Know the Symptoms of Postpartum Anxiety and Depression

Symptoms of postpartum depression can appear any time during pregnancy and the first 12 months after childbirth. If you recognize that help is needed, call your doctor or midwife for a referral to a trained therapist. Also, like this Facebook page for peer support and further guidance. Don't wait to get help!! 

Below are common signs pointing out that help is needed.

  • Are you feeling sad or depressed?
  • Do you feel more irritable or angry with those around you?
  • Are you having difficulty bonding with your baby?
  • Do you feel anxious or panicky?
  • Are you having problems with eating or sleeping?
  • Are you having upsetting thoughts that you can’t get out of your mind?
  • Do you feel as if you are “out of control” or “going crazy”?
  • Do you feel like you never should have become a mother?
  • Are you worried that you might hurt your baby or yourself?

Postpartum Support International hosts free, live phone sessions every week, including Wednesday chats for moms and first Monday chats for dads.  

Fertility and the Tilted Uterus

There's a little known cause of infertility and chronic miscarriage that Western doctors often dismiss: the tilted uterus.

The uterus can become malpositioned due to any kind of physical or sexual/emotional trauma to the pelvic or sacral area and can tilt in a number of directions:

  • To the right or left side
  • Backwards onto the colon (termed retroversion or retroflexion)
  • Forward onto the bladder (anteversion)
  • Downward (prolapsed) to varying degrees- the worst of which is when the uterus actually falls out of the vaginal canal.

These various uterine positions can hinder getting and staying pregnant in the following ways:

Ovulation Compromised

Ovulation can become difficult or compromised when the uterus is tilted to side and weighted upon the egg-releasing ovary (oftentimes creating pain during ovulation).

Hindered Fertilization

Fertilization can become compromised when the fallopian tubes are weighted upon by the displaced uterus (at times sperm are able to make their way into the fallopian tube, creating higher risk for life-threatening ectopic pregnancy, a 1 in 50 risk for women).

Toxic Uterus

The intrauterine environment can become toxic due to inability of menstrual blood to flow out completely during menstruation. This can potentially create a space where sperm or fertilized ovum (embryo) are unable to survive.

Higher Risk of Miscarriage

Menstrual blood not able to flow out during menstruation will pool and coagulate along the inner wall of the uterus- creating a 'false' or 'weak' wall upon which the embryo implants. As the embyro grows and becomes a fetus (at about 8 weeks) it's added weight can pull the placental site away from the uterine wall causing miscarriage.

The Traditional Medicine Approach

Amongst the complementary/alternative health modalities available to help couples challenged with infertility are the Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy™, techniques are founded on the ancient Mayan technique of abdominal massage which is an external non invasive manipulation that repositions internal organs that have shifted, thereby restricting the flow of blood, lymph, nerve and chi. Also included in sessions/consultations are a look at potential contributing dietary and lifestyle factors, and what (if any) use of herbal remedies might be appropriate for the individual in relation to where they are in their healing process. To learn more please visit www.arvigotherapy.com.

Written by Reid Forrester, a massage therapist, yoga instructor, and long-time women's health practitioner in the Atlanta area. Her practice focuses on helping women overcome infertility and move on to have healthy pregnancies and births. Read more about her Fertility Services here.

Free (or cheap) Breastfeeding Classes?

I have recently seen advertisements for VERY reduced rate (and even free) breastfeeding classes for expectant parents online, in large department stores and even in hospitals. While these classes may seem so tempting for many reasons, I would like to point out a few flaws in attending these classes:

  1. Breastfeeding is as important as your birth. Many moms-to-be spend countless hours preparing for their birth; attending 6 week class series, reading birth books, interviewing providers, taking fitness classes, researching birthing options, making a solid birth plan, and even composing the perfect playlist for their big day. Just as the placenta nourishes the baby in the womb, the breasts nourish the baby outside the womb. Shouldn’t the same amount of preparation one puts into birth be put into breastfeeding? 
  2. There is no such thing as a free lunch. Really, there isn’t. Believe me, I’ve been searching for quite some time. Who is producing these free online classes? What messages are they trying to convey? Where are they putting in the advertisements? Someone has to benefit from these free classes or it is just not profitable. 
  3. Reduced fees means poor services. A $10 class sounds tempting, but in order for that class to be profitable, there needs to be about 20 couples in that class and the class must last 2 hours. High volume is the key here. Can 20 couples really learn the basics of breastfeeding in 2 hours? One would expect handouts, a video or two (so the instructor can catch their breath), plenty of coupons and/or advertisements, and no time for questions. 
Our Breastfeeding Super-Heroine, Meghan Garcia-Salas.

