Natural Remedies for Trying to Conceive
For some couples, trying to conceive can be as exciting as it is challenging. Those that are trying to establish a pregnancy can feel overwhelmed when, month after month, they fail to conceive.
While there are many medical options for couples who prefer more aggressive intervention, there are also things a couple can do to enhance their natural fertility and increase the chances of establishing a successful pregnancy.
Many of the best methods of natural fertility enhancements involve education as well as general health and well-being. However, there are also some supplements and herbs that can increase your chances of getting pregnant.
Education and General Health
Understand your cycle.
If you haven’t already, pick up the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility. Understanding how your cycle works, how to identify your fertile periods, and how to maximize your chances of pregnancy is half the battle.
Record your cycle.
Understand what your “normal” looks like. Not every woman’s cycle is exactly the same. Your cycle may be 28 days, 30 days, or as long as 35 days! Establish what your normal looks like so you can more easily understand your fertile window.
For help with understanding and recording your cycle, you may consider trying the following:
1. Fertility Awareness Method
2. Technology such as OvuSense or MiraCare
Strive for a healthy weight.
Being either overweight or underweight can disrupt a woman’s endocrine system. Without enough fat, the body cannot adequately produce progesterone which is required to sustain a pregnancy. When a body has too much fat, there is stress on the adrenals and the thyroid which causes progesterone levels to fluctuate in an unhealthy way.
Eat more healthy fats.
Healthy fats are good for every part of the body. They reduce inflammation and promote healthy circulation, as well as enhancing the health of the reproductive system. Most of the fats in your diet should be polysaturated or monosaturated.
Stress is a fertility killer. It causes the body to exist in a fight or flight state. When anxiety levels are high, the body perceives a threat. Whether or not a threat is real, the body responds by existing to help you survive. So as a method of protection, it suppresses fertility.
Supplement with Vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential for proper hormone regulation as well as many aspects of overall health.
Take a prenatal vitamin
Most of the time, we think of a prenatal vitamin as something you take during pregnancy. But if you are trying to conceive, it’s best to start before you establish a preganancy. Now, a single prenatal vitamin will not give you all that you need to be healthy as you are trying to conceive. However, it will help supplement some of the things your body may be lacking.
Supplement with iodine
The thyroid has been called “a woman’s third ovary” by some health professionals. It is critical that the thyroid is operating optimally for someone that is trying to conceive. The thyroid requires iodine to be fully functional and operational. Most Americans are deficient in iodine and many people believe that the US recommendations for iodine intake are far too low.
Avoid Unfermented Soy products
Some studies suggest that soy can interfere with a person’s endocrine system, whether male or female. There is conflicting information on this, however some studies have seen an increase in fertility when soy products have been removed from the diet. If you’re trying to conceive, it may be a good idea to try removing it for a while.
There are a number of herbs that are knows to help with fertility. However, it should be noted that use of herbs should always be used under the supervision of a care provider. Herbs can be very powerful, and as such, care and intention is prudent when employing them.
It’s also helpful to note that many of these help support a healthy menstrual cycle. So while they may help you as you are trying to conceive, they may also be useful to employ for general health before and after pregnancy as well.
Black cohosh is known for its ability to stimulate the ovaries which in turn stimulates egg production. It’s also an old wives remedy for menstrual cramps.
Evening Primrose Oil
Evening Primrose Oil is often talked about as an induction method, but it also helps balance the ph of a woman’s fertile cervical fluid. In addition, it is known to treat hormone imbalances.
Chasteberry or Vitex
Chasteberry can help increase a woman’s progesterone levels. Progesterone is necessary for establishing and sustaining a pregnancy, so women who have low progesterone may benefit from this.
Milk Thistle has been used for decades for a variety of women’s health conditions. It is most talked about as an agent for stimulating milk production when breastfeeding. But it can also help prior to pregnancy for general ovarian support and improving egg quality.
This herb is known to support many aspects of a woman’s health. It can improve egg quality, help women who are suffering with PCOS, regulate a woman’s cycle, and correct hormone imbalance.
General health is critical when trying to conceive. But a little extra support can go a long way. Happy baby making!
EenEy, Meeny, MinEY, Midwife
There are several pathways to midwifery. Choosing the best midwife for you may mean considering a different birthing environment.
