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Fatigue During Pregnancy

 

How to Deal With Fatigue During Pregnancy

Fatigue during pregnancy is a very common experience. Growing a baby is an enormous task and requires a tremendous amount of physical and mental energy.

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There are a number of factors that can contribute to fatigue during pregnancy:

  • The increased demands on your body, mind and spirit.

  • Lack of quality sleep or rest periods.

  • Overworking yourself inside and/or outside of the house.

  • Short pregnancy spacing, breastfeeding and caring for other children

  • Too much time on computer or cell phone.

  • Inadequate diet.

  • Sedentary living.

  • Unexpressed or unresolved emotional difficulties.

  • Depression or anxiety.

  • Anemia.

  • Acute infection or illness.

  • Under-active thyroid function.

  • Other health problems.

  • And even boredom.

Resolving Fatigue During Pregnancy

Look at the whole picture. Consider what in your life could be contributing to your fatigue, and take common sense measures to take care of yourself.

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LACK OF REST
Get more sleep by going to bed earlier, sleeping later in the morning and/or taking a nap during the daytime. Getting enough sleep is especially essential during pregnancy.

Take frequent breaks or “healing intervals” throughout the day to simply sit down, rest, center and calm yourself. You can do this by sitting quietly with your eyes closed, slowing down your thoughts by focusing on slow deep breathing while gazing internally between your eyebrows.

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Meditation, breathwork, visualization, and yoga nidra/progressive muscle relaxation are all great ways to relax the body. There are many books, audio CDs and hypnobirthing MP3s for pregnancy to help you learn these important life skills, and now there are wonderful phone apps like Breathe and Calm. Make it a regular part of your daily routine to practice them - even just for 15 - 20 minutes.

INADEQUATE DIET
Paying close attention to your diet can go a long way in avoiding fatigue during pregnancy, as your nutritional needs soar during this time.

Make sure you’re drinking 8-10 glasses of filtered, spring or well water daily. Try to drink water away from meals (at least 20-30 minutes before or 2 hours after). Include in your daily diet plenty of fresh organic fruits, vegetables, whole grains., lots of protein and healthy fats.

Eat 20-30 grams of protein three times daily such as:

  • Beans

  • Nuts and nut butters

  • Seeds

  • Tempeh

  • Organic whole eggs

  • Wild Alaskan Salmon

  • Turkey or chicken

  • Beef, Lamb and Buffalo

  • Organic fresh raw whole dairy - ideally goat or sheep

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When eating fruit and whole grains, combine it with a protein or fat like avocado, nuts or nut butters, eggs, or a piece of organic cheese. If eating whole-grain carbohydrates makes you tired, reserve them for your evening meal.

Use cold expeller pressed extra virgin olive and/or coconut oil, and butter (goat is best) as your primary fat for cooking.

Eat small amounts several times throughout the day rather than heavy infrequent meals.

Products containing refined white flours and sugars or high fructose corn syrup will give you a temporary energy boost, followed by greater fatigue once the effect wears off. These should be avoided.

Also avoid highly refined processed foods, as these are usually void of nourishment and contain all sorts of chemicals, unhealthy fats, simple starches and sugars that can also make you feel more tired after an initial brief boost in energy.

VITAMIN AND MINERAL DEFICIENCIES

If you are anemic (which is very common in pregnancy, especially during the second and third trimesters), eat iron-rich foods. Good options include eggs, dark green leafy vegetables, seeds, nuts, beans and split peas, dried fruit, iron fortified cereals, red meat and poultry, blackstrap molasses, and brewers yeast. Take natural herbal sources of iron, such as Floravital Iron & Herbs - it comes in liquid and tablet form, as needed. There are other wonderful natural remedies to boost iron in my online holistic apothecary.

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If your vitamin B 12 levels are low (common in women who have had several successive pregnancies or are breastfeeding), supplementing with 1000 mcg will be needed and can really make a huge difference in how you feel. It is also in the apothecary.

Also, be sure to take a good all natural whole-food based prenatal vitamin and mineral supplement.

A daily nutrition-rich fresh juice made with a combination of veggies and superfoods like spirulina, kelp or wheatgrass can help you feel more alert and energized. Start slowly with 1-2 tablespoons of the superfoods and build up to 1-2 ounces. Drink first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Superfoods also come in all natural powdered mixes that can be added to your daily smoothie. Note: if you have a lot of accumulated toxins in your body, wheatgrass may cause slight nausea at first as it cleanses your system. This is harmless and eventually passes.

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NATURE AND MOVEMENT
Get plenty of fresh air and adequate exposure to sunlight on a daily basis. Try to spend at least 20 minutes outside with nature in the early morning or late afternoon sun each day without sunscreen. If spending a lot of time indoors, at least open the windows – even and especially in the winter.