Our Breastfeeding Super-Heroine, Meghan Garcia-Salas.

Here are the importances of competitively priced breastfeeding classes:

  1. Smaller class size and longer class time allows for optimal learning. This gives couples plenty of time to process the information as well as ask questions and receive a non-hurried, detailed answer. Why? Because breastfeeding is important.
  2. There are different teaching methods used in the class. The instructor will likely combine lecture, videos, games, hands on practice, quizzes, and even stand up comedy to ensure you truly absorb the content being presented. 
  3. Competitive pricing means that the instructor has gone to great lengths to make sure you get your money’s worth. Instead of reading from a script, the instructor creates unique handouts and presentation slides, reviews notes, makes sure all content reflects the latest research, and strives for your satisfaction in the class. 
  4. The instructor does not have any financial or undisclosed interest in products that are discussed in the class. All of the information given is the honest opinion of the honest instructor. 

For more information on why a breastfeeding class is important, visit Best for Babes.

Sincerely,
Meghan, Instructor for The Happiest Doulas

A Pioneer in Natural Obstetrical and Pediatric Care

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Aviva Romm, MD is both a certified nurse midwife and integrative physician. Aviva is an herbalist and has authored many books on the subject of women's health and herbal medicine. She recommends a natural approach to healing that replaces or compliments pharmaceutical prescriptions of today's medical community. She has an extensive blog, which shares her women's centered ideas and holistic remedies, proving her to be a pioneer of natural healing in obstetrical care. Aviva's website also offers online courses for self-study of botanical medicine, called WomanWise.

This article includes her suggestions for natural inductions and her opinion of "The Gray Zone" - medical "reasons" to induce labor such as "a big baby" and "overdue mamas". The national average of medical inductions is over 23% and the World Heath Organization recommends no more than 10% of all births. Something's gotta give. 

Take control of your health, and remember that medical doctors are human beings with special training (not special powers!) who may be consulted when considering your options and whose opinion may or may not be the advice you follow to stay healthy. Most medical doctors seem to push drugs and ignore alternative methods or natural remedies. YOU need to educate yourself so that you can be confident in your health care. 

Be well and take care.

Profound Benefits for Mothers, Babies, and Humanity

As birth can occur “naturally” or by “Cesarean,” a prevailing key point is that it is always emotionally overpowering and multifaceted. Several factors that are important to women during birth; such as feeling connected to the birth, having immediate skin-to-skin contact with their baby, minimal separation from their baby, holding their baby, and generally establishing an atmosphere of positivity and joy remains paramount to her and the family. Indeed the moment of birth has profound benefits for mothers, the baby, and humanity.
 
Therefore when a woman has a Cesarean delivery, Dr. Bootstaylor utilizes the Family Centered Cesarean method (see the Jentle Childbirth Foundation, England
www.jentlechildbirth.org.uk). It is this belief that a surgical birth (Cesarean) can also capture many elements of a “natural” vaginal birth. 

In an attempt to bring elements of birth back to the Cesarean delivery, Dr. Bootstaylor was able to document the birth experience of a couple who had a Family Centered Cesarean and wanted to share their experience with the world. It is Dr. Bootstaylor's hope that in creating this video, more women, Obstetricians, and Midwives will become aware of another reasonable safe option to enhance their birth experience in the event a Cesarean birth is necessary. The Family Centered Cesarean can promote amongst Obstetricians and Midwives a birth experience that is beautiful, emotionally uplifting, and empowering, thereby enhancing a connected experience for the whole family.
 
