Holistic midwife that offers services such as online childbirth course, yoga classes, consults, coaching and mentoring birth professionals, helps new midwifes start practice, newsletter, ebooks, webinars and offers information on natural birth, holistic midwifery, yoga, and your journey as a mother. Follow this blog and get information about supporting and empowering women in their childbearing..
Fatigue during pregnancy is a very common experience. Growing a baby is an enormous task and requires a tremendous amount of physical and mental energy.
There are a number of factors that can contribute to fatigue during pregnancy:
The increased demands on your body, mind and spirit.
Lack of quality sleep or rest periods.
Overworking yourself inside and/or outside of the house.
Short pregnancy spacing, breastfeeding and caring for other children
Too much time on computer or cell phone.
Unexpressed or unresolved emotional difficulties.
Depression or anxiety.
Acute infection or illness.
Under-active thyroid function.
Other health problems.
And even boredom.
Resolving Fatigue During Pregnancy
Look at the whole picture. Consider what in your life could be contributing to your fatigue, and take common sense measures to take care of yourself.
LACK OF REST Get more sleep by going to bed earlier, sleeping later in the morning and/or taking a nap during the daytime. Getting enough sleep is especially essential during pregnancy.
Take frequent breaks or “healing intervals” throughout the day to simply sit down, rest, center and calm yourself. You can do this by sitting quietly with your eyes closed, slowing down your thoughts by focusing on slow deep breathing while gazing internally between your eyebrows.
INADEQUATE DIET Paying close attention to your diet can go a long way in avoiding fatigue during pregnancy, as your nutritional needs soar during this time.
Make sure you’re drinking 8-10 glasses of filtered, spring or well water daily. Try to drink water away from meals (at least 20-30 minutes before or 2 hours after). Include in your daily diet plenty of fresh organic fruits, vegetables, whole grains., lots of protein and healthy fats.
Eat 20-30 grams of protein three times daily such as:
Nuts and nut butters
Organic whole eggs
Wild Alaskan Salmon
Turkey or chicken
Beef, Lamb and Buffalo
Organic fresh raw whole dairy - ideally goat or sheep
When eating fruit and whole grains, combine it with a protein or fat like avocado, nuts or nut butters, eggs, or a piece of organic cheese. If eating whole-grain carbohydrates makes you tired, reserve them for your evening meal.
Use cold expeller pressed extra virgin olive and/or coconut oil, and butter (goat is best) as your primary fat for cooking.
Eat small amounts several times throughout the day rather than heavy infrequent meals.
Products containing refined white flours and sugars or high fructose corn syrup will give you a temporary energy boost, followed by greater fatigue once the effect wears off. These should be avoided.
Also avoid highly refined processed foods, as these are usually void of nourishment and contain all sorts of chemicals, unhealthy fats, simple starches and sugars that can also make you feel more tired after an initial brief boost in energy.
VITAMIN AND MINERAL DEFICIENCIES
If you are anemic (which is very common in pregnancy, especially during the second and third trimesters), eat iron-rich foods. Good options include eggs, dark green leafy vegetables, seeds, nuts, beans and split peas, dried fruit, iron fortified cereals, red meat and poultry, blackstrap molasses, and brewers yeast. Take natural herbal sources of iron, such as Floravital Iron & Herbs - it comes in liquid and tablet form, as needed. There are other wonderful natural remedies to boost iron in my online holistic apothecary.
If your vitamin B 12 levels are low (common in women who have had several successive pregnancies or are breastfeeding), supplementing with 1000 mcg will be needed and can really make a huge difference in how you feel. It is also in the apothecary.
A daily nutrition-rich fresh juice made with a combination of veggies and superfoods like spirulina, kelp or wheatgrass can help you feel more alert and energized. Start slowly with 1-2 tablespoons of the superfoods and build up to 1-2 ounces. Drink first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Superfoods also come in all natural powdered mixes that can be added to your daily smoothie. Note: if you have a lot of accumulated toxins in your body, wheatgrass may cause slight nausea at first as it cleanses your system. This is harmless and eventually passes.
NATURE AND MOVEMENT Get plenty of fresh air and adequate exposure to sunlight on a daily basis. Try to spend at least 20 minutes outside with nature in the early morning or late afternoon sun each day without sunscreen. If spending a lot of time indoors, at least open the windows – even and especially in the winter.
Engage in moderate exercise for 30 minutes at least 5 days per week. Good options during pregnancy include swimming, brisk walking, cycling, dancing, or low-impact aerobics. Even though you feel tired, exercise creates energy and does wonders to minimize fatigue, depression and anxiety. Incorporating yoga (especially prenatal, Yin, gentle, and restorative) as a regular part of your daily routine can also be very powerful.
Try to maintain correct posture and body mechanics. Use your abdominal muscles to straighten your upper back and tuck your pelvis in to straighten your lower back. Engage your core by bringing your breast bone and lower ribs and belly toward your back, and bringing your front pelvic bone towards your breast bone. Use your arm and leg muscles instead of your weaker back muscles to lift, carry, pull, and push things.
EMOTIONAL HEALTH It is important to be open and honest about your feelings to yourself. Some women find it helpful to keep a journal or diary to increase self-awareness and understanding. Share your feelings with your spouse, close friend or family member. Periodically release pent up emotions with a good cry, followed by a hug.
Move strong emotions through your body. If you are angry or overstressed, play an angry song, if you feel grief, play a sad song, or simply play a track of African drumming and let your body move to the music, while making the sounds you need. Our little ones have their temper tantrums, move and release their emotions so they are not repressed and stuck in their bodies. Then they get up and play. Indigenous cultures dance their grief, anger, joy and celebration in community drum circles. We have much to learn from them. Invite friends and have your own drum circle to express and release emotions - you might just feel so exhilarated by it you will want to do this regularly.
Avoid overexertion and trying to be “super mom” by re-examining your priorities, limiting unessential activities, and learning how to say “no.” Delegate tasks to others and let friends and family help.
Try to allow yourself regular time each day without guilt to do something that you fully enjoy, that inspires and uplifts you. Make it easy and fun. Some ideas are:
Watching a musical, romance, comedy or inspirational drama
Reading a good novel
Taking a stroll through the park or in a beautiful spot in nature
Going on an outing with your partner or good friend
Cultivating a hobby you desire
Learning something new that interests you
Add more laughter and play to your life. Many women are surprised to find how health-enhancing and energizing this can be.
Seek out a transformational life coach or, if needed, a professional holistic therapist if the above ideas do not help and you are troubled by psychological distress or emotional discomfort. Suppressed feelings can worsen fatigue as well as cause all sorts of other problems if not properly dealt with.
HERBS AND OILS
Take an invigorating bath with a few drops of essential oils of peppermint or eucalyptus, lemon, wild orange, grapefruit and/or rosemary. You can add a few drops of these essential oils to a bowl or spray bottle of cool water and splash or spray yourself with the uplifting scents throughout the day.
Nettle is a great herb to be taking in pregnancy as a nourishing tonic. It also has the added benefits of blood sugar regulation, adrenal support, improving nutrient intake, and building iron levels. Make a strong infusion by steeping a handful of dried herb in 1 quart of boiling water for 3-4 hours and strain into a canning jar. Drink 1-3 cups daily (with fresh lemon or lime juice, mint leaf or a dash of honey to taste). A fresh spearmint or peppermint tea can also provide a lift of spirit and energy.
If interested in other herbs to improve energy, combine equal amounts of herbal tinctures of schisandra, eleuthero, and American ginseng, and take 1/4 to 1/2 tsp once or twice per day. Start with the lowest dose and work your way up as needed. Reputable herbal companies include Gaia, Eclectic Institute and Wish Garden.
Minimize or avoid caffeinated coffee. It is addictive, too much is harmful, the energy boost is artificial, and it can be agitating and impair sleep. Many feel more tired when its effects wear off.
Avoid stimulant drugs (including diet pills) and sleeping medications, as most have side effects for you and your growing fetus, and can cause you to become dependent on them. Many substances, such as cocaine, are outright dangerous to you and your baby. You must seek professional help if you cannot stop using them.
Homeopathy and acupuncture can both be great for soothing stress and increasing energy. Also, check out Clarity Breathwork and/or read The Journey. - for extremely effective, mind-body, cutting edge methods that have lead to transformational healing for thousands of people around the world.
If you experience any sort of chronic fatigue and exhaustion in which serious causes have been ruled out and none of the natural and allopathic remedies help, consider reading the book “The Mindbody Prescription” by Dr John Sarno, MD, an amazing pioneering physician whose brilliant approach has helped hundreds of thousands of people without drugs, physical measure or surgery.
If your exhaustion is extreme or persists in spite of following the above guidelines, consult your physician or midwife or schedule a consultation with me. If you are feeling overwhelmed, or do not even know what questions to ask, I can help you!
Check out my number one international best selling book
Bleeding During Pregnancy - Why It Happens and What To Do About It
Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy can often cause us to freak out and start thinking the worst. However, there are a multitude of less serious and more common reasons for light bleeding at this time, such as:
A burst of a tiny blood vessel in the vagina or cervix engorged from pregnancy hormones (especially with local infections, during the friction of sexual intercourse, internal exam or pap smear, and when there are vaginal varicosities).
Cervical polyps (often benign growths on the cervix that usually increase in size during pregnancy).
Hormonal fluctuations, especially around the time of usual monthly periods.
The normal implantation of the fertilized egg within the uterus (occurs 1-2 weeks after conception, around the time of your expected period, and lasts just a few days).
Bloody show at the beginning of labor (a welcome event only if your baby is at least 37 weeks, but more concerning if preterm).
Vaginal bleeding in the first trimester of pregnancy affects approximately 25% of all pregnant women. Less than half of these bleeding women actually miscarry. And once the fetal heartbeat is detected at the prenatal visit or on sonogram, miscarriage is rare and unlikely, especially in a healthy pregnancy where there is no prior history of problems like recurrent pregnancy loss. about 1 in 10 pregnant moms will have some bleeding in the third trimester. More often, the cause of bleeding is never found, the bleeding stops and the pregnancy continues to a happy conclusion.
Vaginal bleeding during the second half of pregnancy can infrequently indicate potentially serious complications such as:
The placenta partially to completely separating from the uterine wall before birth (placental abruption).
A placenta that is located close to or over the cervix instead of higher in the uterus (placenta previa). A note of reassurance is that while approximately 45% of placentas are classified as “low lying” during the second trimester, the majority “migrate” upwards far enough away from the cervix by the third trimester, and are not a cause for worry.
The umbilical cord first inserts into the fetal membranes, then the exposed blood vessels without the protection of the cord travel to the placenta (velamentous insertion).
