Monday, March 31, 2014

Prenatal Testing


During pregnancy there are a bunch of different tests done to be sure you and your baby are healthy and stay healthy to the end.  At each prenatal visit there will be some new test that you will have the option to have or one that your doctor or midwife may feel is necessary for your circumstance.  

Your first prenatal visit is where your doctor or midwife will learn a slew of information about you by the testing done and the questions they ask.  They will do tests to find things such as:
  • Blood type
  • Rh factor (+ or -)
  • Anemia
  • Infections
  • Immunity to rubella and chicken pox
Your doctor or midwife may recommend a series of tests depending on:
  • Age
  • Family health history
  • Ethnicity
  • Results of routine testing

Some of the testing done are just screening tests. Screening tests only can determine risk or probability, not actuality.  From the information gathered of a screening test your doctor or midwife can then decide if further diagnostic testing should be done to give you a definitive result. Diagnostic tests and confirm and narrow down andy health problems in your or your baby.

Common prenatal tests that are offered and/or recommended throughout the pregnancy are:
Urinalysis - done routinely at prenatal visits to test, sugar, protein, ketones, leucocytes, white blood count, and bacteria -  used to diagnose:
--Urinary Tract Infection
--Dehydration
--Preeclampsia
Chorionic Villus Sampling - diagnoses some birth defects between 10 and 13 weeks such as:
--Down Syndrome
--Cystic Fibrosis
First Trimester Screening - detects some higher risk birth defects between 11 and 14 weeks such as:
--Chromosomal Disorders
--Heart Problems
--Multiples
--Paternity
Amniocentesis - diagnoses some birth defects between 14 and 20 weeks such as:
--Down Syndrome
--Cystic Fibrosis
--Spina bifida
Ultrasound -  Ultrasounds are not routine but common between 18 and 20 weeks.  They are used to detect any problems with the baby's organs and body systems and confirm the age of your baby and be sure he or she is growing properly.  You also may be able to find out the gender of your baby if he or she cooperates.
Glucose challenge screening - detects gestational diabetes between 26 and 28 weeks.  Depending on the results from the initial screening, your doctor may recommend the glucose tolerance test which is used to diagnose gestational diabetes.  
Non-stress test - If your baby is showing little to no movement or any signs of distress a non-stress test is done to determine the reasoning. It is a monitor placed around the baby bump to measure the baby’s heart rate based on his or her movement. Biophysical profile - This test is used along with a non-stress test to monitor the overall health of your baby and to help decide if the baby should be delivered early.
It is an ultrasound done after a non-stress test. The biophysical profile looks at 5 fetal things: 
--breathing
--movement
--muscle tone
--heart rate
--amount of amniotic fluid.
Group B streptococcus infection - used to find bacteria that causes pneumonia in newborns - done between 36 and 37 weeks.

If your doctor or midwife recommends certain prenatal tests, don't be worried.  Never hesitate to ask as many questions as you want.  It is so important to keep yourself informed about what is going on. Don’t fret and remember that screenings do not diagnose, they detect possible risk.  Your doctor or midwife will guide you in the right direction to keeping you and your baby healthy.  

Friday, March 28, 2014

Miscarriage -- My Story


Today is a special day for me.  A year ago today was the due date for my little girl, Aurora Rose.  In October of last year my husband and I went to the doctor’s for a prenatal visit.  After having some bleeding and discomfort we had an ultrasound to learn there was no heartbeat.  We had just found out we were going to be having a baby girl.  It was probably one of the most difficult things my husband and I have ever dealt with.  It was a very traumatizing experience and took time to heal.  After that, I needed to find out more information to really understand miscarriages.  I had been told so many things from different people and doctors as to why this happened and what it meant for me and my husband in the future.  I needed to know more.  I hope to share some of my knowledge with y’all and to comfort any woman who has gone through a miscarriage.

Something I couldn’t quite wrap my head around was why this happened.  What caused this?  I went through so many emotions and feelings.  I questioned myself everyday for a long time.  What did I do wrong?  Is there anything I could have done?  The truth is half of first-trimester miscarriages are thought to be random events caused by chromosomal irregularity in the fertilized egg. The egg or sperm had the wrong number of chromosomes resulting in a fertilized egg that can't develop normally.
Sometimes a miscarriage is caused by problems that happen during early development; such as: an egg that doesn't implant properly.  Most of the time, it is difficult to really pinpoint the exact reasoning behind a miscarriage, even with a full work up.

Any woman can have a miscarriage but there are some factors that put women at higher risk.
  • Age 
  • A history of miscarriages
  • Chronic diseases or disorders
  • Uterine or cervical problems
  • Genetic defects 
  • Infections
  • Smoking 
  • Drinking
  • Drug use
  • Certain medications
  • Diagnostic genetic testing

It is so important to listen to your body.  Some women, like myself, who may not have all the proper knowledge and don’t want to be alarmists let things go.  If something doesn’t feel right, under no circumstance should you overlook it.  One of the first signs of a miscarriage is vaginal bleeding or spotting.  This is tricky because for some women, bleeding or spotting is experienced with a perfectly normal, healthy pregnancy.  You may notice abdominal cramping associated with the vaginal bleeding.  No matter what if you experience bleeding or pain call your doctor or midwife so they can do proper testing and determine what is going on.

