Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Why Do Pregnant Women Cry?

As I recently reached into my purse and pulled out my wallet, I remembered the time my loving husband proudly presented me with that wallet. I responded with gratitude that he had bought me something nice, and I graciously thanked him for it.
Then I cried about it in secret.

I was almost 40 and very pregnant with my seventh child.
Ah, pregnancy! Of course. Why else would I be upset that my husband bought me a wallet?

I normally operate on logic and reason, not emotions. It was a big frustration to me during pregnancy to feel all the feels, to pause my whirlwind life to deal with emotions. I disliked the emotions worse than I disliked the nausea or fatigue.

Why are we more emotional during pregnancy?

Hormones play a big part in how we feel emotionally. Some of us are more sensitive to surging progesterone and fluctuating estrogen levels, and this may make us more irritable or weepy.

Pregnancy is a time of profound transition. Our lives are forever changed by pregnancy and birth, and anxiety or fear of what lies ahead can cause heightened emotional sensitivity. 

Our bodies change during pregnancy (ha, that’s an understatement!) Some of us enjoy these changes, delighting in our new curves and relishing all the new sensations we feel. And for some of us, these changes bring uncertainty and a feeling of vulnerability. Even if we start pregnancy with a healthy body image, we may wonder how our partner feels about all the changes, wonder if we’re still attractive, feel awkward as our clothes no longer fit, or feel clumsy as our balance changes. 

Pregnancy can also bring unresolved emotional issues to the surface, particularly if we’ve endured abuse in the past or had strained relationships with our caregivers.

There isn’t a lot we can do to make the extra emotions go away, but there are some strategies we can practice to help manage them.

  • Get enough rest. We all know what happens to our little ones when their sleep is interrupted! That can happen to adults, too. Go to bed earlier. Start a bedtime ritual—shut off your screens an hour before bed, take a bath, drink a cup of warm chamomile tea, lay down quietly in a dark room. Yeah, you're probably going to have to get up to pee soon, but get as much rest as you can. Take naps during the day whenever possible.
  • Eat well. What you put into your body has a big impact on the way you feel. Enough water, enough of the good stuff (you know, protein, veggies, fruit, good fats), and less of the not-so-good stuff (hello, sugar! and processed food.) If you are craving less healthy foods, look up healthy snacks on Pinterest or do a Google search for healthier alternatives to your favorite treats.
  • Exercise. Check with your own provider before you start, but generally, most midwives and obstetricians recommend daily exercise during pregnancy. If you are already exercising, in most cases, it's ok to continue what you are used to doing. Listen to your body, and make modifications as necessary. If you don't already exercise, try a daily walk. The fresh air and sunshine will probably make you feel better, too.
  • Minimize stress. When you notice something causes you to feel on edge, consider whether it's something that you can change. There are some things we have little to no control over, like our partner's spending habits or our employment. But we can learn to manage how we handle stress. Search YouTube and the App Store for "pregnancy relaxation" to practice relaxation techniques. Even if you are planning to use medication in labor, these exercises can help in any situation that causes you to feel tense. Practice them regularly so that they will come easily to you when you need them. And then make adjustments for the things you can, like that loud cashier at the grocery store who loves recounting her own pregnancy horror stories. Every. Time. Figure out her days off and get your groceries then.
  • Speak gently to yourself. We all have an inner voice. If yours is habitually unkind to you, cut her off! Imagine how you would feel if you heard someone speaking to your pregnant loved one unkindly. How would you speak to a loved one? Speak to yourself the same way.
  • Journal. Journaling can help you connect with yourself, understand why certain situations trigger certain emotions, and help you to problem solve. If this idea appeals to you, but you aren’t sure how to start, here are some tips to start journaling.
  • Communicate with your partner or other support person. Burdens are easier to bear when someone is helping you carry them. Share your struggles, share the things that make you feel better or worse, and ask for help.

Even in the midst of the emotions, I felt silly for being upset about that wallet, but that didn’t change the feelings. I talked to my husband about it, and he reassured me that his only thought was wanting to make me feel special. I knew that, really, I did.

When the feelings died down, I laughed about it. Six years later, I still get a kick out of carrying that over-priced wallet in my second-hand purse, and I’ll carry it until it falls apart.

Do you want to feel a little more normal about the things that are making you cry while pregnant? Read these hilarious reasons why pregnant women cry.
Sometimes it just helps to know you’re not the only one.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Are Childbirth Classes Necessary?

We are surrounded by information! Between Google, Pinterest, blogs, and other social media, it seems you have all the information you need to know about having a baby right there at your fingertips.

Maybe your friend, who had an unmedicated birth last year, has a ton of books you can borrow, and she can give you the scoop on what giving birth feels like.

Maybe you are planning to get an epidural as soon as you feel contractions, and you figure the nurses will tell you what you need to know.

Besides, you and your partner are both pretty busy. How are you going to find time to squeeze in a class?

Is it really necessary to take a childbirth class?

Well, no, it's not necessary--you are going to give birth whether you take a class or not! But there are advantages to preparing yourself before you give birth..

The most important reason to take a class with a live instructor is to prepare yourself for the realities of today's healthcare system. The vast majority of Labor & Delivery nurses are caring and passionate about their work, and they want to see you have an awesome birth. The reality is that Labor & Delivery can be an extremely busy place with a lot of big stuff happening. As much as the nurses like to sit down and explain everything you need to know and patiently answer all your questions, sometimes higher priorities pull them in different directions. Things would go more smoothly for everyone if you were prepared for the routine stuff ahead of time.

