A Good Question

What needs to happen, in order to fix a broken system? Your probably wondering what I mean by a broken system. I am talking about the care of women, and especially birthing.

In a nation that has been considered “advanced” we are so far behind the eight-ball that it becomes shameful. Our c-Section rates were seriously through-the-roof, and although some improvement has been made still higher than most “civilized” countries! The average being around 31%.

Along  with that outrageous number of c-Sections are the ever-climbing mortality rates of women in birth, predominately women of color. This is shameful in a country that is supposed to be “advanced”!

On top of both high c-Section rates, and high mortality rates for birthing, is the across-the-racial-board birth trauma. It should NEVER happen! But, we have nurses and doctors who force women into procedures, who intimidate and threaten.

The media makes it seem that birth is both dangerous and extremely painful. When that consciousness is embedded in the psyche of women, and you have a medical field that relies on mechanical means to monitor births… the stage is set. We have normalized bad birthing practices, and outdated concepts about birth.

That is without discussing the current political scenarios.

The next few blogs will address the history behind, and the current information about birthing in the United States. The outdated concepts surrounding birth practices need debunking. The normalization of bad birthing practices needs to have a light shown upon it, in order to make it STOP.

It is time to become educated,

get angry,

and create a change!

My sister site will also be publishing this information, although later, at joyousbirth

Orange

orange-428070_1920

Citris Aurantium: Fresh Fruit

Both the unripe and ripe fruits are used in Chinese Medicine. The unripe bitter fruit is more potent. The unripe bitter fruit (zhi shi) is used for constipation or to move stagnant chi energy. It can be used to make an expectorant for coughs. This bitter fruit is NOT recommended for use in pregnancy.

The ripe fruit has multiple properties for the pregnant woman. It is high in vitamin C and when eaten with the pulp, it contains Rutin.

A Small Orange contains the following nutrients:

Amount Per  1 small (2-3/8″ dia) (96 g) 100 grams 1 fruit (2-5/8″ dia)
Calories 45
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0.1 g 0%
Saturated fat 0 g 0%
Polyunsaturated fat 0 g
Monounsaturated fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Sodium 0 mg 0%
Potassium 174 mg 4%
Total Carbohydrate 11 g 3%
Dietary fiber 2.3 g 9%
Sugar 9 g
Protein 0.9 g 1%

 

Vitamin A 4% Vitamin C 85%
Calcium 3% Iron 0%
Vitamin D 0% Vitamin B-6 5%
Vitamin B-12 0% Magnesium 2%

 

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

 

Sweet Orange Essence Oil

The essence oil of the sweet orange blossom can be used in a diffuser for lack of energy and / or depression. Sweet Orange is an excellent choice for women who are having difficulty in labor and who are lacking energy. Do not use the essence oil in the bath during pregnancy, and use with extreme caution with infants present. Be sure to dilute with a carrier oil, such as Sunflower or Almond.

Neroli Essence Oil
Citris bigaradia

Neroli is derived from the bitter orange blossom.  It should not be used during pregnancy, but can be used during labor and right after delivery. Neroli helps with stress, fright, exhaustion, and shock. It is also great for anxiety. An excellent choice when there are complications in labor causing the mother to be exhausted, and anxious. If there has been a traumatic birth it will assist with the shock after the birth. Use only with the advice of a trained professional who knows about aromatherapeutic treatments. Do not use in a bath and limit its use around infants.

Our Gynecological Health – Part 2

Normal VS Abnormal Bleeding

Normal menstruation lasts about five days and usually will follow a pattern, here are two variations:

Light –> heavy –> medium –> light –> very light
Heavy –> heavy –> medium –> medium –> light

Also, some women may spot (ordinarily brownish) or bleed at other times in their cycle besides actual menstruation. Spotting is one of the most misunderstood aspects of a woman’s cycle. A common mistake is to assume any type of bleeding episode is menstruation. True menstruation occurs after ovulation, about 12 to 16 days after. Any other type of bleeding is either anovulatory bleeding, what is considered normal spotting, or is symptomatic of a problem.
Ovulatory Spotting

Light bleeding may occur right around ovulation in some women. It is not only normal, but an indicator for fertility, a sign that tells where the woman is in her cycle. It results from a sudden drop in estrogen, just before ovulation. It occurs more in long-cycles.

