Pregnancy

Dr. Amy's Favorite Things for Pregnancy, Birth and Postpartum

Over the years after working with so many mamas and of course my own children I have come across many products and ideas; some have worked wonders and some not. I would love to share my thoughts about my favorite things that I used and recommend!

PREGNANCY

Pregnancy Support Band: As your baby bump grows you will start to feel pressure on your pelvis. One great way to help ease the discomfort is a support band. This provides support under your belly. My favorite brand is www.babybellyband.com

Chiropractic Care: I highly recommend chiropractic care throughout pregnancy. It helps so much with alignment which can easily be thrown off in pregnancy. Good positioning of your baby is helpful for labor and birth. Regular chiropractic care is proven to help shorten labor and pushing. Dr. Amber Moravec with Naturally Aligned works right out of Health Foundations Birth Center. Of course I love her! She specializes in pregnancy and newborns.

BIRTH

Birth Plan Flexibility: I am a big fan of birth plans. I do like to think more of it a birth preferences. The thing about labor and birth is that it is different for everyone. There are guidelines of what a "text book birth" looks like which is great but everyone IS different. Things come up; things change. Try and keep an open mind and remain flexible for change.

POSTPARTUM

Double Electric Pump: Whether you are a working mama or not, having a pump is essential. Even if you are not working you will want to pump and introduce a bottle for times you are away. If you are going back to work you will want a good pump that is easy to transport. Check out our class PumpTalk 101; it is very helpful for coming up with a plan on introducing pumping. There are many good brands out there but I prefer Medela or Spectra

Hands-Free Pumping Bra: Along with a good pump, get a hands-free pumping bra! That way you can do other things like work on a computer or read a book. Try the Easy Expression Bustier.

Medela Hydrogel Pads: Even with a great latch your nipples will be tender the first few days. The Medela Tender Care Hydrogel Pads are heavenly. They are re-usable and help soothe your nipples. If you have cracked or bleeding nipples please reach out to lactation consultant right away. 

Bottle-warmer: Bottle warmers are a huge time saver. You never want to use a microwave to heat breastmilk or formula; it kills the nutrients and heats it unevenly. You can heat by placing in warm water but that takes a long time. The bottle warm is quick and heats the milk evenly. 

Nursing Tank: Nursing bras are great but nursing tanks are all you need in the first couple of weeks. They are easy and low-maintenance. Bravado has a great one; it is loose and comfortable during postpartum. You will find yourself living in it.

Woombie: I am a big fan of swaddling. When your baby was in-utero they were cozy and warm and didn't have a lot of space to move around. Think of swaddling as mimicking that space outside of the womb. It can be very calming for them and help promote good, restful sleep. I like the woombie because it is very easy to use and the shape of it is comfy for your babe. Swaddling should end by 2.5 months because of the possibility of rolling over.

Pacifier vs Fingers: Pacifiers in my opinion are awesome. Babies love to suck for comfort, it is very soothing. If you are breastfeeding you may find yourself constantly comfort nursing and it can be overwhelming. Pacifiers can help soothe your baby when cranky or tired. It can also help extend sleep. Sometimes parents are afraid of using one and will use their pinky finger to soothe. The problem is, your finger is attached to you! I remember hearing a mom say, "why don't they make fake fingers for babies?!" One popular brand is Avent Soothees.

Stroller with Click-In Carseat: Even if you love wearing your baby, a stroller is essential! Find one that works with your infant carseat. That way if your baby is sleeping you do not have to disturb them. Until your baby is sitting up strollers can be awkward and not very supportive to your baby's head and neck.

What to Pack in Your Birth Bag

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As your guess date approaches, packing a birth bag is essential. Around 36 weeks is a good time to start collecting things to have ready. We have put together a list of favorites for you.

Labor

  • Snacks: Bring your favorite snacks for you and your partner. Think of things that are mild and easy to eat. Some good ideas are trail mix, protein bars, dried fruit, honey sticks, nut butter, instant oatmeal, and yogurt.
  • Fluids: Bring a water bottle to keep near you at all times. Your partner can help remind you to hydrate through labor. It is also ideal to bring a few alternatives to water for both of you such as, coconut water, emergency-c, juices and natural popsicles.
  • Clothing: For laboring, bring comfortable nightgowns, a robe, t-shirts or pajama tops. If you plan to labor in the tub and/or shower, you may wish to bring a sports bra or swimsuit top. If your partner would like to support you in the tub or shower, bring a swimsuit. Bring a pair of slippers and cozy socks.
  • Lip Balm: In labor your lips tend to get very dry, especially during pushing. Have it ready to use and easily accessible. 
  • Hot Pack: Heat can be a wonderful comfort measure. You can use an electric heating pad, microwavable rice pack or hot water bottle.
  • Music: Think about making a labor and birth playlist. This may be soft, slow songs, spiritual songs or even fun upbeat music. If your place of birth does not have speakers, pack your own.
  • Essential Oils / Lotion: Bring your favorite oils and a plain lotion with you. Some recommended oils are peppermint (for nausea), clary sage (to help strengthen contractions), lavender (for relaxation). The lotion can help with massage. 
  • Hair Accessories: If you have long hair, you may want to put it up at some point during labor to get it out of your face. It can be nice to bring a headband too. 
  • Chargers: Be sure to pack phone chargers. If you are bringing a camera, bring a charger and extra batteries just in case.

Postpartum

  • Clothing: Bring comfortable clothes to wear home. Something loose and easy to get on and off. Be sure to pack a change of clothes for your partner as well. If you are breastfeeding, bring a nursing bra.
  • Baby Clothing / Blankets: For the ride home you will want an outfit for baby (onesie, footie pajamas, socks and a hat). Also bring at least 2 blankets.
  • Toiletries: Pack a small toiletry bag for you and your partner. Just the basics is fine, toothbrush, toothpaste, face wipes and a hair brush.
  • Car Seat: You will want to have your baby's carseat installed in your car at around 37 weeks so you are prepared to bring him/her home. You want to make sure that it is installed properly so give yourself plenty of time.

Pregnancy and Postpartum Uncensored

Let's be honest ladies, there are many things that happen during pregnancy and postpartum that no one ever told you about. In the moment they are far from funny but looking back all you can do is laugh!

Pregnancy Uncensored

No Control Over Gas: Starting in early pregnancy our digestive system does all kinds of strange things we are not used to. Gas being one of them. And it only gets worse as pregnancy progresses! This can happen in the most inopportune times...

Hiccups and Belching: Ladies with manners goes out the window. There is no stopping it. It doesn't matter what you eat or drink, it is happening! Thank your lovely digestive system once again.

Unpredictable Emotions: You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll probably yell. Emotions are up and down throughout pregnancy. They can change on a dime any time of day. Commercials alone can get the tears flowing. Hunger can cause an angry outburst. The next minute you may find yourself dying of laughter. 

