Saturday, February 26, 2011

Placenta Magic

When I was researching the benefits of placenta in postpartum recovery, I could not have anticipated how much of a difference it would make for me.
During the first few days after birth, I was struggling with severe baby blues. I was so tired that I was not thinking rationally and every little things felt like the end of the world. I was crying, feeling panicky and just overwhelmed. It was hard to feel the joy of life with my new baby when I felt so depressed. On the third day Jon started the process of encapsulating my placenta for me. It took a full day to do but once I started taking the pills, it only took 2 doses to make a noticeable difference. I feel content, happy and more confident in my new role as a mom.
The process of encapsulating is actually not that difficult. Jon washed the placenta, steamed it, sliced it, dried it over night in the oven, ground it up and put it in capsules. Really anyone could do it and it would only take about 8 hours for the whole process. My placenta made about 200 caps.
I think the beauty of using placenta over any other herbal or pharmaceutical treatment is that it is custom made for you and your baby. So no worries about it getting in your breast-milk and no side effects for you. As gross as you may think it is, I feel like it is an amazing gift for you and your baby. To learn more about the benefits of placenta visit Placenta Benefits and for step by step instructions for encapsulating your own placenta visit this site.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Recipe: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

These are my absolute favorite muffins. My mom used to make them as a treat for us because they are so decadent (for muffins!). My mom was awesome enough to make these for me as a postpartum treat and let's just say they didn't last long.
Little side note: This is a great recipe for using up those little pie pumpkins from the garden!

You will need:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp clove
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup cooked (or canned) pumpkin
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup chocolate chips
2 eggs

Preheat over to 350 degrees. Grease or line muffin tin. Combine dry ingredients and set aside. In a large bowl, beat eggs. Stir in pumpkin, melted butter and chocolate chips. Blend well. Add dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened. Spoon into muffin tin. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Enjoy!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Pregnancy Reads

I've been doing a little reflecting on my pregnancy and I've started putting away some of my pregnancy books and I thought I would make a few notes here about what books I found helpful. There were some that I did mean to read but just ran out of time.

Magical Beginnings, Enchanted Lives by Deepak Chopra
I really liked this book. At first I found it to be a little strange (one of the early exercises asked you to imagine yourself inside your womb holding your baby and I found myself laughing at the image it conjured) but in the end I found real benefit from the positive tone and uplifting exercises. This book offered some great suggestions for coping with the physical and emotional changes that accompany pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum.
Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn by Penny Simkin
This was my go-to book whenever I had a concern or issue I wanted to look up. Penny Simkin is great a taking a pretty neutral stance on birth. She has information in there for both the homebirth setting and hospital setting. I never really sat down and read this book instead I just kept coming back to it from 8 weeks onward.
Birthing from Within by Pam England
This book was an interesting read. I think it is more geared towards women who have a lot a fear and anxiety about childbirth. I didn't really feel that I fell into that category so some of the exercises in this book seemed a little pointless to me. I did enjoy reading the chapter on dealing with the pain of childbirth. I thought she offered a lot of good tips for coping with the fear that accompanies pain.
Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
This is one of the very first books I read in regards to a more natural approach to childbirth. I think it is really hard these days to find women with positive birth stories. When I first started investigating midwives and homebirth I put this book on the top of my list to read. The first half of the book is a collection of really inspiring and empowering stories of natural births. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning more about birthing in a natural way.
The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin
This is a great book to share with your birth partner. I left it out for Jon to read but he never really got into it. I ended up reading through it and folding down the corners on the pages I thought had the most valuable information and asked him to read one of those sections each day. I choose the topics on birth positions and different touch techniques that I wanted him to try. This book is a great companion to birth classes. It just takes the info taught there to the next level. I think it is a good book for boosting the confidence of a partner who is about to attend their first birth.
Dr. Jack Newman's Guide to Breastfeeding by Dr. Jack Newman
Again this is a book that I didn't really read cover-to-cover but I'm using as a reference. I don't really think this book should be read cover-to-cover because I feel it could increase a mother's anxiety about breastfeeding. I found that reading about potential problems actually made me feel really nervous about nursing rather than confident that we could do it. Instead I put the book down and came back to it for tips on sore nipples and painfully engorged breasts. I would recommend any breastfeeding mother have this book on hand.

