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Music for Childbirth

February 16, 2018 at 12:28 pm

Music has always been one of my true loves, and I can’t imagine giving birth to my 6th baby without it. My love of music is something I am hoping to pass on to my children. So far so good, I think.

4 Reasons to Include Plants in Your Birth Space

February 14, 2018 at 3:57 pm

 

Today I am 28 weeks pregnant, and lately I’ve been spending a lot of time preparing for my birth. The plan is to give birth in my bedroom, so I’m working to make that space feel peaceful, comfortable, and visually uplifting and appealing. This isn’t something I have ever really done before, despite having given birth five times previously. Two of those births were at home, but I didn’t prepare my birth space beyond trying to keep it tidy. I’m not exactly sure why I’m so motivated to sanctify my birth space this time around. Perhaps it’s because this could be the last time, and I want to make it as special as possible?

Wordless Wednesday: Preparing My Birth Space

February 7, 2018 at 11:16 am

Six Things for Sunday: 27 Weeks Edition

February 4, 2018 at 7:18 pm

Copy of six things for sunday

#1 SPD Update

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about my late-pregnancy nemesis, Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD). As pregnancy hormones relax the pelvis, sometimes they work a little too well on the pelvic joints and things spread out more than they should. Having an “abnormal gap” in the symphysis pubis joint becomes more common the more pregnancies a woman has. During my 5th pregnancy, I had horrible SPD pain, and a few weeks ago I started noticing some twinges as I move into the third trimester of my 6th pregnancy. In my blogpost, I shared some things I was planning to try to keep the SPD away or at least minimal. Below I’ll share a few notes about each now that some time has passed.

Poems for the Empty Womb in my Future

January 29, 2018 at 2:35 pm

Tomorrow I will be 26 weeks, right on the cusp of the third trimester. Yesterday I realized that, if this baby comes at 38 weeks like my last one, I only have twelve weeks left to prepare. I also realized that those fleeting weeks are all the time I have left to cradle this baby within my body, to fulfill all of my child’s needs effortlessly, to feel his tiny body slide and turn and nudge, to have a oneness with another soul unlike anything else on earth. This could very well be the last time. The thought fills me with both a sense of closure and gratitude as well as a crushing, devastating grief.

Six years ago, we published The Gift of Giving Life. One of the stories we included was from a woman born in the mid-fifties, during the nightmarish “twilight sleep” era. She watched birth transform over the decades. Her mother was a nurse, and she became a nurse herself, spending years attending women in childbirth as well as birthing her own babies. I’ve always loved this passage from her story:

I had the privilege of bearing nine children, which to many seems like a lot. But to me that is only a few precious times to experience such a glorious thing as birth. If a person likes to ski, it would not seem excessive to ski a dozen or more times in their life. Most women are able to experience birth just a very few times; all the more reason to be careful about creating the best birth possible (Velinda Mitchell, p. 46).

Treatments for Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD)

January 19, 2018 at 12:19 pm

As I moved into the third trimester during my 5th pregnancy, I became painfully acquainted with a common pregnancy discomfort called Symphasis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD). SPD was miserable. I felt horrible pain where the pubic bones come together every time I moved, especially when rolling over in bed, getting up and down, walking, and just generally moving at all.

Hope’s Backstory

January 15, 2018 at 3:16 pm

For two years I’ve thought about writing this post. For two years I haven’t felt ready to do it. I suppose, like Mary, I have “kept all these things and pondered them in my heart.” Today I feel ready.

 

This morning, I awoke as I usually do, with a wiggly blonde toddler named Hope next to me, her still-drowsy voice piercing my sleep, “Mommy… Mommy…” She slid her body on top of mine, no small feat with my growing 24-week-pregnant belly. I gently moved her to my other side, her head nestled in the crook of my arm, pulled her close, and kissed her nose. While I looked at her face, her cheeks still round with lingering baby fat, she scratched at something on her chin. I kissed her cheek. She smiled. In my mind, I silently but feelingly prayed:

Thank you, God, for sending her to me. Thank you. Thank you.

Thank You, Anxiety

January 14, 2018 at 5:39 pm

Last night I woke up my husband, sleeping peacefully next to me, and said words I haven’t said in a long time:

“I need help. I’m feeling anxious.”

The anxiety was mild. But once you have known the horror of debilitating anxiety, even mild anxiety is terror-inducing and can quickly escalate, like a PTSD trigger, feeding itself.

A Sampling of Recent Pregnancy-Related Research

January 8, 2018 at 1:05 pm

Every once in a while, I like to peruse pregnancy-related research on Google Scholar and Google News. Here’s a sampling of research I found relevant from 2017 and early 2018. Some of the findings seem pretty unsurprising, but I felt they were worth mentioning. Study abstracts are linked in parentheses following each summary.

Hyperemesis gravidarum, pregnancy hypertension, pre-eclampsia, and cesarean section are associated with an increased risk for postpartum depression in first-time mothers (Psychological Medicine, January 23, 2017).

Stronger maternal-fetal bonding during pregnancy leads to a stronger maternal-infant bond after birth (American Journal of Perinatology, February 17, 2017).

