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Thursday, March 22, 2018

Pregnancy Is Not Always A Happy Time; Tips To Make Your Pregnancy More Comfortable

Some women do not experience the joy of pregnancy.  Maybe they have complications such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and morning sickness.  Read on for tips on how to overcome some of these common and not-so-common issues...

When you are pregnant, people assume that you are happy.  There’s nothing quite like being pregnant, and for most women, it is a positive experience.  Your friends and family will be super happy that you are going to have a baby, but what if you don’t feel that way?  What if you are feeling downright miserable, in fact?
Pregnant by Vladimir Pustovit

 Read the Original Article By Clicking Here

Progesterone, Oxytocin, Postnatal Massage, and Hugs: The Missing Link To Recovery After Birth

This article describes the effects of oxytocin, the "cuddle" hormone, and the importance of encouraging its release after pregnancy to help with mood and recovery in general.  There are many things that can be done to encourage the production of this important hormone...

Pregnancy is truly a special time in a woman’s life, and any woman who’s been pregnant will tell you that the experience, subjectively, feels different somehow. If you thought that this was, perhaps, just romanticizing your past in retrospect, or caused by the (very real!) excitement about your pregnancy, you may be shocked to learn it wasn’t at all in your head. Well, it was in your head, but that’s not to say it was imaginary; rather, there is a strong and solid neuro-hormonal basis for what you experienced. And, of course, you can now rest assured: You DID, in fact, experience many, many odd things during your strange, yet fantastically beautiful trip to motherhood.

37 Weeks Pregnant By Mark Couvilion

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Three Last Minute Gift Ideas For Your Health-Conscious Friends and Family Members

While the holidays are traditionally the time we all think of gift-giving, the quest for the perfect gift comes up many times a year.  Birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine’s Day, office celebrations, and many other holidays celebrated by various cultures, many of which include the giving of gifts, come up throughout the year.  This handy list of five gift ideas may find usefulness at any time you are stumped for a gift idea for your friend or family.  Gift certificates are often the go-to choice for gift giving, but not every gift certificate is appropriate for everyone.  Here is a short list of gift certificates that will suit everyone on your list, and they are easy to get and easy to give, and are nearly always well-received. 

The first gift idea on this list is a massage gift certificate.  There are very few people who don’t love a session of massage therapy.  Massage means relaxation; it means calmness; it means the ability to take a break from one’s hectic and crazy schedule.  Add to these benefits the extra benefit brought about by a gift certificate for a massage in the home, and it becomes the ultimate soothing gift, most loved by those you care about the most. 

Massage gift certificates are easy to buy, and are just a click away.  Easily purchase a gift certificate online, and you can choose to have it printed and mailed, or emailed to you or the recipient for printing at home.  Then you loved one simply calls or goes online to book their session, and the massage therapist comes to their home to provide the massage. 

A second gift idea for the health conscious individual is a set of yoga classes.  If your loved one already takes yoga classes, you can either buy a group of classes at their studio, or give them a set from a new yoga studio, perhaps your favorite one.  If they love yoga, they may like your teacher better than their teacher, and will appreciate the opportunity to try a new class at a new studio.  Or, if they are particularly fond of their teacher, be sure to contact them to arrange the gift. 

A third gift, which is also specific to the health conscious individual, is a gym membership.  As before, if they have a preferred gym, be sure to get the certificate there so that they don’t have to change gyms to use your gift.  Perhaps there is a new aerobics class they have been wanting to try, in which case you can get them a gift certificate for aerobics classes at their favorite gym. 

Of course, my favorite gift from this list would be the Massage Gift Certificate.  An hour or more of relaxation, watching my stress melt away during the session, is the ultimate gift for me.  And it is probably the best gift for many of your loved ones.  So that may be your first choice for a gift idea for your sister, brother, best friend, mother, father, and anyone other special person in your life.  You can be sure it will be appreciated, and it may even lead them into a healthy habit of getting regularly scheduled massages at home, easily and conveniently booked.  Everyone can benefit from a massage, and your friends and family will love the chance to get one for themselves. 

