Our Gynecological Health – Part 1

First of all, we women have left all the charting of our gynecological health in the hands of our doctors. We can keep our own records, at home.

I will be posting a .pdf file of a chart you can use as a “master sheet” of your exams and an example chart to assist you in filling it out. Use it to keep track of your weight, blood pressure, general gynecological health (which would include the breast exam, pap test, vaginal culture, etc.).

Much of what we see in our doctor’s charts, may seem to be a problem, only because we women do not understand or are taught about normal feminine health. We can understand them better when we see what actually are the “true” gynecological conditions.

These “True” Gynecological conditions would be:

• Vaginal infections
• Abnormal bleeding
• Premenstrual syndrome
• Breast lumps
• Endometriosis
• PCOS
• Nabothian (cervical) cysts

“…charting enables a woman to understand her body in a practical way (Wescheler, 230)”. A woman who charts every day is so aware of what is normal for her own body, that she can actually assist her doctor determine what is not normal based upon her symptoms. Keeping the chart of her menstruation cycle assists her In well-being, and working with the doctor.

Normal Healthy Cervical Fluid VS. Real Vaginal Infections

We live in a culture that advertises douche and sprays for vaginal “discharge” giving women the idea that they are “dirty” all the time. Douching and sprays only act to confuse the identity of healthy cervical fluid and what would be a real infection.

Wescheler explains in her book, that doctors say you don’t need either. On a talk show she watched, she says that the doctor stated that the infections from these products were “…enough to send his children to college (Wescheler , 231)”. Then there is also the yeast infection products that women self-diagnose and take every month for a “recurring” problem.

But, using the chart, detection of an actual infection will be easier, and discovered earlier. You can get treatment before discomfort sets in. Secretions mid-month are normal, but late in the month may indicate infection.

Symptoms of Vaginal Infections That Can Be Distinguished from Normal Cervical Fluid
Once you have routinely charted your normal cervical fluid, an infection can be distinguished by the unpleasant symptoms that set them apart from what is normal. Vaginal infections can range from STIs (See: The Effects of Sexually Transmitted Infections on Pregnancy) to a variety of forms of Vaginitis and of course the generic “yeast infection”.

• Abnormal discharge
• Itching, stinging, swelling, and redness
• Unpleasant odor
• Blisters, warts, and chancre sores

Avoiding Infections

Besides the consequences of douching, you should not wear clothing that is damp or too tight, as these create an unhealthy vaginal environment. Also you should wear cotton underwear, or at least cotton crotch underwear as these allow your body to breathe.

For more information see: Part 2

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Protein Foods

Protein Foods

(with the protein foods containing the most essential amino acids first).

Proteins
Eggs (preferably organic, or at least “free-range”)
Milk
Fish (preferably:
Poultry (preferably: baked, broiled or stewed)
Tofu & other beans
Oats (preferably not quick cooking)
Nuts (especially almonds)
wheat
cornmeal

Protein Food Combinations

(to assure best usage of the most Amino Acids found in the food /Proteins )

Beans + Wheat
Beans + Rice
Corn bread + Beans
Corn tortillas + Beans
Lentil Curry + Rice
Pea Soup + Wheat (bread)
Pasta + milk and/or Cheese
Cheese + Wheat (cheese sandwiches)
Macaroni + Cheese
Garbanzo dip (hummus)
Sunflower seeds, peanuts, roasted soybeans (snack foods)

_______
“Diet for a Small Planet”. Fig.14, page 176
Ibid. page 181 (Chart)

ProfessionalLaborSupport-Pt3

doula at workMONITRICE /MIDWIFE’S ASSISTANT

The Monitrice can assist in providing a continuity of care, from pre-pregnancy through post-partum. They are trained in all the basic skills that a midwife is trained, but without the certifications to actually “catch” the baby.

At the point of a woman going into labor, the Monitrice/Midwife’s Assistant attends the birth in the manner of a Doula. See the blog post: ProfessionalLaborSupport-Pt1 regarding how a Doula assists in childbirth.

A Monitrice/Midwife’s Assistant:

-Assists women with the pre-pregnancy and fertility issues they may have, along with natural birth control methods.

-Has knowledge of local resources

-Monitors the pregnancy with training in taking the blood pressure, FHT, and urine collection
They enter the labor room in a Doula capacity.