Engage in moderate exercise for 30 minutes at least 5 days per week. Good options during pregnancy include swimming, brisk walking, cycling, dancing, or low-impact aerobics. Even though you feel tired, exercise creates energy and does wonders to minimize fatigue, depression and anxiety. Incorporating yoga (especially prenatal, Yin, gentle, and restorative) as a regular part of your daily routine can also be very powerful.

Try to maintain correct posture and body mechanics. Use your abdominal muscles to straighten your upper back and tuck your pelvis in to straighten your lower back. Engage your core by bringing your breast bone and lower ribs and belly toward your back, and bringing your front pelvic bone towards your breast bone. Use your arm and leg muscles instead of your weaker back muscles to lift, carry, pull, and push things.

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EMOTIONAL HEALTH
It is important to be open and honest about your feelings to yourself. Some women find it helpful to keep a journal or diary to increase self-awareness and understanding. Share your feelings with your spouse, close friend or family member. Periodically release pent up emotions with a good cry, followed by a hug.

Move strong emotions through your body. If you are angry or overstressed, play an angry song, if you feel grief, play a sad song, or simply play a track of African drumming and let your body move to the music, while making the sounds you need. Our little ones have their temper tantrums, move and release their emotions so they are not repressed and stuck in their bodies. Then they get up and play. Indigenous cultures dance their grief, anger, joy and celebration in community drum circles. We have much to learn from them. Invite friends and have your own drum circle to express and release emotions - you might just feel so exhilarated by it you will want to do this regularly.

Avoid overexertion and trying to be “super mom” by re-examining your priorities, limiting unessential activities, and learning how to say “no.” Delegate tasks to others and let friends and family help.

Try to allow yourself regular time each day without guilt to do something that you fully enjoy, that inspires and uplifts you. Make it easy and fun. Some ideas are:

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  • Watching a musical, romance, comedy or inspirational drama

  • Reading a good novel

  • Taking a stroll through the park or in a beautiful spot in nature

  • Gardening

  • Going on an outing with your partner or good friend

  • Cultivating a hobby you desire

  • Learning something new that interests you

Add more laughter and play to your life. Many women are surprised to find how health-enhancing and energizing this can be.

Seek out a transformational life coach or, if needed, a professional holistic therapist if the above ideas do not help and you are troubled by psychological distress or emotional discomfort. Suppressed feelings can worsen fatigue as well as cause all sorts of other problems if not properly dealt with.

HERBS AND OILS

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Take an invigorating bath with a few drops of essential oils of peppermint or eucalyptus, lemon, wild orange, grapefruit and/or rosemary. You can add a few drops of these essential oils to a bowl or spray bottle of cool water and splash or spray yourself with the uplifting scents throughout the day.

Nettle is a great herb to be taking in pregnancy as a nourishing tonic. It also has the added benefits of blood sugar regulation, adrenal support, improving nutrient intake, and building iron levels. Make a strong infusion by steeping a handful of dried herb in 1 quart of boiling water for 3-4 hours and strain into a canning jar. Drink 1-3 cups daily (with fresh lemon or lime juice, mint leaf or a dash of honey to taste). A fresh spearmint or peppermint tea can also provide a lift of spirit and energy.

If interested in other herbs to improve energy, combine equal amounts of herbal tinctures of schisandra, eleuthero, and American ginseng, and take 1/4 to 1/2 tsp once or twice per day. Start with the lowest dose and work your way up as needed. Reputable herbal companies include Gaia, Eclectic Institute and Wish Garden.

Minimize or avoid caffeinated coffee. It is addictive, too much is harmful, the energy boost is artificial, and it can be agitating and impair sleep. Many feel more tired when its effects wear off.

Avoid stimulant drugs (including diet pills) and sleeping medications, as most have side effects for you and your growing fetus, and can cause you to become dependent on them. Many substances, such as cocaine, are outright dangerous to you and your baby. You must seek professional help if you cannot stop using them.

OTHER RESOURCES

Homeopathy and acupuncture can both be great for soothing stress and increasing energy. Also, check out Clarity Breathwork and/or read The Journey. - for extremely effective, mind-body, cutting edge methods that have lead to transformational healing for thousands of people around the world.

If you experience any sort of chronic fatigue and exhaustion in which serious causes have been ruled out and none of the natural and allopathic remedies help, consider reading the book “The Mindbody Prescription” by Dr John Sarno, MD, an amazing pioneering physician whose brilliant approach has helped hundreds of thousands of people without drugs, physical measure or surgery.

If your exhaustion is extreme or persists in spite of following the above guidelines, consult your physician or midwife or schedule a consultation with me. If you are feeling overwhelmed, or do not even know what questions to ask, I can help you!

