Healing your home

May 14, 2011 at 10:54 pm

So… air pollution. We hear so much about the global warming debate, but we rarely hear about how toxins in our air may be impacting human health and happiness. This subject has been on my mind a lot over the past week, and I felt impressed to do some digging about it. How are those toxins impacting pregnant women and their babies?  And how can we protect ourselves?

What I found was that prenatal and early exposure to air pollutants has been linked to a growing number of health and behavioral issues. Here are a few:

Preterm birth

“For the first trimester, the odds of preterm birth consistently increased with increasing carbon monoxide exposures and also at high levels of exposure to particulate matter . . . . Women exposed to carbon monoxide above 0.91 ppm during the last 6 weeks of pregnancy experienced increased odds of preterm birth” (Source).

Reduced fetal growth

“Over the past decade there has been mounting evidence that ambient air pollution during pregnancy influences fetal growth. . . . We found strong effects of ambient air pollution on ultrasound measures” (Source).

Growing, Glowing, and Going: South Mountain

November 14, 2010 at 7:07 am

I’m twenty-six weeks today. Or about 6 months.  On the verge of the third trimester.  Time flies!  This afternoon, I was telling my husband that I’ve been feeling more pregnancy aches and pains in my lower back and pelvis (mostly when getting out of bed in the morning or getting up from sitting on the couch for too long). It’s always worse after I’ve been immobile for an extended period of time. So I guess the key is: keep moving. Too bad sleep is so important, eh?

My body is telling me to get moving. And research on prenatal exercise tells me the same thing. Remember that book I mentioned in my last exercise post? Origins:How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives, by Annie Murphy Paul? I picked it up from the library earlier this week. I haven’t had a chance to read much of it yet, but from what little I’ve read so far, there’s no question that prenatal exercise is beneficial to both mom and baby. And, of particular note to me today, prenatal exercise can “help manage musculoskeletal problems like low back pain” (p. 151). This reinforces what I had already learned reading Exercising Through Your Pregnancy a couple of years ago.

Keep moving, my body is saying. So… I obliged. And the perfect Arizona fall weather obliged as well. It was a fabulous day for a picnic and hike at South Mountain.  Those rocky trail inclines were a workout, but it was awesome. My body felt great, my kids impressed me with their stamina, and, as per my usual, I took an excessive number of pictures. Here are a few (or maybe more than a few) of them…

Growing, Glowing, and Going: Slacker

November 1, 2010 at 11:03 pm

So I was going to write a series of posts sharing my adventures exercising through this pregnancy.  Ha.  Oops. My only excuse is that I got too busy researching and posting about other topics like preventing postpartum hemorrhage, the perils of cervical scar tissue, the bed rest myth, and preventing preterm labor. So I’m not a total slacker-blogger, right? ;-)

The latest on my pregnant runner exploits is… well… I’m a slacker. I did really well going running 2-3 times a week (and listening to LOTS of podcasts) up until the last few weeks. I started noticing some discomfort in my lower abdomen and found myself walking a lot more than running on those last several runs. So I decided it was time to transition into the walking stage of my prenatal exercise regimen. We have taken several walks since then, but not nearly as many as I should be taking. And I’m feeling more and more of the effects of my lack of exercise… more aches and pains, general lack of energy, etc.

Preventing preterm labor

October 16, 2010 at 12:58 am

2014-10-17 11.25.53 am

Before I get into my research on preterm labor, I want to make it clear that preterm labor should be taken very seriously.  I am not a medical professional, so none of the contents of this blogpost should be considered medical advice. If you suddenly begin to experience possible preterm labor symptoms, the March of Dimes urges:

Call your health care provider or go to the hospital right away if you think you are having preterm labor. The signs of preterm labor include:

  • Contractions (your abdomen tightens like a fist) every 10 minutes or more often
  • Change in vaginal discharge (leaking fluid or bleeding from your vagina)
  • Pelvic pressure—the feeling that your baby is pushing down
  • Low, dull backache
  • Cramps that feel like your period
  • Abdominal cramps with or without diarrhea

(Source: Preterm Labor and Birth: A Serious Pregnancy Complication)

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A couple of weeks ago, I wrote “The Bed Rest Myth” and promised that a post about preventing preterm labor was in the works.  Here is that promised post.  To re-cap, I got thinking about preterm labor a little over a month ago. A family member was put on bed rest (at 7 months pregnant) for some worrisome cramping and contracting she was experiencing. Her situation catapulted preterm labor onto my radar screen with big flashing red lights. Since then I’ve spent considerable time digging through the available research, hoping to find some clues that might be helpful to women facing preterm labor (and those hoping to prevent it).

The Bed Rest Myth

September 28, 2010 at 10:53 pm

“Bed rest does not appear to improve the rate of preterm birth and should not be routinely recommended.” -American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

“The majority of women who are on bed rest don’t need to be, and many experience physical, emotional, and financial complications that are completely unnecessary.” -Mark Taslimi, M.D., professor of maternal-fetal medicine at Stanford University

“Just because something is widely believed doesn’t make it true. Scientifically, bed rest is simply not a valid treatment.” -John Thorp, M.D., a maternal-fetal specialist at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill

Disclaimer: Nothing contained in this post should be considered medical advice. If you have concerns or questions, please consult with your healthcare provider.

Several weeks ago, someone I care about was put on bed rest (at seven months pregnant) for some worrisome cramping she had been and continues to be experiencing.  Her situation catapulted preterm labor and bed rest onto my radar screen with big flashing red lights.  I had never really given preterm labor or bed rest much thought because I had never experienced them nor had anyone close to me.  As I started digging into the scientific literature on these subjects, I was totally blown away by what I discovered.  I’ve been researching pregnancy and childbirth topics for over seven years, but, yet again, I’m asking myself, “How did I not know this before?”

Before I dive into those stunning facts, let me first set the scene with the not-so-pretty reality of the bed rest experience.

Bed Rest Challenges

“Rest cure” has been recommended to women as a means of treating a wide variety of physical and emotional ailments since the 1800’s.   Almost a million American women are prescribed bed rest during their pregnancies every year for all types of pregnancy complications. 

Got lecithin?

August 4, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Partway through my first pregnancy, I started having pain in my pelvis. It wasn’t the normal round ligament pain. It started in my lower back and radiated through my whole pelvis into the hip joints. When I walked or climbed stairs, it was especially bad. Eventually, I could hardly walk without excruciating pain, lasting for weeks. I asked my doctor about it, but I think all he told me was, “That’s normal.” Thanks, doc. It sure didn’t seem “normal” to me. If only I had met my friend Meredith way back then!

Meredith and I met at our doula training in February of ’09. Some time afterward, when we were hanging out at one of our houses, she started telling the story of how she switched from a doctor to a home birth midwife mid-pregnancy (with her second baby). She began by describing some pelvic pain she had been experiencing and how her doctor was no help to her. Bells and whistles started ringing in my head… Hey! That happened to me too! I had almost forgotten about my first pregnancy pelvic issues until she mentioned hers.

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