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Filtering by Tag: hospital

7 Amazing C-Section Recovery Tips

Chelsea Gonzales

Whether your cesarean was planned from the beginning or a complete surprise, the recovery is something you'll need to go through. Luckily, you'll have your new bundle of joy by your side, softening the pain and more difficult days a little. However, a C-section is still major surgery, and as with all major surgeries, recovery isn't exactly fun.

That said, there are ways to speed up the recovery process and make it go a lot more smoothly. By knowing the right steps to take, you can help ensure all goes well in the weeks postpartum.

Walk, then Rest

Surgery leaves even the best of us feeling groggy and in pain. For this reason, walking is likely the very last thing you want to do. Still, walking is one of the necessary steps you must take before leaving the hospital. It's also beneficial during recovery because it helps get blood moving, reducing the likelihood of clots. For this reason, you will want to do a bit of walking around the house each day.

With that said, I must point out that this walking should be kept to a minimum in the first few weeks. No strenuous exercise should occur until at east 6–8 weeks postpartum, and even then, a new mama should get permission from her doctor.

Eat Well, Drink Plenty

Nutrition is hugely important when your body is working hard to recover. Besides, if you're breastfeeding, you're providing your baby with all of his or her nutrients. Therefore, you simply must eat well after having a C-section.

Besides eating a well balanced diet that is full of fruits, veggies, and lean meats, you will also want to make sure that the foods you choose contain plenty of fiber. This will help prevent the post-cesarean gas and constipation that so often plagues new mamas.

Additionally, plenty of protein, iron, and vitamin C are all musts in an after-surgery diet. These nutrients help your body rebuild muscle, recover from blood loss, and fight off infection.

Finally, you will need to consume A LOT of water. In fact, I recommend drinking around a gallon a day. Your body needs water in order to function properly, and with a post-operative recovery on its plate—as well as the usual postpartum work—it's going to need as much water as it can get.

Add in Supplements

During the months postpartum, be sure to continue taking your prenatal vitamin. Not only will this help baby get plenty of nutrients through your breastmilk, it will also help your body recover more quickly. Other supplements you may consider should include 1) a quality probiotic in order to restore order in your gut, as well as 2) zinc and magnesium, also for gut health.

Baby Your Scar

One key part of recovery is making sure your scar heals correctly and without infection. The best way to do this is by babying the area.

Stick to showers in order to avoid submerging your scar, never scrub that area, and gently pat it dry after showering. Put aloe vera gel and vitamin E on the scar to reduce swelling and visibility, and keep it covered with a organic or free and clear maxi pad or some other sterile, soft covering for the first two weeks.

Banish Pain

Of course, you're going to feel some level of pain after a C-section. In order to reduce this pain, be sure to use the painkillers prescribed by the doctor. As you wean off the prescription drugs, slowly make the switch to over-the-counter options such as ibuprofen.

Other options that can be used along with these painkillers include essential oil aromatherapy, arnica gel, cinnamon supplements, garlic supplements, coconut water, omega-3 fatty acids, hawthorn berry tea, and hibiscus tea. Using a combination of a few of these should have you feeling a bit better.

Address Your Emotions

Not every mama is happy to have had a cesarean. If you are upset by the way your birth went, be sure to address this right away rather than allowing it to fester. Having your placenta encapsulated and adding the capsules to your daily regimen can help keep your emotions under control, but this shouldn't be your only course of action.

You will also want to find a way to express your disappointment, air your grievances, and allow yourself to wade through, make sense of, and understand the strong emotions you may be feeling. For many women, simply talking with their partner or a close family member or friend is enough. Others need a professional to help them sort through their emotions. Still others prefer to write, draw, or use some other form of creativity to express themselves and get through this difficult time.

Find what works for you and go with it.

Get Help

As you're recovering, you're going to need plenty of help. While your family is sure to help out as much as they can, it isn't always enough. For this reason, it's a great idea to hire a postpartum doula. Doulas are knowledgeable when it comes to postpartum recovery and newborn care, and are immensely helpful in nearly all aspects of life after birth.

