Category Archives: Pregnancy

Due Date, Shmue Date

February 17.  One of the many dates I was told Harper would be born.  And therefore a date that will always be significant to me.

Why so many due dates?  Well, when it comes to due dates there is no true exact science.  It is an educated guess at best.  There are some good ways to calculate when your baby could possibly arrive, but it all boils down to whenever the baby is ready.  I, for one, wasn’t concerned at all with the date on the calendar, I just wanted Harper to be born happy and healthy.  But, because I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, my doctors would not let me go past 40 weeks, with fear that Harper would be too big to deliver.  And even though no one was ever really sure when my true due date was, they wanted to be as conservative as possible, so they aimed early.

Last year on February 17, I was considered by my doctors to be 40 weeks.  At that time they checked my cervix to see where I was with my dilation and effacement.  And…there was absolutely no activity whatsoever!  Fine by me.  I just figured that Harper was enjoying my warm little womb and was a bit too cozy to be disturbed.  But by medical standards this could pose a risk.  So, if I wanted to go through with a natural home birth, I had to do my best to put my body into labor.

Here is a short list of some of the methods I used to help naturally induce my labor.

1.  Evening Primrose Oil:  Evening Primrose Oil is an herb that is used for a variety of things.  One of its many uses is to help the cervix thin and dilate, getting it ready for labor.  A few weeks before my “due date”, my midwives suggested that I began using evening primrose oil.  I would take a few capsules orally and also use some as vaginal suppositories.  Although this method doesn’t directly induce labor, ripening the cervix can help the baby’s head engage deeper into the pelvis, which can help with dilation.  I didn’t see drastic results with this method, but I do believe it was helpful in preparing my cervix for labor.

2.  Acupuncture:  Acupuncture is beneficial for many reasons.  It stimulates the flow of energy in your body, removing any blockages.  It has been used in parts of Asia for centuries.  It is relaxing, revitalizing and when it comes to inducing labor naturally, acupuncture is one of the safest methods you can use.  I started seeing an acupuncturist at 36 weeks pregnant.  And as we got closer to my “due date” her efforts to prepare me for labor got more aggressive.  Acupuncture needles were inserted into my hands, lower legs and feet.  The acupuncture stimulation was used to normalize the hormonal levels of the body, thus encouraging a natural flow of energy, resulting in a natural progression of labor.

3.  Sex:  As I approached my due date, I was told by my midwives to have a lot of sex.  Sex is effective in inducing labor because semen contains prostaglandins which stimulate the cervix, possibly leading to contractions.  This was Freddie’s favorite method, for obvious reasons.  To be honest, at 40 weeks pregnant, sex was the last thing I wanted to do.  I was tired, uncomfortable and big.  But if it was going to help bring the baby out, it was the least I could do ;)

There are a handful of other techniques you can use to induce your labor naturally.  These are just the three that seemed to work best for me.  But with any method you choose, it is important to talk with your practitioner to make sure it is a safe and healthy route for you.

Even with all my hard work, Harper decided not to make an appearance on February 17th.  So my midwives started to make appointments for me go in for some non-stress tests.  But luckily, we were approaching a weekend and so I wasn’t able to be seen until Monday, February 21.  And well…Harper was born on February 20, so it all ended up being for nothing.

But the moral of the story is, in my humble opinion…when it comes to giving birth, women have been doing it since the beginning of time.  And while I highly respect the opinions of the medical industry and am grateful for their knowledge and expertise, everything from conception to birth is a miracle.  One that we have little part in.  So I think it is best to trust your body, and trust your baby.  Believe that just as your baby was growing in your belly in the most perfect way, and in the most perfect time, your baby will arrive in this world when they are ready.  Because at the end of the day, they all come out some time :)

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Someone Call the Fire Department…

…cause I got a terrible case of heartburn!

Actually, I am grateful that I no longer suffer from heartburn, but let me tell you, when I was pregnant…holy molly! Heartburn was an unwelcome guest that moved in and made itself at home.

For some of you this might be waaaaayyy too much information! But this post is dedicated to all my mommas-to-be out there who are dealing with this irritating discomfort.

Please keep in mind that I am not a doctor. So please check with your healthcare professional about any and all recommendations I mention. My intent is to share my experience with you and offer you solutions that worked for me. So let’s get to it.