Miscarriages are a loss and women need proper grieving.  It is so important to remember that it is not your fault.  I know how difficult it is to having an overwhelming sense of guilt, that maybe you could have done something different that would have prevented it.  The truth is, you couldn’t.  My way of viewing it, which isn’t for everyone, but in my eyes, God had a plan for Aurora Rose, her job was to help my body prepare for my son Bradley Michael.  I had irregular periods, barely ovulated, and was told by 7 different doctors I could never have kids.  After my miscarriage, 5 months later I was pregnant with my son.  Since, I have had a regular period every month.  Something else that will help in coping with your loss is find support.  So many other women out there are experiencing what you are and there is no reason it should not be discussed.  You shouldn’t feel shame or embarrassment, which I felt afterwards.  Surround yourself with positive, supportive people who understand what you are going through.  The most difficult part for me was understanding that my husband didn’t grieve the same way that I did, but it was just as much a loss for him as it was for me.  Because he didn’t have the same connection to the baby that I did, I just felt it didn’t matter as much to him and I couldn’t have been more wrong.  Lean on each other and remember your partner is hurting just as much.

It is okay to be scared but don’t think that just because you had one miscarriage means you can’t have kids. Wait a little bit and ty again.  Take the time you need to heal and deal with your loss.  Remember you are not alone.

Headaches During Pregnancy


On a good day, not pregnant, headaches can be one of the most uncomfortable things.  During pregnancy having a headache is the cherry on top of the sundae.  Headaches during pregnancy are one of the most common complaints and can cause a great deal of discomfort.  They do seem to be most common during the first trimester and the third trimester and of course, due to hormonal changes.
Why am I getting headaches?
You may be experiencing headaches during your first trimester because of the change in your hormones and increase in the blood volume that circulates through your body.  There are some outside factors that will put you at greater risk for getting headaches during your pregnancy.
-Stress
-No sleep
-Dehydration
-Low blood sugar
-Poor posture
-Vision changes
-Changes in caffeine use
-History of headaches or migraines
If you are experiencing headaches associated with vision changes, abdominal pain, nausea/vomiting, swelling in your hands, feet, and/or face call your doctor or midwife immediately because this could be pregnancy induced hypertension. 
How can I deal with my headaches during pregnancy?
There are a few things you can do that will lower your chances of getting headaches during pregnancy.
-Exercise
-Have good posture
-Try your best to get comfortable and get sleep
-Drink plenty of water
If you are finding that you are getting headaches and you aren’t getting relief there are some natural things you can try first to relieve the headache.  I am one for trying a natural approach first before trying any pain medication for relief.

-Apply a warm compress around your eyes and nose.
-Apply a cold compress or ice pack at the back of your neck.
-Try eating smaller meals more frequently. This will help you maintain you blood sugar levels.
-Get a prenatal massage. Getting a massage will help you to relax a bit and relieve some stress.  Also, in rubbing the neck, temples, and shoulders will release endorphins and relieve some pain.
-Stay away from bright lights.
-Try to avoid eating chocolate.

If you aren’t getting any relief at all or start experiencing the symptoms associated with pregnancy induced hypertension contact your doctor or midwife immediately.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Urinary Tract Infection During Pregnancy


During my pregnancy I had so many complications that it was truly one big doctor’s appointment.  One of the most difficult things that happened during my pregnancy was called pyelonephritis (kidney infection) and kidney stones.  So many wonderful and not so wonderful changes are happening to your body during pregnancy.  With all the hormonal and physical changes during pregnancy you are at higher risk of getting urinary tract infections or pyelonephritis.
A urinary tract infection is exactly how it sounds...an infection in your urinary tract. Your urinary tract includes:
-Kidneys- 2 organs one on the right side, one on the left.  It filters wastes from the blood and makes urine
-Ureters- 2 tubes that carry urine from the kidney to the bladder
-Bladder- Holds the urine
-Urethra- the tube that carries urine from the bladder and excretes the urine out
You can get a urinary tract infection in any part of the urinary tract.  If you have a urinary tract infection you make experience symptoms like frequent urination, burning during urination, blood in your urine, odor associated with urine, cloudy, dark urine, and possibly pelvic pain.  It is very possible that women who have urinary tract infections have no symptoms at all, which can make things tricky.  Urinary tract infections can become complicated when they travel and reach the kidney.  This is when the UTI turns to pyelonephritis.
Pyelonephritis is an infection in the kidney.  This is what I experienced during my pregnancy.  Sometimes if you don’t have symptoms of a UTI it can become pyelonephritis because it isn’t treated, simply because you didn’t know.  Some of the symptoms are similar to a UTI but you have added flank pain, which is pain in the right or left side of your back that wraps to the front, fever, nausea and vomiting.  Normally, you get pyelonephritis from some kind of obstruction that backs up the urine because it allows a place for added bacteria to form.
During pregnancy you are at greater risk for UTIs or pyelonephritis.  This is because of that awesome hormone progesterone...yet again.  The lack of muscle tone causes the ureters to dilate which slows the flow.  You may feel like you are running to the bathroom a million times a day, but you are not completely emptying the bladder, again because of the lack of muscle tone, thanks to progesterone.  This allows bacteria to form.  
Having a UTI or pyelonephritis during pregnancy can lead to preterm birth or low birth weight if not treated properly.  This is why at all your prenatal visits your doctor or midwife will do a urine test (among other reasons).  As said before, some women don’t get symptoms which can lead to more problems, especially during pregnancy if gone untreated.  Luckily, there are antibiotics which are proven safe for momma and baby during pregnancy that will treat your symptoms and bacteria.  If your infection has reached the kidneys most likely you will be in an extreme amount of pain.  When I had it, the nurses were all telling me that if I could handle the pain from this infection, I would have no problem with labor...yeah, okay.  Pyelonephritis is usually cured with some IV antibiotics due to the nausea and vomiting it may be hard to stomach any of the oral antibiotics, and they can also give IV nausea medication and fluids.  It is so important to stay hydrated for you and your baby.
Here are some ways you can decrease your chances of urinary tract infections.