I hope this short list is helpful the next time you are stumped for ideas for the loved ones in your life.  Health conscious or not, they are sure to appreciate these gifts. 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Simple Solutions for Persistent Morning Sickness During Pregnancy


 Morning sickness has been the bane of pregnant women for many centuries.  Every pregnant woman knows that there is a chance that she can suffer from persistent nausea during the first three months of pregnancy.

But what if this condition continues?  What if it goes on for the entire pregnancy?  Every day, you are nauseous and can’t keep your meals down.  What does this mean for the fetus? 

To be honest, this is a condition that is distressing to doctors and nurses who care for pregnant women.  Obviously, if you are not able to eat, then the fetus can suffer from lack of nutrition.  This can mean that the baby cannot grow as it should, and you will not gain weight as necessary.
The good news is that there are things you can do, simple things, to help yourself if you find that you have persistent morning sickness past the first trimester of pregnancy.  These are simple techniques, and they may not help you relieve the nausea, but they can help ensure that your fetus gets some or most of the nutrition it needs. 

These five suggestions may help you to keep your baby nourished even though you suffer from this condition.   These suggestions are also helpful for those whose morning sickness is constrained to the first trimester, since this is a very important time for the developing fetus. 

First, chew your food as thoroughly as possible.  There is a point when you are chewing food when the food in your mouth ceases to resemble anything like what it was before you started chewing.  This is the state you want to get every bite to before you swallow it. 

The reason for this is simple.  The enzymes and saliva in your mouth are designed to start the digestion process.  If you take advantage of this fact and chew your food thoroughly, then your stomach will have less digesting to do before passing the food to your small intestine. 

Additionally, you will have partially digested some of the nutrients from your food before it enters your stomach, where the nausea resides.   This gives your baby a chance to absorb those nutrients before your stomach rejects them.

Second, prior to every meal, take a good quality chewable enzyme tablet.  Or two or three of them.  There is no evidence to suggest that chewable enzymes can harm a fetus, but if it makes you more comfortable then you should by all means check with your physician prior to trying enzymes.

The reason for this is similar to the reason behind the first suggestion.  Enzymes are the digestive force in the stomach, and many people have lower levels of enzymes as they leave childhood.  This makes it more difficult to digest foods.  

Since you are already having a problem digesting foods, enzymes may help you to digest more of the food you consume more quickly.  Thus, you provide the fetus with a better chance of getting the nutrients it needs.

Third, make a list of every food that you are able to eat without allergic reactions.  Include on this list nuts, seeds, meats, poultry, fish, (soy, beans, and meat substitutes if you are vegetarian), green vegetables, fruits, etc. 

Then, keep a food diary.  Make a note of what you ate and when you became nauseous.  If there are certain foods in your list that did not make you nauseous, then definitely eat more of them. 

Nuts and seeds are important to put on your list if you are not allergic to them because most nuts have a high content of protein and fat.  Fat is good for your growing baby’s brain, and protein is good for his growing body.  This can help you to pinpoint if there are certain foods that are triggering the nausea, as well as helping you to pack more nutrient dense foods into your diet for the greatest benefit of the growing baby.

Fourth, try a different prenatal supplement.  Supplements in general are notorious for causing nausea in people in general, and in pregnancy even more so.  Since your hormones are in overdrive, you may find that you are more sensitive to supplements than you would normally be. 

There is a very simple way to check your supplement to see if you are reacting to it, and if it is contributing to your morning sickness. 

So what can you do to reduce this effect?  Try a different supplement.  There are several brands that make food sourced vitamins, such as Garden of Life (which is one of the highest quality and gentlest supplement brands), New Chapter, and Source Naturals.  These three supplements are less likely than cheaper brands to cause irritation to your stomach.   These three brands are also more likely to meet with your doctor’s approval if you suspect that your prescribed prenatal vitamins are contributing to your nausea. 

You can also try to separate your iron from your regular vitamin.  In other words, obtain a prenatal supplement free of iron, along with a separate iron supplement by one of the above brands.  That way, you can take the iron at a time when you know you are likely to get nauseous anyway, after you have gotten some nutrition for the day.  Some iron supplements are branded as gentle and not likely to cause an upset stomach, such as Gentle Iron by Garden of Life. 