Wetting Your Pants: It could be a sneeze, a cough or a good belly laugh that causes it. It could be a trickle or a gush. The pressure on your bladder is no joke mamas! You may want to keep a pair of clean undies in your purse.

Nipple Changes and Pain: It is amazing how your body changes during pregnancy. Women's nipples and areoles become quite dark and large. The reason for this is for breastfeeding. It makes it easier for the baby to see them. But it can be quite alarming! Side note: if you are pregnant in winter, watch out! Cold temps can cause a stabbing pain in your already sensitive nipples!

Postpartum Uncensored

Bleeding and Mesh Underwear: Most of us are not prepared for the month long bleeding that comes after birth. Fun times. No period for 9 months and then BAM! 3-6 weeks of bleeding. To accommodate this you will be given mesh underwear with a pad that is more like a diaper. Victoria's Unkept Secret.

Hair Falling Out: A few months after your bundle of joy has arrived, your glorious pregnancy hair may fall out at an alarming rate. Don't worry- Although it may seem like you'll lose it all, you won't. Your body is just readjusting. During pregnancy you don't lose much hair at all so it is just making up for lost time!

First Postpartum Poop: This is definitely not discussed ahead of time and there should be a forewarning! After giving birth, which might feel like a huge bowel movement, the last thing you want to do is actually have a bowel movement! The pressure can feel kind of scary, but I promise your insides will not fall out even though it feels like they might!

Labial Swelling: Whether you push for 15 min or 2 hours, there will be swelling- probably lots of it. You may not recognize yourself down there. Stick with ice packs and 3-4 sitz baths per day. The swelling goes down! 

Hemorrhoids: This little cluster of grapes on your backside can happen in pregnancy, labor, birth AND postpartum. It is part of why the first postpartum poop is so uncomfortable. Have no fear, they do get better. Those lovely sitz baths will help immensely!

Pregnancy and postpartum is a very special time in a woman's life. It is beautiful and messy all at the same time. All laughs aside, if you are struggling during your postpartum time or something just doesn't seem right, please reach out. There are many resources in the Twin Cities such as, Postpartum Support Minnesota http://www.ppsupportmn.org, WildTree Psychotherapy http://wildtreewellness.com and Iris Reproductive Psychiatric Clinic http://www.irisreproductivepsychiatry.com

 

 

Is This Normal?!: Common Questions and Concerns During Pregnancy

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Along with excitement, pregnancy can bring many questions and concerns. Your body is changing rapidly. Each week seems to bring a new change; some delightful and some not! Most of the changes and symptoms are very normal. You may experience all of them or none at all. That is normal too! Below you will find common pregnancy discomforts, why they happen and a tip on how to help alleviate.

Round Ligament Pain: As your baby grows, your belly grows and with that, many women experience round ligament pain. It feels like sharp twinges/muscle pull usually on the right or left side of the lower uterus. The pain is usually relieved within a minute or two. Change positions to help and also massage the area with your hand. Chiropractic care can help if this is something that happens frequently. Also try sleeping with a pillow between your legs, this provides more uterine support.

Leg Cramps: Legs cramps are quite common in pregnancy and can occur in response to carrying extra weight, changes in circulation, or mineral deficiencies. These sudden, painful cramps in your legs may wake you in the middle of the night. Helpful treatments include:  walking daily, stretching your calf muscles regularly, wearing low healed shoes, and eating foods that are high in calcium and magnesium. A liquid calcium magnesium supplement can be great, discuss this with your healthcare provider.

Trouble Sleeping: Sleep disruptions start early on in pregnancy, usually beginning with having to urinate more frequently during the night. Getting comfortable can be troublesome as well. Along with this, changing hormones can cause your body to have trouble falling and/or staying asleep. Purchase a body pillow, this can help support your body physically. Some other things to try are: take an epsom salt bath before bed, add some lavender essential oil, exercise 30 minutes daily, avoid coffee and eat small meals throughout the day to keep your blood sugar level.

Constipation: Hormone changes slow down your bowels and can cause constipation. This is normal in pregnancy but there are things you can do to help. Drink 8-10 glasses of water per day, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables each day. A good calcium magnesium supplement can help with this too! 

Darkening of Complexion: ‘Chloasma’ or “mask of pregnancy” refers to darkened patches on your face. These dark patches tend to fade away few months after delivery. To try and help reduce the darkening, use sunscreen daily and wear a hat if you are in the direct sunlight.

Bleeding Gums: Bleeding gums are a common complaint in pregnancy. Most of it has to do with hormonal changes. These hormonal changes also make you more susceptible to bacteria in plaque so it is important to keep up with regular dental visits during pregnancy.

Nausea/Vomiting: Nausea and vomiting is common and normal in pregnancy. Again, it is due to hormones. For many women it starts around week 6 and tapers off at week 12. Other women may experience this symptom long after that or during their entire pregnancy. Drinking plenty of water and eating small frequent meals that include protein is a great way to stave off nausea. This is a symptom you should always share with your midwife or doctor in case your symptoms are severe.

Always consult with your provider before starting new supplements during pregnancy. 

Health Foundations Birth Center is a free-standing birth center in St. Paul, Minnesota. Our midwives provide integrative care for our families. We would love to have you come in and learn more about our services! Schedule a consult or tour today!

Top 10 Ways to Prepare for a Natural Childbirth

 Photo Credit: Kadi Tiede

Photo Credit: Kadi Tiede

Entering into your pregnancy journey is fun and exhilarating for most mamas and their partners. Once you get past the initial excitement, you may find yourself overwhelmed with all of the decisions that come with pregnancy, labor, birth and after. One of these decisions for you, may be deciding to have a natural childbirth. Whether you choose to be in the hospital, a birth center or at home, there are many ways to help prepare for a natural birth. Here are the top 10 ways to prepare for a natural birth:

Childbirth Education Classes: It is very important to educate yourself and your partner. A great way to do this is taking a Childbirth Education Class. If you are planning to deliver in a hospital, it is a good idea to find a class outside of the hospital to help you prepare better. At Health Foundations Birth Center we have childbirth education for families delivering with us that is tailored to delivering at the birth center. 

Hire a Doula:  Having a doula by your side during labor is not only comforting but also it proven to help reduce interventions including cesareans. Typically doulas also provide education during prenatal meetings. Interview 2-3 to make sure you find one that is a good fit. You can find a doula through friends that have used one or via the Internet.

Choosing a Provider and Facility: Once you find out you are pregnant, take your time over a few weeks to put research into finding a provider that fits your desires and needs.  If you are choosing a hospital, take a tour of a couple of different ones. You have the option of choosing hospital midwives (usually) or an OB.  Out of hospital options are wonderful for women who would like a natural birth. If you find that your and your provider aren’t meshing well, keep in mind that you can always transfer to a different provider. Current research shows your chance of having a c-section can be directly linked to the provider and / or hospital you choose. 

