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Preparing for a VBAC

Preventing and treating hemorrhoids during pregnancyConsidering or committed to having a hospital VBAC birth?

If so, you might be wondering how to prepare, both logistically and emotionally, to give yourself the best odds of having the outcome you want.  The VBAC rate has fallen dramatically in recent years, making preparation and planning very important.

So we assembled this list of steps you can take in preparing for a VBAC.  Consider it a starting point, and feel free to add to it in the comments!

Choose providers carefully, and don’t be afraid to shop around.  Probably the most important decision you’ll need to make is your choice of provider.  Obstetrical and midwifery practices can have widely varying VBAC success rates, so it’s important to shop around.  This might lead you to change providers, which you can do even in the final weeks of pregnancy.  You may feel uncomfortable switching practices or shopping around, but a provider’s VBAC history is the factor most likely to determine a birth outcome.  Concerned about having to drive a little longer to get to the hospital?  One mom we know puts it this way:  Would you drive an extra 15 minutes to get to a good hairdresser?  (And in a true emergency you’ll end up at the closest hospital anyway).

How should you judge the best place for a trial of labor?  Look at the practices’ VBAC rates, including the number of women who have had a trial of labor and the percentage of those labors which ended in VBACs.  If this isn’t available online, call and ask the practice for their rates in the last year or two.  If they are unwilling to share this, consider that important information.  Also check the hospital’s rates, which are more likely available online, but understand that most hospitals host several practices, so this number is a combination of the practices’ rates.  When interviewing providers, try to learn as much as possible about practices’ VBAC policies:  How long can you go “post dates” and still try for a VBAC?  What kind of monitoring do they do?  Can you labor in water?  If you end up with a CBAC, can your doula be present in the operating room?  What do they think makes someone a “good candidate” for a trial of labor?  In your search, remember that, while there are many wonderful obstetricians, certified nurse midwives in general have lower cesarean rates.

An important tool in researching your options is the International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN) website’s VBAC policy database.  ICAN members contacted every maternity hospital in the U.S. to determine which had bans on VBAC – both outright and “de facto” (those without an official policy but in which no practice would attend a VBAC) – and found that roughly half of all hospitals do not allow a trial of labor.  So you may want to begin here in your research.

Hire a doula.  Labors with the trained support of a doula are less likely to send in cesarean births, so be sure to have a doula or other trained labor support person present.  When looking for a doula, try to find one who has experience with VBAC labors and who is knowledgeable about providers’ VBAC practices and policies.  If you can’t afford one, see our post on ways of finding good labor support when a doula isn’t in the budget.

Get peer support from other mothers who are in your position.  Even when mothers get great support from their providers and partners, it can be isolating to try for a VBAC and it’s often very powerful to have peer support from people who understand how you feel.  ICAN is one such organization, and you can find a group here.    If there isn’t a group near you, you can find support in their closed Facebook page, and the forums of a number of other websites.  You may also want to read VBAC birth stories, and there are many on the ICAN website.

Learn non-medication based methods of reducing discomfort in labor.  As with birth generally, the longer you can relieve pain without using medication during a trial of labor, the better your chances of having a vaginal birth.  That’s because medication-based means of pain relief often trigger a “cascade of interventions” which leads to a cesarean.  So learn about ways of relieving pain, such as movement, deep relaxation, partner massage, visualization, breathing, water, and others.  Of course, it’s definitely possible to have a VBAC with medication, so if your labor ends up going in that direction all is not lost!

Learn about fetal positioning.  If your cesarean birth was due at least in part to fetal positioning (having a posterior or “sunnyside up” baby), learn more about that topic and choose providers (including doulas) who are skilled at helping babies settle into optimal position for vaginal birth, including during labor.  The Spinning Babies website and chiropractic care from someone trained in Webster’s Technique can be helpful.  Be sure to listen to our podcast on posterior babies and what can be done to change their positions, including the “belly lift” and “sifting” with a rebozo.

Prepare for the possibility of another cesarean birth.  Even moms who are completely focused on having a VBAC need to have a back-up plan they’re comfortable with.  Explore the possibility of family-centered cesarean, which may include options such as doing skin-to-skin and/or breastfeeding in the operating room, having your arms free to touch the baby, a slower birth through the incision, lowering the drape so you can see the baby being born (if you want), and other less frequently used practices.  Meet with the obstetrician who would be performing the cesarean to work out your backup plan.  And you may want to listen to our podcast on family-centered cesarean.

