Help! I’m Unexpectedly Considering a Home Birth

With the current COVID-19 pandemic, the number of home births has been on the rise. Understandably so, many people now have hesitations about birthing in a hospital. Whether that be fear of being exposed to the coronavirus while there, being uncomfortable about the new protocols that have been put in place in many hospitals (ie wearing a mask while laboring, separation from baby after birth, etc), or some combination of the two, those who may not have previously considered home birth are now finding it a very real option. Having had 5 home births myself, I’m here to let you know some things that may help you make your decision.

The Mess
It’s not nearly as messy as you might think. Seriously, I promise. Midwives are great about protecting your home environment from mess. Yes, there will be some fluid and yes, there may be some blood, but that does not, I repeat, does not wind up all over your birthing area, splashed on walls, covering the floor, looking like some horror movie as some may imagine (and even if it did, your midwife is still amazing enough to clean that up too). While laboring, your midwife will strategically place chux pads (absorbent disposable pads) in your birthing area; these are easily picked up, thrown away when they get soiled, and replaced. Your bedding, if you choose to labor on your bed, will be stripped, stain-treated if necessary, and swept away to be washed before your midwives leave. You’ll be able to lie down and recover in a bed with fresh linens ready for your baby-snuggle sessions.

Freely Eat and Drink
One of the most wonderful things about birthing in your own home, out of the hospital setting, is that you are no longer subject to hospital policy. So, that ban on eating during labor that you may expect? It doesn’t exist in a home birth setting. In fact, midwives generally encourage you to eat and drink freely throughout your labor so as to keep your energy up and to assure you remain hydrated for optimal labor and delivery. And what’s even better than being encouraged to eat and drink during labor, you ask? Being able to eat and drink your favorite foods and beverages during labor. After all, it’s your house, it’s your kitchen; you have access to the foods that will sit best with your body and that you enjoy. This is also a huge advantage for your first post-birth meal!

What if Something goes Wrong?
This is usually one of the major concerns for people who have never previously considered home birth. Considering the unpredictable nature of birth, it is a legitimate concern. That being said, midwives are trained to respond accordingly when the unexpected occurs. They are present during your labor to monitor you and your baby and if at any point they believe that something is amiss, they will make certain you get necessary care. Midwives are in the business of safe outcomes even if it means they need to recommend transitioning your care over to a local hospital when an identified-issue is outside her area of expertise. In a scenario that involves immediate attention, midwives are trained in and equipped to provide resuscitation to both mother and baby and they also have necessary medication to stop excessive bleeding. Midwives are trained health professionals and they take the health of their clients very seriously.

No Interruptions
Birthing at home means your labor won’t be interrupted by shift-change, you won’t have to endure hearing medical codes being called out over the loud-speaker during labor or through the night. You won’t have to labor in one room on the labor/delivery floor only to have to wait to settle into another room after baby is born. You won’t be awakened near-constantly to have yours and baby’s vitals taken after you’ve given birth. The list of hospital-birth annoyances could go on. In comparison, at home, you get to relax into your own bed, surrounded by all your everyday comforts. Yes, your midwife will stick around for a couple of hours after you’ve delivered, to make sure you and your baby are feeling well and nursing well, and you’ll be made aware of any warning signs to look for in case of problems but you won’t have frequent knocks on your bedroom door for two days after having a baby when all you want to do is rest and snuggle. Your midwife will also come back to visit you and your little one soon after you give birth to make sure you’re both continuing to do well.

True Freedom of Movement
Home birth gives you freedom to move about your environment as you see fit. You can pace your bedroom, walk your stairs, lie on your comfiest couch, or even stroll your neighborhood! You’re not confined to a single room or even a single building while you labor. Your comfort is a priority to your birthing team and your comfort is more easily achieved in an intimately familiar environment like your very own home.

While home birth is not for everyone, if your pregnancy is low-risk, you’re a great candidate! These tidbits of information are just the tip of the iceberg but hopefully you’ve learned enough to determine if home birth will be a further consideration for you. Even if you’re later on in your pregnancy and feel like you may be too late in the game to change providers and start planning a home birth, I encourage you to reach out to some local midwives. Many are willing to take on clients very late in pregnancy barring any high-risk indicators. No matter where you birth, here’s wishing you a happy and healthy pregnancy, labor, and delivery!

The Birth of Olive June

Birth has the tendency to unveil your greatest fears and expose areas of strength that you never knew existed. For me, this third baby has freed my soul and changed me in ways I’m not quite able to put into words. But before the days of toddler messes and newborn cuddles cloud my memory, I must put my best foot forward in jotting down the details of this triumphant day. The day our Olive June arrived.

Our home birth story came at the start of a new decade. Quite literally, too, as Olive made her grand entrance earth side twelve days after the new year. A due date babe. A baby born after 29 hours of physical, emotional and spiritual turmoil. 29 hours of facing my physical fears and pleading with God to remove the pain and to offer supernatural strength. Strength I knew I could not muster up in my own doing. 29 hours of trusting the process. Trusting my body to do what it was born to do. After 29 hours, light transcended the darkness and my daughter was in my arms.

This was my third pregnancy in four years. The first two were beautiful, unmedicated hospital births that I was fortunate enough to have no complications pre or postnatally. Both of which I felt supported, heard and validated in all my birthing requests. However, with the switch from healthcare insurance companies, doors opened for our family to pursue my desire for a home birth. To us, our home is sacred. A space we moved into as newlyweds. Our first big purchase together as a married couple. A space that allowed us to begin our family of three and then soon after our party of four. With the plan to move within the year, we could think of no better way but to celebrate the birth of our third child within the walls that already held so much love and memories and togetherness.

While the name we chose for her was a nod to the peaceful olive branch, the labor she and I wrestled through couldn’t be further from this. Right away, contractions were close together and filled with intensity. The birth team gathered shortly after I contacted them and the house soon filled with feelings of anticipation and excitement. A baby was soon being born into the world! Who could think of a better way to spend the weekend?!? The clock ticked and labor progressed, slowly but surely. The birth team patient, kind and plenty encouraging. My husband, my dear husband, working tirelessly to get the hose attached so I could labor in the tub.

The tub was filled and located in the center of our bedroom. A symbol of tranquility. During intense contractions, I wanted to be nowhere else except in the water. Unfortunately, though, the water slowed my labor down drastically and even stopped contractions all together. This prompted my team to encourage me to get moving. Lunges, squats, stairs. Dilation was slow, tumultuous and incredibly painful. My midwife, Deanna Kopf, and her attendant Tina Overton thought the unpredictable labor pattern I was experiencing was due to Olive’s positioning in the womb. Katie Kirkpatrick, my doula and best friend, educated in Spinning Babies and other positioning exercises, thought it best to use asymmetrical movements which would help Olive descend into the pelvis. After laboring for close to 20 hours, the team needed a little rest. The labor gods were kind to both Olive and I as the intensity paused for a few hours and Tyler and I were able to get some rest. Deanna and Tina found a bed in the basement and Katie snoozed on the floor of my daughters’ room.

Around 5:15 am the next day, I texted Deanna for my (and Olive’s) vitals to be checked. Both of which came back normal. While my family and friends were wondering where this baby was and what was the hold up, my team remained calm and assured both Tyler and I that time was the only thing this babe needed to emerge. And more movement and exercise. I pleaded desperately with them to let me just get back into the tub. They heard my request but explained that draining and refilling (since the water was cold and at risk of containing bacteria at this point) would take an hour or more. Katie gave me a peanut ball and I laid on the bed to labor there while the tub refilled. My contractions became incredibly intense and my laboring sounds changed. Both Tyler and Tina were downstairs heating up pots of water on the stove to hurry the tub filling process along. I felt the urge to push powerfully and deeply and Olive’s head appeared! Katie yelled that the head was born and Tyler and Tina hurried upstairs. Three strong pushes later and a midwife’s hand assisting Olive’s shoulders in sliding out, she plopped on my bed. Stunned, I stared at my crying baby. Tyler announced the gender and I slowly repositioned so I could hold her on my chest. All the pain was gone. Never to be felt again. The contractions vanished. The vomiting subsided. The uncontrollable shaking disappeared. Never did I think this moment would emerge but as with all suffering and pain, dawn eventually emerges. A beautiful birth story etched in my memory and never to be physically, emotionally and spiritually felt again.