Fifth, and finally, schedule regular>prenatal massage therapy<./a> sessions.  Although the reasons are not understood, prenatal massage has been shown to reduce symptoms of morning sickness when received regularly.  Generally, prenatal massage includes abdominal massage, which may be the most helpful part for morning sickness.  Be sure to have your therapist provide some focus to the abdominal area if you are able to tolerate it.  Regular sessions of massage can reduce the frequency and severity of morning sickness for some pregnant women.”>This article
from Massage Today offers other suggestions along with evidence of the effectiveness of massage for morning sickness.  Since massage generally won’t make morning sickness worse, it is certainly worth a try. 

I have had several clients tell me that persistent morning sickness was the hardest part of being pregnant for them.  One client told me that she kept waiting for the nausea to end, and it ended up remaining for her entire pregnancy.  She decided that her new job was to eat.  She ate all day long, whatever foods had high nutritive content.  Tons of protein, nuts, shakes, and fruits, everything that she had hope of keeping down.

By the end of her pregnancy, she had gained so much weight with all of her eating, that in spite of her hyperemesis gravidarum, she had a macrosomic baby! The baby was so large that her doctors told her she needed to have a C-section.  She herself did not gain as much as average, but all of the nutrition that the baby needed, the baby was able to get by her attitude of seeing eating as her new job.  The baby is now healthy and gaining weight normally, and she has returned to her pre-pregnancy shape through breastfeeding and light exercise. 

These solutions, if put into practice, may help you to sufficiently nourish your baby so they will be born healthy.  Women who have persistent nausea need shortcuts like these to gain enough weight to bring a healthy baby into the world, in spite of the hormones that are causing your nausea.  So give them a try.  You and your baby are likely to benefit.    

This article was written by Mountainside On Site Massage Therapy, providers of prenatal and postnatal massage therapy.  You can visit their website at>

Monday, March 23, 2015

C-Section Prevention for the High Risk Pregnant Woman

So you have been told by your medical caregiver that you are high risk. What does that mean for you? If you are not careful, and do not plan ahead, it means that you are far likelier to have a C-section. While in some cases, this may be medically justified and even necessary, there are a lot of times when this surgery is used as a first resort instead of as a last resort. In other words, they will schedule a C-section before your due date, without letting you know that you may have other options.

So, what are the elements of high risk? Some of these include gestational diabetes, preeclampsia or eclampsia (high blood pressure), breech at a few weeks before the due date, and macrosoma (or a baby that appears too large on an ultrasound). There are other high risk conditions as well, but these are the most common.
Photo By David Castillo Dominici

So the first two conditions, gestational diabetes and high blood pressure, have the potential of being reversed before your due date. To make this more likely, you can consult with a nutritionist. Most doctors do not have the knowledge of nutrition that would be required to help you reverse these conditions. They provide a dietary plan that may not be sufficient or complete to help fully with these conditions. There are also supplements that a nutritionist or herbalist may recommend, such as glutamine or protein powders, to help increase your protein intake while keeping your blood sugar stable. Other supplements, such as green tea or chia seeds, may be safe during pregnancy, and have been shown to reduce blood pressure.

For breech babies, many doctors and most midwives know that there are techniques that can be used to help turn the baby. These techniques should be used in the weeks before labor, and some can be found on the Spinning Babies website, located here. While they may not work all of the time, they do work a significant percentage of the time.

Macrosoma is a term that has come into fashion in the last few decades. It is the idea that a baby could possibly grow too large to be born naturally. This is simply a fallacy. Our bodies are very intelligent, and in general would not create a baby too large. You can find stories of many midwives who have delivered supposedly macrosomic babies (10 pounds or larger) without an issue. You can also find just as many stories of erroneous reading of the ultrasound data, or an incorrect macrosomic diagnosis, usually after the c-section has already been carried out.

In addition to the above suggestions, you can also increase your chances of a natural birth in a couple of other ways. Some of the most effective are listed here.