  • Drink plenty of water
  • If you have to go...GO! Don’t hold it
  • Make sure you are wiping front to back.  I know it is hard with that big bump but do your best
  • Keep your genital area clean with water.  Be very careful about using soaps because they can throw off the PH balance
  • Clean your genital area and pee before and after sexual intercourse
  • Drink cranberry juice.  It is known to reduce the bacteria that will cause a UTI

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Don't Forget Daddy


One of the most important things to remember during your pregnancy is to keep your partner involved!  With all the changes happening, I realize that it is hard to remember your partner.  I had such a hard time remembering that my husband needed some love too.  To keep Daddy Dearest involved, there are some things you can do.  We always see things that say how important it is for the men to make us feel loved and beautiful, but let’s not forget, that our men are in need of some lovin’ too!

Today I received a vintage hat from Daddy&Company.  They are this amazing company that was started by Robert NickellDaddy&Company has wonderful products for new and expecting Daddies.  Their products make sure you keep the Daddy involved.  From scrubs for Daddy to wear in the hospital to a daddy diaper pack, they have thought of it all.

One of my husband’s favorite products is a blue vintage hat.  On the hat it says “I’m The Daddy.”  It is 100% cotton with a metal adjustable buckle.  One of my husband’s favorite part about this hat is the distressed look and feel.  It already has that “worn in hat” feel to it.  My husband loves his hats...and has duffle bag filled to brim of hats; yet, he wears the same ones over and over.  Nothing beats those well loved, worn in hats.  This style hat comes in 3 different colors, stone, blue, and black.  I will be hosting a giveaway for a stone colored “I’m The Daddy” hat.

For all you expecting mommies, if you want to get a little something for the Daddy to make sure he is feeling loved and included, this is perfect for you.  For any of you veterans out there, this is great too!  It is awesome for all.  Just enter below for a chance to win a stone colored “I’m The Daddy Hat from Daddy&Company.

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Monday, March 24, 2014

Planning To Breastfeed


There are so many topics that you discuss with your doctor or midwife during pregnancy  to prepare for when your baby gets here.  One of those topics is breastfeeding.  I want to start off by saying if you chose not to, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that!  It is a mother’s choice  and we are so lucky to have such advanced formulas that can provide for our babies!  That being said, if you are considering breastfeeding or know that you want to there are a few things I want to educate you on.

Benefits of breastfeeding for Momma:
Breastfeeding benefits not only your baby but you.  Women don’t necessarily see it this way, but it truly does.  It can lower your risk of certain diseases such as, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, diabetes and postpartum depression.  I personally feel it is especially important for mother’s because it does help reduce your risk of postpartum depression.  Oxytocin is a hormone that is released while breastfeeding.  This hormone is a dynamite natural antidepressant.  Breastfeeding also forces you to take time to relax during your day, which I, myself, have a hard time with.  At first I must admit, I didn’t enjoy breastfeeding because I didn’t have the patience to take the time and sit there until my little guy was done.  For the first 2 months I mostly pumped.  Now, he will take bottle of breast.  I realized that this time is precious and once it is gone I can’t get it back.  So taking that time to relax during the day is not the worst thing.  Breastfeeding also helps lose that baby weight.  When you breastfeed you are burning about 20 calories per ounce of milk.  Do that math?  For most women that’s anywhere from 300-600 calories per day!  When you can burn calories by bonding with your baby, who needs the gym!?  Another positive to breastfeeding is the amount of money saved.  Even if you are pumping, most of what is bought is a one time expense.

Benefits of breastfeeding for Baby:
There are so many benefits for your baby if you decide to breastfeed.  Breast milk has antibodies, cell, and hormones made specific to your baby.  Your breast milk changes to fit your baby.  It grows as your baby grows giving him or her the exact nutrients and antibodies necessary for your baby.  It protects your baby from sickness and lowers the risks of developing problems later in life.  Breast milk is also easy on the tummy for babies.

You have options!

