Monday, December 31, 2012

Due Date! Schmoo Date!

Make a reservation for you hotel stay, not for the day your baby is born.  Estimated Day of Arrival seems to me a better, less assuming term than Due Date.  When throughout your pregnancy you’ve recited time and time again a specific date in response to the infamous question “what’s your due date” it’s hard not to get fixated and wonder “where is my baby!?”  You’re excited for the newest addition for your family, the nursery is ready, diapers picked out and clothes hang in the closet.  With sleep and comfort are getting harder to come by it’s hard not to say baby is late when you go past your due date; but it’s not quite the truth.  Your “due date” is calculated from the first day of your last menstrual cycle, so when you're 40 weeks pregnant you are actually 38 weeks gestation and so forth. Furthermore, not every woman has the exact same cycle and every baby, every birth is different.  Naegele's Rule states that 50% of babies are born before and 50% are born after their “due date.”  The date you have recited over and over is simply the middle of a bell curve. If you're having a healthy pregnancy and baby is healthy, let baby pick his or her birthDay!

Fashionably late babies don’t actually become so until past 42 weeks! So kick back, relax and.....

1. Get your nails done, girl!
                                         You and baby will be seeing them soon ;-)
2. Enjoy a massage
                              Once your milk comes in it won't be quite as comfy
3. Go on a date with your partner
                                                  Cherish this time together as a twosome
4. Cherish this time with your other child(ren) before the family grows again
5. Take a nap
6. Stay up late and sleep in
7. Enjoy a walk (sans stroller)
8. See a movie
9. Plan and execute a "due date" party
10. Acupuncture anyone?
11. Indulge in a bubble bath
                                          Don't forget the candles
12. Turn on the tube for some uninterrupted screen time
13. Play a board game
14. Make a rice sock
                                Great for labor
15. Visit the chiropractor
16. Have you washed all the baby clothes?
17. Cook up and freeze some yummy dishes
18. Try something spicy :-P
19. Sudoku and crosswords and word searches
                         It's no fun to be stuck in bed but if you are, challenge your mind
20. Indulge in one small glass of red wine
21. Double check your bag if you're having a birth outside of your home
                                                   Did you remember the chapstick? Hair ties? 
22. Pick out the birth announcement
                                                      Do you need stamps?
23. Read some more blogs
24. Get lost in a good book
25. Write a letter to your baby
26. Update your playlist
                                   Play some tunes for baby too :-)
27. Learn a lullaby
28. Buy a pack of diapers
                                      You can never have too many.
29. Walk around the mall or grocery store.
30. Call up a friend
31. Find a local La Leche League meeting
32. Have sex!
33. Install the carseat with the local fire department.
34. Do you have a postpartum doula yet?  Friends and family ready to lend a hand?
35. Read positive birth stories.
36. Meditate
37. Learn to knit
38. Decorate the nursery with a belly cast!
39. Go Dancing
                     Even if it's just a wiggle
40. Get your hair done
                                 The shampoo is the best part :-)
41. Practice your relaxation techniques with timed 'contractions'
42. Get your nails done
                                 A manicure this time
43. Make a birthDay cake!
45. Get the facts
            Do your research and know why it's best (in a healthy pregnancy) to let baby pick his/her birth day!
46. Bake some cookies
47. Take the time to enjoy this part of the Jouney of Life!
48. Add to this list!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Nursing Woes

My son, Joshua is a little over 3 months old now and we've been concerned about a rash he has.  Clearly he has an allergy to something.  Well, we had blamed chocolate as the culprit, much to my dismay.  His rash seemed to diminish slightly after about a week or so of eliminating it from my diet but then I got to thinking about how horrible Tide is as a detergent.  I spoke to a friend, who makes her own and realized, "hey! I can do this!"  So I am making my own detergent, we use ...

1 part borax

1 part washing soda

3 parts laundry bar soap

I've also read about people using ivory soap; it seems most anything you'd like will work fine.  If using the fels-naptha, slice into thin pieces and use a food processor to shred it.
And just as a side note - this detergent is not cloth diaper friendly. I've recently done some searching into that and discovered soap nuts but I have yet to discover where to buy them. And while we're making our own cleaners for home, check out this recipe for window cleaner.