CERTIFIED NURSE MIDWIVES (CNM)
For those wanting a hospital environment for their birth, but a more balanced approach with expectant management of their maternity care through the pregnancy and birth of their baby, Certified Nurse Midwifery should be considered.
A hospital-based nurse midwifery team follows the same ACOG recommended visit schedule of care and screening options as any standard OBGYN practice. A certified nurse-midwifery practice has several midwives whom you could meet with prenatally. Typical prenatal office appointments last approximately 15-30 minutes. During labor, they often provide an initial pelvic exam to determine dilation and if you should be admitted to the hospital after you have been triaged by a registered nurse. CNMs have an on-call rotation, so it’s uncertain who will be with you when you are birthing, or if you will have the same provider catch your baby as who has been with you throughout labor. Your midwife will ensure the safe delivery of your baby with intermittent check-ins with you or your nurse, considering changes from the curve of normal physiological birth, facilitating any interventions, catching your baby or transferring your care to an Obstetrician (OB/GYN). After the birth of your placenta and routine check of your perineum and fundus, your provider will leave your recovery care to the nursing staff who will be in charge of the care for you and your baby for about 2 hours following your birth. You will then be transferred to a postpartum floor and assigned a new nurse for each shift for the duration of your hospital stay.
Most Medical insurances will cover certified nurse midwives for a planned hospital birth. However, Nurse midwives are not available in every hospital, or may not be available 24/7.
Some Nurse Midwives will attend home birth. Though CNMs have licensing in the state of Massachusetts, medical insurance will not reimburse home birth any more than other midwives.
CERTIFIED PROFESSIONAL MIDWIVES (CPM)
Research has shown the home to be a safe location to birth for low-risk pregnancies, allowing the natural birth process to unfold with the skillful and compassionate care of professional midwifery services. Home birth midwifery care decreases unnecessary interventions and increases a new family’s confidence and satisfaction in birth and parenting. A professional home birth midwifery team follows the same ACOG recommended visit schedule of care and screening options as any OBGYN office. Midwives offer evidence-based care, unencumbered by routine practice or hospital policy. Instead of a 10-15 minute appointment, they are typically with you for 60-90 minutes every meeting. Rather than planning birth under hospital lights with strangers, you’re planning your birth in the comfort of your home with providers you’ve come to know and trust. While you enjoy getting to know the sweet newborn baby in your arms, the team will prepare nutritious postpartum food and tend to your home before tucking you into bed for a truly good night’s rest, often leaving 4-6 hours following the birth of your baby. Your midwife returns within several times within the first week postpartum for check-ups.
Some medical insurances cover home birth, and often if they do not cover the birthday, they will often cover your prenatal and postpartum care with a homebirth midwife. Contact your insurance company to find out if birth at home is covered. Do not let finances be the reason for choosing your birth setting or provider. Deductibles for a hospital-based birth may be more than the cost of birthing with a home birth midwife. Many CPMs will offer a payment plan to help you afford a home birth in Massachusetts, Connecticut, or Rhode Island.
Community midwives have followed a traditional education before organized learning opportunities. Their education has been received by hands-on learning and the passing down of knowledge from the generations of midwives before them. There is a variety of care in this midwifery title, and it's important to ask questions about education, continued education, care practices, and about emergency protocols.
THE DOULA vs. MIDWIFE DIFFERENCE
It’s important to note the difference between doulas and midwives. A doula is more like a birthing coach, but a midwife is a similar trained professional with special expertise in supporting women to maintain a healthy pregnancy birth, offering expert individualized care, education, counseling to a woman and her baby throughout the childbearing cycle. While a midwife and doula may offer many of the same philosophies and qualities, it is the midwife that will deliver or “catch” the baby and perform necessary medical examinations throughout pregnancy, labor, delivery, and postpartum.
Birth Doula Support can be a complimentary team member for your family. They provide childbirth education, support during pregnancy, and continuous physical, emotional and informational support to you and your partner during your labor and birth. Birth doulas are meant for those wanting natural birth, epidural birth, home birth, hospital birth, hypnobirthing, and cesarean!