While, in the moment, I wanted nothing more than relief and for it all to be over, I do not regret a single decision I

made leading up to her entrance into the world. I had to experience the pain of January 11th to gain the joy of January 12th.

Welcome to the world, sweet girl.

 

** A huge heart of gratitude and overwhelming love goes out to my extraordinary team. Katie, Deanna, Tina and Tyler, Olive and I were so blessed to have you by our side every step of the journey.

birth story

 

 

Building Your Birth Team: Part 2

Today, on the blog, we will continue the discussion about building your optimal birth team for support both before and after birth. Being fully informed and having the necessary resources during pregnancy (and beyond) could make all the difference in the beginning stages of parenthood. The previous Building your Birth Team post highlighted the importance of choosing your care provider, childbirth educator, doula and placenta encapsulation specialist. Below you will find several other supports that optimize your overall journey.

Chiropractic Care: There are many hormonal and physical changes you’ll experience during your pregnancy. Some of these will have an impact on your posture and comfort. As your baby becomes heavier, your center of gravity shifts, and your posture will adjust (sometimes for the worse). Also, this may create added pressure and misalignment in the pelvis. A misaligned pelvis may pose complications during delivery. When the pelvis is out of alignment, it can make it hard for your baby to move into the best position to be born, which is rear-facing and head down. In some cases, this could affect a person’s ability to have a natural , low intervention birth. A balanced pelvis also means your baby has a lower chance of moving into a breech or posterior position. When your baby is not in an optimal birthing position, it can lead to a longer, more complicated delivery. Evidence points to improved outcomes in labor and delivery for people who’ve received chiropractic care from a Webster Certified Chiropractor during their pregnancy. Chiropractic care can help balance the pelvis, allowing baby the room need to get in the most optimal position possible, while also allowing for a comfortable pregnancy. In fact, chiropractic care may even help reduce the length of time you’re in labor. Locate a Webster Certified Chiropractor, one who specializes in pregnancy and pediatric care, today!

Acupuncture: Many people sing the praises of acupuncture during pregnancy to ease some common discomforts such as back and pelvic pain, nausea, heartburn, swelling, and constipation. So how does it work exactly? Researchers have found that acupuncture points correspond to deep-seated nerves, so that when the needles are placed, the nerves are activated and the energy flow will regain balance. This, in turn, triggers the release of several brain chemicals, including endorphins, which block pain signals and help to relieve a number of pregnancy symptoms.

Clinical Psychologist: This support person cannot be encouraged enough. This particular birth team member will allow you to prepare for the birth as well as process and heal post birth as you enter into parenthood. Benefits of a mental health therapist encompass well being, which ultimately affect baby and partner's well being. Becoming a new parent has the possibility of bringing in unexpected stress and anxiety. Having a safe space to process this can make all the difference.

Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist: This particular support involves biofeedback and exercises to encourage relaxation and strengthening of the muscles of the lower pelvis which have the tendency to weaken in pregnancy and through postpartum. A physical therapist measures muscle tone and the strength of muscle contractions, which give you the information you need to proceed with tailored exercises. After practicing at home, you can see the improvement at your next visit. When necessary, the therapist may use a massage-like technique called myofascial release to help stretch and release the connective tissue between the skin and the muscles and bones in your pelvic region.

Pelvic floor PT postpartum may: strengthen your pelvic floor, re-training your abdominal function, help libido levels or painful intercourse, and treat incontinence.

Adding these members to your birth team care for the entire person. Physical, mental, and emotional supports are vital in attaining the wellness you deserve.

Building Your Birth Team

When you’re pregnant for the first time, people dart questions at you every step of the way. I had no idea what some of the words meant, let alone how to even begin to answer.

“Who is your care provider? Will you have a doula? Do you have a birth plan? Where will you give birth? What position will you give birth in? What’s your EDD? Have you been doing your spinning babies exercises? Do you use a rebozo? Who will be in your birth team?”

Basically, Mr. Google was my continual resource in a time of need. Today on the blog, we are chatting about birth teams and why these people can make the transition to motherhood a little bit easier.

Care Provider: This is who you choose to do all your prenatal care. This person/ group focuses primarily on maternal and fetal health. Different models of care are the Midwifery Model of Care and the Medical Model of Care (defined below). This is the most important choice you will make your entire pregnancy as it will affect your desired outcome (with no guarantees, of course!). Fully trusting your care provider brings peace and confidence as you prepare to meet your baby. It is also never too late in pregnancy to change care providers if you are unhappy with decisions and/or approaches.

Doula: A doula is a professional trained in childbirth who provides emotional, physical, and educational support to a mother who is expecting, is experiencing labor, or has recently given birth. The doula's purpose is to help women have a safe, memorable, and empowering birthing experience. Because the doula is not medically trained, she does not attend to fetal/maternal physical health but more so focuses on mother’s emotional well being before and during labor.
***Personal Side Note: My doula made a HUGE impact on my birth outcome, I believe. When I was in a state that I could no longer make decisions, she and my partner teamed together to advocate on my behalf. Having her there every step of the way made me feel peace and comfort both physically and emotionally.

Birth Educator: A birth educator is trained to teach childbirth education classes to expectant families. Childbirth educators are a resource for families providing information they may not have access to outside of a birth class. They help couples learn valuable coping skills and strategies to have an empowered birth experience. While your birth educator may not be present at your birth, she is considered part of the birthing team.

Placenta Encapsulation Specialist: Placenta encapsulation is the process of turning your baby's placenta into capsules to aid in your postpartum recovery. The placenta encapsulation specialist (PES) adheres to all OSHA & EPA guidelines regarding blood-borne pathogen transmission, infection prevention, standards for sanitation, and safe food handling. The PES brings all of the necessary equipment and encapsulation materials to your home to complete the process. This process happens postpartum and is believed to help with increasing energy levels, lactation, postpartum anxiety/depression, increased levels of CRH (stress-reducing hormone), and restoration of iron levels in the blood.

There you have it. A well-rounded birth team ready to support the laboring mama every step of the way. Being uplifted and encouraged during labor, I believe, made all the difference prenatally and postnatally for me. Women deserve information and support while they embark on one of the greatest (yet challenging) adventures in their life!

Virginia Apgar: An Advocate for Newborn Health

The APGAR test, a standard newborn test developed in 1953 by Virginia Apgar, assesses an infant's health immediately after birth. At 1 and 5 minutes post birth, the infant is examined and given a score based on the following criteria: heart rate, respiration, color, muscle tone, and reflex irritability. The term APGAR score is a mnemonic learning aid based on its inventor’s last name which stands for Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity and Respiration. By the 1960’s, because of its readability and effectiveness, this score was used widely across the United States. Now, it is globally used and adopted by most doctors and midwives.

This pioneering anesthesiologist worked effortlessly throughout her career to save countless newborns. Born in New Jersey in 1909, she became passionate about medicine in High School. She completed an undergraduate degree at Mount Holyoke College in zoology with minors in physiology and chemistry. She also played on multiple sports teams, reported for the college newspaper, acted in local plays, and played violin in the orchestra. Her teachers were astounded at her capacity to succeed.

She went on to attend Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons (CUCPS) as one of nine women in a class of ninety. She received her medical degree in 1933 and began a surgical residency. The chairman of surgery at CUCPS highly encouraged Apgar to switch to anesthesiology. Anesthesiology, at the time, was given by nurses but surgeries became more and more complicated. This procedure then became a doctor’s specialty. Because the field was relatively new and unresearched, Apgar had the enthusiasm and grit to take it and run with it. And that is just what she did. In 1937, she received her anesthesiologist’s certificate and returned to CUCPS to become the director of the newly formed division of anesthesia and, in 1949, she became the first female full professor in CUCPS’ history.

