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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Pregnancy Tips For A Better, Healthier, Easier Birth With Fewer Interventions

Pregnancy can be a time of great confusion for many women. There is so much conflicting advice from care givers that it is easy to become overwhelmed. So here are just a few things that may be most helpful in letting you have the birth you want, especially if you want a natural or conscious birth where you are more in control of your birth and your body.
First, hire a doula. DONA International at is great place to start. This is someone who will be there to support you during the birth, as well as act as your advocate and liaison with the hospital staff. No matter what type of caregiver you have during your pregnancy, a doula can help you. A doula will tell you the facts about every procedure your caregiver recommends, including episiotomy, forceps, pitocin, and others. If your doctor asks if you want a procedure, the doula will be there to explain it to you. They will explain what each procedure is and what it is for, as well as its potential hazards and alternatives.

Second, have one or more prenatal massage sessions. Prenatal massage has been positively associated with many benefits. Some of these include a shorter, less painful labor with fewer interventions, better birth outcomes, and less prematurity. Then there are the usual massage benefits such as reducing lower back pain and depression.

The depression reducing effect is especially beneficial, because it can extend past the time of birth, and post natal depression can have many negative effects on the newborn. The scale used to measure neonatal development has been studied with relation to depression in the mother, and negative effects have been shown with babies born to depressed mothers whose depression continues. Similarly, this scale was used on newborns whose mothers had received prenatal massage, and the measurements showed improvement for the newborn's development.

Third, find a prenatal class in your area and register.BirthArts International, Lamaze, and The Bradley Method all offer classes in most areas. You can get to their websites by clicking on their name in the preceding sentence. Look for a class with positive reviews and ratings online, and for a teacher who shares your philosophy of birth. Even if you are planning a cesarean, you can find a teacher who will be supportive while educating you about your decision.

However, most teachers do feel that birth is a natural physiological process, and that nearly all women are able to give birth naturally if they learn ahead of time what to expect and how to deal with the pain of labor using relaxation techniques, breathing, baths, etc. They will also explain to you what you can expect in a hospital, and what interventions have been studied and shown to be necessary. For example, continuous fetal monitoring is practiced in most hospitals, but has not been shown to be of greater benefit than intermittent monitoring. Some hospitals, however, will not allow the patient to reject this intervention, since it limits their liability and can be used in court to justify other interventions later.

Fourth and last on this list is prenatal yoga. Find yoga teachers at Prenatal yoga has been shown to have some of the same benefits as massage, and it can also help in other ways. Most importantly, it can help to make your hips looser and more open, so that it is then easier for the baby to pass through your pelvis. Yoga also can help you to be more relaxed during labor and delivery, so that you are more present and able to deal with any issues that may come up. Prenatal yoga is most effective if you also have a doula to support you in labor and an obstetrician who performs more natural births than c-sections. Having a midwife instead of an OB has begun to become more popular in recent years, since your chances of an unmedicated intervention free birth are higher with a midwife in a free standing birth center.

One difficulty in choosing a doctor and hospital is that they are not required to disclose their statistics to you regarding the number of c-sections they perform, nor are they required to record them at all. This can make it impossible to verify whether a doctor or hospital is likely to give you the type of birth you want.

However, if you are not satisfied with the care you are likely to get at your hospital, New Jersey and New York both have quite a few free standing birth centers, as well as a number of homebirth midwives. If this seems like a better environment for your birth, it will not be hard to find help. Prior blogs here have discussed the benefits of both home births and midwives. Most insurance companies today have begun to cover midwife births in a birth center, so long as they have a relationship with a hospital for any emergency (nearly every one does).

So, if you want to have an easier birth, these four tips can help you to be successful in fulfilling that desire. Don't forget to have several postnatal massage sessions afterward, as this has been shown to speed recovery. For more information on prenatal massage, please click here.

Pregnant Women Can Do Something - Almost Anything- And Improve Their Birth Outcomes

So the title might seem like a strange statement. However, after reading through studies and articles in pregnancy magazines, I find that the same theme comes up over again and again.
For example, an article on prenatal chiropractic in Midwifery Today's Summer 2014 issue stated that mothers and infants had better outcomes including higher fetal weight, less prematurity, and fewer interventions. After reading many studies of massage during pregnancy, that article could have had the word chiropractic replaced with the word massage, since the results were the same. Since prenatal chiropractic is a special certification, you can find a chiropractor at by clicking here.

In a studyon our website about prenatal yoga compared with massage, the attendants of prenatal yoga classes had similar results to those mentioned for chiropractic. Prenatal massage has also been show to reduce prematurity, improve birth outcomes, and significantly shorten labor times. Many other alternative practices have similar results, shown in other studies.

So I started to realize that if a pregnant woman does just one thing from a choice of many, she improves her chances of having an uncomplicated birth with a stronger infant. I think a study should be done to show what happens when more than one of these things are combined. Are the effects cumulative? Considering that the benefits of massage have been shown in another study to be cumulative, I suspect that the benefits of all of these alternative healthcare methods are.

So what does this mean for pregnant women? Basically, it should be recommended that every pregnant woman do at least ONE of these things during and possibly after her pregnancy. But the best advice would be that every pregnant woman should do as many of these things as her budget and time will allow.

