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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.

 

Singing and Dancing My Way to Natural Birth With Pre-Eclampsia

 
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My heartfelt thanks for reading my story. I'm so blessed and honored that you will post my birth story on your blog and social media.  I hope and pray that this would inspire more women to try birthing naturally and perhaps encourage them also to sing and dance their way through labor! 

I was diagnosed with Pre-Eclampsia with severe features due to the extremely high amount of protein in my urine. My blood pressure remained normal, below 120/80, all throughout my labor, delivery & recovery. This is my 5th pregnancy. My first pregnancy was with twins.  The 1st twin, Annalise, was born naturally (no anesthesia, IV, oxygen, pain meds) in our church's birthing clinic.  The 2nd twin, Therese, was born via CS in a hospital. I was transferred because Therese went transverse when Annalise came out and it was Therese's hand that first came out.  My midwife put her hand back twice before transferring us to the hospital.  

In most hospitals, 24 hour monitoring is only done in the High Risk unit, so when my fluid was low, I had to be monitored for a full 24 hours before I transferred to a regular room.  I went back to the High Risk unit again for the Magnesium sulfate, to counter possible seizure or convulsions, according to my OB.  They also don't allow the natural birthing suite for high-risk cases like mine, because I already underwent Caesarean in a previous pregnancy, even though I've already had 3 VBACs.

Valentine’s Day, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019, I was looking forward to a lovely dinner that night with my husband of 13 years, Ritche, to celebrate our 15th year of being together, when we received news that my husband’s 98-year old maternal grandmother “Lola Auring,” whom he was very close to, had just passed away peacefully in her sleep.  He regretted not being able to visit her sooner when she was still alive but looked forward to flying out from our home in Metro Manila (Philippines) to their province to be with her for the last time.  

But, first things first… I had to go to St. Luke’s Medical Center in Bonifacio Global City, for my routine 36th week checkup & ultrasound.  My OB did a Biophysical Score of our baby and told me that my fluid was low.  In my mind, I thought, “Okay, I’ll just have to drink up at home then.” But, my OB had another plan... I needed to be admitted to the High Risk Pregnancy Unit and hydrate via IV. I called Ritche and he agreed for me to be confined, thinking we’ll just stay overnight until my fluid goes up in 24 hours.  

So, aside from the IV drip, I tripled my water intake to 3 liters in the morning, 3 liters in the afternoon and 2 liters at night, which equated peeing almost every hour! AND I had to be hooked to several machines so my heart rate, blood pressure, baby’s heart rate and my contractions will be monitored for 24 hours. It was super uncomfortable but I thought, “No problem! As long as baby’s fluid will go up right away.”  We then asked our churchmates and close family & friends to pray with us.  I also prayed that I would be discharged as soon as possible so that Ritche could still travel the next day to be with Lola Auring.

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24 hours later, Friday afternoon, my fluid just increased a tiny bit so my OB double checked the protein-creatinine ratio in my urine. While waiting for the results, we got a regular room and waited another 24 hours.  My husband already cancelled his trip and let my mother-in-law, Mama Tess, go ahead to their home in the province.  My UPC ratio was still extremely high, which made me a candidate for severe pre-eclampsia. We couldn’t believe it.  Even my OB couldn’t believe it, either. I’ve always been careful with my diet, preferring veggies & fruits. I always made sure I had regular exercise.  My blood pressure has always been normal.  How could I have pre-eclampsia?   

We’ve been praying for Baby Abe to come out at least on his 38th week so, imagine our surprise when she advised us on Saturday afternoon that we’ll both be safer if he came out as soon as I reach my 37th week, which was the following day, Sunday!  Questions ran through my mind.  We knew 38 weeks is the ideal.  How do I induce labor?  We’ve always just waited for me to labor naturally.  With Agatha, our 5th child, we had to keep her in as long as possible.  With Abe, it seems, we now had to bring him out as soon as possible! We hadn’t even packed our hospital bag! We were just supposed to buy baby boy stuff this week!

I had my Birth Plan printed out for the doctors and nurses and went back to the High Risk unit so that I can be given magnesium sulfate to counter possible seizure/convulsions.  I was also given 4000 mg of Evening Primrose Oil every 4 hours to soften my cervix. It just seemed so foreign and unnatural to me that we had to naturally induce labor.  How do we do that?  