-Assist with neonatal care

-Supports breastfeeding of the baby

-May assist in post-partum care

-Knows alternative complimentary methods for pregnancy and childbirth

 

ProfessionalLaborSupport-Part2

mom and babyChildbirth Educator

The childbirth educator teaches and assists women in understanding the nature of childbirth, from pre-conception through the first year of baby’s life.  The information they give assists women in having a better and safer birth experience.

The professional Childbirth Educator trained at Birth Arts International adheres to the “Midwifery Model” of care, as outlined by MANA. This is where I am training (and near completion of).

Here are some things that may be covered:

  • Nutrition – preparation to conceive, during pregnancy, and post-partum
  • Pre-natal tests: What is required and why
  • Exercise: for optimal health, and to tone muscles in preparation for birth, as well as post-partum exercises
  • Stages of labor
  • Interventions
  • C-sections and VBAC
  • Neonatal care (newborn baby care)
  • Breastfeeding

Even second-time mommies can benefit from classes.  It helps you to have a better / safer birth to review information.

Childbirth Educators can assist in labor, in a much similar way that a Doula would.  They can answer your questions and assist after the baby is born.

 Part 3: Midwifery

Culture Part II

Cultural Perspectives on Childbirth

Achomawi mother and childMulti-cultural Beliefs (Continued)

Last week I ended with discussion about the Lakota belief in a spiritual being who assists the souls of the unborn in their journey to human existence. It is thought she “marks” them before entry into this world.  This “mark” is what the medical field calls a “Mongolian” mark.

Because of the spiritual forces in play, many indigenous cultures had and still practice rituals at the birth of a child. This is due to the understanding that childbearing and childbirth are a sacred act.

This may not necessarily be understood by present-day women within the culture, but in their soul and spirit the women do recognize that modern medicine’s “managed care” works against the traditions and ageless wisdom of their tribe. This is true whether they have a traditional spiritually based upbringing in their lives or they have adopted non-traditional religious practice. Their sense of “knowing” from their soul, speaks out against what is not natural and spiritual in the birthing process.

Western culture encourages reading and the attendance of Childbirth Education classes, along with other strategies for birthing. In traditional cultures women “…prepare more symbolically. They avoid all actions and thoughts that have anything to do with ‘getting stuck’ or ‘closing up’ and ‘letting go’…  In traditional societies, women often go to midwives to confirm the pregnancy and then again only if there are special problems… (145)” prior to childbirth.

Another aspect is that most women within many traditional cultures would have been directly involved in the childbearing and child birthing aspects from a young age. Her mother or aunts and grandmother would have taught her about the processes of childbearing and childbirth during childhood and/or adolescent years. The concepts would have “…been integrated into her maturity into adulthood (Ibid.)”. It would have come from her experiential life and stories told to her instead of a class or books.

Unfortunately, much of this kind of experiential life and tradition has been lost or no longer practiced today by local tribal women. Some of the other women will talk about this or that grandma who was a midwife, and who may have been allowed at IHS for a birth. When I have asked women, they mostly talk about a more negative experience for their childbirth if they speak up at all.

Traditionally, the birth of a baby was in the home, not a hospital. Some cultures used “a special hut [that] is constructed for that purpose ;…(Ibid)”. But today in the local area, birthing mostly takes place in a hospital setting, here on the reservation. Locally, there is the IHS. There also is Winner Regional, in Winner South Dakota (45 minutes from Mission, SD) or Cherry County Hospital in Valentine, NE.

Due to past experiences with IHS (the “Eugenics Project” of the 60s and 70s, for one), many women may opt to not have their babies unless there is an emergency. Both Winner and Valentine have doctors that have demonstrated certain biases against native women. Without midwives to deliver locally, this is what women on the Rosebud (Sicangu Oyate) Reservation face today (with the exception of one community).

Each of these three hospitals has their own regulations as to who may attend the birth. They also decide on whether a woman can have assisted births (Nurse-midwives/doulas/etc.).  My attempts to discover these policies, and the reasons for them, have been futile.

– Next week will be “Part 1 – The issues that affect Lakota Native women during pregnancy and childbirth in regards to: Racism, Sexism, and Oppression”

 

Pregnancy Diet

PREGNANCY DIET

 

food-pyramid-pregnancy

Plan your meals, AND SNACKS around fresh veggies and fruit, grains and legumes, and ample calcium-rich / protein-rich foods.