Photo courtesy of Jomphong on

First, choose a birth caregiver who is sympathetic to your needs. Midwives are the best choice if you really want a natural birth. Many hospitals have free standing birth centers attached or located within a block or two of the hospital so that emergency care is quickly available in the rare event that it is needed. Studies conducted on midwife birth outcomes is recent years have shown that midwives generally have about a 5 or less percent c-section delivery rate.

This may be because they will not use medications to force labor to happen quicker, they have much more patience, and they do not hook you up to dozens of machines and force you to lie on your back against the pull of gravity. Many hospitals have c-section rates of 50% or higher. When the rate is higher than 15%, even the World Health Organization has said that “CS rates above a certain limit have not shown additional benefit for the mother or the baby, and some studies have even shown that high CS rates could be linked to negative consequences in maternal and child heath.” (The Global Numbers and Costs of Additionally Needed And Unnecessary Caesarean Sections Performed per Year: Overuse as a Barrier to Universal Coverage – World Health Organization 2010 – Background Paper 30- link to it here

It is a difficult challenge but may be possible to find a hospital with similar policies. A hospital like this will allow you to reject pitocin or other labor induction drugs, they will allow you to stand and walk around, eat and drink freely, and do whatever makes you the most comfortable. This is in contradistinction to hospitals that force you into their mould of what your labor should be. Make sure you ask many questions when choosing a hospital. Ask about the policies above, ask your caregiver what their policy is, and be sure to understand that your caregiver may be away on the day of your labor. This is why it is important to ask about the policies of the hospital, since it is likely that is what you will be required to follow when you go into labor. If your hospital allows you to refuse an IV, refuse pitocin, and refuse continuous fetal monitoring, this may be the best hospital for you, the hospital where you are more likely to have a natural birth.

Photo by Serge Bertasius at
For a planned hospital birth, it will help you to also find out their policies on such things as continuous fetal monitoring (an unnecessary practice that many hospitals use for their own liability issues rather than benefits to mother or baby), and administering pitocin or other labor induction methods (these, too, have benefits to the hospital in terms of speeding your labor up without benefit and with potentially harmful effects to mother and baby such as uterine rupture and accelerated heart rate). Induction very often leads to a c-section. Epidurals and other pain medications are also often routinely administered and may have deleterious effects on mother or baby, and often lead to an emergency c-section. The International Cesaerean Awareness Network, ICAN, has provided this link to hospital c-section rates. 

If you do choose to have your baby in a hospital setting, without a midwife, then the best thing for you to do, in addition to finding out their policies, is to hire a birth doula. This is a person who is trained in labor and birth, as well as interventions that are necessary and unnecessary. They will accompany you at the entire labor and birth (however long it takes). They are an independent provider, not a part of the hospital staff, and they answer only to you. They can tell you what the interventions are that the doctor is planning to perform, as well as why they could be helpful or hinder. According to recent studies with patients using doulas compared to those who did not, the c-section rate, as well as the pain-killer and overall intervention rates with doulas were much lower. Doulas do not charge a lot for their services, and most people can afford them. Their underused is mostly because they are a recent addition to the birth provider team that is not very well known as of yet.

Photo by Patrisyu on freedigitalphotos
Prenatal massage therapy is another method that can be used by expectant mothers with high risk complications. Most obstetricians will allow pregnant women to have prenatal massage therapy, even if they have been restricted to bed rest. Bed rest itself will be covered in another article, but suffice it to say that massage therapy helps and does not harm the pregnant woman restricted in this manner. Studies have shown that massage therapy during pregnancy helps improve outcomes, reduces intervention rates, decreases pre and postpartum depression, increases birth weight, and reduces prematurity. The reasons for these effects are not understood, but they have been observed among enough studies to be statistically significant.

In addition to these methods, there are also studies that have shown that moderate exercise, including yoga and walking, help to reduce your chances of having a c-section. This is why almost all midwives and many obstetricians today recommend that their patients attend prenatal yoga classes. I have personally known clients who have taken yoga classes and have had very short and less painful labors.

