This guided relaxation is a great way to practice relaxation, so that when labor begins, your body will know exactly how to respond to the stresses of labor. Choose some relaxing music to play in the background. Relax and Enjoy.
Prepare to listen to these affirmations by finding a comfortable seat or lie down and rest on your left side resting your head on a pillow. You can play Pandora or Spotify in the background if you like to have background music.
Close your eyes and focus on your breath. The goal is to silently or out loud repeat the affirmations that I say. Relax your mind and your body and find the power and confidence that is already inside of you to calmly and confidently birth your baby.
Feel worried when thinking about the baby, or the impending childbirth experience
Anxiousness seems to never leave you
You may be more irritable than usual
You have persistent thoughts and they just seem to not go away, or come back again and again
Panic attacks are a common experience for you
You have constant muscle tension from all the worry and stress
You have trouble falling asleep and/or staying asleep
Just last week, I met an expecting couple on one of the labor and delivery hospital tours I give. After the tour, we were chatting and her husband revealed she has a lot of anxiety about childbirth. So, I asked, “Have you taken your childbirth class?” Of course, her answer was no. She explained that she’s so afraid of it that she didn’t do anything about scheduling a class. Her husband said,” Is there a class online we can do?”
“Tokophobia” – Fear of Childbirth
“Never Take a Childbirth Class On-line! It’s a waste of time, unless you have no other choice” was my reply. You learn so much more being with other couples and having an in-person childbirth educator. Connecting with other women and couples is so valuable. You often find you are not the only one feeling like you do. It’s so comforting to know you are not alone.
That River Called “Denial”
Think about this possible situation. You’re so fearful about giving birth that you just go into full denial. Do you ignore the fact that your baby is eventually going to need to come out? How will you know what to do when the time comes?
If you just leave everything to the doctors, is that really your best choice? Does that absolve you of all responsibility in the decisions that are made concerning you and your baby? All decisions need to be made, by both, informed parents, and the doctor as a team. In order to be part of the decision-making process, you need to know all of your options.
If You Ignore a Problem, Does the Problem Just Go Away?
Well, what do you think, are you “Queen of Denial”? How is that working for you? Here is what happens when you don’t take the time to be informed or prepared. Without educating yourself, I can predict that you will be so full of anxiety, your labor will not progress. You will be pumped full of medications. Your baby will get your stress hormones and the side effects of all those meds through your blood stream.
You will be sending a message to your baby that you are in a dangerous situation. These stress hormones will hinder any progress you will make and your baby will be under duress. Think a Cesarean is an easier way to go? A Cesarean is major abdominal surgery and comes with all the risks of any major surgery. A Cesarean is something to avoid if you can. The risk of death is 3 times greater than that of a vaginal birth. A Cesarean is a lifesaving technique and should only be used when truly necessary.
What Kind of Birth Experience Do You Want for You and Your Baby?
Feeling anxious, frightened, and scared of labor is totally normal. But those feelings are based mainly on what you DON’T know and erroneous (false) information you’ve heard from others. Our society has conditioned us to think of labor and birth as a dangerous, scary, and excruciatingly painful experience. But everything you THINK you know about childbirth is probably based on drama, false information, and NOT reality.
In fact, childbirth is an inherently safe, normal, natural physiological process. Many of my students are shocked and surprised to hear that childbirth CAN BE an amazingly positive and empowering experience. It can also be the opposite of that if you don’t take time to prepare yourself, your body, mind, and spirit.
7 Steps to Banish Your Anxiety About Childbirth?1. Understanding the Source
Write down any possible triggers. You may have past trauma from birth, or experiences from past events, like rape, abuse, miscarriage, or even still birth, or anything not even related to birth. Many women who have had anxiety in the past, in general, may experience it again when anticipating the birth of their child.
Simply understanding the source of your fear or anxiety can be the first step to learning how to deal with it and get power over it. To quote a mentor of mine: “Here’s a good analogy…let’s say you’re driving your car and a red warning light comes on. It would be silly to get mad at the sensor, foolish to try and cover it up, or worse, ignore it, thinking it will disappear. The warning light is not the problem that represents our emotions. The blinking light(anxiety) is just getting our attention and signaling a problem with the unseen processing going on in our mind(thoughts). If that warning light(emotions) goes unchecked, it will cause our body to break down.”
2. Cognitive Therapy
For many women, talking to a professional, licensed therapist will be the best way to get power over your fears. These fears can affect you in many ways, both emotionally and physically. Sometimes things we need to deal with head-on, can negatively affect our health. Your body/mind will break down if you don’t deal with whatever is causing you anxiety. Think of it as healing yourself so that you can be the best mom possible. And try to remember, “There is no such thing as a perfect mother, but there are a million ways to be a good one.”
3. Knowledge is Power
The second thing to do is to sign up for a childbirth preparation class. There are so many choices:
The Bradley Method
International Childbirth Education Association
Birthing from Within
Your local hospitals usually have classes
When you get a clear picture of exactly what is
Testing the Dads/Coaches to see if they know the emotional and physiological signs of labor
happening in your body and why, you’ll have a better understanding of the process and less fear and less anxiety. You may even be able to visualize, in a positive way, the journey you and your baby are on.
Having knowledge about the process itself can reduce your fears and give you an idea of what to expect. Often, people have anxiety because they have fear of the unknown. Even the simplest, seemingly benign, new experiences can induce anxiety if you’re not sure what to expect.
4. What to Look for in a Childbirth Preparation Class
A good childbirth class should teach you about many aspects of pregnancy, labor, and birth. Below are a few of the essentials:
Nutrition for Pregnancy
Pregnancy Nutrition is so important in growing a healthy baby and avoiding common pregnancy complications. You need 80-100 grams of protein daily during your 2nd-3rd trimesters, yet you only need 300 extra calories daily. It is never too late to start. Having good nutrition during pregnancy has been shown to grow a healthy baby and can benefit your labor outcome.
The Stages of Labor
You should learn about all 4 stages of labor, what happens to your body physiologically, and emotionally, and what to expect from contractions. One can most often tell where a woman is in labor just by the things she is doing, the sounds she is making, and the physical sensations she is experiencing.