Work on processing past experience.  If the prior cesarean was traumatic and strong feelings are affecting emotional preparation for your next birth, do the hard work of processing it.  EMDR and other therapies can be very useful for this.  Discuss your prior experience with your providers and briefly explain it in your birth plan.  Other emotional preparation, such as visualizing a repeat cesarean or peering into the OR, may be useful.  You may also want to read our post on getting help for traumatic birth experiences or listen to our podcast on traumatic birth.

Stay active.  Exercising reduces your risk of gestational diabetes and having a large baby, both of which can affect your chances of having a VBAC.  You’ll also be in better shape for the workout that is labor and birth.

Finally, you may want to listen to Motherlove’s podcast on VBAC – an interview with he president of ICAN.

U.S. maternity leave policy and its effect on families: A podcast interview with Moms Rising

Businesswoman Holding a BabyDid you know that the U.S. is one of only a handful of countries that does not offer new mothers paid family leave?   The other countries:  Papua New Guinea, Lesotho, and Swaziland.

In this podcast interview we spoke with Charlie Rose, associate campaign director for MomsRising.org, a national organization with over a million members advocating for family economic security.

Charlie spoke about how few moms have paid parental leave, how much leave moms actually take, the health and economic costs of our current policy, how current policy affects the role of partners, and what Moms Rising is doing to advocate for better policies.

You can listen to this podcast with the player below, listen with Quicktime, or download the podcast from our free iTunes store.

Family-Centered Cesarean: A podcast interview with Robin Elise Weiss

Newborn baby girlHave you heard about a new trend in cesarean birth?  It goes by a number of different names:  family centered cesarean, natural cesarean, gentle cesarean.

Whatever you call it, if you’re pregnant and want a more satisfying cesarean experience should one be necessary, you’ll want to learn more about it.

In this podcast interview we talked with Robin Elise Weiss, author, childbirth and postpartum educator, certified doula, doula trainer, and lactation counselor.  Robin is the Pregnancy and Childbirth expert on About.com and is the author of numerous books, including The About.com Guides to Having a Baby and Baby Care, The Everything New Mother’s guides to The First Year, Pregnancy Fitness, and Getting Pregnant.

We discussed what a family-centered cesarean looks like, what it means to moms and for birth outcomes, how moms can advocate for a family-centered cesarean, and whether this new trend will harm efforts to reduce the historic high cesarean rates of recent years.

You can listen to this interview using the player below, listen with Quicktime, or download it from our free iTunes store.

Podcast: Birth and breastfeeding in prison

Prison-Birth-Project85% of women in prison are mothers, and the same percentage of women in prison are pregnant as on the outside.

What is birth like for them?  How long do they have with their babies before they’re separated?  Why do some birth in shackles?  And is it possible for incarcerated mothers to breastfeed?

To answer these questions we spoke with Marianne Bullock, co-founder of The Prison Birth Project, a non profit organization providing support, education, advocacy, and activism training to women at the intersection of the criminal justice system and motherhood.

You can listen to this podcast using the player below, through Quicktime, or download it from our free iTunes store.

Want to cleanse toxins from your body before trying to conceive? Listen to our podcast.

MP900442962Toxins we absorb through everyday living can make it harder for us to conceive a baby.  So how can we reduce our body’s toxic burden before trying to conceive?

In this month’s podcast interview we speak with naturopathic physician Dr. Laila Tomsovic about preconception cleansing.  We ask when to do it, whether cleansing is safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding, which foods are especially cleansing, and about the role of exercise and stress reduction in a cleanse.  You may also be interested in our interview with Dr. Tomsovic on nutrition for fertility.

You can listen to this podcast using the player below, with Quicktime, or by downloading it at our free iTunes store.

 

 

Trauma from childbirth? Listen to our podcast interview.

iStock_000000105626XSmallDid you have intrusive thoughts about your birth?  Flashbacks?  Do you steer clear of hospitals, or try to avoid talking about your birth?

We’re very happy to share a podcast interview on trauma from childbirth, with Dr. Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, health psychologist and trauma expert.

