Posts Tagged ‘Prenatal Care’

Preparing for Childbirth

With the birth of our second little one only a few weeks away, I am beginning all of my final preparations for bringing another baby into our home.  Some of the most important preparations this time around have been actually preparing for labor itself.  While I had a vague idea of the importance of preparation for labor the first time around, I had no idea the magnitude of its significance.  Now that I have been through it once, I am excited to do all I can to ease the way for the second time around.

One of the most profound truths I learned the first time around is that giving birth can be so much more than just something our bodies do after we have been pregnant for nine months.  We can either view labor and childbirth passively as something that simply happens to us, or we can see it as something intensely spiritual and even miraculous, with the God-given ability to sanctify us and make us more like Christ through the process.

In light of that fact, here are some of the practical ways in which I am preparing body, soul and spirit to give birth.

1.  Prepare Physically

Physical Exercises.  Giving birth is a massive physical effort.  Our bodies need to be toned and ready for this incredible feat.  But preparing physically does not have to be a task of insurmountable proportion!  Simply taking a daily walk is extremely beneficial.  Most childbirth books will recommend at least a few stretches and toning exercises to prepare for labor.  What to Expect When You are Expecting has some helpful exercises.  Kegels strengthen the pelvic floor, wall-squats tone leg muscles for giving birth while squatting, the dromedary droop aids in relieving back pain and pressure, just to name a few.  I have also done German Stabilization core strengthening (similar to Pilates) throughout my whole pregnancies and felt the positive effects daily.  Find a routine that is helpful to you and build these exercises into your morning routine just as you do with washing your face and brushing your teeth. You will find yourself feeling better during pregnancy, throughout labor and following birth if you do! You will not regret it!

Use Herbal Teas and Supplements.  Herbs have been used for thousands of years in the physical and emotional preparation for childbirth.  Some of the most widely used herbs are red raspberry leaf and nettles.  Red raspberry leaf is believed to relieve leg cramps, diarrhea, and morning sickness in pregnant women, as well as tone the uterus, reduce the risk of hemorrhage, ease pain in labor and post-partum recovery and increase breast milk. Nettle leaf is excellent to add to a tea around four weeks before delivery to aid in postpartum milk production. I enjoy Traditional Medicinals pregnancy teas.  My two favorite for preparing for labor are their Red Raspberry Leaf Tea and their Organic Pregnancy Tea.    Mountain Rose Herbs offers a wonderful variety of organic herbs to brew your own tea at a fraction of the cost.  Be sure to check with your midwife before drinking these teas, though, as red raspberry leaf in particular (depending on how strongly it is brewed) can cause contractions and even induce labor.  I have been drinking Traditional Medicinals throughout my entire pregnancy with no increased contractions, but as I am at risk for pre-term labor, I am holding off on brewing my own raspberry leaf tea until closer to my due date.’

Visit a Chiropractor.  Since our experience with upper cervical chiropractic care dramatically altered our son’s life, we are new “believers” in the amazing benefits of chiropractic care.  As there are many different forms of chiropractic–many of them not beneficial–I recommend finding a certified upper cervical chiropractor in your area.  Our wonderful chiropractor is Dr. Newhouse of Newhouse Health Solutions, and if you live in our area, we cannot recommend him highly enough!  Chiropractic care has been proven to decrease pain and duration of childbirth, can help align the baby for a safe and quick exit (using the Webster Technique), and can help keep your whole body aligned as your ligaments loosen up during pregnancy. For further information on the benefits of chiropractic care during pregnancy, visit here.

2.  Prepare Emotionally

Studying the process of childbirth as God designed it has been one of the most amazing, rewarding, awe-inspiring things I have ever done! Preparing my mind for what to expect during labor and delivery, how the body works and functions, what problems can arise, and how to work through them, has been eye-opening and empowering.  I cannot recommend enough that each woman study this amazing process before they go through it! With my first, as excited as I was to experience giving birth, I didn’t feel the need to learn much about the process myself.  I expected the doctors to handle that department.  And I figured my body would just kick itself into gear and do what it was supposed to do whether I informed myself on the process or not.  After all, women have been giving birth for thousands of years, right? What’s to know? I actually found that informing myself on the process has helped immensely in relieving fear and anxiety, as well as giving me tools to cope with labor.

