Thursday, October 20, 2011

Exercise in pregnancy.

In my last two pregnancies, I was a lazy oaf. Honestly. Anything I read about the importance of exercise in pregnancy didn't faze me. So I had poor nutrition going for me AND no exercise - lovely! I bet if I had been pregnant in a season OTHER than winter (which is an incredibly long season in Minnesota!) I may have gone on more walks or something. This time around I was determined to exercise because 1, I'm trying to be more heart healthy in general, and 2. of course, there is research on the benefits of exercise for women trying to prevent pre-eclampsia! From the study: "...physical conditioning positively effects key physiological variables that are adversely effected in preeclampsia. If physical conditioning produces similar results in women at risk for preeclampsia, regular physical activity may attenuate the progression of the disease. We hypothesize that three separate but potentially interactive mechanisms could explain a protective effect of prenatal exercise against preeclampsia." [see research study for more information on those three mechanisms.]

I started exercising at home in May with a workout DVD that I really enjoyed. A fitness center is not in our budget, but this worked for me! I was working out almost every day! Summer got busy and I had to cut back a bit. I loved how I could easily fit it into my schedule. I usually worked out while Kieran napped. Maia enjoyed working out with me - and by working out, I mean copying some of the moves for about 5 minutes before declaring her exhaustion and flopping on the couch, ha! This past weekend I was at the Twin Cities Birth & Baby Expo and local yoga studio Blooma was selling their prenatal yoga DVD for $4 off the regular price - yay! I scooped it up!

I've done it once so far this week AND gone on two fast-paced walks! I am so proud of myself this week! In my first trimester I was lucky to get on a walk once a week due to the exhaustion. Now that I'm feeling energized I've been having fun getting out on walks and for the chilly days, I have the prenatal yoga! I also discovered a prenatal yoga class in St. Paul on Sundays that is a donation class, so you can pay what you can. What a great opportunity! I found a friend who might go with me sometimes, so that will be fun! Now the trick is to find a place to do some walking indoors, as winter is fast approaching. I don't think I get up early enough to be a mallwalker!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Recent study findings.

I found an awesome, older study on pre-e this week as well as brand new research coming out and wanted to share both.

The first is a 2008 study done by Yale. I cannot BELIEVE I missed this one! It states that pregnant women who consumed high cocoa-content (dairy-free) dark chocolate decreased their risk for pre-eclampsia! How cool! It has to be 70% cocoa or higher to be dairy free - and it needs to be dairy free because the proteins in the dairy interfere with the antioxidants. So I immediately went out and bought 70% dark chocolate and will now eat a small square of the bar each day, yum!

The second is a study that, to be honest, freaks me the hell out. It's a study that finds that there is potentially a battle going on between the cells in the placenta (something cells from dad help create) and the mother's uterus - and dad's cells have something to do with it. I can't explain it well at ALL, but this article at Science Daily can, and there was also a very easy-to-read/understand article written by the New York Times that came out today. Definitely read both of those links for more information because I just can't do the medical jargon justice :) But from my gist, you can see why it freaks me out a bit, right? This could all be Josh's fault! Ha, poor guy. But the study is helpful. If I get pre-e again, which I do know is a real possibility despite my prevention methods, then maybe I will be at a bit more peace knowing it wasn't all "my" fault. (Not that Josh can control his cells or anything, either, but you know what I mean :P)

16 week midwife visit

Well I finally have a computer back, time for a proper entry. My last entry was done on my iPhone - a bit tedious if you ask me! :)

I realized I never once talked about choosing my midwife. I talked about WHY I chose a homebirth midwife but not why I chose my specific midwife. Silly me! I will fill y'all in right now: So, sometime after I had Kieran I had started to do research on what had happened to me - the pre-e/HELLP, how it can possibly be prevented, etc. I remembered an old boss of mine had had HELLP syndrome with her first baby but not her second, so I decided to ask her what she had changed, if anything. She told me that while pregnant with her second, at 26 weeks, she started to get pre-e signs. She reached out to a local forum about what to do and a midwife replied - she gave her many thoughtful suggestions - change diet, lower stress, high protein, exercise, etc. This woman reports that the suggestions she received helped her turn around that pre-e diagnosis and she went on to deliver with no complications! She saved the whole conversation and copied/pasted it to me in a Facebook message. I never forgot the name of that midwife.

