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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#TBT to 2012: My "Why" for Doula Work

Through that surgery and the life-threatening complications that followed, I learned what truly nonjudgmental support can do for healing.

Today marks the start of World Doula Week, where we focus on the work doulas do to improve the social, emotional, physiological and psychological wellbeing of whole families. From pregnancy, to birth and then to the postpartum period, doulas take care of their clients. For most doulas, it feels like a calling or a passion that sparks a career. It takes a heart of service and usually a story about why we decided to become a doula. My story started one way and had a pretty big plot twist.

I became a doula in 2010 because I loved studying everything about pregnancy, birth and babies in college. My “why” was a passion for everything I was learning about birth and babies in my undergrad internship at a birth center in Denton and a natural ability to support others. I was the person who my friends and family came to for advice about pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding and it felt like a natural career choice.

Here comes the real #TBT though…back to 2012. I had been a doula for 2 years and was working as a newborn nanny. I had a car accident and herniated two discs in my back worse than I knew. After a night in the ER for pain and subsequently losing the feeling in my legs and ability to walk altogether, I was admitted to the hospital. For 5 days, I laid in a hospital bed not knowing if I would walk again or if the pain in my back would ever go away. My mom and roommate (turned rock star postpartum doula), Samantha were there with me when the spine surgeon came in to tell us a 360 2-level spinal fusion was my option to regain function in my legs.

Through that surgery and the life-threatening complications that followed, I learned what truly nonjudgmental support can do for healing. For 37 days in the hospital, my mom, my friends and my nurses and doctors safeguarded my dignity, listened to my fears, reassured me and respected my wishes. They trusted me to make the best decisions for myself. Shoutout to all of the nurses on the med-surg unit at Texas Health Presbyterian Flower Mound. I had nurses lift me into wheelchairs and hold me on toilets and in showers, so I didn’t have to use a bed pan and could bathe myself. I had a certified nursing assistant French braid my hair because it had been a knotted mess for days. My mom listened and got me every snack I wanted when I cried and cursed in pain and frustration. She held my hair when I got sick and patted my leg when neither of us had the words to describe how scared we were. She put on a gown and mask to be there while they placed a picc line in ICU, never leaving my side. Samantha held my hand all night, so I could sleep through the hallucinations from my pain pump and helped me laugh again…and again. My surgeons fixed my spine and then went on to save my life. They answered every question, gave me a realistic idea of my new normal and had my back, literally and figuratively. 

I went into doula work because I loved birth and babies, but I’m still in doula work because I now know the difference nonjudgmental support can make. I remember how I was treated through one of the most intense experiences of my life and I want to give that same level of care to each of my clients. When you’re at your most vulnerable, you deserve the very best support and that’s my “why” as a doula. 

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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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New Parents, You Are So Brave

As I look back on the last year and reflect on all of the families who welcomed new babies, I keep coming back to the word brave. As doulas we get to see bravery come in so many different forms and it’s striking even in the simplest moments. New parents, you are so brave.

You struggled to get pregnant or stay pregnant. 

You were surprised by a pregnancy. 

You weathered pregnancy complications that were painful and scary. 

You breathed through one more contraction when you thought you couldn’t do it anymore.

You pushed one more time when you were absolutely exhausted and your baby was born.

You laid down in a cold operating room and endured major surgery to bring your baby into the world.

You joined the millions of parents who came before you.

You watched as your partner coped with pain you had never seen before and you trusted her instincts.

You asked for help when you just wanted to be able to do it by yourself.

You fed your baby from your body.

You gave your baby formula when it wasn’t your plan, so she would grow.

You pressed on when you lost everything in your birth plan.

You took beautiful care of your new baby through exhaustion and frustration.

You set boundaries for your new family and limited visitors when you needed to.

You knew your limits and you made hard choices.

You went back to work when you just wanted to stay home with your baby a little longer.

Every day in big and little ways, you are brave for your family and it’s an honor to get to witness that as your doula. On days where it feels like you can’t possibly keep at it or things aren’t going the way you imagined, reframe your thinking and own the ways you have been brave.

 

 

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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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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Chiropractic Care in Pregnancy Part II

Dr. Amber Galipp owns Legacy Family Chiropractic in McKinney and is our go-to Webster Certified Chiropractor for pregnancy. She sees patients of all ages, but her focus is on pregnancy and family chiropractic care. Her patients travel from all over North Texas because she is incredibly knowledgeable, fun to talk to and wonderful with babies and children. I was able to get her take on a few pregnancy-specific questions recently. Here’s what she had to say.

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The Nights I Dreamt of My Ex

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I had the most vivid dreams of my ex. I am happily married to the man of my dreams and the most amazing father to our little girl, but my subconscious didn’t care. Almost every night, my ex made a cameo in my dreams. Some nights it was boring and he was just there, making fries or whatever it was he did. Other nights, it was HOT, like wake up blushing hot. Like after many wild nights of REM sleep, I would often get up in the morning feeling immense guilt. I felt guilty, but let’s be honest, I didn’t hate it.

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What is a Doula? {The Attuned Doula Difference}

Your doula is trained to listen to your feelings, plans and wishes and help you to facilitate your best birth and postpartum experience. This looks different for each family and no matter your choices, your doula will be with you every step of the way. Her ability to nurture you, while you nurture your growing family is unmatched. 

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