Homebirth in recent years has become more popular, in part
due to the spiritual experience and as a respite from a rising C-section rate
in hospitals. However, homebirth is not for everyone. First time moms don't
know what to expect and women who've had previous difficult or traumatic birth experiences are likely to opt out of having a
homebirth. Plus, any kind of condition that puts your pregnancy in the high
risk category would dash any hopes of giving birth at home. Nevertheless, for
women who want the spiritual experience of a homebirth without the risks, there
are many ways you can heighten the birthing experience in the hospital.
Stay at home when labor starts. Most expectant mothers,
particularly first time moms, will labor for hours before they give birth. If
you’re nervous about staying home too long, the on-call nurse at the hospital,a doula, midwife, or experienced mother can help
you to determine when it is the right time to head to the hospital. In general,
once contractions are 3- 5 minutes apart then it’s time to head in. Staying at
home allows you the comfort and freedom to labor in any position, eat, drink,
take a bath and relax with your family. Plus, many hospitals will only allow
you to labor for so long before they press for a C-section.
Use equipment as backup. Fetal monitoring, IV drips, epidurals, and
other gadgets commonly used during labor will prevent you from changing positions and walking around. While all of these devices may make you
feel safer, many studies have shown that they do not reduce risks to the mother
and baby. Use the hospital as a safe place to labor and should anything go
wrong, these devices are there for you.
Cope with the pain naturally. There are many effective ways to cope
with pain without drugs (although you shouldn’t feel bad if you decide to use
pain relief). Breathing exercises are the most common and can be very effective. Music, massage, hypnosis,
are just a few methods commonly used by natural birth advocates.
Use a midwife and/or doula.Midwives
are excellent at helping a woman get the birth experience she desires. Many
hospitals and birth centers partner with midwives so that they can oversee your
birth in the facility. Doulas act as your advocate while you are in the throes
of labor. They help to encourage you in whatever your goals are and have been
shown to reduce labor times and C-section rates.
Learn about birth. This tip might seem obvious, but learning about
the feeling of birth can help you understand what to anticipate and how to
overcome tough periods. Reading anything by Ina
May Gaskin is a good place to start as well as reading birth stories of
other women on the web. Videos can also be helpful. The more you know about
things like what’s commonly referred to as “the ring of fire,” the better you
will understand how to summon the strength to get through it. Also, learning
about the reasons for a C-section, as well as common but unnecessary scenarios
where they are used will prepare you for complications that might arise.
Use a birthing tub. Many hospitals and birth centers provide
birthing tubs. Birthing
in water relieves pain, takes the load off your pregnant body and is
perfectly safe for the newborn who won’t take his first breath until he is
exposed to the air.
Create a mood. The hospital might seem like the last place to have
atmosphere, but you’d be surprised how much dimming the lights and putting on
some music can create a relaxing sanctuary as you labor.
Change positions. Lying on your back is probably the most unhelpful
position to give birth in. The baby is making a corkscrew dive down the birth
canal, so moving around helps his journey. Also, use the laws of gravity to
your favor with squats and other upright positions.
Breastfeed immediately. Most hospitals will whisk away the newborn
to allow the mother to recover and record the baby’s first stats. Let the
hospital staff know that you would like the baby to breastfeed within the first
hour after birth, which is the recommendation of the American Academy of
Pediatrics. Sometimes, this first interaction can lay the foundation for
successful breastfeeding down the road.
No matter what the outcome of your birth, it’s important to do
what’s right for you. In some situations, a doctor or nurse might try to
persuade you to do something you don’t want to do or maybe a natural birth no
longer feels right. The most important thing is a healthy mother and baby;
don’t fall prey to the judgments people sometimes make about a person’s individual
Pregnancy is a veritable soup of hormones, causing major
changes in the body that can last for a lifetime. One of the most drastic
changes occurs within the thyroid gland, which dictates metabolism.
Increased estrogen and human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG)
during pregnancy trigger releases of thyroid hormones. The thyroid can increase
in size causing a goiter to form, which is a growth that appears on the neck.