Check out my number one international best selling book Natural Birth Secrets and my online course - an online version of how I have helped thousands in my local practice. Both resources are unique, but each provide an in depth, one-of-a-kind holistic approach created by me, a seasoned nurse midwife of over two decades, who has seen everything!

Battling with low back or pelvic discomfort? Having common pregnancy aches and pains and need some additional support? Try Bellefit’s prenatal support wear. I am thrilled to announce that you get a $20 Off with code: ANNE20 at checkout - if you purchase here.

 

Bleeding in Pregnancy

 

Bleeding During Pregnancy - Why It Happens and What To Do About It

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Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy can often cause us to freak out and start thinking the worst. However, there are a multitude of less serious and more common reasons for light bleeding at this time, such as:

  • A burst of a tiny blood vessel in the vagina or cervix engorged from pregnancy hormones (especially with local infections, during the friction of sexual intercourse, internal exam or pap smear, and when there are vaginal varicosities).

  • Cervical polyps (often benign growths on the cervix that usually increase in size during pregnancy).

  • Hormonal fluctuations, especially around the time of usual monthly periods.

  • The normal implantation of the fertilized egg within the uterus (occurs 1-2 weeks after conception, around the time of your expected period, and lasts just a few days).

  • Bloody show at the beginning of labor (a welcome event only if your baby is at least 37 weeks, but more concerning if preterm).

Vaginal bleeding in the first trimester of pregnancy affects approximately 25% of all pregnant women. Less than half of these bleeding women actually miscarry. And once the fetal heartbeat is detected at the prenatal visit or on sonogram, miscarriage is rare and unlikely, especially in a healthy pregnancy where there is no prior history of problems like recurrent pregnancy loss. about 1 in 10 pregnant moms will have some bleeding in the third trimester. More often, the cause of bleeding is never found, the bleeding stops and the pregnancy continues to a happy conclusion.

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Vaginal bleeding during the second half of pregnancy can infrequently indicate potentially serious complications such as:

  • The placenta partially to completely separating from the uterine wall before birth (placental abruption).

  • A placenta that is located close to or over the cervix instead of higher in the uterus (placenta previa). A note of reassurance is that while approximately 45% of placentas are classified as “low lying” during the second trimester, the majority “migrate” upwards far enough away from the cervix by the third trimester, and are not a cause for worry.

  • The umbilical cord first inserts into the fetal membranes, then the exposed blood vessels without the protection of the cord travel to the placenta (velamentous insertion).

When To Call The Midwife or Doctor

You should be evaluated by your midwife or physician any time there is bleeding during pregnancy in order to rule out anything concerning or deal with something that is treatable. Call your practitioner if bleeding is light but lasts more than 3 days, is heavy like a period or a continuous flow (you completely soak through a regular sanitary pad in an hour or less), or accompanied by any of the following:

  • Pain in your pelvic area, abdomen, back or shoulder

  • Rhythmic uterine cramping

  • The passage of tissue or clots bigger than a 50 cent piece

  • Foul smelling discharge

  • A gush of fluid from the vagina

  • Symptoms of a urinary tract infection - like feeling you have to urinate frequently, but only little amounts come out, burning or foul smelling urine, low mid pelvic pain when you pee

  • Fever or chills

  • Decreased fetal movements

  • Weight loss, premature resolution of early pregnancy symptoms like nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and breast tenderness, or the return of your normal breast size

  • You have a history of ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, molar pregnancy, placenta previa or abruption, or other significant health problem

  • You simply feel that something isn’t right

Once A Serious Cause of Bleeding During Pregnancy Has Been Ruled Out

Once you have been evaluated and the more serious causes of the bleeding have been ruled out or dealt with, you should do the following.

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  1. Make sure any issues that can be treated, like infections, MTHFR mutations or low progesterone, have been addressed.

  2. Do what you love, what brings you joy, and use your imagination to make routine tasks more enjoyable - even by turning on the music and dancing while you work.

  3. Take it easy and avoid heavy lifting until a few days after the bleeding subsides, with frequent breaks in a comfortable lounge chair, bed or couch.

  4. Limit non- essentials, delegate and ask for extra help from family and friends.

  5. Stock up on some good books, inspirational podcasts and movies, practice deep breathing and progressive relaxation exercises several times a day.