Two Excellent Natural Childbirth Resources:

The Christian Childbirth Handbook. I have been so     blessed by reading this book! Obviously coming from a Christian perspective, this book details not only the body’s physical process of giving birth, but weaves in Scripture and God’s good design to offer comfort for anxiety and fear during labor.  I also love the balanced approach to a desire for natural childbirth and the reality of complications or medical emergency making that impossible.  The wealth of information on how God designed our bodies to work in giving birth caused me to stand in awe of our Creator and fall in love with His design.  The knowledge it afforded me has increased my excitement and given me tools to cope with the fear and pain involved.  It also addresses issues at the heart level and encourages belief in God’s goodness and sovereignty no matter how labor and delivery may differ from what you had planned.

The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth is an excellent tool for informing yourself about the process of birth, as well as what to expect in a normal birth, variations, possible complications, the risks and benefits involved in each medical intervention, etc.  A wonderful resource for understanding all that is happening and could be suggested to aid the labor process.

Take a Childbirth Class

Most hospitals offer childbirth or Lamaaze classes for their patients before they give birth.  These can be a one day class or a multiple week course, depending on where you go.  You can also take more advanced courses on natural childbirth like Bradley offers.  These can be pricey, but they are well worth the investment!

3.  Prepare Spiritually

Labor is, for most people, intense, painful, and exhausting.  No matter how prepared you are for childbirth, the experience can throw curves you did not expect and test even the most educated laborer.  Childbirth brings with it not only physical pain, but emotional fear of the process itself.  Labor can try your patience, perseverance, and pain tolerance!  All of these things can either cause a person to spiral out of control into panic, or you can ask the Lord to give you the presence of mind to allow all of these things to sanctify you and draw you into deeper relationship with Him.  Childbirth can be a miraculously spiritual experience of crying out to the Lord and finding his grace and strength is sufficient when you are at the end of your own.

Ushering a new life into the world and then nurturing that life is one of the most amazing tasks the Lord has given to us.  It is one of the sweetest and most rewarding blessings.  It is also one of the most intensely challenging roles we can possibly have.  I had no idea the truth of this statement until our firstborn arrived, and I found myself sorely lacking in spiritual preparation for all that motherhood demanded of me. I have prayed ever since Jeshuah’s birth that the Lord would use the lives of our children to mold and sanctify my heart through the sacrifices required of me.  In my pursuit of holiness in the calling of motherhood, I have found a couple of books I particularly refreshing.

Calm My Anxious Heart.  Linda Dillow addresses the issue of contentment in all circumstances and its relation to anxiety.  She challenges our hearts to rest in God’s sovereignty in all things and not allow ourselves to be overwhelmed with “what ifs” and “if onlys.”  As post-partum fear and anxiety was a huge struggle for me after my last birth, I am clinging to the truths of Scripture and words of wisdom found in this book.

In The Mission of Motherhood, Sally Clarkson outlines the importance of the calling of motherhood with Scriptural encouragement to not grow weary of doing good, even when we do not see the result of our labors some days! A great resource to remind us of the eternal value of our roles as mothers.

Comforts from the Cross. Elyse Fitzpatrick has a profound gift for weaving the truth of the gospel into the circumstances of everyday life. With short, almost devotional-length chapters, she addresses multiple issues that we each face daily and confronts them with the gospel.  A delightful, easy read full of long-lasting, heart penetrating truths.

Finally, as you do all you can to prepare your body, mind, and spirit for childbirth and motherhood, come before the Lord with hands open in surrender to His will in all of it.  Preparation is important and it is a wise task, but it can cause us to claim too much ownership in an area we are meant to continually surrender to God’s providence.  We can be tempted to insist that, because we have “done our part,” God owes us a labor, delivery, and baby just the way we prepared for.  But I am reminded of Psalm 84:11, “No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”  However labor, delivery, and recovery progress, God is good in the midst of it all.

Ask the Lord to enable you to let go of your desire for control in the area of both childbirth and motherhood.  Entrust the process of birth and the life of your little one into his care, knowing that He knows what is best for us so much more than we do!

Further Childbirth Reading:

Embracing the Pain and Letting Go of Fear in Childbirth

Scriptural Encouragement for Preparing and Giving Birth

Preparatory Resources for a Natural Pregnancy and Childbirth


Toxic Talk Tuesday: Personal Care

We use products on our bodies and hair every day without giving it a second thought.  We figure if it’s on a shelf at the store, it must be okay to use. Why would it be harmful?  Chris and Andrea Fabry welcome us into their studio again for the third installment of Toxic Talk Tuesdays.  This time the topic is Personal Care.  Andrea, with her wealth of knowledge and experience, challenges many of the assumptions we have about personal care products and their safety, explains certain components that are particularly harmful, and gives us natural, safe (and frugal!) alternatives. Again, this post will be a conglomeration of direct quotes, paraphrases, and my own input.  For the complete broadcast, find the link below.

