Choosing a Prenatal Vitamin

Pregnancy is a time when most every woman decides to start taking prenatal vitamins.  But there are so many choices out there.  How do you decide WHICH prenatal vitamin to take? 

Of course, you should consult your health care provider first.

Many woman prefer to take a prenatal that is whole food based and doesn’t upset their stomach.  Pregnant women need extra iron but sometimes iron supplements or prenatal vitamins with cheap iron in them cause nausea or abdominal discomfort.

Looking for a vitamin that has absorbable iron in it and is whole food based (rather than chemically manufactured) can help you find something that is easier on your body and more likely to be used .

Some other whole food supplements that pregnant women report improve their pregnancy well being include:

  • Brewers yeast- Brewers yeast can be purchased in bulk at your local health food store in flakes.  It tastes great on air popped popcorn with a little melted butter or olive oil.  It adds flavor, amino acids, protein, and B-vitamins.
  • Vitamin C Powder- Many pregnant women experience  symptoms during pregnancy such as varicose veins or bleeding gums that can be an indication of a vitamin C deficiency.  A good quality vitamin C  powder can be mixed into your morning orange juice right along with your  yeast supplement for a powerful morning start.
  • Blackstrap molasses- Unsulphered Blackstrap molasses is full of iron and potassium and can naturally increase your intake of these important vitamins in pregnancy.  It can be poured on top of cornbread or biscuits or mixed in milk instead of less healthful chocolate for a protein and vitamin rich snack. 

Eating well through pregnancy includes not just prenatal supplements but a nutritious diet rich in naturally occurring vitamins.

Where to Find a Doula for Your Birth

Doulas have proven to be a great way for the entire family to have a more wonderful birth experience.  A doula assists the mother and father to get the birth that they desire.  An experienced doula will feel comfortable doing everything from navigaing the procedures in the hospital to showing dad how to comfort mom. 

But how do you find the right doula for you?

A good first step is to ask your natural childbirth teacher.  She should be familiar with the local doulas in your area and can help you find someone who can best meet your needs.

Talking to other women in your community who have used a doula is another great way.  When it comes to your birth, the experience of another mother who has been where you are can be very helpful.

If you prefer or need to use the Internet to help in your doula search, Doulas.com is a great resource which has listings for doulas certified by various organizations.  You can also simply do an Internet search for doulas serving your area.

Taking the time to find a great doula is certainly worth it.  Both moms and dads report increased satisfaction with their birth and are more likely to achieve the natural birth they desire.

Protein in Pregnancy

Does protein matter in pregnancy?  Many women and care providers feel that it does.  Any body builder knows that to build a healthy body he or she must get adequate protein.  Some feel that the same is true for a woman building a baby body. 

Many women report that when they get adequate protein in pregnancy (about 80 or 90 grams) that they feel much better.  Some things that they report:  decreased nausea, increased energy, fewer or no headaches, less sugar cravings, healthy but not excessive weight gain, and much more.

But how do you get enough protein in pregnancy if you are used to only eating 30 or so grams a day?

Childbirth educators recommend the following to their students:

  • Snack healthy- Pregnant women get hungry often.  If you have healthy snacks with you at all times, then you are less likely to get junk from a vending machine.  Healthy nuts, trail mix, celery and nut butter, cottage cheese, hard boiled eggs, and dairy in any form are all ways that experienced mothers sneak protein into their everyday snacking.
  • Record your eating- Many people simply have no idea what they eat in a day.  Often a good birth class will incorporate a dietary journal into the curriculum because they know that how you eat while pregnant can impact the birth itself.  Start recording your food and your protein intake to see where you stand and what you need to work on.
  • Get your protein early in the day- Starting your day with a protein rich breakfast can make all the difference in the world to how you feel and how you eat for the rest of the day.  A boiled egg, a small bowl of oatmeal with some raw sunflower seeds and fresh berries and a small glass of milk is a healthy, tasty, and protein rich way to start your day.

Educating yourself about proper pregnancy protein intake can have an invaluable impact on your labor and birth.  You and your baby are worth it.

Thinking About Homebirth – Where to Begin

Are you thinking about a home birth but wondering how to get started?  Here are a few tips to get the ball rolling. 

First, decide what you are looking for in a midwife.  What things do you feel you will need at your birth in order to feel safe and happy?  What kind of skills do you want your midwife to bring to the table?

Second, start talking to birth professionals- Doulas, natural childbirth educators, and experienced mothers in your area may be able to help you find a midwife who fits with you and has the skills and personality that you would like present at your birth.  Once you get a good list of people, then start interviewing midwives.  After an initial phone interview, you may decide to meet in person.  Bringing your partner to this meeting may be a great idea.  You will both be around her during the birth and it is important that you both have a good relationship with her.

Third, begin educating yourself.  Choosing a home birth is just the beginning of your birth journey.  You will benefit from a comprehensive natural childbirth class that covers relaxation and helps prepare your partner to help you.  Reading books, especially those geared towards home birth, can help prepare your body and mind for the process.

Fourth, do everything possible to stay low risk and healthy so that you can get the birth you desire.  Proper nutrition, chiropractic care, exercise, and, of course, education make a huge difference in having the joyous home birth you dream of.

Home birth is growing more popular and can be a wonderful option for the prepared family.

