Busca’s birthing brew

February 5, 2011 at 11:55 pm

Since August, I’ve been concocting a birthing beverage in my head. A couple of nights ago, my husband and I tried it out.

It’s a lot tastier than it looks. :-)

First I’ll give you the recipe, and then I’ll explain the why-to’s…

Improving your epidural birth

November 18, 2010 at 8:46 am

Back in August, a close friend from college specifically requested that I do some posts for women like her who plan to have epidurals. So I wrote the first in a supposed series of “Improving your epidural birth” posts, encouraging pregnant women to “hire wisely” when choosing a care provider.

This morning I got feeling bad that I haven’t written any more posts for that series, and I suddenly realized that I have! In fact, the vast majority of the posts I’ve written over the last six months are on topics that would be of interest to all women, not just those who choose to forgo pharmaceutical pain relief in childbirth. And scanning three+ years of posts on my old blog brought up many more.

So, with all of that in mind, I give you some of my best tips for improving your epidural birth (besides carefully choosing a care provider), gleaned from my blog (and other helpful sites) over the years.

1) Prepare your body for pregnancy.

The more I learn, the more I realize that the groundwork for a really wonderful birth experience must be laid long before labor begins. When you nourish and take care of yourself, your body will be stronger and better able to perform its vital functions in pregnancy and childbirth. A strong, healthy body is much less likely to suffer complications that can have a detrimental and traumatic impact on your birth experience.

Many of the same things that will best prepare your body for a healthy pregnancy will also improve your chances of conceiving—eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low on processed foods, maintaining a healthy weight, optimizing your body’s levels of key nutrients (vitamin d, magnesium, essential fatty acids, and folate).  Making these dietary and lifestyle changes habits before conception will make them much easier to maintain throughout the coming pregnancy and beyond. 

Cervical scar tissue

September 8, 2010 at 11:53 pm

Last Friday I saw my midwives, Mary and Nedra. We finished the whole urine, weight, blood pressure, fundal height, heart tones routine in about fifteen minutes, and I asked a couple of questions about vitamin K and ultrasounds, and then we just got chatting. Quite a bit of time passed, and their next client didn’t show up, so we just kept on chatting. I could have stayed all day, I think. It was so great to have extra time with them.

I don’t remember how we got on the subject, but Mary started talking about the cervixes of women who have had a LEEP procedure. I didn’t know what LEEP was, so she explained that it’s when they go in and cut away abnormal cells from the cervix. Then bells and whistles started going off in my head because I remembered reading several months ago about how having procedures done on your cervix can create scar tissue that often proves troublesome during childbirth. My midwives said they’re seeing more and more women with cervical scar tissue.

When I first learned about cervical scar tissue’s impact on labor, I thought: women need to know this! I did share a link on facebook and in the sidebar of my blog, but then I let it slip to the back of my mind. After the chat with my midwives on Friday, I felt driven, again, to spread the word. With more and more women approaching childbirth with scarred cervixes, this information is more important than ever. In fact, I have a hunch that cervical scar tissue is likely contributing greatly to the rising cesarean rate.

Preventing postpartum hemorrhage: a follow-up

August 26, 2010 at 8:54 pm

After publishing my last post, “Preventing postpartum hemorrhage naturally,” I was lying in bed thinking, and I realized I should have talked about the importance of skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding to keep oxytocin levels high, reducing postpartum bleeding. Then this morning I got a lovely comment from Sherry reminding me about Michel Odent’s recommendations for preventing postpartum hemorrhage. So I whipped out my copy of Odent’s Birth and Breastfeeding to refresh my memory (it’s been about five years since I read it).