Childbirth education classes and birth plans are associated with a higher incidence of vaginal delivery (Birth: Issues in Prenatal Care, March 2017).

Mistreatment (including discrimination and abuse) by a care provider during childbirth is associated with a higher incidence of complications during delivery and postpartum (Maternal and Child Health, September 2017).

N-Acetylcysteine for Trichotillomania (and more)

December 29, 2017 at 1:49 pm

Over the past several years, I have shared (or over-shared) the details of my journey with anxiety and depression. Lots of people have said to me, “I can’t believe how open you are.” For many, struggling with mental illness is a private battle. But it was never hard for me to tell my friends, family, and the Internet about the darkness and fear that were plaguing me. I wasn’t ashamed.

But.

For quite a while, but particularly the past couple of years, I have been battling another mental disorder that I have felt some shame about, and I haven’t felt comfortable publicly acknowledging it until now. I’m not sure exactly why this has been harder, but I think it’s partly because I didn’t really know for a long time that some of my strange habits were actually considered a disorder. And this particular disorder isn’t often talked about (at least not vocally or in public). It’s also, admittedly, really bizarre. Even the name is bizarre.

Coming Home Again

December 27, 2017 at 1:19 pm

I’ve given birth in a large teaching hospital, a small community hospital, at home, and at a birth center. There were pros and cons to each setting. You can read more about those HERE. When I found out I was pregnant with my sixth baby in September, I started pondering my options for the birth right away.

Last time, in order to keep my anxiety levels in check, I felt it was best to know I would be very close to a hospital. Blossom Birth Center, the location we chose, is across the street from Phoenix Children’s Hospital and five minutes down the street from St. Joseph’s Hospital. Another reason I chose Blossom is because I was already acquainted with Mary Langlois, co-owner of the birth center. I met her during my third pregnancy and attended a doula training she taught in 2009. I had a strong feeling that Mary was the midwife I needed to attend my 5th birth, and she proved to be just exactly the right person. I will be forever grateful for the nurturing and care she gave to me.

When I started thinking about the birth of my sixth baby, I realized that many of the fears and concerns I had during my fifth pregnancy were gone. My anxiety levels have been very low for the past couple of years, and I just didn’t have the same need to be across the street from a hospital. While I absolutely adore Mary Langlois and would have her attend all of my births if I could, we recently moved a lot further west from where we were.

5 Tips for Avoiding Pitocin in Childbirth

December 18, 2017 at 1:08 pm

Avoiding Pitocin graphic

 

Over seven years ago, I wrote one of the most-shared and viewed (and most controversial) posts on my blog, Pitocin’s Untold Impact. In it, I discussed the potential negative impacts of Pitocin, the synthetic form of oxytocin used in hospitals to speed or start the childbirth process. There has been a huge rise in labor inductions within the past twenty years. The CDC reported that “the rate of induction of labor more than doubled from 1990 through 2010, from 9.6% to 23.8%.” The year my first baby was born (she is now a teenager), the New York Times reported that “one baby in five is now born after the birth process has been started by a drug.” In 2006, in a study of 5500 low-risk, first-time mothers, 40% were induced and 70% received Pitocin at some point during labor (see Jennifer Block, Pushed, p. 5-6).

The Healing Gift of Magnesium [Super Sale!]

December 16, 2017 at 11:18 am

Starting today and going through January 23, Mg12 has their entire selection of Dead Sea magnesium products 20% off! With the “birthfaith” coupon code, you can get an additional 10% off as well! So it’s an awesome time to stock up, and of course it’s an excellent time to share the joy of magnesium with the people you love. I’m giving Mg12 products to a bunch of people this year (just like every year).

Start shopping HERE!

Mg12 christmas sale 2017

The Teen Anxiety Epidemic: Possible Perinatal Factors

December 13, 2017 at 1:22 pm

 

Teen Anxiety Epidemic graphic

Lately I’ve seen a lot of press about the anxiety epidemic among adolescents. It always piques my interest because I have experienced severe anxiety and depression, and I’m especially interested in helping others who struggle with these horrific challenges. Here’s a small sampling of the headlines:

It’s all very troubling to me, and it hits close to home as well. Most of the teen and young adult nieces and nephews on my side of the family are struggling with mental health issues, primarily anxiety and depression. My own teen daughter and several of her friends struggle with anxiety. It’s becoming so common that I’m almost surprised when I find a teen who isn’t anxious or depressed. How did we get to this place?!

Breeding, Bread, and Blessings

December 6, 2017 at 12:27 pm

For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck. -Luke 23:29

A couple of years ago, my friend Heather wrote a post titled with the old saying: “Every Baby Comes with a Loaf of Bread Under its Arm.” In the post, Heather shared the news that she was pregnant with her fifth baby, and then she elaborated on the title of her post, saying:

I think that what this saying means, at least to me, is that every baby who comes to the earth brings blessings, spiritual and temporal, for the mother, the father, the family, the community, and the world.

I’ve been reflecting a lot on this concept lately. These days more and more articles, blogposts, and news stories give us a multitude of reasons why we shouldn’t have children:

I could go on, but this is getting depressing, especially given that I’m now pregnant with my 6th baby.

18 weeks

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