Tagged: Pregnancy

Pregnancy Photography

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Design for Life

Despite what we are led to believe, our bodies work pretty well. They work in the same way they have done for millions of years. Our bodies have the same innate level of wisdom and survival features that they always have. The same ones that have allowed our species to successfully exist on this planet for hundreds of generations. When you really think about it, Mother Nature came up with a pretty fantastic design (although it may not always seem like it) for pregnancy, labor, birth and breastfeeding. When it all unfolds naturally, the concoction of hormones, emotions, reflexes and innate behaviors that evolve from both the mother and the baby, paint the most perfect picture.

Pregnant Cross Fit Controversy

Image

I love how this one photo has sparked so much debate. What started off as an edgy alternative to the typical cutesy pregnancy pics, has gone viral across the globe! From LA to London, to China, Germany and New Zealand. It seems like everyone has something to say on the matter. Cross Fit’s Facebook page, where the photo was originally posted, has received over 16.5K ‘likes’ and 1.7K comments! Lea-Ann Ellison is now at the center of a media frenzy. She is being interviewed for newspapers and magazines (such as the Huffington Post, In Touch magazine, the London Metro and the Daily Mail to name a few) all over to tell her story and to give her thoughts on exercising whilst pregnant. She hopes that all this hype will bring attention to an important health issue. In her own words, “I can’t believe this photo has caused this much stir, but it makes me hopeful that it will inspire other strong healthy moms to continue on doing what they love.” (And, her midwives concur)!!

 

Photo by Nick Stern

 

The Sweet Truth

 

Does anyone else think the traditional oral glucose tolerance test to screen for gestational diabetes, is enough to put anyone in to a diabetic coma? For regular healthy women who are conscious about what they eat, this test is highly inappropriate.

Let me explain why…

Firstly, let’s go over some basic physiology to understand how a healthy body deals with the breakdown of sugar (glucose). As glucose is ingested, blood glucose levels rise almost immediately. The pancreas responds by secreting insulin. Insulin helps the liver store excess glucose as glycogen until it is needed. As blood glucose levels begin to fall a few hours later, the stored glycogen is converted back to glucose to provide energy until more food can be eaten.

What many people don’t realize is that during pregnancy the placenta produces the hormones Lactogen, Estrogen and Progesterone, all of which counteract the function of insulin. The placenta also makes potent enzymes that destroy Insulin. Why would that be, I hear you ask. The body suppresses insulin purposely to allow more glucose to remain available in the mother’s bloodstream for longer periods of time. This is known as ‘glucose sparing’. Glucose sparing increases as pregnancy advances, peaking during the third trimester when the fetus gains most weight and needs more nourishment to grow. In other words, at 28 weeks (the time gestational diabetes screening is performed) the body actively creates higher levels of blood glucose (the very thing the test screens for) so that it is available for the baby to use to support its growth in the last trimester. In the medical field this is seen as a malfunction, a glucose ‘intolerance’, however this is normal pregnancy physiology.

For those of you who are not familiar, I will briefly explain the procedure of the oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT).

  1. A woman fasts for (at least) 8 hours before the test
  2. Her fasting glucose level is taken via a blood sample to gain a baseline result
  3. She is given a sugary drink containing 100g of glucose (often with artificial colors and additives too) within 5 minutes
  4. Blood is taken at 1, 2 and 3 hour intervals after the drink is consumed

The problem with this test in women who don’t ordinarily ingest such high levels of glucose, is that their body is not used to handling the overload. The pancreas cannot produce sufficient quantities of insulin fast enough to meet the demand. Therefore levels become temporarily elevated until the pancreas has chance to catch up. This decreased carbohydrate tolerance is known as starvation diabetes. When the pancreas catches up with the glucose overload, insulin surges, and glucose levels plummet. This is called the rebound effect. This shock reaction is not true diabetes. A woman with a diet with a low intake of refined carbohydrates is at high risk of starvation diabetes.

Giving a woman a concentrated refined sugar load before testing is not recommended. She can have a physiological reaction to the glucose overload which can mimic diabetes. When the pancreas is presented with such high levels of glucose, not enough insulin can be produced fast enough to compensate. A temporary peudo-diabetes results, making results abnormally high. When the pancreas catches up insulin surges and blood glucose levels crash. This rebound effect actually mimics hypoglycemia. The period of time for this to occur varies, but often the 1-3 hour OGTT is not long enough to allow levels to come down to a normal baseline.

This test is bad enough to put the mother through, but think what effects this has on her unborn baby. Think carefully before willingly undergoing this seeming ‘harmless’ procedure.

Ask your health care provider for alternative screening methods.