Darkness

I’ll admit that I was originally a little hesitant to suggest that low lighting might make a difference in preventing postpartum hemorrhage. Of all the tips I mentioned in my last post, that was the one I felt least confident about. I even asked my husband, after he finished reading the post, whether he thought I was “way out in left field” on that one. So I was relieved, as I skimmed through Odent’s book this afternoon, to find that his views support my “left field” suggestion. He says:

The need for privacy does not end when the baby is born. An environment that enhances the delivery is also needed immediately afterwards, so as not to disturb the first contact between mother and baby. . . . The best way to avoid haemorrhage is to enable mother and baby to stay in close contact in a warm, dark, and silent place—and get rid of any observers. The contact with the baby’s eyes and skin helps the mother to secrete the hormone necessary to stimulate the ‘placenta ejection reflex.’ When the baby suckles the nipple, the reflex is reinforced. (Birth and Breastfeeding, p. 46-47, emphasis mine)

Preventing postpartum hemorrhage naturally

August 25, 2010 at 4:39 am

Childbirth involves blood loss. There’s no way around it. How much blood a woman loses is the potentially dangerous variable. Postpartum hemorrhage accounts for the majority of maternal deaths worldwide. Fortunately, in the United States where maternity care is more readily accessible, most postpartum hemorrhages are not fatal. But they do happen, regardless of where you give birth.

So what do we know about postpartum hemorrhage?

Who is most at risk of experiencing a postpartum hemorrhage soon after giving birth?

  • Women with pregnancy induced hypertension
  • Women who experience a prolonged second stage of labor
  • Women who are induced or have their labors augmented with Pitocin
  • Women whose babies are delivered via vacuum extraction
  • Women with “large for gestational age” infants

(Source: Obstetric risk factors and outcome of pregnancies complicated with early postpartum hemorrhage: A population-based study)

Electrolyte replacement

August 18, 2010 at 10:30 pm

Getting fluids in early labor

Pregnant women and women in labor often need electrolyte and energy boosters.  While many recommend using Emergen-C or sport drinks like Gatorade, here are some alternatives which might be more suited to a laboring woman’s needs:

  • Homemade electrolyte drinks
  • Midwife Kim Mosny recommends this “Labor Aid” recipe…

    * 1 qt. water
    * 1/3 c. honey
    * 1/3 c. juice from a real lemon
    * 1/2 t. salt
    * 1/4 t. baking soda
    * 2 crushed calcium tablets

    Here’s another similar recipe including magnesium (I assume it’s also added to a quart of water)…

    * 1/3 cup lemon juice (preferably fresh-squeezed)
    * 1/3 cup honey
    * 1/4 tsp. sea salt
    * 1/4 tsp. baking soda
    * 1-2 calcium/magnesium tablets, crushed, OR 1 Tb liquid calcium/magnesium supplement

  • Coconut water, “nature’s electrolyte,” an isotonic beverage (having the same level of electrolytic balance as we have in our blood).
  • [Coconut water] was significantly sweeter, caused less nausea, fullness and no stomach upset and was also easier to consume in a larger amount compared with [carbohydrate electrolyte beverage] and [plain water] ingestion. In conclusion, ingestion of fresh young coconut water, a natural refreshing beverage, could be used for whole body rehydration after exercise. (Saat, et al, 2002, Rehydration after Exercise with Fresh Young Coconut Water, Carbohydrate-Electrolyte Beverage and Plain Water)

  • Vitalyte (a.k.a. Gookinaid), an electrolyte drink created by biochemist and marathon runner, Bill Gookin
  • I am very impressed with the successful use of VITALYTE for fluid and electrolyte replacement in labor, often in cases in which the only recourse would have been intravenous fluids. -Jonathan McCormick, MD, Ob-Gyn

    We have now successfully used VITALYTE for treating morning sickness (including hyperemesis with twins), pre-term labor (by correcting fluid and electrolyte imbalance) and pre-eclampsia (for increasing fluid volume and sodium intake). I am very pleased, don’t care if we ever create an RCT to “properly” study it all. -Marla Hicks, RN, midwife (source)

What do you drink in labor?

