banner_page2

Pregnancy

Announcing Your Pregnancy

The coming of a new baby is a wonderful thing.  Now with the benefits of social media, there are as many ways to announce the beginning of your newest adventure as there are types of personalities.  Here are a few cute (or fun or creative or just plain silly!) ways to share your joy with the ones you love. 

We would love to hear your ideas too.  Leave them in the comments!

~A darling way to announce a new baby- the tiny coffee cup with the expected due month on it! 

 

~If you have older children, have them each hold a chalkboard with their birth order marked on it.  For example, the oldest would hold a chalkboard with “#1” on it and the so on and at the end of a the picture would be a chalkboard sitting by itself, with the appropriate number for the newest family member.  This also works beautifully for a first baby, as shown below.  This couple used their simple initials in a heart for this tender announcement.

~Print a puzzle with a picture on it announcing the new baby for family to put together.  (This one works great as a Christmas or birthday present.)

 

~Address a card to each family member with an enclosed “letter from the baby” announcing their coming birth. 

 

~Take pictures of the entire families shoes lined up.  Mom, Dad, older siblings if applicable, and lastly some tiny baby shoes!  This one is great to share with social media.  Add in each member of the families birth year using photoshop for some extra fun.

~For family members give a gift with the announcement inside.  This one is especially wonderful for a long awaited baby.

 

~Make a family “movie” ending with mom and dad holding a positive pregnancy test.

~For a pregnancy announced around the time of a holiday, incorporate seasonal themes.  This family had an older sister hold eggs marked “big sis” and shared the photos with family members for Easter.

~If you have older children, a simple shirt with the words, “Big Brother” or “Big Sister” are a cute way to both announce a baby and involve the older children.  Or, if you are more creative, you can make your own shirts like the one above!

~“Bump Ahead” signs are always fun.  Have parents stand next to a “Bump Ahead” sign.  Dad points at the mommy belly, and mom points to the sign. 

 

~Give the grandparents a brag book or photo album with only the first sleeve filled- with your ultrasound picture!  Not only is this a cute way to announce a pregnancy, but it gives excited grandparents a place to document the growing of their loved one.

 

~T-shirts for extended family members, especially grandparents are a cute idea.  Just have shirts made (or find some you can buy) that say, “Grandma” or “Grandpa” on them. 

 

~A baby picture frame presented as a gift, only instead of a picture it it, have a note with the expected due date in it.

~Simple, but sends the message!  Just sharing the picture of that positive test is a great way to tell your friends about your exciting news!

 

 

 

We express gratitude to all our readers who helped with the ideas for this post.  In particular we would love to recognize some of our amazing instructors who submitted ideas and pictures.  You can find more childbirth educators online.

Dani Long – www.YourBirthAdventure.com in Washington state

Cori Gentry – www.BirthMakesSense.com in California

Joni Yankus – jyankus@birthbootcamp.com in Texas

Kendra Parry – www.BirthAsIntended.com in Utah

Rachel Johnson – www.DFWBirthClass.com in Texas



 

Rules for Talking to a Laboring Woman

Preparing for birth is a unique time in a woman’s life. Many women spend their lives looking outward, seeking to serve others. But in labor and birth a woman has the opportunity to be at the center for a brief moment, and to have those around her serve her, listen to her, and help her in any way they can.

Occasionally, however, those close to a birthing woman use it as an opportunity to fill their own needs or express their own fears to the mother or those closest to her. While it may seem obvious to most, dumping our own emotional baggage on a pregnant or birthing woman is actually inappropriate. Sadly, there are many who have missed the boat on this particular subject.

How many birthing women are surrounded by people (including family) at their birth that they didn’t even want present? How many pregnant women must listen to the horror stories of others simply because they have a round belly and are, obviously, expecting? Birth, however, is not about making those that surround a woman happy and comfortable. A great birth team seeks to make the mother and her closest loved ones happy and supported so that they and the baby can have the best experience possible both physically and emotionally.

