Saturday, January 31, 2009

General Update

I really need to apologize to my readers. I've been so busy working on the syllabus for my upcoming doula training, that I've neglected to post on my blog much this month. This past week, in particular, has been completely chaotic for me in every way because I had to put in some serious time finishing the syllabus. The training is next week, and the syllabus had to be done in time to have it printed for the wonderful ladies that are attending the training! My poor family has had to put up with my complete distraction and lack of attention toward them and our home. I managed to keep everyone fed and clothed, but that was about it. I'm glad to have my time back to focus on my family.

That leads me to the next topic: Doula Training!!! I am so excited! I've been waiting for this for several months, working with my trainer to help her get the syllabus done and get a class booked. I've been looking forward to this for so long, and it's finally here (next week, anyway). As I was working on the syllabus this past week I started to doubt whether I'm really cut out to be a doula, and whether I'd really be able to do it. I'm grateful to my midwife, who told me just yesterday "you're going to be an awesome doula!" That was exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you Sherri.

In other news: I've scheduled my ultrasound! I realized that in just 3 short weeks I'll be 20 weeks along, and it will be the perfect time for an ultrasound. I'm going to the clinic where my OB works, so my health insurance will cover it. One drawback is that I have to get at least one prenatal checkup with the OB in order to have the ultrasound. It seems redundant, since I'm already having regular checkups with my midwife. I'll go in for labs (blood work) and paperwork in about 2 weeks, and a week after that I will have an ultrasound and a checkup with the physician. I'm not worried about anything and I don't expect any problems to arise, but I really like to have an ultrasound to see my baby and verify the baby's gender. I believe this one is a girl.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Bumbleride Indie Twin Stroller Giveaway

This is a shameless plug for a stroller giveaway, but I couldn't resist. Check this thing out! Since my two youngest will be only 18 months apart, and my baby girl is still very small, I need something that will fit two little ones. My current stroller is a double, but it's not a jogging stroller, so the wheels can be cumbersome when trying to go for walks where there are no sidewalks. I've read great reviews of how wonderful these double jogging strollers are.

If you want to enter the giveaway yourself, just click here.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Just Another Day?

I'm helping my doula trainer retype her training syllabus and put it in a digital format. Yesterday I spent a good amount of time retyping a magazine article by Penny Simkin that was printed in Birth magazine in 1991. I wish I could give you a link to the article, because it's so good, but I haven't been able to track down a copy of it online yet.

It's called "Just Another Day In A Woman's Life?" and it outlines a case study done by Penny Simkin about the impact of giving birth. She worked with 20 women, all of whom attended Penny's childbirth education classes between 1968 and 1974 and gave birth to their first baby during that time period. Penny interviewed each woman prior to birth, just after birth, and again 15 to 20 years later.

Regardless of outcome and satisfaction ratings, what the article focused on was the long-term impact the birth experience had on the mother. All of the women had vivid, specific memories of their baby's birth. The perception of these memories (positive or negative) had an ongoing, seemingly permanent effect on each woman and her life. Women who had high satisfaction ratings (were happy with how the birth went and the outcome) were happier in general and had higher self-esteem, and the birth had impacted their lives in positive ways, even 20 years after the fact. Women who had lower satisfaction ratings (feeling disappointed, sad, upset or angry about their birth experience) had suffered long-term effects from their negative feelings about their birth experience. In many cases, the satisfaction rating of the first birth impacted the woman's desire to have more children.

What the article points out is something that I think any woman who's given birth has felt. Birth is NOT just another day in a woman's life, and success or failure is not simply based on physical outcomes or survival. There are deep emotional footprints left after a woman gives birth, whether they are positive or negative.

Another important finding to point out is that each woman's perceptions of her birth experience are just that: perceptions. In the study, there were women who were highly satisfied who had had the same complications or birth experiences as other women who were less satisfied, yet they were able to come away from the experience feeling happy about it. In many cases, this had to do with the support or lack of support they had during the birth.

This article supports why I'm becoming a doula. I've learned from my own birth experiences how much of an impact childbirth can have on a woman, and how important it is to have the right support in that very special time. I want to help women everywhere know they can get the support they need, and they can have a positive birth experience regardless of the interventions they choose or need or the circumstances of the birth. Birth should be a wonderful, happy event, and each woman is entitled to this, regardless of where or how she gives birth.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I Felt My Baby Move For The First Time!