  6. Put nothing in the vagina (this includes no sexual intercourse) until 1-2 weeks after the bleeding has stopped.

  7. Eat warm foods, drink fresh ginger tea (steep a piece of raw ginger in a quart mason jar of boiling water for several hours), and limit cold and frozen foods

For a friable cervix that bleeds easily, small amounts of bleeding from a subchorionic hematoma, or persistent spotting from placental implantation, eat foods high in vitamin C. Good choices are citrus fruits, berries and dark leafy greens, as well as many other fresh produce. You may need to supplement with 500-1000 mg vitamin C with bioflavonoids, and add vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)  400 - 800 IU daily for a few weeks only, to support stronger placental adherence to the uterus in early pregnancy. Chasteberry can enhance pregnancy hormones, and natural progesterone can be prescribed if levels are low in the first trimester. There are natural supplements recommended like whole food B complex with 2-3 mg l-methylfolate, and at least 400 mg DHA/EPA Omega threes for those with the MTHFR mutation, as well as low dose baby aspirin (81 mg) that can thin the blood enough to help it circulate through the tiny vessels of the early placenta without clotting, and prevent miscarriage if that is the issue.

If You’re Cramping But Not Bleeding

If all more serious causes have been ruled out, and you are simply having a lot of cramping without bleeding, make sure you are drinking enough fluids, and are getting plenty of calcium and magnesium in your diet. Start by eating lots of green leafy and seaweed veggies, ground sesame seeds (tahini), wild caught fish like salmon, almonds, whole grains, and organic yogurt and cheese. Avoid excessive cow dairy intake, coffee and soda, even spinach, which decreases calcium absorption. You may need additional supplementation - at least 400 mg magnesium and 1200 mg calcium daily in 2-3 divided doses; or make your own infusion of nettles and red raspberry leaf tea, using the recipe here.

Also, helpful herbs to reduce cramping are cramp bark, black haw, and wild yam. You can experiment with one of them at a time, or use all together in combination. Take 1 - 5 cc of each tincture every 30 minutes to few hours, depending on how often and intense the cramping is.

If There’s A Threat of Miscarriage

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Women can bleed and cramp and still have a healthy pregnancy. But not all miscarriages can be prevented. Miscarriage is actually pretty common, and rise with age and the more pregnancies a woman experiences. About 10-20% of women with known pregnancies miscarry before 20 weeks. Many miscarry around the time of the first missed period, before they even realize they are pregnant.

Heavy bleeding with cramping, lower abdominal or back pains and/or passage of tissue or fluid from the vagina during early pregnancy usually indicates that a miscarriage is in progress and there is little that can be done to stop it. In most cases, a miscarriage is your body’s natural way of rejecting an unhealthy or abnormally implanted fetus.

Once you know you are pregnant, it is still often experienced as a huge loss and the grief can be intense. I am sorry if that is what is happening and I encourage you to mourn as you need to, tap into your strength, look for the silver lining, and notice how you have grown as you heal.

Other less-common reasons for an isolated miscarriage include infection, dehydration, poor nutrition, severe trauma, and exposure to significant doses of hazardous substances (toxic industrial or environmental chemicals, drugs, alcohol, smoking, and radiation). It is still important to get evaluated, though, to be sure what is going on, and get treatment if needed..

If you have been informed that a miscarriage is threatening, follow the suggestions above for treatment of bleeding, plus:

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  • Drink a small glass of wine or beer, or a shot of whiskey in juice to lessen the cramping at night if interfering with sleep, but alcohol should be used in very limited amounts during pregnancy.

  • Keep well hydrated with plenty of fluids (at least 8-10 glasses of water daily).

  • Light some candles and take relaxing warm baths with your favorite essential oils.

  • Take 200 IU of Vitamin E 3-4 times per day for no more than 3 weeks to strengthen placental attachment and reduce spotting.

  • Take 500 mg of Vitamin C with bioflavonoids twice a day during the crisis period.

  • Do a yoga nidra, mindfulness practice or a progressive relaxation meditation to stay calm inside.  Whenever worrisome thoughts occur, use them as an opportunity to practice being present in the now and doing breathwork. For example, for 5- 10 minutes twice a day, do slow deep extended exhalation breaths (inhale for a count of 3, exhale for a count of 6), while allowing yourself to feel whatever you feel.

  • Tune into what is true for you, and what you really want. If it is your heartfelt desire to continue the pregnancy, let that feeling expand, as that will enhance whatever else you are doing. You can send loving thoughts to your baby and visualize your womb surrounded by love, light and spiritual protection; affirm that baby is welcome in your life, you and your baby are healthy and vibrant, your placenta is strongly attached to your uterus, you are providing safety, security and nourishment to your baby…as well as mama love, a love like no other.

  • You and your partner can place one hand on each other’s heart, the other hand on your womb, and imagine enhancing your family bond. Send love from your hearts to one another and to your baby. Focus on deepening and strengthening your love and connection, especially if there is tension between you. Never underestimate the close relationship of the mind and heart to the body, and the power of love and harmony to heal, and transform...and even prevent miscarriage if the pregnancy is healthy. This can be a wonderful opportunity of healing and transformative for all of you.