LABOR IS GOOD FOR YOUR BABY
Many people are surprised that going through labor actually benefits your baby. According to Dr. Sarah J Buckley:
“Basically, what it boils down to is that the stress of labor is a good stress. As the mother labors her body produces hormones to help her deal with pain. As she does this her baby’s adrenal glands are stimulated, and they begin to produce high levels of catecholamines, or stress hormones. The catecholamines are the same ones that everyone’s bodies produce in the flight or fight response to a life-threatening situation or stressful event. This fetal stress response is designed to help the baby make the transition to life outside the uterus. Here is how it helps specifically:
Helps baby breathe. The hormones produced increase the levels of surfactant that are secreted, this helps the newborn keep their lungs expanded. As it keeps the lungs open it helps the baby to clear amniotic fluid from his or her lungs.
Increases blood flow to baby. Stress hormones help send more blood to the baby’s brain, heart and kidneys
Increases energy supply to the baby. This is what keeps the baby satisfied until breast milk comes in.
Facilitates bonding. That alertness your newborn has is directly related to these hormones. A more alert baby draws parents in and he or she is more responsive to parents and others.
Increases immunity. White blood cell numbers are increased as the adrenal hormones are secreted.”
Positions and Comfort Techniques
Learning all of the positions and comfort techniques is imperative. These positions and techniques can help you experience less pain and help your labor progress faster.
Relaxation Techniques and Lots of Relaxation Practice
Every class should teach you relaxation techniques and should require you to practice both in class and at home. Learning relaxation and mindfulness techniques is crucial to being able to relax and decrease pain in labor.
Take the time to research childbirth classes. Find a method that resonates with you.
5. Make a Plan
Imagine planning a trip, or a vacation. Would you just get in the car and start driving without any kind of a plan, looking at a map, deciding where you’re going to stay, or how you’ll spend your days?
You’d take the time to learn about where you’re going. What sights are there to see? What activities are available? Where will you stay, eat, etc.? Planning is the key to successfully doing anything. That includes pregnancy and childbirth too! Having a plan doesn’t guarantee you’ll follow it “to a T”, but it gives you a goal, a guide, and an intention.
“A garden requires patient labor and attention. Plants do not grow merely to satisfy ambitions or to fulfill good intentions. They thrive because someone expended effort on them.” Liberty Hyde Bailey
Expend effort on preparing for the best possible birth experience for yourself and your baby by learning as much as you can.
6. Hire a Doula
Research shows a doula’s presence facilitates:
25% reduction in length of labor;
60% reduction in epidural requests;
30% reduction in analgesia use;
50% reduction in cesarean rate;
40% reduction in pitocin use.
You can also spend time discussing with your doula your fears and anxiety. She may have the education and empathy to help you move through them.
7. Find a Release for Your Stress
This can be exercising. One of the best ways is to practice prenatal yoga. Try my FREE 25minute class.
Prenatal Yoga 1 - 25 min version - YouTube
I recently received this email, below, from a woman who practiced “with me” during her pregnancy 9 years ago.
I just wanted to express my gratitude to you!
Though we’ve never met, you made a very important impact in my life. Nine years ago, when I was expecting my son, I discovered your prenatal yoga class on yogadownload.com. I loooooved your gentle, soothing voice and felt like I could trust you to guide me through a beautiful but frightening time of (literal!) growth.
And you did!
With no mother, sister, or other close friend I could lean on for support and wisdom during this time, I tethered myself to your soothing voice. I practiced your class almost daily and brought you with me on my iPod to the delivery room. I stayed so centered and calm with your help.
The nurse said she’d never seen anyone giggle a baby out before!
Now I’m the luckiest mother alive, with a really great kid you helped me bring into the world. I’m even exploring the possibility that I may, too, become a prenatal yoga teacher.
Thank you, Liza! You are loved and appreciated. Let your light shine!”
You can do any kind of exercise – walking, running, yoga, biking, classes at a gym or online. Or find a hobby that relaxes you, maybe something you can do with others. Practice mindfulness techniques. Head Space and Calm are free mindfulness apps. You can also pay extra for more access if you find it works for you.
8. Express Yourself by Journaling
Sometimes just getting your thoughts and feelings on paper can empty your mind of all that chatter. In yoga that mind chatter is called “Monkey Chatter” or Chitta Vritti. Also make a list of things that have you worried, or questions on your mind. Bring them to your prenatal appointments to ask your doctor or midwife.
9. Explore all of Your Options
Knowing what all possible options are can give you the courage and determination to have power over these fears. You can do it! You just might surprise yourself!
People always talk about the benefits of breastfeeding. No one even thinks about the risks of NOT breastfeeding. Are there really risks of Not breastfeeding? Absolutely, YES! There are many risks of not breastfeeding for the baby, the mother, the father, society, and the environment. In this post we will be dealing with the risks to your baby of not breastfeeding.
RISKS OF NOT BREASTFEEDING FOR BABIES
There are many research studies that show that full-term infants who are fed artificial baby milk/formula have greater risks* of:
Childhood obesity – 32% increased risk
Type 1 and type 2 diabetes – 64% increased risk
Leukemia – 18-23% increased risk
SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) – 56% increased risk
Asthma with no family history – 35% increased risks
Asthma with family history – 67% increased risk
Acute ear infection – 100% increased risk
Hospitalization for lower respiratory tract diseases in the first year 257% increased risk
Eczema – 47% increased risk
*Source U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Surgeon General 2011
Artificial Baby Milk VS Breast Milk
It is generally accepted that feeding babies formula/artificial baby milk is good or even normal. There is a perception that breastfeeding is just a little extra bonus or “frosting on the cake” or like giving your baby extra vitamins. What most people don’t know is that choosing formula presents possible long-term negative effects on the infant’s health and development, and also the health of the mother.
3 Types of Formula
Cow’s milk based – This is the base for the majority of artificial baby milk brands.
Soy based – Plant protein is the base and may be good for babies who cannot tolerate lactose, or are allergic to cow’s milk.