When To Call The Midwife or Doctor
You should be evaluated by your midwife or physician any time there is bleeding during pregnancy in order to rule out anything concerning or deal with something that is treatable. Call your practitioner if bleeding is light but lasts more than 3 days, is heavy like a period or a continuous flow (you completely soak through a regular sanitary pad in an hour or less), or accompanied by any of the following:
Pain in your pelvic area, abdomen, back or shoulder
Rhythmic uterine cramping
The passage of tissue or clots bigger than a 50 cent piece
Foul smelling discharge
A gush of fluid from the vagina
Symptoms of a urinary tract infection - like feeling you have to urinate frequently, but only little amounts come out, burning or foul smelling urine, low mid pelvic pain when you pee
Fever or chills
Decreased fetal movements
Weight loss, premature resolution of early pregnancy symptoms like nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and breast tenderness, or the return of your normal breast size
You have a history of ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, molar pregnancy, placenta previa or abruption, or other significant health problem
You simply feel that something isn’t right
Once A Serious Cause of Bleeding During Pregnancy Has Been Ruled Out
Once you have been evaluated and the more serious causes of the bleeding have been ruled out or dealt with, you should do the following.
Make sure any issues that can be treated, like infections, MTHFR mutations or low progesterone, have been addressed.
Do what you love, what brings you joy, and use your imagination to make routine tasks more enjoyable - even by turning on the music and dancing while you work.
Take it easy and avoid heavy lifting until a few days after the bleeding subsides, with frequent breaks in a comfortable lounge chair, bed or couch.
Limit non- essentials, delegate and ask for extra help from family and friends.
Stock up on some good books, inspirational podcasts and movies, practice deep breathing and progressive relaxation exercises several times a day.
Put nothing in the vagina (this includes no sexual intercourse) until 1-2 weeks after the bleeding has stopped.
Eat warm foods, drink fresh ginger tea (steep a piece of raw ginger in a quart mason jar of boiling water for several hours), and limit cold and frozen foods
For a friable cervix that bleeds easily, small amounts of bleeding from a subchorionic hematoma, or persistent spotting from placental implantation, eat foods high in vitamin C. Good choices are citrus fruits, berries and dark leafy greens, as well as many other fresh produce. You may need to supplement with 500-1000 mg vitamin C with bioflavonoids, and add vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) 400 - 800 IU daily for a few weeks only, to support stronger placental adherence to the uterus in early pregnancy. Chasteberry can enhance pregnancy hormones, and natural progesterone can be prescribed if levels are low in the first trimester. There are natural supplements recommended like whole food B complex with 2-3 mg l-methylfolate, and at least 400 mg DHA/EPA Omega threes for those with the MTHFR mutation, as well as low dose baby aspirin (81 mg) that can thin the blood enough to help it circulate through the tiny vessels of the early placenta without clotting, and prevent miscarriage if that is the issue.
If You’re Cramping But Not Bleeding
If all more serious causes have been ruled out, and you are simply having a lot of cramping without bleeding, make sure you are drinking enough fluids, and are getting plenty of calcium and magnesium in your diet. Start by eating lots of green leafy and seaweed veggies, ground sesame seeds (tahini), wild caught fish like salmon, almonds, whole grains, and organic yogurt and cheese. Avoid excessive cow dairy intake, coffee and soda, even spinach, which decreases calcium absorption. You may need additional supplementation - at least 400 mg magnesium and 1200 mg calcium daily in 2-3 divided doses; or make your own infusion of nettles and red raspberry leaf tea, using the recipe here.
Also, helpful herbs to reduce cramping are cramp bark, black haw, and wild yam. You can experiment with one of them at a time, or use all together in combination. Take 1 - 5 cc of each tincture every 30 minutes to few hours, depending on how often and intense the cramping is.
If There’s A Threat of Miscarriage
Women can bleed and cramp and still have a healthy pregnancy. But not all miscarriages can be prevented. Miscarriage is actually pretty common, and rise with age and the more pregnancies a woman experiences. About 10-20% of women with known pregnancies miscarry before 20 weeks. Many miscarry around the time of the first missed period, before they even realize they are pregnant.
Heavy bleeding with cramping, lower abdominal or back pains and/or passage of tissue or fluid from the vagina during early pregnancy usually indicates that a miscarriage is in progress and there is little that can be done to stop it. In most cases, a miscarriage is your body’s natural way of rejecting an unhealthy or abnormally implanted fetus.
Once you know you are pregnant, it is still often experienced as a huge loss and the grief can be intense. I am sorry if that is what is happening and I encourage you to mourn as you need to, tap into your strength, look for the silver lining, and notice how you have grown as you heal.
Other less-common reasons for an isolated miscarriage include infection, dehydration, poor nutrition, severe trauma, and exposure to significant doses of hazardous substances (toxic industrial or environmental chemicals, drugs, alcohol, smoking, and radiation). It is still important to get evaluated, though, to be sure what is going on, and get treatment if needed..
If you have been informed that a miscarriage is threatening, follow the suggestions above for treatment of bleeding, plus:
Drink a small glass of wine or beer, or a shot of whiskey in juice to lessen the cramping at night if interfering with sleep, but alcohol should be used in very limited amounts during pregnancy.
Keep well hydrated with plenty of fluids (at least 8-10 glasses of water daily).
Light some candles and take relaxing warm baths with your favorite essential oils.
Take 200 IU of Vitamin E 3-4 times per day for no more than 3 weeks to strengthen placental attachment and reduce spotting.
Take 500 mg of Vitamin C with bioflavonoids twice a day during the crisis period.
Do a yoga nidra, mindfulness practice or a progressive relaxation meditation to stay calm inside. Whenever worrisome thoughts occur, use them as an opportunity to practice being present in the now and doing breathwork. For example, for 5- 10 minutes twice a day, do slow deep extended exhalation breaths (inhale for a count of 3, exhale for a count of 6), while allowing yourself to feel whatever you feel.
Tune into what is true for you, and what you really want. If it is your heartfelt desire to continue the pregnancy, let that feeling expand, as that will enhance whatever else you are doing. You can send loving thoughts to your baby and visualize your womb surrounded by love, light and spiritual protection; affirm that baby is welcome in your life, you and your baby are healthy and vibrant, your placenta is strongly attached to your uterus, you are providing safety, security and nourishment to your baby…as well as mama love, a love like no other.
You and your partner can place one hand on each other’s heart, the other hand on your womb, and imagine enhancing your family bond. Send love from your hearts to one another and to your baby. Focus on deepening and strengthening your love and connection, especially if there is tension between you. Never underestimate the close relationship of the mind and heart to the body, and the power of love and harmony to heal, and transform...and even prevent miscarriage if the pregnancy is healthy. This can be a wonderful opportunity of healing and transformative for all of you.
It helps to love yourself unconditionally and with compassion, to have a clear intention to release all self judgement and blame. Visualize the blame leaving you with each exhalation or melting away from your body, sinking down into the earth beneath you.
Connect to other wise women, in sisterhood - those who uplift, inspire and support you. Have a good cry, a good laugh and a good hug several times a day.
It also helps to pray, and as much as possible. Then let go, surrender to what is greater and wiser than us all, the benevolent infinite, and release trying to control what is not in your control. Can we embrace what is, even when we do not understand the whys?
If you are interested in herbal remedies to help prevent a threatened miscarriage, you can make your own infusion or tincture combination by mixing the following bulk dried herbs or the same herbs in tincture form:
Combine equal amounts of partridge berry, cramp bark, black haw, false unicorn root, wild yam, and chasteberry, with a dash of lobelia. Take 2.5 to 5 cc of the mixture every ½ to few hours until symptoms resolve, then a few times per day for a week. This mixture can be taken prophylactically twice a day in the first trimester, if you have a history of miscarriage in prior pregnancy. These herbs are said to aid the miscarriage if the fetus is not normally formed, but prevent it if it is strong and healthy.
Most of the supplements and herbal remedies I recommend are available on my customized online holistic apothecary. If you need more personal guidance, I am happy to help. You can set up a consultation with me here.
For extra support in pregnancy and relief of common aches and pains, wear an abdominal binder. Bellefit makes a fine one as pictured above. They also make postpartum support girdles . I have a holistic approach to life, including healing after pregnancy and birthing. Nothing replaces abdominal toning and exercise for restoring muscle strength and tone - which I encourage for all mamas as soon as they feel up to it postpartum. Nothing replaces touch, slow deep abdominal breathing, and a 'love your postpartum body' perspective that I promote. But I have found many mamas simply feel comforted by this support garment, especially early postpartum and temporarily as needed....to be used without forfeiting abdominal toning and strengthening exercise, breathing well and touch.
I have found Bellefit supportive garments to help like they use belly binding around the world such as in Indonesia. They do aid in early postpartum healing and provide support many mamas feel comforted by. I deal with human beings and the reality is many postpartum mom's struggle with body image, feel frustrated that getting back to themselves takes longer than expected.
Being into holistic health and healing includes being sensitive to real human struggles - the mind, body, heart and soul of each person and their unique situation.
Having helped countless women with these issues after having a baby as a midwife, I have found many still love that binding and feel better with this support, and ability to fit into their pre-pregnancy clothes comfortably and sooner than they would if they went through a C-section or natural childbirth recovery without it - especially when they have to dress up and fit into a certain favorite outfit for a special occasion or wedding not long after having a baby.
For more info on the Bellefit girdle, check out my blog about it here.
Have a Great Pregnancy and Postpartum Recovery (with a little help from Bellefit)!
Again, you get a $20 Off with code: ANNE20 at checkout - if you purchase here.
My heartfelt thanks for reading my story. I'm so blessed and honored that you will post my birth story on your blog and social media. I hope and pray that this would inspire more women to try birthing naturally and perhaps encourage them also to sing and dance their way through labor!
I was diagnosed with Pre-Eclampsia with severe features due to the extremely high amount of protein in my urine. My blood pressure remained normal, below 120/80, all throughout my labor, delivery & recovery. This is my 5th pregnancy. My first pregnancy was with twins. The 1st twin, Annalise, was born naturally (no anesthesia, IV, oxygen, pain meds) in our church's birthing clinic. The 2nd twin, Therese, was born via CS in a hospital. I was transferred because Therese went transverse when Annalise came out and it was Therese's hand that first came out. My midwife put her hand back twice before transferring us to the hospital.
In most hospitals, 24 hour monitoring is only done in the High Risk unit, so when my fluid was low, I had to be monitored for a full 24 hours before I transferred to a regular room. I went back to the High Risk unit again for the Magnesium sulfate, to counter possible seizure or convulsions, according to my OB. They also don't allow the natural birthing suite for high-risk cases like mine, because I already underwent Caesarean in a previous pregnancy, even though I've already had 3 VBACs.
Valentine’s Day, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019, I was looking forward to a lovely dinner that night with my husband of 13 years, Ritche, to celebrate our 15th year of being together, when we received news that my husband’s 98-year old maternal grandmother “Lola Auring,” whom he was very close to, had just passed away peacefully in her sleep. He regretted not being able to visit her sooner when she was still alive but looked forward to flying out from our home in Metro Manila (Philippines) to their province to be with her for the last time.