Some people may think that childbirth classes are only useful if you are planning an unmedicated ("natural") birth, but here's the truth: even if you are planning to accept pain medication "as soon as I can have it, please and thank you!" it is unlikely that your birth will be a pain-free experience. You may find that there is a lot more discomfort than you were expecting, and the anxiety and tension that often accompanies being in an unfamiliar situation will increase that discomfort. The comfort and coping techniques you learn in your childbirth class will be useful in a variety of circumstances in a hospital setting. Especially while you're waiting for and getting your epidural.

You also want to make sure your information is accurate and unbiased. A lot of the online information...well, you can't really be sure it's factual and based on good evidence or if it's based on someone's opinions. There's a lot of junk to sift through.

What kind of childbirth preparation is available?

A childbirth class series meets several times over regular intervals (for example, a two-hour class every week for 6 weeks.) You will find this kind of class offered by certified childbirth educators (such as Lamaze or Bradley), midwives, doulas, and some hospitals or birth centers.

A disadvantage of a series of childbirth classes is the time you will have to set aside time for the classes. For the introverts among us--you'll have to be around other people. But there are some advantages of signing up for a class series.
You will have time to absorb the materials. Each week, as you recap what you already learned before moving on to the new material, you absorb a little more and remember more.
Ideally, your class should be one where you are actively participating--asking questions, discussing, participating in learning activities, and practicing. Actively participating will help you retain the information.
For relaxation exercises and comfort techniques, we recommend practicing so that when the time comes, you and your partner will already know what to do. The first couple times you try the techniques, it may feel awkward! After you go home and practice, then come back the next week and do them again in front of your instructor, you'll begin to feel more confident, and they will become more natural to you. That's the idea.
As you are reflecting back on what you learned the previous week, you will probably have more questions. You can write them down and bring them to the next class for discussion.
In a class with other couples, you may hear questions you hadn't thought of, and these variety of questions usually open the door for some great discussions.
Seeing the same couples over the course of a few weeks may help you to make new friends!

A one-day class may be taught at a local hospital or birth center, by a childbirth educator, a midwife, or a doula. These classes are easier to fit into a busy schedule. A hospital class will usually include a tour of the hospital and information on that particular hospital's policies and routines, which can reduce stress when it's time to check in.
Some childbirth educators offer private classes in your own home. Private, in-home classes also offer a more relaxed, personal setting for those who would rather not participate in a class with other couples.
A disadvantage of a one-day class is that, although you'll get information, it likely will be a condensed version rather than comprehensive information.
You may retain less than you would learning the material over time. You may not have time to practice comfort techniques and may forget them when the time comes.

Online classes, such as Birth Boot Camp offer a variety of options to customize your experience and work at your own pace, making it very convenient for busy families.
Some people do very well learning from videos, and if you are motivated, this may be ideal for you.
The disadvantage is not having face-to-face, hands-on guidance, particularly with comfort techniques. Also, nobody is holding you accountable for attending, and there is a lot of material to get through...are you sure you'll complete it?

If you would like more information on childbirth class options, such as what sort of educators, classes, or in-home options are available in your area, feel free to email orcall/text me.

Sunday, February 4, 2018


 NORA is an infusion we recommend to our pregnant clients, made from a blend of nettle leaf, oatstraw, red raspberry leaf, and alfalfa. This delicious infusion will help keep you hydrated, nourished, and may help with some of common minor discomforts of pregnancy. We recommend drinking a quart daily, beginning in the second trimester of pregnancy and continuing while you are breastfeeding.

 Stinging Nettle Leaf (Urtica dioica) is one of the most nutritious plants, containing calcium, potassium, protein, beta carotene, trace minerals, iron, and vitamins A, C, D, and K. It is used as a blood builder to treat anemia and promote circulation, to increase milk supply, and decrease menstrual bleeding or bleeding after childbirth.

Oatstraw (Avena sativa) is one of my favorite herbs. Not only is it very nourishing, it is calming and mood-stabilizing. Prepared as an infusion, it provides protein, is high in B vitamins (except B12), calcium, magnesium, and contains all macro- and trace-minerals in high amounts. Plus, it has a pleasant, mellow taste.

 Red Raspberry Leaf (Rubus idaeus) contains vitamins C, E, B2, B3, calcium, zinc, selenium, phosphorus, potassium, and iron. It is used to tone the uterus and ease uterine spasms. It is said to make uterine contractions more effective, and to increase breastmilk. It also promotes healthy bones, nails, teeth, and skin.

Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) contains a wide variety of minerals including iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sulfur, chlorine, sodium, potassium, silicon, and trace elements. It is also a good source of Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and protein. It is said to cleanse the blood, aid in blood clotting, alleviate allergies, aid with digestion, promote healthy bones and teeth, help with headaches, and soothe sore joints. It is nicknamed “the father of all foods.”

To make an infusion, mix 2 parts Nettle and Red Raspberry Leaf to 1 part Oatstraw and Alfalfa. Place about an ounce of the herb mixture in a quart Mason jar, pour boiled water over the herbs, cap tightly and let sit at least 4 hours to overnight. Then strain the herbs and drink over the course of the day. Add a little honey, if you like.

Deb generously provides NORA to all our homebirth clients. If you want to order some for yourself, all these herbs are available online through Mountain Rose Herbs, Frontier, or even on Amazon.