  • It helps to love yourself unconditionally and with compassion, to have a clear intention to release all self judgement and blame. Visualize the blame leaving you with each exhalation or melting away from your body, sinking down into the earth beneath you.  

  • Connect to other wise women, in sisterhood - those who uplift, inspire and support you. Have a good cry, a good laugh and a good hug several times a day.

  • It also helps to pray, and as much as possible. Then let go, surrender to what is greater and wiser than us all, the benevolent infinite, and release trying to control what is not in your control. Can we embrace what is, even when we do not understand the whys?

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If you are interested in herbal remedies to help prevent a threatened miscarriage, you can make your own infusion or tincture combination by mixing the following bulk dried herbs or the same herbs in tincture form:

Combine equal amounts of partridge berry, cramp bark, black haw, false unicorn root, wild yam, and chasteberry, with a dash of lobelia. Take 2.5 to 5 cc of the mixture every ½ to few hours until symptoms resolve, then a few times per day for a week. This mixture can be taken prophylactically twice a day in the first trimester, if you have a history of miscarriage in prior pregnancy. These herbs are said to aid the miscarriage if the fetus is not normally formed, but prevent it if it is strong and healthy.

Most of the supplements and herbal remedies I recommend are available on my customized online holistic apothecary. If you need more personal guidance, I am happy to help. You can set up a consultation with me here.

For extra support in pregnancy and relief of common aches and pains, wear an abdominal binder. Bellefit makes a fine one as pictured above. They also make postpartum support girdles . I have a holistic approach to life, including healing after pregnancy and birthing. Nothing replaces abdominal toning and exercise for restoring muscle strength and tone - which I encourage for all mamas as soon as they feel up to it postpartum. Nothing replaces touch, slow deep abdominal breathing, and a 'love your postpartum body' perspective that I promote.  But I have found many mamas simply feel comforted by this support garment, especially early postpartum and temporarily as needed....to be used without forfeiting abdominal toning and strengthening exercise, breathing well and touch. 

I have found Bellefit supportive garments to help like they use belly binding around the world such as in Indonesia. They do aid in early postpartum healing and provide support many mamas feel comforted by. I deal with human beings and the reality is many postpartum mom's struggle with body image, feel frustrated that getting back to themselves takes longer than expected.

Being into holistic health and healing includes being sensitive to real human struggles - the mind, body, heart and soul of each person and their unique situation. 

Having helped countless women with these issues after having a baby as a midwife, I have found many still love that binding and feel better with this support, and ability to fit into their pre-pregnancy clothes comfortably and sooner than they would if they went through a C-section or natural childbirth recovery without it - especially when they have to dress up and fit into a certain favorite outfit for a special occasion or wedding not long after having a baby.

For more info on the Bellefit girdle, check out my blog about it here.

 

Have a Great Pregnancy and Postpartum Recovery (with a little help from Bellefit)!

Again, you get a $20 Off with code: ANNE20 at checkout - if you purchase here.

 

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR BABY IS BREECH OR TRANSVERSE

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR BABY IS BREECH OR TRANSVERSE

Art by Catie Atkinson @spiritysol

Anemia in Pregnancy - Prevention and Treatment

 
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Many of the pregnant women I work with are concerned about anemia. They want to know whether they’re getting enough iron in their diets, and whether they should be supplementing.

Physiologic “anemia” in pregnancy is healthy and natural.  Increased amounts of iron are needed to make additional red blood cells for your developing baby, and for your body’s preparation for blood loss at delivery. Anemia also results from the dilution of red blood cells as the fluid volume expands to nearly double the amount normally present before you were pregnant. It is evidenced by a gradual 2 gram drop in hemoglobin by the seventh month, followed by a gradual return to prepregnancy levels by 3-4 weeks postpartum. Iron stores (ferritin levels) also tend to drop.

While iron deficiency anemia is the most common type, it’s important to note that anemia can be caused by a number of factors. Also, vitality is a great gauge of well-being. If your hemoglobin is a little below normal but your iron stores are fine and you feel fit and healthy, you need not worry. Just make sure your diet is rich in foods high in iron and vitamin C.


Symptoms of Anemia

If you are truly anemic, you may experience the following symptoms.