There were a few more books that I read but I don't really feel are worth mentioning. I think there is a fine line between reading to expand your options and open your mind and reading too much and creating anxiety. Choose carefully what kind of books you read during pregnancy, try to choose ones with a neutral stand on birth (ones that don't discourage homebirth or hospital birth) and ones with a positive tone.

Monday, February 14, 2011

April's Birth Story

April's birth certainly did not go the way I had planned and wished for it to go however I still feel it is important for me to put it writing.
Days before real early labor began I started having agonizing back pain. It was so painful I couldn't really sleep. So by the time my contractions were coming every 20 mins early Friday morning, I was so sleep deprived and in so much pain that I couldn't really imagine how I was going to cope. I called the midwife around 9am on Friday and she came to the house and checked me only to find I was only 1 cm dilated. She recommended I take some Tylenol and Gravol and get some sleep. The Tylenol took the edge off the back pain but by the time I was feeling drowsy enough to sleep my contractions had really picked up. I had had a little bit of bloody mucus in the middle of the night but I wouldn't say I had my bloody show until just before lunch on Friday. I decided at that point it was time to call Jon and have him come home and support me. Once he got home around 1pm we lay in bed and had a quick snack. The back pain started picking up again and we moved to using the birth ball. I did really enjoy the relief I got when I lay across the birth ball.
Around 5pm my water broke. It was filled with meconium.  I was so disappointed because I knew that I would have to decide whether to risk it and stay at home or transfer. After my water broke the contractions really picked up so Jon and I hopped in the shower. The heat was soothing but not enough to curb the endless back pain. We stayed in the shower anyways until the hot water ran out. The one coping mechanism that seemed effective in letting go was sound. I was definitely loud but it was the best way for me to release that pain and tension.
Our midwife came around 6:30pm and checked me again. I was only dilated 3 cms but I was contracting every 2-3 minutes. It was really intense because between contractions I didn't feel I had a break due to the horrible back pain. After about a half hour of serious thought and discussion we decided to transfer to the hospital because I just couldn't live with myself if she was born with meconium in her lungs and got sick because we were at home.
The drive to the hospital was awful. I was sprawled over the birth ball in the back seat but the drive is at least 20 minutes and I had a bunch of really intense contractions. Being so limited in movement inside the car meant that my back pain just got worse as we drove. I was also feeling less relaxed and really nervous about the hospital. I'm sure the tension didn't help my pain. I was just praying it would end.
Our hospital room was small and limiting. I was definitely crying as we "set up" the room. I tried using the shower for my back pain (I was actually encouraged by the promise of endless hot water) but every time someone on the floor flushed a toilet the temperature would change. It was hard to relax when the water went from too cold to too hot. I ended up just lying on my side in the bed. I had written up motivating flashcards that I had brought with us and I was trying to read them to stay positive but I couldn't even focus my eyes. I was really struggling.
By this point I just couldn't cope with the back pain. The pain was so intense and so unbearable that I really couldn't feel anything in my abdominal muscles, all I felt was back pain. We tried the laughing gas but I found all it did was make me dozy between contractions instead of helping during contractions. We tried some morphine, which did absolutely nothing for the pain. I'm really surprised that it is even offered for back labor because it was that ineffective. Finally, I was just beside myself. I had not had a break from the pain in almost 24 hours, I had not slept for 3 days, I begged for the epidural.
Getting the epidural took a while but once I got it I felt so good. I tried to sleep but I was really overcome with sadness over the loss of my natural homebirth. I cried for most of the night. I felt that I had completely lost control. However, my midwife helped me feel a bit better about getting the interventions by showing me how April's heart rate didn't change. I was concerned she would be stressed by the drugs but she was strong the whole time. That helped to lessen my guilt but didn't take away my sadness. My midwife and talked for a while and tried to salvage my birth plan and keep some of the things that were important to me (such as low light when she was delivered, let the cord finish pulsing on it's own, skin-to-skin immediately after birth, etc.). Jon, who had been such a patient partner, was grateful for the rest too. Lucky guy got 4 hours of sleep.
Five hours later, I could really feel the pressure in my rectum. I knew she was low, really low. At 4:30 am they told me it was time to wake Jon and push. Pushing was such a release. I thought I wouldn't be able to feel anything or know when to push but I really did. I could feel her moving down and the stretching in my perineum. Getting to the pushing stage is a little strange. I was used to the contractions coming one after the other but I was surprised at how we had to wait for the contraction (sometimes about 5 minutes would pass before I felt another). It took just 30 minutes of pushing and then there she was on my chest.
I was definitely in shock. I didn't believe Jon when he said it was a girl, I couldn't believe how dark her hair was, she was so amazing. She stared at me and I stared back. I loved that moment. We waited for the cord to stop pulsing, then Jon got to cut it. Unfortunately, because of the meconium, the pediatrician took her to the warming table and pumped the meconium out of her stomach. I felt so sad for her, what an awful first experience. But once they were done Jon got to have some skin-to-skin time with her while I delivered the placenta and got stitches (I had 2nd degree tearing so I needed about 6). Finally, I got to feed her and man was she ready. She latched on right away and stayed there for the next 2 hours.
At 7am we got moved to Motherbabe and luckily did not have to share a room. We nursed, snuggled and April slept. I just could not rest in the hospital. People were coming in to drop off food, pick up the trash, check my IV, etc. We decided to stay just long enough for my epidural to wear off and then go home.
It was sad to go home and see my house still all set up for a homebirth but I was so blissful with my new baby that I didn't worry about it too much. I hope that time will ease my disappointment. I do feel that I was present and proactive during my birth. I did what I had to to bring April into this world healthy and safe. In the end I do believe that my birth was exactly as it was meant to be.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