Start your day with a good breakfast:

-Helps energy levels
-maintains optimum weight
-Even just a small meal with some protein and carbs will be beneficial

Eat meals and snacks every 3 to 4 hours:

-snacks should include one fruit or vegetables with one serving from another food group.
– Fruit, or vegetable juice (non-sweetened preferably) can substitute for a fruit or vegetable serving.

THE 5-MINUTE MEAL

The trick to preparing a quick, low-calorie meals and snacks are advanced planning,
having a basic inventory of ingredients and the right kitchen tools/appliances.
Tools/appliances: microwave oven, slow-cooker, wok or non-stick skillet and a blender

Plan your meals using fresh vegetables and fruit, whole grains and legumes (beans), along with protein rich food. Try not to have canned fruits packed in syrup, eat oatmeal instead of granola bars, steamed broccoli instead of the packaged broccoli with creamed cheese…
Eat fresh fruits and vegetables when in season, as often as possible. Dried (unsulphered) is next best for fruit then frozen, instead of canned.

You can add Nuts such as:

almonds, cashews, peanuts, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts
peanut butter

And / or seeds such as:

pumpkin, sesame, or sunflower seeds.


SUPER FOODS

Kale
Spinach
kidney beans
Tofu
Wheat germ
Broccoli
Papaya
Salmon
Non-fat Milk


PROTEIN RICH FOODS

Proportion size should be three ounces of extra-lean meat, skinless chicken, fish
or one cup of cooked dried beans, lentils, split peas or chickpeas.
~Limit eggs to just one per day.

CALCIUM RICH FOODS

Cooked black-eyed peas
Bok Choy
Low-Fat Cheese
Broccoli
Collard greens
Kale
Cottage cheese
Yogurt
Rice Dream
Whole grain Total cereal
Kellogg’s Eggo Homestyle
waffles

GREAT GRAINS

Whole wheat bagel
Whole wheat breads
Sourdough bread

Cooked cereal:

Oatmeal, barley, farina
Cornbread
Whole wheat Pita
Rice, preferably brown
or white basmati rice
Noodles or pasta

QUENCHERS: Sparkling water, apple cider, apple juice, apricot nectar, carrot juice, grapefruit, grape, orange, papaya nectar, passion fruit nectar, peach nectar, pineapple juice, prune, tomato juice, V8 juice.

If you eat well, the occasional treat will not be a problem, so long as it is not a substitute for whole nutritious foods.

 

  • Drink at least 32 ounces water (by itself), a day. .
  • Drink tea instead of drinking coffee (it dehydrates).
  • You should try to drink at least two cups a day of the Red Raspberry Leaf / Nettle tea.

 

Herbal Teas – Part 5

red clover illusRed Clover
Trifolium pratense, L.

Constituents: Phenolic glycosides, isoflavones, flavonoids, salicylates, coumarins, cyanogenic, glycocides, mineral acids, vitamins

Actions: Alterative, antispasmodic, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, expectorant, possible estrogen activity

Common Names: Purple Clover, Trefoil, Cleaver grass, Cow grass

Medical Parts: flowers and leaves


USE:

Renal Conditions (233) IHONA

“Very soothing for the nerves” (233) IHONA

As a gargle for sore throats (234) IHONA

Promotes fertility, restores hormonal balance, and balances Alkaline/Acid.  (2) WWHCY

Useful for coughs, and colds…mucus congestion (220) TWOH

Stimulates the liver and gallbladder/for constipation and sluggish appetite. Outside the body a fomentation is used for rheumatic or gouty pains, and to soften hardened milk glands (395) THB

Ointment: Lymphatic swelling (128) CGTMH

Eye Infection (99) WWHCY

Homeopathic: Cancer, constipation, cough, mumps, pancreas (affections of), throat (sore, mucus in), Uvula (pain in). (234) IHONA

 

VITAMINS AND MINERALS: Vitamin B1, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Calcium.

References:

Gladstar, Rosemary. (1993) Herbal Healing for Women. Fireside Books: New York.

Hutchens, Alma R. (1991) Indian Herbalogy of North America. Shambhala: Boston.

Lust, John. (1983) The Herb Book. Bantam Books, NY

Ody, Penelope. (2000) Natural Health: Complete Guide to Medicinal Herbs. Dorling/Kindersley Lmt.: London.