Please feel free to share this video with women, Obstetricians, Midwives, Doulas, Birth Professionals and anyone with a heart. Naturally, Dr. Bootstaylor is more than happy to share his experience and answer any questions about the Family Centered Cesarean. Contact info: www.seebaby.org.

This video and the included photographs were produced by Chanda. If you desire birth, pregnancy (belly!), or newborn photography, please review our exclusive offer here

Fertility and Pregnancy Nutrition

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Folate is a water-soluble B vitamin, which helps your body build healthy cells. Studies have shown that for women of childbearing age, taking 400 micrograms of folate (folic acid) every day can reduce the risk (up to 70%) of having a birth affected by a Neural Tube Defect, such as Spina Bifida.

Consider taking a good prenatal vitamin recommended by your maternity care provider and ask about ingesting concentrated fruits, grains and vegetables for added insurance. Consider using Dr. Brewer's Pregnancy Diet or the many recipes and ideas listed with tips and guidelines for pregnancy nutrition by Dr. Sears. During pregnancy, there are certain foods to avoid but generally, food is safe for most healthy, soon to-be-mamas.

Are you worried a doula will kill the intimacy of labor?

Are you worried a doula will kill the intimacy of labor?

Unless you plan to have an unassisted birth at home, you will be interacting with many people during your labor day at the hospital. After you've been admitted, a representative from hospital admissions may come knocking for additional information from you or to have you sign more paperwork. Sometimes a tech from the lab comes in to take blood samples from you, otherwise your assigned Labor & Delivery nurse will do this while inserting your IV port. Your midwife or doctor (or whoever is on call that day) will be checking in with you throughout your labor either in person or over the phone with your nurse.

Read More

Common Labor Positions with Pros and Cons Listed

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During labor, your body will tell you how to move and which positions to try. You want to be sure to keep your body loose and limp throughout each contraction and during the breaks. When a break is ending, take a deep cleansing breath, lower your shoulders, wiggle your jaw a bit or simply open your mouth, and if you’re standing up, or sitting on a birth ball, keep your hips wide open and moving. This will help your cervix open faster and shorten the overall length of labor.

The positions shown here facilitate the normal, natural process of labor. Keep in mind that you'll want to change your position at least once an hour to stretch - usually I suggest that mamas use the break to visit the bathroom to urinate and labor on the toilet for 15 minutes each visit. My back-up doula, Alice agrees that the bathroom is magical - read her suggestions for comfort and progress. 

Create A Registry For Your Baby and Shop For Diapers Online

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I love to shop using the convenient iPhone app (or website) for Soap.com/Diapers.com, etc. The service is easy to use and for orders costing at least $49, two-day shipping is free. I create shopping lists of regularly purchased products and the items are shipped from one service (unlike Amazon that has multiple individual sellers) so tracking packages is simple. They also have a customer service number, which offers you the opportunity to speak to a live human being if you have questions about anything. Friends of The Happiest Doula get $10 off their first purchase by using the code CYNT663086 at checkout. I tell everyone I know about Soap.com/Wag.com/Diapers.com since I think it is such an easy way to shop and now they offer an online baby registry service, which is perfect for the new or soon-to-be parents that I meet all the time!

A Breastfeeding Guide For Your Hospital Stay

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At the website for Best StartI found a wonderful printable guide for breastfeeding. I recommend that you print pages 15, 16 and 17 (in Section 3) to use as a handy reference during the first few feedings at the hospital. Also, on page 11, it explains what baby-led latching is and how-to support your baby while he or she moves around to breastfeed. If you haven't seen a breast crawl yet, you are in for an awesome surprise! I was truly mesmerized the first time I saw it and enjoy each time I get to witness it. Life is miraculous. After you leave the hospital, schedule a consultation with a lactation specialist or register for a pumping/return to work class. Details and pricing about The Happiest Doula breastfeeding services are posted here.

Prenatal Exercises and Birthing Positions for Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction

A condition called Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction occurs when the ligaments that keep your pelvis aligned during pregnancy become too relaxed (due to the hormone relaxin) and causes excessive movement of the pubis symphysis. This can make walking or sitting difficult, and sometimes extremely painful, affecting approximately, one out of four pregnant women.