Usually, a goiter will only appear if you are deficient in iodine, a nutrient
found in eggs, milk, iodized salt and prenatal vitamins. The developing baby is
dependent on the mother for thyroid hormones, especially during the first
trimester, to ensure proper brain development. The World Health Organization
recommends 200 micrograms of iodine a day during pregnancy.
Approximately 1 in 1500 pregnant women will develop
hyperthyroidism (an abundance of thyroid hormones); however, it may go
undiagnosed because the symptoms are very similar to typical pregnancy
symptoms. Unfortunately, undiagnosed hyperthyroidism can lead to preterm labor,
preeclampsia and other complications. In many cases, women with hyperthyroidism
will experience relief during the third trimester only to see a resurgence of
the condition postpartum and their babies may
experience developmental problems. Mild cases of hyperthyroidism will require
regular monitoring and more severe cases will call for medication.
Three to six months postpartum, one in 20 women will experience a bout of thyroiditis, where
a period of hyperthyroidism is followed by
hypothyroidism (low levels of thyroid hormone) and then a return to normal thyroid functioning. Symptoms of this condition are
often confused with common issues new mothers’ experience; such as fatigue,
depression, insomnia, nervousness, irritability and trouble losing weight. This
condition naturally goes away between one and four months after its onset. However,
once a woman has experienced this type of thyroiditis, it is likely to occur after
subsequent pregnancies and in rare cases women may develop a permanent underactive
A recent study found that women with low levels of thyroid
hormones prior to giving birth were more likely to experience postpartum
depression. Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels should be between 0.24-2.99
in the first trimester, 0.46-2.95 in the second and 0.43-2.78 in the third.
Currently, prenatal thyroid testing is not routine except in
women who have a history of thyroid disease or diabetes. If you want to have
your thyroid hormone levels tested, you will need to request it from your
doctor and it may not be covered by insurance. Many medical professionals have
called for routine testing but no clinical data is available to show whether
testing would reduce the number of mothers and babies adversely affected by
As more families are finding it necessary to use stem cell
treatments for a wide variety of diseases, proponents of cord blood banking are
calling for the process to be considered a medical expense under tax law. Changing the classification of cord blood banking would provide families the
ability to bank their baby's cord blood with tax-free dollars, bringing down
the expense of a potentially life-saving treatment.
Enabling families to bank their cord blood with tax-free
dollars is one thing that Republicans and Democrats can agree on. United States Representatives Wally Herger (R-CA) and Ron Kind
(D-WI) have introduced legislation to the Senate that would amend the tax code
to enable expectant parents to use their flexible spending accounts (FSA),
health savings accounts (HAS), health reimbursement arrangements (HRA) or the medical expense tax deduction to pay for umbilical
cord blood banking.
Many organizations have come together to back the
legislation including Cord Blood Registry and the Coalition for Regenerative
Stem Cell Medicine, which is composed of the
Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA), the Association of Nurse
Practitioners in Women's Health (NPWH), the Parents Guide to Cord Blood
Foundation and many other research and disease advocacy groups.
Congressman Herger, chairman of the House Ways and Means
Health Subcommittee, said of the legislation: “This common sense legislation
will allow families and individuals to use their tax-free health dollars for a
medical expense that can truly save lives.”
Would you bank your
baby’s cord blood if it was tax-free?
Recent photos of Evangeline Lilly (31) from the hit TV show
Lost reveal that the actress is in her third trimester of pregnancy. The
brunette beauty is notoriously shy of fame and no announcement was made. Nevertheless, she appeared radiantly pregnant in a long maxi dress last week. Evangeline is
expecting her first child with boyfriend Norman Kali, a production assistant
that worked on the set of Lost.