After the birth of your baby, there may be new challenges during the first weeks of parenthood. Postpartum doulas provide a wide spectrum of support which include breastfeeding assistance, newborn care, sibling care, physical help around the home cooking healthy meals, laundry, and emotional support to new parents who may be experiencing the new anxieties of parenthood.
We help provide RESPECT, SUPPORT, ENCOURAGEMENT, and nurture your transition to parenthood with CONFIDENCE and PEACE!
What is a doula?
Over the last decade, increasing media attention has people asking, “What does a doula do exactly?” With tv shows White Collar and Season 21 of The Bachelor to celebrities Alanis Morrisette and Alicia Keys, the word “doula” is a buzz!
A doula is often mistaken with a midwife, but more accurately referred to as a birth coach, birth assistant, childbirth educator, or pregnancy concierge. However, these are incomplete definitions. A doula is an assistant, but there are several different types of doulas; Antepartum, Birth, and Postpartum Doulas.
Antepartum doulas specifically care for families during pregnancy. They often provide guidance in navigating emotional and physical changes as they grow a little human or may physically care for the mother or birther while on bed rest. They provide considerations for deciding which new hip products on the baby block are important on your baby shower registry or help organize a nursery.
Birth Doulas are trained professionals able to assist childbearing families with emotional, physical, and educational support. Birth doulas fill a gap in modern obstetric care. Though they provide many of the same services as an antepartum doula, their main focus is meeting with families prenatally to prepare for labor and delivery, and the initial breastfeeding. The cascade of interventions can lead to 1 in 3 women having a surgical cesarean birth. Studies have shown doula support can decrease unnecessary interventions and increase maternal satisfaction. Birth assistants can decrease the need for pain-relieving medications like an epidural. They are skilled in techniques for natural pain relief, such as massage and touch, counterpressure, acupressure, rebozo, aromatherapy and offer suggestions throughout labor to help a birther feel more comfortable. We help facilitate communication by considering questions you may ask and offer alternative methods to discuss with your birth team. Most importantly, birth doulas provide a complimentary care that not only brings confidence as mothers approach their birthing time, but helps new parents feel calm, capable, and a ready to take on parenthood!
Postpartum doulas work within the budding family’s home to help for the new mom, dad, parents, grandparents, siblings and newborn adjust. They may prep food, provide breastfeeding support, bottle feed your baby, attend to older siblings, or care for baby as parents recoup with a shower and much-needed sleep. Sometimes a postpartum doula may be referred to as a night nurse or night nanny when providing overnight baby care so families can feel more rested. They may help with the emotional changes the whole family experiences in the postpartum or postnatal period and guide the strengthening of bonds.
There are dozens of doula training organizations and all doulas are not created equally. Although all doulas are sincerely passionate, all doulas work differently! Some doulas are hobbyists, others balance a full-time work/doula life, while still others have built a full-time professional service. They offer different services, different packages, have different skills and experience ranges. They may have stopped their education after a 2-day online doula training, taken an in-person hands-on training and certified, or have additional hands-on complimentary education such as rebozo, Spinning Babies, or massage.
It’s important to ask questions when determining if the doula you’d like to hire may fit your expectations and is the right fit for you!
New Life Blessings offers Birth and Postpartum Doula services including overnight support for you and baby. Read more.
Pregnancy is a fantastic time in a woman’s life. Her body becomes a nurturing home for a precious life, providing everything needed until the baby is ready to make their entrance into the world. To watch the growth of a pregnancy occur is quite amazing and can be seemingly simple. However, the start, progression, and ending of a pregnancy all involve a special and specific interaction of a variety of hormones that flood a woman’s body from even before the time the sperm meets the egg. Parents Magazine identifies six major hormones that play a major role in pregnancy.
Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG)
Human Chorionic Gonadotropin is a hormone many women first come to know when using an at-home pregnancy test. These tests measure the level of this hormone in the urine, and if high enough, indicate to the women that pregnancy has been achieved. This hormone is made by cells in what eventually form the placenta. The level of hCG in the body double about every two days, reaches its highest level around 60 to 90 days, then decreases to a stable level for remaining of the pregnancy. One job of this hormone is to sends signals to the ovaries to stop producing eggs. Its main role is to allow the corpus luteum, which is a cyst on the ovary, to continue to make estrogen and progesterone until the placenta is mature enough to handle to the production of these hormones. The level of hCG begins to decrease once the placenta takes over the production of estrogen and progesterone.