Nutrition and Exercise Keeping up with nutrition and exercise are one of the keys to staying healthy in pregnancy, which helps during labor.  Although we sometimes think it is a time to indulge, it is quite the opposite! Be sure to fill your diet with good proteins, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Try and limit sugar as much as possible. If you had an exercise routine before pregnancy, usually you can continue with that. Walking, swimming and yoga are wonderful options for staying active in pregnancy. Always check with your provider before you start an exercise routine in pregnancy.

Self-Care: As your body changes, remember to allow time for self-care. Take time to rest, go on more dates with your partner, get a massage, spend time with friends, read a book in a quiet space, take warm baths in the evening. All of these things help to alleviate stress, which is good for you and your baby.

Supplements: Along with a healthy diet, there are some great supplements that help prepare your body for a health, low-risk labor and birth. Try and choose a food-based prenatal vitamin such as Rainbow Light Prenatal Vitamins. Click here for more information on choosing supplements. Always check with your provider before choosing a new supplement to add to your diet.

Reading: Find reading material that is not only educational but also positive. One of our favorites is Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin. Not only is it very informative but also has wonderful birth stories to read. For your partner, a great read is The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin.

Baby Positioning: Trying to get your baby into an optimal position is more important that you would think! There are many ways to do this during the last weeks in pregnancy especially. Posture is an easy way to help get your baby in to stay in an optimal position. You want your baby to be in an anterior position rather than posterior. This will help your labor and birth to be much less uncomfortable. Seeing a chiropractor in pregnancy has been proven to help significantly with this. Be sure to look for a chiropractor that specializes in pregnancy. Another good resource is www.spinningbabies.com.

Birth Plan: Take time to prepare a birth plan with your partner. A doula can help with this as well. Keep your birth plan simple and to the point. Be sure to communicate your labor and birth desires to your provider. Give a copy of your birth plan to your provider and bring a copy with you in your birth bag.

Find Your Tribe: Now is the time to surround yourself with supportive friends and family. Sometimes they may find it challenging to accept your labor and birth decisions. Remember to set healthy boundaries. People love telling scary stories about birth. While it is important for them to process these feelings personally, it is not the time to do it when you are pregnant. Gently remind them to save those stories for later. Find a good support system whether it be your family, friends, or an outside group.

At Health Foundations Birth Center your choices matter to us. We are here as a community of women to support you during pregnancy, birth and beyond. Call us today for a consultation or tour, 651-895-2520 or visit us at www.health-foundations.com

Bath Bliss: Relaxing & Rejuvinating Recipes for Your Soaking Pleasure

 Photo credit: Jennifer Liv of  Twin Cities Birth Photographers  

Photo credit: Jennifer Liv of Twin Cities Birth Photographers 

Soaking in a bath with added herbs, oils and minerals is a wonderful way to relax the mind and body. Did you know it is also excellent for healing and supporting overall health? There are many types of baths that can benefit you.  These simple, natural therapies can be used in the comfort of your own home, all while relaxing in your bath.

The following are a few examples of the different types of baths that can be enjoyed, and some of their health promoting properties that can benefit you. Whether it’s to help your body heal from a condition, or simply support and maintain your overall well-being, I am certain there is one for you to enjoy.

Herbal Baths

Adding herbal preparations to a warm bath can be very effective, as the healing properties of the herbs are delivered through the skin. Here are two ways to make an herbal bath.  

One is to put a handful of each herb you are using in a large pot. Fill the pot with water and heat to almost boiling, keeping a lid on the pot so the essential oils from the herbs don’t evaporate. Take the pot off the heat and let your bath infuse for 20 minutes to a few hours. Then strain the liquid directly into your tub, fill the tub the rest of the way  with water and your bath is ready.  

The other method is to fill a cloth, muslin bag or even a sock with your herbal mixture.  Close the top and toss your herb bundle into a tub filled with the hottest water you have.  Walk away for a while and give your bath time to cool down to a comfortable temperature.  When you come back your bath will have infused right in the tub!  This is a great method for making pre-packed baths to have next to your tub or even to give away as gifts.   

Dr. Amy's Favorite Herbal Bath Recipe:

  • 1/2 cup Rose petals
  • 1/2 cup Lavender flowers
  • 1/4 cup Green Tea leaves (try a rose or jasmine flavored tea)
  • Three drops Rose essential oil
  • Three drops Lavender essential oil
  • One drop Rose Geranium essential oil

This gentle, nourishing herbal bath tea recipe softens your skin and soothes your nerves. Deeply relaxing and healing, antioxidant-rich lavender, rose and green tea help fight the signs of aging. Scented with precious rose essential oil, this yummy aromatherapy bath recipe's sweet, floral scent brings you back to a healthy place of quiet peace.

Aromatherapy Baths

Here is wonderful and simple way to enjoy the healing powers of essential oils. While you enjoy the pleasant scents of the oils, you also allow for their healing properties to be inhaled into the lungs and diffused throughout the body. There are a multitude of beneficial effects available, simply based on the essential oil or blend of oils used in the baths. You may use calming oils to release tension, or soak in a soothing rose infused tub, or perhaps even try a uplifting blend of black pepper and juniper.

Dr. Amy's Favorite Aroma Bath Recipe:

  • 3 cups of epsom salt
  • 4 drops chamomile essential oil
  • 2 drops lavender essential oil.  

This is a wonderful relaxing bath to enjoy before bed.

Salt Baths

Epsom Salt Baths

Use 3-4 cups of epsom salt in a warm bath and soak for 30 minutes.  Epsom salt is wonderful for soothing muscles aches and is relaxing before bedtime.

Sea Salt Baths

Dissolve 5-8 cups of pure sea salt in warm bath water and soak for 15-30 minutes.  Sea salt brings the benefits of ocean water into the comfort of your home. This bath will benefit your circulation, neurological function, skin health, as well as aid in relaxation.

I will leave you with a cool fact: 60% of what you put on your skin is absorbed into your body, so bathing in herbal bath tea really does improve your health. Not only do you get the nourishing effect of the ingredients, but you also de-stress during your time in the tub. 

*Essential oils are not recommended to be used in the first trimeter of pregnancy.  In the second and third trimesters some essential oils are considered safe. It is always best to check with your provider to discuss any safety concerns before starting in pregnancy.

Conception App Review: The Best Fertilty Apps

Glow App: Ovulation calculator, Period Tracker, and Fertility Calendar

This app is detailed and easy to use. It is fun to look at and explore different options. You choose how you would like to use the app: Avoiding Pregnancy, Trying to Conceive, and Fertility Treatments. There is even an option for a male to use it. It asks many questions to assure accuracy. You can fill out a health profile which customizes your use of the app. It gives you the option to input your partner's health information as well. For the "Trying to Conceive" it tells you each day in your fertile period and the percentage you have of getting pregnant. You can record details about your body every day. These details include, mood, medications. sexual activity, sleep, stress levels, etc. I really like this app a lot! Definitely my favorite!