Since many of the people that you know, such as friends and family members, may have had a c-section, you may not think there is any reason to avoid it. However, the website Aha! Parenting, in their article about c-sections (linked to here ) talks about 8 possible detractions from wanting to have a c-section. Quoted from this article’s list, C-sections:

1. “Are major abdominal surgery with all the attendant pain and possible complications in the following weeks, just when you want to enjoy your new baby?
2. Increase your risk of hemorrhage and infection?
3. Result in a uterine scar and internal adhesions (scarring) that can cause pain and complications for years?
4. Increase your chances of later ectopic pregnancy and difficulty conceiving?
5. Increase your baby's chances of having asthma later in life?
6. Delay your breastmilk coming in, making it so much more difficult to breastfeed that many women give up?
7. Endanger the health of future pregnancies, increasing the chances of low birthweight, premature delivery and stillbirth?
8. Often leave women with medical complaints six months or a year later?”

And finally, what are the elements in yourself that you need to avoid a C-section? You need to be proactive. You need to be willing (or your partner needs to be willing) to conduct interviews with specialists, and to take their advice. You need to interview a multitude of birth providers and attendants, hospital staff, doulas, nutritionists, and others. This is for your benefit, so that you can help yourself to have the best possible birth outcome for both you and your baby. You can also read as many books as possible about pregnancy and birth, such as The Healthy Pregnancy Book, The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth, Pushed, and Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. These books, along with the advice of your caregivers, will help prepare you for the best possible outcome for your pregnancy.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Forty Days of Postnatal Massage For New Moms in New Jersey - An Ancient Asian Indian Tradition

The latest blog post on the official blog of Mountainside On Site Massage Therapy talks about the Asian Indian tradition of Jaappa, or forty days of rest and massage therapy practiced by women in India for centuries.

Excerpted from the blog:

During the postpartum period in the days immediately following giving birth, a new mother is recuperating from the stress of birth. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that the perinatal period as the most crucial, yet most commonly neglected phase in the lives of mothers and babies worldwide.

In India (and now New Jersey) women follow a 40 day rest and recuperation period called ‘Jaappa’ in Hindi. During this time, the new mother is not expected to fulfill either her household or workplace duties. A special Ayurvedic diet is followed which increases milk production, as well as strengthens the blood by increasing hemoglobin. Marital relations are discouraged at this time. And [Postnatal] Massage Therapy, for both the Mother and newborn, are often practiced each and every day, without fail.

Read the full article by clicking here.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Pregnancy and the Disorder Trap – Avoid Being Labeled as a Disease During Labor

If you read any of the books that are available today about the modern practices of obstetrics, you are likely to notice a trend among obstetricians. This trend has gained momentum since the latter part of the last century, somewhere around the 1970s. That was around the time when certain technologies became perfected. Technologies like the cesarean section, electronic fetal monitoring, and other gadgets and gizmos to make birth more high tech.
There is a great deal of disagreement among experts as to whether these new technologies have actually made things better or have just given the perception of making things better. One of the better books I have read on the topic is The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth. This book was heavily researched (to the point where she was able to create another book just with the research she gathered while writing this book). Intelligent research is what this author performed.

Much of the research that the author performed found that many of the new technologies that have been used in most labors and deliveries have no basis in scientific fact. So, just as an example, the practice of continuous electronic fetal monitoring was put into use without any research showing its efficacy. In fact, the little research that is available showed that this type of monitoring gives little improvement over intermittent monitoring, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has stated that there is no benefit of one over the other.

In fact, other research studies showed that the continuous internal monitoring may be causing harm by introducing a route of infection. As in any situation, although even more so during labor, infection is a serious problem. Babies born who are suspected of being infected are taken from their mothers and subjected to a battery of blood and tissue tests to ensure their safety. This can have damaging effects in the short term and the long term with regard to bonding and breastfeeding. These babies will often be bottle fed, further disrupting nursing. Since infection is very serious, it is understandable that these tests and precautions are done. However, the research showed that EFM may have exacerbated this situation by introducing infection where previously there was none.

The point of this small digression is to give just one example of research showing that one of the technologies used in most births may not be beneficial to the mother or baby. EFM, in the example above, is generally used because it limits the liability of the physician and the hospital, not because it has any benefit. However, this particular technology is not the only one that research has shown no benefit for. There are other technologies and interventions beyond the scope of this article to discuss that are also not helpful to the mother or the baby, but have questionable usefulness. In light of this, it is better to be forewarned that when entering a hospital you are likely to be subjected to technologies that will not provide you or your baby with any benefit.

