Nursing 102: “Chest to Breast”

Posted: 1536 days ago in Parenting Pregnancy

Nursing 101: Supporting Baby

Posted: 1540 days ago in Parenting Pregnancy

Don’t be a Douche

Posted: 1546 days ago in Health Pregnancy Sex & Relationships Wellness

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I’m not referring to that rude guy that makes sexist comments to you at work every day (though yes, he does qualify as a douche bag). I’m talking about douching, as in vaginal hygiene.

Don’t be a douche bag, and don’t use one, either. Not to clean shop after your period, or after sex, and never, ever to try to prevent pregnancy. That doesn’t work AT ALL.

I’m not sure how many of you use douching as part of your feminine hygiene, but based on the shelf space that is dedicated to it in my local grocery store and pharmacy — plenty of you are.

Here’s why you shouldn’t douche: Your vagina does a great job of cleaning herself!

Yup, she’s a self-sufficient kinda gal, and her discharge is nature’s way of keeping bad stuff out… like how your nose will run or eyes will tear when something irritates them.

Normal discharge should be clear-to-milky white-ish, and have no odor other than what is normal for you. If you’re ovulating, your discharge will change slightly and become a white stretchy consistency. But – a clumpy yellow-green or white odoriferous discharge, accompanied by itching or burning indicates a problem that should be checked by your doctor or midwife ASAP, okay?

Douching washes away the protective and cleansing fluids that are supposed to be in your vagina. Regular use of douches can irritate the lining of the vagina and lead to yeast infections and pelvic inflammatory disease. Even worse, douching can cause serious complications in pregnancy, and an increased risk of cervical cancer.

Uh – no thank you!

I think many women get hung up on the smell thing, am I right?  You never want your man to know you smell like anything other than lavender, orange zest, and daisies.

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Well, I hate to break it to you, but the truth is, healthy vaginas have a distinct scent to them, and that’s just the way it is. Power-washing with vinegar, antiseptics and fragrances will not make it go away for more than a few moments, and does far more harm than good.

Here are some take-aways to live by when caring for your lady parts:

  1. Get to know what is normal for you
  2. Practice regular, daily hygiene
  3. Wash with mild, unscented soaps (on the outside parts only, please!)
  4. Wear breathable panties (cotton is typically best for this)  

That’s it. That’s all your girl needs to stay happy and healthy.

Does Your Baby Have Good Posture?

Posted: 1574 days ago in Parenting Pregnancy

baby-posture

Wait. What?

How does a baby have good posture? They barely sit or stand yet!

Well guess what – if your baby doesn’t start out with good posture from the get-go, he or she will surely NOT have good posture when it comes time to sit and stand! Here’s what I mean…

Does your baby’s head always end up in the same position while they sleep, even if you turn it a different way?

Does it flop or turn to one side?

Do they cry when you attempt to put them in a certain position, over and over?

Do they refuse to nurse on one side?

These are all signs that your baby may have structural misalignments, or what we call “poor posture” in adults.

How does that happen???

467588149Believe it or not, poor posture can start in-utero! If a baby is in a breech or transverse position, his or her head does not enjoy the “key-in-lock” relationship that happens when the head is vertex (head down). If baby is in a less than ideal position long enough, this can result in minor postural deviations at the least, and torticollis (‘wryneck’) if it’s really bad.

Even if baby is in a perfect position in-utero, the birth process can be incredibly traumatic for him or her, especially if interventions like Pitocin, epidural, vacuum extraction or C-sections are utilized. Their tiny joints and ligaments can be sprained and strained just like an adults can. Ultimately, if left uncorrected, this can often lead to postural changes, pain, and even health issues like ear infections and colic.

The ability to move freely is really important for development of normal spinal curves and muscle formation. “Tummy time” develops the very important “C” curves of the neck and back. However, spending too much time in an infant carrier can also force baby’s spine into unnatural positions, so you’ll want to watch for that.