No other hormone is more associated with women than estrogen. Responsible for critical fetal development, estrogen allows for the organs and body systems in the fetus to develop. Estrogen also triggers the growth of the adrenal gland of the fetus and the hormones that it produces. Additionally, it allows the uterus to be responsive to oxytocin. Pregnant women can experience nausea, spider veins, changes in skin, and an increased appetite due to high levels of estrogen in the body.
Encyclopedia Britannica explains that progesterone plays a critical factor in a woman becoming pregnant as it allows the uterine wall, or endometrium, to thicken which allows for implantation of a fertilized egg. During pregnancy, the hormone relaxes all the smooth muscles in the body which includes the wall of the uterus. Blood vessels in the body also become relaxed which contributes to the dizziness, lower blood pressure, and some gastrointestinal issues that pregnancy can bring such as gas, heartburn, nausea, and constipation. Progesterone is also responsible for the rise in hair growth on the body during pregnancy.
Oxytocin is the hormone associated with labor. The uterus becomes sensitive to the hormone as the pregnancy prepares to end. It is responsible for stretching the cervix as well as stimulating the nipples for milk production to occur. Women who do not go into labor naturally often require the use of Pitocin, which is the artificial form of oxytocin.
This hormone’s name indicates its function as it is responsible for relaxing certain parts of a pregnant woman’s body. Relaxin increases by about ten times through the duration of pregnancy, and it allows for the ligaments in the body to loosen. This is essential as the pelvic bones must have the flexibility to successfully allow the baby to pass through the birth canal. Relaxin also allows for the uterus to relax in anticipation of childbirth. This hormone can cause some women to become clumsy during pregnancy. Also, it is the cause of the feeling of looseness in some body parts such as the hips, ankles, knees, and shoulders that some pregnant women experience.
After pregnancy, women can produce milk to nourish their young. The hormone prolactin allows for this milk production to occur. Prolactin is produced in quantities 10 to 20 more times than when a woman is not pregnant. During pregnancy, prolactin ensures that the breast tissues are ready to be utilized. After pregnancy, the hormone allows the body to release milk through the nipples.
Pregnancy brings an entire cascade of hormones, all of which are required to perfectly orchestrate the amazing process of childbirth. These hormones can bring a variety of changes, many of which can be uncomfortable, to pregnant women. However, these effects are short-lived and usually thought of as being minor when compared to the amazing result of bringing a child into the world.
The excitement you feel over having a new baby soon is hard to deny. However, your toddler may not understand exactly what it means to welcome a new life into the home. As a result, you want to help ease your little one into this transition by using a few creative techniques.
Involve Your Toddler in Making Decisions
Before the baby is born, begin including your toddler in some small decisions. While you might initially scoff at the idea of your toddlers picking their siblings name or selecting a theme for the nursery, consider if it would actually be harmful in any way to ask them what they think about these decisions. You could look at lists of baby names together or ask them what they think about their top choices. When you’re at the store, you can narrow down the theme yourself and then ask your toddlers what specific items they like. This will help them feel included in the process of welcoming the baby, instead of fostering resentment and the feeling of isolation.
One of the best ways to prepare your toddler for the new baby is to read some books. When your kids are toddlers, they may not have tons of social experiences, but fiction can always help bridge some empathy gaps. Books can help them to get an idea. Many different books exist that can help to get your toddlers excited and assist in quelling any concerns that they feel about welcoming the new baby into the home.
Buy Toddlers a Present
As you prepare for the new baby to arrive, you are buying your baby plenty of items, from toys to clothes to whole pieces of furniture. Also, people are probably bringing and sending you presents, especially if you are having a baby shower. As a result, your toddlers can begin to feel left out. While you don’t want to make everything about presents, a small item can make a big difference in helping them feel appreciated during the busy months.
Talk about the Future
While making promises that you can’t keep, such as ones about large family vacations immediately after the baby is born, is not the best plan, that doesn’t mean you can’t begin to make some loose plans about life with a new addition to the family. However, you can talk about the future in more general terms. For example, your toddlers might get excited if you tell them about the games that they will be able to play when the baby is older or how they can help to take care of the baby. Your toddlers may worry that they are going to be left out, and these conversations can ease that worry. Maybe even just planning small family outings together can foster communication and quality time together.