But, first things first… I had to go to St. Luke’s Medical Center in Bonifacio Global City, for my routine 36th week checkup & ultrasound. My OB did a Biophysical Score of our baby and told me that my fluid was low. In my mind, I thought, “Okay, I’ll just have to drink up at home then.” But, my OB had another plan... I needed to be admitted to the High Risk Pregnancy Unit and hydrate via IV. I called Ritche and he agreed for me to be confined, thinking we’ll just stay overnight until my fluid goes up in 24 hours.
So, aside from the IV drip, I tripled my water intake to 3 liters in the morning, 3 liters in the afternoon and 2 liters at night, which equated peeing almost every hour! AND I had to be hooked to several machines so my heart rate, blood pressure, baby’s heart rate and my contractions will be monitored for 24 hours. It was super uncomfortable but I thought, “No problem! As long as baby’s fluid will go up right away.” We then asked our churchmates and close family & friends to pray with us. I also prayed that I would be discharged as soon as possible so that Ritche could still travel the next day to be with Lola Auring.
24 hours later, Friday afternoon, my fluid just increased a tiny bit so my OB double checked the protein-creatinine ratio in my urine. While waiting for the results, we got a regular room and waited another 24 hours. My husband already cancelled his trip and let my mother-in-law, Mama Tess, go ahead to their home in the province. My UPC ratio was still extremely high, which made me a candidate for severe pre-eclampsia. We couldn’t believe it. Even my OB couldn’t believe it, either. I’ve always been careful with my diet, preferring veggies & fruits. I always made sure I had regular exercise. My blood pressure has always been normal. How could I have pre-eclampsia?
We’ve been praying for Baby Abe to come out at least on his 38th week so, imagine our surprise when she advised us on Saturday afternoon that we’ll both be safer if he came out as soon as I reach my 37th week, which was the following day, Sunday! Questions ran through my mind. We knew 38 weeks is the ideal. How do I induce labor? We’ve always just waited for me to labor naturally. With Agatha, our 5th child, we had to keep her in as long as possible. With Abe, it seems, we now had to bring him out as soon as possible! We hadn’t even packed our hospital bag! We were just supposed to buy baby boy stuff this week!
I had my Birth Plan printed out for the doctors and nurses and went back to the High Risk unit so that I can be given magnesium sulfate to counter possible seizure/convulsions. I was also given 4000 mg of Evening Primrose Oil every 4 hours to soften my cervix. It just seemed so foreign and unnatural to me that we had to naturally induce labor. How do we do that?
My husband comforted me and reminded me that we have a great and awesome God and that so many people are praying for us. He had been diligently communicating with and updating our close friends. My dearest friend Kartika from Singapore visited me twice. My best friend and sister, Lala and her husband, Solomon, came all the way from Carmona, Cavite, to encourage me with their love and presence. Our dear godparents, Fr. Dino and Sis. Anj, braved the 3-hour traffic to show their support and pray with us. When they mentioned the words “total trust” and “perfect peace” in their prayers, I was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write down the alliterations the Lord revealed to me as they were born in my heart so I can meditate on them:
“Total Trust in Thee” “Perfect Peace in the Prince of Peace” “Sweet Surrender to My Savior” “Calm and Courageous in Christ” “Blissfully Blessed and Brave to Birth our Baby Boy” “Relaxed, Rested and Ready”
Most importantly, my mother, Mama Lou, my father-in-law, Papa Adelo, and our 5 beautiful and wonderful children, gave me so much encouragement that I knew that we can bring Baby Abe out in God’s perfect timing. The Holy Spirit will lead me and guide our baby out.
Monday, after the magnesium sulfate treatment, I had another ultrasound. Baby’s fluid had significantly increased from 7.89 to 13! Praise God! We could really feel the prayers of everyone. We were ready to induce natural labor. My OB mentioned that Baby Abe could even be born on Thursday, which was her birthday! But I thought to myself that I didn’t want to labor that long. Our churchmates, Dcn. Jojo and Sis. Evelyn, brought homebaked muffins along with much laughter and prayed over us before leaving.
We finally finished my IV (Yay!) and I drank my red raspberry leaf tea, walked about our windowless room, slow danced, bounced on a birthing ball. Contractions were very mild at 3-5 minutes apart, but they weren’t “painful.” Mama Chato, our midwife who helped me naturally birth our other children, taught us that we must reframe contractions as “good pain” because it helps bring the baby down. The more you welcome each “good pain” and embrace the sensation, the more relaxed you will be and fear will leave you. So, everytime I felt a contraction coming, I relaxed my facial muscles, my jaw, my shoulders and let the tightening sensation do its work on my belly. The uterus is a very powerful muscle and I looked forward to the pressure, imagining that every contraction brought Baby Abe closer to being in my arms.
The resident doctor did my first internal examination and said I’m only 2cm dilated. Well, at least it’s not totally closed, right? However, at 530pm, I had an unexplainable occurrence of “chills” where I suddenly felt like I was freezing. I couldn’t stop my teeth from chattering and my body from shaking violently. My mom wrapped me in thick blankets, wore socks on me, rubbed my legs. I called my husband to hurry, as he was getting some documents for our hospital stay. I placed my cold hands in my armpits and prayed that the nurse won’t peek in and report that I’m having some kind of seizure. The chills passed after 20 minutes. My husband warmed me with his embrace. However, I couldn’t sleep a wink that night. My husband decided we transfer again to a normal room with windows so I could be more comfortable. I searched online “how to dilate cervix fast” and visualized my cervix opening and prayed constantly to the Lord to give me thoughts of peace and not anxiety. The baby knows when to be born.
Tuesday, I had a prenatal massage to relax and press those labor-inducing points, drank more red raspberry leaf tea, bounced on the ball and did more than walking, I did some dancing, too! Contractions were still mild at 3-5 minutes apart. I had another bout of “chills” at 530pm so my mother wrapped me again and I rebuked every thought of convulsion or seizure. I kept telling myself that this will pass and Baby Abe is safe in my womb. The chills stopped at 6pm. By 8pm, I was so tired from the lack of sleep that I was able to sleep very well, even with the regular rhythm of my belly tightening. We continued to entrust everything into the Father’s hands.
The next day, Wednesday, February 20, I was determined to up my natural induction techniques. My OB was pleased with the progress of my labor but reminded me not to wait until my water broke. She reminded me to let her residents know when I’m already 4cm dilated, because I gave birth so quickly to our last child, she almost didn’t make it.
My Mama Lou and I danced belly, hip hop, Zumba to the jiggiest songs I could find (Think “Trolls” soundtrack, “Walking on Sunshine” “Moves Like Jagger” “Waka Waka” you get the picture) and I sang my heart out to our Hillsong & Bethel favorites (Oceans, What a Beautiful Name, O Praise the Name, Open Heaven/River Wild, It Is Well, No Longer Slaves, etc.) when I rested. The doctors and nurses were amazed I could still sing and dance through my contractions. Haha! It actually took my mind away from the pressure. By 530pm, I thought my water was leaking so I called a resident to examine me. No water, just the EvePrim Oil melting but I was 3-4cm dilated. Yay! She then asked me to go down to continue laboring in the High Risk unit. Labor progressed very quickly and I did feel more and more pressure every minute!
Shout out to the doctors and nurses of St. Luke’s BGC for honoring my Birth Plan as much as possible and I agreed that I will only be hooked to the monitor for 20-30 mins every 2 hours.. No pitocin, no IV, no oxygen and no pain meds. By 8pm, I was 5cm dilated. Hooray! That pushed me to do even more dancing, bouncing, marching, swaying & singing during contractions, with my husband playing every song I requested. The pressure was already immense at this time, and I had a tugging feeling I was very close to transition, although it’s only been a couple of hours. I was thankful that my husband was just right there to tell me I’m doing great, and my mother was also with us, cheering me on. Whenever I felt the tremendous pressure, I would say, “Baby’s going down, down, down! Yes, yes, yes! Go, go, go!” and I knew that they both agreed with me and believed with me.
I was already speaking in tongues, asking the Holy Spirit to be my Comforter, my Teacher, my Guide. I envisioned Mama Mary giving birth to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I remembered all our children who are happily awaiting their baby brother at home. They’re counting on me to give birth to Baby Abe soon. I wanted to birth this beautiful being in my womb without fear, only love and joy and peace... Feelings of indescribable bliss welled up in my heart for this boy whom Ritche and I had so conceived in love. I was determined to confidently bring him out in that same love that conceived him.
At 1030pm, I asked the resident to check my cervix, which had already dilated to 7cm, with a “bursting” effacement. I had to be strapped again so I lay down waiting for the nurse when, a minute after, the nurse relays the message from the doctor to tell them right away if my water bag ruptures. She hadn’t left the room yet when my water bag burst! It felt like a water balloon popped out of me.
I excitedly told everyone, “Baby’s coming out!”
They wheeled me out our room into the delivery room right away. I felt the head of Baby Abe crowning.. I thought I couldn’t hold him in anymore.. but I tried to relax, as the doctors were still preparing, I had to be moved from my bed to the delivery bed and my husband, Ritche, was also getting into scrubs. I requested that I be more upright and not lying down. Our OB was nowhere to be found but already gave instructions to her three resident OBs present in the room. I already felt like pushing but was holding Baby Abe in.. I was so excited.. I called my husband.. “Daddy!” and told the nurse, “The cellphone!” Haha! I didn’t want the nurse to miss taking Daddy Ritche’s picture catching Baby Abe.
Finally, it was only a matter of minutes before I told them I had to push Baby’s head out. The doctors assured me and said they won’t hinder me from pushing. His head came out and the doctor was wise enough to remind me not to push anymore because he slid out so easily! It’s a birth phenomenon they call the “Fetal Ejection Reflex.” Pushing would have made the baby fly out.. Haha! It was amazing to see my husband “catching” our son! As with all our other children (except Therese who underwent emergency CS), he did the ceremonial cord cutting after the cord stopped pulsating. Baby Abe had already pooped meconium but miraculously, he didn’t ingest any and his Apgar score was 9 out of 10. Thank God!
I delivered the placenta within 5 minutes. And our OB, Dra. Bambalan, arrived moments after to check on me. Everything looked good. My blood pressure stayed normal all throughout. I had a 1 mm tear that didn’t need any stitching.
They were amazed at how easy the birth was and how fresh I still looked even after giving birth. We all laughed at how my primary concern was to get the cellphone to the nurse and how Baby Abe didn’t want to have the same birthday as Doc. Everyone in the room was lighthearted and Dr. De Guzman exclaimed that this was one delivery she will never ever forget!
All in all, we stayed in the delivery room for 18 minutes then I was brought out to the Recovery Room for 4 hours to check on Baby Abe and me. By the end of the recovery period, my BP was still stable, Baby Abe and I had skin to skin contact and he latched on the breast perfectly, but there was just one problem. The nurse said that they’d have to put a catheter on me if I didn’t urinate soon. No way! I gently pressed on my bladder and, sure enough, I was able to pee on my own.