This high position allowed her to research and study more in depth at Sloane Hospital for Women with laboring and new mothers. She soon realized that there was no developed way and standardized measure to asses the overall health of newborn babies. Mortality for children under a year old in the U.S. had been going down in this time, however, the rate of mortality for newborns remained the same. This was mostly due to the fact that doctors weren’t identifying the babies that were born at risk. Hence no necessary interventions could be put into play. This prompted the brilliant Virginia Apgar to develop the APGAR score in the 1950’s.

She went on, in 1959, to pursue a Masters of Public Health degree at Johns Hopkins University and soon after took a position at the March of Dimes Foundation directing its research into the prevention and treatment of birth defects. She was one of the first people to focus on the effects that premature birth has on an infant’s overall health. Today, the March of Dimes still works to prevent premature birth and is one of their top priorities because of the legacy Apgar left them with. Apgar published over 60 papers and continued to tirelessly work and research until her death in 1974.

David Rose wrote, on the 100th anniversary of her birth in 2009, “Virginia Apgar was an irrepressible and charismatic champion for babies whose wit and lively personality captivated everyone she encountered in her constant quest for improvements to maternal and infant health… it has been said that every baby is first seen through the eyes of Virginia Apgar.”

 

Source: www.amightygirl.com

The Golden Hour: Those First 60 Minutes After Birth Are in Fact Pure Gold

The first 60 minutes after your baby is born are remarkably beneficial for bonding and attachment between mama and her new babe. What is the golden hour exactly? How can you maximize attachment and bonding in this hour? How long should skin-to-skin be established before those medical tasks and procedures are performed? These questions all point to this golden hour and its magical luster.

Congratulations! Your baby has been born. You have finally gotten a chance to gaze in their eyes for the first time after feeling all the pregnancy symptoms and baby’s movements. You are on the other side of labor and it feels so incredibly relieving.

That uninterrupted contact between mother and baby during the “golden hour” after birth is critical to the child’s growth and development. In the past, often times, the baby was whisked away from mother to perform all the essential procedures such as weight, bath, vaccinations (if consented by parents), diapering and swaddling. Mom would be waiting to receive her new bundle back once tasks were performed. Health care providers now understand and know that the more skin-to-skin mom can have with baby immediately after the birth, the better chance of bonding the mother will have and also the better overall experience the family will have as they embark on their new parenting journey.

The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends the following guidelines:

So what exactly are the benefits?

Expectant mothers can talk to their care provider about the standard procedures for this postpartum period. Your birth plan can also include these 60 minutes immediately following birth. Every mother and baby should have a chance to experience their “golden hour.”

 

The Call for Limiting Ultrasounds During Pregnancy

Fetal ultrasound is a method of viewing a fetus while in the womb. Ultrasound technology uses
sound waves, that bounce off the baby’s mass, to produce a picture of the baby. While both the
American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) and the Food and Drug Administration
both agree that limiting fetal ultrasound is important, some doctors continue to insist on
frequently looking at baby in-utero without caution.

To avoid unnecessary viewing of your unborn baby, ask why an ultrasound is necessary.
Oftentimes, doctors utilize certain technology simply because it’s readily available without taking
into account the potential risks at-hand. In the case of fetal ultrasounds, it seems that
obstetricians, especially those with direct-in-office-access to ultrasound technology, like to “take
a peek” at baby in-utero far more frequently than may be clinically-indicated. Some women have
a fetal ultrasound performed at nearly each prenatal visit. Patients, trusting the doctor, don’t
always question why the ultrasounds are being conducted, and understandably so, enjoy being
able to view baby. However, if there is not a clear clinical need to have these images taken,
these ultrasounds are better off being declined.

What are the potential risks you’re even avoiding if you were to decline an ultrasound? In this
FDA article, Dr. Shahram Vaezy, an FDA biomedical engineer, states that,
“Ultrasound can heat tissues slightly, and in some cases, it can also produce very small bubbles
(cavitation) in some tissues.” Dr. Vaezy also warns that, “...prudent use of these devices by
trained health care providers is important.” Ultrasound has also been utilized recently to help
heal fractured bones and is also used to “blast” away kidney stones. Something that has the
potential to change the tissues of a developing fetus should be used with caution and operated
strictly by a trained health professional. This means that not only should the storefront
“keepsake” ultrasonography shops be completely avoided but frequent viewing of baby under
any circumstance increases risks to the fetus.

A trained ultrasound technician should be the only person performing these scans but it’s not
just the operator that holds significance. The length of time the ultrasound takes place is also of
significance. The longer the fetus is exposed to ultrasound, and the longer the fetal temperature
is altered, the higher the potential risks. The ACOG, in an October 2017 “ACOG Committee
Opinion” release note specifically that, “Ultrasound imaging should be performed efficiently and
only when clinically indicated to minimize fetal exposure risk using the keeping acoustic output
levels As Low As Reasonably Achievable (commonly known as ALARA) principle.”
Worth noting is that fetal Dopplers, often used by care providers to listen, not look, at baby in-
utero, also utilize ultrasonic sound waves to pick up baby’s heartbeat. These monitors carry a similar risk to visual ultrasound and also carry warnings as to be used only by healthcare
professionals. By purchasing this type of monitor, many mothers feel reassured by being able to
listen to baby’s heartbeat at any given time. However, Doppler monitors have not been
designed for at-home use.

The decision for frequency of ultrasound exposure during pregnancy remains with the patient.
With information regarding both risks and benefits of this medical intervention, one can make an
informed choice as to how she wishes to proceed when ultrasound is recommended by her care
provider. It is always important to have an open dialogue with your provider regarding any
concerns about recommended procedures. Only when the patient is comfortable and in
agreement, should a non-emergent procedure take place. As a patient, you have the right to
decline any or all ultrasounds recommended by your care provider. You also have the right to
question what the provider is hoping to find through the recommended imaging and how the
imaging itself would affect future medical recommendations.

While ultrasound is widely accepted in the medical community as being safe and carrying little
to no risk, it is still wise to proceed with caution. Let us not forget that several decades ago, X-
rays were used readily for a host of reasons, including fetal imaging and were considered “safe.”
Of course, now more is known and there is great caution with X-ray use. This is a good lesson
in why, for a healthy pregnancy, less medical intervention is often the best choice.

Protein in Pregnancy: What’s the big deal?

Have you ever wondered just how important your diet is for your growing baby in your belly? Have you ever allowed craving after craving to drive your food intake? Have you ever felt like your body only wanted to eat carbs, carbs and more carbs? If you have answered yes to one or all of these questions, this blog post is for you.

Throughout pregnancy, a protein rich diet can make all the difference in maternal and fetal health. It can reduce risk factors for pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes, and even improve your birth outcome. But how?!

When your baby is growing the fastest, during the second and third trimester, it is vital that your body intakes protein which contains amino acids. These acids are the building blocks for you and your baby. Most experts recommend consuming a minimum of 80 to 120 grams of protein per day while pregnant. It is also important to use salt to taste. Between 20-25% of your daily calories should come from protein. As explained in the chart below, albumin is made directly from the protein mom eats which in turn increases blood volume. When mom doesn’t get enough calories, the protein is burned up rather than being used to make albumin. This unfortunately drops blood volume. The result of high blood pressure is due to the kidneys producing an enzyme called renin which makes the blood vessels constrict. This down spiral of events often leads to early signs of pre-eclampsia and usually early induction of baby.

Adequate protein and salt for the pregnant mom are vital in an overall healthy pregnancy and an uncomplicated delivery. Best choices that include protein are as follows: meat and poultry, fish and seafood, eggs, dairy products, beans and peas, nuts and seeds, high protein grains, protein powder. If the mother will increase the amount of salt, protein, and calories that she eats, the blood volume will increase, and blood pressure will come down to a normal level. Sometimes, this could even mean eating an ounce or two of protein every hour. It is in fact possible to reverse pre-eclampsia risks with proper protein-rich nutrition. For more information on the link between nutrition and pre-eclampsia, see www.drbrewerpregnancydiet.com.

protein in the maternal diet

Fourth Trimester… Oh My! Tips for sanity and survival

Congratulations. You have grown a baby. The 40 or so weeks of waiting are finally over and you are wondering what on earth to expect now. While your body is no longer housing a tiny human, something still feels off. The fog has not lifted. Your energy is low, your hormones are whack, and your stamina is half of what it used to be. Life seems to be filled with endless feedings, swaddling, burping, soothing and not sleeping. The days are blurry and the nights are endless. You have officially entered the fourth trimester. These next twelve or so weeks are a completely different marathon. Below are 6 tips that I felt helped me transition into motherhood with grace and kindness towards myself and my baby.