Why do so many pregnant women get heartburn? Well, in short, it has a lot to do with your hormones. During pregnancy, the placenta produces the hormone progesterone, which helps to relax the muscles in the uterus. However, it also relaxes other muscles, including the valve that separates the stomach from the esophagus. This relaxation of the valve allows acid to seep up into the esophagus, leaving an uncomfortable burning sensation known as heartburn.

The further along you get into your pregnancy, another factor comes into play. And in this case it all comes down to space. As your little one grows bigger and bigger, they begin to crowd your abdominal cavity, pushing the stomach acids back up into the esophagus. And unfortunately, at this point, true relief probably won’t come until after the baby is born. But let’s face it, it’s a small price to pay for growing a human being inside your body :)

Before Harper started taking over my belly, there were some things that I found helpful that provided me with some temporary belief. There was a hierarchy of remedies that I used depending on the severity of my discomfort. I started with the most natural solution and then worked up to over the counter medications when things got to their worst. Everything that I used was considered safe during pregnancy.

1. Chewing Gum: I know it seems strange, but gum was very helpful in reducing my heartburn symptoms. Chewing gun after eating helps to stimulate your salivary glands. Saliva can help to neutralize acid. So I was constantly chomping on a stick of gum.

2. Liquid Aloe: Aloe helps to maintain a healthy digestive tract. Not only is it helpful in calming the discomfort of heartburn when used as directed, but its beneficial for your health overall. I used George’s “Always Active Aloe”. It has no bitterness, tastes like water and requires no refrigeration. I was able to find it at my local health food store.

3. Papaya Enzyme: During my pregnancy, I knew many mamas who found these to be very helpful. Papaya contains the enzyme papain. Papain is a powerful protein digesting enzyme that aids in proper digestion and absorption of foods. Therefore it helps to alleviate heartburn when taken with food. I tried these for a while and didn’t quite find the relief I needed, but it is always worth a shot.

4. Tums: For immediate relief, I found Tums to work best. I continued to take my liquid aloe twice a day which was helpful, but Tums worked great for an on the spot remedy. I carried them with me wherever I went. And I always had a bottle next to my bed. Tums helped me get through the majority of my pregnancy. But in the last few weeks I needed to up the ante a bit.

5. Zantac: I did my best to stay away from medications, but it got to the point where I couldn’t even lay down anymore I was so uncomfortable. So my doctor suggested I try Zantac. And it worked…wonders! It helped me to get the rest at night that I needed in order to get ready for Harper’s arrival.

In addition to experimenting with the above oral remedies, I made a lot of changes to my diet and lifestyle to help reduce my discomfort. Here is a short summary of a great list I found on babycenter.com

1. Avoid food and beverages that cause gastrointestinal distress. Some examples are carbonated drinks; caffeine; chocolate; acidic foods such as citrus, tomatoes, mustard ,and vinegar; processed meats; mint products; spicy, highly seasoned, fried or fatty foods.

2. Try to eat smaller meals throughout the day. Make sure you take your time to eat and chew your food thoroughly.

3. Drink less fluids during your meals. Instead, sip your liquids between meals.

4. Make sure you leave enough time between your last meal and your bed time. Giving yourself time to digest your food before you lie down can help insure your meal doesn’t creep back up on you while you are sleeping.

5. Sleeping propped up with several pillows or a wedge can help keep your stomach acids where they belong. You can also try propping your entire bed up so that it is at an angle. You might want to ask your hubby to help you with this one.

Finally, seeking help from alternative practitioners can provide ongoing relief. I was grateful to establish a relationship with a chiropractor who specialized in prenatal care. I saw her 1-2x/week throughout my entire pregnancy for existing back pain. But she was also able to provide me with adjustments that assisted with my digestion problems as well. In addition to chiropractic care, I also sought help from an acupuncturist. I started acupuncture during the last month of my pregnancy. I was being treated for a multitude of things, including my gestational diabetes, but she was able to include points that would help to sooth my digestion issues as well.

In the moment, I can remember being in a lot of discomfort. But looking back of course, it was all worth it. Some or none of these suggestions may work for you. Just remember, whatever you are experiencing is temporary. When you become pregnant, your body is no longer yours. You have been transformed into a baby making machine. So if you can surrender, and do your best to make it through, I promise you it will be over before you know it. And one day you will look back, and actually miss it…which is why we end up doing it all over again :)

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When Sugar Isn’t Sweet

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.  That has always been my goal in dealing with difficult situations.  But the truth is, it’s not always easy.