Anovulary Bleeding and Spotting

Once in a while an egg is not released. It could be due to the estrogen not reaching the level for the egg to release. When this happens the drop in estrogen will cause light bleeding.

For women over 40, the cause is a decreased sensitivity to FSH and LH hormones. This would result in these women not ovulating. The progesterone level is not able to sustain the lining and some spotting or bleeding may occur.

The way to know if actual ovulation did occur, is to chart the temperature. As a reminder: the temperature pattern is: low before ovulation, followed by the high temperature after.

Implantation Spotting

So when a woman notices spotting rather than bleeding a week after her temperature shifts she might want to consider a pregnancy test. This may be an indication of “implantation spotting”, because as the egg burrows into the lining of the uterus, a bit of spotting may occur. If temperatures remain high for another 18 days or more, this is an indication that the corpus luteum is viable.

Breastfeeding Spotting

After the initial flow of birth has stopped, some women may have some bleeding about six weeks postpartum. This is due to the withdrawal of hormones that were high during pregnancy.

Also there may be a fluctuation of hormones while breastfeeding because of the needs of the baby. The temporary imbalance of hormones may cause women who breastfeed a few anovulatory spotting.

Other times

• After office procedures
• While on the pill
• Or during postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy

Miscarriage – Part 2

AFTER A MISCARRIAGE

Miscarriage is a loss as much as a full-term pregnancy where the baby is stillborn. Allow yourself to grieve the loss. Those who know ahead of time, when early signs of miscarriage is observed or during premature labor, will begin the process of grieving. This is called “anticipatory grief” and it assists you to prepare for the loss. Don’t feel bad if you have a sense of relief, the uncertainty is now over and you may feel relieved your baby’s ordeal is over.

Other people may not understand your sense of loss, unless they too have had a miscarriage. You may feel alone and isolated. Don’t keep to yourself as this can add to your feeling of doubt, and sense of self-blame.

Many people will expect you to ‘to be back to normal and may say things like ‘aren’t you over this yet?’ or ‘Buck up—no use crying over spilt milk!’ Because you are still grieving so intensely, these remarks can make you wonder if your feelings are silly or unjustified (41)”. Try to surround yourself with people who will listen and care, avoiding those people who are very insensitive.

If the baby miscarried late in the second trimester, you may have memories to grapple with. Such as, when you first heard you were pregnant, the ultrasound that showed you the baby is a boy or girl, and when you first felt the baby move. These types of things are important things to remember in the process of grieving.

You may wonder how long this process will take. It depends upon you and how well you work through the grieving process! Allow yourself the time to work through the shock, anger, denial, your memories, etc.

REFERENCES:

Davis, Deborah L. PhD. Empty Cradle, Broken Heart: surviving the death of your baby. (1994) Fulcrum.

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

Miscarriage – Part 1

MISCARRIAGE

A miscarriage is when a pregnancy spontaneously ends. It usually occurs before the 28th week of gestation. Miscarriages occur in approximately 20% of all pregnancies in the United States.

Many women have a miscarriage early in a pregnancy, without even realizing it. The miscarriage just seems to be a “heavy” period. Teenage girls and middle age women are the most common age groups. Miscarriages are more common early on than after the first trimester.

Those women who tend to miscarry repeatedly, or those women who really desire a baby, the loss of a baby can be devastating. Because so many people do not discuss the loss of a baby through miscarriage women do not know what to expect or what to do.

Although painful to think about, and it sounds rather blunt, a miscarriage is nature’s way of preventing an unhealthy baby from being carried to term. It may seem hard to accept, but we should realize that our bodies have a wisdom of their own and prevention of a miscarriage will not be effective with an unhealthy baby.

Other causes for miscarriages include:

• Hormonal imbalances
• Cervical looseness ( called “incompetent cervix”, a medical term)
• Infections
• Nutritional deficiencies
PREVENTING A THREATENED MISCARRIAGE

The signs of a threatened miscarriage include spotting, bleeding, or cramping which may also include a backache. These symptoms may begin suddenly or develop slowly. They can last just a few hours, or may last for days. The spotting or bleeding may be all that occurs. Or the symptoms may be more severe and cause fear that the baby will be lost. A physical exam is not wise at this point as it may stimulate the uterus further. Chances are a woman will still have the symptoms of pregnancy (breast soreness or tenderness and nausea) after spotting or bleeding. Although not always a good idea, the use of the Doppler may help reassure that the pregnancy is still viable.