1. Take it easy the first few weeks. You will be back to “yourself” eventually but right now, your body is healing. Healing from pregnancy and birth. It will not feel “normal” anytime soon.

2. Never say “no” to someone offering help. People, in general, want to know how they can help. Let them cook meals, buy you Starbucks, clean your house, hold/feed your baby, carry your purse… anything. You don’t have to do it all. Even ask for help if you need it. You are not weak if you ask. You just made a human. That’s pretty damn strong.

3. Do not put pressure on yourself to get that pre-pregnancy body back during this trimester. It will not happen and you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Things are a little more shifty and squishy. It is ok. No one is judging you and if they are, you don’t need them in your life.

4. An hour or two goes by VERY quickly. Especially realized when a newborn baby is eating that often. At the end of the day, if you are wondering where the day has gone, know that you kept your baby fed. That is a big feat in itself. But everyday, try your best to do at least one thing for yourself. Eat a cookie. Walk slowly around the block. Ask for a massage from your partner. Take a bath. Read something (googling articles about your baby doesn’t count).

5. These first three months are all about SURVIVAL. Forget ALL. THE. RULES. and trust your instincts. If you hold your baby all day for him/her to nap, fine. If you get take out for 12 weeks straight, great. If you rock or nurse your baby to sleep, job well done. There is no “right” way to parent. Your mama instincts are powerful. You have everything you need inside of you to care for your baby. Silence the judge-y noise.

6. Believe the saying “the days are long but the years are short.” Although it feels like you’ll never have poopless days, you will. Try your very best to enjoy the little moments of sweetness. The coos and giggles. The messes and madness. These times are tiring times, but bound to make our hearts and lives oh so full.

You got this, mama. I believe in YOU!

“Motherhood: All love begins and ends there.” –Robert Browning

Postpartum Herbal Bath: Nourishing baby, body, and mind

If you’ve been following any birth or newborn photographers on social media, you’ve likely seen the gorgeous images of a mom and her new baby soaking in a tub of tea-colored water.  There are usually rose petals or orchids floating on the surface and a blissed-out mom and baby relaxed and soaking up the nourishing water and relaxing scents.

As you can imagine, growing a baby and giving birth are hard work.  Women are practicing self-care by utilizing the healing and relaxation properties of a postpartum herbal bath.  Postpartum herbal bath, chocked full of herbs that fight inflammation and promote healing in the skin and tissues, can not only be a way to provide comfort for a sore body, but it can be a beautiful opportunity to bond with a freshly born baby.

Postpartum herbal bath, which includes plantain, comfrey, yarrow, uva ursi, and a variety of other healing herbs, can be added to boiling water, but removed from the heat of the stove.  The herbs should steep for 20 minutes, and then be strained.  What remains is a powerful brew that can be used to heal and comfort sore and bruised tissues, combat inflammation, and promote relaxation and well-being.

The herbal bath brew can be used in many ways:

1.  It can be added to a bathtub of warm water for a relaxing soak.  This can not only be a way for mom to relax, but it can be a wonderful opportunity to enjoy and bond with baby as well.

2. The herbal brew can be added to a peri-bottle to rinse mom’s bottom after using the restroom.

3. The brew can be added to a maxi-pad and frozen to be used as a perineal ice pack to soothe swollen tissues. Conversely, using the herbal brew on a warm compress can be a comforting relief.

4. It may also be conveniently added to a sitz bath to soak mom’s bottom in the day following birth.

If you are planning an upcoming birth and want to treat yourself and baby, consider a warm soak in a relaxing herbal bath.  You and your baby worked hard, you both deserve it.

Our herbal bath and other products can be found on our Etsy page.

**Please check with your care provider before taking a bath in the immediate days postpartum.**

Soothing Hemorrhoids in Pregnancy and Postpartum

Hemorrhoids, which are swollen and exposed blood vessels in the rectum, are perhaps one of the biggest complaints I hear from expecting and postpartum parents.  Some find they have hemorrhoids during pregnancy, while others get them postpartum, likely from pushing.  hemorrhoids

But why do hemorrhoids happen in pregnancy?

During pregnancy, the increased progesterone levels cause the walls of the veins to relax, increasing the likelihood of swelling.  Progesterone levels can also cause constipation in expecting mothers, particularly in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy.  With increased swelling, constipation, and the growing uterus adding pressure to the inferior vena cava, hemorrhoids can become a common and unpleasant pregnancy symptom.

What can I do to soothe hemorrhoids in pregnancy/postpartum?

Eat well and supplement to make sure stools remain soft. Don't strain. Eating a diet high in fiber can help keep constipation at bay.  Leafy greens, fruits, beans, and whole grains are all good sources of fiber.  Supplementing with magnesium is also known to help keep bathroom habits comfortable and regular.  I love this magnesium supplement and add it to my daily smoothies. Regular exercise can also encourage mobility in the bowel.

Witch Hazel is an anti-inflammatory antiseptic that can reduce discomfort and itchiness.  Witch hazel is also an astringent, which contracts the tissues to minimize bleeding. After wiping, dip a cotton ball in witch hazel and apply to the area.

Sitz Baths are a basin that sits in the toilet bowel and can be used to soak your bottom in warm water.  Not only can a sitz bath keep the area clean, but the warmth of the water can be comforting and also increases blood flow to the area encouraging healing.

Using cold compresses or ice packs can reduce pain and swelling in the area.  Alternating between hot and cold throughout the day is ideal.

Kegeling can help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, which can prevent internal hemorrhoids from being exposed.  The exercise can also increase blood flow to the pelvic area, promoting healing of existing hemorrhoids.

Potatoes! Using a cheese grater, shred a raw potato.  Use the grated pieces of potato to make poultice and place it next to the hemorrhoid (do not insert into the rectum).  This is reported to reduce the swelling and the size of the hemorrhoid.

A diet high in vitamin C is known to strengthen blood vessels and can help prevent hemorrhoids.  An added bonus of vitamin C is it also maximizes iron absorption. 

 

 

New Childbirth Classes in Baltimore

We have had the honor of providing childbirth classes in Baltimore since 2014. There are many reasons we love and use the Birth Boot Camp curriculum to prepare couples for an amazing birth. The materials are unmatched and the curriculum, which is updated with current statistics and research yearly, is the most modern and comprehensive we have found.

Since the program was launched in 2011, it has had amazing growth. Birth Boot Camp childbirth classes are now taught throughout the United Stated, as well as in Canada and Guam. The latest, and potentially most exciting change, has just been announced.  In addition to the comprehensive 10-week childbirth series, Birth Boot Camp will now offer 5 new classes to meet the different needs of birthing couples.

homebirth baltimore

 

 

Training Couples for an Amazing Out-of-Hospital Birth

This class gives you all the tools and information you need to know about the nuts and bolts of labor.  We will discuss the stages and variations of labor and tools to keep labor pain and discomfort at a minimum.  Waterbirth, labor positions, and relaxation techniques are also addressed. This 4-series class is $220 and includes a beautiful color workbook.

 

 

infant care class baltimore

 

 

Homecoming: Life with a New Recruit

Get parenthood off to a great start with this 2-series class.  Topics include: postpartum health, newborn procedures, babywearing, breastfeeding, and safe sleep.  This class includes a workbook and a 3.5 hour breastfeeding video download, which discusses feeding positions, common challenges, and pumping and returning to work.  The fee is  $115

 

 

food and fitness

 

Food & Fitness

Aside from preparation, staying low risk increases the likelihood of meeting your birth goals.  Join us for this 3 hour workshop to discuss how eating well and preparing your body can be the most effective way to remain low risk.  We will discuss nutrients that are crucial to a maternal diet as well as exercises and stretches to promote flexibility and stamina, giving you the most comfort during pregnancy and birth.  This class includes a workbook.  The fee is $95.

