has a bad odor or is discolored. (By the way, I treat my yeast infections with apple cider vinegar, pau d' arco tea, and plain yogurt these days...but that is for another post.)

By now, you know that I chart my cycles. I chart because I want to to know my body. Sure, it may seem overwhelming to get the hang of it at first, but it gets easy and hassle free eventually. I started charting in 2006. I began charting because I did not want to introduce anything "unnatural", such as "the pill", into my body. I wish I had started charting much earlier, but I didn't think to do it for maintenance and detection of infections or abnormal issues during the cycle because I was always normal and regular. I thought fertility charting was just a method of birth control so I studied up on it just before we got married. In actuality, fertility charting can help you understand if there are things going on that just aren't quite right.

I say all of this because I believe it is important to know what is going on "down there". If you are pregnant, plan to get pregnant, or if you are a women from puberty and beyond, I think it is important to look at your anatomy. Terms like vaginal opening, perineum and labia will come up during pregnancy and birth. Do you know where they are? In addition, after birth, you will want to take a look again. If you had a episiotomy or tearing, you may want observe the healing and the ongoing changes that will take place as you body repairs. Ladies, take a mirror and look. Don't be an Evelyn Couch!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Basics of Charting Your Fertility

Fertility charting can be used by those who want to use a natural form of birth control and determining the optimal time to achieve pregnancy. You will need to chart your own cycle to find what your most fertile days will be. These are very basic charts and simplified for the specific needs of this woman. By reading Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler, you will be able to detail a chart that is specific to you. I recommend charting for a few cycles in order to understand your body enough to use this as a form of birth control. Charting is also a great tool for women who have irregular periods, women who have been told they are infertile and still want to try to conceive naturally, those who have gynecological issues or are prone to infections in order to be diagnosed more easily by a physician, and many other needs.

This method has worked as a form of birth control for us for several years and for pregnancy achievement when we desired. Once you get the hang of charting, it becomes very easy! You get to know your body very well. And, in some cases, you can determine when "things just aren't quite right" with your body and you can seek further care.

Refer to the charts below:

1. Chart the cycle you are on (in this case, she is on #11), your age, the length of the cycle (first day of period to first day of the next), and the date your cycle started.

2. Then, chart the cycle day starting with "1" as the first day you see blood. The "date" is the day of the month, the day of the week.

3. Each day you will take your waking temperature at the same time each morning. Your temperature will be low until after you ovulate. The day after your most fertile day of ovulation (peak day), your temperature will rise and you are safe for intercourse without protection. It will drop again when you begin your period. If it does not lower again on the day you expect your period, and you have 18 days of high temperatures in a row after ovulation, you can expect to see a positive pregnancy test!

4. Check the days you have intercourse and be sure that you are especially noting your most fertile time which is shown below in this example highlighted in yellow. You will need to abstain or use a protective barrier method, such a condoms, when having intercourse on your fertile days if you are not wanting to become pregnant. If you do want to become pregnant, you will want to chart your fertile days carefully and plan intercourse on those days.

5. Your cervical fluids are the indication of fertility. If you are not on your period, you will be dry, creamy, sticky, or have fertile egg white cervical fluids. Click here for a website that has a great representation of the cervix and fluids.

6. Notes can be taken on travel, moods, stress, PMS, illness, exercise, etc....

Chart #1: This women did not want to become pregnant on this cycle
and did not. She started her period again after her 28 day cycle.



Chart #2: This women wanted to become pregnant on this cycle
and did. Her temperature remained high after her 28 day cycle.


These charts are only examples and this is a very simplified review of charting. If you have questions or are interested in using this method, I encourage you to read up on it and ask questions on how it can be used by you.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Vaccination Exemption in Texas

In addition to medical and religious reasons, I recently learned that Texas and Arkansas have been added to the list of 20 states that allow for "philosophical" exemptions from vaccinations. By stating that you are opposed to vaccinations based on your philosophies, your children can be exempt from getting any or all vaccinations. It is not necessary to state your philosophical reasons when you complete the proper forms for exemption. Remember that it is important to apply early to avoid the backlog and possibly delays for school deadlines.

There has been a lot of publicity on the evening news this week about vaccinations. Parents are being advised to vaccinate their children to go back to school. And, there have been a few local cases of severe reactions to Gardasil, the HPV vaccination.

According to the poll on my blog, about 42% of my readers have chosen not to get all of the recommended for some or all of their children. Because many doctors and hospital staff are presenting vaccinating as "the law" most parents are vaccinating their children without the proper education and information. Be aware that it is "the law" that they offer your tiny new baby the vaccines, but you are able to waive any and all of these vaccination given at birth.