GENERAL RECOMMENDATIONS

• If You are having contractions or are bleeding / spotting, do get off your feet and rest. Get up only when you need to go to the bathroom.
• Avoid lifting heavy objects and abstain from sexual activity until all signs of a miscarriage have been gone for at least a week
• Warm (not hot) baths will release tension and anxiety, and bring relief to lower back pain.
• Take time, while resting off your feet, to connect with the baby and tell the baby you want him/ or her. Send your baby your love. This may or may not be helpful, but you will feel comforted and assured you are doing all that you can for the pregnancy. Let the baby know you want the baby but also reassure the baby that if he or she must go, you understand and give permission.
• If you are unsure about the pregnancy to begin with, this is a good time to come to terms with having or letting go of the baby.

DIETARY RECOMMENDATIONS

• To prevent a miscarriage, avoid all cold-natured and cold temperature foods. Cold has a downward moving, heavy force…causing an excess of downward flow in the pelvic area.
• It is better then, to eat warmer foods that are nourishing, such as soups. Also emphasis should be on whole grain stews, hot cereals, root vegetables, and dark greens until all symptoms have been gone at least for a week. For beverages: warm tea (preferably the pregnancy teas) and room temperature water should be consumed.
• Vitamin E is thought to assist placental attachment to the uterus…reducing the likelihood of spotting or a miscarriage. Take up to 800 IU of vitamin E for about three weeks. If you have a heart disease, do not exceed 50 IU per day without discussing the supplementation with your doctor.

Sphincter Law – Part 2

doula at work

Sphincters May Close Suddenly if the Owner is Frightened

The sudden contraction of the Sphincters is a fear-based reaction, as a part of the fight-or-flight response of adrenals. The Adrenaline/catecholamine level will rise in the bloodstream when frightened or angered.

If a female animal in the wild is in process of birth, the birth process will reverse if the animal is startled by a surprise encounter with a predator. Humans can do the same thing.

In her book, Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, Ina describes a situation where during labor a woman developed a fever; soon it became apparent that there was a bladder infection. She was seven centimeters dilated, but stalled in labor. So Ina chose to transport her to a hospital.

The laboring woman was examined by a doctor that was rough…who stated she was only 4 centimeters. Her dilation retracted from 7 to 4 centimeters as an automatic response to the roughly-handled internal exam…a natural self-protection, evidence of the function of the sphincter function.

What Helps the Sphincters?

• Trust, comfort, familiarity and safety
• Laughter
• Slow and deep [abdominal] breathing
• Immersion in warm water which calms and relaxes
• Relaxation of the mouth and jaw
o Relax the throat and jaw by singing
o Release an audible low moaning sound (similar to the sounds of lovemaking)
o “horse-lips” similar to the tone that horses make when they make that sound with their lips flapping, or “raspberry” sound.
• Relaxed labor supporters

~This information was taken from Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. Ina May is an internationally known Midwife, who has delivered babies and written books on Midwifery and natural childbirth. She works at THE FARM, in Tennessee.

Sphincter Law- Part 1

doula at work
In birth work, obstetricians use the Law of Three Ps:

• Passenger (baby)
• The Passage (the pelvic structure and vagina)
• And the Powers (strength of uterine contractions)

From these Ina Gaskin believes stems the misunderstood capacity of a woman’s body from both the pregnant woman and the doctors who work with them. From the misunderstood capacities are the causative factors leading to all the interventions and procedures that now create problems in birthing, such as: Cesarean sections, Forceps use, vacuum extractors, etc.

The blame is placed upon women, for what obstetricians see as “dysfunctional birth”. Women have birthed for eons without a hitch; doctors perceive having a baby as “a problem of physics rather than a millions-of-years-old physiological process (168)”.