 

 

Classes coming in January 2018 include:

Coping Strategies for an Amazing Birth

Training for an Amazing Hospital Birth

 

We proudly provide our childbirth classes in Baltimore at The Womb Room in Hampden.  To learn more about our classes or to see our class calendar, click here.

 

Natural Pain Relief Options For Birth

Maybe you are looking to have a natural birth experience? Or perhaps, you plan on getting that epidural as soon as you get to the hospital! No matter what your ideal birth looks like, the majority of women will benefit from some great natural pain relief options and techniques to help them get through contractions!

Labor is so aptly named, as it is the purposeful hard work you do, on the final journey to meet your baby! During labor your body goes through incredible physical, emotional, and hormonal changes. This transformation of birth is often accompanied by a substantial degree of discomfort. Of course laboring women want to mitigate pain, but short of using pharmacological interventions, how do you really reduce pain in labor and birth? You support your body’s own natural pain relieving abilities! Here is the key to natural pain relief: During birth you want to reduce cortisol levels, the hormone produced in response to stress, and catecholamines, the ‘fight or flight’ hormones, produced in response of fear. And you want to increase oxytocin and beta-endorphin levels, to help facilitate labor, provide a sense of euphoria, and alleviate pain. The following seven natural pain relief options for birth help your body balance specific hormones, to ease labor discomforts.

Education
Educating yourself about pregnancy, labor, and birth will help build your knowledge, prepare you emotionally and mentally, and give you the necessary tools and techniques to navigate the modern birth landscape. Education serves as an important natural pain relief tool, because you are replacing fear of the unknown with information and excitement about your birth. When you know what to expect from the birth process, it becomes much easier to cope with the pain of labor. You can educate yourself by taking a comprehensive childbirth course, read birth stories, and find informational and supportive books about the birth process. Knowing what to expect will build your confidence and prove to be a powerful pain relief tool!

Relaxation
There are several facets to relaxation that you should consider. You want to create a relaxing birth environment and learn to relax, both physically and emotionally. Employing this trifecta will serve as exceptional natural pain relief during labor. First, you want to create a relaxing birth environment. Curating a serene atmosphere with dim lighting, candles, aromatherapy, and calming music can get the oxytocin flowing, and ease tension to help you enjoy labor.

It is also important to relax both physically and emotionally. A recent study suggests engaging in relaxation exercises, through a mindfulness-based practice during pregnancy, can help reduce anxiety and facilitate an easier and more satisfying birth experience. Mindfulness is simply a state of awareness, that arises from paying attention to the present moment. This mindfulness app, specifically created for pregnancy, birth, and parenthood, is a fantastic training tool to help you engage in relaxation wherever you are. There are also several simple, but effective exercises that will teach you how to relax your muscles during times of tension and stress. To benefit most from these physical and emotional relaxation exercises, set aside time once or twice per day during your pregnancy. Relaxation training can truly help you have an amazing birth experience.

Movement
Your baby must navigate down and out through your pelvis during labor and birth. Movement is key in facilitating this, and serves as an important pain relief strategy for you. Getting into a more upright position, or even just changing positions regularly can really help you manage even the most intense contractions. Movement can speed up a slow labor, help a posterior baby turn into a more optimal (and less painful!) position, and help you get a little more comfortable. Consider taking a walk, spending time on a birth ball, or use the support of your partner’s body to sway through contractions. Finding rhythm and ritual through movement is a fantastic pain coping mechanism.

Water
Hydrotherapy is a scientifically proven natural, stress reducing and pain relief technique. Laboring in a warm bath can provide an incredible level of pain reduction. Taking a hot shower can be exceptionally relaxing, while helping you get upright, which helps baby move down and through your pelvis.

Acupressure
Acupressure is based on principles from Traditional Chinese Medicine, an ancient and holistically focused wellness practice. Utilizing and applying direct pressure to specific points on the body during labor, may provide you with phenomenal pain relief. Acupressure is a wonderfully convenient and cost-effective pain relief tool. You can take advantage of the benefits almost anywhere, and without any special equipment. When direct and appropriate pressure is applied to this area of the back and on the feet, relief from uncomfortable back labor may be alleviated, almost effortlessly.

Massage
The demonstrated pain relief benefits of massage during labor are extensive. There are both physical and emotional advantages to massage therapy during labor and birth. It can relax tense muscles, easing the pain of contractions, shorten labor, facilitate rest, ease anxiety, and promote a sense of serenity. Your partner or birth support person can help you access the amazing pain relief options of massage by following these techniques.

Emotional Support
Having a supportive birth team is one of the most effective natural pain relief tools available! It is crucial to find a provider you trust, who encourages your birth philosophy, educate your birth partner, and hire a birth doula! A doula is a trained maternal support practitioner who provides emotional, physical, and educational assistance to a laboring mother and her birth partner. Evidence overwhelmingly supports having a doula as a powerful natural pain relief option. With dedicated labor support, women are more likely to have a satisfying and positive birth experience and require less medical pain management. Doulas can provide comfort with numerous pain-relief techniques that help reduce anxiety and fear, support physical and emotional relaxation, promote an uncomplicated physiological birth, and facilitate a positive birth environment.

Birth can be a joyous occasion for the the entire family. With the right preparation, support, and natural pain relief options, you can absolutely have the best (and possibly pain-free) birth experience. If you would like more natural pain relief tips, tools, and techniques, enroll in our Natural Pain Relief Strategies For Labor Workshop. This incredible class helps couples gain an amazing sense of self-reliance, so they can cope with labor beautifully.

The Nurturing Root loves to support and educate families in Baltimore. We offer an exceptional array of Birth Boot Camp natural childbirth courses and holistic newborn care classes, in-home placenta encapsulation, and family-centered postpartum doula and infant care support. We are honored to serve your family. Please contact us for more information, today!

7 Tips To Prepare For A Natural Birth

Did you know that 85% of pregnant women are able to have a safe natural childbirth experience? But, only about 2% of American women give birth without any interventions. What is the disconnect? Certainly choice plays a role. Some women aren’t necessarily interested in unmedicated childbirth. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control National Vital Statistics Report, over 60% of women use an epidural for pain relief in labor. Also our culture and institutions impact a mother’s ability to birth naturally. Since one in three women welcome their babies via surgery, desiring a natural childbirth can feel somewhat unattainable. Know that if you are considering natural childbirth, it is so crucial to properly prepare yourself. With commitment and support, you can have an awesome, unmedicated birth experience! Follow these 7 tips, and you will be on target to have the best natural birth!

Be thoughtful when selecting a birth location!
In most places throughout the United States, you have access to three different birth locations. Mothers can give birth in a hospital setting, at a freestanding birth center, or at home. There are benefits and risks to all of these locations. You also need to decide where you feel most comfortable having your baby. If you really want an unmedicated natural birth experience in a hospital setting, find out what the c-section rate is for the facility you are considering. Individual hospital c-section rates vary widely, even within the same community. If you are thinking about having your baby at a freestanding birth center, this study presents great evidence to support safe and satisfying birth outcomes for mom and baby in a center environment. The study explains that if you have a low-risk, healthy pregnancy, your chances of having a c-section (via hospital transfer) is only 6% at a birth center, versus a 25% chance of c-section if you birth at a hospital. Your risk of interventions and c-section are lowest if you are planning a home birth. In this significant study, which analyzed nearly 17,000 planned home births, nearly 96% of women delivered their babies vaginally, and only 4.5% required pitocin to start or augment their labor. Compare this to a 30% induction rate in a hospital setting for first-time, low-risk mothers. Where you decide to birth matters! Understand the risks and benefits of different birth locations, and choose wisely.