If you decide to vaccinate, I recommend that parents wait until their children are at least two years old before doing any vaccinating. As far as school aged children go, I would strongly urge doing a lot of research before getting all of the vaccinations recommended by your pediatrician. Many vaccines are still so new and do not have long term, double-blind placebo test studies done on them. A chiropractor friend of mine recently informed me that longer studies have been done on shampoo than on vaccines. Hmm......

Click here to find a vaccine friendly doctor near you.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Newborn Crawl to Initiate Breastfeeding

I love the video of a newborn crawling up it mother to feed. I wish the poor baby was a bit more dried off and had a hat on, but overall, it is a great demonstration.

video

Evidence shows that 22% of all deaths among babies in developing countries may be prevented by early breastfeeding initiation.

The breast crawl is natural and instinctive for babies. This does not guarantee successful establishment of breastfeeding for every mother and baby, but it can have some great advantages if it is achieved. The skin to skin contact with the newborn baby has many amazing affects on the mother and baby as well, including bonding and warmth.

Advantages to the mother and baby for the breast crawl and early breastfeeding initiation include:
  • Skin to skin contact which keeps the baby warm
  • Leads to fast and effective achievement of feeding skills by the baby
  • The first feeding of colostrum has a high concentration of antibodies. It is the babies first immunization. The baby will get bacterial flora from the mother that protects against infection and ultimately leads to the baby's survival
  • Promotes uterine contractions for better birth of the placenta
  • It can prevent maternal blood loss and anemia
  • Leads to better sugar levels and other biochemical parameters in the first few hours after birth
  • Promotes earlier passage of meconium and decreases the potential of newborn jaundice
  • Early and long term breastfeeding success
  • Better mother-infant bonding
Information gathered from http://breastcrawl.org

Monday, August 17, 2009

It's Up For Discussion

Thanks to all my faithful readers! I want to hear from you. Vote for the topics you want to know more about on my new poll to the right. Or, if there is something else you want to read up on, leave a comment or send me an email.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

My Current Read: Making Babies

Making Babies: The Science of Pregnancy by David Bainbridge

The cover really grabbed me! This book is a bit over my head, but has some fascinating, scientific information about how sex and pregnancy has evolved over the last several hundred years and really since the beginning of time. It is amazing how much we were not able to know and discover without simple objects such as microscopes. I am about halfway through and have found some interesting information that pertain to my own journey with trying to become pregnant. Not sure if I recommend this one yet as a good source for your own library, but I will let you know.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Seduction of Induction

As a doula, I have to be up to date on all the statistics, findings, pros, cons, and all the other information out there on induction of labor. According to statistics, induction of labor accounts for42% of all births (research done by www.solaceformothers.org). I think it is important to point out that in most cases their is no evidence of better maternal or neonatal outcomes with induction of a normal, healthy mother and baby.

The most common methods of inducing of labor are done by introducing a synthetic hormone called Pitocin into the bloodstream through a continuous IV drip or by inserting a prostaglandin suppository into your vagina for cervical ripening. Each of these methods is usually followed by the artificial rupture of membranes. If you are scheduled for an induction, I recommend that you do all of the research you possibly can about what is involved. In most cases, many other interventions will follow that you may not understand or wish you knew more about.

Note: The decision to have an induction could be the last decision you make about your birth.

In her talk, Penny Simkin raised the question, "Are there repercussions from interrupting normal pregnancy and bypassing the normal birthing process?"

ACOG (American College of Gynecology) states that induction is okay for the purpose of medical reasons such as illness, oligohydraminios (low amniotic fluid), post dates, prolonged PROM (premature rupture of membranes), IUGR (intrauterine growth restriction), and *M.D. decision on a case by case bases. ACOG is now silent on induction of "big baby" as of 2009.

*I personally feel that this leads to a wide variety of interpretation by doctors and their patients.

Now on to Macrosomia or better known as the "big baby" theory. How many of you have been told were going to have a large baby, only to give birth and find out they were overestimating by pounds? A "big baby" is classified as being suspected to weigh 8.5 lbs. or larger. I say "big baby" with quotes because there is truly no way to tell how much a baby weighs while in utereo and the ultra sound can be off by as much as 10%. "Big baby" is a relative term. Often times there is fear associated with inducing for a suspected "big baby" such as shoulder dystocia or further baby weight gain throughout the remainder of the pregnancy. Shoulder dystocia occurs in only about 30% of babies over 8.5 lbs. and it is also important to know that SD can occur in babies of all weight and size. Furthermore, induction for "BB" does not prevent a cesarean delivery, nor does it improved the outcome of mother and/or baby.