1 part (optional) oxi-clean

The oxi-clean is helpful for stained or "roughly used" clothes.
If I have a stain rubbing some of the bar soap directly on the stain seems to work great!  Another popular soap option is

So my excited self decides to re-introduce chocolate into my diet because surely the evil Tide was to blame for his rash but little man very clearly, or I guess I should say splotchily, disagrees!!  His skin is sensitive, so making my own detergent is a great choice still, not to mention it's great for my pocket-book but apparently I still can't have chocolate.  So I sent my husband to purge the house of all chocolate last night while I slept.  His very well intentioned self went through and got all of it together but due to a slight change in plans this morning that left him a bit rushed while he went to work, he forgot all of it on the kitchen table. 
I'm up making my coffee this morning and there it all is, in one glorious, beautiful pile- taunting me!

For me, this journey of life is not complete without some chocolate;
at least this is only temporary!! 

What have you had to give up for your nurslings?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Pitocin linked to Autism?

Vaccines have been around for a while and so have the controversies surrounding them.  As of late, we’ve seen a rise in the instance of Autism with many people pointing fingers at vaccinations.  I dare say, vaccinations have been around longer than the rise of Autism and today with so many parents not vaccinating we are seeing cases of polio, measles and more but will we see a decrease in Autism?- probably not.  I’m not here to say that there are no risks associated with vaccinations but I am here to assert that Autism is not one of them! 
Let’s look at some facts and comparisons being linked to Autism today:  Please note from this article the prevalence of Autism in babies born at home with midwives sans the use of Pitocin and other narcotics – 0% The natural hormone, Oxytocin, is released by the pituitary gland and triggers the onset and progression of labor and milk let-down. It is part of a complex flow of hormones, which when uninterrupted play a significant role in the bonding of mother and newborn child.  It is known as the “love hormone” and ironically or not, children with Autism display a slower ability to form attachments and interact socially.  Pitocin is given systemically, acting upon the uterus rather than realizing labor and birth are a complete body process.  Pitocin is the artificial version of this “love hormone.”   When researching this drug I noticed that Oxytocin and Pitocin are frequently used interchangeably; when this could not be farther from the truth.   It’s probably not good practice to link another blog but I simply cannot say it better than Stephanie, with Nurturing Hearts Birth Services I feel I should save my own rant on Pitocin for another blog and stick to the relations between Pitocin and Autism.
Now to look at some statistics by year:  In 1990 9.5% of women were induced with Pitocin.  In 2008 23.1% of women were induced with Pitocin.  -These statistics according to ACOG.  In 1990 Autism was reported in 1 in 500 children.  In 2009 Autism was reported in 1 in 88 children.   It is more common for older women to have children diagnosed with Autism, ironically or not, it is also more common for older women to have their labor augmented with Pitocin.  According to a survey done by the University of Texas, 81% of labors were either induced or augmented with Pitocin.  There are more factors than just Pitocin that relate to autism such as other chromosomal abnormalities.   There is more than one cause of Autism but for now I’ll focus on the fact that in men, Oxytocin is only released during sex from the pituitary gland.  Men don’t need an injection of Pitocin and when women receive this continuous stream of Pitocin during or at the start of labor it is in essence an overdose.  Autism is 4 times more prevalent in boys than in girls; ironic or not.  
Birth is a whole body and mind experience that begins our Journey of Life.  The hormones involved in labor are complex and work together for our body to labor the way it’s supposed to; that includes when and for how long.  The natural hormones released in labor influence not only our contractions, but our perception of “pain” and our bonding with baby as well.  Unless medically necessary, I encourage all women to stay away from this drug.  It not only negatively affects your labor but it may have more consequences than we are aware.      

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Doula Without Guilt

This blog is in response to a book published in 2011 Epidural Without Guilt.
Below the author addresses "epidural myths" and attempts to dispute them.  Quite often he avoids the real truth and topic at hand, so I've taken each issue and readdressed it.