This summer, when Josh and I made the decision that at SOME point we would try for one more, I decided to call around to some local homebirth midwives. I had never done such preemptive planning, it felt great! I spoke with a few midwives about the changes I made, asked if they'd be comfortable taking me, asked about their experience, etc. I did speak to the midwife I referenced earlier and I loved her! So when it came time to interview midwives in my first trimester, she was the first one I scheduled. And, she ended up being the one I picked, without further interviewing? So - why did I pick her without seeing anyone else? Well, in addition to that success story from my former boss, in the interview, my midwife told me about a success story she had. I was hungrily looking for these success stories of people conquering pre-e - there had to be some, right!? Well, she shared with me that one of her clients had birthed 4 babies in a hospital and had had pre-e and gestational diabetes. When she had her 5th child, she sought out this midwife and birthed her baby at home with no pre-e or GD! And she had a 6th child at home as well - again, no complications! I was so awestruck. I knew she'd be able to help support me through this. I also personally knew a woman who had had pre-eclampsia & gestational diabetes with her first child (with a different midwife) and when she hired my midwife for her 2nd and 3rd births, she had no pre-eclampsia OR GD and credits much of her success to a diet and lifestyle changed supported by her midwife. So she came highly recommended from quite a few sources, and I felt comfortable with that from the get-go.

I still love her. She is fantastic. And the appointments, omg - THE BEST. Did you know homebirth midwives meet with you for an HOUR? A full hour! Not 30 minutes in a waiting room and 5 minutes with the hour! That gives us lots of time to talk about everything - emotions, physical ailments, challenges or successes with my's so awesome. She and her apprentice really take the time to listen to Josh and I and we love it.

Today we had our 16 week appointment! For the first time, we tried to hear baby through the doppler but baby was WAY too active - just kept hearing my healthy placenta, ha! We'd hear the heartbeat for like, 2 seconds then baby would float away again. Ha! I felt my first two kicks last week! I haven't felt any since but boy oh boy do I feel this baby MOVE. So funny. Next month is our 20 week appointment, then I'll receive a referral to see a private practice perinatologist to do our 20 week ultrasound. He does the ultrasound himself and talks you through what you're seeing - unlike the ultrasounds techs who turn the screen away form you and can't tell you a damn thing, LOL. So we have that to look forward to! (And if I haven't mentioned it before, we are not finding out the sex!)

Monday, October 3, 2011

My herbal infusion.

I didn't know much about herbs before I got pregnant, but I started to do some research about them as part of my overall 'healthy pregnancy' plan. Specifically, I wanted to use some herbs known to promote cardiovascular health and low blood pressure. A friend of mine turned me on to an herbal infusion with the following: skullcap, red raspberry leaf, nettle & dandelion root extract. So what are they all for?

  • Skullcap is known to lower blood pressure by keeping arteries open & promotes healthy blood flow.
  • Red raspberry leaf is a common pregnancy herb, known to help tone the uterus.
  • Nettle aids in lowering blood pressure. (I found out later in my pregnancy that it also aids with keeping blood vessels open, healthy & flowing, and kept my varicose veins at bay!)
  • Dandelion root acts as a blood purifier that helps both the kidney & liver remove toxins and poisons from the blood. It is also restorative to the liver.

Below are the pictures of the herbal infusion. Each night I heat up water in a tea pot, pour the water over 1 spoonful of each of the 3 herbs in the mason jar, then I add a bit of agave nectar or honey for sweetness. I put it in the fridge for at least 4 hours. In the morning I strain the herbs, add dandelion root extract and drink the infusion throughout the day! I typically drink it in two servings and it tastes good cold or hot.

The herbs all afloat in the mason jar.
The next day: Herbs ready to be strained, then I add the dandelion root extract!