The reasons for induction vary across the board. I do not advocate all of these. In fact, I am highly opposed to many of these. But, I am not opposed to induction as a medically necessary procedure when absolutely necessary. Here is a list of reasons. I will let you decide what sounds like a "good" reason for induction.
  • A mother is between herpes outbreaks
  • She had a previous rapid labor
  • She and her partner are a long distance from their birth place
  • The father/partner must leave home for an extended period of time (i.e. military)
  • The mother is at or near term. Why not go ahead and just induce?
  • She wants her caregiver to be the one to deliver her baby
  • They are scheduling her induction to ensure adequate hospital staff
  • The parents want to choose to avoid or coincide with a specific date
  • Suspected "big baby"
  • The baby is post due
  • The mother has an illness
  • There is low amniotic fluid and the baby is at risk
  • There is prolonged PROM (premature rupture of membranes)
  • The baby growth is being restricted by an unpreventable cause IUGR (intrauterine growth restriction)
  • M.D. decision on a case by case bases.
Remember: You are the consumer. The illusion of control can be very alluring.

Because induction of labor is so widely practiced now, and you may have many friends who have had an induction, it is important to understand the issues involved and how to have a conversation with your caregiver regarding this topic. Many women are not aware that induction, in a majority of cases, is an elective procedure. You need to understand the difference between a medically indicated and an elective induction. It can be very difficult to resist the offer of an induction to the "ninth month woman". Induction becomes a "hurry up and wait" process. You will be restricted from food and drink, possibly for many, many hours during this process. Also note that when you choose an induction, you are also choosing to have an IV and continuous fetal monitoring because of the risks involved to you and the baby. And, you may be told to call ahead of your scheduled induction because the unit is too busy to take you on until later that day or the next. This can be very unsettling and emotional for the women who has been told that her induction is "medically necessary". Here are some suggestions to ask your caregiver when deciding on an induction.
  • Is there a problem? How serious is it? How urgent is it that we induce? What are the next steps if we hold off on the induction?
  • Describe the induction procedure. (Often times they will give you a hand out that explains it all. I highly recommend you get it straight from the mouth of the caregiver.)
  • What are the risks?
  • What are the alternatives?
  • What if my induction fails?
Because I love what I do, I work with women who have inductions. It is part of today's birth world. Again, my main focus is getting my clients educated and informed about making decisions that are right for them at the place where they are.

Thought: I agree with Penny Simkin, birth should be seen like the weather.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Can You Relate?

First of all, I want to say thanks for all the great comments on the Attachment Parenting post below. I think that the diversity in parenting is great. I do not have children yet, so I have not tried any parenting techniques. I will be curious to see what we pick and choose to use to form our own style.

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Many of you know that we lost a baby to an ectopic pregnancy a year ago. I love to read all the blogs of women and families who are trying to conceive a child. It is a challenge and very difficult emotionally, spiritually, physically..... I don't feel alone in the journey. Today/tomorrow is a year since it all happened and I have this on my heart......

Dear Baby,

It's your mom here. It has been a year since I found out about you and lost you all in the same hazy moment. I think about you all the time. I am thankful for your short presence because it truly did change me. I know that sounds so cliche, but it did. Sometimes I wonder what it would have been like if you had decided to really come and live in this world. I tease you that you wanted to be big and muscly like your daddy and that is why you didn't make it all the way down the tube. That gives us a bit of comic relief. But, if you were here, I wonder what you would look like. Were you going to be a boy or a girl? What would your personality be like? All these things I want to know about you.

When I say I think about you all the time, I really do. I know your time here inside of me had a purpose. You weren't meant to make it and sometimes I wonder why? I kind of know better, but still I ask why? God placed you inside of me for a reason and I guess I don't need to know all the whys right this moment. I know enough.

We really want you back though. I take it a lot harder than your daddy does. I wonder when I will see you again. Will you come back or will it be another? I try and tell myself not to take the tests...that I am only setting myself up for disappointment when they only have one line instead of two. Sometimes I beat myself up and wish I had been a more observant mother. If I had, then my tube would not have gone with you, or maybe it still would have, I don't know. Saying or thinking that won't change what is though.

So, baby, I want you to know that we are waiting for you. You are very much anticipated and being prayed for constantly. I will be a good mommy and your daddy is amazing. We can't wait to meet you. I know that you are waiting for just the perfect moment and that is really okay. We will do our best to be wait patiently. I will try not to cry the tears of sorrow any longer. It makes your daddy sad when I cry for you. You just come when you are ready.

I love you baby.

Love,
Mom

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Attachment Parenting: The Science Behind the Style

Okay, attachment parenting it is!