Are you ready to hire a postpartum doula? I'd love to talk to you about your options. Please contact me today!

Tips for a Successful VBAC

Chelsea Gonzales

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There once was a time when mothers were told they would never have a successful vaginal birth after having a cesarean. Fortunately, times have changed, and more and more mothers are making the choice to give it a try. After all, if it can be carried out safely, a vaginal birth is almost always the best option in terms of a mother’s comfort, recovery times, mother/child bonding, and so much more.

If you are considering having a VBAC, you may be wondering what you can do to increase the chances of a successful birth experience. Here are my top tips.

Build a Strong Birth Team

First and foremost, you will need to have a good, strong birth team. This is one of the most important steps you can take, as an unsupportive birth team will be discouraging at best.

Be sure to pick a primary care provider who is willing to attend a VBAC birth. If you are birthing away from home, the hospital or birth center your care provider is associated with must also be okay with your choice. Ensure you trust your midwife or OB completely. If you feel at all uncomfortable or concerned with your care provider, make a switch. Even if your feelings are apparently unwarranted, feeling comfortable during labor and delivery is imperative to a successful VBAC.

In addition to a good doctor or midwife, you will also want to hire a doula. A doula will help ensure you are as comfortable as possible throughout labor, and may even make the process move more quickly. Additionally, a doula can help you work through any fears that may arise.

Go Natural

Inductions, epidurals, and other interventions increase the likelihood of a c-section. Considering this is the very thing you are wanting to avoid, you will also want to avoid intervention as much as possible, letting nature take its course throughout the birthing process.

While this make take more time and patience, and while it might require seeking out natural pain management options, it's so worth the end result.

Educate Yourself

Confidence plays an enormous role in the success of any birth. The more confident you are, the more likely you are to be successful.

This is probably due in part to the fact that the more confident women tend to be the more educated women. Therefore, these individuals have a good understanding of their bodies, leading to less fear. They are also better able to make educated decisions throughout labor, meaning they're less likely to be pushed into doing things they don't want to do.

For this reason, it is highly recommended that all pregnant women—and especially those wishing to experience a VBAC—do everything they can to boost their confidence and educate themselves. The best ways to go about this include attending quality childbirth classes and reading as much as possible. Finding books about VBAC specifically can be especially helpful.

Banish Fears

Another step toward confidence that every potential VBAC mother must take is banishing fears. Traumatizing birth experiences stick with us and tend to fester, growing into paralyzing fears. These fears are strong—so strong in fact that they can stall labor, something that can lead to interventions.

Fortunately, you have the power to banish these fears. Find a therapist to help you work through your unwanted thoughts, hire a doula to help in case these fears surface during labor, and repeat uplifting and inspirational mantras to yourself throughout your pregnancy and your labor.

Many women also find it helpful to hang posters or flags with inspirational messages throughout their home and birth space.

Expect a VBAC, Prepare for a Cesarean

In some cases, it just isn't possible for a mother to have a VBAC safely. Because of this, it is always best to go in expecting the best but prepared for the worst.

What does this mean for you? Here is what I suggest:

  •  Know where to go — If you're delivering at home or in a birth center, know in advance where you'll be transferred should the need arise.Prepare for postpartum — Obviously, you'll want meals planned and help in place no matter how your birth goes. However, having extra assistance lined up in case of a c-section is a smart move.
  • Speak with your care provider — Ask your doctor any questions you have about what will happen should you need a cesarean. Have a midwife? Find out what her typical procedure is in these cases.
  • Create a birth plan — You've probably already thought about your birth plan should you have a vaginal delivery, but have you considered what you'd like in the case of surgery? Think about it, write it down, and make sure your birth team knows your plan.

Following these tips is not a guarantee of anything. They will, however, help you achieve your dream. Why not get started today?

 

How Affirmations Help Laboring Women

Chelsea Gonzales

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In recent years, birth affirmations have become more and more popular. Many people wonder how on earth a woman could expect a simple phrase to help them through the enormously difficult task of giving birth. While this doubt is understandable, those who think this way fail to see just how powerful words can be.