Hydrolisate protein –Proteins are broken down so that the formula is easier for baby to digest. These formulas tend to be much more expensive. But may be the only option if a child is allergic to cow’s milk or soy.
Formula is similar to breastmilk because it provides nourishment, energy, and hydration. Sometimes it ends up being our only choice. Certain health conditions, circumstances around the birth, or not getting education or support for breastfeeding can lead to the need to use artificial baby milk. As I have learned from my friend and lactation consultant, Kimberly Murphy, ICBLC, your #1 Job is to “Feed the Baby”. She even has a bracelet that has that engraved on it. As moms we can only do our best and sometimes that means turning to alternatives to our own breastmilk. We know from study after study that breastmilk is best and I don’t want to vilify the moms who choose formula or feel they have no other choice. My goal is to present the facts as best I can, so a new mother can decide what is best for her and her baby.
What’s in Formula?
Of course, the ingredients in baby formula will differ from brand to brand. In general, you’ll find:
Lactose or other sugars like corn syrup, fructose
Oils such as palm oil, coconut oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil
Fatty acids derived from fish oils
Vitamins and minerals
Some have pre-biotics and probiotics
Some have DHA
As an example, let’s take the ingredients in the ingredient list on a can of Similac.
Here are the first four ingredients in a can of Similac:
42.6% corn syrup solids,
14.7% Soy Protein Isolate (which means the proteins have been broken down so that baby will be able to digest it),
11.5%high oleic safflower oil,
When you look at the individual ingredient list, it can seem a bit scary. These infant formulas are highly processed foods so that babies can digest them, and they contain a lot of things. The list goes on and on. Billions of dollars have gone in to the research to find the best alternative food for your baby. But look at just the soy protein. A baby drinking soy-based formula is getting an extraordinary amount of estrogen-like compounds. One study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 2018 found “Infants who consumed soy-based formula as newborns had differences in some reproductive-system cells and tissues, compared to those who used cow-milk formula or were breastfed, according to a new study.” Long-term studies have not been done to see if there are long-term effects.
It Doesn’t Have to Be All Formula or All Breastmilk
Sometimes, circumstances make it impossible to exclusively feed the baby the mother’s own breastmilk. There are options to exclusively feeding your baby your own breastmilk. Options:
Pump as much of your own milk to give to your baby, even if it’s 1-2 oz/day. It doesn’t have to be all formula or all breastmilk. Even a small amount of your own breastmilk or someone else’s is better than none.
There are organizations that bank human milk, so that all infants have access to breastmilk. You can contact the Human Milk Banking Association of North America. You can also search for “Mother’s Milk Banks near me”. All breastmilk is screened, tested, and pasteurized to get rid of any harmful bacteria or organisms.
Locally, San Diego Mothers’ Milk Bank at UCSD opened in 2019. There’s even an app in the app store called MothersMilk
WIC program. Breastfeeding mothers supported by WIC may receive peer counselor support, an enhanced food package, breast pumps, and other supplies. Breastfeeding mothers can also participate in WIC longer than non-breastfeeding mothers. Many WIC offices have an IBCLC as well.
OWH Helpline (800-994-9662). The Office on Women’s Health Helpline is staffed with breastfeeding peer counselors who can answer your breastfeeding questions in English or Spanish, support you through breastfeeding challenges, and connect you with other resources to help if needed.
Why Choose Breastmilk – Even Someone Else’s Breastmilk?Breastmilk isn’t just food:
It is an immune system boost, full of antibodies and white-blood cells.
It has hormones that foster bonding, regulate appetite, and sleep/wake patterns.
It is loaded with pre-biotics and probiotics and good bacteria to protect the digestive system.
The fatty acids in breastmilk help your baby’s brain, nervous system, and eyes develop.
Your breastmilk has enzymes to help your baby digest the milk.
Breastmilk contains over 60% whey protein and 40% casein. There are proteins that inhibit organisms, like yeast, protect the infant from viruses, and bad bacteria, and it contains good bacteria that protects the baby from harmful bacteria.
There are essential fat-soluble vitamins in breastmilk, like A,D,E,K.
Lactose is the primary carbohydrate and helps promote healthy bacteria growth.
Be Absolutely Sure You CAN’T Breastfeed
So many women think that they can’t breastfeed for various reasons. To be absolutely sure, see a lactation consultant, not just your pediatrician. Most pediatricians know very little about breastfeeding. I know that’s a shocking statement. But, sadly, it is a true statement. See a lactation consultant a minimum of three times to be sure there is a medical reason you cannot breastfeed. You can find a lactation consultant here. You can also find breastfeeding support groups
The First 10-14 Days Are Essential in Establishing Milk Supply
Right after your body expels the placenta, you have high levels of prolactin, the milk hormone, that has been supplied by your placenta. But postpartum, daily, those prolactin levels decrease. So you literally have the first 10-14 days to tell your body you need milk for your baby. And to let your pituitary gland know you need to make milk.
If you are able to breastfeed, make sure you are feeding your baby a minimum of 8 times in 24 hours. You can feed your baby 12 or more times if you’re able. These first two weeks is a significant time to put in your “food order” to let your body know how much you’re going to need. The more often you do it, the more your body will respond. Every time you remove milk from the breast you are signaling to your brain, “Make More Milk!”
If you are not able to breastfeed because your baby is in the NICU, or your milk volume increase is delayed because of birth complications or medications, you can still signal your body to make milk. You will need to get help from the nurses and lactation consultants at the hospital to find the right breast pump for your needs. Pump a minimum of 8 times and possibly up to (or even more than) 12 times in 24 hours. Set your alarm and don’t skip a single pumping session and pump at least 100 minutes in 24 hours.
Don’t make breaks between pumping sessions grow longer. It is so important. Many moms see so little milk, that they may give up. Refer to the photo above and you can see how little milk your baby actually needs per feeding. But the more often you remove milk from the breast, the greater your chance of successfully continuing to breastfeed, and continue to make enough milk to feed your baby. Keep a record of how much milk you are getting per pumping session and how often you are pumping. If the volume decreases, contact your lactation consultant ASAP.