Preparing for a new baby involves a number of tasks. But don’t forget about helping your toddlers ease into the transition during this phase. If you are nervous about giving birth and making this transition, reach out to us. We’d love to help you feel completely comfortable with every aspect of your experience.
Mind / Body Connection in Labor
As birth doulas, we see women do amazing things. They struggle, they wonder, they bond, they nourish, they comfort, they love fiercely. The birth with all the power of humanity and in these moments they are vulnerable. They are scared, they are excited, tired, and raw.
Birth reveals much about us to ourselves and to those around us. As a doula, I’ve watched the power of the mind/body connection become more real and tangible than in any other area of the human experience.
The body responds in profound and sensitive ways to stress, thoughts, stimulation, and suggestion. In many cases, whatever a woman thinks about for her birth is exactly what happens. This sounds like it’s in stark contrast to the line that says “things never turn out how we plan”, but there is a difference between a plan and a thought process. So here is what I’ve learned about the mind/body connection in birth work.
Women need to be deliberate in choosing their thoughts for their birth. If they fixate on their fear, that fear will most certainly manifest itself. Fears are real and should be validated, but not given the benefit of too much consideration. For example, if a woman fears that her water will break and contractions will not start on their own, the body interprets this thought process as an instruction. Practicing mindfulness or meditation can go a long way toward honing the ability to be deliberate about thoughts.
The words that a care provider chooses to use during pregnancy and labor have a profound effect on a woman. The phrases “You are only at 4 cm” and “you’ve progressed all the way to 4 cm” convey the same clinical information: cervical dilation to 4 cm. But they communicate profoundly different messages that will be interpreted by women differently. One tells a woman that her body is essentially defective. The other communicates capability. When a woman thinks she is defective, her body may respond to this as stress, which fights with oxytocin. When she is given confidence, her body opens up to its capabilities.
Women should speak what they want for their birth. Affirmations work. Again, the body receives them as instructions and blueprints rather than formless thoughts or whims. Choose your words carefully because both your body and your mind are receiving them.
Women should communicate to those around her that she doesn’t care to hear all the bad stories. Birth stories are like war stories. The worse they are, the more we want to tell them. As soon as someone starts with “well when I had mine….” and you know where the story is going, it’s ok to politely stop the person talking, and ask them to refrain from telling negative stories.
Doulas have seen women dream that their baby has a shoulder dystocia and it happened.
We have seen women say they knew they were going to “need” Pitocin – and they did.
We have seen women say, during their whole pregnancy, “I’m going to show up at the hospital pushing” and they barely make it to the delivery room.
Doulas have stories to tell of women who spoke absolutely everything that ended up happening in their birth, down to the finest detail – both good and bad.
We know of women who desperately did not want a hospital birth, but felt they had no choice, yet they dreamed of delivering at home. Those births happened so fast that moms barely even had a chance to get out the front door.
You get what you speak. You get what you think. And you get what you fixate on. Print some affirmations and say them to yourself every day. You may be surprised to find just how much your mind influences your body.
Massachusetts Recreational Cannabis use is legal. But what should you know about Marijuana Use In Pregnancy?
Marijuana Use In Pregnancy
One of the more controversial topics of discussion in the birth and parenting community of late has been the use of marijuana and marijuana-based substances during pregnancy. With the legalization of recreational use in Massachusetts on the dawn, discussions abound with big opinions on both sides of the highly polarizing argument.
Women want to know:
Since marijuana is now legal in many states, many people assume that it is therefore considered safe. Women who have decided to use marijuana during pregnancy have reported that it is an effective remedy for everything from morning sickness to back pain. The internet is filling more and more all the time with anecdotal reports from parents claiming that they used marijuana during pregnancy and turned out to have a healthy child.
But unfortunately, anecdotal reports simply do not give us enough conclusive information to say for certain that it is safe for use during pregnancy. More research is needed. Yet researching marijuana use in pregnancy is more difficult than it sounds.
It is unethical to knowingly expose a patient, including a fetus, to a substance that may have unknown risks. Due to the ethical complications of such a study, it may not be done – at least not any time soon. The only way to compile research would be to follow women who admit to marijuana use during their pregnancies and document their outcomes.