The Basics of Sphincter Law

• They function best when the atmosphere is private, and familiar.
• They do not open “at will” and do not respond to commands such as “Push!”
• When in the process of opening (relaxing) they will suddenly close down if a person is upset, frightened, humiliated, or self-conscious. This is the reason why in most traditional cultures women assist women in birth.
• If the mouth and jaw are relaxed, there is a direct correlation to the ability of the sphincters opening in the cervical and vaginal area (or the anus, for that matter).

What are the Sphincters?

These are a grouping of muscles that surround the rectum, bladder, the cervix and vagina. Each has a function for the body. These muscles remain contracted to keep the openings of certain organs held shut until something needs to pass through.

How do they work?

They work in conjunction with the brain. The brain has two sections that directly influence the functions of the Sphincters. These sections are the neocortex and the brain stem (or “primal” brain).

The brain stem is the portion that is directly connected to hormonal functions, and more instinctual. The hormones it releases (related to birth) are oxytocin (the main ingredient in the drug Pitocin, used to induce labor), endorphins, and prolactin.

Whereas the neocortex stimulation works to inhibit the brain stem from hormone release. It is “stimulated” during labor by asking too many questions of a woman in labor, bright light, and failure to protect her privacy during birth.

The sphincters work with the brain stem (and its many hormonal excretions) by a relaxation response. They respond to emotions. A good example of this relaxation response is what happens when toilet functions are interrupted. Everything gets held in, and it takes a while to relax again, right?

~more on the “Sphincters” next week!

The Vocabulary of Pain

 

father in delivery room

The following information was written in order to understand pain in childbirth. This is a preliminary to understanding what your body senses when in labor.

Pain Threshold

The definition is “the point in which an individual first perceives the presence of pain”. This could be when ice or heat no longer is affective for blocking and / or reducing pain.
Each person has their own threshold. It is thought that threshold remains the same throughout ones life. But, Childbirth educators have found that the threshold is quite flexible. It is found that when comfort measures are used that effectively reduce pain or make it easier to bear, and the woman is distracted from her comfort measures, then the comfort measures no longer are useful. It will take a stronger stimulus to then break through the pain. Nothing had changed in the strength of the pain itself, “rather, her distraction reduced her pain threshold so that less pain was necessary in order for her to notice it (162)”.

Intensity
Intensity is defined as “the quantitative measure of how strong or severe the pain is (Ibid.)”. The usual measurement is a scale of 0 to 10. O being no pain, and 10 meaning that the pain is out of control.

Character
Character is a qualitative measure, using verbal or pictorial descriptors and analogies. Pain character may be described as burning, aching, tearing, or sharp like a knife. Character is the most important aspect to consider when managing pain.

Duration
Concerning when pain is first noted, and how long it lasts, and whether it is a steady pain or sporatic. It is particularly significant in that smaller diameter nerve fibers may, after repetitive signals become more responsive to pain signals. Many management strategies that are not pharmaceutical focus on the larger nerve fibers, which respond well.

Location
It is where the pain is perceived in the body. Depending on the location, the distress level may rise and start to interfere with eating, breathing, sleep, concentration, or the ability to otherwise function normally. If she is unable to concentrate due to location or any other aspect of the pain, she will be less able to use the pain management strategies she has learned.

Sensation Threshold
It is the point where the stimulus was first perceived. When reached, it is when the client first is aware of itching, cold, pressure, pain, or any other sensation. Of these, pain is the most important in that it could signify potential or actual tearing. Other sensations that may later become concerning may eventually grow strong enough to be perceived as pain.

Pain Tolerance
Defined as the greatest severity of painful stimulation an individual is able or is willing to tolerate. “Encouraged Tolerance” is the highest level of pain a person will tolerate when encouraged to try to tolerate more”. It serves a purpose, but not for women in labor as it may lower the tolerance to pain. It actually would translate to suffering rather than just pain.

Categories of Pain

Cutaneous
Occurs at the dermal level, and is sharp, localized, and generally tonic. An example would be the prick of the needle when given an injection.

Visceral
Occurring at the organ level, could be sharp or dull. There is less localization and could either be tonic or episodic. Examples: uterine contractions, severe constipation, and intestinal gas.

Somatic
It occurs at the soft tissue level. It is dull, aching, not localized and usually tonic.

Nerve Compression
The pain results from pressure on one or more nerves. It may be localized, or be referred pain to one or more regions of the body.