The Goldman and Silk “Ring Theory,” as discussed in this LA Times article, explains the idea that during times of extreme stress (such as turmoil or illness) the person most affected or at the “center” has the privilege of receiving emotional support, and the ability to “dump” outward. That is, the person at the center can ask for help, and the people outside can offer.

The idea that “support goes in, needs expressed go out” doesn’t just apply to illness; it works beautifully in labor, too.

When a woman is in labor she should be at the center of the circle, the center of attention, and the person who is focused on. She can request anything from those around her. Support should always flow towards the center from the outer circles, and requests should flow outward. For example, random strangers should not act as though the birth is theirs or that their needs are more important than those of the laboring mother. The mother should not have to support her partner, doula, or family. When the focus
of support stays on the mother, the entire labor goes better and she feels safe and secure.

Remember this simple rule of birth etiquette when attending a birth. Remember, also, that very soon that laboring woman will be a mother and all of her attention will be focused outward on her precious child. We can focus our love and support on her for a few hours to help ensure that both mom and baby receive the best start possible.

Prep Work for Pregnancy

Good nutrition in the 3 months leading up to when you conceive can help you get ready to create a safe and nutritious haven for your unborn and rapidly developing baby. The first 3-8 weeks of pregnancy are vital for fetal development. This is often before you even know you are pregnant! So planning and getting your body in prime condition is very important. Good nutrition habits can also increase fertility, meaning it may help you to get pregnant faster.

Women with poor nutritional status have been linked to a number of negative outcomes, both for the mother and the baby. This includes decreased fertility, gestational diabetes, neural tube defects, autism, obesity in later life, an increased risk of pregnancy complications, low birth weight babies, and a number of other risks. Wow! That’s a scary list. There is good news, though. There are small things you can do now, to be the healthiest you.

Start taking a prenatal vitamin at least 3 months prior to conception
You may not be getting enough of the proper nutrients in your diet. The right prenatal vitamin contains important nutrients that you need and may not get enough of in your diet. Look for one that is natural, meaning it doesn’t have any additives or fillers. Beware of nutritionally deficient prenatal vitamins.

Lose (or Gain) Weight
Underweight women are more likely to give birth to low birth weight  babies and increases the risk of birth defects. Being underweight may also negatively affect your menstrual cycle.  Overweight women have increased risks for complications in pregnancy such as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, and can see a reduction in fertility.

Focus on Key Nutrients

  • Folic Acid intake is linked to neural tube defects and 70% of cases likely could be avoided with proper folic acid intake. 800mg a day for at least 4 weeks prior to conception and continuing  through pregnancy is recommended.
  • Iron – in order to avoid a deficiency during pregnancy, stock up now! Eat high iron foods, make sure your prenatal vitamin has iron, and get a blood test if you are unsure of your levels. Lots of women are at risk for iron deficiency anemia. If you are deficient you can increase your intake by eating the lean meats, chicken, and iron rich vegetables.
  • Essential Fatty Acids – These play a key role in brain development, so make sure to eat plenty of these good fats.  Sources such as nuts, avocado, and fatty fish will give you plenty of tasty Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats.
  • Iodine – Insufficient iodine levels may lead to fetal brain damage and may also increase the risk of miscarriage. 150 μg per day during preconception and 220 μg per day when pregnant are recommended.
  • Zinc – Adequate levels of zinc can help increase fertility and is also important for your baby’s development. Oysters, roast beef, and peanuts are all rich in zinc.
  • Vitamin D – Insufficient levels of Vitamin D have been linked to preterm birth, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and prenatal infections. Get your levels checked to see if you have a Vitamin D deficiency and if so, get a good supplement to increase your levels. Check out www.grassrootshealth.net for information on what your levels should be and how to get them there.