But here again, this presents a few problems.
There are still many in the medical field who will report a woman to CPS (Child Protective Services) if they admit to using marijuana while pregnant. Women are understandably scared to share this information with their providers, so we really don’t know how prevalent it is or if there were any side effects from their use.
It gets even more complicated when we start trying to decide if marijuana based substances are safe as well, including CBD products that do not contain the psychoactive THC component. Is CBD safe in pregnancy?
We really don’t know.
Pharmaceuticals that are prescribed during pregnancy have well known and documented risks and benefits, giving doctors a confidence about prescribing them. Pharmaceuticals are somewhat predictable. Doctors are more comfortable prescribing a drug whose risks are known and documented that they are with “allowing” a woman to use marijuana, whose risks are still widely unknown.
So, is it safe?
Well, the jury is out, simply because there is not enough evidence about marijuana use in pregnancy. It’s starting to come out more and more that pregnant women have been using marijuana safely for many years. That’s not to say it is unsafe – but it’s not to say it’s not either! It just means we need more data to draw any sort of evidence-based conclusions.
What about breastfeeding? Here again, we must wait for data to say for sure. We do know that THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana, has been found in the breast milk of mothers who were using marijuana while breastfeeding. What sort of effect does that have on the nursing baby? We really cannot be sure.
As a doula, I tend to work with a population that values a more natural lifestyle. Some parents argue that marijuana is a plant, and therefore it’s safe for consumption and use. But please know that just because it’s a plant doesn’t mean it’s risk-free, and particularly during pregnancy, caution is prudent.
So for now, it’s up to you to make the decisions best for you or to hold off completely. Until there is more research showing that it is a safe alternative, it is considered best practice to avoid it during pregnancy.
For additional information, please check out the following:
Professional Survey of Medical Use of Marijuana https://www.scribd.com/document/241019203/Medicinal-Use-of-Cannabis-Aviva-Tracy-Romm
Cristen Pascucci of Birth Monopoly and Birth Allowed Radio interviews Heather S. Thompson PhD Marijuana and Pregnancy: http://birthmonopoly.com/ep-15/
CDC Centers for Disease Control: https://www.cdc.gov/marijuana/factsheets/pregnancy.htm
ACOG American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology: https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Marijuana-and-Pregnancy?IsMobileSet=false
Are you flocking to a dispensary on Tuesday? Tell us more below!
There is not a single parent that, during a pregnancy, plans on having to deal with preterm labor. While it’s true that pregnant women should not obsess about it to the point of worry, all pregnant women should be aware of the signs to watch for. So for the sake of gathering information, we are going to discuss the basics of preterm labor in this post.
What is preterm labor?
Clinically, a pregnant woman is considered to be full term at 37 weeks. It’s important to note, however, that clinical definitions do not reflect the actual readiness for life outside the womb for every baby. When allowed to gestate until they are ready, most babies will go to 40 weeks and beyond, and waiting until they are ready is safest for baby. But sometimes babies will come on their own from 37 weeks on, and those who do tend to need very little medical attention. Because the definition of a term pregnancy is considered 37 weeks, a labor that starts anytime before 37 weeks is called “preterm.” Any kind of labor is defined by contractions that cause the cervix to change. Many women experience contractions before they reach 37 weeks, but if they do not cause the cervix to change, it is not considered to technically be preterm labor.
What causes preterm labor?
In short, nobody knows. There are a number of things that can contribute to a woman’s preterm labor, but each situation is different. For the most part, modern medicine does not fully understand all the mechanisms contributing to preterm labor. Because they do not understand it, they do not have all the appropriate the tools to treat it.
What are the signs of preterm labor?
The signs to watch for in preterm labor are the exact signs of regular labor. The only difference is that they take place before 37 weeks gestation. Do not hesitate to go to the hospital if you think you suspect preterm labor. The earlier it is caught and diagnosed, the easier it is to manage and stop. There are many signs of labor, but the primary sign to watch for is contractions that are getting stronger, longer, and closer together. In any kind of labor, you may feel a bit nauseated, lose the mucous plug, and your bowels may empty. If your water breaks, you are definitely in preterm labor and you should go to the hospital right away.