Select a midwife as your prenatal provider!
Just like birth location, the provider you choose to see during pregnancy, and to attend your birth, has huge implications in your ability to have a natural birth experience. If you are having a healthy, normal pregnancy absolutely choose a midwife over an OB/GYN. The midwifery model of care sees pregnancy as a normal life event, that almost always results in a healthy mother and child. Midwives view pregnancy and birth through a holistic lens, and support women with more individualized care and minimize technological interventions. They also will identify and refer expectant mothers to obstetrical care, when truly necessary. There are several types of midwives, including Certified Nurse Midwives, Certified Professional Midwives, licensed midwives, and direct-entry midwives. The majority of pregnant women are able to access midwifery care in a hospital, birth center, and/or home environment. Research midwives in your area, find out if they attend births in your desired setting, and select a midwife that encourages your wishes for an unmedicated birth!

Take a comprehensive natural childbirth course!
Everyone knows that knowledge is power! Simply wishing for a natural birth will almost certainly not get you there. Educating yourself about birth will help build your knowledge, prepare you emotionally and mentally, and give you the necessary tools and techniques to navigate the modern birth landscape. Invest in a thoughtful, comprehensive childbirth education program that prepares both you and your partner for natural birth. Look for natural childbirth classes that covers staying low-risk in pregnancy, nutrition, exercise, relaxation techniques, choosing a care provider and birth location, anatomy and physiology of labor, birth-partner preparations, common policies and procedures, breastfeeding, newborn care, and possible complications, interventions, and alternatives. A great childbirth education course will really build your natural birthing confidence and abilities!

Take exceptional care of your body!
Preparing your body for birth is crucial. Having a healthy, nutrient rich diet and exercising regularly and appropriately, provides a strong foundation for natural birth. Caring for your body and baby with proper nutrition and exercise will help keep you low-risk, and may alleviate common pregnancy related ailments. Also consider chiropractic care during pregnancy. Find and visit a chiropractor certified in the Webster Technique. A chiropractor can help balance your pelvis and spine, so your baby can find the best position for birth. A review of studies found that women who received regular chiropractic adjustments throughout pregnancy had 39% shorter labors. Achieving optimal wellness with diet, exercise, and chiropractic will pay off big time!

Practice mindfulness!
Training your mind and heart for natural birth is just as important as preparing your body. A recent study suggests engaging in a mindfulness-based practice during pregnancy can help reduce anxiety and facilitate an easier and more satisfying birth experience. Mindfulness is simply a state of awareness, that arises from paying attention to the present moment. A prenatal mindfulness practice can be applied in a variety of ways. You may choose to facilitate your own quiet meditative practice, choose visualization exercises, engage in progressive relaxation, or even use a mindfulness app, specifically created for pregnancy, birth, and parenthood. Whatever you choose, mindfulness is a practice, so set aside time once or twice per day, and focus on the moment, to help you achieve an amazing natural birth.

Find your tribe!
Connect to other pregnant and new mothers that are interested in natural birth. It is so bizarre, but culturally normal, for veteran moms to share pregnancy and birth horror stories with expectant mothers. Disregard this negativity, and find your natural birth tribe. You can, of course, find a community of like-minded natural mothers everywhere online. If available, search for and attend a birth group or mama’s circle in your area.

Hire a doula!
Regardless of the type of birth you want or ultimately have, you should hire a birth doula! A doula is a trained maternal support practitioner who provides emotional, physical, and educational assistance to a laboring mother and her birth partner. Doulas help families have a safe, memorable, and empowering birth experience. Evidence overwhelmingly supports having a doula present during labor. With continuous labor support, women are more likely to have a satisfying and positive birth experience, less likely to have surgical interventions, and require less medical pain management. Birthing women with doulas also have shorter labors and fewer birth-related complications for mom and baby.

Having a natural birth is biologically normal, and most often physically and emotionally ideal, for mom and baby. It can prove to be a positive experience for the entire family, as well. With the right preparation, support, and education, you can absolutely achieve the best natural birth.

The Nurturing Root loves to support families that desire an unmedicated birth. We offer an exceptional array of Birth Boot Camp natural childbirth courses and holistic newborn care classes to support you during this exciting time of transition. Additionally, we support Baltimore families with in-home placenta encapsulation and family-centered postpartum doula and infant care support. We are honored to serve your family. Please contact us for more information, today!

How We Are Improving Birth For Baltimore Families

Improving Birth is a non-profit coalition of organizations that advocates for evidence-based care, and the right for women to make informed decisions in childbirth! We are proud to share Improving Birth’s mission, which is to inform, support, engage, and empower families and community members, with strategic tools, to improve birth. Here are three ways, The Nurturing Root is Improving Birth for Baltimore families.

We are Improving Birth by giving families access to evidenced-based childbirth education!

It is an honor to serve Baltimore families with our extensive offering of childbirth education workshops. We teach a variety of Birth Boot Camp childbirth education courses. This curriculum is largely based on the Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative, which was written by Improving Birth, as part of, The Consensus Initiative From The Coalition For Improving Maternity Services. Our childbirth classes are intended to educate and empower families with facts, resources, and support, so they can truly make informed decisions for their pregnancy and birth. We offer classes to help couples have an amazing hospital birth, training to prepare families for their empowering home birth experience, and comfort measures workshops, to give pregnant couples tools and techniques, so they can stay positive and enjoy their labor.

We are Improving Birth by advocating for expectant families!

We absolutely love serving pregnant and new Baltimore families by providing doula support. We are an advocate for you and your birthing wishes! We provide encouragement, support, practical assistance, and information during pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period. Our purpose is to support your desires and expectations in childbirth.

We are Improving Birth by providing access to trusted community resources!

There are several organizations and services supporting pregnant and new families in Maryland. As active and engaged members in various Baltimore area pregnancy, birth, and parenting communities, we are happy to offer referrals and recommendations to providers that are also Improving Birth for Baltimore families.

If you would like more information about how The Nurturing Root can help your family throughout the childbearing year, with childbirth education classes, doula care, and placenta encapsulation services, please contact us here!

 

Is Placenta Encapsulation Safe for GBS+ Mothers?

Is Placenta Encapsulation Safe?

Recently, The Centers For Disease Control (CDC) released an alarming single case report, in which a newborn was found to have a recurrent infection of group B Streptococcus agalactiae (GBS, group B strep), that was attributed to the mother’s consumption of placenta capsules. This has many people asking, ‘Is placenta encapsulation safe?’ We will navigate the findings of this case report, explore how this occurred, and discuss placenta encapsulation safety.

 

What are the findings of this case?

The CDC report discussed findings about a newborn who experienced a recurrent group B strep infection. GBS is a common bacterium, found in a person’s intestines or lower genital tract. Group B strep is present in about 25% of pregnant women, and is usually harmless. If transmitted to a newborn during birth, it can cause a rare but serious, illness known as group B strep infection. Because of this, it is standard practice for obstetricians and midwives to test expectant mothers for GBS, to determine if colonization is present. In this CDC report, the maternal GBS culture taken at 37 weeks was negative, meaning the mother’s lab test showed no colonization. Very shortly after birth, the newborn exhibited signs of an infection and lab results revealed the infant tested positive for group B strep. The infant was treated with antibiotics and hospitalized for about eleven days. Five days after the newborn’s release from the hospital, the baby again presented with GBS symptoms and tested positive for the same strain of group B strep. The baby was treated and was again released from the hospital after antibiotic therapy. At this point, it was discovered that the baby’s placenta had been encapsulated. The mother had been taking the placenta as capsules from three days postpartum. The capsules were tested and found to contain the same GBS strain that had infected the newborn. The mother’s breast milk was tested and did not contain group B strep, thus breastfeeding was ruled out as a potential source of reinfection. The authors of this report infer that ingestion of the GBS positive placenta capsules may have elevated maternal group B strep intestinal and skin colonization, facilitating transfer to the infant. The authors conclude by stating ‘placenta encapsulation process does not, per se, eradicate infectious pathogens; thus, placenta capsule ingestion should be avoided.’

 

So, How Did This Happen?

According to the report, the mother hired a company to pick up the placenta from her hospital and encapsulate it. The encapsulated placenta was returned to the mother three days later, and she began taking her capsules until it was suspected that they may be a source of group B strep. The encapsulator, who remained unnamed in the report, prepared the placenta from a raw state, dehydrating it at temperatures ranging from 115°F–160°F. According the CDC, heating at 130°F for 121 minutes is required to reduce bacteria present in placental tissue.