Quit Smoking/Taking Drugs
This one is super important and can impair fetal growth. Smoking and drug use also have a negative effect on fertility. Quit now before you start trying for a baby.

Reduce Alcohol
This is a good chance to minimize your alcohol intake. Drinking can decrease fertility and increase the risk of complications in those vital first few weeks of pregnancy.

Reduce Caffeine
Start weaning yourself off those morning cups of coffee (this one is hard!). More than 200-300 milligrams of caffeine per day may reduce fertility by 27 percent. Caffeine also impedes upon your body’s ability to absorb iron and calcium, which are needed for fetal development.

Exercise
If you don’t already have an exercise routine in place, now is the time! Exercise insures that your body is in tip top shape to handle the stresses of pregnancy.

Mimimize Environmental Pollutant Exposure
Try to avoid chemicals found in paints, paint thinners, paint strippers, strong cleaning products, and insect and weed killers. They can store up in your body and be passed on to your baby leading to a higher risk of asthma, ADHD, and cancer. Eat organic to avoid pesticides and watch what fish you eat to minimize your exposure to mercury.

If you are already pregnant, it is not too late to make these changes! Remember, this is the start of your baby’s journey through life. Providing a place for them to grow where they are exposed to all the nutrients they need will set them up for a healthier life.

 

My name is Vanessa Wells and I started True Nature Nutrition in 2011 with the goal of providing nutritional consulting services to the North County area, and online. I have a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Auckland. After a few years of working in an office, I returned and completed my Graduate Certificate in Human Nutrition (BS in Nutrition without all the 101 classes) and am working towards an MSc in Human Nutrition. I realized that my “dream job” was not in an office building. I love discovering how interesting and important nutrition is in life, and the impact that food has on the environment.
Then my daughter was born and my eyes were opened to the world of healthy eating for life. Giving your child the best health in life begins before they are even conceived and good habits start to develop in the womb. The foundations for a lifetime of good nutrition is laid in the first few years of life. It’s my goal to help women give their children the best start possible, with healthy eating for the whole family.

Prenatal Massage Therapy

Massage Therapy has become a highly sought after form of relief for common pregnancy related aches and pains.  In a 1994 survey of prenatal massage therapists, the primary focus of their clients was to seek relief from aches and pains associated with their pregnancy.  According to a Swedish study, 48-56% of all pregnant women experience backache during pregnancy, describing their discomforts as generalized fatigue, tightness, and achiness, with concentrated areas of pain.  The most common complaint areas include discomfort in the sacroiliac area, lower back, and upper back.  Many women report their first occurrence of chronic pelvic and back pain during 5-9 months of pregnancy.  Women who receive frequent massage during pregnancy have reported better sleep, improved moods, and fewer complications with labor and birth.

WHAT IS A PRENATAL MASSAGE?

Pregnancy related pain is the result of improper posture created by the anterior weight load of enlarging breasts, uterus, and fetus, muscle strain and imbalance, fetal positioning, hormonal effects on ligaments, and referred pain from uterus ligaments.  Therapeutic massage and bodywork helps to support the psychological, physical, and structural well-being of a woman who is pregnant, laboring and/or postpartum.  A prenatal massage uses various techniques including circulatory, deep tissue, neuromuscular, passive and active movements, and reflexology, among other modalities.  In a typical prenatal massage session, the trained therapist will address the woman’s physical challenges, such as areas of pain and postural and functional changes.  During a massage, many women can experience a release of hormones that provides a stress-reducing effect.  Massage can help improve uterine blood supply and relax the mother, as well as maximize optimal fetal and maternal outcomes.  Some therapists are also trained to provide sensory awareness to the mother through massage that will help her to labor more comfortably and actively.

IS MASSAGE SAFE DURING PREGNANCY?