What to expect at the hospital
When you arrive at the hospital in preterm labor, you will first be sent to triage for assessment and monitoring. This is the same as if you were having a full term labor. The triage nurse will notify your care provider (doctor or midwife) of the situation. Your care provider will then give care orders to the nursing staff and they usually manage the majority of your care.
Depending on the intensity of your contractions, the staff may choose to simply monitor you and your baby to see if labor progresses. They will be watching for the cervical change. If labor does not progress and it appears that you are only experiencing minor contractions, you will likely be sent home with instructions to rest and hydrate. However, if your cervix is changing with your contractions, you will probably be given a medication to manage the situation, depending on the severity.
Medications are commonly given for preterm labor
If you are diagnosed with preterm labor, the hospital will want to act quickly to attempt to stop your labor and there are a variety of medications they may want to use.
If they need to slow your contractions, they may choose to give you a classification of medication called a tocolytic. This is a medication that causes muscles to relax. Since the uterus is a muscle, it often times responds to this medication. This classification of medicine usually lasts several hours, so your nurse will monitor you until the effects wear off. They will want to see if labor starts up again on its own without medicine. For many women, a single tocolytic shot is all that is needed to stop a preterm labor.
However, if labor picks up again after the shot has been given, labor is indeed starting and there is not much they can do to stop it. Depending on how far along you are in your pregnancy, they may decide to give you another dose of tocolytic. If they opt to do this, they are trying to buy you as much time as possible. (The long term use of tocolytics is generally not recommended, except in very early pregnancies where the birth would be extremely dangerous.) If your pregnancy is further along and the first tocolytic dose does not work, your provider will likely allow labor to continue to progress on its own, and they will manage it like a regular labor.
In some cases, a mother can be given a steroid shot which will encourage the baby’s lungs to develop faster. After giving the shot, they will wait as long as possible to get the baby out; sometimes they will wait days, sometimes weeks, depending on the situation.
If your waters are broken and your provider wants to give the baby as much time as possible to develop in utero, sometimes they will give you antibiotics to prevent infections from developing. As long as there is no infection, chances are baby can still stay in utero and develop a while longer.
Modern medical advances have been lifesaving for many babies and mothers experiencing preterm labor. Many preterm labors can be safely managed, and fortunately many very early babies can be saved. It is never optimal to have a baby before they indicate that they reach full development, but most of the time it is manageable. The most beneficial thing that moms can do during pregnancy is to take good care of themselves and their health to the best of their abilities. Then, love on those babies whenever they arrive.
When it comes to natural beauty for expecting mothers, coconut oil is the holy grail. This nourishing oil is safe for use in expectant mothers for a wide range of applications, including hair and skin care. It is both gentle and soothing and may be applied directly to the body.
Learn more about the benefits of coconut oil and how it helps nourish dry hair and prevent stretch marks.
Coconut Oil for Hair Care
Coconut oil can be used to repair dry and damaged hair as well as soften and prevent stretch marks on the belly. During pregnancy, women often experience changes in their hair texture and growth. Most find that due to the rise of estrogen, their hair grows more quickly, is stronger, and more healthy. These changes are often short-lived, however. After giving birth, estrogen levels drop rapidly, leading to dry, brittle hair, and in some cases, hair loss.
Coconut oil is rich in caprylic and lauric. These fatty acids are ultra-moisturizing, making them an excellent solution for dry, brittle hair. As an added benefit, massaging coconut oil into the scalp also allows it to penetrate the cuticles on the fingertips, leading to healthier nails!
Moisturizing Hair and Scalp with Coconut Oil
Before washing your hair, apply coconut oil to the scalp. Massage it in for about three minutes. Using a comb, comb the hair from the root to the ends to distribute the oils evenly throughout the hair shaft. Place a warm towel over your head and allow the oil to sit for up to thirty minutes and then wash as usual. You may repeat this process once or twice a week.
Coconut Oil for Stretch Marks
As your pregnant belly expands, your skin expands with it. If the skin is dry, rapid expansion can lead to stretch marks. Daily full-body moisturizing is highly recommended to aid in the prevention of stretch marks and to increase skin elasticity, and coconut oil could be a big help.
It’s wise to continue using coconut oil, even postpartum, to help your skin “snap back” to its original state.