 

The (Post) Pregnancy Waterworks

Out of all the embarrassing pregnancy, birth and post partum issues women love to talk about – gas, excess sweating, varicosities, pooping while pushing, leaky boobs, this one hardly ever makes it to the coffee table. Incontinence is a huge issue that affects more women that you think. Around 25% in fact. That’s 1 out of every 4 of your mommy friends. While we all sit around forgetting to do our kegels and hoping it will never happen to us. For many women this is a very real reality.

When I was approached by the Public Outreach Department at DrugWatch.com to see if I was interested in hosting a guest blog regarding this issue, I was happy to accept. Below is their post. Whilst doing my own research on the topic, I came across another fantastic blog post from fellow blogger CrapAtPregnancy, ‘Nobody wants to be ThatWoman‘.

Childbirth is a joy in many ways, as any mother knows, but some of the effects it can have on the body aren’t always quite so joyful, such as incontinence. If you are one of the many women who feel the need to keep the incontinence pads just as handy as the Kleenex when cold and flu season arrives, joy probably isn’t the term you’d use to describe that particular problem. The good news is you probably won’t have to live with the threat of flash flooding when you cough or sneeze forever, since most women can reduce or eliminate incontinence with treatment.

If you have a tendency to get a little moist “down there” when you laugh or sneeze, what you have going on is a common condition called stress urinary incontinence, or SUI, which often has its roots in the strain that pregnancy and childbirth place on the pelvic floor muscles. It affects about 25 percent of women at one time or another — during pregnancy, soon after childbirth or around the time of menopause.

Causes

SUI happens when the pelvic floor has been weakened or stretched to the point that it lacks the strength to hold back urine flow when pressure is placed on the bladder, resulting in that annoying dribble that can happen when you laugh or cough. Pelvic floor weakness is most often caused by pregnancy and childbirth, but there are other factors that can contribute, such as obesity, heavy lifting, chronic coughing or frequent straining due to constipation.

Treatment

Physical therapy is the first line of treatment for SUI and has helped many women. Since the pelvic floor muscles are the ones at that are at the root of the problem, therapy typically involves Kegel exercises to strengthen and tone the pelvic floor, often with the addition of biofeedback to monitor muscle function and specialized weights and other tools to enhance results. Many therapists also use other exercise techniques in SUI therapy, such as yoga and Pilates, which aid in strengthening core muscles as well as the pelvic floor.

If you’re carrying around a few extra pounds, losing weight can help, since that extra weight puts pressure on your bladder and pelvic floor. Adjustments to your daily diet can help control your moisture problem too, such as limiting foods and beverages that can irritate the bladder. So cut back on coffee, tea and soft drinks that contain caffeine, and avoid spicy and fried foods. Constipation can worsen SUI symptoms, so make sure you have plenty of fiber in your diet, and make sure you’re getting enough vitamins and minerals every day to support muscle function and healing.

Surgery

If non-invasive treatments don’t help, surgery is an option that has helped many women. However, you should know that procedures that use vaginal mesh implants, such as bladder slings, to treat SUI are riskier than traditional surgeries. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released safety alerts on these products due to a drastic increase in reports of serious complications over the past few years, such as mesh erosion, organ perforation, mesh shrinkage and infection. These complications have caused many women severe pain. Thousands have sought justice through the filing of a transvaginal mesh lawsuit. Since most SUI cases can be resolved without mesh, talking to your doctor about procedures that don’t use mesh is probably your safest bet.

Elizabeth Carrollton writes to inform the general public about defective medical
devices and dangerous drugs for Drugwatch.com.

BirthMarkings

I came across this on Facebook, and it struck me as a fascinating topic, and one in which I’d say affects the majority of women in some way after the birth of their children.

Why is it that we have come to accept our pregnant bodies as a thing of beautiful which is celebrated and praised, yet we are so ashamed as a society of our post birth body.

Why is this subject never talked about?

Margaret Lazarus‘ film BirthMarkings explores our post-birth bodies, and how our self-image changes after giving birth. BirthMarkings reframes the concept of beauty and motherhood, raises important questions about body image, and reveals the incongruity of western standards of beauty with the natural process of pregnancy and childbirth.

How do you feel about your body since giving birth?

 

Related Topic – ‘Beautiful Whatever’

What do you do?

You’re a midwife?? That’s cool, I wanted to do that when I was a kid. What do you make?” “WHAT DO I MAKE?” I make holding your hand seem like the most important thing in the world when you’re scared, i can make your baby breathe when they stop. I can help you to survive a postpartum haemorrhage, I make myself get out of bed at 5am, so I can care for you and your partner on one of the most important days of your life, and am privileged to do so. I make my family wait for dinner, until I know your family is taken care of. I make myself skip lunch so that I can ensure everything I did for you today is documented. I make myself work weekends, nights, and holidays, because people don’t just birth babies 9-5 Monday – Friday. Today, I might save you, or your baby. I make a difference, what do you make?” REPOST if you are a very proud midwife. I am!