Dr. Kendall-Tackett is health psychologist, and Clinical Associate Professor of Pediatrics.  She is president-elect of the Trauma Division of the American Psychological Association, and the incoming editor-in-chief of the Journal of Psychological Trauma.  She has authored more than 300 articles and 24 books on maternal depression, trauma, family violence and breastfeeding, including Depression in New Mothers and Breastfeeding Made Simple.

Dr. Kendall-Tackett discussed what trauma looks like, what experiences tend to cause trauma, partners and trauma, strategies for healing from trauma, ideas for preparing for a subsequent birth, and post-traumatic growth.  She also discusses the relationship between trauma and breastfeeding, and answers your questions submitted on Facebook.

You can listen with the player below, listen with Quicktime, or download this podcast from our free iTunes store!

 

 

 

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We’ve got a salve for that!

ML_products_RGBItchy skin?  Stretch marks?  Eczema?  Diaper rash or thrush?  Sore nipples?  Hemorrhoids?  Chapped lips?  Bug bites?  New tattoo?

We’ve got a salve for that!

Motherlove’s line of protective and soothing herbal salves provides natural and effective relief to get you through many skin problems:

Motherlove’s Pregnant Belly Salve is an all natural way to prevent and soothe stretch marks.  Certified organic herbs added to a scar-healing base of shea butter do wonders to prevent, soothe, and minimize stretch marks.  You can use our Pregnant Belly Salve on dry heels, elbows, your c-section scar, even chapped lips.  The stars of this salve are marshmallow, which softens skin and soothes skin irritations; rosehips, which helps prevent scarring and hydrates the skin; calendula, an an all purpose skin healing herb; and chamomile, an anti-inflammatory herb which softens skin.

USDA_Organic_LogoMotherlove’s Green Salve is all-purpose, multi-tasking soother and healer.  This organic, all natural salve is the perfect remedy for rashes, and chapped or irritated skin, including eczema.  In winter it’s great for dry, chapped skin; in summer it’s great for taking the itch out of bug bites, bee stings, and poison ivy.  Green Salve contains extra virgin olive oil, beeswax, plantain herb, comfrey herb, marshmallow root, and calendula flower.  Plantain herb is known as “nature’s band aid” because it is excellent for healing wounds and drawing out toxins.   Comfrey herb is nicknamed “knitbone,” as it quickly heals wounds and prevents scarring.  Marshmallow and calendula soothe, heal, and soften skin.

USDA_Organic_LogoMotherlove’s Nipple Cream is made with all certified organic ingredients which heal and soothe sore, cracked nursing nipples.  Motherlove’s Nipple Cream contains extra virgin olive oil, beeswax, shea butter, marshmallow root, calendula.  All ingredients are safe for ingestion, so it does not need to be washed off prior to nursing.  Have leftover Nipple Cream?  Here are 13 more ways to use our Nipple Cream including using it on chapped lips, dry elbows, and even to tame frizzy hair!

oregon tilthMotherlove’s Diaper Rash & Thrush is an all-natural salve made with certified organic ingredients for persistent, inflamed diaper rash.  It contains healing herbs oregon grape root to clear up skin conditions, yarrow to soothe rashes, myrrh to fight bacteria and yeast overgrowth, and calendula to soothe skin.  If you’ve been treating diaper rash unsuccessfully with other products, your baby may have a yeast infection which requires a product with antifungal properties.  Our Diaper Rash & Thrush salve is diaper safe and compatible with all diapers including cloth.  This salve can also be used on nursing nipples, and does not need to be washed off nipples prior to nursing.

USDA_Organic_LogoMotherlove’s Tattoo Care is a certified organic salve which provides optimal moisturizing and healing properties for a new tattoo, yet retains a consistency that is comfortable to apply while tattooing or to a fresh tattoo.  Unlike petroleum-based products, Motherlove Tattoo Care allows the skin to breathe, and allows ink to fully penetrate the skin.  Made with calendula flowers and marshmallow root, infused in extra virgin olive oil, beeswax, and shea butter, it keeps pores from getting clogged and promotes a quicker healing time.

