New Resources to Help You Achieve a Healthy Pregnancy, Lovely Birth & Successful Postpartum Recovery!

New Resources to Help You Achieve a Healthy Pregnancy, Lovely Birth & Successful Postpartum Recovery!

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Some of the resources featured in this post

Hoping for a Healthy Pregnancy, Lovely Birth & Successful Postpartum Recovery? Here’s some resources to get started!

**Note, I am NOT affiliated with ANY of these resources, and I do not receive any financial gain or otherwise for promoting these products!**

As you might know, I love trying to stay up-to-date on current research and information about having a healthy pregnancy and postpartum recovery. I really want to be able to give clients good, solid information, and help them to achieve their desires for a low-risk pregnancy, beautiful birth, and end up with a supported, successful period of postpartum recovery. None of these things just happen, though. It takes concerted effort on the part of mom and her support team, and having some quality resources available to you can make all the difference in the world to achieving these goals!

These days, there are so many resources available, that it’s often hard to know where to start. And so many places have conflicting information, which only adds to the confusion about who to believe, and what is actual fact. Between blogs, articles, mommy boards, books and free advice, you might be wondering just where to concentrate your efforts in getting some basic information.

I have been so delighted to be made aware of some great resources that are available, and the purpose of this post is to introduce you to a few of these. This is by no means an exhaustive list, so if you have more resources to suggest, please add them in the comments so we can all learn from each other!

Nutrition:

This is a MUST READ for all pregnant women, and anyone even thinking about having a baby. Optimal nutrition starts now, and builds a foundation for a healthy mom and healthy baby. Real Food for Pregnancy: The Science & Wisdom of Optimal Prenatal Nutrition by Lily Nichols is the BEST book on nutrition that I’ve read in a long time. She will help you to understand how lacking our standard American diet is in real nutrients, and why so many moms end up with gestational diabetes, high blood pressure & pre-ecclampsia. For all the incredible information, it’s written in a very easy-to-understand style. She will help you understand why you need quality vitamins that utilize activated forms of B vitamins and folate, how much protein and good fats you need, what type of salt your body actually needs, how to reduce your carbohydrate intake, what type of exercise you need, and so much more. There is seriously so much more in this book than JUST nutrition, and your body will reap benefits from applying the information it contains! There is another book by the same author entitled Real Food for Gestational Diabetes that is especially geared towards helping moms to balance their blood sugars and manage gestational diabetes through quality diet changes.

Pregnancy Guide:

Have you seen the old “What to Expect” series for expectant moms? Well, you can think of The MamaNatural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy & Childbirth by Genevieve Howland as a new, up-to-date version from a natural, holistic perspective. It’s great, and I think it should be a standard baby shower gift for every expectant mom (though they should probably have it well before the baby shower, honestly!). With input from a CNM and a doula, this guide goes through all the typical questions you face week-by-week, and gives advice on nutrition, tests to consider (and why you’d do them or why you might opt out), what you should be thinking about and preparing for, and how to go about choosing the right caregiver, birth location and options that are right for you. I love the fact that the book gives great info on home, birth center and hospital options, helping moms to achieve a great birth no matter where their location, but helping them to do so as healthily and naturally as possible.

Exercise:

So, while the other two books I mention touch on exercise, there are also some resources available that FOCUS on exercise. As I’m sure you know, exercise is important during pregnancy especially as you prepare for birth (you wouldn’t expect to run a marathon without training for it, right? We should think the same way about training for birth…), but did you also know that exercise is important for your body AFTER pregnancy? Our bodies go through some pretty amazing transitions as they grow a tiny human from smaller than a speck to 7-9lbs, which pushes our stomach up, our bladder down, and challenges our circulation. And then the baby has to come out…and our internal organs all must shift and readjust, and the muscles are stretched and then must get smaller…which means that there is A LOT of changes and stress for the body to recover from!

You’ve probably read or seen articles that talk about healing from diastasis after pregnancy, and/or about incontinence issues, pelvic pain, etc. that can occur postpartum, which can increase in possibility as you have more children, or have babies fairly close together without a lot of time for needed healing. But did you know there are actually things you can do about these issues? And that there are answers out there which can help you recover from pregnancy, and help you go into and through another pregnancy in even better physical condition than before?