  • Extreme exhaustion and weakness

  • Shortness of breath

  • Heart palpitations

  • Dizziness or faintness

  • Headaches

  • Irritability

  • Poor concentration and confusion

  • Feeling weary and run down with a lowered resistance to infection

  • Poor appetite and unusual cravings for non-food items

Iron Deficiency Anemia is Common

Whether or not you have the above symptoms, you are smart to be paying attention. The formation of additional red blood cells for both momma and baby, coupled with their dilution by increased fluid in the circulation, can often lead to iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy. It can be especially aggravated by:

  • A diet low in iron both before and/or during pregnancy

  • Severe nausea and vomiting

  • Being pregnant with multiple fetuses

  • Closely spaced pregnancies

  • Alcohol or drug addiction

  • Severe or chronic infection

  • Significant blood loss

  • More serious medical conditions


Treatment Options for Anemia in Pregnancy

Untreated anemia in pregnancy that becomes severe may increase the risk of harm to your baby. You may be more susceptible to infection, less likely to handle the stress of labor, the normal blood loss at delivery, and the needed healing during the postpartum period.

Treating iron deficiency anemia can be tricky because many sources of iron are not easily absorbed into your system and some products like coffee, soda, black tea, dairy foods, bran, antacids, calcium and magnesium supplements, and certain medications actually inhibit iron absorption. However, careful attention to diet and use of natural easily assimilated forms of iron have produced excellent results without the detrimental side effects of the commonly prescribed ferrous sulfate.

Ferrous sulfate is not only poorly absorbed, but also very constipating, can cause indigestion, black tarry stools, skin rashes, and is said to be hard on the digestive tract, liver and kidneys. Too much ferrous sulfate has been associated with serious complications and can produce the same deficiency state that it was prescribed to correct.

There are a number of ways anemia in pregnancy can be addressed without ferrous sulfate. I recommend combining several of the suggestions below to increase your chances of successfully increasing your hemoglobin and keeping it at a healthy level.


High-Iron Diet

Get as much iron you can from your daily diet. Good food sources for iron (as well as other needed nutrients) include:

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  • Organ meats like beef or chicken liver

  • Red meat and poultry

  • Shrimp, oysters and clams

  • Egg yolk

  • Dark green vegetables like spinach (ideally boiled briefly to increase absorption), watercress, alfalfa, parsley, seaweed, collards, kale, turnip and dandelion greens

  • Seaweeds (kelp and dulse/kombu)

  • Beets and fresh raw beet juice

  • Jerusalem artichokes

  • Fermented soy like tempeh

  • Legumes like red beans, chickpeas, lentils and split peas

  • Whole grains and fortified cereals

  • Blackstrap molasses

  • Seeds and nuts

  • Dried unsulphured fruits fruits like raisins, apricots, cherries, black mission figs and prunes

  • Black cherries and pomegranate

  • Prune juice

  • Carob powder

  • Brewers yeast

To further enhance iron absorption, eat iron-rich foods with foods high in vitamin C. For example, fresh organic uncooked grapefruit, oranges, vegetable or tomato juice, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, mango, cantaloupe, papaya, tomato, red or green pepper, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and leafy greens. Regular exercise will also help with absorption, as will cooking in cast iron.

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Herbs and Tonics

Choose one or two of the following natural sources of iron to prevent iron deficiency, or alternate between a few.

Vegetarian Iron Tonic - Mix 1 Tbsp blackstrap molasses, 1 Tbsp brewers yeast, 1 Tbsp wheat germ, 1 Tbsp canola or coconut oil, and 4 oz orange, grapefruit or pomegranate juice. If you like warm drinks, try 2 Tbsp blackstrap in 1 cut hot water with fresh lemon juice. Drink 1-3 times daily.

Fresh Juice - Fresh beets and apples make a yummy absorbable, iron-rich juice. Drink 2 cups twice daily. You can add  1/2 to 1 ounce wheat grass juice, ½ cup of fresh parsley and/or other green leafies (except raw spinach) to boost the iron content.

Wheat Grass - Take no more than one ounce per day. If causes stomach upset, half the dose or add it to beet, carrot or other vegetable juice for the first week then take the full ounce by itself or in the vegetable juice.

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Herbal Infusion - Steep up to 1 large handful of dried nettle leaf and/or red raspberry leaf in a quart of boiling water for at least 4 hours. For increased iron, you can add a pinch of dandelion root and/or a pinch of yellow dock root. Strain, and drink several times throughout the day. You can add a splash of  lemon or lime juice, fresh mint, 1-2 Tbsp of blackstrap molasses or a dash of honey to taste.

Capsules - Take 3-4 capsules of freeze dried nettles or 8 capsules of seaweed daily.

Tinctures - For prevention, take a dropperful of yellow dock root or dandelion root tincture in orange juice. For treatment, take up to three dropperfuls 1-3 times daily.

Liquid Chlorophyll - Take 1-3 Tbsp per day depending on your individual requirements.