Prenatal massage is specifically tailored to meet the physical and emotional needs of each individual pregnant woman.  Women can begin massage therapy at any point in pregnancy and continue until the birth of the baby.  Some massage practitioners may be uncomfortable doing prenatal massage with women who are still in their first trimester because of morning sickness or the increased statistics for miscarriage.  However, massage during pregnancy is not only safe, but can be very beneficial for the mother and baby during the first few weeks of pregnancy for a healthy, low-risk woman.

Prenatal massage practitioners should be trained and, preferably, certified in prenatal massage therapy.  They should also be knowledgeable about normal prenatal and perinatal physiology, high risk factors, and complications of pregnancy.  To safely massage pregnant and laboring women, some pregnancy related conditions require adaptations and, possibly, a consultation with the client’s care provider prior to receiving massage.  Depending on the individual and the trimester of pregnancy, various techniques and methodologies must be modified or eliminated.

During the massage, mild to firm pressure is applied to the muscles throughout the body to address the discomforts associated with the skeletal and muscular changes brought on by the hormone shifts during pregnancy.  A professionally trained prenatal massage therapist should be aware of specific pressure points to avoid that may cause pre-term labor.  In addition, there are pregnancy related conditions that are contraindicated for prenatal massage that your therapist should be aware of.  These include high-risk pregnancy, pregnancy induced hypertension, pre-eclampsia, previous pre-term labor, severe swelling or edema, high blood pressure, and severe headaches.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF MASSAGE DURING PREGNANCY?

Effective massage therapy sessions can not only help a mother physically, but emotionally support her as well.  Physical and emotional support, including extensive touching and massage, can reduce the length of labor and number of complications, interventions, medications, and Cesareans at birth.

Prenatal massage has been shown to reduce anxiety, decrease symptoms of depression, relieve muscle aches and joint pains, and improve lymph and blood circulation.  Other potential benefits include: reduced back pain, reduced edema, reduced muscle tension, improved oxygenation of soft tissues and muscles, and better sleep.  Sciatic nerve pain can be caused by the added pressure of the uterus on the pelvic floor.  Many women experience significant reduction in sciatic nerve pain with regular massage during pregnancy.  Massage therapy can also address the inflamed nerves by helping to release tension on the nearby muscles.

Recent studies have shown that hormones, such as norepinephrine and cortisol (the stress hormone) were reduced and dopamine and serotonin levels were increased in women who received massage bi-weekly during pregnancy.  These changes in hormone levels can lead to fewer complications during birth and fewer instances of complications with the newborn.

Massage can help to stimulate soft tissues to reduce collection of fluids in joints, which improves the removal of tissue waste through the lymph system.  This can reduce the occurrence of edema that is often caused by reduced circulation and increased pressure from the uterus on major blood vessels.

According to a study done on maternal behavior in mammals as noted in the October 2010 edition of Massage Magazine, “Scientists found lack of cutaneous stimulation had far-reaching effects.  Pregnant rats restricted from licking their abdomens and teats had poorly developed placentas and 50% less mammary gland development.  Their litters were often ill, stillborn or died shortly after birth, in part due to poor mothering skills.”

Women who are reassuringly touched during labor for at least 5-10 seconds have a decrease in anxiety and blood pressure.  Women showed improved moods and less pain and anxiety when massaged by their partner over their head, back, hands and feet for 20 minutes per hour during labor.

WHY IS POSITIONING DURING A PRENATAL MASSAGE IMPORTANT?

During the first trimester of pregnancy, many women are able to comfortably lay in a prone or face down position while receiving a massage.  However, it is still necessary to use precaution and adapt to her comfort during this period.  After the first 13 weeks, it is safest and most appropriate to position a woman side-lying.

Lying supine or face up also involves safety considerations while pregnant, because of the added weight the baby presents to the inferior vena cava.  Extended compression to the vena cava can result in low maternal blood pressure and decreased maternal and fetal circulation, especially with a posterior positioned placenta.  It is safest to elevate the torso to a semi-reclined angle of 45° – 75° after 13 weeks.