If you are considering breastfeeding, but like myself, have some reservations, you have options to make sure your baby gets your breast milk!  Pumping is a wonderful fit if you are feeling uncomfortable with direct feeding or you are finding that your baby is not latching efficiently.  Pumping is just as economical as direct feeding.  There are a few one time expenses, such as, your pump, (which is now covered by insurance), bottles and bottle accessories.  With pumping, it is quick and easy and keeps your baby having all the benefits of your breast milk.  Something I must tell you, pumping is not as efficient in producing the milk as your baby is direct.  If you are finding you are having some difficultly with the amount your are producing, you should talk to your doctor or midwife about a lactation enhancement.  There is one in particular called MILKY! which I have had the pleasure of trying recently and will be reviewing after a full week of my use.  


Cons about breastfeeding:

I don’t want to deceive you and tell you everything is wonderful and you may not have problems. As stated above, you may have difficulty in your supply.  If that is the case, talk to your doctor or midwife about a lactation enhancement.  On the flip side, if you have an abundance and can’t quite keep up, you are at risk for mastitis, clogged milk ducts and engorgement.  Also, breast milk is deficient in Vitamin D, so it is best to give your baby added Vitamin D.  Vitamin D supplements made for breastfed babies are sold in your local drug store.  None of the cons can’t be fixed very easily.  The pros outweigh the cons in breastfeeding your baby. 

This is just some food for thought to consider during your pregnancy.  It is important when making any decision you make an informed decision.  

Friday, March 21, 2014

Braxton Hicks Or The Real Deal


During pregnancy your body is doing so many things to prepare you for labor.  You made have heard of something called Braxton Hicks which is a big way for your body to prepare for labor.  A question among so many expecting women is, “What is the difference between Braxton Hicks and the real thing?”

Braxton Hicks contractions are “practice contractions” that you may be feeling during your third trimester.  Some women experience them as early as the second trimester.  Braxton Hicks are a tightening of the uterus that can last anywhere from 30 second to 2 minutes.  They are inconsistent and unpredictable.  There are a number of things that will cause Braxton Hicks contractions to happen.

What Braxton Hicks feels like:
  • Tightening of the uterus
  • Inconsistent
  • Unpredictable
  • Uncomfortable

Causes of Braxton Hicks:
  • An active baby
  • An active mommy
  • Touching the bump
  • Sexual Intercourse
  • Dehydration

How to relieve Braxton Hicks:
  • Drink some water - stay hydrated
  • Change your position
  • Lie on your opposite side
  • Go for a walk
  • Take a warm bath

Real contractions are consistent and will gain intensity as time goes by and being to get closer together.  They come in intervals that will last from 30 seconds to about a 1 minute.  Nothing will relieve real contractions, position changes, drinking water, none of the tricks will help.  Real contractions are a bit more painful than Braxton Hicks contractions.  They may be in your back as well as your abdomen.

When to call your doctor or midwife:
  • You have contractions every 5 minutes consistently for 1 hour
  • Increased pressure in your pelvis or vagina
  • Contraction strength is immense (unable to walk or talk through them)
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Fluid leak
  • Nausea/Vomiting/Diarrhea
If you are experiencing the above, you are most likely in real labor!

If you find that something is going on and you are unsure, call your doctor or midwife!  They can tell you if you are experiencing a false alarm or if you need to proceed to the hospital.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Epidural Or Not?




So many women have concerns about the pain associated with labor and delivery.  When it is your first time having a baby, just about everything is unknown.  With pregnancy, labor, and delivery, you could be on your fifth kid and there will still be so many unknowns because every experience is different.  There are some women that will get through labor and delivery without any pain med at all and say it wasn’t so bad.  Some women need the pain relief and find it excruciating.  Every woman has a different pain tolerance.  For those women who do not want pain medication and go all natural, I have an enormous respect for you!  I wish I had been that strong, but for me it just was not going to happen.  For those of you who feel they want the pain relief, there is no shame in that.  If there are the resources available why suffer if it is unbearable for you.  Remember, you are the only one who know what you are feeling.  That being said, I just want to educate you a little bit further on your options and clear up a few misconceptions.


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As with anything, before you move forward with something you should know all the facts.  Talking it out with your doctor or midwife to know your options is your first step.  If pain relief is something you are considering, you need to know what questions to ask. Here are a few questions to think about asking your doctor or midwife while considering any pain relief:
What are the different methods of pain relief available to me?
How will an epidural affect the baby?
Is there any instance I won’t be able to have an epidural?
What are the advantages and disadvantages to having an epidural?
What are any possible side effects?
What are the risks?
How is an epidural given?
How long before it begins to work?
Will it wear off?
Will I be able to move once the epidural is placed?
At what point of labor can I have an epidural?
Is it painful?

There are so many misconceptions about epidurals.  I am guilty of this myself.  I assumed so many things about epidurals going into my pregnancy when I couldn’t possibly have known.  I just want to discuss some of the things assumed about epidurals but aren’t ever really clarified.

The needle is humongous and is more painful than contractions.
This is false.  It is no more painful than having an IV inserted.  The most difficult thing about having an epidural is the possibility that you may have a contraction during the process and you must hold still.  The needle portion is about 1 minute, just long enough to insert the catheter, which is the size of pencil lead.  An epidural is inserted in your back, so for you to see the needle and know exactly what is going on back there is highly unlikely.  Make sure you breath through it, but truly the most painful part is possibly having a contraction during the process.