My husband comforted me and reminded me that we have a great and awesome God and that so many people are praying for us.  He had been diligently communicating with and updating our close friends.  My dearest friend Kartika from Singapore visited me twice. My best friend and sister, Lala and her husband, Solomon, came all the way from Carmona, Cavite, to encourage me with their love and presence.  Our dear godparents, Fr. Dino and Sis. Anj, braved the 3-hour traffic to show their support and pray with us. When they mentioned the words “total trust” and “perfect peace” in their prayers, I was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write down the alliterations the Lord revealed to me as they were born in my heart so I can meditate on them:

“Total Trust in Thee”  “Perfect Peace in the Prince of Peace”  “Sweet Surrender to My Savior”  “Calm and Courageous in Christ”  “Blissfully Blessed and Brave to Birth our Baby Boy”  “Relaxed, Rested and Ready”

Most importantly, my mother, Mama Lou, my father-in-law, Papa Adelo, and our 5 beautiful and wonderful children, gave me so much encouragement that I knew that we can bring Baby Abe out in God’s perfect timing.  The Holy Spirit will lead me and guide our baby out.

Monday, after the magnesium sulfate treatment, I had another ultrasound.  Baby’s fluid had significantly increased from 7.89 to 13!  Praise God!  We could really feel the prayers of everyone.  We were ready to induce natural labor.  My OB mentioned that Baby Abe could even be born on Thursday, which was her birthday!  But I thought to myself that I didn’t want to labor that long.  Our churchmates, Dcn. Jojo and Sis. Evelyn, brought homebaked muffins along with much laughter and prayed over us before leaving.

We finally finished my IV (Yay!) and I drank my red raspberry leaf tea, walked about our windowless room, slow danced, bounced on a birthing ball. Contractions were very mild at 3-5 minutes apart, but they weren’t “painful.”  Mama Chato, our midwife who helped me naturally birth our other children, taught us that we must reframe contractions as “good pain” because it helps bring the baby down.  The more you welcome each “good pain” and embrace the sensation, the more relaxed you will be and fear will leave you.  So, everytime I felt a contraction coming, I relaxed my facial muscles, my jaw, my shoulders and let the tightening sensation do its work on my belly. The uterus is a very powerful muscle and I looked forward to the pressure, imagining that every contraction brought Baby Abe closer to being in my arms.

The resident doctor did my first internal examination and said I’m only 2cm dilated.  Well, at least it’s not totally closed, right?  However, at 530pm, I had an unexplainable occurrence of “chills” where I suddenly felt like I was freezing.  I couldn’t stop my teeth from chattering and my body from shaking violently. My mom wrapped me in thick blankets, wore socks on me, rubbed my legs. I called my husband to hurry, as he was getting some documents for our hospital stay. I placed my cold hands in my armpits and prayed that the nurse won’t peek in and report that I’m having some kind of seizure.  The chills passed after 20 minutes.  My husband warmed me with his embrace.  However, I couldn’t sleep a wink that night.  My husband decided we transfer again to a normal room with windows so I could be more comfortable.  I searched online “how to dilate cervix fast” and visualized my cervix opening and prayed constantly to the Lord to give me thoughts of peace and not anxiety.  The baby knows when to be born.

Tuesday, I had a prenatal massage to relax and press those labor-inducing points, drank more red raspberry leaf tea, bounced on the ball and did more than walking, I did some dancing, too!  Contractions were still mild at 3-5 minutes apart. I had another bout of “chills” at 530pm so my mother wrapped me again and I rebuked every thought of convulsion or seizure.  I kept telling myself that this will pass and Baby Abe is safe in my womb. The chills stopped at 6pm. By 8pm, I was so tired from the lack of sleep that I was able to sleep very well, even with the regular rhythm of my belly tightening.  We continued to entrust everything into the Father’s hands. 

The next day, Wednesday, February 20, I was determined to up my natural induction techniques.  My OB was pleased with the progress of my labor but reminded me not to wait until my water broke.  She reminded me to let her residents know when I’m already 4cm dilated, because I gave birth so quickly to our last child, she almost didn’t make it.  