Life - Period Tracker, Menstrual Cycle Calendar, Ovulation & Fertility App:

This app is very basic and simple. The look of it is not fancy. You can purchase the premium version which records things like mood, sex, fertility, weight, nutrition, fitness, sleep and medications. It clearly shows when your period is to arrive and days of your fertile time as well as the day of ovulation. There is a health profile to fill out but I don't see how it tailors the app to your body. It is very easy to use. Because it is so basic it just gives you basic information, it is not very detailed.

Ovia Fertility and Period Tracker:

Each day you enter in your data; you enter in temperature, cervical fluid, intercourse, period, mood, pregnancy tests, mood, symptoms, blood pressure, sleep, nutrition, activity and notes. The nutrition piece is very detailed which could be helpful. You can buy the premium version to unlock more features. It gives you a fertility score each day based on details you fill in. It also explains in detail your cycle phases. It does give you tips each day. The tips are helpful reminders such as sleep. There is an articles tab you can click on and read about many different topics pertaining to conceiving. Ovia is very easy to use and clear to read. It is a great app!

Lily App: Your Personal and Private Period and Cycle Tracker:

The app evaluates your cycles to help determine fertility.  There is a lot of reading to do in the beginning. You can choose how you want the advice for fertility to be based on symptoms or averages. Each day you enter in your temperature, cervical fluid intercourse, period, and mood. This app is very basic and easy to use. It is very quick and good for someone that just wants to know the basics of their cycle.

Clue App

Clue- Period Tracker, PMS alerts and Fertility & Ovulation App:

I like the design of this app. It starts with asking basic questions and then giving quick tidbits about each such as averages for period length, etc. The more you use the app the more accurate it is in it's predictions. It can sync with your "Health App" if you have an iPhone. You can track many things like emotions, sleep, pain and even hair! It is a fun app to use, very different design from the others.

‘Can I (FILL IN THE BLANK) While Pregnant?’

Safe Beauty During Pregnancy

Safe Beauty During Pregnancy

When you’re pregnant, it’s important to remember that everything that you put into or on your body has the potential to cross the placenta and be shared with your baby. Everyday beauty habits and treatments, while perfectly safe while not pregnant, may not be safe for the developing fetus. Here’s the low down on ten common cosmetic and skincare practices and whether or not they are safe during pregnancy.

1. Dying Your Hair

Verdict: Probably Safe

Whether or not it is safe to dye your hair is one of the most commonly asked beauty questions during pregnancy. While there has not been extensive research done on the effects of hair dye during pregnancy, the American Pregnancy Association has stated that it is probably safe due to the minimal amount of dye that is actually absorbed by the skin. If you want to be extra cautious, avoid any hair dye during the first trimester and opt for color treatments like highlighting or lowlighting that do not expose the scalp to chemicals. Also, make sure the room you are in is well ventilated and that you promptly rinse any excess dye from your hair after the treatment. 

2. Using Sunscreen

Verdict: Safe with Precautions

Certain sunscreens during pregnancy are not safe as they contain chemicals that can get into the bloodstream and be transferred to baby. Specifically, you should avoid sunscreens that contain oxybenzone, homosalate, octocrylene, para-aminobenzoic acid and 4-methylbenzylidene camphor. Opt for sunscreens that are not absorbed by the skin like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Also, wear a hat and avoid sun exposure between the hours of 10 and 2 when the rays are the strongest. Pregnant women are actually more susceptible to sunburns during pregnancy due to hormonal changes and are also more prone to heat exhaustion. For these reasons, it is imperative that you protect yourself from the sun during pregnancy for you and your baby!

3. Whitening Your Teeth

Verdict: Unsafe

Because whitening treatments have not been extensively researched during pregnancy and contain potentially harmful ingredients like peroxide that can cross the placental barrier, they are considered not safe during pregnancy. Consider using a whitening toothpaste instead or waiting until after your baby is born for a professional or over-the-counter whitening treatment. It is important, however, to keep up with your dental hygiene and exams as unfortunately pregnancy can do a number on your teeth and make you more susceptible to cavities and gum disease.

4. Treating Acne

Verdict: Certain Treatments Safe

Pregnancy hormones can often wreak havoc on your skin and leave you with acne reminiscent of your freshman year in high school. To make matters worse, many of the most common and most effective acne treatments that can be prescribed by your doctor are absolutely not safe during pregnancy. Many  of these prescription options have the potential to cause serious birth defects. Acne medications that should be avoided during pregnancy include topical retinoids, oral tetracyclines, isotretinoin, and hormone therapies. There are some prescription and over-the-counter topical acne medications that are most likely safe due to low absorption rates. Always discuss these options with your doctor or midwife before using any acne products during pregnancy. To err on the side of caution, opt for drug-free approaches to healthy skincare. This may include practices such as washing your face twice daily and after exercise, changing your pillow case frequently, using an oil free cleanser and moisturizer and avoiding touching your face with your hands or cell phone. Pregnancy related acne will almost always clear on its own over time once your hormones stabilize. 

5. Using Hair Products

Verdict: Probably Safe

Using products like hair spray and mousse are probably perfectly safe during pregnancy. There has been some evidence in animal studies that phthalates (found in hair spray) have the potential to cause complications with male sexual development but no risk has been found to human babies thus far. Although, hair spray, gel and mousse are all most likely perfectly safe during pregnancy, if you wish to err on the side of caution, opt for products like mousse or gel that are applied topically versus products that are sprayed on the hair and pose the risk of phthalate inhalation. 

6. Getting Botox

Verdict: Unsafe

Because there have been no extensive studies examining the effects of Botox on unborn babies, it is recommended that you abstain from the treatment during pregnancy. Studies in animals show evidence of fetal abnormalities associated with Botox exposure during pregnancy. While the results cannot be generalized to human babies, the research presents a compelling reason to avoid the treatment while pregnant. Fortunately, you may find that your wrinkles are actually are less visible during pregnancy due to the extra fluid retention and that healthy pregnancy glow often experienced due to extra oil production. 

7. Using Wrinkle Cream

Verdict: Generally Unsafe

Because many anti-wrinkle creams contain retinol which has been linked to birth defects and miscarriages, it is safest to steer clear of them during pregnancy. Retinol is a form of Vitamin A that has been found to cause serious birth defects such as cleft palate and other developmental abnormalities in high doses. Instead, opt for safer ways of caring for your skin like a mild facial moisturizer, drinking plenty of water and getting sufficient rest.

8. Using Self-Tanner

Verdict: Better to Wait

While tanning from a bottle or spray booth is likely safer than tanning beds or excessive exposure to the sun, there is still some concern about dihydroxyacetone which is the primary active ingredient in these products. Dihydroxyacetone or DHA is able to penetrate the skin and therefore can get into your bloodstream and ultimately to baby. Because research has not been performed examining the effects of DHA on the fetus, your safest bet is to avoid self-tanning until after your baby is born. Additionally, you may find that your skin is more sensitive during pregnancy and more prone to irritation. If you do decide to use a self-tanning product, be sure to do a patch test first before covering your entire body with the solution. 