One of the resources that can help is to take a prenatal or postpartum class through BirthFit. I love their motto: Giving birth might be the most athletic event of your life. Train for it. Isn’t that true?? In our area, classes are taught by Julie Kulig, a local chiropractor who uses her extensive knowledge to help moms develop a program that works for them. Her prenatal classes focus more on exercise, diet and birth options, and her postpartum classes focus specifically on helping the body to heal and recover from birth. She helps moms to strengthen their core in the correct way to heal any disastasis recti,  guides you in exercises to tone and strengthen the pelvic floor, and teaches you how to move (picking up fat, chunky babies off the floor, anyone??) correctly so as to prevent injury. I personally took her BirthFit Postpartum class, and have been very excited with the benefits I received…and it was really good for me to realize I was capable of doing more than what I realized I could do when it came to good workouts. You can check online to see if there is an instructor near you, and you can also access a lot of the BirthFit information on their website-they offer online classes, as well.

Now, maybe you don’t have access to a BirthFit class, or have lots of little people around, and wonder how you could ever fit something like this into your life. I get it! I’ve been on the lookout for years for a good, tailored-for-moms exercise program that could be done in 20 min. or less each day. Honestly, there are times in my life where I just don’t have more time than that, and if an exercise program is going to take longer, it just won’t get done. So I was really excited to get ahold of the Trim Healthy Mama “Workins” DVD series. What has been fun is to see so much of what I learned at BirthFit being re-affirmed by Serene & Pearl, only this program is one that I can do at home, and working along with the DVD helps to provide me with more motivation than going at it alone.  Each exercise routine can be completed in 19-20 min, using mostly items you have at home, and they are geared specifically towards moms in the childbearing stage. This means they are specifically targeting pelvic floor strength & core stability, and they include modifications to use during pregnancy, or if you’re just getting started postpartum or in exercising regularly in general. I love their down-to-earth style-it makes you feel like you’re working out with your girlfriends. You can find out more and watch an intro video about the program here.

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I hope you can find some of these resources helpful in your own journey to better health, especially in relation to pregnancy & postpartum! I’d love to hear what you would recommend, so please feel free to share!

So, you’re interested in a VBAC….

So, you’re interested in a VBAC….

DSC_0632cThis is a subject that I get asked about frequently. There are many mamas out there, who, for a variety of reasons, are looking into their options concerning a pregnancy and birth after a previous cesarean section. The first question usually centers around whether or not I will take on a VBAC client…so let’s start with that, and then look into some ways to make achieving a VBAC a reality.

When it comes to considering a VBAC mom as a possible homebirth candidate, it’s helpful to have an idea of why the c-section was performed in the first place. You have the legal right to your medical records, so ask for them! Sometimes they don’t shed light on the subject, but frequently you’ll have a clue as to what actually happened, which may not have been clearly explained to you at the time. Was it due to a surprise breech? Was baby’s head in a bad position (such as posterior or asynclitic)? Did your water break, putting you on the clock, and labor didn’t start in time? Was it a case of “failure to progress”, where labor didn’t proceed, or you got “stuck” and then were tired? Or perhaps baby’s heart tones dropped, making it a fast emergency? Whatever the case, understanding what all took place helps to paint the picture, and give me an idea of what hurdles you might face in this next birth. And it might help you in knowing what to prepare for-for instance, if your c-section was due to a bad position of the baby, then we’ll be much more proactive at integrating exercises to help with optimal positioning. There are very few situations which risk a mom out of the option of a homebirth, but getting a clear picture of what happened before helps us to determine your eligibility. And perhaps you would feel more comfortable pursuing your first VBAC in the hospital setting…either way, these next suggestions can be beneficial and productive in helping you prepare for your birth!

I like to tell VBAC moms the same thing I tell first time mamas…preparing for birth is like preparing for a marathon. You don’t just decide to run a marathon today and achieve it tomorrow. It takes WORK to prepare your body for it! Most mamas planning a VBAC have not yet had a baby vaginally, so in that respect, we focus on preparation in the same way we do for a first birth. Not to make things sound negative, but it’s good to be prepared for the long haul-and prepare your body to be able to cope with it. Eating a healthy diet and consistent exercise both contribute to this. Regular walks, workouts, squats, etc. can all help to build up your stamina for labor and pushing. I’d also suggest seeing a chiropractor, especially during the last trimester, which can help to ensure good alignment of your pelvis and good positioning for baby. I highly recommend checking into Gail Tully’s website: spinningbabies.com, as well as following her suggestions in her DVD entitled “Daily Essentials”.