The next 48 hours were critical for me and Baby Abe. I recently saw the diagnosis of my OB upon discharge. It was Pre-eclampsia with Severe Features. But, thank God, we never manifested any complications. No headache, nausea, vomiting, seizure, swelling, convulsion, shortness of breath whatsoever. My blood pressure never elevated all throughout. Baby’s oxygen levels were stable. I didn’t go into shock, stroke, had brain damage or any organ failure. I didn’t need any kind of pain medication.
Within 48 hours of delivery, we went home to our family, carrying our 6thbundle of joy, our second boy, whom we named "Abraham Nickola." So thankful to all our family, relatives, friends, and churchmates for keeping us in your thoughts and lifting us up in prayer. I believe that Ritche’s grandmother, Lola Auring, was also looking down from Heaven and interceding for us, along with all the saints and angels. To God be all the glory, honor and praise! He is a miracle-working God who faithfully keeps all His promises and grants us the desires of our hearts!
If you’ve been told that your baby is breech, don’t freak out. There are many ways to gently and lovingly ease your baby into vertex.
Towards the end of pregnancy, the baby settles into its favorite position. Ideally, this position is vertex, meaning that its head is down towards your pelvis and its bottom is high up in your abdomen.
Less commonly, the baby is breech (with its head up and its bottom down towards your pelvis). Even more rarely, the baby sits in a transverse position (with its head and bottom on either side of your abdomen).
It’s not always known why a baby is breech or transverse. Sometimes it has to do with:
Art by Catie Atkinson @spiritysol
Relationship between the shape of the baby and the shape of mom’s uterus or pelvic bones
Location of the placenta
Issues with the umbilical cord
Excessive amniotic fluid
Lax abdominal or uterine muscle tone
Labor and delivery carry more risk of complications when the baby’s head is not down towards the pelvis, even though breech is a variation of normal. So, when a baby is breech or transverse by the 30th week of pregnancy they should be encouraged to convert to the ideal vertex position. That said, the majority do turn by themselves at the beginning of the ninth month.
What to do When Baby is Breech or Transverse
If your baby is breech or transverse at 30 weeks, consider doing a couple of the following exercises 10-15 minutes 2-3 times each day until your baby turns.
Belly massage. Massage your abdomen GENTLY in the natural direction the baby will turn. But stop if you meet any resistance, and never attempt to forcefully turn the baby yourself.
Visualization. Close your eyes and imagine your baby with his or her head moving down in your pelvis.
Coaxing. Play classical or relaxing instrumental music by your pelvis, so that the baby will turn towards the soothing sound. Or shine a flashlight by your pelvis, so that the baby may move towards the light.
Go for a swim. Swim laps and do some handstands in the pool.
Pelvic rocking. Shift your pelvis up and down and side to side while on your hands and knees.
Act like an elephant. Walk around the house on your hands and feet.
Bridges and inversions. If you have an established yoga practice, go upside down with any of the inversions, using props for supportive modifications. Headstands and downward-facing dogs work wonders.
Art by Catie Atkinson @spiritysol
Art by Catie Atkinson @spiritysol
Beginners should start with bridges. To do this, simply lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor approximately 1 ½ - 2 feet apart and your knees bent. Elevate your hips 9-12 inches higher than your shoulders. You can support yourself in bridge with a yoga block under your sacrum.
Alternatively, lie on your front in the same “upside down” position, keeping your weight on your forearms and knees wide, with your bottom in the air. Lying on three pillows or a beanbag chair can help further elevate your hips.
Or, lie bent over the edge of a sofa or top of a staircase with your legs on the floor and your body lying down the sofa or stairs. Support your body with your hands or forearms so that your torso is inclined upside down.
Gently roll your hips side to side while in any of these positions.
Taking homeopathic Pulsatilla 30C will help the above exercises be more successful. Allow 4-5 pellets to dissolve under your tongue 3 times daily for 3-5 days. As with any homeopathic remedy, avoid eating or drinking for 15-20 minutes before and after.
Natural Medicine for Breech and Transverse Babies
In addition to exercises that help your baby move into the best birth position, there are a few techniques that can be administered by care providers. If you’ve tried the above suggestions without success, look for a practitioner that practices one of the following.
Find an Acupuncturist or Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine who has had success turning breech babies to vertex with moxibustion. The technique involves burning certain herbs close to the skin at specific acupuncture points.
A chiropractor trained in the Webster Technique can use this sacral adjustment to help facilitate the pelvic alignment needed for your baby to get into birth position.
Art by Catie Atkinson @spiritysol
If all else fails, you can opt for having your baby turned manually if the right conditions are met (such as no cord around the baby’s neck or short cord, adequate amniotic fluid, and healthy baby as detected on ultrasound with a normal fetal heart beat). Sometimes this is can be easily done in your birth practitioner’s office at 34 -36 weeks, especially in a woman who has delivered vaginally before, while carefully assessing the baby’s heartbeat.
Experienced midwives can turn breech and transverse babies. Most obstetricians prefer to do it in the hospital, often with medication to relax your uterus, ultrasound guidance, and continuous fetal heart monitoring.
Ask for a wedge pillow to support you in a tilted pelvic lift position, or a bed that can be placed at an angle, with your legs higher than your head to help baby out of pelvis.
Once the baby is turned to the head down position, stop inverting yourself, wear an abdominal binder at all times to prevent the baby from turning back to breech. Bellefit makes a fine one. as pictured below.
I am thrilled to announce that you get a $20 Off with code: ANNE20 at checkout - if you purchase here.
Art by Catie Atkinson @spiritysol
If your baby insists on being breech as you approach your due date, discuss your options with your provider. If they are not supportive of your choices for a vaginal breech birth, find a different practitioner, optimally one who has the essential skills and philosophy of birthing breech babies vaginally when appropriate and safe to do so.
A baby lying in the transverse position, however, can only be delivered safely by cesarean section.
My birth story is currently gathering a lot of attention, specifically around my thoughts on home birth, and the rawness of what I learned about myself. My
Disclaimer 1: This was my first pregnancy and birth experience. I say this because I know my feelings around my journey are so much a reflection of it being my first time.
Disclaimer 2: All birth is birth, and all people who birth babies are badasses. I chose a home-birth experience because it most reflected the journey that *I* wanted to have, based on my personal value system. Please don’t let my passion for home-birth make you feel that any other path is not as powerful.
Disclaimer 3: Don’t let my story shape your narrative of birth. Every birth is different, and pleasurable births are possible. In fact, here’s an interview I did about Orgasmic Birth just days before I went into labor. I believe that some mothers manifest the birth experience they need for whatever lesson they are walking at that time. I believe God is reflecting back to her in those moments the things her heart most needs to look at. For those that could use healing in regard to their birth stories, I highly recommend a Birth-Processing session with my midwife, Tiffany Hoffman, through Alchemist Movement's healing sanctuary.
Disclaimer 4: I was blessed with a healthy pregnancy, and privileged with access to healthcare and a steady income, and this is what made me successful in my home-birth dream. Even though home-births cost about $10,000 less than hospital births (and that's without a C-section), they are rarely covered by insurance. I hope my story helps spread the gospel of birthing at home.
Act I: The Mind Fuck(36-40 Weeks Pregnant)
36 Weeks: You feel like an expert in pregnancy but a complete novice in labor/birth (for first time moms, at least). At this point in my journey, because the impending labor just didn’t seem real, the whole thing felt like an exam I was studying for but that there was a chance I might get out of. Like, you’re nervous for the test, but also the Professor has shared he might just cancel the finals and base your final grade on your most recent paper, or something.
39 weeks: The reality of your birth, which absolutely no one knows how it will unfold, is definitely just around the corner. Because I was planning a natural birth and natural induction, the whole thing just felt like a surprise party that I accidentally found out about; I knew a party was happening, but I didn’t know when or where. So every corner I turned (every strange feeling), every time I walked in the door (every new pain), I’m like, “Is this it? Is it happening now?” And then it’s not, and the mind fuck just continues. You know you’re at the end, but also you’re still going...
40 weeks: “The Surprise Party” is now all the time. Basically everyday I was sending group texts like, “IT’S HAPPENING.”... ”No wait sorry no it’s not, my bad everyone.”... “OK NOW FOR REAL!”... “oh shoot sorry no it went away sorry.”
Act II: It’s Really Happening(Labor begins)
On Monday of my 40th week, I kept thinking my water broke because I was constantly leaking fluid due to incontinence (#LoveRealLife). There are these swabs that test for amniotic fluid, and my midwife gave me a handful of them to take home because it just kept happening. (Did you know that only 8-10% of women’s waters actually break in early labor? Most don’t break until right before the baby comes out. The idea that water breaks early is just an overused Hollywood trope!) The reason it was important for me to know whether or not my water was still in tact was because I had tested positive for GBS (1 in 4 women do), and, in the case of my water breaking, I had 18 hours (or something like that) to get the baby out in order to keep his risk of infection low.
I went through several false swabs throughout the week, then...Friday morning, February 9th, at 8:30am I went to pee and felt a little rush of fluid. At this point I had every expectation of another false result, when suddenly, the tip of the swab turned a vivid blue/black. My heart did flip-flops. I texted a picture of the swab to my midwife, and within seconds she wrote back, “Yep. That’s a positive swab. Your water has broken.”
A strange mixture of both calmness and adrenaline washed over me. It’s really happening, I thought.
I walked out and told my husband that my water broke. We both felt grateful that our baby decided to begin his journey on a Friday, giving us a 3-day weekend to capture the experience (it seriously could NOT have been better timed).
Typically, labor starts naturally within 12-24 hours after your water ruptures. My birth team and I decided that if my labor hadn’t started by 6pm that night, I was going to drink a “castor oil smoothie” (a natural way to induce labor at home). I texted all my friends and we decided to have a “castor oil smoothie party”. I was nervous because I really wanted to let my body progress naturally without the smoothie, but I was also ready to get the show on the fucking road.
I went about my day as normal. I even got a text from a producer I work with a lot, and she needed me to record a voiceover for the film we had been working on. I wrote back, “No problem. My water just broke, so send me the script within the next couple hours and I can knock it out.” She replied, “Can I please screenshot this text and send it to our client? You’re fucking insane.” To which I replied, “No, I’m dedicated.” But also, early labor can be mentally brutal, so having normal things to do was always a part of my plan, anyway.'
I did the voiceover. I went for a walk with my husband. We kept having these mini existential crises like, “Babe. This is our LAST walk as a family of two. Next walk we take there will be a BABY.”
At 6pm, all my friends had gathered for our castor oil smoothie party. We had pizza and donuts and were ready to rock out in my living room. Then...the midwives showed up. Another mama had gone into labor, and they asked me to NOT drink the smoothie, because it can speed up labor REALLY fast, and they can’t be in two places at once. So, they ran a few tests on me (checked heart rate of baby, took my blood pressure, and gave me an IV of antibiotics as a guard against any infection from the GBS).
The new plan was that they were going to rush off to the mom currently in labor, and then text me at midnight; if my labor hadn’t progressed by then, I was to drink the smoothie at midnight, giving them enough time to take care of that mama, and then get back to me.
