Category Archives: Birth

Postpartum: A Journey to Recovery

Everyone gets caught up in preparing for the baby- the clothes, the nursery, and the diapers, that you can easily neglect the mama! Whether you had a baby vaginally or by C-section you still have a recovery.  This recovery isn’t a, “Halleluiah, the birth is complete, let us celebrate and run everywhere to show off this cute baby!” It is a process. My own mother told me frequently through my labor; “labor is like a marathon not a race.” This applies to postpartum as well. The days and weeks after the birth leave many feeling vulnerable, emotional, and tired. I believe women relate more to the elderly, sick, and mentally ill because we go through such an intense time with our bodies during birth and postpartum. You just did one of the most amazing things on earth, you had a baby, and unfortunately it feels like it too.

Here are my tips and products I used to ease myself through recovery

  • Place a sign on the door of your home. My sweet midwife did this for me with my second birth and I am so grateful she did. It said the weight, gender, and measurements of the baby. It then went on to say, “Hello friends and family, the midwife has asked for short, helpful visits. Please find some laundry or dishes to clean so we can focus on family time, which is very sacred in these first few days.” I left it up for 2 weeks.
  • Accept as much help as possible and don’t be afraid to ask for it. My mother came over quite a bit after both my children’s births. She would do laundry, bring groceries, and do dishes. (I was pretty spoiled.) I believe every woman, after having a baby, should be spoiled. Getting this help will let your body heal faster. If you have had a C-section this is very important. Even when you feel like you can do things yourselves don’t turn down help when it is offered.
  • If you have another young child, try to have someone take them during the day or even for just a couple hours of the day. My sister-in-law was amazing at taking my daughter Eowyn for the first week throughout the day and occasionally at night. It allowed me to focus on the baby and take care of myself instead of trying to balance a toddler and a baby. (If you can’t get family help some doulas offer help specifically for postpartum.)

Here were the best tools and products in caring for my battle worn mom parts.

  • Padsicles- huge menstrual pads that are soaked in water, (you can even squirt witch hazel on them for some extra relief.) Then placed in the freezer. These will be like glorious ice packs for your perineum.
  • A Peri Bottle- this is like a must. It is a squirt bottle. Most hospitals will send you home with one. If you have a home birth buy a water bottle with a squirt top in advance. Toilet paper should not go near you if you’ve had a vaginal delivery! Instead, after you use the bathroom, or just want to feel clean, squirt down there with your new bathroom buddy, Peri.
  • Witch Hazel Pads- if you had the un-fortune of acquiring hemorrhoids through pregnancy, birth, or both, these are very nice. You can make your own or just buy them at any pharmacy. They sell bottles of witch hazel there as well and it is very inexpensive.
  • Nature’s Way Chlorophyll- I bought this at Whole Foods and would highly recommend every mother buy this. You can mix it in a fruit smoothie or just drink it straight, if you do buy the mint flavored one. There is no better blood cleaner or blood builder (For more information on Chlorophyll look for the link at the bottom)
  • Earth Mama products- I hate Dermoplast, the spray hospitals give for numbing your lady parts. The taste of the chemicals got in my mouth, and it tasted gross. This wouldn’t be so bad, but you have to use it a lot. With my second I decided that was enough of that. I bought Earth Mama, Angel Baby organics for postpartum. (The link is at the bottom.) They also have organic products for breastfeeding, babies, pregnancy, C-sections, baby loss and soaps for anyone. I highly recommend them.

    Earth Mama organics for postpartum

      • Mama Bottom Balm- was worth its weight in gold. I could put it on my perineum, and my hemorrhoids. It is specifically for those pesky hemorrhoids though, so whether you are a mom or not, I would recommend this for those. It was so soothing and didn’t smell weird! I used it almost every time I used the bathroom. Out of everything I had this was the very best.
      • New Mama Bottom Spray- it smells like cucumbers and works wonders. It is a fresh cooling spray that can even be used as a facial toner, once you don’t need it for your mama parts. If your torn, had an episiotomy, hemorrhoids or just swelling- it feels very nice.
      • New Mama Post Partum Bath Herbs- these little packs of herbs are heavenly once you boil it, allow to cool, and then place it on a pad against your perineum. It reduces swelling and seriously feels fantastic. You can even use the water that you boiled it in for a nice sitz bath later.

Happy Mothering!