You are there for hours because you can’t feel anything and won’t be able to push.
Again, false.  Epidurals do help ease the pain, but they do not paralyze you.  You can feel the pressure that urges you to push.  One common thing I have found with other women’s experience, is they expect to feel absolutely nothing.  When the epidural is in and there is still a bit of discomfort, they ask for a higher dose because they are still in pain.  This is where the issue of not feeling comes in.  You wont completely feel nothing with an epidural.  If you know this going in, it will help.

You must wait until you are 5 to 7 cm before you can have an epidural.
This really depends on your doctor, but not likely.  You can ask at any point, normally around 3 cm you are able to have an epidural.  You can always ask!  One thing women don’t realize is that you are able to have the catheter placed and the medication later.  Having an epidural will help your body relax allowing your body to do what needs to be done.  For some women, they are in such pain and the anxiety is so high, the body can not relax to dilate and then there is complication.

I want to share my own experience, not to freak anyone out, but so you are aware of the reality of pain relief.  I went through an induction process so I had pain relief and medication.  I did have an epidural around 4-5 cm when I was brought down to delivery.  I absolutely could feel the sensation of needing to push when it came time.  As I was nearing the point of no return, my epidural wore off.  I want you to know this because there is no guarantee that an epidural will work 100%.  I will say I did not feel 1 contraction once I had the epidural, which, at least in my own experience, the contractions were worse than giving birth.  If you chose to have pain relief stay informed as much as you can.  Try not to blindly go in.  Ask questions, and keep an open mind.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Theory Of In-home Induction


Towards the end of your pregnancy, you may be getting antsy, anxious, and ready for it to be over.  When nearing the due date, most women are willing to do anything and everything to get the baby out.  There are a slew of theories on ways that you can induce naturally at home.  Before I start on telling you those theories and why they may not be right, I want it to be clear that I am a firm believer that the baby will come when he or she is ready and there is not too much you can do to speed up that process.  Believe me, I know.  These are some of the theories out there and why they may not be the best idea.  That is not to say that there are not a few things you can do to help the process.

Castor Oil: It is an old theory that ingesting castor oil will bring on labor.  There is no sufficient evidence that this works.  It will; however, bring on horrible diarrhea because it is a laxative.  This is dangerous because it could dehydrate you.  It has a very unpleasant taste and could bring on vomiting, nausea and abdominal cramping as well as diarrhea.  Castor oil’s main purpose is stimulation of the bowels.  I promise you, it will act as a laxative.  It is believed that castor oil will stimulate the intestines which may also stimulate the uterus and cause contractions that may or may not result in active labor.  It is very dangerous to try this without consulting a doctor or midwife who is in support and monitoring you.  Does it really work? Some women swear by it, some women do it and are incredibly sick and still no baby.

Cohosh: This is also believed to start labor.  There is insufficient evidence that prove it will bring on labor.  If your body is not ready, it will not work. Like castor oil, cohosh will cause diarrhea, abdominal cramping and increased blood pressure.  You must know that when cohosh is taken in the later stages of your pregnancy it can cause heart problems to your unborn baby.  It is very dangerous to use this, supervised or unsupervised.  Discuss with your doctor or midwife if it is something you think you want to use and listen to their stand point on it.

Spicy Foods:  There is absolutely no evidence that spicy food will bring on labor.  The same idea applies to spicy food that is with laxatives.  The stimulation of the intestines may carry over to the uterus.  It is unlikely, and will cause bigger issues for you.  If you do end up going into labor on your own, do you really want an upset stomach on top of it?

There are a few things that can help slightly, but not make you go into labor.  These things are meant to help soften the cervix.  Softening the cervix makes it easier for the cervix to ripen, thus, progress in labor.
Sex:  It is said that sex can help you go into labor.  The truth behind this is it can help the process but will not bring on labor.  The part that you aren’t usually told is, it isn’t that act of having sex that helps.  You must have unprotected sex and your partner must ejaculate semen into the vagina allowing it to hit the cervix.  Semen contains ‘prostaglandins’ which is used for soften the cervix.  The softer the cervix, the easier it is to ripen.  Some women feel funny about having sex while pregnant especially towards the end, because your twosome is a threesome, but have no fear, your baby won’t be scarred for life.  It is perfectly safe (unless your doctor specifies otherwise) and will help in ripening the cervix.

Nipple Stimulation:  A combination of sex and nipple stimulation will help your body is preparing to go into labor.  Nipple stimulation will release the hormone Oxytocin.  Oxytocin is used in hospital inductions and is the hormone necessary to bring on contractions.

Evening Primrose Oil:  Like semen, evening primrose oil is great for softening the cervix.  The oil will help your body release prostaglandins helping the cervix soften.