There are three problems with this case contributing to the placenta capsules testing positive for GBS, possibly re-infecting the newborn, and demonstrating unsafe processing practices.

 

The placenta was dehydrated from a raw state: This placenta was not heated to an adequate temperature, and possibly not for a long enough period of time to kill pathogens, like group B strep. Proper encapsulation protocols, require a specialist to steam the placenta, at 160°F, and then dehydrate it at 130°F for twelve hours. This method drastically reduces the occurrences of potentially harmful bacteria remaining present in the placenta. If the placenta referenced in this case was processed properly, it would almost certainly not have tested positive for group B strep.

 

Infection was present in baby: It is not a contraindication to encapsulate a placenta if a mother is found to have GBS. But if there is in an infection occurring in the infant or mother following birth, the placenta should absolutely not be encapsulated or consumed. Responsible and properly trained encapsulators will always inform their clients about any and all contradictions to placenta consumption.

 

The placenta was not processed in the client’s home: Another concern, is that this placenta was picked-up from the mother’s birth place and processed in a location other than her residence. It is impossible to know what type of preparation space the specialist worked in, if proper food safety protocols were followed, and if precautionary guidelines and decontamination practices for handling potentially infectious and biologically hazardous materials were utilized.

 

So, Is Placenta Encapsulation Safe?

A placenta from a normal, healthy infant and mother, when processed correctly is almost always safe to consume. With proper preparation, placenta encapsulation and consumption possesses almost no danger to a mother or baby.

 

Final Thoughts

Though startling, this report is only a single case study, and represents the findings and extrapolated assumptions of the authors. This is not an official CDC recommendation pertaining to placenta consumption. The report should serve as a caution for businesses offering encapsulation remedies and for families searching for placenta services. The Nurturing Root steadfastly believes that a placenta should ONLY be processed in a client’s home, using the traditional method, which steams the placenta first, to eradicate possible pathogens. It is crucial that you are able to witness the sanitation protocols implemented by your specialist, and know for certain, that the placenta being encapsulated is yours, it is processed correctly, and it is not contaminated by another source. We strongly encourage you to read this post, that lists six tips to consider before hiring a placenta encapsulation specialist. The Nurturing Root has encapsulated over 650 placentas, to date, with a 100% safety record and we have received only overwhelmingly positive reviews from our families. We believe in absolute transparency in the encapsulation process. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns you may have about the CDC report or placenta encapsulation safety. Ohio families contact us here, and Maryland families, here.

Is Placenta The Perfect Postnatal Supplement?

While pregnant did you take a prenatal supplement? And what about after baby is born; have you considered taking a postnatal vitamin? It is well known that a high quality prenatal supplement can provide you with extra folate, vitamin D, and magnesium to support a healthy pregnancy. Once baby arrives, you may still need additional vitamins to facilitate breastfeeding and healing. Your placenta may be the perfect postpartum supplement! In this post I’ll discuss what hormones, nutrients, and vitamins are present in your placenta, various research supporting placenta consumption, and how it can help you heal and find balance during the postpartum transition period.

What hormones, nutrients, & vitamins are in my placenta?

Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone (CRH) Stress relieving hormone.
Human Placental Lactogen (hPL) Regulates maternal insulin, protein, and fat levels; promotes breast tissue growth.
Oxytocin Decreases pain; controls uterine contractions; enhances 'letdown' reflex; counteracts stress hormones.
Placental Opioid-Enhancing Factor (POEF) Stimulates the production of your body’s natural opioids reducing pain.
Prolactin (PRL) Promotes lactation and increases milk supply.
Interferon Signaling protein that stimulates the immune system to help fight infections.
Thyroid Stimulating Hormone Regulates metabolism and energy, and supports recovery from stressful events.
Immunoglobulin G (IgG) Type of antibody that protects against infections and enhances immune system response.
Fibrin Stabilizing Factor (XIII) Enzyme that stops bleeding and promotes wound healing.
Vitamin B-6 An essential vitamin that supports metabolism, energy levels, and nervous system function.
Hemoglobin (Hb or Hgb) An iron-rich protein that carries oxygen throughout the body.

What research supports postnatal placenta consumption?

The research surrounding the positive attributes of placenta encapsulation is very promising. Your placenta is the lifeline to your baby, and this temporary organ is made to nourish. It brings vital nutrients and exchanges waste, to support the normal growth and development of your baby. Your placenta is also an integral member of your endocrine system. It produces and contains critical hormones, nutrients, and molecules, including: corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), human placental lactogen (hPL), oxytocin, placental opioid-enhancing factor (POEF), and more.

Corticotropin-releasing hormone is a stress relieving hormone usually produced by the hypothalamus. But during pregnancy, your placenta takes over synthesization of CRH. A woman's level of CRH increases three-fold during pregnancy. After birth, it takes a few weeks for the hypothalamus to begin re-regulating CRH. Low levels of CRH in postpartum women may be linked to depression.

Human placental lactogen is responsible for regulating maternal insulin, protein, and fat levels, to benefit the growth of the baby. It is crucial for milk gland stimulation and for the initiation of colostrum production. In a small study from the 1950's, 210 new mothers were given dried placenta, which is rich in hPL. Over 86% of participants in the study noted an increase in milk production.

Oxytocin, often called 'the love hormone', is responsible for uterine contractions and the 'letdown' reflex while breastfeeding. Oxytocin also promotes love, empathy, and bonding. When you consume your placenta, its high levels of oxytocin can help slow your postpartum bleeding, relieve discomfort, and facilitate breastfeeding.

Placental opioid-enhancing factor is only present in the placenta and amniotic fluid. POEF can stimulate the production of your body's natural opioids, reducing pain and enhancing your sense of wellness. In one study, the benefits of placenta ingestion by nonhuman mammalian mothers (rats) are significant. It provoked an increase in mother-infant interaction, and increased the effects of pregnancy-mediated pain relief.

How can a postnatal placenta supplement help me recover from birth?

Our culture of childbirth and the postpartum period are rife with trauma, stress, anxiety, and depression. Placenta encapsulation presents a gentler, and perhaps, biologically normal, way of balancing the chaos that can come with a new baby.

Placenta is ancient medicine for modern healing. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been using placenta as a remedy for 1400 years. The many hormones and nutrients found in your placenta can help you heal, and find optimal balance, during the postpartum transition period. Choosing to encapsulate your placenta may help:

Balance Hormones
Support Lactation & Enhance Milk Supply
Replenish Iron, Minerals, & Vitamins
Mitigate Postpartum Bleeding
Provide Natural Pain Relief
Ease 'Baby Blues'
Decrease Severity of Postpartum Mood Disorders
Boost Energy

Welcoming a new baby is a joyous occasion, but this exciting time of transition can be challenging. Our placenta encapsulation services can help you have a calmer, more peaceful, and restorative postpartum experience.

When your friend has a baby: 10 ways to support a new mother

When my closest friends were having babies, I was just getting married.  I was pretty clueless about most things regarding the postpartum period and since the last baby to be born in my family was my 22-year-old sister, I knew even less about babies. I hadn’t a clue as to ways to support a new mother.

My best friend, the first one of us to have a baby, had a long labor, which ended with a cesarean. When she returned home, I am sure she was incredibly sore, but she was also clearly frustrated with breastfeeding.  When I think back to how painfully clueless and useless I was when she had her baby, I shudder.  I mean, I brought her a plant.  A PLANT!  While plants are lovely and they brighten up a room, it’s also one more thing for her to tend to and it isn’t remotely helpful to her in any way.  Oh, and that’s not all.  When lunch time rolled around, she heated up leftovers for us to eat.  SHE heated up leftovers for ME. (**shudder**)  It actually makes my stomach turn to think that I was that out of touch with what she needed.

After my own postpartum experiences, coupled with lots of training on birth and the postpartum period, I think it’s safe to say that thankfully, I’ve learned a few things since then.  Here are 10 ways to support a new mother, so the next time you have a friend have a baby, you’ll know how to shower her with love (and clean laundry).