The link for Earth Mama and Angel Baby Products:

http://www.earthmamaangelbaby.com/

Information for Chlorophyll:

http://sacredsourcenutrition.com/the-many-health-benefits-of-chlorophyll/#

Photo Source:

http://www.earthmamaangelbaby.com/gift/postpartum-essentials-bundle.html

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Kim Kardashian, Me, and Placentas

Kim Kardashian, in a recent article for the Huffington Post, says she is interested in consuming her placenta. Yuck, right? Well, not so fast. I don’t know much about the reality star Kim Kardashian, but she may not have a completely ridiculous idea.

Kim Kardashian

The placenta is often called the afterbirth or even in some cultures, the baby’s twin. In Greek it is derived from the word cake due to its round and flat appearance. (Funny it is even associated with food!) It functions as an organ that sustains a baby with nutrients and oxygen through the nine months of development in the womb caring waste and gases away from the baby.

Most mammals, even some of the vegetarian ones, participate in what is known as Placentohpagy, the eating of the placenta after birth. For me personally I grew up on a farm and have seen animals do so. One of our cats had given birth on our back step and afterwards, though there was other food and water available, scarfed the placenta down then cleaned and nursed her new kittens. It wasn’t gross; it was nature.

There have been very few studies on Humans and Placentohpagy though the practice has been around for centuries. In many cultures such as the Chinese and Vietnamese, this practice is common by preparing the placenta through a drying method. Some have even been known to give it to their grandmothers during menopause!

After childbirth the hormones, oestrogen and progestrone, that swarmed your body during pregnancy drop drastically within 4-6 days. This change can cause a symptom normally known as the baby blues. Not to mention at this point you are a little sleep deprived and still recovering from recently having a baby.

With my first child, I experienced a hint of the baby blues. And they are no joke. I wasn’t “depressed” in the idea of being sad or hysterical. I was just a zombie. For months after my first born the house was a disaster. I had little or no energy; I would just sit on the couch, take care of the baby, and wear my pajamas all day. It wasn’t because I was lazy or a bad mother. I could not physically or mentally do anything more.

So, to off set this occurrence I decided to try something else. When my midwife mentioned placenta encapsulation I was hesitant. The other benefits my midwife informed me of, besides the hormone help, were an increase in milk production and quicker recovery after childbirth. Which really appealed to me. And I have to say she was right!

Results of my placenta encapsulation.

Results of my placenta encapsulation.

The day after I gave birth to my second child, my midwife who is certified in placenta encapsulation, came over and began the process. From what I understand of the preparations this is what she did: First she cleaned the placenta then chopped it up, Secondly she put it in a dehydrator until she could finally blend it into a powder Lastly, she put small amounts into capsules for me to swallow.

When my milk came in a couple days after the birth, my breast became engorged* I was taking the capsules three times a day so I cut back to one a day. I was amazed at how quickly I was recovering and how much energy I had compared to the post partum of my first birth. After a week I stopped taking the pills and was still feeling good until about the one month mark.

I began to experience the baby blues, crying constantly and feeling mixed emotions about being a mother. Joy for my precious babies, but also depression and feelings of being trapped. I called my midwife who suggested taking one capsule a day and it really helped! Now whenever I start feeling tired or overwhelmed I take one and am amazed by feeling so much better.

I wouldn’t suggest this method for everyone because culturally it isn’t comfortable for most people. However, if you are a person who would like to quickly recover from childbirth and have an upper hand on the baby blues then it might be something to try.

Happy Mothering!

 

*Engorgement is a very painful experience for most women. The breasts become overly full and even nursing your child constantly doesn’t bring much relief. Use ice packs if this happens and ask your midwife or doctor for ways to relieve it.)

The article from the Hunffington Post

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/04/kim-kardashian-eat-placenta_n_3383038.html

For more info on what other cultures do with the Placenta!

http://www.birthtoearth.com/FAQs/Placenta+Traditions.html

Kim Kardashian photo source:

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My Home Birth

I had two natural births. My first was in the hospital and my last one at home. Frankly, I much prefer a home birth. A lot of people have looked at me like I’m crazy or tell me how extremely brave I am for going natural. I have to be honest; it isn’t about bravery or even intelligence. As a woman, the body is designed a certain way. It is designed with hips, breast, a uterus, and instincts. (I will do a post soon going more into the decision process and information that I took to make my choice.) For now, this is my story.

My wonderful midwife checking his chest size.

My labor started out like Braxton Hicks, those early contractions that help your body get ready for labor. Around seven p.m. my midwife came over for me to meet another midwife who would like to attend the birth. I was hesitant having more people then needed and planned on politely declining another person; our apartment is small and I didn’t want distractions. During the meeting the contractions began to get closer and closer together. I mentioned this to them but tried not to think more about it since I had Braxton Hicks frequently. If it was labor the last thing I wanted to do was psyche myself out.