In my own experience, towards the very end I tried, literally, all of the above, and then some.  All unpleasant, and none helped.  I wish I had the knowledge then about what doing some of these things could do and the risks.  When you search on the internet, most of the time you find the positive over the negative.  I found that so many women said these things worked for them so I figured I was so done with being so sick, why not?  It was not smart to try and induce on my own.  After going through it and making the mistakes, I can tell you, let your body do what it needs to do on it’s own.  If for whatever reason you need to be induced in a hospital setting, as I did, you are in good hands.  They are using medication that is safe for you and your baby in monitored doses.  I know how hard it is to be patient, especially when you are so sick you can’t take it anymore.  Be patient, let your body do what it needs to do.  If there is some reason you can’t, let your doctor or midwife decide the next step.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Is This Normal?


There are so many aches and pain during pregnancy.  At times it is hard to tell what it is concerning and what is not.  A huge question I have been asked lately is, “When should I  call my doctor? Is this normal?”  The thing about pregnancy is, so much is going on with your body and everyone is different.  You can not pinpoint a “norm” because what may be completely normal for one woman, could be concerning for another.

It is very rare that women fly through pregnancy with ease and never have a situation where calling the doctor is necessary.  If you are one of those women, I am jealous!  I managed to have kidney stones, pyelonephritis (kidney infection), hyperemesis, fluid leak at 27 weeks, the list goes on.  Like you, I questioned, when do I need to all the doctor?  I was always so worried about being an alarmist because so many things feel uncomfortable and are changing during pregnancy.
A rule of thumb is when in doubt, call your doctor or midwife.  You want to be safe than sorry.  I just want to educate you further so when you do call your doctor or midwife you have a bit more knowledge on what you may be calling about.  So many times I went in a nervous wreck when it was nothing or I would go in completely calm and end up at the hospital.  Here are some questionable times for women, normal or not, and when to call your doctor or midwife.

Bleeding:
Bleeding can happen in the first trimester and this is because of implantation of the fertilized egg in the lining of the uterus.  No matter what the circumstance, if you have bleeding always call your doctor or midwife.  Especially if it is associated by cramping.

Fluid Leak:
Any fluid leak is tricky because some women can experience some incontinence throughout the pregnancy.  Yup, you could pee yourself.  This can often be confused with thinking your water has broken.  In my own experience, I had some fluid and at first I didn’t really say anything, then I showed my mom and we called the doctor.  When I called the doctor, she said it was probably urine and not to be too concerned.  I called back and they were closed so I got the on-call doctor who brought me right in to the hospital.  I kept having nurses and doctors explain that sometimes you can pee during pregnancy but I knew this wasn’t pee.  They did 3 tests to see what was going on and test the fluid, turns out it was NOT pee...it was amniotic fluid.  The story goes on, but back to my point, it is difficult to tell so don’t hesitate to call your doctor or midwife.  If you feel you aren’t getting answers you must be your own advocate!

Frequent Urination:
It is totally normal to be running to the bathroom more than ever before.  The baby can be pressing on the bladder causing this.  It becomes a problem when you are urinating frequently and have pain, burning or any discomfort during urination.  Also, beware of a constant urge to go.  This could be from the baby’s position but could also be signs of a Urinary Tract Infection.  

Changes In Discharge:
You will find changes to vaginal discharge throughout your pregnancy.  Discharge is totally normal but watch out for any itching, burning or unusual odor that may be associated with the discharge.  Be sure to mention any changes to your doctor or midwife.

Depression:
Prenatal Depression is something that is sometimes over looked.  How blue is too blue?  Being uncomfortable and miserable during pregnancy is normal depending on your situation.  If you find you are lethargic, having excessive mood swings, uncontrollable crying, and constantly feeling hopeless, you need to make sure you address this with your doctor or midwife immediately.

Nausea/Vomiting:

Be sure to monitor your nausea/vomiting.  If you are finding there is no relief and it is getting worse, it most likely is not just morning sickness.  The predictable spurts of nausea and vomiting that can be relieved would be classified as morning sickness.  If you are finding nothing will help and it is all day and all night with no let up, it could be hyperemesisTalk to you doctor immediately to see what you can do to help stay hydrated and as healthy as possible through your pregnancy.

Swelling:
Having swelling during your pregnancy can be normal, but it can also be a sign of some serious complications.  During pregnancy, all the hormonal changes will cause some water retention and minor swelling.  If you find any sudden swelling in your hands, feet, and/or face accompanied by headaches and/or blurred vision call your doctor or midwife immediately!  These are signs of a serious complication called preeclampsia.  You may also hear the terms, gestational hypertension, pregnancy induced hypertension or toxemia.

Contractions:
A huge sign of labor, contractions.  How do you know when they are real or not?  I kept asking my mom throughout my pregnancy, how will I know?  Her response was always..”you’ll know.”  It could not be more true.  I was in what is call inactive labor for 2 weeks prior to delivery.  Inactive labor is when you are have true contractions but not dilating.  Some women experience Braxton Hicks contractions, which are practice contractions, prior to real labor.  The Braxton Hicks can be uncomfortable but definitely are not the real deal!  I had Braxton Hicks which were tightening and slightly uncomfortable.  When the real thing hit, I couldn’t even speak when I was in a contraction.  It is a tough call of knowing when to go and when to stay.  Timing your contractions is important.  Contractions in early labor last from 30 to 60 seconds and will be 5 to 10 minutes apart.  Let you doctor or midwife know and they will guide you.