My Mama Lou and I danced belly, hip hop, Zumba to the jiggiest songs I could find (Think “Trolls” soundtrack, “Walking on Sunshine” “Moves Like Jagger” “Waka Waka” you get the picture) and I sang my heart out to our Hillsong & Bethel favorites (Oceans, What a Beautiful Name, O Praise the Name, Open Heaven/River Wild, It Is Well, No Longer Slaves, etc.) when I rested. The doctors and nurses were amazed I could still sing and dance through my contractions.  Haha!  It actually took my mind away from the pressure.  By 530pm, I thought my water was leaking so I called a resident to examine me.  No water, just the EvePrim Oil melting but I was 3-4cm dilated.  Yay! She then asked me to go down to continue laboring in the High Risk unit.   Labor progressed very quickly and I did feel more and more pressure every minute!  

Shout out to the doctors and nurses of St. Luke’s BGC for honoring my Birth Plan as much as possible and I agreed that I will only be hooked to the monitor for 20-30 mins every 2 hours.. No pitocin, no IV, no oxygen and no pain meds.  By 8pm, I was 5cm dilated.  Hooray! That pushed me to do even more dancing, bouncing, marching, swaying & singing during contractions, with my husband playing every song I requested.  The pressure was already immense at this time, and I had a tugging feeling I was very close to transition, although it’s only been a couple of hours.  I was thankful that my husband was just right there to tell me I’m doing great, and my mother was also with us, cheering me on.  Whenever I felt the tremendous pressure, I would say, “Baby’s going down, down, down!  Yes, yes, yes! Go, go, go!” and I knew that they both agreed with me and believed with me.  

I was already speaking in tongues, asking the Holy Spirit to be my Comforter, my Teacher, my Guide.  I envisioned Mama Mary giving birth to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  I remembered all our children who are happily awaiting their baby brother at home. They’re counting on me to give birth to Baby Abe soon.  I wanted to birth this beautiful being in my womb without fear, only love and joy and peace... Feelings of indescribable bliss welled up in my heart for this boy whom Ritche and I had so conceived in love.  I was determined to confidently bring him out in that same love that conceived him. 

At 1030pm, I asked the resident to check my cervix, which had already dilated to 7cm, with a “bursting” effacement.  I had to be strapped again so I lay down waiting for the nurse when, a minute after, the nurse relays the message from the doctor to tell them right away if my water bag ruptures. She hadn’t left the room yet when my water bag burst!  It felt like a water balloon popped out of me. 

I excitedly told everyone, “Baby’s coming out!”

 They wheeled me out our room into the delivery room right away.  I felt the head of Baby Abe crowning.. I thought I couldn’t hold him in anymore.. but I tried to relax, as the doctors were still preparing, I had to be moved from my bed to the delivery bed and my husband, Ritche, was also getting into scrubs. I requested that I be more upright and not lying down.  Our OB was nowhere to be found but already gave instructions to her three resident OBs present in the room.  I already felt like pushing but was holding Baby Abe in.. I was so excited.. I called my husband.. “Daddy!” and told the nurse, “The cellphone!” Haha!  I didn’t want the nurse to miss taking Daddy Ritche’s picture catching Baby Abe.

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Finally, it was only a matter of minutes before I told them I had to push Baby’s head out.  The doctors assured me and said they won’t hinder me from pushing.  His head came out and the doctor was wise enough to remind me not to push anymore because he slid out so easily! It’s a birth phenomenon they call the “Fetal Ejection Reflex.” Pushing would have made the baby fly out.. Haha! It was amazing to see my husband “catching” our son!  As with all our other children (except Therese who underwent emergency CS), he did the ceremonial cord cutting after the cord stopped pulsating.  Baby Abe had already pooped meconium but miraculously, he didn’t ingest any and his Apgar score was 9 out of 10.  Thank God!

I delivered the placenta within 5 minutes. And our OB, Dra. Bambalan, arrived moments after to check on me.  Everything looked good.  My blood pressure stayed normal all throughout. I had a 1 mm tear that didn’t need any stitching. 