Side lying is the most ideal and safest position for prenatal massage to avoid pressure to the vena cava and prevent strain on the lumbar, pelvic, uterine and musculoskeletal structures after the first trimester.  It also prevents increased intrauterine pressure and increased pressure to the sinus cavities.  The left side lying position allows maximum maternal cardiac functioning and fetal oxygenation.  Pillows and bolsters are used to support the expectant mother and baby for an experience of ultimate comfort and relaxation.  While in a side lying position, a woman often feels safest and psychologically at ease, able to voice her excitement, concerns or fears about the pregnancy and upcoming birth.

HOW TO FIND A PRENATAL MASSAGE THERAPIST

Most massage therapy training institutions teach massage therapy for women who are pregnant; however, it is best to find a massage therapist who is certified in prenatal massage. Organizations such as the American Massage Therapy Association, Associated Massage & Bodywork Professionals, and National Certification Board for Theraputic Massage and Bodywork are great places to find experienced and professional massage therapists that are certified in prenatal massage. Referrals and recommendations from friends, family and birth professionals is another way to find a qualified prenatal massage therapist. When searching, some good questions to ask him or her are: what kind of training does he/she have, how long has he/she been in practice and does he/she specialize in prenatal massage.

http://www.amtamassage.org/articles/3/MTJ/detail/2419

http://www.bodytherapyassociates.com/articles/MaternityMTspecialization.pdf?id=11727

http://www.bodytherapyassociates.com/articles/positioning.php

http://www.bodytherapyassociates.com/articles/articles.php

http://www.bodytherapyassociates.com/articles/pregnantpelvis.php

http://www.pghhealthandhealing.com

http://americanpregnancy.org


 
Hannah Reasoner, LMT graduated from White River School of Massage in Fayetteville, AR in 2005. She has over 750 hours of massage and bodywork training, including nearly 75 hours of advanced training in prenatal and postpartum massage. Throughout her career, Hannah has worked closely with chiropractors, doulas, midwives, childbirth educators and other birth professionals. Hannah serves a majority of prenatal, laboring, and postpartum clients in her private practice in Fort Worth, TX.

I’m pregnant! What’s happening here?

Photo credit: super-structure / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

What Should I Expect During the First Trimester of Pregnancy?

You are pregnant!  Congratulations!

Now you might be wondering, what happens next?  If this is your first baby then you are in for some wonderful and amazing changes as your body starts to grow a new human being.  Every moment might not be wonderful, but every change does inspire wonder.

Here is a list of some of the many changes that take place in your body during the first trimester of pregnancy.  The symptoms you experience will vary, since every woman and every pregnancy are different. Consult your care provider with any questions you may have.

Nausea or Morning Sickness-

Morning sickness is probably the most talked about pregnancy symptom of all.  For many women there are symptoms of nausea that start somewhere around five or six weeks into pregnancy.  The length of time this lasts varies, from a few weeks to the entire pregnancy.  Typically, nausea subsides after the first trimester, or around 12 weeks gestation.  While it is called “morning sickness”, this pregnancy nausea can last all day, but is often worse in the morning or after going without food for a long stretch.  For some women, they will experience no nausea whatsoever.

Morning sickness is thought to be caused by changing hormones and the slowing down of digestion that often occurs during pregnancy.  Various things can help control pregnancy nausea so that it isn’t overwhelming.  Eating protein rich foods frequently throughout the day is often the most helpful thing that can be done.  Trying to consume about 80 grams of protein each day may provide relief, and starting each morning with a protein rich breakfast (eggs, oatmeal with fruit and nuts) can start the day off right and curb nausea.

Ginger is well known for it’s ability to help with nausea and can usually be safely consumed during pregnancy.