Pediatric chiropractors do a great job of treating obvious spinal issues like head tilt and torticollis. More importantly, they can detect subtle shifts before they become even bigger problems. It’s a great idea to get your kids checked preventatively, much like you have a dentist check their teeth as soon as they get them.

After all, ‘An ounce of prevention…’ and all that.

“Pre-You, Post-Baby”

Posted: 1579 days ago in Parenting Pregnancy

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All women gain weight during pregnancy; it’s a fact of life.

Whether it’s 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, or 100 lbs heavier than before you were pregnant; now is the time for acceptance and understanding. You’ve just delivered a baby into this world!

If you’re lucky, you might lose all of that ‘extra stuff’ immediately, or as a cruel joke, you may leave the hospital weighing as much as you did when you came in.

This post is meant for those women who want to get back to their pre-baby body and I’m here to tell you… let your body be your guide and balance be your goal.

I always suggest that women attempt to go back to pre-baby weight, if it was healthy weight for you to begin with. I’m not talking about how much you weighed after starving yourself for your wedding. I’m saying, look back over the years when you weren’t fanatically dieting and/or gorging yourself; what did you look and feel like? The emphasis here is on finding your natural balance.

For those of you who look at my pictures, and go, “oh yeah, whatever,” I want you to know that I’ve been everything from a size 2 to a size 16 as an adult. I have lived all the issues that surround food, weight, and body image, and it has taken me 45 years to find my balance point. I hope you get the lesson sooner.


First of all, let’s talk about what “baby weight” actually consists of:

  • the baby – average of 7.5 lbs.
  • placenta – around 1.5 lbs.
  • amniotic fluid – around 2 lbs.
  • uterine enlargement – around 2 lbs.
  • increased breast tissue – around 2 lbs.
  • increased blood volume – around 4 lbs.
  • fluid retention – around 4 lbs.
(source: “What to Expect When You’re Expecting“)

Add all of that up and you’re looking at 20+ lbs. of “baby weight”, which means a lot of what you’re looking at isn’t even fat. So be kind to yourself.

My philosophy is nine months on, nine months off.

I don’t think there should be any significant attempts to truly lose weight until after the “4th trimester” (I know, I know. There are only three trimesters of pregnancy, but I like to count the 3-4 months after baby comes as the fourth). Without this buffer zone of continued self-care, mama’s well-being can fall by the wayside, with all attention focused on baby only. During those very early months, your body will naturally find it’s new balance point as you shed all the extra fluids your body has held onto. Not to mention, nursing will burn many of those additional pounds away as you settle into a new routine, feeding yourself and your baby.

After the 4th trimester, reassess.

If you’ve made reasonable choices regarding food during pregnancy and in the 4th trimester, you will likely find that you’re pretty close to where you started, pre-baby. At this point, I recommend stepping up your exercise, making more significantly wise food choices, and setting a goal for weight loss (or gain, for those lucky few of you who are too skinny to begin. I say “lucky” because I know it’s just as much of a problem for those of you who are too thin, but it’s just more socially acceptable to be thin).

Ultimately, the one-year mark is pivotal. If you don’t lose your extra baby weight by the first year, or before you get pregnant again, those extra lbs. tend to become permanent and/or extremely hard to lose.

Full Disclosure: Even if and when you get back to pre-baby weight, your body will likely be very different. I got back to my pre-baby size, but none of my pants fit! Your hips may be wider or narrower, your butt flatter or rounder. You get the point? Your body will be different. Your life will be different.

Embrace the change!

Dr. Seuss Explains Pregnancy

Posted: 1622 days ago in Pregnancy

dr-seuss-pregnancy

Mastitis

Posted: 1635 days ago in Pregnancy

mastitis

Unless you are or know someone who has nursed a baby, you may think mastitis is something that has to do with a sailboat. If only that were so.

Mastitis is an inflammation in one or more mammary glands in the breast, usually caused by a clogged or infected milk duct. And it hurts like hell.