Any public speaking course will tell a speaker to simply
pause when they are unsure of something rather than use "uh" or "um" to fill
the air. An interesting study of babies discovered that these public speaking
flubs are actually cues for babies trying to learn language to listen more
Researchers at the University of Rochester had three groups
of babies between the ages of 18 and 30 months sit on their parent’s laps as
they named objects on a screen. The objects were sometimes obvious, such as a
ball or sometimes made-up like a “gorp.” When parents reached these unknown
objects, they predictably used sounds like “uh” or “um.” The babies began to
pay particular attention to the objects when parents uttered these phrases, as
if they were more important objects. "Toddlers have learned that when adults
have disfluencies it is usually followed by an unusual word," said Richard
Aslin, one of the researchers.
The study is interesting because it denotes that those
moments of not knowing what to say are being communicated to the child. The
study also could be shedding light on why children who watch educational videos
pick up fewer language skills than children who don’t watch the videos. Are
children not interested in learning language when there are no inquiries from
Does your baby seem
more interested when you’re confused?
'Umming' and 'ahhing' parents help their babies learn to
speak, scientists claim [Daily
Even for young mothers, postpartum injuries are common.
Pregnancy has dramatically altered the shape of your body; loosening the joints
and decreasing core stability. Though mentally, you are ready to get back to
your normal routine, your body may not be. Plus, picking up your baby
constantly can be an significant strain on your
back. It’s heartbreaking when a new mother can’t pick up her baby because she’s
injured. That’s why it’s important to prevent these injuries as best you can.
Here are few tips:
Keep a straight wrist.
Many mothers hold their babies by bending their elbow and their wrist to cradle
their little one. Although this may seem like the most intuitive way to do it,
continually bending your wrist pinches nerves that can lead to chronic wrist
pain. When holding your baby, make a conscious effort to keep your wrist
straight in line with your forearm.
If you’re too late and wrist pain has already started, put
your wrist in a splint until the pain is completely gone. Massaging towards the
elbow can help too.
Keep a straight back.
During the postpartum period, your back is very vulnerable to injury. One
minute everything will seem fine and the next you will stoop to pickup a toy and end up needing to spend days in bed. The first thing to keep in
mind is the proper way to pick things up. Bend at the knee if picking up things
off the floor. If picking up your baby off the floor, hold her to your belly
button as you raise up from the knees. Keep your spine straight and avoid
twisting. A common action that leads to injury
is loading the car seat and baby into and out of the car. Put the car seat in
the car without holding your baby at the same time. Squat or sit next to the seat while facing it directly when buckling in the
If you do get a back injury, give it a rest. Avoid lifting
until the muscles heal. How long it will take to heal depends on many factors.
For some it will only be a few days, but for others it could be weeks. It’s
important to let the back completely heal before continuing to use those
muscles. If the pain radiates down your legs, you may have a herniated disc, in
which case you should see a doctor.
Shoulders back and
chin up. A very common habit among parents is to slouch while feeding the
baby. Soon, the habit becomes a part of your stature and invites neck and
shoulder injuries. When you feed the baby, look up every so often and gently
roll your neck to provide some relief to the muscles. Switch sides regularly
and use pillows to prop the baby up towards you so that your arms are in a
If your neck and shoulder muscles are giving you a problem
there are many stretches you can try. Clasp hands behind your back and lift
gently until you feel a stretch between the shoulder blades. Also, clasp your
hands in front of you and extend your arms out until you feel a stretch in the
upper back. Lastly, gently tip your head towards each shoulder until you feel a
light stretch in your neck.
Keep your weight
evenly displaced. Pelvis injuries usually occur due to misalignment of the
pelvis or tailbone. Holding your baby on the hip with one arm is a common stressor
on the pelvis. Try to hold your baby with both hands or use a sling. If you
need to put your baby on your hip, switch sides
regularly. Avoid slouching and thrusting your pelvis
forward. Place a stiff cushion behind your lower back in the car, at work and
while feeding the baby.
If you’re already experiencing pelvic pain, visit your
All of these injuries are also preventable by strengthening
the core. Exercises for core strength range from the plank
exercise to a superman lift.
If you’ve already been injured, a hot bath with Epsom salts will help provide some relief. Alternating between a
heating pad and ice will help reduce inflammation and relieve taut muscles.