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  1. Walk her dog. She’s healing from birth and her partner deserves a break. Take Fido for a stroll.
  2. Take her children outside. If mom has other children, take them outside to expel some energy. Playground, walk around the block, bike ride, whatever. Mom will appreciate the quiet and the kids will love the fun.
  3. Fix her family a snack or bring her a meal (or 2).  Anything you can do to take some of the load off, please do. Make them a meal or a snack, and if you can, involve the kids.  The kids will enjoy the activity and mom will get a reprieve by them being entertained.  If you won’t be there long, bring a meal already prepared, but also one that is freezable, so they can enjoy it later if needed.
  4. Bring her groceries.  When I had my first baby, a friend came to visit, and with her came 2 grocery bags full of food.  Some of the food was already prepared and the rest was perfect grab-and-go foods for snacking.  I was so touched and appreciated having new items in the fridge.  We sat around the table and noshed while she held and loved on my baby.  It was incredible and I appreciated it so much.
  5. Hold the baby and send her upstairs for a long, hot shower.  It’s amazing how much a hot shower can change a person.  Even if she doesn’t need it, take the baby, and if she has one, the 3-year-old, and send her upstairs for a hot shower and some alone time.  She’ll come down feeling grateful and refreshed.
  6. Load her dishwasher and run it.  I’m placing bets that when you go see her there will be a sink piled high with dishes.  Load the dishwasher and be sure to run it.  If you’re there long enough, empty it on your way out the door.
  7. Wash a load of laundry.  It’s amazing how much laundry a 7-pound baby can produce.  Whether it’s spit up on the onesie or breastmilk leaked on her shirt, there’s bound to be a load of clothes waiting.  Wash a load for her.  If there’s a load that’s been done, fold it.  Laundry is one of those things that can get out of hand fast. Helping her stay in front of it will take a lot of burden off of her.
  8. Take out the trash.  On your way out the door after your visit, take the trash with you.
  9. Sweep.  Dog hair, cheerio crumbs, dried up play-doh pieces.  It’ll take 5 minutes and will make a big difference.
  10. Bring her something for just her.  Bring her something that will make her feel good.  Ok, so maybe that plant wasn’t all bad.  I love plants, but whatever it is, make sure it’s something that will make her feel warm and pampered.  Maybe bring some great shampoo, bath salts, or handmade soap for the shower she’ll take during your visit.  Whatever it is, make it special.

There are endless ways to support a new mother, these are just a few.  The bottom line is make her life easy, make her plate lighter, and let her know you love her.  Having a baby is hard, and sometimes the postpartum period is even harder.  New moms are all too often left unsupported in our hustle-and-bustle culture, but we were never meant to do it alone.  Be a good friend, show up, and give her what she needs.  When she has a friend have a baby, she’ll remember how you made her feel, and she’ll pay it forward.  Little by little, maybe our culture will begin to shift.

3 Things Every Pregnant Mom Must Know

You’re pregnant, congratulations! There is so much to do to prepare for a new baby and even more to learn. We recommend taking a quality childbirth education class, but in the meantime, here are 3 things every pregnant mom must know.

Eat protein.

Eating adequate protein is essential to a healthy pregnancy. Not only does it help grow and heal muscles (we are going a human after all), but it provides moms-to-be with energy, all while stabilizing blood sugars and helping reduce the risk of pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes. Staying hydrated is another important part during pregnancy, drink lots of water stay hydrated!

Blood volume increases 50-60% during pregnancy, and daily protein intake supports that extra volume.  Without it, mom’s blood vessels constrict, increasing blood pressure and potentially leading to pre-eclampsia.  It is recommended that pregnant moms consume 80g of protein daily.  Eggs, nuts, seeds, beans, yogurt… eat all the protein!

An epidural is more than just a needle. 

I support women in their birth choices, regardless of what they are.  I also believe in true informed consent.  Many times, women decide to get an epidural and they don’t realize or aren’t told all that comes with the epidural.  Epidurals, like dehydration, can lower blood pressure.  Therefore, before the epidural can be given, mom must receive 2 bags of IV fluids to ensure she’s hydrated.  Once the epidural is given, mom will be hooked up to an electronic fetal monitor.  A pulse oximeter will be placed on her finger, and a blood pressure cuff on her arm.  Because mom won’t be able to get up to use the bathroom, a catheter will need to be placed.  Epidurals are known to slow contractions, so pitocin will likely be given to make contractions stronger. As you can see, there’s a lot more to an epidural than just a needle.  

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Choosing a care provider and birth location are the biggest decisions you will make during your pregnancy.

You can prepare for your birth for 9 months.  You can eat well, take a childbirth class, and hire a doula, but if you don’t choose your care provider carefully, it can derail the birth you are hoping for.  It is imperative that you and your care provider are on the same page and have the same values regarding birth.  For example, if you are desiring a natural birth, choosing a provider with a high induction or cesarean rate will only make achieving your birth goals an uphill battle.  It’s important to ask your care provider tough questions, but it’s equally important to get satisfactory answers.  If you feel rushed, blown off, or mocked, it might be time to shop around.

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If you’re pregnant in Baltimore and looking for a modern, comprehensive childbirth education class, take at look at our Birth Boot Camp curriculum.  We cover these topics and many more in our 10-week class and will leave you and your partner feeling confident and ready.  Contact us to discuss how we can help you and your partner prepare for an amazing birth!

Why You Should Consider Hiring a Postpartum Doula

 

Postpartum mothers need support, especially in a culture that unrealistically expects women to bounce back so quickly after giving birth. As a society, we can be so hard on new mothers. Culturally, new moms often receive messages that there is shame in needing help. This is a huge shift from 100 years ago when mothers had a tribe of women lending their love and support when a baby was born. Moms may experience feelings of guilt for letting the laundry pile up while they nurse and bond with their baby and some may feel inadequate for hanging onto baby weight, choosing different parenting philosophies than their families, or needing more time to adjust to motherhood. In this social media/Pinterest age where everyone seemingly has it so together, modern mothers are under an immense amount of pressure to do it all and to do it all well.

A new mother has just gone through an intense physical and emotional experience and needs time to rest, heal, and get to know her baby and growing family. A postpartum mother needs support, nourishing foods that promote health and healing, and she needs to be able to sit and feed her baby as long as she needs without feeling guilt over the pile of dishes in the sink. But how is a veteran mother supposed to rest after having her baby when she has a home and other children to tend to and no real support network to help? And how is a new mother to rest when she’s navigating the physical and emotional demands of her new role as a mother?

A postpartum doula is a trained professional who not only brings support to the whole family after the arrival of a new baby, but she also brings with her a wealth of knowledge related to baby care, breastfeeding, and postpartum health. A postpartum doula can fill the gaps, so the family has more freedom to do what is most important, be together.

Perhaps you’ve had a cesarean and your partner doesn’t get much time off of work to help with the house and the other children. You have a lot to tend to, but are healing from major surgery and your baby is nursing or wanting to be held around the clock. What’s a new mom to do? A postpartum doula can come over, do a few loads of laundry, play with and look after your kids, fix lunch and prepare and easy dinner you’ll be eating later that night.

Maybe you’re a first time mom, you have no experience with babies, and you’re feeling a little lost. A postpartum doula can come over to help you feel more comfortable caring for your baby. The doula may show you how to give baby a bath, she may teach you some breastfeeding positions to make nursing more comfortable, and she may give you pointers on calming a fussy baby. A postpartum doula also comes with a list of vetted resources to help meet all of your postpartum needs whether it is a lactation consultant or a therapist specializing in postpartum mood disorders.

Maybe you’re really struggling and are finding the lack of sleep is really effecting you. A postpartum doula can come lend a hand and tend to baby overnight, only disturbing you if you choose to nurse.

Happy mother and daughter with her babysitter

 

 

 

The Nurturing Root provides

 

 

 

postpartum doula services to mothers and families in Baltimore, Annapolis, and the surrounding counties. As postpartum doulas, we can help and support your family in a variety of ways to suit your needs:

If you are an expecting or new mother in the Baltimore, Annapolis area and are looking for postpartum support, our postpartum doulas at The Nurturing Root would be honored to serve you as you transition to a larger family.