Attachment Parenting is the special bond between you and your baby. It means the mother (and father) are in harmony with the needs of the baby. It usually refers to the mother more because the mother-infant attachment can be stronger than that with the father mostly due to breastfeeding and the care given to the baby. Not to exclude the father, but the mother is often more attached with the newborn. Attached children play better with peers, are better lovers, better students, better parents, have higher IQ's and faster motor skills, and they are more resilient. There are 7 B's to attachment parenting as formed by Dr. Robert Sears that I have outlined below. Click here for more information at Dr. Sears' website.

1. BIRTH BONDING
The mindset of attachment parenting starts at birth. In the initial hours following the birth, it is suggested to avoid separation to allow the initial bonding with both parents. Healthy, normally birthed babies (without special needs directly after birth) should be placed on the mother's chest immediately after birth until the first feeding is finished. The first exam may be done on the mother's chest. Ideally, the baby should stay with the parents throughout the recovery period until the parents go home. In order to ensure this happens, it is suggested that the parents visit with the caregivers prior to the birth.

2. BREASTFEEDING
If a baby achieves breastfeeding in the first hour of life, he/she will be more likely to exclusively breastfeed for longer. Breastfeeding helps you read your baby's cues and understand his/her body language. Breastfeeding provides the hormones to give you a "mothering boost".

3. BABYWEARING
This lets you develop your own instincts with your baby. Babies in slings are more attached to their mothers that those in baby seats. More attached babies become more independent children. Playpen babies have been shown to develop skills at a slower rate. Babies carried in 3-D (side, back, front) cry less and their brains grow faster.

4. BEDSHARING (CO-SLEEPING)
Sleeping with your babies and children in your "safe" adult bed has been shown to promote more attached, independent, and secure children. Three times as many babies die in cribs as die in adult beds. Bedsharing is safe. Half of Americans co-sleep with their babies and children about half of the time. Bedsharing actually decreases the rate of SIDS. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends room sharing to lower the rate of SIDS (except if one or both of the parents are smokers or abuse alcohol, which increases SIDS if room sharing by 25 times!) Solo sleepers or babies who sleep alone are shown to startle more often, have higher anxiety, have increased heart rates, and have interfered sleep. SIDS is lowest in countries that routinely practice co-sleeping. When you have small children in your bed, you should take your bed off the frame, have no cracks, no water beds, take no sedatives, and have no really soft, cushy linens. And, if you do not want to bedshare, don't do it. It has to be something you want or you will become resentful of sharing your bed. *When bedsharing, it is important to note that newborns/infants and small children should not be in the same beds.

5. BELIEVE YOUR BABY'S CRIES
Your child's development is most importantly influenced by the mother's response to the cry. When you respond to the babies cries, you meet his needs and he will know he is loved. "Crying it out" babies are shown to cry more and more annoyingly because they are insecure. The more babies cry, the more stress hormones circulate which suppress growth and immune function.

6. BEWARE OF BABY TRAINERS
Watch out for rigid, extreme parenting styles that suggest schedules and watching the clock. This promotes a short-term gain and long-term loss and Dr. Sears suggest it is not a wise investment.

7. BALANCE
Your marriage is still very important. Figure out and gain the wisdom of when to say "yes" and when to say "no".

Attachment Parenting is NOT:
Ignoring your marriage, ignoring your health, self-sacrificing, being critical of others, or insisting your way is best.

For more information see www.askdrsears.com.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

What Do You Want?

Hello Friends!

I have missed you. I just returned from a DONA (Doulas of North America) conference in Atlanta. It was a packed three days of much information that I cannot wait to share with you. We had speakers who are well known to the field and are authors, educators, and professionals such as Dr. Robert Sears, Penny Simkin, Marshall and Phyllis Klaus, and many others. These amazing people have written many of the books that I now have in my library for expectant mothers.

I am eager to start posting all about the things I have learned. I would like your feedback on where to begin. Here are some of the topics that I am now a bit more knowledgeable on:
  • SOLACE - Ongoing care and support for the mother who has had a "traumatic" birth experience
  • Vaccinations - As per Dr. Robert Sears and The Vaccine Book
  • Kangaroo Care - Immediate skin to skin care for preemies to full term babies
  • Attachment Parenting - Attachment ideas for new families versus schedules for new babies
  • Teen Mothers - Helping support pregnant and birthing teens as they become new parents
  • Hospital Birthing - How to efficiently and effectively work with the hospital staff and parents. There are some great ideas for negotiating and having an amazing birth in the hospital setting.
  • Seduction of Induction - Penny Simkin's talk on the lure of induction in today's society and the outcomes of such
  • Attachment for the Laboring Mother - How to effectively help a mother by attuning and attaching to her during birth for better infant and maternal outcomes
  • Eco-Friendly Birthing - What are we coming to by taking the natural, normal, spontaneous, birthing process away from the mothers and manipulating it into a convenient package

Ok, let's start there. Anyone want to suggest the first post from those ideas?