USDA_Organic_LogoMotherlove’s Rhoid Balm is a certified organic balm which provides immediate relief for inflamed tissues.  It contains a soothing combination of herbs including witch hazel, recommended by moms and doctors alike to reduce swelling, slow bleeding, and ease the discomfort of hemorrhoids

And of course, all of our salves have a zero rating (the cleanest rating) by EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Saftey Database.  They’re free of body care ingredients to avoid.

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Carpal tunnel syndrome during pregnancy or breastfeeding

iStock_000011577883XSmallHave you had pain or numbness in your wrists, fingers, or arms pain during pregnancy or breastfeeding?*  You’re not alone.

Up to 62% of women may experience carpal tunnel symptoms during pregnancy.  Typical symptoms include numbness and tingling in the fingers, burning wrist pain, and loss of grip strength and dexterity.   Pain is usually worse at night.  Sometimes these pains extend up the arm and even to the shoulder.

While carpal tunnel syndrome is usually associated with people who do repetitive hand movements, it’s common in pregnancy because the increased fluid load of pregnancy puts extra pressure on the median nerve that runs through the carpal tunnel formed by the wrist bones.

For most pregnant women, this pain goes away within a few months of giving birth, as the fluid load decreases.  For a smaller number of some women, the pain begins during breastfeeding perhaps due to repetitive hand positions.

If you’re experiencing these symptoms, discuss them with your health care provider.  In pregnancy, she may recommend modifying your activity, wearing splints, diuretics, and if necessary, steroid injections.  There are also natural therapies which may help with carpal tunnel pain, but you should always check with your health care provider before trying them.

During breastfeeding, using side-lying or laid-back breastfeeding positions may also reduce discomfort.  Nursing in positions which keep the baby upright with minimal use of your hands – such as nursing a sling or other carrier – may also reduce discomfort.

* This post is intended as educational only, and not as medical advice.  Please seek advice from your health care provider for care.

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Herbs to minimize your c-section scar

Pregnant_woman2Herbs can be a huge help in maintaining the health of your skin during pregnancy, soothing and preventing stretch marks.  But did you know that they can also help heal and minimize your cesarean scar? 

Here are some herbs which can applied topically – once your incision has fully healed and your health care provider approves – to assist in the healing and minimizing of your c-section scar.*  You may also want to listen to our podcast on caring for your c-section.

And when looking for products which contain these ingredients, be sure not to choose ones with body care ingredients to avoid.

Aloe vera is a classic skin healer, used for nearly thousands of years to soothe burns, moisturize, and condition skin. 

Calendula, an herb we use in our Pregnant Belly Oil, Pregnant Belly Salve, Nipple Cream, Diaper Rash & Thrush, Rhoid Balm, is an an all-purpose skin healing herb used to stop bleeding, wash wounds, heal cuts, abscesses, rashes, boils, chapped skin, and eczema. 

Sea buckthorn is an orange berry heralded for the its rare omega 7 fatty acids, high Vitamin C content, and its anti-inflammatory properties, all of which can condition the skin.

Jojoba seed oil was first used by Native Americans in order to heal and condition skin and hair.  It’s also useful as a treatment for burns.   

Rosehip is an ingredient in our Pregnant Belly Oil, Pregnant Belly Salve because its oil helps prevent scarring.

Gotu kola has been used for centuries to heal wounds and treat skin conditions.

St. John’s Wort is better known for its effects on mood, but it’s also a useful herb for skin healing and burn care.

* This information is provided for educational purposes only, and is not medical advice.  Consult your health care provider before using this information, and never apply topical agents to your c-section scar before it has healed.

Image credit:  Wikimedia Commons

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Baby “sunnyside up?” Listen to our podcast on how you can avoid or change it.

iStock_000004564778XSmallDid you know the position of your baby in pregnancy and in labor?  If your baby was posterior (also known as “sunnyside up”), it may have had a big effect on your labor and birth.  Back labor, anyone?

What can you do in pregnancy to keep your baby in the anterior position?  And can you change the position of the baby once labor has started?

Our podcast guest, Michelle L’Esperance answers these questions and more.  Michelle is a certified professional midwife, doula and doula trainer, and runs workshops on creative movement for birth which help parents encourage optimal fetal positioning.

You can listen to this podcast using the player below, with Quicktime, or by downloading it at our free iTunes store.

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