I felt bad, like I had ruined my friends’ plans (this is a theme that would come up majorly throughout the next 22 hours). BACKSTORY: My midwife had been emotionally preparing me for 6 months, “You labor as you live,” she would tell me. What does that mean? It means that whatever emotional battles you fight in your life, THEY WILL ARISE TO THE SURFACE DURING A NATURAL LABOR! This is why having a natural labor was so important to me -- because it presents one of the most powerful opportunities to heal yourself of old patterns and wounds. It sets the space for absolute, total self-awareness and alchemy to occur. For me, that meant people-pleasing and trying to control everything, and then feeling really bad when I couldn’t. More on that later, though.
My friends, being the amazing humans they are, obviously didn’t care. We hung out and ate junk food, and my doula taught us some belly dancing moves. So, there we were, a bunch of girls, gays, and a pregnant chick, belly dancing in early labor on a Friday night. Around 10ish, it was clear that a baby wasn’t coming any time soon (contractions hadn’t even started yet), and so my friends went home, and I watched the clock, waiting for midnight and preparing my smoothie.
At midnight, my midwife texted me, “Almost done here. Go ahead and drink the smoothie, if it feels right.”
IF IT FEELS RIGHT -- those words seemed to stick out in bold on my text screen. Why did she text “if it feels right??” I wondered.
So I asked, “Why did you say, ‘If it feels right’?”
“Because you don’t have to drink it if it doesn’t. Does it?” She asked.
NO. It didn’t. It didn’t feel right. And I’ve never in my life, even as a professionally trained psychic (whatever that means, right?), *heard* something as clear as the “no” I got when I read her text. And this is why I am and will always be so in love with Tiffany Hoffman, my midwife, because she also listens to the Universe, and she knew to text me that.
I wrote back, “It doesn’t feel right.”
She said, “Great. Don’t drink it. Try to get some sleep. See you soon.”
The house was quiet. My friends were all gone. My husband was sleeping. I felt depressed because I JUST wanted to GET THE SHOW ON THE ROAD. But I couldn’t deny that “no” I felt/heard. It was just so...loud and clear. I went and laid in bed. There was no way I was going to fall asleep. What’s going on in there, I wondered to my baby.
At 12:30am my bff, whom I lovingly call “Wifey”, texted, “What’s going on?”
“Nothing, really,” I answered. “All the sudden I just got these really bad period-like cramps. I’m just laying in bed in the fetal position.”
“Be there in 10,” she shot back. She showed up a few minutes later with a heating pad. We went to my living room and I laid on the floor as the period cramps got worse. I was in the fetal position and she was cuddling me. Just typing this part of the story is making me super emotional. I’ll never forget that hour, just her and I on my floor. I texted my doula who showed up around 1:30am. My bff went to lay down in my bed to sleep, and my doula took over cuddling me on the floor, rubbing my head, talking to me about what was happening. The pain was gnarly, so my doula texted the midwives and said things seems to be progressing rapidly.
The midwives arrived around 3:30am, I think. They had spent all night at that other birth. I texted my friends and told them to come back around 6:30am. My plan (which is laughable now) was to have all of my tribe present when the little King made his entrance. I had also made a private facebook group from which I was going to broadcast my labor live. Over the course of my final month of pregnancy, that group had grown to about 60+ people, all friends and family near and far. Again, my intuition screamed at me, “Don’t do it. Don’t broadcast this to that many people.”
I had been watching live births on a Facebook group called “BirthTube” for weeks, and felt really attached to the idea of letting all my favorite people be a part of this experience in such a modern way. But no, my insides were telling me not to. So, in the middle of a contraction, I created a new group with only a few people in it (parents, my husband’s family, and a couple of important friends that I really just wanted there). I also insisted on no one even knowing I was in labor, and flipped out when I found out my husband had posted in a small, private theatre group that my water had broken. For whatever reason, I could suddenly *feel* the energy of people thinking about us, and I then understood why mammals seek privacy when giving birth. I went from wanting all of my loved ones to know things had started, to not wanting anyone to know until it was over.
My mom, who was 3 hours ahead of us in Ohio, called me and said Azlan had come to her in a dream. That it was super real and that she had even seen his face. She said in the dream she was showing him off to our family, including my great-grandmother Orpha, who I’ve had an extreme psychic connection to since I was a baby (including talking to her in my dreams as a very little kid, and knowing things I couldn’t have otherwise known). My mom said in the dream I was walking around looking for donuts to eat, which was hilarious and validating because I was absolutely walking around eating the donuts my Wifey had brought over the night before.
5am: I got into the birth tub in my living room for the first time. You’re supposed to wait until the last minute to get into the tub, when you can’t handle any more pain, because it provides so much relief. If you get in too early, it can make it less effective later. I was so convinced that I was so close to the end at this point and wanted to be in the tub. (More backstory: in 2009, when I met the man who would become my husband, I had a vision of a waterbirth in a living room, with him sitting behind me. This was before we were even together. This psychic vision was so intense that it actually made me go, “Hmmm...well, he IS kind of cute. I could see him being my babydaddy.” That vision then created the crush that then made me pursue him.) So, needless to say, I was convinced this is how my baby would be born, and I wanted in that tub.
While I was in the tub, my friends had the MOST INCREDIBLE jam session. They were playing worship music, and my favorite singer in the whole wide world was belting out my most favorite worship songs while my husband played piano. Then they had a drum circle, which was amazing to hear while in labor, and really helped me to tap into Earth energy. This whole part is so fuzzy to me, and I remember not being able to look at my friends because I felt so self-conscious. Turns out I only like the spotlight when I’m in absolute control of everything happening under it.
7am: I was antsy and annoyed that “nothing was happening”. I felt like I was disappointing people, that I was “taking too long”, that I wasn’t performing, that my friends were bored, that my birth team was annoyed. I was more worried about being a good host and was absolutely incapable of tapping into my own needs and focusing on myself. (Are you seeing now how all of my personal issues were arising in my birth, full frontal, completely raw. It was impossible to not be aware of them). My midwife 10000% warned me this would happen, and so I knew in my heart what was going on inside me.
My birth team suggested that I get out of the tub and sit on the toilet for a while. By this point some back labor had started and I was miserable. It fucking hurt to sit on the toilet, but also I could see how SO many women give birth on toilets because of the muscle memory that comes as soon as you sit down. Like, I had so much trouble relaxing my pelvic floor and “letting go”, even in the tub, but the second I would be on the toilet, I felt comfortable relaxing “down there”. But also it fucking hurt to sit on a hard seat.
I want to take a moment to talk about my doula, Allison, who was the most amazing thing to happen to my birth. I would never have another baby without a doula. I called her my shepherd, since that’s exactly what she was for me throughout my journey. While my midwives were busy charting and executing their medical role, and my friends were just trying to hold space, my doula never left my side (unless I asked her to). Every time I peed, every time I changed rooms, every time I cried..she was right there, affirming me, telling me stories of other births, promising me over and over again that the pain would stop the very moment the baby came out.
At this point, I hadn’t been measured yet, and didn’t know how far along I was. Part of going the midwife/homebirth route is that they are very hands off. It’s all about trusting your body, trusting the mother, and trusting the baby. The medical reasons for not checking for dilation are because it GREATLY increases chances of infection (especially in cases where the water has already ruptured). It’s actually kind of crazy that this practice has become normal in hospitals because the research is all there of how much more risk it creates. The psychological reasons for not checking is because it can really put the mother in her head if she’s not “as far along” as she thinks she “should” be.
But by this point I was going a little crazy and needed to be checked...for my own sanity. Again, the midwife journey is about honoring WHAT THE MOTHER WANTS, and guiding her to have autonomy in her choices. So, though many midwives discourage checking the cervix, when I was clear about wanting it, I got it. I decided that if I was anything less than 8cm dilated, I was going to send my friends home. So, my midwife checked me, and the result was 6cm. I started crying and finally admitted that I needed my friends to leave because I just couldn’t surrender. I am a people-pleaser, and a control freak, and there was zero chance I was going to be able to tap into my primal nature with anyone watching. I asked my doula to go tell all of my friends (except the one who feels like my big sister) to leave while I cried in that bathroom, grieving the loss of the birth I had so carefully “planned” in my head.
9:30am: They suggested I try getting into bed. Again, I had a ton of emotions around this not being a part of my “plan”. My beautiful, wonderful midwife took it upon herself to move all the “affirmations” I had taped up in my living room to my bedroom. I hated those affirmations at that moment. “Fuck the affirmations,” I kept thinking. The only thing good about this part are how beautiful and raw the pictures are from my husband and my doula in bed with me.
10am: I made Tiffany check me again, I was 8-ish cm.
11am: I tried to overcompensate for the guilt I was feeling about how long this was taking by showcasing a suddenly fresh and invigorated attitude. It became clear that the baby’s position was not great. He was head down, but the awful back labor and slow-ish progress also indicated that he may be mal-positioned. Luckily for me, my doula happened to be familiar with something called Spinning Babies, which is ALL about creating better births by creating better positioned babies. My doula had told me I should be doing these exercises throughout my whole pregnancy, ESPECIALLY third trimester. Here I was, with probably the only doula in town with this knowledge, and I didn’t do it. I assumed that because he was head down that I was totally good to go. I regret that so much, and if I ever had another baby, I would spend my entire pregnancy focusing on this aspect. But it was too late now, so all I could do was try to do some moves in the moment, including deep lunges up my basement stairs, and a weird upside thing that hurt so bad I only achieved one.
12pm: The back labor was so bad at this point, I was so miserable. The ONLY thing that provided relief was sitting slouched on my couch. But here was the kicker: every time I sat like that, I undid all of the progress from the lunges. I literally had to CHOOSE to stop doing the one thing that was bringing me any relief. And here’s why midwives are the heroes of..
Many of the pregnant women I work with are concerned about anemia. They want to know whether they’re getting enough iron in their diets, and whether they should be supplementing.
Physiologic “anemia” in pregnancy is healthy and natural. Increased amounts of iron are needed to make additional red blood cells for your developing baby, and for your body’s preparation for blood loss at delivery. Anemia also results from the dilution of red blood cells as the fluid volume expands to nearly double the amount normally present before you were pregnant. It is evidenced by a gradual 2 gram drop in hemoglobin by the seventh month, followed by a gradual return to prepregnancy levels by 3-4 weeks postpartum. Iron stores (ferritin levels) also tend to drop.
While iron deficiency anemia is the most common type, it’s important to note that anemia can be caused by a number of factors. Also, vitality is a great gauge of well-being. If your hemoglobin is a little below normal but your iron stores are fine and you feel fit and healthy, you need not worry. Just make sure your diet is rich in foods high in iron and vitamin C.
Symptoms of Anemia
If you are truly anemic, you may experience the following symptoms.