You see, birth affirmations give a woman power. They do this by changing her mindset and giving her a new, positive outlook. With that positive outlook, she can do amazing things. This is because her new mindset allows her to do three things.

 #1: Find Confidence

All too often women are told that they cannot accomplish things on their own. This message is beaten into us again and again, sometimes leaving women feeling incapable of doing anything on their own.

This lack of confidence makes it difficult for a new mama to trust her body to do what it was built to do. Because of this, she will make decisions based on the idea that she can’t birth her baby on her own, and may even subconsciously prevent her body from laboring freely due to her lack of confidence that it will do what it is meant to do.

Birth affirmations that are read and internalized before and during labor help restore a woman’s confidence in her body and in herself. This makes it much easier for the mother to let go and allow her body to do the work it was made to do.

 #2: Push Negativity Aside

Those women who have made the decision to trust their bodies to birth their babies will often run into negativity from others. These people will say things to make the mama second guess her decision and will often associate negative feelings with birth.

Mothers must be prepared for these comments and able to push them aside knowing they are only a result of what society and negative experiences with the mainstream birthing experience have taught these individuals. A confident woman is usually able to do this without issue. However, positive affirmations that have been instilled in her throughout pregnancy will also help her keep her mind on positive thoughts and push the negativity away.

 #3: Gain Focus

Finally, positive affirmations can help a laboring mother gain focus during particularly difficult parts of her labor experience. If a mama finds that her mind is wandering or that negative thoughts are distracting her, she can use the affirmations that are deeply ingrained in her mind to gain focus once again.

Some women even find it helpful to chant their affirmations in order to remain focused on positive thoughts as they bring their babies into the world.

Find Your Affirmations

If you are pregnant currently, I highly recommend you find a few positive affirmations that speak to you personally and begin incorporating them into your daily life.

Hang copies of your affirmations on the bathroom mirror, make a bookmark that displays a favorite affirmation, and/or say your affirmations to yourself each and every day. By finding the words that inspire and encourage you, you will be more likely to successfully reach your child birth goals.

Below are a few of my favorite affirmations:

 “I trust in my ability to birth my baby”

“I have complete confidence that my body is working perfectly.”

“I am relaxed and calm.”

“She believed she could, so she did.”

If you are looking for someone to help you have your ideal birth experience, I would love to chat with you. As a birth doula, giving new mamas a positive birth is what I do best, and I would be honored to help you bring your little one into this world.

8 Questions to Ask a Potential Doula

Chelsea Gonzales

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Interviewing potential doulas for an upcoming birth can be an overwhelming experience. There are likely dozens of candidates to choose from in your area, and narrowing them down until you find the perfect fit for your family can be quite challenging.

Many women head into doula interviews with no idea what to say or ask. After all, a good number of the mamas out there have never hired a doula before, and even those who have may have only done so once or twice.

Because I understand that starting your search for the perfect doula can be intimidating, I have created a list of questions to ask potential doulas. By asking these questions, you can get a feel for how each person works and whether or not they will be a good addition to your birth team.

#1: Why did you choose to become a doula?

This is perhaps, the most important question on this list. A good doula is passionate about what she does. She feels strongly about the power of birth and makes it her goal to empower each and every woman she works with. A flimsy answer to this question will tell you that your candidate is feeling uninspired or burned out.

#2: What kind of experience and training do you have?

While experience and training certainly aren’t everything, they also aren’t nothing. A doula who has received high-quality training—or a birth worker with tons of experience—is likely going to be better at what she does than a person with no training or experience on their hands.

That said, new doulas must gain experience somehow. Therefore, if you find an inexperienced individual you like, consider giving her the job but also hiring an experienced doula to work by her side.

#3: Do you have references?

Remember that a doula may see herself as one thing while others view her as another. Additionally, it is always a possibility that an individual may choose to lie outright. For this reason, it is always a good idea to gather references and check in with them before making any final decisions.

#4: How will you help me manage pain?