They were amazed at how easy the birth was and how fresh I still looked even after giving birth.  We all laughed at how my primary concern was to get the cellphone to the nurse and how Baby Abe didn’t want to have the same birthday as Doc.  Everyone in the room was lighthearted and Dr. De Guzman exclaimed that this was one delivery she will never ever forget!

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All in all, we stayed in the delivery room for 18 minutes then I was brought out to the Recovery Room for 4 hours to check on Baby Abe and me.  By the end of the recovery period, my BP was still stable, Baby Abe and I had skin to skin contact and he latched on the breast perfectly, but there was just one problem.  The nurse said that they’d have to put a catheter on me if I didn’t urinate soon. No way!  I gently pressed on my bladder and, sure enough, I was able to pee on my own.

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The next 48 hours were critical for me and Baby Abe. I recently saw the diagnosis of my OB upon discharge.  It was Pre-eclampsia with Severe Features.  But, thank God, we never manifested any complications.  No headache, nausea, vomiting, seizure, swelling, convulsion, shortness of breath whatsoever.  My blood pressure never elevated all throughout.  Baby’s oxygen levels were stable.  I didn’t go into shock, stroke, had brain damage or any organ failure. I didn’t need any kind of pain medication.  

Within 48 hours of delivery, we went home to our family, carrying our 6thbundle of joy, our second boy, whom we named "Abraham Nickola."  So thankful to all our family, relatives, friends, and churchmates for keeping us in your thoughts and lifting us up in prayer.  I believe that Ritche’s grandmother, Lola Auring, was also looking down from Heaven and interceding for us, along with all the saints and angels. To God be all the glory, honor and praise!  He is a miracle-working God who faithfully keeps all His promises and grants us the desires of our hearts!

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By: Chat Jandayan @chatjandayan

Most of the photos were taken by my husband and my mom.

This is why excellent childbirth education is a must, why planning for your birth and the unexpected challenges that can arise, is so important today, and is a major reason why I created my Love Your Birth course. It is a comprehensive online course that teaches women what they need to know about planning and carrying out the birth that they want in all settings - the hospital, birthing center or at home. It’s a course on how to have a holistic, healthy pregnancy for the body, mind, and soul - and is how I have guided thousands of women and their families in my midwifery practice for over 21 years.

It contains a rolodex of my favorite resources with over 200 of the best books, movies and supplies I use personally and professionally with my clients, family & friends. Even diving into a fraction of this list will have you feeling empowered and prepared for conception, pregnancy, postpartum and parenting...It includes resources on improving and even ensuring ensuring healthier pregnancy and birth outcomes than the status quo, and preventing and healing from birth trauma so prevalent in the modern world!  

Be prepared to do some research on your own, but knowledge restores your power. I also help you prepare your mindset for such a task, to debunk myths, and to reframe any current ideas or conditioning about pregnancy and birth that can use a change in perspective or that are simply incorrect and do serve you. After finishing the course, the idea is that you are now able to create and have the healthy, beautiful and empowering pregnancy and birth that you want - so you can ROCK your birth, however it unfolds!

It’s wonderful alone, a great refresher or adjunct to any other course!

 

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

Hospital Waterbirth Story

 

I remember waking up and smelling the coffee brewing whilst on holiday in Miami....the smell instantly made me feel sick. After a super long flight and the time difference I thought the extreme fatigue and nausea was due to jet lag, but then the aversion to my favourite drink made it very clear. It suddenly all made sense when I got an instant positive result on a pregnancy test (then another one).

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The rest of the holiday was challenging, I couldn’t shake the nausea, so walking around Disney world during a heat wave and a long flight home were both extremely hard! It turns out I was actually almost 7 weeks pregnant. Thankfully the nausea only lasted 12 weeks. The rest of the pregnancy was smooth, no complaints at all. Each time I saw the midwife I felt hopeful I could have my baby on the midwife led unit, as everything was going well. By the third trimester in true Mrs Hinch style I scrubbed my house on a daily basis and loved every second of it. Pine disinfectant became my new pregnancy craving (weird I know, don’t worry I didn’t ingest it) as much as I felt the urge to! Approaching my due date, from 38 weeks I had lots of pressure and I was sure Baby Dewey number two would be early, as Ava was two days early..…well that’s what everyone says right? Wrong! 