Read More

Your Happy Nest: An Atlanta Nanny Agency

Finding a nanny that meets your family's unique needs can be a challenging process, especially when a new baby is on the way! Let Your Happy Nest do the work for you. They are a locally-owned and operated full-service nanny agency that specializes in matching families with their ideal nanny or babysitter. Unlike most nanny agencies, their placement providers personally meet with each and every family to get a feel for the family's dynamics, expectations, and needs. Your Happy Nest carefully selects qualified nannies that match your requirements and begin the process of making the perfect match!

The Happiest Doula, LLC offers night nurse services and postpartum doula care for after your newborn arrives. Make sure to schedule overnight nurse care in advance here. 

Get Rid of Your Backache and Postpartum Flab with the Belly Bandit

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A client told me of her recent experience with the Belly Bandit so I asked her to write an article about it for my blog. Here it is:

"I really recommend the Belly Bandit! I purchased mine and starting wearing it almost all day long at one week postpartum. After the first week, I wore it a bit less, but almost every day until my baby was three weeks old. This is my third child and until now, I hadn't had many people comment on how "tiny" and "amazing" I look so soon after a birth! By three weeks postpartum, I was back into my jeans and slightly fitted tops (even if they were my "fat jeans" they don't have elastic waists!). I was even able to tell my mother-in-law that I wore it for my sore back (not a total lie! It REALLY helped support my back!) thus keeping my secret to a quickly shrinking waist."

Alcohol Limits While Breastfeeding and Screening Kits

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The holidays are here and with many parties to attend, mothers may be wondering how safe it is to breastfeed after enjoying the spiked eggnog. Less than 2% of the alcohol consumed by the mother reaches her blood and milk. Ideally, it is best to avoid breastfeeding for about two hours after drinking one alcoholic beverage. Learn what is a safe amount for your weight or try a test kit, which can help you determine whether alcohol is in your breast milk. For more information about breastfeeding, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Labor Tips for Dads and Birth Partners

Occasionally, I receive emails from an anxious partner who is looking for tips or tools that will help him or her support their loved one during labor. If the couple has skipped taking a childbirth education class then the birth partner may feel unprepared and need some "labor tools". My advice to clients are the following seven points:

Labor tools available at YourBirthBag.com

Labor tools available at YourBirthBag.com

1. Be able to time contractions. Download an app for your iPad or iPhone to accurately time contractions. I like iBirth or iDoula but anything will work, even a kitchen timer and notepad. Practice before labor begins to get the hang of it. (When I'm called to join a labor, I ask how far apart are the contractions/frequency, how long each lasts/duration, and for how long the contractions have been going on for overall.) The iBirth app has videos showing labor positions and suggestions on what to say during labor and many other useful lists.

2. Know the stages of labor and what to expect during each one. The Birth Partner is an excellent guide for anyone supporting labor and birth. It covers the role of each member of the birth team, medical interventions and natural approaches, and what to expect in the event of a necessary c-section. 

3. Don't take anything personally. Women communicate with their whole body during labor and swatting a hand away, etc. is common! I once witnessed a dad get his face palmed so the mama could continue making eye contact with me. We all laughed about it later and no feelings were hurt.

4. Keep her relaxed, rested and nourished. Use music, provide water/tea and easily digestible foods, run a bath, give a foot massage, etc. Remind her to rest and that labor will progress on its own; there isn't a need to take long walks to "get things moving". It is a time to conserve energy and try to sleep between contractions.

5. Be supportive and present. Avoid watching TV, using your phone, etc. unless it is regarding labor. Here is a list of things to say and to avoid saying during labor.

6. Get support for the immediate postpartum period. Any type of help is appreciated when a new baby arrives but postpartum doulas are trained to facilitate the bond between mother and baby, help with breastfeeding and recognize the signs of postpartum depression. Interview postpartum doulas and secure assistance before your baby's birthday. The Happiest Doulas offer night nurse baby care (overnight support) so you may rest and heal after delivery.

7. Know the signs of postpartum depression. Read this article and the printable list of postpartum depression symptoms. Educate yourself and take action before a problem embeds itself - call a therapist and schedule an appointment immediately.