This question will help you get a feel for your doula candidate’s style. What kinds of pain management techniques does she tend to employ? Does she bring tools to help keep her clients comfortable? Is she an expert in any one birthing method? Knowing these things will help you decide if the potential doula is right for you.

#5: What else will you be doing during my labor? Will you be available for help during my pregnancy as well?

Knowing exactly what you’re getting when you hire a person is always important. This of course applies to doulas just as much as it would anyone else. Find out what your candidate does during typical pregnancy and birth. Does she provide resources and support during pregnancy? Is she willing to cook or fetch food when you’re hungry and in labor? Does she help clean up your home after a home birth?

The answers to these questions could be a game changer.

#6: Will you involve my loved ones in the birthing process?

Partners will want to feel involved in the birthing process. Likewise, any sisters, friends, or other family members you invite into the birthing room will also want to have a role. Unfortunately, it is far too easy for a doula to take over and make others feel left out. Knowing in advance how your doula plans to include your loved ones could help in the decision-making process.

#7: What if you are unavailable when I call?

It is crucial that you know when your doula is on call, whether she will be out of town or unavailable at any time during your pregnancy, and what happens if she can’t help when you go into labor. Additionally, you may want to find out how many clients your candidate takes on at a time, as too many clients per month could increase the chances of conflicting births.

If your doula has a backup doula for emergency situations, ask if you will be allowed to meet that doula before the birth.

#8: Where will you attend births?

Some doulas only attend hospital births, while others are strictly home birth doulas. Still others will attend both home and hospital births, but prefer not to work at certain institutions. Knowing these things is important because a doula who is not willing to attend a birth at your preferred birthing location is obviously not ideal for you.

By asking these eight questions and adding to the list as you see fit, you should be able to find your perfect doula in no time at all.

What to Pack for Your Hospital Birth

Chelsea Gonzales

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If you are nearing the end of your pregnancy and are planning a hospital birth, it is time to begin packing your birth bag. After all, you never know when labor may ensue, and it is always comforting to know you’re prepared.

That said, many new mamas are at a loss when it comes to putting together a hospital bag. Deciding what to pack and what to leave home can be a stressful task that many women prefer to avoid entirely.

If you are currently going through the process of deciding what to put in your bag, you may find the list below helpful. It includes the most commonly used items in hospital delivery rooms across the country.

During Labor

Photo ID, Insurance Information and Hospital Forms — These items are all highly important, but also pretty obvious things to bring along. Still, in the stress of the moment you could easily forget to grab them, so putting them in or near your bag is probably a good idea.

Birth Plan — Building a customized birth plan takes a lot of effort. Therefore, it would be a shame to show up to your birth without it. Make multiple copies of your plan and keep them in your hospital bag to share with everyone.

Camera — While you may not feel very photogenic during labor, you will want some pictures to look back on. Be sure to pack a camera to capture those precious moments.

Comfortable Clothes — Both you and your partner will want to be comfortable while spending such a long time in the hospital. Be sure to pack plenty of comfortable clothes for the two of you to wear during labor and after baby is born. A loose gown is best for labor, and shorts or sweats with a comfy shirt work well for after the delivery.

Slippers or Flip-Flops — Nobody wants to walk around barefoot in a hospital. Still, putting on sneakers or boots every time you get up is a pain and not exactly comfortable. Flip-flops or slippers can help solve this problem.

Socks — Some people prefer to skip the shoes altogether and wear comfortable socks instead. Pack a few pairs in case you discover this is your preference.

Hair Tie or Clip — There is nothing more distracting or annoying than hair in your face. A hair tie or hair clip can help tame unruly hair and keep it out of your eyes while you focus on bringing baby into the world.

Glasses and Contacts — Whether you typically wear glasses or contacts, you will want to pack both options if they are available to you. Many women find that glasses are more comfortable to wear during labor. Still, others report that glasses tend to fog up and choose to wear contacts instead.