Besides getting your body ready, you need to prepare mentally and emotionally…and this includes educating yourself about the particular risks and concerns that affect VBAC mothers and babies, as well as talking with others who have gone through similar experiences. This support can be invaluable in helping you to work through your past disappointments and set realistic expectations. Some excellent resources that I encourage all VBAC moms to consider are:

  • VBAC Facts by Jen Kamel (She teaches an amazing class based on research surrounding VBAC safety. You can attend a live seminar, or take a webinar at your convenience.)
  • Read books on the subject:

C-Section by Mark Zawkowski, MD,  Natural Childbirth After Cesarean: A Practical Guide by Karis Crawford

  • Look into the “International Cesarean Awareness Network” (ICAN) and glean from their website…there are chapters throughout the US that meet regularly, where you can talk with other moms and learn from their experiences.
  • Join a facebook support group for VBAC mamas, and ask questions and hear about how other mamas achieve their VBAC.
  • Read evidencebasedbirth.com, and consider taking the class they offer online regarding “Failure to Progress”.

 

This information is hopefully enough to get you started with resources…blessings as you pursue your quest for a beautiful, natural and safe birth!

Suggestions for a Healthy Pregnancy

Suggestions for a Healthy Pregnancy

Recently I’ve been searching for a short, easy-to-read handout on nutrition and exercise. I was having trouble finding what I wanted…something that hit the high points, but wasn’t so detailed that no one would take the time to read it. Here’s what I came up with, though there is SO much more that could be said. I encourage each of you mama’s to research nutrition, supplements and exercise so that you know WHY you are doing what you’re doing for you and your baby!

2266-19942-1-SPDuring pregnancy, your body faces extra demands and nutritional needs. Making wise choices in caring for your physical needs can help to build a healthy baby, improve your energy levels, experience less complications during birth, and have a more rapid recovery. How is that for motivation?

Diet Recommendations:
There are many varied suggestions out there as far as pregnancy diet goes. While it is important for you to do your research and make the best choices for your particular situation, the following are a few principles to go by when it comes to what you eat:
– Major on high-quality protein. Protein helps to give you sustained energy, builds good skin integrity, and keeps your blood sugars in check. Some ideas include: Greek yogurt, cheese, nuts, nut butter, chia seeds, eggs, meat, and seeds.
– Consume a variety of vegetables, preferably organic whenever possible. This helps to provide you with more fiber, and the multitude of natural vitamins and minerals that vegetables contain.
– Add quality oils to your diet. Recent research has proven that quality fats are good for us, contrary to what we used to be told! Coconut oil, olive oil, and butter (esp. if it’s grass fed!) are examples of good fats to be consuming.
– Reduce your intake of carbs-especially simple carbs. While carbohydrates are good in moderation, they shouldn’t be considered the foundation of your diet. Carbohydrates tend to elevate blood sugar levels, as well as adding extra pounds to you and the baby during the last several months of pregnancy. When eating carbs, do your best to make sure they are made of whole grains whenever possible, which provide you with fiber and a slower sugar release. Using a variety of organic grains (such as oats, spelt, rye, etc.) are better choices than only consuming wheat products.
– Stay away from artificial sugars, and limit your intake of refined sugar. Try using maple syurp, honey, coconut sugar or other more natural-type sugars when you need something sweet!
– Try to limit fruit juices, and eat whole fruit instead.
– Keep healthy snacks on hand, so that it’s easiest to make good choices when you’re hungry!
Supplements:
Ideally, your nutritional needs should be met through a healthy, balanced diet. But most of us can still use a bit more help!  The basis of your supplements should include a high-quality prenatal vitamin, one made from natural food sources instead of being chemically engineered. Seeking Health, New Chapter Organic, and Thorne Research are good brands, but there are more out there. Most moms are also lacking in sufficient calcium and magnesium, and I recommended taking a minimum of 1000 mg. of calcium each day. This can also help you to sleep better at night, and experience less muscle cramping and discomfort. Other supplements are normally suggested and added as needed, and we can discuss your particular needs during our prenatal visits.newborn

Exercise:
In preparing for your labor and birth, it’s good to keep in mind that it is similar to preparing for a marathon. No one decides to run a marathon and then does it the next day-it takes lots of preparation and training for the big event. It’s much the same with giving birth. The more prepared and equipped your body is, the better able you’ll be able to handle the challenge and the easier your recovery will be. I highly recommend the following:
– Take a brisk walk at least 3 times each week, trying to go at least 1 mile in distance.
– Incorporate some type of exercise program (even just 10 min. long!) into your daily routine, and make it happen at least 3 times a week. There are many different 10 min. pregnancy workouts on youtube, and many other options you can take advantage of. A routine that incorporates lots of squats and leg-strengthening moves can be especially helpful in getting your body prepared for birth.
– Visit the “spinningbabies” website for information on daily exercises that encourage good alignment for mom and good positioning for baby. I have an excellent DVD on this subject that I encourage each of my clients to borrow and watch.
– Consider visiting a chiropractor during the last trimester to ensure your body is ready for birth!