Doulas Are a Mom’s Best Friend

‘Looking for a way to decrease the length of your labour, reduce your need for pain medication, decrease your chances of needing a forceps delivery or a Caesarean, and leave you feeling satisfied about your birth experience? What you need is a Doula—the birthing world’s equivalent of a fairy godmother’.

By Ann Douglas

A wonderful article promoting the use of Doulas in the labor and birth world, highlighting the amazing benefits these experienced women can bring to your birthing journey.

Click here to read on…

Join the Revolution

I’m really excited as a Midwife and a Doula, and someone who loves all things birth, about the launch of this new project. I’m equally excited that the 2 front runners of this project are Brits!! 2 wonderfully passionate film makers Toni Harman and her partner Alex Wakeford, inspired by their own childbirth journey, decided to launch a new global film project about birth-a video website aimed at birth professionals (and anyone else interested in birth) to empower women to believe that they CAN give birth fully informed of their choices.

What’s great about these videos is that they offer credible evidence-based information and opinions from leading birth experts around the world. Toni and Alex have not just filmed anyone, they have filmed many of the BIGGEST, most influential names in the business, including…Ina May Gaskin, Sheila Kitzinger, Michel Odent, Elizabeth Davis, Debra Pascali-Bonaro, Cathy Warwick (RCM), Mary Newburn (NCT), Marilyn Curl (Lamaze International), Dr Sarah Buckley, Professor Soo Downe, Professor Lesley Page, Professor Cecily Begley, Professor Kerstin Uvnas-Moberg, Professor Ngai Fen Cheung, Associate Professor Denis Walsh and lots more leading midwives, academics, obstetricians, authors, doulas, birth educators and birth warriors around the world.

The One World Birth website launched today, is a fantastic video resource aimed at birth professionals, campaigners and parents who want to place their finger right on the pulse of what is happening in birth today. It’s an on-going, online TV channel about birth. The idea is that people like you and me use the site as a ‘grab bag’, taking clips that interest us and spreading the word via as many different social media mediums as possible. They want us to post their clips on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, blogs…wherever, to get as much exposure to this information as possible. They want us to power the revolution in birth! Stand up and shout, wave our hands and make our voices heard! The only way the wheels of this revolution will really get moving, is by uniting all of the voices around the world. We need to build a strong, powerful community of passionate followers in order to create a global movement to make change.

They’ve done their bit, let’s do ours!

Save Birth, Change the World.

Join them today at www.oneworldbirth.net

Get Informed!

An article published in the Los Angeles Times, last month, really left me feeling deflated. It brought me back down to earth with a bang as I remembered just how big a job it is to create awareness and change surrounding a topic as huge as childbirth. On the other hand, it did make me even more eager to be part of a new birth movement.

The article is based on a new study led by Dr. Michael Klein of the Child & Family Research Institute and University of British Columbia. Researchers surveyed 1,318 healthy pregnant women, all pregnant with their first baby. The study found an amazing lack of knowledge from the women about various childbirth options. Less than 30% of first time moms attended prenatal childbirth education classes, with many reporting that they informed themselves via books or the internet instead. However, many still couldn’t answer basic questions about the pros, cons and safety issues of many common interventions in labor, including the use of epidurals, episiotomies, cesarean deliveries and other childbirth issues. It seems women are happy to go along accepting the notion that ‘doctor knows best’, when quite clearly (some of the time) they don’t!

Why are women not paying attention to what is happening to them? Why are we not asking more questions? Why are we not doing their own research? Everyday we are surrounded by technology. Technology has become everything. We are at ease with it and find it reassuring. The latest and most up-to-date technological equipment is much prized and sought after in all areas of our lives. We become so distracted by the many gadgets laid out before us-ipads, laptops, GPS, Bluetooth, Tweets, ipods, iphones, apps for everything you could possible imagine, that sometimes, we no longer have to think for ourselves! It is easy to see how this would automatically transfer on to the birth scene. But in the birth world, technology really isn’t everything! Don’t get me wrong, it does have its place, and in some circumstances it can be life-saving, but for the majority of the time, it is unnecessary. Just because a hospital has every gadget and machine to hook you up to under the sun, doesn’t make it the safest place to give birth. Long before maternity units opened their doors to the masses, the only items traditional Midwives carried were their hearts, their hands and their intuition, and despite popular belief, actually had extremely good outcomes considering the times.

If only we spent the same amount of time researching the things happening to our bodies and our babies, as we do the material things in our lives, maybe the birth world wouldn’t look quite such a scary place!

Come on ladies, take control, know your options and inform yourselves!!!

A great way to get started is by watching the fantastic informative documentary, ‘The Business of Being Born’, by Ricki Lake & Abby Epstein.

Click here to view The Business of Being Born trailer