Preeclampsia During {and AFTER} Pregnancy

Preeclampsia, formerly known as toxemia or pregnancy induced hypertension is seen in at least 5-8% of all pregnancies, according to the Preeclampsia Foundation. It is a pregnancy related syndrome that affects the liver, kidneys and red blood cells. During pregnancy, your doctor or midwife is checking for high blood pressure and testing for protein in your urine, to monitor for signs of preeclampsia. The risks of eclampsia are seizures, coma and death so prenatal screening can help your provider monitor things and form a treatment plan if necessary.

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5 Things To Do the Day Before Your Induction

So you’re going to be induced…this baby is really coming! Knowing you’re going into the hospital for an induction (or cesarean) is exciting, but it can bring up some anxiety and a big dose of reality. We like to have a phone call with our clients the day before their induction starts to talk about how they’re feeling, what the plan is and when to call us to join them. During this call, we try to remind them of a few things they can do to prepare for their induction and labor. If you’re wondering what to do the day before an induction or scheduled cesarean, I want to share a few ideas with you all too!

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Doulas are for Cesarean Births

Having a scheduled cesarean section can be just as overwhelming as an unplanned or emergency cesarean. There is so much excitement when your baby is born, but there can be just as much anxiety and fear when you’re headed into surgery. Although cesareans are the most common surgery performed on women in the U.S., they are still major abdominal surgery and that can make learning to breastfeed and caring for a newborn challenging.

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5 Gift Ideas for NICU Parents

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is the unit in the hospital where premature babies or babies with medical complications can stay for days, weeks or even months. This often-unpredictable time for families can come with fear, disappointment and unexpected hardship. The experience of a NICU stay, no matter how short or how happy the ending, can leave parents feeling overwhelmed and anxious for their new baby.

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Confession: I’m a Birth Doula and I Had an Elective Cesarean

I have to start this blog post with a heartfelt apology for the doula I used to be. When I started out as a brand-new doula in my senior year of college, I had a whole lot of passion and a whole lot of bias. I was immersed in the natural birth community and I was an activist for everything “natural” birth and breastfeeding. I understood that those things weren’t options for everyone, but in an effort to raise awareness for them and support those who were choosing them, I alienated and likely hurt other parents and for that, I’m so sorry.

There was a time when I thought the perfect birth looked a certain way and I didn’t understand why people would willingly choose anything else. Then, I found a doula training organization that challenged me, made me acknowledge my bias and made me a better doula. It might not be a popular opinion, but I no longer believe I can be an activist and a truly nonjudgmental doula. I had to unlearn a lot of things and really change my perspective. I can genuinely say that the perfect birth to me is perfect because the parents think it is. I feel like the best doula when my clients feel heard, supported and encouraged through their birth experience, no matter how their baby comes into the world. I leave every birth knowing that my clients only got nonjudgmental support for all of their choices from me and I truly believe they made the best decisions for their family.

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The Effects of Fear on Labor

There is a strong relationship between fear and birth. Fear is normal, but can very easily become consuming and interfere with the body’s labor process. With any unknown, and each birth is, no matter how many times you have done it, there comes some degree of fear or anxiety. It’s hard to relinquish control and to go into something so huge with so much at stake. Common fears for birth range anywhere from perineal tearing, interventions like inductions or episiotomy, or sometimes surgery or a c-section. Every fear, no matter how small or how big is valid and deserves to be processed. We all bring baggage with us to our birth in the form of emotions, fears and experiences. We need to condense that baggage down into a nice, small carry-on size before the big day so it fits nicely into the process and doesn’t interfere with the “trip”.

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What if I Don’t Want to Surrender in Labor?

 

There is something to be said for the metaphorical duck calmly gliding through the water, but frantically paddling its feet beneath the surface. Some people are really good at hiding their anxieties, fears and tension and projecting an image of grace and control. I am one of them and I know it’s not always as easy as just relaxing in labor. 

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My Daughter's First Birthday

Today my daughter turns one and leaves infancy behind to embrace everything toddler. She is walking, calling me “Momma”, throwing tiny tantrums and letting us know what her opinions are. I love watching her learn new things every day and become a tiny person with her own personality, but today I am happy and a little sad too. I feel like I blinked and my squishy newborn became a toddling little girl with a toothy grin and a purpose.

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Lovenox Injections in Pregnancy

Some women like me, know before they ever get pregnant they will have to be on anticoagulation (blood thinning) therapy, like Lovenox injections during pregnancy. Others have never heard of it and can be scared when they think about having to give themselves injections every day. Lovenox can be prescribed for a variety of reasons. For me, it was a history of a DVT, deep vein thrombosis (blood clot) in my leg. My DVT was a postoperative complication of my spinal fusion surgery, but once you have had a clot, you are at risk to have another. So for me, that meant 546 injections in my stomach over 39 weeks to get my baby here as safely as possible. Factor V Leiden thrombophilia in pregnancy and history of some pregnancy losses or fertility treatments are also reasons a woman might be put on anticoagulation like Lovenox. Pregnancy increases a woman’s risk of blood clots and they can be detrimental if they travel to her heart, her brain, the baby’s placenta or the umbilical cord. Although it can be intimidating, if your obstetrician or midwife prescribes Lovenox or anticoagulation therapy, it is because the risk of a clot outweighs the risk of the medication in your pregnancy.

 

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Four Tips for a Smoother Cesarean Birth Recovery

Although it is the most common surgery performed on women and how over 30% of women in the United States give birth, a C-section is major surgery. It can come with some pretty unexpected side effects, so it’s good to know what is normal and what isn’t.

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Music in Labor

Music plays an important role in our lives. It’s woven through our holidays, celebrations, weddings, worship and for a lot of us, even our exercise and commutes. I have a workout playlist, a sleep playlist, and praise and worship playlist and even a playlist to calm the baby when she is fussy. That last one has actually dropped from a playlist to just a single song that makes our baby stop crying. Psalm 23 is the quickest way to calm the baby and is our tried and true trick for getting her to sleep. If we want to make her laugh, 90’s rap is the way to go, but it definitely doesn’t help her sleep. I learned this the hard way when my iPhone was accidentally on shuffle on 11pm.

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