Snacks — Snacks are not always readily available in a hospital environment. Therefore, it is good to have some healthy options on hand. These are good for your partner to munch on during your labor, and for those delivering in hospitals that allow it, they can also be good for you to keep your blood sugar well-balanced. Snacks are also helpful after delivery, especially if you deliver in the middle of the night when the hospital kitchen is closed.

Lip Balm — Dry lips are very uncomfortable. Unfortunately, they are a common occurrence during labor. Some quality lip balm can help fix this problem.

Music — Many women find a “labor playlist” is the perfect way to help themselves relax. Put together a list on your phone and bring a speaker to play your tunes while you labor.

Essential Oils — Good smells are also a great way to find a happy place and relax. Essential oils can provide those smells, and some even have naturally relaxing effects. Just be sure the oils you choose are safe to use around baby.

Massage Oil or Lotion — Another great way to get those relaxing smells into the air is to use a scented massage oil or lotion. Use these to rub down sore spots for an extra nice effect.

Heating Pad or Rice Sock — Heat can help relax tense muscles and relieve sore spots. A heating pad or rice sock can provide just the right amount of heat to help you find relief.

After the Birth

Baby Book — Writing down stories of those first few days of baby's life in the moment is a wonderful way to ensure they are recorded accurately. Additionally, having the baby book nearby to get handprints and footprints to keep when the hospital staff is getting a footprint of their own is very helpful.

Supportive Nursing Bra or Cami — Depending on how long you are in the hospital, there is a chance your milk could come in while there. Having some support can help make you more comfortable during this process. Additionally, a nursing bra will make feeding your little one much easier in those first few days.

Nipple Cream — While you and your little one are still getting the hang of nursing, you might find that your nipples become very sore and cracked. Nipple cream can work wonders for new mamas during this time.

Breast Pads — If your milk does come in during your hospital stay, you are definitely going to want to have some breast pads on hand to catch any leaks.

Pads — While all hospitals provide sanitary pads, there is a chance you will find them uncomfortable. Therefore, if you are picky about your sanitary products or if you prefer cloth pads, be sure to pack some of your own.

Extra Underwear — After hospital births, disposable mesh underwear are usually given to new mothers. Many women love these; however, not everyone does. Pack some extra underwear just in case you don’t care for them.

Toiletries — The first shower after delivery is heavenly. Make it amazing by bringing your own toiletries.

Phone and Charger — After your baby arrives, you are going to want to spread the news. Be sure to bring your cellphone and a charger so you can do this as soon as possible.

“Coming Home” Outfit — The day baby comes home is a special one. Be sure to bring a special outfit for the occasion. Make sure to bring a couple of sizes in case baby is bigger or smaller than anticipated!

Car Seat — Without a properly fitting and properly installed car seat, you will not be allowed to take your little one home. Therefore, you will want to check “purchasing a seat” off your to-do list before labor begins.

Take this list and add or remove items to make it your own. I hope it helps you prepare for the arrival of your little guy or girl!

What everyone should know about nutrition in pregnancy!

Megan Jennings

Heading into motherhood as a healthy individual is an important part of preparing for a little one. Unfortunately, health is not something that can simply be added to a to-do list and checked off; it is something that must be worked on over time. Therefore, it's a good idea to get started right away.

Pregnancy is a difficult time to begin the journey to a healthy lifestyle, especially when it comes to changing your diet. This is because there are several dietary restrictions to consider. However, by using some common sense, talking with your care provider, and paying careful attention to what you put into your body, you will get into the healthy eating habit in no time.

Are you unsure about what you should and should not eat during your pregnancy? Check out the list below for a start. 


— Foods to Avoid —

Certain Kinds of Fish — While fish is an important part of any balanced diet, and is even more important for expectant mothers due to the omega-3s it provides, there are some kinds of fish that should be avoided during pregnancy. These include kingfish, swordfish, mackerel, and shark, due to the large amounts of mercury found in these types of water creatures.

Fish that are known to carry large amounts of PCBs or DDT should also be avoided, as well as raw or undercooked fish—such as those found in sushi—which could contain parasitic worms.