So the question posed by the headline of this article would appear to be a challenge. Since the obstetricians and the medical staff in the hospital want the new parents to have a perception of safety, they may be using technologies that look good but have no scientific basis for their use. So how do you avoid having your labor and delivery seen as a disorder that has to be cured rather than as the natural process that it is?

The first thing to do is to be informed. Read as many books about modern pregnancy and obstetrics as you can. Read the book mentioned above, as well as the book Pushed. Read articles on BellyBelly, American Pregnancy, Baby Center, and more. Understand that no matter how well you plan for your birth, you may not be able to have the birth experience that you want, and you need to be able to accept that. However, you can still contribute in meaningful ways.

Secondly, avoid seeing your own pregnancy as a disease or disorder to be cured. Some ways to help with this would be hire a doula for yourself or to use a midwife in a birthing center. Studies have shown that with a doula (you can find a certified doula at, you are likely to have fewer interventions, fewer complications, and a better birth outcome overall. This is probably because you have someone with you who is familiar with hospitals and procedures. She will notice and inform you of impending procedures such as episiotomy or fetal monitoring. If you want to avoid these procedures, that would help you to say no at the time when the intervention is about to happen. Without a doula, while you may have your partner with you, they are unlikely to be familiar with what is about to happen. The obstetrician or hospital staff may consider such interventions as so routine that they would not mention it to you, thus removing your opportunity to refuse such procedures. So, if you are interested in avoiding interventions, a doula can be a great help.

Prenatal massage therapy has also been shown in numerous studies to reduce the number of interventions, although the reasons are not understood. Massage during pregnancy also resulted in a better birth outcome and better neonatal scores. Postnatal depression was also reduced by massage therapy. So if you are looking to avoid interventions, a massage during the pregnancy, especially shortly before the birth, may offer benefits to you that do not seem obvious.

Another way to avoid being labeled as a disease is to perform thorough interviews for your hospital and obstetrician before you choose to go with them. While some women are willing to have their birth with a midwife, many are uncomfortable with having a birth outside of a hospital. They perceive that there would be less safety in a birth center than in a hospital. While this is not actually accurate (and a tour of a freestanding birth center will show you this for yourself), it is still a perception that pervades this society. So if the doctor or hospital you are interviewing has a C-section rate of 70%, you can expect that you would be highly likely to have a C-section if you went with that doctor/ hospital (see my previous article here for some of the dangers of elective C-sections). If you find an obstetrician whose rate is 20% and the hospital’s C-section rate is 15% (which you can find if you look – even in New Jersey, central NJ hospitals have low C-section rates, whereas northern hospitals have higher rates), then you can be confident that if you have a C-section, it was really necessary, i.e. a last resort instead of a first resort. Since a C-section is the ultimate culmination of seeing labor and delivery as a disease to be cured, this would be the rate that would be most helpful to know.

However, you should also ask about the hospital’s rate of epidural, episiotomy, electronic fetal monitoring, etc., to have a well-rounded picture of how that hospital views birth. Perhaps even more importantly, you need to know if there are arbitrary time limits imposed. The average time for a labor of a first time mother can be 26 hours or more. If the hospital has placed a time limit of 24 hours on every labor and birth, their intervention rates would likely be higher as they would begin giving women oxytocin to stimulate labor rather than patiently waiting for the woman’s body to give birth. Usually, patient waiting is practiced by midwife led births, although some hospitals will also practice patient waiting if they have a large enough staff and enough beds to provide this service.

So what you need to remember is that your birth is an experience that you will remember forever. The suggestions above can help you to have a pleasant birth with a good outcome for you and your baby. Do not hesitate to ask questions, and try to avoid caregivers who would patronize you instead of being honest with you. As mentioned above, give some thought to hiring a doula or having a midwife lead your birth. If you have a doula or midwife, you will at the very least be supported, and that can make your birth an experience that is pleasant and memorable regardless of interventions and technologies.