After they left I relaxed and went about my evening until bedtime. Eowyn was in her crib asleep. I had Emanuel, my husband, turn off the lamp, light a candle, and put on my Hypno Birthing CD. We also covered the TV with a towel so the light wasn’t shining. The ladies droning voice soothingly instructed me to breath and go inside my own head to that peaceful place. It was so calming in comparison to my first hospital birth. I just relaxed and labored alone without being monitored and checked. If I wanted to walk around, shower, or eat I was able to without anyone telling me otherwise.

Emanuel fell asleep and I continued to labor peacefully in the quiet room as the waves got closer and longer. Around midnight I called my mother to inform her that I was probably in labor, but I was fine and she could start driving in an hour if it still persisted. After a while I had her head over then called my midwife to tell her I was in labor but she could wait a little longer.

When my mother arrived we moved to the living room. We sat on the couch, me on a towel just in case my water released, chatting quietly as Eowyn’s soft breathing filled the background. We whispered until I couldn’t anymore. My waves started to be more intense as we moved toward transition, the most intense and thankfully shortest part of labor. During a contraction I would often nod my head letting it roll around until it ceased.

We called the midwife and she headed over, not being able to get a hold of her assistant we actually called the other midwife that was interviewed just hours before! Which was a real blessing.

My midwife arrived alert in her T-shirt and comfy shorts carrying her birth bag. We went in the bedroom and awoke Emanuel. After my midwife took my vitals I sat in my nightgown on the bed and Emanuel sleepily sat next to me. When the other midwife, in scrubs and with her own bag, arrived I was deeper into labor and was now grabbing a hand and making it quite white before releasing. The back labor, that I gratefully didn’t have with my first, was a knife like pain in my lower back.

I knew it should be over soon, but something wasn’t quite right with the baby’s position. My midwife informed me the baby was posterior, meaning the head was on my backbone, verses anterior where the face is toward your backbone. It isn’t a “bad” position it just can create some very intense back labor.

I flopped around on the bed like a cat chasing its tale, at this point stark naked and taking each contraction as it came. None of the positions felt comfortable. I could see the window was getting much lighter and the morning sun was awake. Ready to be done, I began praying in tongues, telling my body through clenched teeth to line up with the word of God and for the waves to cease.

Though I felt the desire to push I couldn’t knowing the baby was not down far enough. Finally, the second midwife asked me to get on my hands and knees for two contractions to try to move the baby down. Shakily I got on my hands and knees, it didn’t make the contractions easier, but I noticed a difference in the positioning. I asked to be moved to the bathroom subconsciously knowing something had shifted.

Between contractions we moved toward the small bathroom until I was sitting on the toilet, actually the best place to labor. Your body immediately knows in the bathroom that this is a place for release and will loosen up enough for this to happen. When a contraction began I would push into my hand (when a woman feels for the head with her hand it prevents tearing!) Once a contraction would cease I stood up and used my arms to push against the wall. After only a couple of these pushes something exciting happened!

I stood up and pushed against the wall leaning slightly forward, evoking the fetal ejection response. The baby slid out in a woosh of water, crying and full of life. I was shocked, as I didn’t know the gender to see that he was a he! Hands reached to grab him but he was so slippery my husband barely was able to catch him before he hit the floor. “It’s a boy!” he said. Relieved and smiling I was handed my baby boy and shuffled to the bed.

At this point I began to lose a fair amount of blood. They clamped his cord (originally I asked for delayed clamping since the cord blood is very good for the baby,) and the second midwife began massaging my belly and it hurt. More blood began coming out as my uterus didn’t clamp down. The placenta had detached tearing some of the wall inside.

I remained calm and fully aware talking to make sure they would notice if there were any major changes. The second midwife gave me a series of herbs- Mistletoe, Angelica root, and Shepherd’s Purse. They were the bitterest things I had ever tasted and burned as I held them in my mouth before swallowing. Thankfully, the bleeding finally stopped, but we had to continue to massage the uterus so that it could shrink and go back into place. I drank a lot of chlorophyll, which is almost as good as a blood transfusion. Though it was serious I never felt scared or worried. If I had to be transferred to a hospital the last thing that would do any good was to be scared.

This took most of the morning, but after plenty of fluids I was able to get a shower in and nurse my baby! In the comfort and privacy of my own bed with my own family. It was such an energized and amazing birth. Though it was tough, the experience is one I reflect on with great joy and love.

Holding Emanuel IV after he was born!

For my midwife’s facebook page on her services and general awesome birth thoughts go here!

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Right-of-Passage-Midwife-and-Birth-Nerd/110074232368894?ref=ts&fref=ts

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