Extreme exhaustion and weakness
Shortness of breath
Dizziness or faintness
Poor concentration and confusion
Feeling weary and run down with a lowered resistance to infection
Poor appetite and unusual cravings for non-food items
Iron Deficiency Anemia is Common
Whether or not you have the above symptoms, you are smart to be paying attention. The formation of additional red blood cells for both momma and baby, coupled with their dilution by increased fluid in the circulation, can often lead to iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy. It can be especially aggravated by:
A diet low in iron both before and/or during pregnancy
Severe nausea and vomiting
Being pregnant with multiple fetuses
Closely spaced pregnancies
Alcohol or drug addiction
Severe or chronic infection
Significant blood loss
More serious medical conditions
Treatment Options for Anemia in Pregnancy
Untreated anemia in pregnancy that becomes severe may increase the risk of harm to your baby. You may be more susceptible to infection, less likely to handle the stress of labor, the normal blood loss at delivery, and the needed healing during the postpartum period.
Treating iron deficiency anemia can be tricky because many sources of iron are not easily absorbed into your system and some products like coffee, soda, black tea, dairy foods, bran, antacids, calcium and magnesium supplements, and certain medications actually inhibit iron absorption. However, careful attention to diet and use of natural easily assimilated forms of iron have produced excellent results without the detrimental side effects of the commonly prescribed ferrous sulfate.
Ferrous sulfate is not only poorly absorbed, but also very constipating, can cause indigestion, black tarry stools, skin rashes, and is said to be hard on the digestive tract, liver and kidneys. Too much ferrous sulfate has been associated with serious complications and can produce the same deficiency state that it was prescribed to correct.
There are a number of ways anemia in pregnancy can be addressed without ferrous sulfate. I recommend combining several of the suggestions below to increase your chances of successfully increasing your hemoglobin and keeping it at a healthy level.
Get as much iron you can from your daily diet. Good food sources for iron (as well as other needed nutrients) include:
Organ meats like beef or chicken liver
Red meat and poultry
Shrimp, oysters and clams
Dark green vegetables like spinach (ideally boiled briefly to increase absorption), watercress, alfalfa, parsley, seaweed, collards, kale, turnip and dandelion greens
Seaweeds (kelp and dulse/kombu)
Beets and fresh raw beet juice
Fermented soy like tempeh
Legumes like red beans, chickpeas, lentils and split peas
Whole grains and fortified cereals
Seeds and nuts
Dried unsulphured fruits fruits like raisins, apricots, cherries, black mission figs and prunes
Black cherries and pomegranate
To further enhance iron absorption, eat iron-rich foods with foods high in vitamin C. For example, fresh organic uncooked grapefruit, oranges, vegetable or tomato juice, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, mango, cantaloupe, papaya, tomato, red or green pepper, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and leafy greens. Regular exercise will also help with absorption, as will cooking in cast iron.
Herbs and Tonics
Choose one or two of the following natural sources of iron to prevent iron deficiency, or alternate between a few.
Vegetarian Iron Tonic - Mix 1 Tbsp blackstrap molasses, 1 Tbsp brewers yeast, 1 Tbsp wheat germ, 1 Tbsp canola or coconut oil, and 4 oz orange, grapefruit or pomegranate juice. If you like warm drinks, try 2 Tbsp blackstrap in 1 cut hot water with fresh lemon juice. Drink 1-3 times daily.
Fresh Juice - Fresh beets and apples make a yummy absorbable, iron-rich juice. Drink 2 cups twice daily. You can add 1/2 to 1 ounce wheat grass juice, ½ cup of fresh parsley and/or other green leafies (except raw spinach) to boost the iron content.
Wheat Grass - Take no more than one ounce per day. If causes stomach upset, half the dose or add it to beet, carrot or other vegetable juice for the first week then take the full ounce by itself or in the vegetable juice.
Herbal Infusion - Steep up to 1 large handful of dried nettle leaf and/or red raspberry leaf in a quart of boiling water for at least 4 hours. For increased iron, you can add a pinch of dandelion root and/or a pinch of yellow dock root. Strain, and drink several times throughout the day. You can add a splash of lemon or lime juice, fresh mint, 1-2 Tbsp of blackstrap molasses or a dash of honey to taste.
Capsules - Take 3-4 capsules of freeze dried nettles or 8 capsules of seaweed daily.
Tinctures - For prevention, take a dropperful of yellow dock root or dandelion root tincture in orange juice. For treatment, take up to three dropperfuls 1-3 times daily.
Liquid Chlorophyll - Take 1-3 Tbsp per day depending on your individual requirements.
If You Decide to Take an Iron Supplement
If an iron supplement is needed, I recommend taking a non-sulfate whole food variety like ferrous gluconate or fumarate combined with vitamin C. 30-60 mg of elemental iron daily should suffice for those with normal iron stores, while higher doses may be needed if your iron stores are depleted. Your dose should be adjusted according to your lab results and individual needs. Take your supplemental iron daily until 2-4 months postpartum.
For optimal absorption, it is best to spread supplemental iron intake out over the course of the day to avoid stressing your system with the unabsorbed portions. Do not take with dairy foods, caffeine or soda with phosphates. Be sure to take it between meals on an empty stomach with 500 mg of vitamin C and bioflavonoids
Although it can take a few months to correct iron deficiency anemia, you should start to see an improvement in the lab values within two weeks of treatment. If not, try a different combination of natural iron sources. If there is still no improvement after another 2-4 weeks, your anemia may not be related to low iron and a more thorough medical evaluation is needed. If you are feeling overwhelmed, or do not even know what questions to ask, I can help you! You can just schedule a consultation with me here.
Check out my number one international best selling book Natural Birth Secrets and my online course - an online version of how I have helped thousands in my local practice. Both resources are unique, but each provide an in depth, one-of-a-kind holistic approach created by me, a seasoned nurse midwife of over two decades, who has seen everything!
I remember waking up and smelling the coffee brewing whilst on holiday in Miami....the smell instantly made me feel sick. After a super long flight and the time difference I thought the extreme fatigue and nausea was due to jet lag, but then the aversion to my favourite drink made it very clear. It suddenly all made sense when I got an instant positive result on a pregnancy test (then another one).
The rest of the holiday was challenging, I couldn’t shake the nausea, so walking around Disney world during a heat wave and a long flight home were both extremely hard! It turns out I was actually almost 7 weeks pregnant. Thankfully the nausea only lasted 12 weeks. The rest of the pregnancy was smooth, no complaints at all. Each time I saw the midwife I felt hopeful I could have my baby on the midwife led unit, as everything was going well. By the third trimester in true Mrs Hinch style I scrubbed my house on a daily basis and loved every second of it. Pine disinfectant became my new pregnancy craving (weird I know, don’t worry I didn’t ingest it) as much as I felt the urge to! Approaching my due date, from 38 weeks I had lots of pressure and I was sure Baby Dewey number two would be early, as Ava was two days early..…well that’s what everyone says right? Wrong!
There I was 7 days late and feeling ready to meet my baby, wondering when they would make an appearance. It was a sunny Sunday morning and I had a sweep at 9 am. The midwife said she could feel baby’s head and said that if it was going to be successful it would be in the next 48 hours. I left the hospital feeling hopeful. We went home and went about our day as normal, going for a long walk, food shopping, cleaning and then I cooked a roast dinner. I put Ava to bed then had a long soak in the bath and bounced on my ball for the rest of the evening. I lost my mucus plug over the duration of the evening and couldn’t shake the feeling baby would be coming in the early hours of the morning. So I made the phone calls to make sure childcare was in place for Ava - just in case, and got an early night.
I woke at 1.30 am on the Monday with a familiar feeling, which I thought was my first contraction. So I laid awake and waited then another came 12 minutes later, then 8 minutes. I knew this was the start of things to come so just relaxed in bed for 30 mins breathing through my contractions then woke Simon to let him know “it was happening”. The pain was in in my lower back which was the same as my labour with Ava, so I knew how to deal with my pain in the best way which was to stand and gently rock side to side whilst breathing through each contraction and leaning on a surface.
By 3 am my contractions were every 2-3 minutes so we decided we should call my Dad and Step Mum to come to our house to look after Ava. Whilst we waited for them to arrive I got myself dressed and Simon gathered up all of our hospital bags then we waited downstairs. I continued to sway whilst leaning on the breakfast bar and Simon contacted the Midwife Led Unit who then said to come straight up. By the time my Dad arrived my contractions were every 1-2 minutes.
We got to the hospital at 4 am and our midwife Julie did all of the routine checks in between my contractions then just calmly remained in the background for a while observing. My contractions were getting more intense but the swaying and breathing helped and Simon massaged my lower back which gave lots of relief. By 4.40 the midwife wanted to check how dilated I was.
With how long the contractions were lasting and the frequency of them, I was sure I had to be quite far along but I was only just 4 cm at a stretch. I felt slightly disheartened for a moment but the contractions were coming quick so I soon forgot about that and continued with my breathing whilst the birthing pool was being filled. The water gave me such relief and I felt really calm whilst in the water, on my knees leaning over the edge.
The lights in the room were dimmed and the radio was on playing Christmas music which was super relaxing. At 5.30 I felt a lot of pressure and then a pop then realised my waters had gone. I then felt the baby move lower into my pelvis and knew that it wouldn’t be long. By 5.45 the contractions were coming thick and fast, every minute lasting a minute infact and the pressure felt stronger. I became very aware of the noises I was making and i remember that feeling well, I knew it was getting very close. Julie asked if I wanted any pain relief so I opted for some gas and air. At that moment I felt the surges get stronger and an urge to start pushing. My body knew exactly what to do so I went with it. The gas and air made me feel a little delirious at times but it made the pain manageable, without making me feel out of control. I felt my baby moving down with every push and this time I really remember the burning sensation and that ring of fire everyone talks about. During the crowning stage I remember thinking at times I couldn’t do it, but I redirected my thoughts, concentrated on my breathing and reminded myself I would soon be meeting my baby! After 30 minutes of pushing my baby girl was born at 6.14 am weighing 7Ib 5oz.
I remember that overwhelming feeling of love as I placed her onto my chest. By this point we didn’t know the gender so I had a look and was so excited to see it was another girl. I knew how much Ava wanted a baby sister so I knew she would be so happy! Simon cut the cord then I got out of the pool and onto the bed. Amelia was a little shocked and blue as the cord was around her neck but they gave her a quick rub and she was fine. The midwife asked if I wanted to deliver the placenta without the injection so i thought I’d try, I gave one small push and it came out nice and easy! My baby girl was then placed onto my chest for some much needed skin to skin time. Simon and I were then left to bond with our new baby girl. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect birth, I wanted to feel in control, to feel the surges and I was desperate for a water birth and I got all of those things! Kirsty Dewey @mumma_dewey
A healthy natural birth in today’s modern world takes preparation in advance, especially if you are planning to birth in the hospital. Check out my number one international best selling book Natural Birth Secrets and my online course - an online version of how I have helped thousands in my local practice.
Both resources are unique, but each provide an in depth, one-of-a-kind holistic approach created by me, a seasoned nurse midwife of over two decades, who has seen everything!
Choose inspiration and optimal holistic health during, birth and after pregnancy, by clickinghere to take my online Love Your Birth course, so you can ROCK your journey wherever and however you plan to give birth. It is for giving birth at home, in the birthing center or hospital…whether you choose to hire a midwife or physician.