Romm, Aviva Jill.  (2003) The Natural Pregnancy Book: herbs, nutrition, and other holistic choices. Celestial Arts: Berkeley

Tierra, Michael. (1990) The Way of Herbs. Pocket Books: New York

Weed, Susan S. (1986) The Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year. Ashtree Publishing; Woodstock NY

Herbal Teas – Part 4

nettleNettle
Urtica dioica

Constituents: Histimine, formic acid, acetylcholine, serotonin, glucoquinones, many minerals (incl. silica), vitamins A, B, C, tannins.

Actions: Astrigent, diuretic, tonic, nutritive, stops bleeding, circulatory stimulant, promotes milk flow, lowers blood sugar levels, prevents scurvy.

Nettles take minerals, including iron, from the soil and the aerial parts are a good tonic for anemia; high vitamin C content in the plant helps ensure that the iron is properly absorbed. Clears uric acid from the system to relieve gout and arthritis, and the astringency stops bleeding. (131) CGTMH

Said to reduce Rheumatic problems, stimulates the digestive system and promotes milk flow in breastfeeding women. Used for excessive menstruation flow and blood in urine. (191) THB

Good for asthma, chronic and acute urinary complaints, urinary stones, nephritis, and cystitis. Nettle also used for helping with diarrhea, dysentery, hemorrhoids and chronic arthritis and rheumatic problems. (202) TWOH

Nettle is considered to be an herb that is “rich” in calcium, iron, and numerous other vitamins and minerals.  It is an herb that is recommended for pregnant women who have low energy or suffer from chronic fatigue.  Nettle aids as a diuretic, to eliminate excess water from the body. This herb is considered a pregnancy “Tonic”, which stems from Native American usage as a pregnancy tonic, a preventative of hemorrhaging after birthing, and energy restoration after childbirth . (177) HHFW

It is an anemia preventative, reduces varicosities, and decreases the likelihood of hemorrhaging during childbirth. TNPB

Nettle will expel phlem from the lungs and stomach; clean the urinary canal, valuable for diarrhea, dysentery, piles, as well as inflammation of the kidneys.  IHONA

Nettle is known to increase male and female fertility, will assist in the rebuilding of kidney function as well as kidney stone removal. Eases leg cramps and muscle spasms.  High in Calcium, vitamin K. WWHCBY

VITAMINS AND MINERALS: The tea is a good source of Iron, Calcium, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Vitamin A

References:

Gladstar, Rosemary. (1993) Herbal Healing for Women. Fireside Books: New York.

Hutchens, Alma R. (1991) Indian Herbalogy of North America. Shambhala: Boston.

Lust, John. (1983) The Herb Book. Bantam Books, NY

Ody, Penelope. (2000) Natural Health: Complete Guide to Medicinal Herbs. Dorling/Kindersley Lmt.: London.

Romm, Aviva Jill.  (2003) The Natural Pregnancy Book: herbs, nutrition, and other holistic choices. Celestial Arts: Berkeley

Tierra, Michael. (1990) The Way of Herbs. Pocket Books: New York

Weed, Susan S. (1986) The Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year. Ashtree Publishing; Woodstock NY

Herbal Teas – Part 3

nettle Nettle Leaf
Urtica dioica


Constituents: Histamine, formic acid, acetylcholine, serotonin, glucoquinones, many minerals (incl. silica), vitamins A, B, C, tannins.

Actions: Astringent, diuretic, tonic, nutritive, stops bleeding, circulatory stimulant, promotes milk flow, lowers blood sugar levels, prevents scurvy.

Nettles take minerals, including iron, from the soil and the aerial parts are a good tonic for anemia; high vitamin C content in the plant helps ensure that the iron is properly absorbed. Clears uric acid from the system to relieve gout and arthritis, and the astringency stops bleeding. (131) CGTMH

Said to reduce Rheumatic problems, stimulates the digestive system and promotes milk flow in breastfeeding women. Used for excessive menstruation flow and blood in urine. (191) THB

Good for asthma, chronic and acute urinary complaints, urinary stones, nephritis, and cystitis. Nettle also used for helping with diarrhea, dysentery, hemorrhoids and chronic arthritis and rheumatic problems. (202) TWOH