These are some just instances where it is hard to tell what is normal or not.  I hope this gives you some more information.  As I said before, when in doubt do not hesitate to call your doctor or midwife.  You can never be too safe when it comes to pregnancy.  So much is unknown so it is normal to question things going on with your body.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Fetal Movement: It's All About The Kick!


Yesterday, a girlfriend of mine who is 16+ weeks texted me and asked, “Is it normal to feel the baby kick at 16 weeks? I was up all night from the movement. My doctor said I wouldn’t feel fetal movement until 20 weeks.”  The answer is yes! It is absolutely normal to feel kicks anywhere from 15 weeks and 25 weeks.  It is important to remember that all women are different.  Some factors play into how early you feel fetal movement like, if this is your first baby or your third.  If it is your first baby, you aren’t as likely to feel the movement early because it is a new feeling.  Most first time moms don’t know what to expect when they feel the movement.  I was expecting violent kicks because of all the stories I heard, I had no idea it was going to be flutters at first.  I felt movement very early and I must admit, it was hard to tell the difference between my stomach growling and the baby moving.  By 12 weeks movement is happening, it just may not be clear to you.  Also, women who retain more water may feel the movement a little later.  It can also depend on how sensitive you are.  I had previous surgery around the area so any movement, I felt because my insides were so sensitive.

How does it feel when my baby moves?
If you do feel your baby move in the early stages of your pregnancy it will probably feel like you have a nervous tummy.  Ever had those nerves before a big presentation in school when you were younger, or a test, or going to see your in-laws?  It feels a little something like that...nervous, anxious butterflies.  By the time you land into your second and third trimester, the kicks will start to feel much more aggressive.  If you are among the women who feel movement later in the pregnancy, it is no need to be concerned, everyone is different.  You could have a sleeper or he or she might have a really mellow personality.

How often will I feel movement?
Every baby is different when it comes to movement.  Some babies enjoy their sleep and have a prime time that they are awake and some babies will move throughout the entire day and night.  It depends on your munchkin.

Can I make the baby move?
There are some tricks to getting your baby to move.  I must warn you, they don’t always work.  If your baby is stubborn, like mine was, and doesn’t want to move, then he or she won’t.  Don’t get concerned if you are doing all of these things and find your baby to remain still.  He or she is probably just taking a nap and letting you know they don’t want to be bothered.  Some tricks you can do:
  • Switch positions.  Try laying on your back, I felt most movement when I was on my back.  Everyone is different, maybe your baby likes it when you lay on your left side. Try it out.
  • Eat or drink something sweet.  Orange juice, fruit juices, they seem to give the baby a little jolt of energy!
  • Play some music for your baby or sing to him or her.  My son would always wake up and do a dance when there was music on, which was pretty often in our home.
  • Tickle your belly.  Once you start to get an idea of what is where, you will know what spots you can tickle.  I used to tickle his feet and he would always kick back.
  • Have a cold drink! Cold drinks normally wake up the baby.
As I said before, if you try these things and they don’t work, don’t panic, your baby is probably just sleeping and doesn’t want to be bothered.  If you are feeling your baby move less than 10 times in 2 hours and you are in your third trimester it can’t hurt to give your doctor or midwife a call.

Should I keep a “kick count”?
You should monitor your baby’s movement; however it is hard to pinpoint when you should start.  Once you feel you know your baby’s schedule, definitely start to keep track in whatever way works for you.  You know your baby, whenever you have a cycle with him or her you should start to monitor how often the baby moves.  Every hour? How many times in an hour? More during the day? More at night?  These are just something things to take note of, so if you notice changes you can mention it to your doctor or midwife.  They will let you know what is normal and what may be concerning.


When should I feel movement?
Every baby is different.  It does depend on outside things like how often you are up and about.  Some women don’t realize it, but by moving a lot you are rocking your baby to sleep.  The primary time for baby movement is are 9 or 10 pm to 1 or 2 am.  Lucky you, right?  Your blood sugar levels change as you are settling down and this is what causes the jolt.  

When to call your doctor or midwife?
Once you have reached a point in your pregnancy when you know your baby’s schedule, if you feel it drastically change it can’t hurt to call your doctor.  The fetal movement will slow between 32 and 36 weeks or so because the baby has gotten bigger and is “running out of womb” to move around.  You have a bond with your baby and know when something is up, when in doubt, call it in.  Better to be safe than sorry.  When I reached 36 weeks my son had stopped moving for 22 hours.  He was normally a super baby who kicked anytime music was on or I sang to him and he slept through all of it.  When I went to the doctor they did a non-stress test and ultrasound.  Turned out he was just resting up because he knew he was coming out the next day!

Once you have reached around 24 weeks, maybe sooner or maybe later, you will feel your baby have hiccups.  This is different from kicks, it isn’t as strong and it will be clock work.  You will be able to time them.  They feel like a sudden jolt every couple seconds.