Andrea states that our personal care products are an unseen danger.  “The packaging is very attractive, the scents are great, it just looks and smells so smooth, and yet it’s not what it seems. It’s not what we want to believe that it is.  And the reason is, there is so much we don’t know. It’s not that we know something and then are ignoring it, we really don’t know and the more you study what is in these products the more you understand it’s probably not a good risk for us because most chemicals are made up of petroleum. Would you put gasoline on your hair knowingly? Or on your skin? Why does this matter? 60% of any chemical will go through 5 layers of skin into the bloodstream.

90% of the chemicals we have on the labels of shampoos, lotions, toothpaste, etc. have never been tested for health. This is because cosmetics are not claiming to cure any disease or make a health impact, so they do not fall under the same legislation as drugs do.

Toxicant of the Day: Phthalates. A derivative of petroleum. Endocrine disruptors, even in small amounts.  Wikipedia states “Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interfere with endocrine (or hormone system) in animals, including humans. These disruptions can cause cancerous tumors, birth defects, and other developmental disorders. Specifically, they are known to cause learning disabilities, severeattention deficit disordercognitive and brain development problems.”

Phthalates are a chemical prevalent in plastics. But it is also used in shampoos, lotions, and skin care products to preserve the fragrance. This is not listed on labels, it is simply under “fragrance.” The ingredient “fragrance” can include all sorts of neurotoxins, but it is not subject to the same health and safety testing as are drugs to prove its safety.  95% of fragrances are derived from petroleum, a known neurotoxin.  If nothing else, look for products that say “fragrance free.”

Our bodies can become conditioned to the chemicals on the market so that we do not immediately feel their negative effects.  However, this does not mean they are not having a negative effect.  These chemicals whittle down the receptors in our nose, which is directly connected to the brain.  As we breathe these substances in, we are burning down and disrupting our ability to smell, and this is also affecting brain development.  This is why our ability to smell decreases with age.  If you remove the chemicals, our receptors can restore themselves.

Closing thought: All of this information can be overwhelming, but simply do the best you can with what you know. Anything is better than nothing!

Recipe of the Day:

Queen of Hungary Water

  • 6 small handfuls lemon balm
  • 5 small handfuls calendula flowers
  • 4 small handfuls rose petals
  • 3 small handfuls comfrey
  • 1 small handful rosemary, lemon peel, and sage

(Don’t worry if you don’t have all of these herbs; feel free to use what you have.)

Place herbs in a gallon glass jar. (You can halve this recipe for a 1/2 gallon jar.) Cover the herbs completely in raw organic apple cider vinegar. Screw on lid tightly. Let sit for 4-6 weeks. Shake the jar several times a week.

Strain the mixture. Combine remaining liquid with equal parts witch hazel extract. Rose water may also be used.

Dab on face and massage into skin. Queen of Hungary water also makes an excellent rinse for hair. Can be stored indefinitely.

This makes an excellent gift!  Many of these ingredients can be found at Mountain Rose Herbs

Practical Tips:

  • As a shampoo or to relieve dandruff, massage baking soda/washing soda/rhassoul clay into your scalp. Rinse with raw apple cider vinegar/coffee grounds/lemon juice. Rhassoul clay is a mineral and has been used for centuries and has wonderful antioxidant qualities. When adding a mineral to your hair, it needs to be balanced back out with an acid. For more information on its many uses, read here.
  • Baking soda or bentonite clay in combination with an essential oil can be used to brush your teeth. Recipes here and here.
  • Natural dandruff control: Dandruff is an external result of an internal condition, so make sure you’re getting proper nurients.  To treat the irritation, tea tree oil is antifungal. Combine with what you’re using and massage into skin.  You can also use grape fruit seed extract. Dead sea salt baths are great for excema.
  • Soap is overrated.  Suds are overrated. Babies don’t actually even need soap, and many days we don’t need it either, but if you want to use something, use pure castile soap or rhassoul clay.
  • Baking Soda neutralizes acid.  Use baking soda as a deodorant. Mix baking soda, water, and a drop of tea tree oil in a spray bottle and spray under arms.  Another recipe using zinc oxide and witch hazel can be found here.
  • Use raw apple cider vinegar as a skin toner! Then moisurize with kefir. (Health Benefits of Kefir or How to Make Kefir.
  • After chlorine swimming, get a pure vitamin C spray and spray your skin and it will neutralize the chlorine. Or bathe in a vitamin C powder. This can be found at your local health food store or here.