Nettle is considered to be an herb that is “rich” in calcium, iron, and numerous other vitamins and minerals.  It is an herb that is recommended for pregnant women who have low energy or suffer from chronic fatigue.  Nettle aids as a diuretic, to eliminate excess water from the body. This herb is considered a pregnancy “Tonic”, which stems from Native American usage as a pregnancy tonic, a preventative of hemorrhaging after birthing, and energy restoration after childbirth. (177) HHFW

It is an anemia preventative, reduces varicosities, and decreases the likelihood of hemorrhaging during childbirth. TNPB

Nettle will expel phlegm from the lungs and stomach; clean the urinary canal, valuable for diarrhea, dysentery, piles, as well as inflammation of the kidneys.  IHONA

Nettle is known to increase male and female fertility, will assist in the rebuilding of kidney function as well as kidney stone removal. Eases leg cramps and muscle spasms.  High in Calcium, vitamin K. WWHCBY

VITAMIN AND MINERAL CONTENT:

Vitamins A, C, D. and K, Calcium, Potassium, Phosphorus, Iron and Sulphur.

REFERENCES

Gladstar, Rosemary. (1993) Herbal Healing for Women. Fireside Books: New York.

Hutchens, Alma R. (1991) Indian Herbalogy of North America. Shambhala: Boston.

Lust, John. (1983) The Herb Book. Bantam Books, NY

Ody, Penelope. (2000) Natural Health: Complete Guide to Medicinal Herbs. Dorling/Kindersley Lmt.: London.

Romm, Aviva Jill.  (2003) The Natural Pregnancy Book: herbs, nutrition, and other holistic choices. Celestial Arts: Berkeley

Tierra, Michael. (1990)  The Way of Herbs. Pocket Books: New York

Weed, Susan. (1986)  Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year. Ashtree Publishing; Woodstock

 

 

Herbal Teas – Part 2

Red Raspberry Leaf

Red Raspberry Leaf

Red Raspberry Leaf
Rubus idaeus


Constituents: (leaves) fragarine (uterine tonic), tannins, polypeptides.

Actions: (leaves) astringent, preparative for childbirth, stimulant, digestive remedy, tonic.


Infusion:

used for period cramps and discomforts, in pregnancy helps prepare the womb for childbirth. It is useful for diarrhea, sore throats, and mouth ulcers.  This herb is a cleansing diuretic. (113) CGTMH

“When combined with cream it will relieve nausea and vomiting”. Prevents miscarriage, reduces labor pains, assists in the increase of breast milk. (328) THB

The infused tea can be used also for menstrual irregularities. Tones and prepares uterus
for childbirth. (219) TWOH

Tones and nourishes the uterine muscles, and considered the “pregnancy tea”. Packed with vitamins and minerals, ” especially high in chelated iron”. It assists with enriches breast milk and milk flow. After childbirth, assists in restoration. (177) HHFW

It nourishes muscles and can be used for prevention of hemorrhaging due to the high iron content and its stringent quality.  (91) TNPB

Used by native peoples in soothing the kidneys and urinary tract, for relief of painful menstruation, a miscarriage preventative, aiding flow of menstruation yet if too abundant, will decrease the flow without stopping it. (231) IHONA

Red Raspberry will help with male and female fertility (when combined with Red Clover). Eases morning sickness, reduces labor pains and post-partum pains. It does not strengthen labor pains but allows the muscles to function properly and will assist the undelivered placenta. (19) WWHCY

VITAMIN/MINERAL CONTENT:

Calcium, Iron, Vitamins C and E, Vitamin A and the B Vitamin complex, as well as many minerals… two of which are Phosphorus and Potassium.

 

REFERENCES

Gladstar, Rosemary. (1993) Herbal Healing for Women. Fireside Books: New York.

Hutchens, Alma R. (1991) Indian Herbalogy of North America. Shambhala: Boston.

Lust, John. (1983) The Herb Book. Bantam Books, NY

Ody, Penelope. (2000) Natural Health: Complete Guide to Medicinal Herbs. Dorling/Kindersley Lmt.: London.

Romm, Aviva Jill.  (2003) The Natural Pregnancy Book: herbs, nutrition, and other holistic choices. Celestial Arts: Berkeley

Tierra, Michael. (1990)  The Way of Herbs. Pocket Books: New York

Weed, Susan. (1986)  Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year. Ashtree Publishing; Woodstock