Every pregnant woman who wants to go through labor and avoid a C section should take a childbirth class. In addition, every pregnant woman should have at least one massage, chiropractic session, or acupuncture session, depending on her preference. She should also sign up for and take a series of prenatal yoga classes. This will help her to have the best birth outcome possible for her and her baby. Many midwives and obstetricians are beginning to realize the benefits of alternative care for pregnant women. This is likely to increase in the future, since an uncomplicated pregnancy makes their job easier.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Fundal Massage After Birth To Reduce Risk of Post Natal Hemorrhage

As a pre and post natal massage therapist, I was taught the technique of fundal massage. Fundal massage is most useful in the first hours and days following labor. Fundal massage loses its effectiveness two weeks after delivery.

According to several articles published in medical journals and consumer magazines, fundal massage has long been known as a technique to prevent postpartum hemorrhage. Varying techniques are used in hospitals and by medical practitioners, and they are similar to the technique used by massage therapists certified in pre and post natal massage. Fundal massage in a gentle manner is also beneficial during the pregnancy, and has been traditionally performed by midwives, doulas, and certified massage therapists.

Several techniques of fundal massage have been used by obstetricians after the birth. Some physicians use an internal and external technique, where the uterus is massage posteriorly from inside the vagina, and anteriorly from the upper abdomen. This type of massage is performed if there appears to be excess bleeding after birth.

Another technique is a much less invasive one that would be used more often by labor and delivery nurses, midwives, doulas, and massage therapists. One hand is placed toward the pubic bone under the bulge of the fundus. The other hand is placed directly on the bulge of the fundus, and circular kneading is performed until the uterus is felt by the therapist to harden or by the patient to contract.

This technique is used to help facilitate uterine involution and prevent hemorrhage in the days following birth. Studies cited in the articles that will be linked to at the end of this article mention that this has been an effective technique to reduce the risk of postpartum hemorrhage. In many hospitals, this technique will be performed at least once, although if there is greater blood loss than normal it may be done every fifteen minutes or every hour for several days until release. Release may be delayed if there is excess blood loss for monitoring of the patient. The continuation of this massage after hospital release extends the benefits of the technique.

Since most births happen in hospitals, it helps postpartum women to receive this type of massage after their birth since they often leave the hospital within a day or two. For women who have a doula or a midwife, these techniques will often be performed by those caregivers as they are generally experienced with it. For those women whose midwives are more medically orientede, they may need to receive this technique from their doula or postnatal massage therapist (see this link also shared below for more on touch in and after pregnancy).

Read more about this technique, as well as how it is used in hospitals in conjunction with oxytocin and other medications, in the articles below. For those women who prefer a nonmedicated birth and after birth period (especially since many medications can be transferred to the baby during breastfeeding), manual fundal massage is an excellent way to prevent hemorrhage by itself without medication. If you would like more information about prenatal and postnatal massage in general, please visit our prenatal page by clicking here, and our postnatal page by clicking here.
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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Top Benefits of Having a Post Partum Doula

A doula is a relatively new profession in the US. There are two types of doulas: those who assist the pregnant woman during labor and birth and those who assist afterwards. The doula I am referring to here is the type that assists after birth.
In many cultures, the new mother is assisted for the first few weeks at home by her mother or sisters. This is true of Indian cultures, Chinese culture, as well as others. In the US, however, the new mom is often left to fend for herself, with no one to help. Her husband generally returns to work after a few weeks, and she is on her own. This often makes caring for the new baby difficult.

A baby brings a host of new responsibilities. They must be fed, and with the new recommendations about breastfeeding, as well as the new baby's tiny stomach, that often occurs every twenty minutes during the first few days or weeks of life. Add to that the need to change diapers, clean the house, wash dishes, do laundry, and other household chores that were easy before, and it is easy to see how the new mom can become overwhelmed.

So this is where a post partum doula can be of great help. Post Partum doulas are trained to help the new mom care for her baby, as well as assist with the household chores of cleaning dishes, doing laundry, as well as cleaning in general. This can make the new mom's life much less stressful, as well as help her to focus on the task of bonding and breastfeeding her new baby.

When a baby is just born, they may need to feed every twenty minutes or more to grow properly. When a woman is breastfeeding, this can be a challenge in general. Even more so when she is left to do it all alone.

In addition, a post partum doula is trained in the care of the new mom. If she is not a massage therapist herself, she is likely to recommend massage therapy for the new mom. Post natal massage has been shown to speed recovery from birth, increase milk production, reduce post partum depression, along with many other benefits. Your doula is likely to help you find a therapist to come to your home, as generally the baby cannot go outside by order of their pediatrician.

In addition, your doula can help with anxiety about the baby getting enough food, as well as other concerns you may have about caring for the new member of your family. Post natal depression is a real concern, and a doula can help with this. Often this type of depression stems from the new mom being alone to take care of the baby and the home, so having someone to help can go a long way in alleviating this type of depression. According to Mothering the Mother by Klaus et al, these doulas have been shown to help with depression in a number of studies.

In all, a post partum doula would be a worthwhile investment for you and your family. You can find these doulas listed on the DONA website, the doula match website, and the Childbirth International Find A Doula website (Click on each of the site names to link to their sites). For more info about post natal massage, please visit our website at by clicking here.