I woke up early this morning (as my body seems to do routinely as of late) and lay in bed trying to get back to sleep. I was on my back with a full bladder (ouch) and I felt my baby move for the first time this pregnancy! Since this is my fifth pregnancy, I knew immediately what I had felt, but I still waited a few minutes to see if it was just gas (or air bubbles). When no other signs of indigestion followed, I realized it had been a true fetal movement. How exciting is that??? Just last week I was able to hear the strong heartbeat of my baby for the first time, and now I'm starting to feel it move. It actually felt like the baby may have flipped over inside me, but there's no way to know for sure.

I am barely 15 weeks gestation, the beginning of the second trimester. I've read that women generally feel the first movement between 16 and 22 weeks, even though the baby moves a lot and starts moving at around 6 or 7 weeks. Usually the baby is so small at that point that no movement is felt until later. I feel fortunate to have felt movement so early, but I have heard that women who have been pregnant before can feel it earlier than first-time moms because they know what they are feeling.

Fetal movement has been described by women as feeling like gas bubbles, popcorn popping, a goldfish swimming around, or butterflies fluttering. At first it can be easy to dismiss the feeling because it's hard to distinguish, but as you feel it more you will become better at recognizing what it is. For me, in the early stages, it feels like gas bubbles.

It's easier to feel movement when the mother is still, either sitting or lying down. I've noticed that I feel more baby movement when I'm lying in bed, usually at night when I'm trying to fall asleep. This because when the mother is up and about she is moving her own body and less likely to notice movement within her, and also because when she is up and about her muscles are helping to hold her abdomen a bit tighter than when she is lying down or resting, and there is more room for the baby to stretch out and move when mommy is still.

Some women wonder if they should keep track of how much they feel their baby move. This is not vital in the second trimester, and I usually don't worry about it at all unless there is a concern that comes up in my prenatal visit. I have never had a concern that warranted tracking fetal movement, but there are times when your doctor or midwife might ask you to count the baby's movements in an hour. This is usually later in pregnancy (third trimester), and your health care provider will instruct you how to do this. Over time, I usually get a feel for the frequency of my baby's movements and when he or she is most active and least active, but I don't actually count the number of movements. If you notice a decrease in fetal movement, tell your doctor or midwife, and he or she can help you determine if there is a problem.

It's exciting to feel those early flutters of movement, and know that the baby is active and doing well. As pregnancy progresses and the baby grows, the kicks, punches and flip-flopping will become stronger and easier to detect, and seem to come more frequently.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Can Birth Affirmations Help Prevent Cesarean Section?

I found this article through a doula's blog, and I think it's a really good one.

Birth affirmations are mantras or positive quotes or sayings that you can repeat to yourself during pregnancy and childbirth to help put you at ease and focus during labor. When I observed a Hypnobabies course, I found that one of the CD's they give to expectant mothers has pregnancy affirmations. One track is for during pregnancy, and the other is for the birthing day (when the mother is in labor). I have listened to the pregnancy affirmations track, and I love it. It's extremely comforting and positive.

I've not tried using affirmations while in labor, but I can imagine how powerful it would be, especially if you have been practicing throughout pregnancy to prepare yourself by using positive affirmations.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Singer Charlotte Church Gives Birth to Second Baby - At Home

I love to see news like this. We hear about celebrities having babies, but it's not often we hear about them being birthed at HOME. The article doesn't say much about the birth itself, just that the baby was born at home. You can read about it here: Singer Charlotte Church Has Second Child.

This is her second child, and I don't know whether her first was also a home birth or not. I'm curious about the details, but don't know if any will be forthcoming.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

My Second Prenatal Visit With My Midwife

My midwife does a monthly forum for her clients, and it's kind of like a childbirth education course. She likes to do this to get as much information presented to the group as possible. We scheduled my prenatal checkup for after the forum today. I was really excited to go, and I got slammed with a migraine last night. I hardly slept, and was having a hard time just trying to function this morning. I was determined not to miss the forum or the prenatal visit, so I managed to get out the door and barely get to her house on time.

The forum was fun and somewhat informative. I always enjoy talking about pregnancy and childbirth, so I was right in my element. A lot of the information is repetitive for me because most of it is stuff I've already heard or learned through my research, but my midwife likes to have me there to give input and help answer questions, and I have to admit that it's fun for me.

My midwife had another client to do a checkup on immediately following the forum, so I sat down and ate my lunch that I had brought, and played her piano for a little while as I waited my turn.