And the winners are…

August 16, 2010 at 3:37 pm

You guys are brilliant. I was thrilled so many people entered the contest and produced so much cleverness. Thank you! I was really glad I had my husband to help me make my final decision. In the end, we agreed that the winner should be the creative and multi-talented Kendra @ My Insanity with…

Growing, Glowing, and Going

What can I say?  Tasteful rhyming and alliteration give me warm fuzzies.   THANK YOU and CONGRATULATIONS, Kendra!  I love it!  And I can’t wait to get your prizes to you.  We’ll be in touch via email so I’ll know where to send your $25 BornFit code, book, and stretchy wrap.

Hopes for next time

August 11, 2010 at 6:36 pm

I was chatting with another birth-loving friend the other day about how we “thought we knew so much” the first time we attempted “natural” birth.  I had definitely studied and prepared myself, but, seven years down the road, I can’t help but see my first-time-mother self as a naive birth novice.  That was the beginning of my childbirth obsession, but I had no idea back then just how deep the “rabbit hole” was going to go… and still it goes deeper.

Each of my births has been an improvement upon the last one, with fewer interventions, faster recovery, more intense bonding, etc.  So, naturally, I’m looking for ways to make birth #4 even better than the rest.  I will be seeing the same midwives I chose for my last birth, Mary and Nedra. I tried to be open to intuition and inspiration about choosing a care provider. I didn’t want to choose out of habit… just because I chose them last time. But my gut always came back to them. I don’t think I could feel safe enough with anyone else, and it’s so nice to not have to start from scratch because they already know me, my family, my body, my house. Plus they’re phenomenal midwives (see my old blog for a post I wrote all about them). So… drawing on all that I’ve learned over the last seven years, and assuming that I remain low-risk and complication-free throughout the duration of my pregnancy and labor, here are my plans, hopes, and goals for this next birth…

Exercise your creativity–my first contest/giveaway!

July 31, 2010 at 10:39 pm

THIS CONTEST/GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED! Stay tuned for the winners!

A few weeks after I found out I was pregnant, I was going for a morning run and had a little epiphany.  During my last pregnancy, I had taken a lot of encouragement and motivation from reading a (no longer available) blog called “Running For Two” at the Runner’s World website.  As I jogged down the last stretch of road before turning the corner to my house, I made up my mind that I was going to offer myself to Runners World as a “pregnant running blogger” so I could bring that same encouragement to other women striving to stay active through their pregnancies.

Runner’s World had recently put out a call for women to share their experiences running while pregnant and mothering children, so I thought the climate might be ripe for another pregnant runner blog.  As soon as I got in the door from my run, I contacted Runner’s World via email.  A week or two later, I got a friendly reply in which I was basically told, “Thanks, but no thanks.”  But I wasn’t disappointed for long and soon resolved to document my exploits as a gestating runner right in my own blog.

Then I got scheming about it… thinking I should come up with a clever name for my pregnant running post series.  I didn’t want to copy the “Running For Two” name used by Runner’s World, but I couldn’t for the life of me come up with something I liked as well.  Then we went on vacation, and my brother and I got busy creating my new website.  And then I had another epiphany.  What if I asked my readers to put their creative juices to the task?  They could probably come up with something far better than what I could!  And maybe I could have prizes? Thus… my first contest/giveaway was born.

My home birth slideshow

July 23, 2010 at 8:36 pm

Photos courtesy of my doula, Cassie (who now resides in Georgia) and my sister-in-law, Brooke. To read the full birth story with all the juicy details, click here and scroll past the video.

P.S. My husband is older than he looks. (So am I.)

Ask Busca: Dads and Doulas?

July 19, 2010 at 7:21 pm

Fig asked:

My husband only wants the two of us to be present for our first baby’s birth. (No friends or relatives or anything, just him, me, and the people who are delivering the baby.) So … do you think I can convince him a doula would be one of the baby-delivery personnel? I have no idea what the dynamic is like in a delivery room. No idea what to expect. But here’s what I know about my husband: he is extremely private. He doesn’t like big fusses, or loud craziness, and he’s very uncomfortable with profound emotions/pain. He also doesn’t like to be bossed. I guess I just can’t figure out how the husband and doula work together without the husband feeling a little bit weird. Am I worrying about nothing?