If You Decide to Take an Iron Supplement

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If an iron supplement is needed, I recommend taking a non-sulfate whole food variety like ferrous gluconate or fumarate combined with vitamin C. 30-60 mg of elemental iron daily should suffice for those with normal iron stores, while higher doses may be needed if your iron stores are depleted. Your dose should be adjusted according to your lab results and individual needs. Take your supplemental iron daily until 2-4 months postpartum.

Find the best supplements that have gone through my thorough screening process at the Holistic Apothecary.

For optimal absorption, it is best to spread supplemental iron intake out over the course of the day to avoid stressing your system with the unabsorbed portions. Do not take with dairy foods, caffeine or soda with phosphates. Be sure to take it between meals on an empty stomach with 500 mg of vitamin C and bioflavonoids

Although it can take a few months to correct iron deficiency anemia, you should start to see an improvement in the lab values within two weeks of treatment. If not, try a different combination of natural iron sources. If there is still no improvement after another 2-4 weeks, your anemia may not be related to low iron and a more thorough medical evaluation is needed. If you are feeling overwhelmed, or do not even know what questions to ask, I can help you! You can just schedule a consultation with me here.

Check out my number one international best selling book Natural Birth Secrets and my online course - an online version of how I have helped thousands in my local practice. Both resources are unique, but each provide an in depth, one-of-a-kind holistic approach created by me, a seasoned nurse midwife of over two decades, who has seen everything!

 

Should I Have an Ultrasound?

 
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If you’re worried about ultrasound safety, good for you! You should be. The use of ultrasound in pregnancy has become almost a given. Most women in the US and Canada experience at least one ultrasound during pregnancy. Some experience several. There are certainly appropriate situations for the use of ultrasound, but a healthy pregnancy isn’t one of them.

If, after weighing the pros and cons of an ultrasound, you decide to have one, that’s entirely within your right. What’s important here is to make an informed decision rather than just exposing you and your baby to high-frequency sound waves as a matter of practice.

Is Ultrasound Necessary?

The answer to this question really differs from person-to-person and even situation-to-situation. When a health care provider recommends ultrasound to a pregnant woman, the FDA recommends that mom speaks with them to understand why the ultrasound is needed, what information will be obtained, how the information will be used, and any potential risks.

Medicine is big business. There is significant financial incentive for obstetricians to recommend ultrasounds to their patients, as they can bill many hundreds of dollars to insurance companies for each use. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), over-use of technology is one of the major reasons for the rise in healthcare costs.

More and more modern obstetricians have been trained to use ultrasound in place of hands-on skills to evaluate the health of the pregnancy. They use it to evaluate fetal growth and position in the third trimester, which can often be assessed by hands-on examination. They also use it to date pregnancies, which can typically be done with a little detective work.

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Ultrasound is often used to determine whether a baby will be too large to be birthed naturally via the birth canal. However, ultrasound has been shown to be an inaccurate measure of birth weight. Further, our pelvic bones are joined together with ligaments that allow the pelvis to widen enough for birth to safely take place - especially when supported in upright and asymmetrical mobile positioning. This is true in almost every case, even when the mother is especially small or the baby especially large.

There are some situations in which an ultrasound is warranted. For example, bleeding in pregnancy or a serious abnormality that requires immediate or high risk hospital care. Or if mom has very irregular or absent cycles during breastfeeding, providing no real guideline for gestational age. Sometimes, if mom has a lot of anxiety about the health of her pregnancy and baby, a normal ultrasound mid pregnancy can provide some reassurance - while still not a guarantee.

The American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine advocates for use of ultrasound solely for medical purposes, and never for things like keepsake images. And the American College of Nurse-Midwives’ position is that “Ultrasound should only be used when medically indicated.”

What Do We Know About Ultrasound Safety?

Ultrasound waves have the potential to produce biological effects on the body. They can heat bodily tissue, as well as produce small pockets of gas in bodily fluids or tissues (known as cavitation). The long-term consequences of these effects are still unknown.

Dr Sarah Buckley provides an extensive article in which she weighs ultrasound safety. In it she says,

“If there is bleeding in early pregnancy, for example, ultrasound may predict whether miscarriage is inevitable. Later in pregnancy, ultrasound can be used when a baby is not growing, or when a breech baby or twins are suspected. In these cases, the information gained from ultrasound may be very useful in decision-making for the woman and her carers. However the use of routine prenatal ultrasound (RPU) is more controversial, as this involves scanning all pregnant women in the hope of improving the outcome for some mothers and babies.”

Dr Buckley goes on to say,

“Studies on humans exposed to ultrasound have shown that possible adverse effects include premature ovulation, preterm labour or miscarriage, low birth weight, poorer condition at birth, perinatal death, dyslexia, delayed speech development, and less right-handedness.”