For further information 

Toxic Talk Tuesdays: Laundry Care

Toxic Talk Tuesdays: Naturally Clean Kitchens



Minimalist Beauty

Chris Fabry Live! September 20 broadcast

Hello, Baby Bunting!

20 week ultrasound photoshoot

We had our 20 week ultrasound yesterday.  I was counting up, and even though I have had six total ultrasounds, four with this baby alone, I could hardly contain my excitement for this ultrasound.  Every time I see that tiny little baby squirming around in there it fills me with such awe of God’s creation!

The ultrasound was just as exciting as I anticipated, including Grandma Lisa accompanying and seeing her grandchild in utero! Baby Bunting (as I have affectionately dubbed him or her) was wiggling around like crazy. We had an amazing technician who explained and pointed to everything we were seeing and informed us the baby is weighing in at 13 oz and a due date of January 26 looks accurate.  We maintained our resolve to keep the gender a secret until birth and left the room thrilled that we get to have that little mystery this time.

The ultrasound was followed by an appointment with my midwife, where she assured us that everything looks wonderful and healthy with the baby, but where she cautioned to continue to be careful and take it easy throughout the course of the pregnancy.  Last weekend I had such intense cramping that I couldn’t even stand, so even though I feel carefree because we haven’t had any bleeding scares in awhile, things are still a bit risky for a preterm birth.

So, here’s hoping Baby Bunting continues to incubate for another 4 months!

I discovered an amazing Scripture this morning in my reading.

Psalm 71:6 “Upon You I have leaned from before my birth; you are he who took me from my mother’s womb.”  Whenever it is that this baby makes its entrance, it is an amazing comfort to know that it is God who will bring this baby into the world. What an awesome God we serve!

(Healthy) Eating for Two!

When I was pregnant with Jeshuah, I really didn’t have a clue what I was carrying inside me.  I mean, I knew there was a baby in there, but it was so abstract, I simply couldn’t wrap my mind around it.  It was, unfortunately, more about “being pregnant” and the excitement and attention that inevitably brings, than about caring for the little life growing inside me.

Especially if that impinged on my own desires.

For stuff like loads of sugar, caffeine, fast food, etc.  I was overwhelmed by all the things you’re not supposed to do when you are pregnant, and selfishly, I thought it was all a little over the top anyway.  So, I really didn’t pay much attention to what you should or shouldn’t do or eat.

This time around (oh, yeah, I’m pregnant!), it feels really, really different.  Although it is still early in the pregnancy, and there is such a surreal feeling surrounding it, I actually think I am even more excited this time than I was last time.  The first pregnancy, I really didn’t fully know what it was going to be like to have a child, to be a mom.  Now I understand a mother’s love, and I can hardly wait to wrap my arms around this new little one and watch her grow! (I have fondly decided she will be a she, not an it or a he:-)

I also have a whole new attitude regarding what I eat.  Combine all of my convictions, research, and concerns with Jeshuah, and I am very aware of the fact that what I eat, the baby eats.  So every time I reach for something, I ask myself, “Do I want the baby to eat that?” And if the answer is no, I find a healthier option. I want to give this little one the best start to life possible.  And I don’t mind sacrificing a few of life’s pleasures for a few months to do that. Now, that doesn’t mean that I will never enjoy a burger and coke, but let’s just say, that will be the exception, not the rule.

It has helped that we really just don’t have any junk food options in the house anymore.  It has also helped that I have found a bunch of new healthy snack food recipes and have begun building my stash so that when hunger calls, I can satisfy it in a positive way.

Ultimately, God is sovereign, and He is good. His will will be done with this little one, and it will be His good, perfect and pleasing will.  But I want to be responsible with this gift and this family and this body with which God has entrusted me.  So I will be posting more as I learn more about healthy, natural helps for expectant mamas!

The Dirty Dozen List

An important aspect of healthy living is eating foods free of pesticides and other toxic chemicals.  Studies are increasingly showing that even small doeses of these chemicals can cause lasting damage to our health and brain development–especially fetal development and small children! As this guide states, washing and peeling can help, but not eliminate the toxins, as they are absorbed into the very core of the fruits and veggies.

When buying produce, buying organic can take a huge chunk out of your wallet.  Here is a helpful list of the MOST important things to buy organic.  Prioritizing and buying some organic is better than nothing! So get started with this list:

The Dirty Dozen List

I have also heard that it is highly important to buy organic coffee and bananas as these foods are highly absorbant (yes, the skins of bananas absorb those pesticides and it leaks into the fruit), but this list does not include them.  Oh, well…we do our best!