Preparing for your birth…

Preparing for your birth…

Newborn-Baby-FeetThis information is written specifically to give first time mothers  and first time VBAC moms suggestions for how to improve their chances at achieving a natural, easier delivery. But that doesn’t mean this is just for them! All of these suggestions can help ANY mom as she prepares for an optimal birth!  Pregnancy and  childbirth is such a special and exciting time, and it is also something to be prepared for ahead of time. It is good to keep in mind that a woman’s body was designed to give birth, and that, normally speaking, your body does know what to do to get the baby out. On the flip side, though, is the fact that this is the first time your body has ever experienced this process. Because of this, labor can sometimes last longer, and be more physically demanding, as your body takes the time it needs for all of the muscles and bones to work together and stretch to allow your baby to enter this world. If you have invested time and effort into preparing ahead of time, your body will benefit, both in the labor and recovery processes. Just think, you wouldn’t run a marathon without giving adequate training and preparation-and so it is with childbirth. You must condition your mind and body to give you the best results.

Throughout the pregnancy:

–          Read and educate yourself! Take childbirth classes, together with your husband. This will help you both to be informed about the physical and emotional processes, and allow you to discuss ideals, hopes, and dreams before labor begins. I believe that education can also help to reduce the level of pain, as it helps you to understand what is going on in your body, instead of fearing the unknown. The more you can find out ahead of time, the more able you will be to relax, knowing your body is doing what it was intended to do. There are many books, DVD’s, and classes available-talk with me if you need suggestions!

–          Eat a healthy diet. A diet full of good, healthful foods (vegetables, protein, and complex carbohydrates), and low in sugars, fats and simple carbohydrates, can help you in several areas. One, it doesn’t build a huge baby. A smaller baby is easier to push out! Secondly, it allows your body to be able to function at it’s optimal ability, as your energy level is increased. Thirdly, good nutrition can build better skin integrity, which decreases your chances of tears.

–          Exercise regularly. Exercise is an extremely important factor, as labor and birth are very much physical events. Stretching, and building up your endurance level throughout the pregnancy will enable you to persevere if your labor gets long and tiresome. Throughout the last few weeks, walking briskly (until your pelvis hurts!) for at least 45 min. every day, can help to encourage the baby’s arrival to happen sooner rather than later.

–         See a Chiropractor-if your body is not in alignment before labor, this can really slow things down and keep the baby from descending. While having regular adjustments can be helpful, it’s an especially good idea during the last 3-4 weeks, as it can help your body to relax and get the baby into the best possible position before labor begins.

–          Visit http://www.spinningbabies.com and try some of Gail’s suggested techniques for helping baby to achieve the best position. Regularly implementing techniques such as inversions and belly sifting can help to reduce your overall labor time by helping your body to stay aligned and encouraging good position of the baby!

–          Practice relaxation. If you can learn to relax, go limp, and let your body work before labor begins, then the better able you will be to do this during labor. Remember, fighting pain and discomfort works against you during labor-you must open up, let go, and relax in order for your uterus to function the most efficiently. And the more efficiently it works, the easier it will be on you! In practicing, pick times of the day when you can work on letting each area of your body go limp. Find out what helps you to relax: water, music, massage, etc., and then have these available during labor.

During the last 5 weeks:

–          I encourage moms to take the following supplements:

  • Gentle Birth Formula ~ this is a specially formulated blend of herbs in a tincture form that work to help prepare the uterus for the upcoming birth. You begin at 35 weeks by taking 2 dropperfulls a day throughout the first week, and increasing the amount to 2 dropperfulls 3x/day for the remaining weeks. Mothers who take this herb usually have more “warm-up” contractions, which help the cervix to begin dilation and effacement before actual labor. This tincture can be purchased through In His Hands Birth supply at the same time that you order your birth kit.
  • Super Primrose Oil or Borage Oil ~ this supplement is in a soft-gel form, and you begin taking 1-2 capsules orally beginning at 35 weeks. Around 36-37 weeks, you may begin inserting one capsule vaginally at night when ready to go to bed. The high GLA content and natural prostaglandin that these oils contain helps the cervix to soften, making dilation easier. It’s a great way to give your body a head-start towards dilation!

In closing, remember to keep yourself hydrated, rest often, and take care of yourself. And when labor begins, try to get some rest before getting excited.   You need to conserve the energy for later. So think about some activities that provide fun distraction (games, movies, going out for supper, etc.), and try to focus on other things until the contractions become consistent and strong enough that you can’t be distracted through them….