I hope this gave you some information on fetal movement! Any questions, comments or experiences, feel free to contact us at helpingmommytone@gmail.com!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Inducing Labor


What is inducing labor? One of the many questions I had during my pregnancy and delivery.  I never thought my delivery would go as it did, but then, that is the point about “What To Expect When It Isn’t Expected”.  I can not tell you exactly how your experience will go with an induction, but I can answer some questions that I have been asked about my own.  If nothing else it gives you a bit more knowledge.

What is an induced labor?
An induced labor is when your labor doesn’t start or progress on it’s own and you need the help of outside medications or methods to give birth.  
Is induced labor a guarantee?
No, in some cases inducing labor does not work.  If the baby is not ready to grace you with his or her presence, then an induction most likely won’t work.  When I was going through my induction I was very fortunate that each step went beautifully and the total process took 12 hours.  The girl in the room next to mine, unfortunately, had been going through her induction for a week and it was not progressing.  They were inducing her because of gestational diabetes but it was not terribly urgent for her to deliver as it was in my situation.  The poor thing was walking the halls and doing whatever she could to help the process.  It is important to know that know matter what, if the baby is not ready, the baby will not come naturally.

When is your labor induced?
There are a number of reasons and pregnancy complications that would lead you to an induced labor.
  • Having a pregnancy complication, such as, preeclampsia, gestational hypertension, gestational diabetes, or kidney disease.
  • Broken water with no contractions.  If you water has broken and labor does not follow you and your baby could be at risk of infection.  If there is a suspicion of infection, further testing will be done and your doctor or midwife will decide what is best for you and your baby.
  • Your baby has stopped growing at a proper weight or is very overgrown.  Any feeling that your baby is at risk will lead to an induction or c-section.
  • A lack of amniotic fluid around the baby.
  • A placenta abruption, deterioration to the placenta or an insufficient placenta.
  • Hitting the 42 week mark and no baby will usually lead to an induction.  You will be offered the option but some women do not opt for an induction which is totally fine as long as you and your baby are safe.  Waiting longer than 42 weeks can increase the risk of stillbirth or other medical problems so it is best to listen to your doctor or midwife and trust them.

How will my labor be induced?
There are a few different methods and medicines used for a labor induction.  I won’t lie to you, it can cause a bit of discomfort, but if it is what is best for you and your baby, you do what needs to be done.  The goal in an induction is to ripen the cervix, which means to get your cervix softened, thinned out, and beginning to dilate, and to begin labor.  Some methods and medication used to induce are: 
Prostaglandins -- If you are being induced but your cervix is not ripe, you'll begin the induction by having medication containing prostaglandins inserted into the vagina by the doctor or midwife at the hospital. This medication helps to dilate you and thin out the cervix.

Foley catheter -- You may have a catheter placed in the cervix.  The catheter has a small balloon that is not yet inflated at the end of it and is placed into your cervix. The balloon is inflated with water to puts pressure on the cervix helping the release of prostaglandins, this will cause the cervix to dilate and thin. When the cervix has dilated to about 5 cm it will fall out and be removed.

Rupturing the membranes (Breaking your water)-- If you're at least 4 to 5 cm dilated, but not showing much sign of progression, your doctor or midwife can insert an instrument that looks like a crochet needle through the cervix to break your amniotic sac. This looks like it will hurt and be uncomfortable, but it really isn’t.  It is no worse than having a vaginal exam.

Pitocin -- This is given through an IV drip to get contractions going.  In an induction once you have reached the point where you go down to the delivery room an epidural will be given if you decide you want one and Pitocin will be given through your IV.  For women who’s water does break but there is no progression, Pitocin is also given.  When your water breaks, most doctors or midwifes will want to deliver within 12 to 24 hours because the risk of infection for you and your baby increases the longer you go with a ruptured membrane.  The amount of Pitocin is adjusted as you start progressing.  I don’t want to deceive you, Pitocin will make the contractions come on very strong and they are painful.  In labor that start on it’s own there is a build, with Pitocin and it is WHAM! you are in labor.

In my own experience, all of these methods and medications were used together.  I was admitted and had the foley catheter done and medication also inserted to help in ripening the cervix.  Within a few hours the catheter fell out and I was having very strong contractions.  I was given some morphine for the pain to ease the contractions.  By this time I was in “inactive labor” for a week now.  This means contractions but no progression, going in I was about 3 cm dilated.  After the dose of morphine wore off I was brought down to delivery, given an epidural and the Pitocin started.  Shortly after, my water was broken, and a few hours later it was time to push.  I was vey fortunate and had a very successful induction.  It is so important to relax to help your body do what it needs to and help your baby relax.

Under what circumstances should my labor NOT be induced?
  • If there is an indication that the contractions would be too much for your baby then you will most likely be brought in for a c-section.  It depends on the test results.
  • Placenta previa, which is when the placenta blocks the exit for the baby.
  • Your baby is breech (head up, feet down).
  • You previously had a c-section. 
  • You have genital herpes.
  • You are having multiples.

I hope this helps inform you a bit about what inducing labor is and the procedure.  It can be scary, but I have to say, don’t be.  Most things about pregnancy and childbirth are unknown.  Whatever you endure is for your baby.  If you have any stories of your experience, questions or comments feel free to contact me at helpingmommytone@gmail.com!