She's Here

She was born this morning, weighed 8lbs 1oz, and is completely healthy. We named her April for her grandma. She is totally adorable but I must say I was surprised when I birthed a baby with such dark hair (and so much of it). She nurses like a pro and hardly cries. I am so in love with my little girl. More details to come.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Due Date

Today is my due date and I am grumpy. Things are really going downhill. My hips and back hurt so much that there is very little I can do anymore. The pain will actually wake me in the night. I've had a couple contractions but nothing ever comes of them. So I'm wondering how I'm going to cope with labor when I'm so miserable going into it. I'm sleep deprived, my hips hurt too much to walk, my back hurts too much to lie down or bend down and my nausea is wearing me out. I was in better shape last week but now I'm worried that I'm going to just be an emotional, exhausted mess when labor actually starts.
I've been doing a few things to help ease my mind. I made motivational flashcards for people to read to me when I'm feeling defeated. I've put out all the candles and incense I want for labor. I've been listening to songs that I find really calming (like this one).

I've also been practicing my labor breathing to get me through those moments of "I can't take it anymore!" Everything seems to be taking the edge off but I'm still feeling really frustrated. Come out! Come out! I promise it will be nice out here!!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Hunter Romper

I bought this pattern as a PDF from Etsy. This was my first experience with a hand-drawn PDF pattern. There were some moments of confusion but in the end it was a pretty simple project. I made it in the 3 month size but I think it will fit past that because it has multiple buttons on the straps to adjust for height and the legs are pretty wide to begin with. My two disappointments have nothing to do with the pattern though. First was that my local fabric store had really poor quality snap tape and it seems pretty rigid but we will see how it fits on the baby. Second was the button hole setting on my temporary sewing machine (something is seriously wrong with my sewing machine and until I get it serviced I'm borrowing one from my mom) was confusing and didn't work the way the manual said it would so the button holes are pretty messy but they should do the job. I really like the red fabric. I bought some cute yellow and green fabric this weekend so I might do the pants version of this romper is that fabric but in a bigger size. I have so many sewing projects to finish that making another romper might have to wait.