Imagine the biggest, reddest zit that you’ve ever had. Now imagine it about 10 times bigger, on your boob, and so sensitive that even the lightest touch from a baby’s hand or brush of a shirt has you cringing. Oh yeah, and you’ll probably have a fever and flu-like symptoms, too.  

Lucky you, am I right?

Treatment may include antibiotic therapy, which is not great for a breastfeeding mom, so you’ll want to do all you can to avoid it. If left untreated, mastitis can lead to an abscess, which may even need surgical intervention. Though sometimes it’ll get you even if you do everything right, there are a few things you can do to minimize the chances that you’ll get mastitis.

They include:

Breastfeeding in different positions. There are many milk ducts that lead to the nipple. If baby only nurses in one position, he or she may only be draining certain ducts, making it more likely that other ducts go stagnant and get clogged. Moving baby around will give you the best chances of avoiding this.

Allowing baby to fully empty one breast before moving on to the other. Milk retained in one breast, especially the rich hindmilk(the secondary milk that comes in after the foremilk that typically has a higher concentration of lactose) — is the milk you need to worry about. If baby gets full on the foremilk (which typically happens), he or she may have trouble digesting all of the rich hindmilk, and if you don’t go back so baby can finish before going to the other breast, it can become a serious milk-duct-clogging culpri

Wearing supportive (though not tight) undergarments. Heavy lactating breasts require a little extra support, but squeezing them into a bra that’s too small may contribute to mastitis.

If all fails and you end up with mastitis, please remember to visit your healthcare provider, pronto-stat!

Much love, my new mommy bunch!

Thumb-Sucking, Nose-Hooking

Posted: 1644 days ago in Parenting Pregnancy

nose-hookingdivider2Isn’t this picture adorable?  

This little munchkin is sucking her thumb and hooking her nose; can you imagine why?

It’s because she’s trying to pull her nose out of her brain!

Yup, really.

The birth process can be tough for babies – and that’s if all goes well. And by well, I mean that mama goes into labor naturally and has a vaginal birth with no intervention. With each intervention (like Pitocin, an epidural, vacuum or forcep extraction), the stress on baby increases.

When a Mom has a precipitous delivery (labor lasting only 3 hours or less), or if Pitocin is used to induce labor, baby can come down the birth canal in a fast and furious way. Though it might sound lovely to have such a short labor, please trust me when I tell you that it is not. It results in much more stress for mom and baby alike.

One of the common presentations we see in babies that have endured a precipitous or induced labor is that the frontal (forehead) bone collapses onto the nasal (nose) bone during the birth process. These babies typically have a pronounced horizontal line at the bridge of the nose, and will often exhibit this thumb-sucking, nose-hooking behavior in an attempt to decompress the cranium.

In other words, they are attempting to pull their nose out of their head in the only way they can see how!

These babies are often fussy – can you blame them? – and exhibit insatiable sucking. Though all newborns like to nurse and suckle often, these babies typically won’t ever seem to get enough. Gentle craniosacral adjustments performed by a pediatric chiropractor can often resolve this very quickly and very gently.

I think thumb-sucking is really cute, too, but if your baby hooks his or her nose, or seems to suck insatiably, a chiropractic check-up is the order of the day!

Epidurals: Worth the Trip?

Posted: 1648 days ago in Pregnancy

epiduralsdivider2Epidurals are not all that they are cracked up to be.

Yeah sure, they are great for pain management in childbirth. But how many of you realize that there are A LOT of potential downsides to epidurals many of them serious and long-lasting – for an upside of short-term pain management?

For instance, did you know that an epidural increases your need for interventions like vacuum extraction and forceps to be used during childbirth?forceps 

And how about the increased likelihood that you will end up with a C-section? Had you heard of that one?

It can also cause long-term back pain and nerve damage – we see this a lot in our practice!

Oh! And let’s not forget about fetal heart rate changes and potentially dangerous drops in blood pressure – scary stuff!