"* Epidurals will slow down my labor

This is a commonly believed myth, but in fact is not true. Since 2005, there have been four scientific studies published on this issue. Three of the studies found that instead of slowing down labor, pregnancy epidurals and spinal epidurals actually speed labor up – especially when pregnancy epidurals are given before the cervix is 4 cm dilated. The fourth (and largest) of the studies showed no difference in how long labor lasted, whether or not a pregnancy epidural was used. So pregnancy epidurals do not slow labor down – they may even speed it up."

If a woman has been in labor for a long time (whatever she deems as long) an epidural can indeed relax her enough and provide her with much needed rest to continue and even speed up her labor.  Until you get it, you don’t know how you’ll respond to it, therefore a better option may be to hire a doula and take childbirth education classes that teach you natural coping methods.  There are plenty of natural techniques and tools for relaxation; water and breathing to name a couple.  Ina May’s sphincter law explains why relaxation is so essential. 
The problem with receiving an epidural before 4 cm dilated lies in the increased risk for baby going to NICU.    Quite commonly when a woman has had an epidural she will develop a fever; medical personnel have no way to determine whether or not this is due to an infection and therefore baby will be sent to NICU “just in case.”  The longer a woman has an epidural the higher her temperature may be.
An epidural comes with an I.V., a blood pressure cuff, continuous fetal monitoring (which since began has not shown a decrease in infant mortality but an increase in cesarean rates) and the inability to move.  This limit to mobility is what results in a slower labor and increased risk for a cesarean.  A better option would be to keep your mobility.  Use your doula to help you find a rhythm.  Trust your body to birth and you’ll naturally find the positions best suited to work with your labor.  Doula’s are experienced in labor and can help with suggestions for comfort and assist in helping baby into the best position resulting in a more efficient labor.

"* Epidurals will increase the chance that I will need a cesarean

This is an old myth will not go away, even though many studies from different parts of the world have found that pregnancy epidurals do NOT increase the chance of needing a cesarean. So why all the confusion despite solid scientific evidence? It’s because pregnancy epidurals are associated with cesareans, but they don’t cause cesareans. What do I mean by this? Well, women who have difficult, painful labors are more likely to need a cesarean. And these are the SAME women who are more likely to ask for a labor epidural – so there is an association between labor epidurals and cesareans. But the labor epidural does NOT make a cesarean more likely."

On the side of medical interventions, what an epidural does negatively interfere with is pushing; resulting in the increased use of vacuum or forceps extraction and an increased risk for tearing. 
Cesarean rates are increased for women receiving an epidural accompanied with induction or augmentation.  When Pitocin is administered contractions are more erratic and forceful, due to this most of those women receive an epidural.  Pitocin will gradually be increased throughout labor based on physician direction and other medical protocol.  Once the epidural is administered, the woman no longer feels the pain of the contractions and therefore will not direct stopping the drip.  The epidural has cut off this(pain) necessary means of communication.  Meanwhile, though contractions weren’t feeling stronger for mom, they were becoming increasingly stressful on baby.  The only way baby communicates stress is a drop in the heart rate.  Once this happens, even if Pitocin is turned off its affects can still be felt for an hour, which is far too long for a decreased heart rate in baby, resulting in a c-section.  Pitocin and Epidural do a dance together, as they each have opposite effect.  One relaxes and one stresses and therefore as you give one you necessitate the other.  The real problem of the two being pitocin.
Doulas are beneficial no matter what type of birth you plan on having.  Studies show that using a doula decreases the incidence of cesarean!

"* Epidurals will cause backache

It turns out that backache is very common during pregnancy and after pregnancy. In fact many women experience backaches after they deliver that can last for many months. Scientific studies of backache after delivery have found that the chance of having a long-lasting backache is the same whether or not the mom got a labor epidural."