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)

Varicose Veins

WHAT ARE THEY?

Varicose-Vein

Varicose veins occur when the valves (that keep the blood flowing one way through the vessels) have become weak, which allow the blood to pool in the veins. This “pooling” causes the veins to become lax and distended.

CAUSES:

  • May be due to diet
  • Lack of exercise
  • Heredity
  • Hormone changes can cause the laxity of the valves
  • Pregnancy can be a predisposition for some women
    -Because there is a congestion of the blood in the lower extremities due to pressure from the uterus.
    -The return of blood from the legs to the pelvic area is reduced by the heavier uterus.

They are most common in the legs, ankles and feet. They can also show up in vulva (Vulvar variscosities) and anus (as Hemorrhoids). They become more pronounced as the pregnancy advances.

The vulvar variscosities usually are not noticible until birth. Some women notice the large ones during pregnancy. A gentle birth and hot compresses applied to the large distended veins will reduce damage or trauma to the veins. Occasionally bleeding or hematoma (internal pooling of blood) can occur and will require medical care.

Hemorrhoids become evident after birth, normally. So the use of gentle birthing will help with these as well. Constipation will aggravate hemorrhoids, and should be treated (although, following a good diet will reduce constipation due to the additional fiber from foods).

Usually the varicose veins will empty quite quickly after pregnancy. They are quite common during pregnancy, and usually repair is not considered during that time.

RECOMMENDATIONS

• Eat well, and drink lots of water
• Exercise! Exercise improves the circulation, and assists in both the prevention of and treatment for varicosities.
-Brisk walks for 30 minutes each day
-Or ride a stationary bike for the same length of time as walking
-Swim
-Yoga
-Belly dance moves such as pelvic rocks, and rolling/rocking the hips in a figure-eight.
-Dance!
• At least 20 minutes twice a day with feet elevated higher than the heart
• Do NOT sit in one place for too long. This would encourage insufficient pelvic and leg circulation.
• If you have severe varicose veins use support stockings (you can find them at a drug store.
• Use visualization to reduce the size and number of the varicose veins.
• You need to consider who / what is your support. You are not superwoman, and will need support during this very exciting time in your life!

CAUTION: Never massage the varicose veins! Massaging the veins can cause clots to dislodge and lead to an embolism. Embolisms are dangerous! If you see signs of phlebitis (swelling, heat, pain, infections around the veins) you should see the doctor or midwife right away.

DIETARY RECOMMENDATIONS

Follow the “baby wise” diet . Be especially careful to eat whole grains, high quality proteins, fresh vegetable and fruits as often as you can.

• Vitamin C with bioflavonoids is vital for assisting the walls of your veins to be strong.
• Foods with high vitamin C: citrus fruits, rose hips, dark green leafy vegetbles, cherries, alfalfa sprouts, strawberries, cantaloupe, broccoli, tomatioes, and green peppers.
• An additional 2,000 mg. of C with bioflavonoids can also help
• Vitamin E also is good for the vascular system. Take 200 to 600 IU a day. If you have heart or blood pressure problems begin with 50 IU and work up to 400 IU over a three month time-frame.
• B complex vitamins. Whole grains, nutritional yeast (I take mine in orange juice), and yogurt (its helps maintain intestinal integrity ).
• Green Vegetables…romaine (stop eating the low-vitamin Iceburg variety) lettuce, butter lettuce, turnip greens, kale, collards, mustard greens, dandelion greens, and turnip greens. Steam these, do not boil!

HERBALS

• Nettle leaf tea (One herb in the “Pregnancy Tea” blend I use) . Infuse by making 1 ounce of herb to 1 quart of water and allow to steep for 2 hours. Drink a cup to up to a quart a day depending on severity.
• Garlic, onions, oatstraw, calendula, motherwort, can also be consumed. Please consult an herbalist for guidance on their use.
• Kelp. Kelp can be added to soups or taken in a tea form.
• Deficiencies in essential fatty acids may make the varicose veins worse. Take 500 mg. of one of the following oils once each day: evening primrose, flaxseed oil, black currant oil, or borage oil.

REFERENCES:

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

Lowdermilk, Dietra Leonard and Shannon E. Perry. Maternity and Women’s Health Care, 9th ed. (2007) Mosby.