Formula feeding is associated with significant health risks for both mother and baby. Do all you can to give your baby the best possible start in life. May Angelou said,
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
6 REALLY GOOD REASONS TO EAT PREGNANCY SNACKS HIGH IN PROTEIN 1.Placenta 2.Uterus 3.Amniotic Membranes 4.Amniotic Fluid 5.Maternal Blood Volume 6.Baby
Your pregnant body is an amazing machine. Your body knows not only how to preserve the pregnancy, it also nourishes and grows your baby. You’ve been given amazing Super Powers to be able to grow a baby. But you’ll need to eat plenty of protein-filled pregnancy snacks throughout the day to have a safe and healthy pregnancy, baby, and birth
Function of the Placenta
Once your placenta has attached to the uterine wall, simply, its main functions are providing nutrients to the growing baby and taking away waste products. Your placenta is literally an organ. The placenta gets all its nutrients from the mother’s blood stream, provides nutrients to the baby, and produces hormones that help preserve the pregnancy. What you eat has life-long effects on your baby’s growth and development.
(There’s your GUILT TRIP For the day!) So eating pregnancy snacks that are full of good protein can help your body function well.
I’ve seen women gain up to 80lbs. during pregnancy. But they are not eating for their baby. They may be indulging in cravings, but gaining 80lbs during pregnancy is the opposite of healthy. You truly only need 300 extra calories/day in your second and third trimesters. What can you eat that helps you get 80-100 grams of extra protein/day while keeping the calorie count down to 300 extra calories?
THAT’S ALL? JUST 300 CALORIES!
Yep. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but you need to make those 300 extra calories count. Munching on peanut butter filled pretzels, or 4 slices of pizza, or a visit to your favorite fast food place isn’t doing you or your baby any good. The occasional indulgence is okay but don’t let it become a daily or weekly habit. Make those pregnancy snacks count! (I hope you don’t stop reading at this point because there is some important information I’d like to pass along to you.)
ALL CELLS ARE FORMED FROM PROTEIN
Everything you and your baby need comes from the macronutrient, PROTEIN. The pregnant woman needs protein, carbohydrates and fats to keep the body functioning and to perform daily activities. Think about the amazing feat your body is accomplishing! In addition to the activities of daily life, you are also growing a complete, healthy human being!
The placenta has to function, provide nutrients and hormones, take away waste products, and grow with your baby.
The uterine muscles must grow from the size of your fist to the size of a water melon. Your uterus grows 500 times bigger than its pre-pregnancy size!
Your breasts make colostrum, your baby’s first milk, which you have in your breasts since week 10-14 of your pregnancy.
Your amniotic fluid is generated to act as a cushion for your baby. In the early stages of pregnancy, 1st trimester, amniotic fluid is mainly water. By week 12-14 it also is comprised of proteins, carbohydrate, and lipids. The bigger the baby, the more amniotic fluid your body makes. It is, like all the cells, formed originally from protein.
The amniotic sac is like 2 thin layers of tissue that could be described as similar to a water balloon. The sac contains and protects the amniotic fluid from the beginning of the pregnancy. It continues to grow and expand as the baby grows.
Your body begins to increase blood volume by 6-8 weeks of your pregnancy. By the end of your pregnancy your blood volume has increased by 50-60%! This extra blood volume is needed to transfer nutrients, gases, and anything else needed to provide normal growth and development.
Your baby relies on you to eat well and provided basic good health by the time of birth. Like I said above, what you eat affects your baby not just today, but for a long time to come.
How Can I Get Enough Protein?
There are some tricks I’ve learned from midwives over the years and from teaching the Bradley Method® of Natural Childbirth and researching The Brewer Pregnancy Diet. Good pregnancy nutrition goes a long way to create a healthy baby and prevent pregnancy complications.
Set Your Phone Alarm to Go Off every 60-90 Minutes
When the alarm goes off that’s a reminder to you that you need to have a pregnancy snack. Not only will this help you get your protein intake up, but if you are suffering from nausea, it can reduce that queezy-feeling stomach.
Here are some protein-filled pregnancy snack ideas:
• Almonds have 6grams of protein in 1 oz. that’s just a small handful.
• Greek yogurt has approximately 20 grams of protein for one cup.
• Hummus with vegetables. 4TBS of hummus has about 5 grams of protein.
• 1 Hard-boiled egg has 6grams
• Celery and peanut butter. 1TBS peanut butter has 4grams protein.
• 1oz cheese has 7 grams. Try string cheese. They’re easy and portable.
• Protein bars come in a wide variety. You can get anything from 8-10 grams up to 20 grams of protein.
• Pumpkin seeds have 5 grams of protein per one oz. That’s just a tiny handful of seeds.
• Edamame that are still in the pod make a great snack. 1 cup has 17 grams of protein. Add plenty of salt to make them even tastier. Your body also needs plenty of salt for blood volume expansion. You can even eat the dry roasted kind.
• 1Cup of milk has 8 grams of protein.
• Oatmeal has 6 grams of protein in one cup.
• The pre-packaged envelope of tuna packs a protein punch of 15-20 grams. You can eat tuna in moderation during pregnancy, like once a week.
• Kind bars have 6 grams of protein.
• Protein drinks usually have up to 20 grams of protein.
• 1 oz of Kale chips have 6 grams.
• Chick peas can be roasted and salted. 5 oz has 6 grams.
There are so many more ideas you can probably think of yourself. Do a bit of prep the night before. Prepare to have delicious and easy-to-eat snacks throughout the day. Your body and baby will be so much healthier for it. You can read more about the ideal pregnancy diet at Brewer Pregnancy Diet
“I had no idea how hard this parenting thing was going to be!” This is a common refrain from so many new parents. I had a conversation just this week with a former student with a 4week old baby. She said that people tell you how hard it is, but you just don’t get it until you are going through it. Yup!