She first checked my urine, finding no proteins (yay!), and just a trace of ketones. Everything else was normal with it, so that's good news. My blood pressure was 100/70, which is very normal for me and good. I have gained 6 pounds in the past month, and she was happy to see that I'm gaining weight. I measured 17 cm at 14 weeks, so I'm measuring a little bit big right now. That's no surprise to me, because I've felt a bit bigger with this pregnancy compared to this point in past pregnancies.

Because of my history of anemia during pregnancy and my extremely low energy levels, she had asked me to keep a 3-day food diary of everything I had eaten the past 3 days. I also brought the bottles of all the vitamins and supplements I'm taking right now (iron, beta carotene, B complex and prenatal vitamins). She said the supplements are fine, but it would be best for me to get those things in my diet. When she looked over my food diary, she noticed that I'm not getting vegetables into my diet. I'm getting plenty of everything else, but she strongly recommended that I find a way to work more fresh vegetables in.

She had me write a list of the vegetables I like. I commented about how I hate when food goes bad in my fridge, which is what usually happens in our house, and she challenged me to try to eat the whole thing before it goes bad. She gave suggestions of ways to eat spinach (on sandwiches, in green smoothies, in salad) and taught me something new about sprouts.

Sprouts are live food. They are the whole plant, so they are still alive when you buy them at the store. My midwife showed me what she does with her sprouts. In the morning when she's making breakfast for the family, she takes a bunch of sprouts from the container (enough for a mouthful) and eats them. She then waters the remaining sprouts (in the plastic container) and lets it drain into her sink for several minutes. She then places the container of sprouts back in the fridge, and they actually grow new sprouts. They don't last forever, as the unsprouted seeds are used up, but you can get a good long supply of sprouts for very low cost as long as you keep feeding them this way. I actually really like sprouts, and just writing about it now is making me want to eat some. I need to go grocery shopping tomorrow!

Another thing she recommended is a juice that is made from vegetables. There are different brands available, and they pack fruits and vegetables into the juice to make a really yummy, really healthy drink. She said this is an easy way to get your vegetables when you don't have time to cook.

Anyway, that's a summary of my visit today. It was really nice, and informative for me. I'm getting more and more excited about my pregnancy and the home birth I'm planning.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Screening For The Movie "Orgasmic Birth"

My doula trainer Melissa is helping to put together a screening for the film "Orgasmic Birth". If you would be interested in helping to promote it, or to be in the audience at the screening, please check her blog and contact her.

I Finally Bought a Birth Ball/Exercise Ball!

A birthing ball or exercise ball is extremely helpful to a woman. You can use it before, during, and after pregnancy for fitness, as it's designed to be used. During labor it can be helpful to sit on the ball to help open up the pelvic outlet and encourage the baby to move downward. You can also lean on the ball with your upper body with your knees on the floor or bed, and this positions helps encourage the baby to move into a favorable position for birth, as well as offers comfort to the laboring mother.

I have wanted my own birth ball for some time now. My doula who assisted me in the last two births of my children had a ball that she always brought for me to use. I enjoyed sitting on it and bouncing slightly when I was having contractions. When I was in the hospital I had a hard time actually getting comfortable using the ball because of the hard floors and sterile surroundings. I decided that I needed to finally buy my own birthing ball and practice using it more at home to prepare for my home birth.

I paid about $10 for this one at Wal-Mart. It comes with the ball, a small pump, and an exercise instruction booklet. I bought the 55 cm size because I'm short. It's for people who are 5' 6" tall or less. There are also 65 cm balls for taller people, and they are the same price. I've already pumped it up and I'm excited to start using it!

Friday, January 2, 2009

My Reaction to the 20/20 Motherhood Special

I watched the 20/20 special on motherhood tonight, and it was definitely interesting.