9. Getting Your Nails Done

Verdict: Safe

In general, it is perfectly safe to get your nails done during pregnancy. Nail polish, and even acrylic nails, cannot be absorbed through the nails and therefore pose no risk of getting into your blood stream and crossing the placenta to baby. The primary concern in the nail salon while pregnant is the solvent fumes which can make you feel queasy or light-headed. To avoid over-inhalation of dangerous fumes, be sure to sit in a well-ventilated area or save your manis and pedis for the comfort of your own home where you can better control the ventilation and airflow. 

Getting Your Hair Professionally Straightened

Verdict: Unsafe 

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety, Japanese and Brazillian professional hair straightening treatments are not safe during pregnancy. This is due to the fact that these procedures involve harmful chemicals like formaldehyde that have the potential to cause fertility problems, fetal abnormalities and miscarriage. If you want straighter hair during pregnancy your best bet is to use a flat iron which will not expose you and your baby to potentially harmful chemicals. 

While pregnancy may feel like it has an endless number of rules about what you can and cannot do, try to remind yourself that their all to protect the health and well-being of your future baby. There are not any beauty treatments that cannot wait nine months in exchange for the peace of mind that you are doing everything you can to protect your developing child. For questions about safe beauty and skincare during pregnancy, or for a free consultation with a midwife and a tour of our Birth Center, contact Health Foundations. We are here to answer all of your pregnancy related questions and more!

Let’s Talk about Sex! (..During Pregnancy)

Pregnant Couple Intimate

It is not uncommon to feel apprehensive about having sex during pregnancy. Common worries we hear from both mom and partner include: if it will hurt or be uncomfortable, that it will hurt your baby, that your baby is watching or that it will cause uterine contractions that could lead to a miscarriage or preterm labor. With all the care and caution you take to care for your body and your unborn baby, it is, of course, natural to have these feelings and reservations. The good news, though, is that for the majority of women with healthy, normal pregnancies, sex is perfectly safe. Here’s everything you need to know about sex during pregnancy.

It’s Usually Safe:

Despite the fears that you or your partner might have, for the majority of women with a healthy, normal pregnancy, sex is perfectly safe. Fortunately, baby is well protected in the uterus by amniotic fluid and the mucus plug which securely separates the two. While many women are concerned about orgasms causing uterine contractions that could lead to a miscarriage or preterm labor, this is highly unlikely in a healthy pregnancy. Most miscarriages are caused by a fetal abnormality that does not allow the fetus to develop properly and preterm labor is usually not a concern unless you have certain, predetermined conditions. Although you may experience mild uterine contractions after an orgasm, they should not harm your baby at all. 

Your Baby is Not Watching:

Despite dad’s worries that baby might be ‘watching’ or that he might ‘poke him in the head’, again, baby is safe and secure in the uterus, separated not only by the amniotic fluid but a secure mucus plug which will not be released until you are in labor. Your baby will have no awareness of your intimate acts beyond possibly enjoying the rocking motion from his cozy, safe cocoon. 

It Might Be Different:

Many things about sex, starting with your drive, might be different during pregnancy. You might find that you are more interested or not at all interested, or it may wax and wane with the progression of your pregnancy and the fluctuation of your hormones. With the nausea and exhaustion associated with the first trimester, you might find that sex is the last thing on your mind while the reprieve from discomfort often experienced in the second trimester might have you desiring it more. Hormone fluctuations during pregnancy can be experienced by each woman differently so don’t be alarmed if you notice a change in your desire, one way or another. You may also find that you are able to climax more easily due to the increased blood flow to your genital region. 

In addition to your sex drive, you may find that certain positions are less comfortable with your growing belly while others are easier. Typically, opting for positions that do not put pressure on the belly or have the woman lying flat on her back for long periods of time are the safest bet. It’s also best to avoid anal sex while pregnant due to the potential for bacteria transfer and infection. Should you be sexually active with multiple partners during your pregnancy or have a partner with an active infection, it is imperative that you use protection to prevent contracting an STD. STDs can be dangerous for not only you, but your unborn baby as well. 

There Are Some Circumstances that May Make it Unsafe:

While sex during pregnancy is safe for most, there are some circumstances in which your doctor or midwife may advise against it. These may include if you:

  • Have an incompetent cervix
  • Have a history of repeat miscarriages 
  • Have a history of preterm labor
  • Have placenta previa
  • Are pregnant with multiples
  • Are high risk for a variety of other reasons
  • Have a history of pregnancy complications
  • Have bleeding or have been placed on pelvic rest.

If you have concerns about your pregnancy or feel that sex during pregnancy may be unsafe for you, speak to your doctor or midwife who can advise you on the best options for you and your partner.

You Don’t Have to Do It:

Pregnant Couple Intimate

Between sore breasts, your growing belly, nausea, frequent urination and general fatigue, it’s not uncommon to feel disinterested in sex. And that is okay! Your body is undergoing so many physical and hormonal changes and it’s perfectly okay to forego sexual activity when you’re not feeling up to it. 

Communicate your needs to your partner and allow them to do the same. Find alternatives to sex such as kissing, cuddling or massage. There are many ways to connect that don’t involve sex if you are not physically or emotionally up for it during pregnancy. 

When to Call Your Doctor or Midwife:

Although some cramping and spotting after sex during pregnancy can be normal, excessive bleeding or painful cramping may be cause for concern. Call your doctor or midwife or go to the ER if you are experiencing heavy vaginal bleeding, severe cramping or you are leaking amniotic fluid. Medical attention may be required. 

For questions about sex during pregnancy, natural birth, prenatal or postnatal care or other women’s services, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center.

Miscarriage: Common Concerns & Questions

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Pregnancy following a miscarriage can feel like a rollercoaster of emotions. While miscarriages are unfortunately quite common, occurring in approximately 10-20 percent of pregnancies, they can often make the miracle of pregnancy feel like it’s lost some of its innocence. An experience that was once only filled with excitement and joy is now riddled with anxiety, questions, lingering grief and doubts. Here are some common concerns and questions you may have if you are trying to get pregnant again following a miscarriage.

Why did it happen to me? 

One of the most difficult aspects of having a miscarriage can be the feeling of not understanding why it happened. Having answers or a reason why something has happened can sometimes make it easier to accept and move forward. With miscarriages, there is often no explanation, leaving the parents feeling bewildered and distraught. In most cases, miscarriages occur because the fetus is not developing properly or there is a chromosomal abnormality. The abnormalities occur by chance as the embryo develops and have nothing to do with anything you did or did not do during or before your pregnancy. It is rare that a miscarriage happens due to something inherently wrong with the mother’s health or habits. Typically, in these uncommon cases there is an existing health condition such as poorly controlled diabetes or an undiagnosed uterine problem. More often than not, the cause is unknown.

Will it happen again? 