Being pregnant with my daughter was a wonderful journey.  It was such a special time in my life.  I learned so much about my body and gained a whole new respect for how my body works.  Pregnancy no doubt takes a toll on you and being aware of how you can better support your body through this time is an important lesson.  I was very fortunate to have a safe and healthy pregnancy.  However, around this time last year I was faced with a small challenge.

During one of my prenatal visits, my dipstick test came back with a high level of glucose.  I was told that this meant I was “spilling sugar” and could possibly have a problem with Gestational Diabetes (GD).  This was a scary thing for me to hear.  Not only because I was worried for the health of my baby but also because a diagnosis of GD could mean that I was no longer eligible for a home birth because I was no longer considered low risk.  After talking to my midwives more about it, they suggested that I become more conservative with my carbohydrate intake and limit foods with sugar.  Doing this would help take the stress off of my body, which was obviously having trouble processing the sugar.  The hope was that I could regulate my blood sugar before I was scheduled for my 28 week Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT).

Unfortunately the timing around all of this was terrible because it was approaching Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday.  This meant, no potatoes, no pies, no ambrosia salad (my sister is famous for this).  But, I was determined to pass myGTT, and my midwives thought I might have a better chance to do so if I altered my diet.  So last Thanksgiving I ate green beans, salad, asparagus, turkey and beef tenderloin.  Delicious and satisfying but not what I was used to.

When I went in for my GTT test soon after, I was feeling confident that my blood sugar levels had stabilized.  I got the phone call from my doctor and I was heartbroken by the results, I had failed the test and was diagnosed with GD.  Getting this diagnosis is in no way the end of the world.  In fact, my mom had it with both me and my brother and we were both healthy babies.  So I was confident that Harper would be fine, but I was disappointed that I would not be able to have a home birth.  However, after talking to my midwives further, they explained to me that as long as I was able to keep my blood sugar levels under control then we could still go through with a home birth.

Of coarse, my main goal in all of this was making sure that my baby was healthy and safe.  Second to that, I still felt very strongly about birthing my daughter at home.  So as long as my baby was healthy and safe, I was going to do every thing I could to control my blood sugar levels.  After being diagnosed with GD, my doctor set me up with a diabetes educator.  My first meeting with my diabetes educator went wonderfully.  She believed that I would be able to control my blood sugar with my diet.  This meant that I was allowed 15 grams of carbs for breakfast, 30 grams of carbs for lunch, 30 grams of carbs for dinner and 15 grams of carbs for snacks throughout the day.  In order to monitor how my body was processing the carbs I had to test my blood first thing in the morning, and an hour after every meal.  It was interesting to see how different foods effected me.  I found that I could eat more carbs during the day but had to be careful first thing in the morning.

Things were going pretty well.  I was following a very strict diet, and was proud of how I had taken control of what could have been a scary situation.  However, the deeper I got into my pregnancy, the more my fasting blood sugar levels were creeping higher.  My educator suggested that I take a walk after dinner, as exercise helps to regulate your blood sugar.  This seemed to make a big difference but I was still having some trouble.  Luckily, I had a friend who also had GD and she had success with taking chia seeds.  I spoke to my midwives and educator about it and they said it would be safe and beneficial for me to try and it was amazing how quickly my body responded.  The final change in my lifestyle was taking my maternity leave from work.  I had a wonderful job that I enjoyed very much but it did put some stress on me, which can have a big effect on blood sugar levels.  So it was suggested by my midwives that I take a maternity leave earlier than originally planned.  By being diligent with my diet, increasing my exercise, introducing an herbal supplement and creating a more serene environment, I was able to successfully control my blood sugar levels.  In fact, at one point, my educator said I was doing such an amazing job that she couldn’t even tell I had GD.  That made me feel very good.

It is amazing what you can do when you put your mind to it.  Once I knew that my daughter was healthy and safe, I was determined to birth her at home, an environment into which I felt was best to welcome her.  In order to accomplish this task I had to work hard to stay on track (and trust me, when your pregnant it is NOT easy to say no to sweets!).  But I continued to keep my eye on the prize.  And was fortunate enough to attempt a home birth and deliver a healthy baby.

So again, just a reminder, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.  Just make sure its sugar-free!

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