Despite its rampant use, there has not been sufficient testing for ultrasound safety - especially concerning routine use in healthy pregnancy. In fact, there has been very little testing at all since the 1980s even though the FDA allowed exposure limits to increase by 8 fold in 1992.

It’s important to acknowledge here that technology is often assumed safe until proven otherwise. Just a couple generations back, it was general practice to x-ray pregnant mothers. Sounds crazy now that we know more about the dangers of x-rays to the developing fetus, but back then it made perfect sense.

As Dr Kelly Brogan states, “Multiple Cochrane reviews have demonstrated a lack of perinatal mortality benefit for routine ultrasound in a normal pregnancy, and an increased risk of cesarean section with third trimester screening. A review of outcomes literature condemns ultrasound when used for dating, second trimester organ scan, biophysical profile, amniotic fluid assessment, and Doppler velocity in high and low risk pregnancies.”

While our reasons for using ultrasound are typically focused on healthy pregnancies and healthy babies, there has been virtually no proof that more ultrasounds in a population equate with better health. In fact, false positives of congenital malformations are not unusual. Sadly, this has lead to more invasive testing and abortions misunderstood to be medically necessary when there is nothing actually wrong. At the very least, this puts undue stress on momma, partner and baby.

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In my opinion, technology has put distance between mommas and care providers. In situations where a midwife historically would take a literal hands-on approach to mom and baby’s health, technology now allows for a disconnect where mom is sometimes never touched by her birthing support team. My belief is that this impersonal approach can do just as much harm as the technology can.

The over-use of ultrasound also undermines a woman’s trust in her healthy body’s ability to grow and birth her healthy baby, as modern day families are putting more and more trust in technology over themselves.

Alternatives to Ultrasound

We do not fully understand the effect of directing loud sound waves at baby so frequently, but it does alter DNA in the test tube and there is strong evidence to show that any damage done is cumulative. So, if you must have an ultrasound, keep it as brief as possible and limited to as few as possible. If all is well and you know your cycles or date of conception, but you really want one, do it mid pregnancy…and of course, make sure to request a keepsake picture of your baby.

A doppler is an ultrasound device that can detect fetal heartbeat as early as 10-12 weeks, depending on the device, the location of baby, and position of mom’s uterus. It is used for each prenatal visit in many obstetrical care offices and clinics. If you want to minimize ultrasound exposure, ask for the fetoscope.

A fetoscope, which is similar to a stethoscope and works to amplify baby’s heartbeat, can be used in place of ultrasound or doppler after around 20 weeks gestational age to listen to the fetal heartbeat. It can also help assess baby’s position in later pregnancy.

When baby starts to move regularly, especially in the third trimester, I teach fetal movement awareness and kick counts. Basically, babies sleep a lot, especially when you are busy running around; but they tend to get up and become active after you eat and when your’e resting. Become aware of when and how often your baby is most active and take notice of your baby’s typical daily patterns of movement. An active baby, moving as much as usual, is a sign of fetal health and well-being. If you did not feel your baby move as much usual on a given day, eat food that has previously stimulated lots of fetal activity - usually carbohydrates like a peanut butter and jelly whole grain sandwich or cereal and nut milk - plus have two glasses of orange juice and a cup of coffee; recline in 30 - 40 minutes and count at least 10 separate kicks, body shifts, punches in the hour. Most babies will produce more than that in a few minutes, but if you are not feeling 10 separate moves in that hour, call your provider.

For most of history we did not know we were having a boy or a girl until the birth of our baby. There is something special about the surprise. But for those wanting to know the sex of their baby, blood tests are now available and are actually more accurate than ultrasound for this purpose.

Your Choice

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Medical interventions like ultrasound often play into our fears and turn us away from our intuition. We have come to have less trust in the process and believe that we need to rely on technology to assure us that our babies are safe. As mommas, we have thousands of years of the birthing wisdom of our elders that we carry in our DNA. Is that less reliable than a relatively new, under-tested technology when all is well?

Midwives typically use touch and hand skills in place of technology like ultrasound. As a wholistic and integrative midwife that specializes in healthy pregnancy, I always give the option for ultrasound, and discuss the pros and cons with each family in my care. Some opt out of all unless there is an issue or complication when the benefits outweigh the potential risks of sonogram. Some do want one to confirm they have a baby in the uterus with a heart beat before it is too early to tell in the office, and a basic scan between 18 -22 weeks. For those birthing at home, some want just this mid-pregnancy ultrasound to check baby’s anatomy and that the placenta is in the right place, so they are reassured there is nothing detected that warrants birth in higher risk hospital setting.

As midwives, we do not fix what is not broken. We instill trust in the pregnancy and birth process, and have confidence in a mom’s ability to do it.

Learn more about how you can date your pregnancy,  as well as have a holistically healthy journey and birth with confidence.