I have a holistic approach to life, including healing after pregnancy and birthing. Nothing replaces abdominal toning and exercise for restoring muscle strength and tone - which I encourage for all mamas as soon as they feel up to it postpartum.
Nothing replaces touch, slow deep abdominal breathing, and a 'love your postpartum body' perspective that I promote. But I have found many mamas simply feel comforted by this support garment, especially early postpartum and temporarily as needed....to be used without forfeiting abdominal toning and strengthening exercise, breathing well and touch.
I have found Bellefit supportive garments to help like they use belly binding around the world such as in Indonesia. They do aid in early postpartum healing and provide support many mamas feel comforted by. I deal with human beings and the reality is many postpartum mom's struggle with body image, feel frustrated that getting back to themselves takes longer than expected. Being into holistic health and healing includes being sensitive to real human struggles - the mind, body, heart and soul of each person and their unique situation.
Having helped countless women with these issues after having a baby as a midwife, I have found many still love that binding and feel better with this support, and ability to fit into their pre-pregnancy clothes comfortably and sooner than they would if they went through a C-section or natural childbirth recovery without it - especially when they have to dress up and fit into a certain favorite outfit for a special occasion or wedding not long after having a baby.
For more info on the Bellefit girdle, check out my blog about it here. Have a Great Postpartum Recovery (with a little help from Bellefit)!
I am thrilled to announce that you get a $20 Off with code: ANNE20 at checkout - if you purchase here.
If you’re worried about ultrasound safety, good for you! You should be. The use of ultrasound in pregnancy has become almost a given. Most women in the US and Canada experience at least one ultrasound during pregnancy. Some experience several. There are certainly appropriate situations for the use of ultrasound, but a healthy pregnancy isn’t one of them.
If, after weighing the pros and cons of an ultrasound, you decide to have one, that’s entirely within your right. What’s important here is to make an informed decision rather than just exposing you and your baby to high-frequency sound waves as a matter of practice.
Is Ultrasound Necessary?
The answer to this question really differs from person-to-person and even situation-to-situation. When a health care provider recommends ultrasound to a pregnant woman, the FDA recommends that mom speaks with them to understand why the ultrasound is needed, what information will be obtained, how the information will be used, and any potential risks.
Medicine is big business. There is significant financial incentive for obstetricians to recommend ultrasounds to their patients, as they can bill many hundreds of dollars to insurance companies for each use. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), over-use of technology is one of the major reasons for the rise in healthcare costs.
More and more modern obstetricians have been trained to use ultrasound in place of hands-on skills to evaluate the health of the pregnancy. They use it to evaluate fetal growth and position in the third trimester, which can often be assessed by hands-on examination. They also use it to date pregnancies, which can typically be done with a little detective work.
Ultrasound is often used to determine whether a baby will be too large to be birthed naturally via the birth canal. However, ultrasound has been shown to be an inaccurate measure of birth weight. Further, our pelvic bones are joined together with ligaments that allow the pelvis to widen enough for birth to safely take place - especially when supported in upright and asymmetrical mobile positioning. This is true in almost every case, even when the mother is especially small or the baby especially large.
There are some situations in which an ultrasound is warranted. For example, bleeding in pregnancy or a serious abnormality that requires immediate or high risk hospital care. Or if mom has very irregular or absent cycles during breastfeeding, providing no real guideline for gestational age. Sometimes, if mom has a lot of anxiety about the health of her pregnancy and baby, a normal ultrasound mid pregnancy can provide some reassurance - while still not a guarantee.
The American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine advocates for use of ultrasound solely for medical purposes, and never for things like keepsake images. And the American College of Nurse-Midwives’ position is that “Ultrasound should only be used when medically indicated.”
What Do We Know About Ultrasound Safety?
Ultrasound waves have the potential to produce biological effects on the body. They can heat bodily tissue, as well as produce small pockets of gas in bodily fluids or tissues (known as cavitation). The long-term consequences of these effects are still unknown.
Dr Sarah Buckley provides an extensive article in which she weighs ultrasound safety. In it she says,
“If there is bleeding in early pregnancy, for example, ultrasound may predict whether miscarriage is inevitable. Later in pregnancy, ultrasound can be used when a baby is not growing, or when a breech baby or twins are suspected. In these cases, the information gained from ultrasound may be very useful in decision-making for the woman and her carers. However the use of routine prenatal ultrasound (RPU) is more controversial, as this involves scanning all pregnant women in the hope of improving the outcome for some mothers and babies.”
Dr Buckley goes on to say,
“Studies on humans exposed to ultrasound have shown that possible adverse effects include premature ovulation, preterm labour or miscarriage, low birth weight, poorer condition at birth, perinatal death, dyslexia, delayed speech development, and less right-handedness.”
Despite its rampant use, there has not been sufficient testing for ultrasound safety - especially concerning routine use in healthy pregnancy. In fact, there has been very little testing at all since the 1980s even though the FDA allowed exposure limits to increase by 8 fold in 1992.
It’s important to acknowledge here that technology is often assumed safe until proven otherwise. Just a couple generations back, it was general practice to x-ray pregnant mothers. Sounds crazy now that we know more about the dangers of x-rays to the developing fetus, but back then it made perfect sense.
While our reasons for using ultrasound are typically focused on healthy pregnancies and healthy babies, there has been virtually no proof that more ultrasounds in a population equate with better health. In fact, false positives of congenital malformations are not unusual. Sadly, this has lead to more invasive testing and abortions misunderstood to be medically necessary when there is nothing actually wrong. At the very least, this puts undue stress on momma, partner and baby.
In my opinion, technology has put distance between mommas and care providers. In situations where a midwife historically would take a literal hands-on approach to mom and baby’s health, technology now allows for a disconnect where mom is sometimes never touched by her birthing support team. My belief is that this impersonal approach can do just as much harm as the technology can.
The over-use of ultrasound also undermines a woman’s trust in her healthy body’s ability to grow and birth her healthy baby, as modern day families are putting more and more trust in technology over themselves.
Alternatives to Ultrasound
We do not fully understand the effect of directing loud sound waves at baby so frequently, but it does alter DNA in the test tube and there is strong evidence to show that any damage done is cumulative. So, if you must have an ultrasound, keep it as brief as possible and limited to as few as possible. If all is well and you know your cycles or date of conception, but you really want one, do it mid pregnancy…and of course, make sure to request a keepsake picture of your baby.
A doppler is an ultrasound device that can detect fetal heartbeat as early as 10-12 weeks, depending on the device, the location of baby, and position of mom’s uterus. It is used for each prenatal visit in many obstetrical care offices and clinics. If you want to minimize ultrasound exposure, ask for the fetoscope.
A fetoscope, which is similar to a stethoscope and works to amplify baby’s heartbeat, can be used in place of ultrasound or doppler after around 20 weeks gestational age to listen to the fetal heartbeat. It can also help assess baby’s position in later pregnancy.
When baby starts to move regularly, especially in the third trimester, I teach fetal movement awareness and kick counts. Basically, babies sleep a lot, especially when you are busy running around; but they tend to get up and become active after you eat and when your’e resting. Become aware of when and how often your baby is most active and take notice of your baby’s typical daily patterns of movement. An active baby, moving as much as usual, is a sign of fetal health and well-being. If you did not feel your baby move as much usual on a given day, eat food that has previously stimulated lots of fetal activity - usually carbohydrates like a peanut butter and jelly whole grain sandwich or cereal and nut milk - plus have two glasses of orange juice and a cup of coffee; recline in 30 - 40 minutes and count at least 10 separate kicks, body shifts, punches in the hour. Most babies will produce more than that in a few minutes, but if you are not feeling 10 separate moves in that hour, call your provider.
For most of history we did not know we were having a boy or a girl until the birth of our baby. There is something special about the surprise. But for those wanting to know the sex of their baby, blood tests are now available and are actually more accurate than ultrasound for this purpose.
Medical interventions like ultrasound often play into our fears and turn us away from our intuition. We have come to have less trust in the process and believe that we need to rely on technology to assure us that our babies are safe. As mommas, we have thousands of years of the birthing wisdom of our elders that we carry in our DNA. Is that less reliable than a relatively new, under-tested technology when all is well?
Midwives typically use touch and hand skills in place of technology like ultrasound. As a wholistic and integrative midwife that specializes in healthy pregnancy, I always give the option for ultrasound, and discuss the pros and cons with each family in my care. Some opt out of all unless there is an issue or complication when the benefits outweigh the potential risks of sonogram. Some do want one to confirm they have a baby in the uterus with a heart beat before it is too early to tell in the office, and a basic scan between 18 -22 weeks. For those birthing at home, some want just this mid-pregnancy ultrasound to check baby’s anatomy and that the placenta is in the right place, so they are reassured there is nothing detected that warrants birth in higher risk hospital setting.
As midwives, we do not fix what is not broken. We instill trust in the pregnancy and birth process, and have confidence in a mom’s ability to do it.
My DJ was born on Thursday, December 15, 2016. I remember like it was just yesterday. It's an experience I'll never forget. My water broke at about 6:00 on Wednesday morning. I was rushed to our local hospital, then transported to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, NC. I was only 26 weeks, so it was reason to be alarmed. I was bedridden and given procardia to prevent the pre-term labor, but none of it worked.
7:00 am Thursday morning, the labor pains commenced. I could hardly stand it as I frantically paged the nurse. The doctor was called. She checked my cervix. It was time! The delivery was quick yet traumatic. Due to my heart condition, an emergency c-section was scheduled but my baby boy couldn't wait. With oxygen on my face and a needle in my spine, I began to push while sitting upright on the edge of the delivery table. The doctor could see his tiny head crowning and immediately laid me back, asking me to give her one more big push. As I'm pushing, I go completely numb from the spinal anesthesia but I did it! DJ was born at 10:26 am. They held him up for me to see as I cried tears of joy and worry. He wasn't crying at all but his little eyes were wide open as he looked right at me. He was so small and frail but the most beautiful angel I've ever seen. My first child at the age of 40 had arrived and I felt so blessed. After cleaning him up, they allowed me one kiss before placing his tiny body into an incubator and moving him to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). My parents caught a glimpse of him in the hallway and smiled with glee to meet their newest grandchild. Meanwhile, I was sent to recovery and wouldn't see my bundle of joy again for several hours.
After signing in at the front desk of the NICU, washing our hands (of course), my then husband wheeled me to Pod B where our beloved was waiting. There he was all swaddled up with his sweet little face covered due to the ventilator needed to help him breath. He weighed only 790 grams (1 lb, 12 oz) and 13 inches long, but strong! As I watched our son fighting for his life, I cried and cried. Why did this happen?