Breast tenderness-

While not as talked about as nausea, breast tenderness is often the first thing that tells a woman that she may be pregnant.  Suddenly your breasts are tender to the touch, which may be especially noticeable while exercising.  Usually a minor irritant, breast tenderness is one of the first signs that your body is growing a baby, your hormones are changing, and you will in a few short months be nursing your little one!  Our bodies are amazing.

There is no known “cure” for this aspect of pregnancy and it will usually pass with time.

Headaches-

Some women experience headaches during pregnancy, often in the first trimester.  While they can be disconcerting, especially to someone not used to them, there is often a simple solution.  Often pregnancy headaches are simply caused by low blood sugar and the increased need for nourishment as the placenta is being formed.  Pregnancy is not a pathology, but it is hard work for the body and requires healthy, whole foods, frequently throughout the day.  (Sign up for our e-mail list to get a FREE download about optimal pregnancy nutrition with bonus recipes.)

Eating frequent small snacks or meals (about every two hours) always containing a protein source is probably the best way to not only curb pregnancy headaches and also feed your body the nourishment it so needs during the early days of pregnancy.  The practice of eating healthy has the added bonus of helping with a variety of pregnancy symptoms considered unavoidable, from nausea to swelling.  You and your baby are worth the effort.

Feeling emotional-

Though seldom talked about, feeling a variety of strong emotions during pregnancy (especially during the first trimester) is very common.  Some women find they cry more easily, others find that they are glowing and deliriously happy.  Even when a pregnancy was planned and much looked forward to, feelings of ambivalence are normal.  The occurrence is so common it is documented in midwifery textbooks as a normal pregnancy symptom.

While the change in hormones may cause this emotional manifestation of the physical changes in the body, there are things that can help.  Some women find that careful attention to their diet, paying especial attention to healthy B vitamin sources is beneficial.  Brewers yeast, seafood (in moderation, according to your care provider’s recommendations), beef, cheese and eggs are all ways to increase B vitamin consumption through diet.

It is also important that the new mother be gentle with herself, accept that pregnancy can be emotional, and surround herself with supportive people like her partner, her birth doula, family and friends, and a knowledgeable childbirth educator.  Pregnancy is a time where each women deserves extra care and support.

Exhaustion-

You are pregnant!  Do you feel sleepy yet?!

It is very common for pregnant women to feel tired in both the first and the third trimester.  During the first trimester of pregnancy (from conception to about 12 weeks gestation) it is perfectly normal to be tired.  Your body is working hard to form a placenta and the very beginnings of your baby.  Give your body time to rest and feed it well during this time when so much is developing.

Good diet, paying special attention to greens (you can supplement with a liquid chlorophyll if needed) and iron intake (meats are high in this and chlorophyl supplements will help your iron to absorb well as will vitamin C) can help with tiredness.   Women get a renewed energy when the second trimester starts, around 13 weeks.

Frequent urination-

Even though the baby is very tiny during the first trimester, it is not uncommon to have a frequent urge to urinate. Hormonal changes cause the blood to flow through your kidneys more quickly thus causing more frequent urination.  In addition, your blood volume increases dramatically during pregnancy (by about 50%) and this is a further stress on the kidneys and increases the need to urinate.  Of course, as the baby grows, because it rests just above the bladder, the increased weight adds pressure causing frequent urges.

Though this is a normal and healthy part of pregnancy, avoiding things that are diuretic (like coffee, tea, caffeine, and alcohol) can ease the burden on your hard working body.

Birth Boot Camp encourages a proper Kegel program to strengthen the pelvic floor.  The muscles in the pelvic floor support the bladder and other organs and having them strong and flexible allows for more control of elimination.

Growing a human is hard work - 

Sometimes it is tempting to focus on the “symptoms” of pregnancy.  We prefer however to focus on what a miracle it is.  A human being (you) is able to grow another human being.  It is truly amazing (and yes, hard) work.  You will find that there are many nutritional and lifestyle changes that can improve overall health and happiness throughout pregnancy.

Enjoy!  The best is yet to come.

  • Contact Us