Those are just a few. For a more comprehensive list of pros and cons, check this out: http://www.epidural.net/prosandcons.html

There is even some talk that when you have an epidural, you rob your baby of endorphins to protect them against the stress and pain of childbirth. Let me explain: when you or I have a painful stimulus, our bodies secret endorphins to help manage that pain (which is why sharkbite or accident victims often report not feeling pain at first). Those endorphins flow throughout our body, and allow baby to benefit from them as well.

If we artificially numb that pain with anesthesia, we no longer secrete endorphins. So though we don’t feel pain, the anesthesia does not numb baby, so he or she does feel pain.

vaccuumIn my article Natural Childbirth, I talk about how cool it really is to have an active part in your birth. And to be honest with you, though my two unmedicated births were, uh, not particularly comfortable – it was very transient, and very manageable pain with a purpose.

And for you guys? Let me give you an example of why epidurals might not be a good idea. Let’s say you’re constipated. Really, really constipated, and you’re determined that today is the day – you’re going to finally poop. Let’s put you in bed, on your back, with your feet up in the air. And, yeah, let’s numb you from the waist down.

How successful do you think you’ll be? Not. At. All.

Which is why it makes no sense at all to me that we would put a pregnant woman on her back, numb her from the waist down, and expect her to push out a baby. Which is ultimately why this one intervention often leads to many others.

So in answer to my question, is an epidural worth the trip? No way in hell.

But thanks for coming!

The Sad Side of Childbirth

Posted: 1659 days ago in Pregnancy

thesadsideofchildbirth

divider2I had a wake-up call today. 

You know how I’m an advocate of most things natural, right? And I’d like to believe that if you do all of the ‘right’ things, all will be okay.

Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

My editor and I are always on the lookout for like-minded folks for collaboration. She found a hilarious video on what moms with kids say to people without kids. Made us both LOL, so if you’re looking for a great laugh, here you go:

divider2The video was so good, it led us to their site: whatsupmoms.com. After a few more funny videos, we found something that then made us both cry.

In searching for more about the women behind the video and the website, we learned that one of the founders of What’s Up Moms, Connie Kin, died in November 2013 from complications of childbirth.

Her tribute video is heart-wrenching. She could have been any one of us. 

divider2In a country where we have the best doctors and hospitals, and do more research and development than anywhere else in the world, how is it possible that our maternal death rates have increased by 50% since the year 2000; a whopping 136% higher than 1990; and that we rank #31 of industrialized nations?    

The prestigious medical journal, The Lancet, confirms similar findings. If you want the less complicated version, USAToday does a good job of interpreting the data, here.

Something is not right with that.

Though these studies are inconclusive as to the reasons for the increased rates stating, “About 73% …of all maternal deaths between 2003 and 2009 were due to direct obstetric causes,” they do also hint at advanced maternal age and obesity as two potential factors. What they don’t mention, that I think they should, is that perhaps ‘less is more’ when it comes to technology and procedures in childbirth. Five of the top 6 ranking countries – those with the fewest maternal deaths – are Scandinavian countries that use midwifery as their primary source of perinatal care.

Guess what else is increasing along with our maternal mortality rates? Unnecessary Cesarean sections and other intervention use like Pitocin, above what is considered to be ‘appropriate’ and ‘safe’ by the World Health Organization.

Don’t believe me? Consult these credible sources.

Save the Children – ‘State of the World’s Mothers.’

New York Daily News – ‘Midwives Not Medicine Rule Pregnancy in Sweden…’

PBS – ‘Finland gets gold in mom rankings; U.S. Maternal Deaths on the Rise’ 

This is not about finger pointing and name calling – it is a call to arms for all of us to ask the difficult questions and find out the safest way to bring our babies into this world, and to above all else, listen to our guts.

What’s Up Moms perpetuates Connie’s memory in their parody-style videos, even including her newborn daughter in some of the latest scenes.

We dedicate this post to Connie, and for all the motherless babies out there.

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