I greatly assume it was my gestational diabetes or the stress I was under due to a trying later failed marriage. However, I read that there are risk factors for being born early, such as infection, placental problems or genetic problems, but in many cases the cause is unknown. An estimated 15 million babies are born too early every year, That is more than 1 and 10 babies. Wow! I couldn't imagine the arduous journey ahead for my peanut. All the tests, diagnoses, procedures, bradycardias and near fatal incidences that caused such an emotional rollercoaster. Without God, he wouldn't have made it through, and I wouldn't have made it through my postpartum period that was thankfully short-lived. DJ spent four months and one week at James and Connie Maynard Children's Hospital, and I never left his side. I was there every single day for him, enduring the worse and the better times. Thank God for the tremendous support of so many in our corner, including the awesome hospital staff and The Ronald McDonald House of Eastern NC.
After leaving the hospital, I became a stay-at-home mom taking care of DJ full-time because he was considered disabled and unable to enroll into daycare. I'm so blessed to be here for every waking moment, watching my son continuing to thrive despite his near fatal illnesses and hospitalizations. I was also blessed with the time to be able to self-publish my first children's book entitled, "The Mighty 1", dedicated to my baby. DJ is now two years strong, weighing 24.5 lbs and 32 inches long. My little soldier is so amazing and I'm beyond blessed to be his mommy.
The Mighty 1 is a poetic tale about a brave soul who is tiny but mighty, just like the miracle baby in your life. Every year, millions of babies are born prematurely and many will spend several weeks or months in the neonatal intensive care unit. It's such an emotional journey for families whose lives have changed in an instant. This book was created to bring inspiration and smiles to all of you. It makes a great read for NICU cuddle time, and the perfect keepsake too! Preview and order your copy of "The Mighty 1" now.
By Ebony Moore @ebonydmoore
Was your birth upsetting or traumatic? Do you have more questions about processing your birth and need help healing? Arrange some time to chat with me. I’d love to answer your questions and help you heal and get yourself back - I have a program specifically for you, that can also include this revolutionary and profound natural healing modality called Clarity Breathwork. Helping people heal from birth trauma and other traumatic experiences, emotional pain and inner stress is one of my passions and areas of expertise. I also devoted several sections of my Natural Birth Secrets book on birth trauma in both moms and babies, and also wrote a book called the Trauma Release Formula…both are available on Amazon.
There are so many things to consider when preparing for pregnancy
Every momma wants to give her baby the best possible start in life. Preparing for pregnancy will enhance your own health for fertility success, and set yourself up to provide a healthy environment for your baby.
But, where do you start? Taking a natural, holistic approach to preparing for pregnancy includes optimizing your diet, supplements, physical movement and state-of-mind. This is a less invasive, less expensive, and much healthier approach for both momma and baby before even considering the standard fertility treatments.
Eating for a Healthy Pregnancy
When preparing for pregnancy, it’s best to eat a wide variety of fresh, whole, plant-based foods and adequate protein. Your plate should be beautiful and colorful with plenty of varied vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, some nuts and seeds, seasoned with fresh herbs and spices. Look for:
Organic. Free of chemical fertilizers and pesticides that can damage fetal development, this is the best option for produce. Use the Dirty Dozen as a basic guide. These foods are to be either eaten organic or avoided.
Local. Choosing local typically means the food is at the peak of freshness, grown in your locality, maintaining more nutritional integrity.
Colorful. The various colors of fruits and vegetable provides differing nutrients. Make sure you’re eating a full spectrum of color to get a well-rounded diet.
Unprocessed. Chemical additives, preservatives, artificial sweeteners, food coloring and genetic modification can all negatively affect your health and your baby’s. If it comes in packaging, it’s probably not the best option.
Sugar-free. Sugar is damaging to you and your baby’s cells, and disrupts gut flora; it negatively impacts your pregnancy, and how you feel physically and emotionally. Sugar is found in almost all processed food. Look out for marketing tricks, like using four or five different types of sweeteners so manufacturers don’t have to list it as the first ingredient. Stick with natural sugars like in fruit, and if you must add a sweetener, a tad of pure raw honey or maple syrup is better.
Gluten-Free &/or Dairy-Free. Most women feel best when they are gluten-free. Try removing it from your diet for a week and see if you feel better in your mind and body, gain more energy or clarity. Many also feel better off cow dairy, but tolerate goat or sheep dairy products. Try a different week without it and note how you feel.
Hormone & Antibiotic-Free. Whenever possible, select the highest-quality organic meats and animal products, including wild fish from non polluted waters. If the animal food you’re eating was treated with hormones and antibiotics, your body and baby will be affected by that. And consider that most farm animals are fed genetically modified (GMO) corn and feed that is highly sprayed with pesticides. Animals who are free to move in the sunshine and graze in the green pastures, as they did for thousands of years before the modernization of the farming industry, produce the healthiest meat, diary and eggs for human consumption.
Healthy fats. Your body needs plenty of high-quality fat, especially when preparing for pregnancy. Ideally, you should be eating wild Alaskan or Norwegian salmon at least twice per week as well as healthy oils. Use extra virgin olive oil on cold foods (like for salad dressing) and light sautéing, and coconut oil or organic grass-fed butter for cooking at higher temperatures.
Hydration. Don’t forget to drink plenty of fresh spring or filtered water throughout the day. Work your way up to half your body weight in ounces. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds drink 75 ounces of water daily.
Preparing for Pregnancy with Supplements
In a perfect world, we would get all the nutrients we need from our food. But, with today’s industrialization of food and depleted soils, that has become virtually impossible. Additionally, the standard American diet is really empty of needed nutrition and even those of us with the best intentions do not eat all of what is needed for the health of ourselves or our pregnancies. The supplements you need when preparing for pregnancy will depend on your specific situation. Chat with me to find the best supplements for your body.
However, there are a few supplements that every woman should take daily. I take them myself and recommend them to all my clients. Following this supplement protocol has blessed me with feeling wonderfully vital and rarely getting sick - even when a bug is going around my house.
So what’s my supplement magic? I take whole food organic supplements from trusted, high quality, professional grade companies, including:
A multivitamin/mineral combination
Methylated folate in B complex
Calcium, magnesium, and D complex
Omega three fatty acids
Herbal iron depending on your iron stores
Mega-Probiotics that are colon and urogenital specific for women
My online dispensary is a convenient way for you to purchase my hand-picked, professional-grade, whole food supplements and other natural health products. Ordering is simple by category (listed in the prenatal section), and the products will be shipped directly to your home or work within a few days.
Movement is another important aspect of preparing for pregnancy. Not only will a strong, agile and flexible body provide a safer prenatal home for baby, it will help you avoid aches and pains along the way, reduce inner stress, help in labor and even postpartum recovery. The right exercise can also get your body ready to ease your baby into a perfect birthing position.
Ultimately, the best exercise is that which you enjoy, so you stick with it. Vary activities that you love, and incorporate it into your life so it doesn’t feel stressful. Here are some types of movement to consider:
Walking. This is a great place to start if you’re someone who currently isn’t getting much exercise. Begin with a leisurely 15-minute walk every day, and build up to 45-60 minutes at a faster pace.
Yoga. Yoga will not only strengthen your body and make you more flexible, it’s been known to decrease stress and enhance your overall well-being as well. There are tremendous health benefits to regular yoga practice. There are even fertility yoga classes out there, designed with just this topic in mind! I teach private yoga classes, including yoga workshops for pregnancy and labor, as well as postpartum - which can be done locally or on Skype.
Dance. Dancing is such a great way to keep healthy and active! It is so much fun, and is a direct path to feeling awesome without realizing you are also getting a fabulous workout. It relieves stress, helps you feel and move emotions, and creates happy for you, and for your baby; your stress hormones as well as your happy love hormones pass through the placenta to baby....and both are contagious to those around you. Dancing also helps you tap into your sensual or sassy sexy, which is beneficial in pregnancy, labor and life! Dancing in labor uses gravity and asymmetrical movements to ease baby down and out through a wider birth canal. Start by taking dance classes, but you can also just turn on the music regularly and dance like no one is watching. I give group and private healing movement workshops - called Femme!, which is a wonderful experience for both men and women.
Weight-training. If you are not called to yoga or dance, back, arm, leg and core exercises help align your body and are great preparation for the uneven weight of pregnancy. Squatting helps prepare for delivery.
Pilates. Pilates has a strong emphasis on core conditioning and is also great for mommas-to-be.
Swim. It gets you outside, connected to nature and immersed in healing waters that soothes the soul. Swimming and water aerobics are also great ways to be active. In advancing pregnancy, it relieves common aches and discomforts, and pregnant women love the sense of weightlessness they feel in water.
If you’re someone who currently has an intense workout regimen and are having trouble conceiving, consider dialing it back to a lower intensity. Otherwise, moderately moving your body and being active each day is the way to go.
Tapping into Mindfulness and Joy
Reducing inner stress and living in joy are central to preparing for pregnancy. Inner stress can actually prevent pregnancy. Many of us recognize that we have grown out of alignment with our true natural being and it's time to get back to our original design.... get back in touch with the cyclic nature of our human bodies, our minds, our hearts and our spirits. The thoughts we think and the perspective we carry while preparing for pregnancy are incredibly influential.
Find ways to slow down, unplug and enjoy the journey. Make sure you are well rested, and getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Practice saying “no” to anything that doesn’t bring you calm and pleasure during this time. Explore ways to bring joy back into the things that aren’t optional. Stay as much as possible in the present moment, one moment, one breath at a time; practicing mindfulness - anchoring into what is going on around you and the sensations within you in the now transforms your life and will benefit your labor immensely. Consider a daily practice of mediation, journaling, and creating any form of art to help your body keep in a calm and joyful state. Decide to live a glorious life; dress and treat yourself like the goddess you are. Focus on what you have to be grateful for and all the blessings in your life. Connect more in community with those you love, and those who inspire you. Clear your body of trapped emotional pain, trauma and internal stress, and transform self limiting beliefs and thought patterns with Clarity Breathwork. Turn negative thoughts into positive affirmations, for example: My body is strong and healthy for pregnancy or I am the perfect age to become a mother; empowering uplifting thoughts are usually the opposite of, and more true than the false stories we typically tell ourselves.
Acupuncture is a great way to relax and has the added bonus of hormone regulation and improved ovarian function. Many women who had some initial trouble conceiving often get pregnant after receiving acupuncture by a practitioner with expertise in fertility; I have seen it used in conjunction with routine infertility treatments, and have seen successful pregnancies even after several IVF attempts failed.
We’ve discussed a lot of lifestyle factors here. Some might be big changes for you. Don’t let them overwhelm you. I’m a huge fan of the 80-20 rule. Spend 80% of your efforts on achieving optimal habits and allow yourself the freedom to enjoy the other 20% without guilt.
Learn the signs of fertility so you can make sure you have intercourse during the small window of time when you are likely to conceive, you get the most accurate estimation of pregnancy dating, and you will even know when you are pregnant before you can take a pregnancy test. This is key, and will also provide helpful information as to causes of difficulties should you need professional guidance. I cover this in more detail in my Natural Birth Secrets book.
For further inspiration and optimal health during, birth and after pregnancy, please make sure to clickhere to take my online Love Your Birth course, so you can ROCK your journey wherever and however you plan to give birth.