AND NOW THE HARD PART
I do tell my childbirth students that pregnancy is the easy part of parenting. You know where your kid is all the time. It is a finite period. Yes, you are probably having interrupted sleep during pregnancy. But it’s nothing compared to the sleep deprivation in that postpartum period and on into that first year.
Your partner will feel ignored or deprived of your attention. Initially, this can cause some rifts in the relationship. As a new mom, you might say to yourself, “Are you kidding me? I’m on call 24/7 with no sleep and you want attention too? I have nothing left at the end of the day.”
“WARNING – I HAVE NO NICE LEFT!”
That is what one friend’s mom used to say occasionally, after a 12hour shift as a nurse. That is totally understandable, yet if we want to nurture our relationship, that statement probably won’t have a positive effect on either new parent.
AFTER BABY, EVERYTHING CHANGES – WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT?
Your life has been altered, remodeled, and transformed into something you could not have imagined. So, you need to change too. “A new crib and pretty wall paper in the nursery are sweet, but the best gift for your newborn is baby-proofing your [relationship].”Birthing from Within by Pam England and Rob Horowitz.
11 WAYS TO KEEP YOUR RELATIONSHIP HEALTHY AFTER BABY
SLEEP – pick a bedtime and stick with it, especially when you go back to work. During the day, sleep when your baby sleeps. If you’ve got another child, ask a friend or family member to come over and play with the older child so you can have a mid-afternoon nap in those first few postpartum weeks. Feed your baby after dinner, then go to bed while your partner cares for the baby (and the other child). You’ll be awakened in another 2-3hours to feed the baby. Take advantage of having time to sleep. This early bedtime will be a great opportunity for your partner to bond with your baby and care for your baby. You will cope so much better with life in general if you get a bit more sleep.
TIME TOGETHER – In addition to all the daily chores and tasks to get done, make sure you schedule time to spend together that is relaxing and enjoyable. Don’t expect to have this time for at least 4-8 weeks but after that, put it in your calendar as though it’s an appointment and treat it as such. Make it a priority.
SCHEDULE INTIMACY – My students look at me like I’m crazy when I tell them this. But they all get it after their babies arrive. Spontaneity is hard to come by when you’ve got a little one or two in the house. Take your baby to a friend or relative, then go home and relax and enjoy this time together. Or hire a babysitter and go to a hotel. Get creative.
TAKE PARENTING CLASSES TOGETHER – It is so important to be on the same page when it comes to parenting. Kids learn really fast who is the push-over parent and who is the disciplinarian parent. If one says no and the other says yes, resentment is going to build and build until there is a big explosion. Support each other and be on the same parenting page by taking classes together. Decide what your boundaries are and what your routines are going to be. Then stick with each other!
SET BOUNDARIES WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS – Immediately postpartum, you may want to show off your baby to everyone, but having lots of visitors who stay too long, can create so much stress. It’s a great ingredient in a recipe for postpartum depression. Kindly and gently let them know they can come over but mainly to cook, clean, do laundry, NOT TO HOLD THE BABY. Babies belong with their moms and the partner, but mostly with mom. This will help you get breastfeeding off to a good start.
ASK FOR HELP – Don’t hesitate to ask for help. I just saw a new mom’s post on Instagram. It’s been a week since giving birth to her 3rd She posted that it was her first day alone with all 3 kids. Her friends commented how strong and tough she was. Well, my reply was, “Don’t be tough. You’re not supposed to be tough. You’re supposed to get lots of help and ask for it when you need it and when you don’t need it. Reach. Out. Bring Jennifer prepared food. Come over and do some laundry. Send a house cleaner. Come entertain the girls so she can sleep when baby sleeps. She is NOT SUPPOSED TO DO POSTPARTUM ALONE!!!
LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS OF EACH OTHER – The drop in marital satisfaction is dramatic after a new baby. Communicate with kindness. Surrender your individual goals and try to work together as a team. It may take some time and practice, but stick with it. Don’t keep your feelings inside. Communicate. Express what’s bothering you and express also what you appreciate about your partner. Positive reinforcement goes a long way. Try to state how you are feeling without placing blame, ie: “I’m feeling overwhelmed and tired and would love it if you could put the baby to bed, or feed the baby, or give the baby a bath, etc.
COUPLES COUNSELING – Work with a Licensed Family and Marriage Therapist. Shop around. Ask for a referral from your physician or insurance company. Ask friends for a referral. You’d be surprised how many people you know go to therapy. A therapist should be able to help you both communicate effectively. Emotionally Focused Therapy is a great form of therapy that helps couples understand their emotional responses and can learn to respond rather than react. Don’t wait till things get bad. Intervene early so you can avoid the many pitfalls and bad habits that can lead to major relationship problems.
MAKE YOUR RELATIONSHIP TOP PRIORITY – This means that you don’t want to have a child-centric relationship. Some people focus on their children, or live through them, and forget the importance of the partner. Take a genuine interest in your children’s lives but don’t find your glory or identity through their lives. They will be leaving in a couple of decades and then you’re stuck with your partner. Make sure you’ve got a good working relationship when those kids leave the nest.
HAVE A RESPONSIBLE FINANCIAL LIFE – 75% of relationships break up over financial differences or financial troubles. Don’t live beyond your means. Communicate with each other about your budget, expenditures and financial boundaries. Take a class like, Financial Peace University with Dave Ramsey. My husband and I took this class a few years ago. I highly recommend it.
PICK YOUR BATTLES – Some things are just not worth fighting over. I used to have a family member who always had to be right, no matter the cost. Do you want to be right? Or do you want to get along? How important is this fight? Is this really a priority?
Tony Robbins said, ““Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.” Try to get help before things are get to that point. Just like going to the gym regularly, or going to the doctor for a check-up, it’s positive way to maintain a healthy relationship. Keep your relationship healthy, strong and fit. It may take some adjustments and some work. But it is so worth it.
So many women, 60%, are told by their hospitals, nurses, and doctors that they should have no food during labor and nothing to drink. This is a perfect example of one of those hospital policies that has perpetuated for years and years but is not based on medical evidence. The policy is “NPO” which is defined as nothing by mouth and comes from the Latin Nil (nothing) Per (by) Os (mouth).