Coconut Oil as a Skin Cleanser
Skin changes during pregnancy can be attributed to hormone fluctuations. Help your skin by washing it regularly, especially the face. Coconut oil makes for a great moisturizing facial cleanser that’s gentle on the skin.
Rub coconut oil in between the palms. Apply directly to the face. Massage in gentle, small circular motions. Wet a muslin cloth with warm water and wipe the oil from the face. Pat dry with a soft towel.
Expecting mothers all over the world are raving about coconut oil and how it helps nourish dry hair and prevent stretch marks. It’s an all-natural product that is a genuine health and beauty staple. To check out some more tips on the journey to giving birth to life, be sure to see our blog!
Placenta Encapsulation has been a topic of great discussion for the last decade or so. More and more moms are choosing to have it done and many are experiencing the tremendous health benefits.
Recently, however, the birth community at large has created an uproar surrounding placenta encapsulation. This is because many insist that their way of doing it is the best way and only way. It has created a shameful and unnecessary division among birth professionals, who seem to be losing sight of the main goal of birth and postpartum work: a woman’s choice.
The conflict does not surround the benefits of placenta encapsulation. We all agree on that. Rather, some placenta encapsulators insist that their methodology is the only acceptable one.
Their way goes like this:
That is all. I and many others in the birth profession have a few problems with insisting on these methods as the only safe and acceptable ones.
Most importantly, as I mentioned, the client gets no choices in the matter. If she does not want it processed in her home, regardless of her reasoning, that’s too bad.
Length of Time
Most moms stay at the hospital for a day or two after giving birth. If a woman has had a cesarean, she may stay for 4 or 5 days. During that time, the placenta is being stored by the hospital for her to take home. The fact that a placenta remains at the hospital while the mom is staying in a mother-baby unit does not guarantee it’s being handled safely or properly.
Most hospitals see a placenta as medical waste, and they do not always have systems in place for storing, labeling, and preserving a placenta that someone wants to be processed. Having a placenta encapsulator pick up the placenta soon after birth ensures that it is going to be handled and processed quickly.
In addition, the longer a placenta sits unprocessed, the greater the risk of contamination, spoiling, or mishandling becomes. The safest option for producing a quality product is to process it as soon as possible. I’ve heard stories of women learning after the fact that their placenta was mislabeled, and therefore they didn’t even know it was theirs! In another situation, a woman’s placenta was being held by the hospital staff for her when it mistakenly got sent to the pathology department. When it came back to her in shreds, she could not encapsulate it.
Placenta encapsulation provides the greatest benefit to women as soon as possible after birth. That means that the longer it goes unprocessed, the longer a woman’s body goes without getting the benefits that are critical in helping women manage those first several days.
Conversely, a placenta encapsulator can pick the placenta up soon after birth and have placenta pills processed and delivered the day after birth when the mom’s hormones are at their greatest need for stabilization. She can have her placenta pills even before she leaves the hospital.
What if a client does not want the placenta processed in her home? There are plenty of valid reasons that a woman may not want a placenta to be processed in her home. A placenta encapsulator that does not honor those reasons is providing a disservice and a lack of choice to that woman. Most women just want to be left alone at home to rest after birth. What if a woman has a pet that she is concerned will try and eat the placenta as it’s dehydrating? (That has happened!) Furthermore, some women simply may not want the smell in their house and that is fair because even after birth, a woman’s nose is sensitive to smells.
Finally, to claim that the placenta owner’s home is the best place because it can be most sterile is unjustified. I could refute that by claiming that my method is safest because I sterilize equipment by a certified sterile supply technician with steam sterilization in an autoclave when other encapsulators are only trained to disinfect. If you hire a placenta encapsulator to make your placenta pills, you can ask questions in the interview about how they process it, what certifications and methods they use, and how they ensure safety. Just because it’s being done within the client’s home doesn’t mean it’s automatically safer there.
I offer both in the home and in office placenta encapsulation, and I feel that is what gives my clients the most options. In my experience, most choose NOT to have it processed at their home. Still, a few choose to have me do it in their homes, and I am certainly glad to do it that way for them! What’s important is a woman’s CHOICE in the matter. After all, birth professionals all over the world advocate for women’s choice – and they deserve to have that choice extend to their placenta encapsulation options as well.