There I was 7 days late and feeling ready to meet my baby, wondering when they would make an appearance. It was a sunny Sunday morning and I had a sweep at 9 am. The midwife said she could feel baby’s head and said that if it was going to be successful it would be in the next 48 hours. I left the hospital feeling hopeful. We went home and went about our day as normal, going for a long walk, food shopping, cleaning and then I cooked a roast dinner. I put Ava to bed then had a long soak in the bath and bounced on my ball for the rest of the evening. I lost my mucus plug over the duration of the evening and couldn’t shake the feeling baby would be coming in the early hours of the morning. So I made the phone calls to make sure childcare was in place for Ava - just in case, and got an early night.

I woke at 1.30 am on the Monday with a familiar feeling, which I thought was my first contraction. So I laid awake and waited then another came 12 minutes later, then 8 minutes. I knew this was the start of things to come so just relaxed in bed for 30 mins breathing through my contractions then woke Simon to let him know “it was happening”. The pain was in in my lower back which was the same as my labour with Ava,  so I knew how to deal with my pain in the best way which was to stand and gently rock side to side whilst breathing through each contraction and leaning on a surface.

By 3 am my contractions were every 2-3 minutes so we decided we should call my Dad and Step Mum to come to our house to look after Ava. Whilst we waited for them to arrive I got myself dressed and Simon gathered up all of our hospital bags then we waited downstairs. I continued to sway whilst leaning on the breakfast bar and Simon contacted the Midwife Led Unit who then said to come straight up. By the time my Dad arrived my contractions were every 1-2 minutes. 

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We got to the hospital at 4 am and our midwife Julie did all of the routine checks in between my contractions then just calmly remained in the background for a while observing. My contractions were getting more intense but the swaying and breathing helped and Simon massaged my lower back which gave lots of relief. By 4.40 the midwife wanted to check how dilated I was.

With how long the contractions were lasting and the frequency of them, I was sure I had to be quite far along but I was only just 4 cm at a stretch. I felt slightly disheartened for a moment but the contractions were coming quick so I soon forgot about that and continued with my breathing whilst the birthing pool was being filled. The water gave me such relief and I felt really calm whilst in the water, on my knees leaning over the edge.

The lights in the room were dimmed and the radio was on playing Christmas music which was super relaxing. At 5.30 I felt a lot of pressure and then a pop then realised my waters had gone. I then felt the baby move lower into my pelvis and knew that it wouldn’t be long. By 5.45 the contractions were coming thick and fast, every minute lasting a minute infact and the pressure felt stronger. I became very aware of the noises I was making and i remember that feeling well, I knew it was getting very close. Julie asked if I wanted any pain relief so I opted for some gas and air. At that moment I felt the surges get stronger and an urge to start pushing. My body knew exactly what to do so I went with it. The gas and air made me feel a little delirious at times but it made the pain manageable, without making me feel out of control.  I felt my baby moving down with every push and this time I really remember the burning sensation and that ring of fire everyone talks about. During the crowning stage I remember thinking at times I couldn’t do it, but I redirected my thoughts, concentrated on my breathing and reminded myself I would soon be meeting my baby! After 30 minutes of pushing my baby girl was born at 6.14 am weighing 7Ib 5oz.

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I remember that overwhelming feeling of love as I placed her onto my chest. By this point we didn’t know the gender so I had a look and was so excited to see it was another girl. I knew how much Ava wanted a baby sister so I knew she would be so happy! Simon cut the cord then I got out of the pool and onto the bed. Amelia was a little shocked and blue as the cord was around her neck but they gave her a quick rub and she was fine. The midwife asked if I wanted to deliver the placenta without the injection so i thought I’d try, I gave one small push and it came out nice and easy! My baby girl was then placed onto my chest for some much needed skin to skin time. Simon and I were then left to bond with our new baby girl. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect birth, I wanted to feel in control, to feel the surges and I was desperate for a water birth and I got all of those things!
Kirsty Dewey  @mumma_dewey

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A healthy natural birth in today’s modern world takes preparation in advance, especially if you are planning to birth in the hospital. Check out my number one international best selling book Natural Birth Secrets and my online course - an online version of how I have helped thousands in my local practice.

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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.

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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.