Because most miscarriages are typically due to unexplained and random chromosomal abnormalities, your chances of having another miscarriage remain about the same as your previous pregnancy: between 10 and 20 percent. However, only approximately 2 percent of women have two miscarriages in a row, so you can take comfort in knowing that the chances of this occurring are rare. Most women fortunately go on to have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies. 

Is there anything I can do to prevent it? 

Unfortunately, because miscarriages are often due to random chromosomal abnormalities or the fetus not developing properly, there is usually nothing that can be done to prevent their occurrence. However, there are measures that you can take prior to and during pregnancy to help ensure a healthy, full-term pregnancy for you and baby. These include:

  • Starting a regular prenatal vitamin regimen several months prior to trying to conceive
  • Eliminating unhealthy habits like smoking, alcohol, recreational drug use and excessive caffeine consumption before trying to get pregnant
  • Maintaining a healthy weight and eating a nutritious and balanced diet
  • Avoiding risky activities, contact sports and other scenarios in which you might experience abdominal trauma.

Am I ready to be pregnant again? 

This is a question that only you (and your partner) can truly answer. Miscarriages can be physically and emotionally trying and allowing yourself time to grieve the loss of your baby is an important step towards healing. It is not uncommon to feel sadness, anger, confusion, and even guilt following the loss of a pregnancy. Take the time necessary to process your grief, whatever that time frame may be.

How long do I need to wait before trying to get pregnant again?

Following a miscarriage, it’s not uncommon to be wondering when you can try to get pregnant again. For many women, the urge to become pregnant again with a viable pregnancy becomes quite strong following a loss. If you are eager to conceive again after your miscarriage, talk to your doctor or midwife to determine when it is safe for you to try again. Typically, you will be advised not to have sex for two weeks following the miscarriage to prevent infection. If you do not experience any complications, your period should return within six weeks and your cycle should return to normal. Although many doctors and midwives will advise you to wait one or two menstrual cycles before trying to conceive, some research suggests that there is no medical need to wait. 

What will I do if it happens again?

If you do experience more than one miscarriage, it is a good idea to ask your doctor or midwife about having additional testing done to rule out any underlying medical issues that may be causing them to occur. This may include hormone imbalances, uterine fibroids, obstructions in the fallopian tubes, autoimmune disorders and other medical issues affecting fertility and pregnancy. Tests that your doctor or midwife might order include bloodwork, ultrasounds, chromosomal tests, and other exams and procedures to rule out problems with uterus, cervix and fallopian tubes.

How can I process the grief I’m experiencing?

It’s not uncommon to feel alone in your grief following a miscarriage as they are unfortunately often not a subject that is openly discussed. Particularly if the loss occurred before you had shared the news of your pregnancy with family and friends, you might feel as though you have no one to turn to as you process your grief. The grief that accompanies the loss of a pregnancy should not be experienced alone. Reach out to friends and family members who can support you during this time and who may have even experienced loss themselves. Seek out online support forums for women who have experienced a miscarriage to connect and hear stories of hope and future pregnancies. Let your partner know how they can best support you during this time whether it’s simply through listening or through creating some sort of small memorial honoring your baby in your home. Talk, write, cry, listen, hug and grieve as long as you need to in order to move past this difficult time in your life.

Trying to conceive and becoming pregnant following a miscarriage can be a scary and confusing journey. Take comfort in knowing that most women will go on to have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies following a miscarriage. For more information about coping with loss, pregnancy, natural birth, the postpartum period and infant care, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife. We would love to support you in your journey.

Nutrient-Rich Avocado Chocolate Mousse Desert

Avocado Chocolate Mousse Desert

Avocados have been called the pregnancy superfood and now you can even have them for dessert! This delectable Avocado Chocolate Mousse is rich in potassium and folate, both which are essential in pregnancy. This recipe feels like an indulgent treat but has the added bonus of being packed with pregnancy approved nutrients!

  • 2 large avocados, flesh scooped out
  • 1 large ripe banana
  • 1/3 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup of coconut milk
  • ¼ cup of pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon of grated orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract or chocolate extract
  • ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon of chili powder or cayenne powder (optional)
  • Pinch of sea salt

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed.
  2. Serve immediately or place mousse in an airtight container to save for up to 2 days. 
  3. Serve in bowls garnished with your choice of berries.
  4. Enjoy!

Recipe transcribed from: fit PREGNANCY

10 Signs Labor Is Near

In Labor

If you’re expecting your first baby, it’s not uncommon to wonder how and if you will know when labor is coming. We’ve all seen the images of women in movies whose water breaks right in the middle of a very important and public moment, followed by a mad dash to the hospital to beat the baby’s arrival. In reality though, the start of labor is a much more progressive and likely less dramatic event. Here are a few signs to watch for that may indicate your body is gearing up for labor. 

  1. Your baby drops: The technical term for baby dropping lower into the pelvis in preparation for birth is lightening. Lightening may occur several weeks before your baby arrives or may not happen until you are in active labor. For some women, they can see a noticeable difference in the location of their bump when they look in the mirror while for others it may be more subtle. When lightening occurs, you will likely feel some added pressure on your bladder and pubic area and you may notice you are using the bathroom as frequently as you did in the first trimester. The good news is, your diaphragm will get some relief and you may be able to breathe a bit easier as the drop will free up some space around your chest.
  2. Nesting: Something about the impending arrival of baby tends to send moms into an organizational frenzy. You may think it’s just your Type A personality but there is actually a very powerful instinct that takes over in those final weeks before baby arrives. If you’re on your knees cleaning the baseboards and organizing baby’s socks by color according to the rainbow, don’t worry, this is completely normal. Just be careful not to overdo it as your body needs rest before the big day.
  3. Exhaustion: When you’re not experiencing a surge of energy for alphabetizing your spice rack, you may be feeling extra exhausted in those final weeks before labor begins. The final stage of pregnancy can be uncomfortable making it difficult to sleep, tougher to move around and leaving you feeling like you’ve run a marathon when you’ve only climbed a flight of stairs. 
  4. Increasing Cramping and Back Pain: You may notice in the final weeks of pregnancy that you are having more cramping and lower backaches than usual. As baby is preparing to make his debut, your body is getting into gear and a lot is happening in that general region to help position baby for birth. Muscles are stretching and joints are loosening due to the release of the hormone relaxin which allows your pelvis to expand for childbirth. Don’t be alarmed by these aches and pains and instead take it as a sign to get off your feet and rest for a bit. If the cramping or pain is severe or is accompanied by bleeding, call your doctor or midwife to be seen. 
  5. Your weight plateaus: Up until this point, you’ve been consistently gaining as your baby grows to his or her birth weight. In the weeks before labor begins, you might find that you stop gaining weight and may even lose a pound of two due to decreasing levels of amniotic fluid. This is nothing to be alarmed by and is actually quite normal in the home stretch.
  6. Dilation and Effacement: Dilation refers to the opening of your cervix while effacement is the measurement of how thinned out it is. As baby puts pressure on your pelvic region and your uterus contacts in preparation for delivery, your cervix will become dilated and effaced. Dilation and effacement can be measured by your midwife or doctor if you choose to have internal exams leading up to your delivery. The tricky part is that you can be a few centimeters dilated and a percentage effaced for weeks before your delivery. The good news is that it does indicate that labor is coming in the near future and your body is working hard to prepare. Conversely, don’t be discourage if you are not dilated or effaced at your visit as this process can happen at a different point for every woman. 
  7. Feeling loose: Unfortunately, your pelvic muscles and ligaments aren’t the only area of your body affected by the hormone relaxin. Consequently, you may experience other side effects of the release of this hormone into your body such as diarrhea and clumsiness. The good news is that these not so desireable side effects of the increased relaxin levels in your system are a good indication that your body is getting ready for baby!
  8. More frequent Braxton Hicks contractions: Braxton Hicks contractions or prodromal labor, are practice contractions that are usually felt from mid-pregnancy on. In the final weeks of pregnancy, you may notice that you are having more frequent Braxton Hicks contractions that feel more intense than usual. If the contractions are happening closer together, increasing in intensity, lasting a minute or more or seem to fall into a rhythmic pattern, it is likely labor has begun. Call your midwife or doctor to find out what the next steps are and when you should come in. 
  9. Mucus plug loss: As your cervix begins to soften in preparation for birth, you may experience some mucus discharge. The mucus will be thick and white and may be streaked with blood and dispel gradually or in one clump. This is considered the loss of your mucus plug. The mucus plug is considered the seal to the uterus and its dislodging indicates labor is near.
  10. Your water breaks: The rupture of the amniotic sac is actually much rarer than Hollywood would lead you to believe. Approximately only 15 percent of women experience their water breaking before they are in active labor. Your water breaking may feel like a slow trickle or one gush of fluid but is not usually as dramatic as we see in the movies. If your amniotic sac ruptures, it’s go time. Call your midwife or doctor and get ready to head to wherever you plan to deliver.