Undercooked Meats — Due to the threat of food-borne illness, all meats should be cooked until well done. This includes meats such as steak and hamburgers, which might otherwise be eaten a bit pink.

Unpasteurized Juices and Dairy Products — Also considered a potential carrier of food-borne illness, unpasteurized dairy products should be avoided during pregnancy. This applies to all sorts of dairy products, but especially soft cheeses and milk and juice for drinking. While most dairy products and juices found in stores are pasteurized, it is a good idea to check all labels before buying.

Raw or Undercooked Eggs — Unfortunately, eggs are notorious for carrying salmonella, a sickness that nobody wants to get, especially expectant mothers. Thankfully, salmonella can be avoided by ensuring eggs are fully cooked before they are consumed.

You'd be surprised to learn just how many food products contain raw egg, so this is one you'll want to look out for. Some things you will definitely want to steer clear of are egg nog, salad dressings, mayonnaise, tiramisu, and homemade ice cream.

Excessive Amounts of Caffeine — We all know that caffeine isn't exactly good for us. Knowing this, you can probably guess that it's definitely not good for a developing fetus. Since caffeine can cross the placenta, this is one thing you will most certainly want to cut back on. Trying to keep it to one cup of coffee or caffeinated tea a day would probably be best.

Some Fruits and Vegetables — It might seem crazy that something as healthful as a fruit or vegetable would be off-limits during pregnancy, but there are a few you will want to be wary of.

Raw vegetable sprouts are packed full of amazing nutrients. That said, they have the potential to carry harmful bacteria. Therefore, these tasty and nutritious sprouts should be cooked before they are eaten by a pregnant person.

Papaya is a wonderful fruit that offers a lot of great vitamins. However, if the fruit is eaten before it is fully ripe, it can cause pre-term contractions and labor due to the pepsin it contains. To avoid this problem, eat only fully ripened papaya, or skip the fruit altogether and opt for another type of nutritious fruit.

Pineapple is a delicious way to get some vitamin C. While it can be eaten during pregnancy, it's generally a good idea to eat only small amounts of it. Large amounts of pineapple are believed to soften the cervix and could ultimately lead to pre-term labor.

 

Processed foods — Since your body is making a whole person pretty much from food, it would be best to avoid high amounts of sugar and processed foods. This would be anything that is bleached or comes in a box. These kinds of food convert to sugar quickly rather than nutrients, which will make you feel heavy and tired and it isn't what your body needs to grow a healthy baby.

— Foods to Eat —

Fish — Fish are absolutely full of essential nutrients. Most importantly, fish are full of omega-3 nutrients, which are linked to proper fetal brain development. Therefore, it is important to continue eating fish throughout pregnancy. This can be done safely by avoiding the types of fish listed above and using good sense when it comes to preparation of the fish.

Fruits and Vegetables — You probably already know that fruits and vegetables are an important part of a balanced diet. This is even more true for a mom-to-be who is eating for two. While a prenatal vitamin will help fill in any gaps in your diet, it does not replace the vitamins found naturally in fruits and vegetables.

Plenty of Lean Protein — Pregnant women are encouraged to get between 60 and 80 grams of protein a day. At times, this can seem impossible. However, by adding plenty of lean protein snacks into your diet, you'll be on the road to a high-protein diet in no time. These snacks could include grilled chicken breasts, nuts, and fully cooked eggs.

Oatmeal — Eating oatmeal—or oats in other types of dishes—is a great way to ensure you are getting enough folic acid and iron. It is also an excellent way to up your protein intake. If those aren't good enough reasons to replace your typical breakfast with a bowl of hot cereal, consider the fact that many pregnant women feel that oats help increase their milk supply.

Water — Water is essential to life. Becoming dehydrated during pregnancy is incredibly dangerous, and something you will want to avoid at all costs. Staying hydrated throughout your third trimester will help keep you energized, alert, and can even help ensure you have a nice milk supply when baby comes.

By following these dietary suggestions and chatting with your healthcare provider about any food choices you are unsure about, we are certain you can find the perfect set of food choices to ensure your first steps into motherhood are healthy ones.