Labor is an Athletic Event
Dr. Robert Bradley called labor and birth and “athletic event.” Just like running a marathon, or hiking, or any kind of extended physical demand on the body, labor is demanding on the body as well. One of the strongest muscles in the human body is the uterus, and since it is made up of muscle tissue, it needs energy and fuel, just like your body needs during any demanding physical activity.
You Need Carbohydrates, Protein, and Fats
We do know from research in sports nutrition that carbohydrates are essential energy and fuel for the body in any physically demanding situation. Protein combined with carbohydrates and essential fatty acids can be calculated for optimal energy for each athlete depending on the level of physical activity, gender, weight and height of the athlete. Why has this not been considered for women going through labor?
Here are the evidence-based reasons why most women should continue to eat and drink during labor:
Five studies ncbi.nlm.nih.gov were done on looking at restricting food and water during labor. The Cochrane review https://www.cochrane.org/evidence concluded that “the evidence shows no benefits or harms, there is no justification for the restriction of fluids and food in labor for women at low risk of complications. No studies looked specifically at women at increased risk of complications, hence there is no evidence to support restrictions in this group of women. Conflicting evidence on carbohydrate solutions means further studies are needed and it is critical in any future studies to assess women’s views.”
After studying both the above 5 studies and adding 5 more studies the Cochrane review found that women who ate and drank during labor had shorter labors by an average of 16 minutes.
The researchers also found that women who were allowed to eat and drink during labor were more satisfied with their birth experiences.
A study done in Iran found that women who were restricted from eating and drinking during labor experienced more stress and more pain. Labor hurt more!
Women felt that they “ran out of energy,” “had no more strength,” and felt hungry from going so long without eating. When you are out of energy in any situation, it is difficult to focus, easy to lose confidence, and easy to give up. You need stamina and sustained energy and fuel to keep going.
The policy of NPO was established in the 1940’s when women were given Twilight sleep and combination of scopolamine and morphine. They were unconscious during labor and the risks of aspiration of stomach contents was great.
According to Evidence Based Birth, “The risk of death as a result of aspiration during Cesarean was 0.7 per million births, or 1 death for every 1.4 million births (Hawkins et al. 1997).
In 2015 The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) concluded that “Nothing By Mouth” is not necessary for low-risk women in labor. “There is insufficient evidence to draw conclusions about the relationship between fasting times for clear liquids or solids and the risk of aspiration during delivery.”
Neither American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) and the ASA recommend limiting a woman’s intake to ice chips or sips of water.
What foods should you eat during labor?
Carbs, protein, and fats for labor
Remember that labor puts demands on your body similar to those during an athletic event. Yet, during labor, your digestion slows down to a crawl. If you are a low-risk patient – basically you and your baby are healthy and there are no medical issues or complications, research suggests that eating and drinking during labor does not raise your risks. It is always a good idea to discuss eating and drinking during labor with your care provider/doctor/midwife before labor begins. Refer to these research studies and print them out and give them to your care provider.
Think of things to eat that are light and easily digested. You won’t want to binge on a pizza even in early labor because it may come right back up in transition! Try to combine foods that are high in carbohydrates (not high in sugar) with protein and fats.
Some good carbohydrates examples are: Quinoa, raisins, oatmeal, milk, yogurt, ice cream, sweet potatoes, fruit (bananas, blueberries, apples, etc.), bread, rice, crackers, beans, chickpeas/hummus, honey, applesauce.
Fats to eat with the carbs are: nut butter, avocado, small portions of hard cheese, eggs, nuts, coconut oil, full fat Greek yogurt.
Protein to eat/drink during labor: chicken(early labor), fish(early labor), broth, miso soup, bone broth, eggs, full fat yogurt, nuts, kefir, whey protein smoothie, pea protein smoothie.
What Should You Drink During Labor?
Water is essential in staying hydrated but women over-hydrate with standard waters and they and their babies have had low sodium and low calcium issues in the immediate postpartum period. Instead drink water with electrolytes. You can also make my “Labor-Ade” ahead. Pour it into ice cube trays and add it to Smart Water or suck on the ice cubes.
Gatorade is an okay choice. My only opposition to it is that it’s high in sugar.
There are so many options on the market for water with electrolytes. Electrolytes are essential for:
Controlling your fluid balance.
Regulating your blood pressure.
Helping your muscles contract — including your heart.
Maintaining the correct acidity of your blood (pH).
Another option is Clif Bloks. They are yummy chews with electroytes in them.
There are so many myths about pregnancy out there in the universe. Some of them are kind of funny, (like putting your hands above your head will cause a miscarriage), and some are just downright WRONG (like you shouldn’t have sex because it can hurt the baby). What is fact and what is fiction when it comes to information about pregnancy? Where should you go to get your information? Down the Google Rabbit Hole? There are plenty of guilt-inducing things to do during pregnancy, but there are lots of lovely things you can do guilt-free.
1. NO EXERCISE IN THE FIRST TRIMESTER – FICTION
You can fall asleep anywhere in your first trimester of pregnancy
You may not feel like exercising in your first trimester. You’re probably feeling super fatigued and could fall asleep just about anywhere. That fatigue is caused by a hormone called progesterone. Progesterone is produced by your ovaries. It helps the fertilized egg attach to the wall of the uterus and then your placenta starts to produce progesterone to prevent a miscarriage. If the only thing you do during your first trimester is walking 20 minutes a day, your body will be better off than not exercising at all.
Sometimes pregnancy nausea makes us just want to lie on the couch and wait till the nausea goes away. That will be a pretty long wait for most women though. Pregnancy nausea usually lasts 3months – the first trimester. More than half of all pregnant women will experience nausea, also known as Morning Sickness. Although ask any pregnant woman and she will confirm it doesn’t only come in the morning!
The increase in hormone levels really begins around week 6 and continues through the next 6-8 weeks of your pregnancy. You will be surprised to find that exercise actually help alleviate the Morning Sickness. Even if, you feel like crap, you can rest assured that this is a sign of a healthy pregnancy. I know that is not much consolation but if you get out and exercise, you will feel so much better.