The last month of pregnancy can often feel like an eternity with your big bump, aching back, tired feet and lack of sleep. Try as best you can to use these weeks to rest up for the big task ahead of childbirth. Your baby and body are hard at work preparing for the big day that will be here before you know it. 

Remember also that all women experience the above symptoms at different times and to different degrees, so try not to compare yourself to other pregnant mamas or feel concerned if you don’t match up. Your baby will come when she’s good and ready and it will be one of the greatest moments of your life!

For questions about labor, natural birth and other women’s services, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center.

Excerpt: Ten telltale signs labor is on it’s way!

Surviving the Summer Heat During Pregnancy

Photo by michal_staniewski/iStock / Getty Images

The hottest days of summer can be tough on everyone but they can be exceptionally uncomfortable if you’re pregnant. Being pregnant any time of year can make you feel like you are your own personal radiator. Your body temperature actually runs slightly higher than someone who is not pregnant and you may experience a lower tolerance for heat and a higher propensity for heat exhaustion. While we can’t will the weather cooler to make you more comfortable, we can offer these seven expert tips for surviving the summer heat while pregnant.

  1. Stay hydrated: When you are pregnant, the Institute of Medicine recommends that you drink 12-13 eight ounce glasses of water per day. However, when you are exposed to heat or exercise, you should have an additional 8-ounce glass per hour to stay sufficiently hydrated. The extra water will help restore electrolytes lost from sweating. Water has a whole host of benefits during pregnancy, including preventing overheating, headaches, fatigue and swelling.
  2. Exercise Wisely: While moderate exercise during pregnancy has many great benefits, you need to be careful not to overexert yourself in the heat. On hot days, exercise during cooler hours avoiding the midday sun. Consider exercising indoors at an air conditioned gym or yoga studio. Swimming is also a great way to cool down on a summer day and has the added bonus of taking weight off the sciatic nerve which can often cause pain or discomfort in pregnancy.
  3. Avoid peak sun hours: When temperatures are high, it’s best to avoid spending time outdoors during the hours of 10AM and 2PM when the sun is strongest. Overexertion in high temperatures can lead to heat exhaustion and even heat stroke in pregnant women which can be dangerous for both mom and baby. Opt for indoor activities with air conditioning during these hours such as the mall, library, aquarium, movies or just staying home. If you are outside in the heat and begin to experience excessive sweating, weakness, muscle cramps, a headache, dizziness, or excessive thirst, get inside to air conditioning as soon as possible and lay down with a damp cloth on your head and a glass of cool water. If your symptoms do not improve once out of the heat, seek medical attention.
  4. Take frequent cool showers: A cool shower on hot days can be just the trick to bring your body temperature down and seek some respite from the heat. Shower twice a day if you need to, to keep cool. You probably won’t have that luxury once baby arrives!
  5. Wear loose fitting, light clothing: Breathable cotton is your best bet when you’re pregnant in the summer heat. It’s not uncommon to get heat rash under the breasts and abdomen where sweat can accumulate in the hot summer months. Light, breathable clothing will help prevent this problem and keep you as cool as possible on those hot days. 
  6. Wear sunscreen with a high SPF and reapply often: When you are pregnant, your skin is actually more susceptible to the harmful UV rays from the sun. Using a good sunscreen and reapplying it often will help protect you from painful sunburns. Sunburns can also cause your core temperature to rise which is not healthy for your developing baby. 
  7. Put your feet up: Heat and pregnancy can be an automatic recipe for swelling. While swelling is more common in the second half of pregnancy and can lead to your shoes feeling snug and your rings getting stuck, it’s always a good idea to get extra rest while you are pregnant. Take a siesta in a cool place for 30 minutes each day to give yourself time to relax and lower your body temperature. Napping is another luxury you may not have time for once baby arrives, so you might as well take advantage of the opportunity while you have it.

It’s always important to take extra precautions to care for your body in the heat but when you’re pregnant, it’s even more vital. Drink plenty of water, stay out of the sun’s harmful rays, and get rest when you need it. Just because you have a bun in the oven, doesn’t mean you need to feel like one! 

For questions about pregnancy, natural birth, the postpartum period or women’s health, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center.

Vitamin B-12 Injections: Use, Deficiency, Risks, & B-12 In Pregnancy

Vitamin b12 Injections

Vitamin B-12 injections are a great way to bridge any nutritional gaps in your diet and ensure that you are receiving what you need. Hydroxocobalamin is a natural form of Vitamin B-12 that can be administered via injection to improve energy levels, aid in red blood cell development and help maintain a healthy central nervous system. Here’s everything you need to know about Vitamin B-12 injections.

Recommended Dosage:

For adults over the age of 14, the recommended daily intake of Vitamin B-12 is 2.4 mcg. During pregnancy, the recommended amount increases to 2.6 mcg and when breastfeeding, to 2.8 mcg. Vitamin B-12 can be found in many foods, including meat, fish, eggs, poultry and milk and also in your prenatal multivitamin.

