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?

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.

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.

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 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

Book Review: The Serotonin Power Diet

March 17, 2017 at 2:10 pm

Last week I was doing some reading about weight loss while breastfeeding. There is a common misconception that breastfeeding promotes weight loss. It turns out this isn’t the case, at least for many women. Prolactin, one of the primary breastfeeding hormones, actually slows the metabolism of fat (Source). I’ve gained weight myself since giving birth nearly 15 months ago. My particular weight gain situation is compounded by a medication as well. The SSRI I take for my anxiety and depression has a side-effect of weight gain for many people. All of my family members have gained weight from taking anti-depressants, so it isn’t a surprise that I would as well.

When I attempted to wean off my medication three years ago, I dropped the weight quickly, but I also descended into a dark, suicidal hell. Those who love me agree that my will to live is much more important than being thin. Initially my medication-induced weight gain translated to being approximately 20-30 lbs heavier than I was pre-SSRI. With my added weight gain from pregnancy and breastfeeding, I am now approximately 60 lbs heavier than I was for most of my life.

plus60lbs

With my 2nd baby in 2007 and then 2016

4 Questions to Ask about Our Children’s Futures

February 19, 2017 at 6:10 pm

A friend of mine has been dealing with some intense challenges with her son’s school. Her sweet but very active 5-year-old son has been suspended three times in the past three weeks. I’m tempted to say he was suspended for rule infractions that could fit under the umbrella of “being a 5-year-old.” Most American kindergarteners are expected to sit still, stand still, be quiet, stay in line, and generally avoid typical 5-year-old behavior at all times. So sad.

While American kindergarteners are denied their one short recess for small infractions, kindergarteners in Finland are given as many as four free-play breaks between classes because “educators and parents here believe that these breaks are a powerful engine of learning that improves . . . executive function, concentration and cognitive focus, behavior, well-being, attendance, physical health, and yes, test scores, too” (Source). Professor Howard Gardner, from Harvard University Graduate School of Education, gave this advice for improving American schools: “Learn from Finland, which has the most effective schools and which does just about the opposite of what we are doing in the United States” (Source).

All of this has me thinking a lot about what really matters and what will really prepare my children for the actual future they will be living in. My research and my gut agree that what is being taught in most American schools is insufficient for and even opposed to what our children will actually need in the future. For what it’s worth, here are some questions I feel we should be thinking about.

4 questions to ask

4 Tips for Improving Life on an SSRI

January 25, 2017 at 3:48 am

Taking an SSRI for depression and anxiety can be life-saving, but anti-depressants aren’t always as helpful as we would hope. Some people don’t find any relief at all, or try multiple types of drugs before finding one that works for them. Science Daily recently reported:

More than half of the 41 million Americans who take antidepressants do not fully respond. Add-on therapies are often prescribed to enhance the effects of the drugs in these patients, but they typically offer limited additional benefits and come with side effects (Source).

I first began taking the anti-depressant Sertraline (Zoloft) in August of 2012. My journey managing life with this drug over the past few years has taught me a thing or two. One of my favorite things to do is to write about and share the things I learn. My hope is always that reading one of my posts will change someone’s life for the better. Here are four tips for improving life on an SSRI.

**As always, none of this should be considered medical advice. These are things that have helped me, but none of them should replace the advice or care of a qualified mental health professional.**

4 tips SSRI post graphic

5 Ways You’re Not Failing as a Mom

December 3, 2016 at 8:47 am

Back in October, I celebrated my 36th birthday. Celebrated actually isn’t the best word. It was kind of an awful day ’cause I was in a horrible mood. As I got thinking about why I was so frustrated, I did a lot of pondering about failure. I feel like I’m failing at a lot of things lately. My husband and sister tell me I’m “not failing” in an effort to make me feel better, but the truth is that I am. We are all failing at something. Some of us are failing at multiple things. Some of us are failing at many things. Every single day of our lives we will fail at something. The question isn’t whether we will fail. Because we will. In ways both small and great we will fail. We simply cannot do it all AND do it all well.

What makes us feel miserable and frustrated isn’t the failures themselves, per se, but what we do with them. Do we retreat into shame and feel incapacitated? That’s pretty much what happened to me on my birthday. And I know it’s totally counter-productive and lame, but sometimes we even fail at failure. Ha! But a voice keeps tugging at the corners of my mind. It says, “Failure isn’t bad. Failure is a gift. Failure is feedback. Love your failures.” I’m intrigued. And I’m wondering what that would look like and what that would feel like. I’m still pondering that.

In the meantime, however, I’d like to offer you (and myself) 5 ways you are NOT failing as a mom. Even though failing is something we shouldn’t feel ashamed about, it’s still nice to remind ourselves sometimes that we’re doing better than we think we are.

5-ways-you-arent-failing-as-a-mom2

5 Ways Magnesium Makes Life More Awesome

November 27, 2016 at 4:09 am

It’s no surprise that I love magnesium. I’ve been counting the ways for years now. I first declared my love for this magnificent mineral in 2010 here. And since then I have probably sounded a bit like a broken record. If you’ve been reading my blog for long, you’re well aware of my magnesium obsession. No shortage of posts about its many uses and virtues around here:

Today I’d like to share five of my favorite ways to use magnesium, or…

 

5 Ways Magnesium Makes Life More Awesome

Glutamate and Anxiety

August 26, 2016 at 9:40 pm

It has taken me over two years to decide to write this post. To be honest I’m feeling a little bit PTSD-ish just thinking about it. But I think it’s time to share this info. So here I am.

When I felt myself diving back into anxiety and depression in the spring of 2014 (after a lengthy period of weaning off my SSRI medication) I began to spend nearly all my time doing research and then implementing that research. I wanted to find a cure. I wanted to be happy without medication. I spent hundreds of dollars trying different supplements… various omega-3s, multivitamins, methylated B-vitamins, turmeric, taurine, various types of magnesium, probiotics, and so forth. I tried Q96. I tried bone broth (and it was a horrible idea for me, by the way). I tried eliminating all processed foods, meat, wheat, and most dairy.

supplements

The Mother-Baby Dyad: Sacred Synergy

July 4, 2016 at 5:03 pm

A few days ago I gathered with some lovely women for a Gift of Giving Life party. While there I shared with them some of the fascinating and beautiful insights I have been learning about the sacred interchange within the mother-baby dyad. The “thesis” of my message was this: mothers and babies are the key to creating a peaceful world. Without nurturing mothers and peace-filled babies, we will never see humanity overcome the evils that tear us apart. The love of a mother is so crucial, so irreplaceable, so powerful. Below I will share some of the slides from my presentation.

The Mother-Baby Dyad- Sacred Synergy

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