If you have been exercising before you got pregnant, keep moving. Getting started is half the battle. As Nike says, “Just Do It!” If you haven’t been exercising, it’s okay to start. Some things that are safe to do during pregnancy are:
Prenatal Yoga or Yoga for Pregnancy
Prenatal Yoga – www.yogajanda.com
Pelvic Tilts or Cat Cow stretches and Squatting
Any aerobic activity that gets your heart rate up, as long as the room you are in is not kept warm or hot.
The Bottom Line About Exercise in Pregnancy:
Exercise is so good for your health, in any trimester of pregnancy.
Research has shown that the expecting mother who exercises, regularly, will improve her baby’s cardiovascular health as well as her own.
You will decrease the risk of too much weight gain, back pain issues, and you will recover faster from childbirth.
According to Medical News Today “Research shows that when pregnant women exercise, fetal heart rate is lower. Newborns may also have a healthier birth weight, a lower fat mass, improved stress tolerance, and advanced neurobehavioral maturation.”
Yoga Janda Prenatal Yoga
Unless your doctor or midwife told you not to exercise…
GET MOVING NOW!
2. YOU MUST EAT THREE MEALS A DAY AND YOU’RE EATING FOR TWO – FICTION
3 meals a day is simply not enough! The main reason 3 meals are not enough for a pregnant woman is that you need to keep your blood sugars level by actually eating 6 or 7 small meals a day. Eating 6-7 small meals before you get hungry can help regulate your blood sugars and help you to get the right foods. Not waiting till you are hungry can also help you eliminate the chance of feeling nauseated. You are eating for two but you really only need and extra 300 calories a day.
What does 300 calories look like?
2 Cups of whole milk = 292 calories
2 eggs, 1 piece of whole wheat toast, 1 pat butter, 2 strips turkey bacon = 360 calories
1 Jack in the Box breakfast sandwich = 280 calories
Burger King Bacon Cheeseburger Deluxe =– 290 calories
1 Cup of vanilla ice cream = 270 calories
(2 ½ cups watermelon = 100 calories
16 strawberries = 100 calories)
You can see that 300 calories can be made up of quite a few things. Make those 300 calories count. You need 80-100 grams of protein daily. One way to make sure you are getting enough protein is to set your phone alarm to go off once every hour during the day. When the alarm goes off, eat something with protein in it. This will help you avoid nausea and feed your baby the protein your growing baby needs. Every single cell is formed from protein.
Here a few protein snack suggestions to get you through the day
10 almonds = 2.5 grams protein
2 TBS peanut butter = 8 grams protein
1 stick string cheese = 7-8 grams
1 Cup Greek Yogurt = 17 grams
1/3 Cup hummus = 6.5 grams protein
The Bottom Line on Eating a Healthy Pregnancy Diet
Add 300 extra calories/day and get 2200-2400 calories daily.
Eat 80-100 grams of protein every day
Eat 6-7 small meals/day to keep blood sugar steady and feed your body for the hard work of growing a person.
3. NO COFFEE DURING PREGNANCY – FICTION
If you used to visit Starbucks several times a day before you got pregnant, or drank several sodas throughout your day, yes, IT IS TIME TO KNOCK IT OFF! That extra caffeine and sugar can really add a buzz to your day. But it is also adding a buzz to your baby’s day. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 200 milligrams of caffeine each day during pregnancy is safe.
Since the levels of caffeine in different coffees, teas, or sodas can vary, you will need to read some labels.
How Much Caffeine is in my Favorite Caffeine Beverage?
Can you drink coffee in pregnancy?
12oz coffee = 200mg
Decaf = 3mg
French Press = 107mg
Drip Brewed = 95mg
Cappuccino = 154mg
Cold Brew = 159mg
1 Cup Black Tea = 47mg
1 Cup Green Tea = 25mg
1 Cup Cola = 39mg
4. NO DELI MEATS AND NO SOFT CHEESES DURING PREGNANCY – a little bit of Fact & Fiction
The biggest fear about eating deli meats come from being exposed to Listeria. The risk of being exposed to Listeria is very low. The processes of pasteurization and cooking helps eliminate Listeria. If you are a cautious person, you can skip the deli while you’re pregnant. That may take a bit more food prepping time for you; but it may be worth it you. You can re-heat the deli meats before you eat them. You can totally avoid them during pregnancy and eat other foods. That’s up to you.
The fear of Listeria also arises when it comes to eating soft cheeses during pregnancy. Pregnant women should avoid eating any cheeses that were mold-ripened, or are uncooked, or un-pasteurized, or have a white rind. You could eat Brie that has been cooked, like Brie cooked in a filo dough, as long as the cheese has been heated well. Eating goat cheese is safe as long as it has been cooked. To be on the safe side just don’t eat soft cheeses.
Bottom Line on Deli Meat and Cheese
Re-heat the deli meat if you’re concerned
Eat Cottage cheese
All hard cheeses are okay to eat in pregnancy.
5. NO FLYING AFTER YOUR SECOND TRIMESTER – FICTION and FACT
Flying While pregnant – is it safe?
You can fly whenever you want up to 36-37 weeks of pregnancy. If you’re worried, ask your OBGyn, or your midwife. Check with the airline you’re planning to fly on to see if they have any requirements or specific restrictions. The cabin of an airline is pressurized so it should not affect your pregnancy. It is safe to fly when pregnant for most healthy low-risk, uncomplicated pregnancies.
But depending on the airline, some may require a letter from your doctor or midwife saying you are healthy and safe to fly. Some airlines have no restrictions up to 36 weeks of pregnancy and you can fly whenever you want to.
Bottom Line on Flying While Pregnant:
Check with your doctor or midwife
Check with the specific airline to see what requirements or restrictions they have.
6. NO SUSHI AND NO SEAFOOD – FICTION
Certain fish is really healthy for expecting moms because fish is loaded with Omega3 fatty acids and high in protein and low in fat. Omega3 fatty acids boost the heart, immune system’s ability to fight disease and inflammation. It also supports the mom’s and baby’s brain, eyes, and central nervous system.