The first segment was about orgasmic birth, which I had never heard of before. The concept of pain-free natural birth is still somewhat new to me, and I had never even considered the possibility of experiencing such ecstasy during labor. If you didn't watch the segment, you can read the article here:
Moms Thrilled By Orgasms During Labor

The next segment was about "reborns", or dolls that are made to look like real babies. It seems they help fill a void for women who, for various reasons, have no children of their own. But even women who have had their own babies buy these dolls. They are amazingly lifelike. I'm not much of a doll person, and having several of my own children to cuddle and kiss, I don't see the purpose. There's an article about them here:
Not Child's Play: I Feel Like I Have A Real Baby

The next segment was about extended breastfeeding. I'm not sure where I stand on this issue, but it was an interesting segment. I can see both sides, but personally I don't think I would want to breastfeed my 5 year-old. The article about it is here:
Breastfeeding Past Infancy

The next segment was about serial surrogate mothers. In general, I'm not a supporter of surrogate mothers. I feel that couples who can afford $25,000 - $30,000 to pay a surrogate mother to carry and birth their baby can probably afford to adopt several babies who would otherwise not have a good life. I also feel that there's something morally wrong with surrogacy, but that's just my personal opinion. I also have been blessed with children of my own and no struggles to get or stay pregnant, so I realize that I don't understand the other side of that spectrum. If you'd like to read the article, you can find it here:
Serial Surrogates Have Birthed More Babies For Others Than Themselves

The last segment was the one I was waiting for. It is the story about more mothers choosing to birth their babies at home. I was pleasantly surprised by the positive portrayal of those choosing natural home birth. Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein, the creators of the documentary film,
The Business of Being Born, were interviewed for the segment, along with other home birth advocates. The link to the article from the 20/20 website has a headline listed of "Going it Alone: Giving Birth at Home". I don't agree with that headline, because I feel that women choosing home birth are not "going it alone" because they are generally working with experienced professionals to assist them in their birthing experiences. There was also a comment made in the segment of the opinion that mothers choosing to give birth at home are being selfish, because they are only thinking of themselves while they put their baby's life at risk. I firmly disagree with that statement, because I feel that any woman who has done the research and seriously considered her options has thoroughly explored the risks and benefits of her choice. I feel that no woman putting that much thought, care and consideration into her birth choices is willing to put her baby's life at risk, and would not do so. Such a woman is in no way ignorant or selfish. In her interview, Ricki Lake points out that in a hospital there can be more risk for problems as one medication is given, which leads to another medication, which then leads to another medication, complications and so forth. I agree with that statement, and I feel it can be a slippery slope in a hospital setting, which is another part of my choice to birth at home. I could go on and on about this, but I'll spare you the soap-box. If you're interested in reading the article about this segment, you can find it here: Mothers-to-be Saying No To Modern Medicine

I'm glad that such topics as natural birth, home birth and doulas (Today Show Segment about Doulas) are receiving more exposure, particularly on a national level. It's very exciting to see more people learning about these options. Even with some negative opinions as networks try to present opposing sides, it's really good to bring these things to light and let the nation know that women have more options than society has taught them.

20/20 Special Tonight to Cover Multitude of Motherhood Topics

In an earlier post I talked about a 20/20 special about Motherhood. I wasn't sure at that time what would be portrayed in the special, but there is now more information on the 20/20 website about it, and it should be interesting! Among the topics that may be covered are: giving birth at home, extreme surrogate mothers, orgasmic births, extended breastfeeding, and more.

The special will air tonight on ABC at 10pm. In my area it will be on at 9pm, so please check your local listings if you are interested in watching it. I'll be recording it and watching it later so I can skip the commercials. I'm not exactly sure what to expect from the special, but I'm interested to see how it will turn out.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Miscellaneous Update

I'm sorry it's been so long since I've posted anything new. I feel like I've hit a bit of a dry spell when it comes to my blog, and I'm just not sure what to write about. There are so many topics I could talk about, but nothing really jumps out at me right now. If anyone has questions or suggestions on what they would like to know about, please post a comment and let me know!

I'm about 13 weeks along in my pregnancy. The second trimester officially begins at 15 weeks, so I am close. I don't get nauseated anymore, and that is wonderful. I still get hungry quite often, but not nearly as much as I did a few weeks ago. My milk production is way down, and my baby only nurses 1 to 2 times per day now. Even when I drink the milking mother tea it's not a significant increase in milk, but it does help some.

I've read that the milk supply naturally diminishes around the fourth to fifth month, and so far my pregnancy is following that pattern. My baby will be one year old very soon, and I will have achieved my goal of nursing her for at least 12 months, and I feel good about the weaning process that is taking place. She is really growing fast, and she loves to eat any food we give her, and it's really fun to see her develop.

My family has had a good time during the holidays and the kids are enjoying their time off from school. We have all been sick with colds, and one of my children has had croup twice within a week, but we are managing and moving forward. I hope everyone is doing well!