Backache is the least of your worries if you are faced with PDPH, better known as Postdural puncture headache.  When signing the informed consent form, most women are not told that it is a blind procedure and that every woman is different!  Due to this and the precise location the medication needs to be administered into, it is not uncommon that the needle goes a bit too far causing a leak in spinal fluid.  What happens then is your brain is compressed heavily against your skull and no longer cushioned by the fluid resulting in an extreme headache when in any position besides lying flat.  The best fix for this problem being the epidural blood patch.
Due to not being able to feel when pushing, it is not uncommon that women overstrain themselves, therefore resulting in more of a backache than they may have had.  Pushing with an epidural can take longer because the woman may not be pushing as effectively as she could be.  Women pushing with epidurals are generally pushing as directed.  There are numerous benefits to pushing on instinct that are hindered by epidurals.  You’ll never know, so why not take the more natural approach and use a doula to help with coping during labor.  If you don’t have an epidural you can (ideally) push in any position you’d like.  More optimum pushing positions result in more effective pushing and less strain.  Listen to your body and trust birth!

"*Epidurals are dangerous for my baby

This is a particularly wicked myth, because it makes women feel guilty for wanting to their pain relieved. Although there are certain problems with labor epidurals that could be bad for babies, for example, a significant lowering of the woman’s blood pressure – most effects of labor epidurals are actually helpful for the baby. An example of this is the labor epidural lowering the woman’s stress level and thus getting more blood flow and oxygen to the baby during labor and delivery."

I feel this completely is avoiding the topic at hand- that epidurals are derived of cocaine.  No matter how you spell it, drugs cross the placental barrier and baby is receiving the drug as well.  The bonding between mom and baby is threatened from an epidural in that it reduces the suckling desire, causes baby to be drowsy and increases the risk of baby being sent to NICU resulting in a loss of that precious bonding time.  The safest bet for baby and bonding is a natural labor allowing the amazing hormones of pregnancy to do their thing.  Epidurals interfere with the natural flow of hormones that are so important for bonding.
Using a doula reduces the likelihood of requesting an epidural.  Doulas can help you relax and manage the sensations of labor without drugs.  A doula is there to help you have your ideal birth; if you plan on using pain medication and doula can most definitely support you in that as well. 

"*Epidurals will prevent me from breastfeeding my baby

I hear this myth repeated all the time, but the scientific evidence is scanty, at best. Modern pregnancy epidurals and spinal epidurals use such low doses of medication that it’s hard to imagine a negative effect on breast-feeding the newborn. In fact, pain after delivery can be bad for breast-feeding. Pain reduces the amount of milk a new mother produces. And a new mom in pain may be less likely to want to interact with her new baby. So I suggest something that isn’t usually considered: think about using a very low-dose labor epidural after a difficult vaginal delivery, and certainly after cesarean. It’s the best way we have to make the mom comfortable without being drowsy."

It has been proven that women who receive epidurals are more likely to have pain once it has worn off because they have not received the necessary hormones that flow in a natural labor and they have possibly strained more than necessary while pushing.  When a woman uses natural coping methods and allows the natural flow of hormones she experiences elation after the birth of her baby, experiencing the unsurpassed “birth high.”  She is able to get up and walk around, without pain and bond with her baby as nature intended.  A doula can help a new mother begin breastfeeding.  A baby who has not received epidural drugs will root for the nipple and latch on its own.   

After birth, a woman feels “after-pains” which is the uterus contracting to return to its original size and place.  This is a necessary part of birth that does become more intense after each child.  These after-pains can be felt for days after birth; it took nine months for your uterus to expand, it needs sometime to return to its original shape and size!  Oxytocin is the hormone that stimulates the uterus to contract and is released while breastfeeding.  Your milk, which won’t come in until a few days postpartum, will not be hindered by this as the paragraph in the book seems to be suggesting! 

Whether you have the epidural or not, your doula will be there to help you start breastfeeding; lean on her again to relax and breathe through the after-pains.  However you do it, do it without guilt; this amazing part of the Journey of Life.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Education and Empowerment

I recently attended the Birth Doula Workshop by DONA- it was better than I ever could have expected.  I enjoyed spending time with an amazing group of women all passionate about birth!  Currently I’m working on a presentation about pop culture and childbirth; between these two mediums I’m fully appreciating how important it is for women to be educated regarding pregnancy and birth.  