Eating raw fish can be risky because of the risk of parasites in the raw fish. Since most fish is flash frozen before it’s shipped, that kills the parasites. You’re unlikely to find parasites in farmed fish, so ask where they get their fish if you really want your dose of sushi. After all, there are millions of Japanese women who are eating and have eaten sushi throughout their pregnancies.
The other fear of eating fish is the level of mercury in the fish. The fish that are high in Mercury are: shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish. According to Parents Magazine “it is safe to eat up to 12oz. of tuna a week and other low-mercury fish like salmon, shrimp, catfish, pollock, and fish sticks.”
The Bottom Line About Sushi and Other Fish in Pregnancy:
Check with the restaurant for the supplier source for sushi
Ask if it’s been flash frozen
Avoid shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish
Limit Tuna and other low-mercury fish to no more than 12oz/week
7. YOU SHOULD STOP DYING YOUR HAIR – FICTION
Studies have not conclusively shown that hair dye affects the fetus. Since chemicals can be absorbed through the skin, it might be prudent to avoid hair dye in the first trimester. Or you might ask your hair dresser if there are more “natural dyes” with less chemicals she can use at least through that first trimester.
It’s okay to dye your hair in pregnancy
The smell of the dye and other chemicals around you in a salon might be the biggest problem, especially in the first trimester. Make sure you’re in a well-ventilated area especially if you’re sensitive to smells during pregnancy.
Bottom Line About Hair Dye and Pregnancy:
Go ahead and look your best.
If you want to dye your hair, it is considered safe.
You can go ahead and enjoy your pregnancy. Get active. Eat well. Look your best. Travel. Enjoy this special time in your life.
You truly can enjoy your pregnancy and not worry so much or feel miserable. Try these 6 pregnancy tips to get the most out of this life-changing experience.
1. Eat More Protein and More Calories for a Healthier Pregnancy
Yes, that’s right! I just gave you permission to eat more! But pick your extra 300 calories wisely. This doesn’t mean that eating for two gives you permission to binge on ice cream and pizza and junk food. I’ve seen some moms gain 50-80 pounds during pregnancy. This is just not safe or healthy. You actually need to make sure you are eating 80-100 grams of protein daily. Start at the very beginning of your 2nd trimester or week 12-14 of your pregnancy. Every single cell is formed from protein. That means: baby, placenta, amniotic sac, amniotic fluid, blood, and the muscles of the uterus. You’re probably thinking, “That’s a heck of a lot of protein!” Yes it is, but your body and baby need it!
2. Start Exercising Now or
Just Keep Your Pregnant Body Moving
Exercise and pregnancy may take a little motivation. You benefit from exercise and so does your baby. Exercise and pregnancy actually improves your baby’s cardiovascular system. It’s a win win situation. Walking daily during pregnancy is the easiest and probably most accessible exercise to do during pregnancy. 30 minutes of walking every day is enough. If you have time and energy for more, go ahead and get those 10,000 steps in.
Swimming is also very good for maintaining a healthy pregnancy. It also may help the baby to get in the best position for birth.
Another daily exercise every pregnant woman should do are pelvic rocks. Get on your hands and knees. Starting with a flat back, inhale and tilt the tailbone up. Exhale and tuck the tailbone under. You will be moving just the pelvis and low back. The upper back is stationary. If you suffer from carpal tunnel pain, you can rest your forearms on the floor or place a pillow under your hands. Do 50/day.
3. Practice Yoga for a More Enjoyable Pregnancy
Stretching, specifically, Yoga for Pregnancy. Prenatal Yoga has so many benefits for both the expecting mom and her baby. Studies have shown that practicing prenatal yoga 2-3 times/week in the last 10-12 weeks of pregnancy shortens labor, and reduces the mother’s perception of pain in labor. Pregnant moms learn how to breathe, stay in the moment, and respond to their contractions instead of react to them. You will meet other moms in a yoga class and make new friends with other pregnant women who are going through all the same changes that you are. Prenatal Yoga has been shown to reduce anxiety, and depression. See related content here: Yoga and Pregnancy
4. Take a Nap
You are growing a new little person. You’re bound to be tired. Your body is working hard and overtime. Before you might have just pushed yourself through this feeling tired. But during pregnancy your body is giving you a message. You need to rest and, it’s not only okay, it’s necessary! And don’t forget to invest in a pregnancy pillow.
Sometimes we do feel tired and a nap is the solution. But if you find yourself still feeling tired, or fatigued, or even listless, you may need an iron supplement. My favorite iron supplement is Energizing Iron. The only side effect is an increase in hemoglobin, the oxygen carrying protein in your blood. You are making blood for your baby every day, so beef up on the iron. You’ll start feeling better within a day or two if you take 3-6 daily with each meal.
5. Don’t Skip the Birth Class!
It is unbelievable to me how many people Do Not take a childbirth class. They are missing out on so much! You meet other expecting parents. You learn to work together as a team. There is so much to know. The biggest benefit of taking a childbirth class is that the information you get replaces the fear most people have about birth. When you understand what a normal process labor is, you realize there is very little to fear. You also will learn Comfort Techniques and other tools and skills to deal with the challenges of labor, together as a team. It takes two people to make a baby and it takes a team to bring a baby into the world. Additionally, it’s important to understand all of the ins and outs, and risks and benefits of the common medical procedures done in a hospital. Giving birth in the hospital can get complicated, especially if you don’t understand all of your options. So GET EDUCATED! Take the time to invest in one of the most important and memorable days of your lives.
6. Treat Yourself
Your body is changing so go shopping and buy just a few nice outfits to show off that baby bump. Retail therapy is always a nice treat. Go ahead and splurge and buy yourself some well-made stylish outfits. Don’t limit yourself to just big tee shirts or cheap leggings. Some other splurges might be a pregnancy massage, acupuncture, or a pedicure. Check out my Pinterest Board for Pregnancy Fashion Ideas. And plan on looking fantastic during this pregnancy.