Getting Enough Iron in Pregnancy

Many women struggle during pregnancy with anemia or iron deficiency.  Diet can often be helpful in improving this.  Having adequate iron is important for lots of reasons.  Women who have low levels of iron are often tired.  In addition, very low iron levels can impact your labor and birth and even increase postpartum hemorrhage.  Here are some simple tips to up your iron intake. 

A)  Get your leafy greens-  Foods that are dark green usually have iron in them.  Not only do greens help you get iron, they can help you absorb nutrients from your protein rich foods.  Some great choices are: spinach, kale, collard greens, bok choy, asparagus, broccoli, dark salad greens, and the like.  Being sure to eat a salad daily, drink a green smoothie in the morning, or incorporate collard greens into your meatloaf or other meat dishes are easy ways to sneak in these vegetables that you may not be getting.

B)  Combine foods properly-  Calcium is known to inhibit iron absorption, so eating your calcium rich foods SEPARATELY from your iron rich foods can help your iron absorption improve.  For instance, have the burger without the cheese, take your iron supplement with an acidic drink rather than with milk.  On the flip side, vitamin C is known to help iron absorption, so adding some tomatoes to  your salad or burger may help improve your absorption.

C) Overall Nutrition- Simply understanding which foods are rich in iron can really improve your ability to make good choices.  Red meats, yams, some organ meats, greens (as mentioned above), shellfish, eggs and dried fruit are all rich in iron.  Knowing this and choosing to eat and snack accordingly can really improve your overall nutritional intake.

Part of a great birth education begins with proper nutrition throughout your entire pregnancy.  You might be surprised what a difference it will make in your health and your birth.

Breastfeeding in Public With Ease

Many new mothers worry about the first nursing session in public with their new baby.  This does not have to be a stressful time though, if mom is comfortable and prepared.

One thing you can do to prepare is to practice!  Nursing in front of a bedroom mirror may show you how covered you already are while nursing and give you confidence to do so in public.

Another thing that helps is layering your clothes.  A simple and inexpensive tank top worn underneath your regular shirt is an easy way to stay covered while nursing.  Simply lift your shirt, pull the tank down, and latch on the baby.  No tummy will be exposed and your over shirt will keep your breast covered.  While many people use covers, they can draw more attention than simply nursing in your clothes.  Also, many women find that as their babies get bigger they push off a cover anyway.

Keeping a hand near the breast to pull down your shirt quickly should the baby suddenly pull off is another simple thing that a worried mother can do that will make her feel a little more confident when nursing in public.

Nursing a baby is a beautiful and loving experience- but it doesn’t need to keep mom cooped up in the house all day!

Using a Midwife (Types of Midwives)

Many women desire the benefits of midwifery care for their pregnancy but become overwhelmed when they start to look into it and find that there are many different types of midwives to choose from.

While options, certifications, and even legality vary from one state to another and from one country to the next, here are a few basic tips for deciding what type of midwife you want.  There isn’t necessarily a right answer, just different choices for different situations.

The Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)- For women who want to be attended by a midwife in a hospital setting, the CNM is a great option.  A CNM is someone who has trained as a registered nurse and then attended further training (often a master’s program) to specialize in midwifery.  A CNM has some medical background and can function in various different settings.  Many work within a hospital, some work in or own birth centers outside of the hospital, and some even attend home births (though the legality of this varies from state to state).

The Certified Professional Midwife (CPM)- For women who desire to birth at home, a CPM is often what she will choose.  A Certified Professional Midwife is usually certified through the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM) and has completed their testing and requirements.

A CPM is not required to have the medical background that a CNM has but has completed reading, apprenticing, and testing in order to specialize in normal birth and has also studied variations and emergency situations that can occur in a birth setting.

Some states also have their own state licensing and will have licensed midwives (or LM) who have passed their state licensing.  States vary in their requirements.

There are also, in some states, Direct Entry Midwives (DEM) who have studied midwifery and apprenticed but have not necessarily licensed through an organization or school.  A DEM will work in a home or birth center setting but not within the hospital.

Knowing your options and the different types of midwives is a wonderful start to making informed birth choices for you and your baby.

Morning Sickness Solutions

 

 

Many women struggle with morning sickness while pregnant.  This nausea upon waking can vary greatly, from a mild irritation to being so bad that hospitalization is necessary.  For some women, morning sickness isn’t just morning sickness, it is all day long sickness.

Luckily there are little tricks that can help ease and even eliminate the annoyance of morning sickness in some cases.

  • Protein with each meal- Many childbirth educators recommend eating a little bit of protein with each meal.  For some women, the nausea of pregnancy is caused by simple blood sugar imbalances as the body adjusts to pregnancy and the placenta is being formed.  Eating protein with every meal and snack, especially having a protein rich breakfast can really help ease your discomfort if blood sugar is the cause of your woes.
  • Ginger- Many women find that ginger can help with any kind of nausea, even that caused by pregnancy.  You can consume ginger in a spicy tea, cookies, small candies, and even in pill form.
  • Staying hydrated- Many people have difficulty drinking plenty of water at any time of life.  But during pregnancy, when the strains on your body are even more extreme, staying hydrated is especially important.  Trying to keep your fluids as healthy and natural and close to water as possible is especially important.
  • Exercise- Some pregnant women find that simply doing some small exercise each day can help with the morning sickness associated with exercise.  This can be as simple as a short walk or a relaxing swim.  Not only can this help you feel better, it can help you prepare for the work of birth.

Taking care of yourself while pregnant may be one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your baby.