Vitamin B Deficiency:

While only 1-1.5 percent of Americans have a true deficiency, as many as 40 percent fall within the low-normal range for Vitamin B levels. Symptoms that may indicate low Vitamin B levels include fatigue, depression, low blood pressure, constipation, memory loss, weakness, sore tongue, tingling and numbness in fingers and toes, mood changes and difficulty walking. In more severe cases, a Vitamin-B deficiency can result in nerve damage, anemia and stomach complications.

Who’s At Risk?

Certain populations are at a higher risk for deficient and low levels of Vitamin B-12. These groups include vegetarians, vegans, and persons with pernicious anemia, gastrointestinal disorders and alcohol abuse problems. The increased risk for these populations is due to low levels of consumption and difficulty with vitamin absorption. 

Is it Possible to Have Too Much Vitamin B-12?

Fortunately, Vitamin B-12 is a water soluble vitamin that will be naturally eliminated by the body when the amount needed is exceeded. Because of this, taking more than the recommended dosage of Vitamin B-12 will neither help nor harm you unless you have an actual problem with deficiency. Toxicity is not a risk. 

The Shot:

The Vitamin B-12 shot has been shown to be effective at treating a deficiency, boosting energy and in some cases lessening symptoms of depression and improving cognitive function. The injection is given directly into the muscle, typically in the thigh or upper arm. The dose administered is dependent on the condition and can be tailored in frequency and amount based on the patient’s response. Common side effects associated with the B-12 shot include soreness at the injection site, diarrhea, swelling and itching. If you experience side effects from the shot, adjusting the dosage can be effective at reducing the occurrence. Serious and rarer side effects can include muscle cramping, irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, slurred speech, vision changes, chest pain and weakness on one side of the body. Call your doctor or midwife immediately should you experience any of these more serious side effects. 

Vitamin B-12 in Pregnancy:

Vitamin B-12 is particularly important during pregnancy as it not only helps to regulate mom’s nervous system and red blood cell formation but also helps fight defects of baby’s spine and central nervous system. Also, because the Hydroxocobalamin version of the B-12 shot is a natural form of the vitamin, it is perfectly safe to receive during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Moms who are strict vegetarians or vegans and are breastfeeding are at a higher risk for Vitamin B-12 deficiency. 

For more about essential vitamins and nutrients during pregnancy, check out this article. If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of the Vitamin B-12 injection, contact Health Foundations to speak with one of our midwives. We offer the B-12 injections at the Birth Center in addition to many other health and wellness services for women. For questions about B-12 injections, pregnancy, natural birth and other women’s care matters, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center.

Most Commonly Asked Questions about Birth Control after Baby

Birth Control after Birth

When should I start birth control again after giving birth?

Once you are cleared for sex at your six-week postpartum check-up, you can start a new birth control regimen. This check-up is a great opportunity to discuss your plans for birth control, what has and has not worked for you in the past, and any plans for future pregnancies. It’s important to wait until your doctor or midwife gives you the OK as certain birth control medications can increase your risk for a blood clot in the weeks immediately following your delivery. This is particularly true of birth controls that contain estrogen such as combination pills, the patch and the vaginal ring. 

Is birth control safe while breastfeeding?

Yes, absolutely. The hormones that are secreted into your breastmilk are minimal and are not harmful to your baby. You will want to avoid options that include estrogen though as it can cause your supply to drop. The best birth control options while breastfeeding are the progestin only mini-pill, hormonal or hormone-free IUDs and the progestin-only subdermal implant.

What are my options for birth control post baby?

Once your doctor or midwife gives you the OK to begin a birth control regimen, you will want to decide which option makes the most sense for you. Some factors to consider include whether or not you are breastfeeding your baby, plans for future children, hormone sensitivity and convenience. Here are several of the most common birth control options and whether or not they are recommended while breastfeeding.

  • Combination pills: These pills contain a combination of estrogen and progestin designed to suppressed ovulation. They are NOT recommended while breastfeeding because of the estrogen content. 
  • Mini pill: The mini pill contains progestin only and is intended for use by breastfeeding moms.
  • IUDs:  An IUD is an intrauterine contraceptive device that is inserted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy by disabling the sperm. There are hormonal and non-hormonal options that can be used from 3-12 years, depending on the type. They are considered to be one of the most effective forms of birth control and are safe to use while breastfeeding.
  • Vaginal ring: The vaginal ring releases hormones that suppress ovulation. It is removed during the week of menstruation and then a new one is placed. While the vaginal ring is a good option for those who have trouble remembering to take the pill, it is NOT recommended for breastfeeding moms due to the estrogen content. 
  • Subdermal implant: A newer option to the contraceptive market is the subdermal rod implant that is inserted under the arm skin. With high efficacy rates and no estrogen, this is a safe and effective option for nursing moms.
  • Injectable birth control: Depo Provera is the most commonly known injectable contraceptive and has a 99 percent efficacy rate. This progestin only injection is given every 12 weeks and is safe for breastfeeding moms. However, there is some speculation that it may cause a drop in your supply. 
  • Tubal litigation: This is a surgical procedure in which the fallopian tubes are cut or sealed to create a permanent block preventing the egg from reaching the uterus for fertilization. This option should only be considered if there is NO chance that you may want to become pregnant again. There are some concerns about the procedure affecting supply but it is generally safe while breastfeeding.
  • Non-surgical sterilization: Similar to tubal litigation, non-surgical sterilization should ONLY be considered if you are done having children. With this method of contraceptive, a device is vaginally inserted into the fallopian tube that causes scarring to create a barrier that prevents the sperm and egg from meeting. This is a PERMANENT form of birth control and should not be considered if there is a possibility you may want more children in the future. This procedure is considered to be safe while breastfeeding.

Do I need to be done having kids to get an IUD?

No. An IUD is a completely reversible form of birth control. As soon as your IUD is removed, you can become pregnant. Many women worry that an IUD will affect their future fertility because it CAN be used as a long term option. However, research actually shows high rates of pregnancy following the removal of intrauterine devices.

I’ve heard exclusive breastfeeding is great birth control. Is that true?

Yes, it is true--WHEN and IF you meet all the criteria. The Lactational Amenorrhea Method is endorsed by the World Health Organization as being up to 98 percent effective. In order to rely on LAM for birth control you must meet the following conditions:

  • No period since your baby’s birth
  • Baby is under 6 months of age
  • You practice ecological breastfeeding, nursing baby at least every 4 hours during the day and every 6 hours at night. 

Learn more about about breastfeeding as birth control

Who should I talk to to learn more about my options?

Talk to your midwife or doctor to learn more about contraceptive options and for help choosing the best method for you. Consider having this conversation even before you deliver so that there is a plan in place once you receive the green light for sex and birth control. Health experts recommend waiting at least 18 months between pregnancies to allow your body to heal and reduce chances for future pregnancy complications. 

To learn more about birth control options after baby and for any and all questions related to pregnancy and natural birth, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center.