Did you know, only 36% of women will attend a childbirth education course??  One of the most influential days of our lives, the first day of life for our children and we don't seek professional advice to prepare for it?? Think about it- where did you get the information you've learned about childbirth?  Have you been to a birth other than your own?  Have you chatted with other moms? Perhaps you've heard some stories but have you heard about orgasmic birth?!  Are you reading the pregnancy books?  Googling every tug and pang?  Quite commonly pop culture is where we are getting our childbirth education and it couldn't be more dramatic!  Do you assume your care provider will provide you with all you need to know?  Perhaps if you're seeing a midwife she will; some of them offer childbirth education and if you're planning a home birth it will probably be expected of you.  But do you have an ob/gyn?  These are trained medical professionals.  They learn how to perform surgery and have the medical know how of labor.  Unfortunately, their first interest isn't helping you prepare for childbirth and understand the stages and emotions that you'll feel. Maybe you've hired a doula! They fill in the gaps- providing you with resources, educational tools, emotional and physical support, and so much more.

This doula is proud to announce that I am
childbirth education, doula cottonwood az, doula prescott az, doula phoenix az, pregnancy and childbirth
Women need to take responsibility for their births and educate themselves on their options.  Research and understand and decide for yourself and for your baby!  Learn everything you can about labor and birth. Preparation and knowledge empowers you for your best birth.  Discuss and understand your options with your care giver throughout pregnancy; don't just let them tell you what you should do.  Just a note – words like “can’t” “never” “have to” don’t belong in birth when handed to you by someone else.  Many movements that are focusing on birth right now will use the phrase “taking back birth” but what we really need to be doing is “giving birth back,” giving it back to our bodies; trusting and understanding that bodies and babies know best.  I am thankful for our medical capabilities in this day and age and believe there is a time and place for them; sometimes that time and place is in birth as complications do arise but for the most part birth is a perfectly natural process, not an illness.  

 If women are not educated and don’t understand the emotional and physical aspects of labor they are less empowered.  
 If women don’t educate themselves so that they can have open communication with their care giver and understand what they’re signing on the consent forms, they are not really informed and therefore, less empowered.  

 I am passionate in my birth services about educating and empowering women.  Your birth experience will forever impact your life- understand it and accept it but don't leave it in someone else's hands.  It is too important to let go of this natural, beautiful thing called birth!  Embrace it! Love it! Live it!  It’s an amazing part of the Journey of Life. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

What's a Doula?

I am so passionate about my work.  I love making a difference in the lives of families and helping them to a better birth experience.  My biggest challenge? Educating women that they have options! This is their birth experience!  Most people don't even realize that they can make choices to influence a better birth experience.  Too many people have never heard of a doula despite the great statistics there are on the benefits of using a doula.  Most women don't realize that their partner is not their doula, rather the doula and the partner work as a team.  Most men don't realize how much they'll appreciate the help from a doula so that they too can enjoy the birth experience. To both you and your partner, a doula is a comforting constant, especially when in a hospital setting where there's nurse shift changes and a greater chance of interventions. 

 So what's a doula?

Someone who knows, with unshakable conviction that women were designed to have babies. Someone comfortable with the fact that labor and delivery take as long as they take, and someone that is adept at soothing a mother through the pain and anxiety of childbirth. -Crystal

A birth doula is a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous support throughout labor.  It is a Greek word meaning "woman who serves."  A doula supports the emotional and non-clinical physical needs of the laboring mother and her partner. 

We'll save "what's a postpartum doula" for another blog. 

So why use a doula??

  • Continuous support from another woman has been proven to have a positive impact on labor. Birth Matters!
  • Having a doula as part of your birth team decreases the cesarean rate by 50%, the length of labor by 25%, the use of oxytocin by 40%, and the requests for an epidural by 60% -according to the American Pregnancy Association
  • A doula can help ease the stress of labor for the birth partner and can help him share in the birth at his level of comfort.
  • Women who use a doula report more satisfaction with their birth experience.
  • A doula helps you have Your Birth, Your Way!

I'm passionate about women knowing their options and educating themselves about their pregnancy and birth!  This is an amazing part of the Journey of life, perhaps the most important; that first moment of bonding between mother and child begins a lifetime of love.  

Contact info

Jennifer Valencia | Labor & Postpartum Doula | 928.300.1337


Blog Directory