Why hire a doula?

July 19, 2010 at 6:41 pm

[Re-post from the old blog.  Originally published in April of 2007.]

When I gave birth for the first time, I didn’t know what a doula was, but I recently realized that the care and support of a “doula” is what actually carried me through that birth.

Her name was Eve. She was the labor and delivery nurse assigned to me when I entered the hospital for my oldest daughter’s birth. She was gentle, unassuming, and kind. When I told her that I was hoping to “go natural,” she mentioned that she could offer positions to try and techniques to cope with the pain of labor. She said she had given birth without drugs before, and knowing she was supportive and experienced gave me courage.

As labor progressed, Eve showed my husband how to provide counter-pressure to ease the discomfort of contractions. She pulled out the rarely-used, water-proof telemetry monitor so my husband could spray my back with hot water in the shower. When I got out of the shower, she brought in a birth ball and helped me to sit and rock on it. Later, she coached me to keep my vocalizing low, deep, and relaxed instead of high-pitched and tense. When I doubted myself and contemplated drugs as I struggled through the hardest contractions, she said, “Why don’t I check you first—you might be almost fully dilated.” Sure enough, I was only a couple of centimeters from the end. She told me that, in her experience, it felt good once you could push (and she was right). She rubbed my feet and sat by my side through those last intense contractions, encouraging me with her reassuring words. Although her shift ended before the pushing started, she chose to stay with me until after the birth. Ultimately, I did it! Giving birth for the first time without complications or drugs was one of the most empowering experiences of my life.

Avoiding tearing and episiotomies

July 19, 2010 at 3:39 pm

Giving birth for the first time was one of the most empowering experiences of my life. My water broke, my contractions started, everything progressed smoothly, and, less than six hours later, my baby girl was born. It was an ideal birth experience, except for one thing. That one thing made my next few weeks of recovery extremely painful. I tore. I really tore.

Despite the painful recovery, this was actually the lesser of two evils for me. Though some caregivers continue to cut episiotomies in as many as 80% of their patients, medical research does not support routine episiotomies. Studies from as far back as the 80s made it clear that routine episiotomies have no benefits and carry real risks. One of the most detrimental risks is that episiotomies can lead to further tearing, sometimes extending into the anus. These fourth degree anal tears almost never occur without an episiotomy. In addition, a spontaneous tear may only reach into the surface layers of skin, while an episiotomy cuts into far more layers. Episiotomies are rarely warranted and should be reserved for those unusual emergency cases. Ultimately, even without all the evidence, I just didn’t want someone cutting me. I knew, going into my first birth experience, that if I had to choose between them, I would choose to tear. And, tear I did.

“Nobody thinks you’re a hero”

July 18, 2010 at 10:55 pm

A comment from this site has got me on the defensive. So I’m going to spill my thoughts here.

I did NOT choose to give birth without drugs because…

* I wanted people to call me their “hero.”
* I wanted to prove something.
* I wanted a reason to feel superior to other women.

Birth in the standing position

July 18, 2010 at 10:20 pm

A statement out of a recent Midwifery Today E-Newsletter reminded me of something I’ve been wanting to blog about ever since my doula training in February of ’09. Dutch midwife, Gre Keijzer, explained:

In my view, starting the second stage in a standing position can be seen as a preventive measure against the occurrence of shoulder dystocia. If it does occur, it can be easily corrected without having to perform all sorts of heroic manoeuvres.

I’ve become somewhat obsessed in the last year with giving birth in standing positions. My fascination began when my doula trainer, Mary, shared a handout adapted from an article by Jean Sutton called, “Physiological Second Stage or Birth Without Active Pushing.”

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