Building Your Birth Team in San Antonio

pregnant woman on the phone. Building your birth team

Congratulations on your pregnancy! As you prepare for your pregnancy, birth and postpartum, it’s important to build a supportive birth team to support you throughout this transformational experience.  Choosing care providers that align with your birth goals and values is essential to having the experience you’re hoping for, so research your options and meet a variety of providers to see who is the best fit.  There are so many decisions to make during pregnancy, but be assure, this is the most important one. 

Care Provider: A care provider is who you choose to do all of your prenatal care. This person/group focuses primarily on maternal and fetal health. There are two different models of care, the Midwifery Model of Care and the Medical Model of Care. It cannot be understated that this is the most important choice you will make your entire pregnancy as it will greatly affect your desired outcome. Fully trusting your care provider brings peace and confidence as you prepare to meet your baby, so it is important that your provider’s philosophy of birth aligns with your goals. Remember, it is also never too late in pregnancy to change care providers if you are unhappy with decisions and/or approaches to your care.

  • Midwifery Model of Care- Monitoring the physical, psychological, and social well-being of the mother throughout the childbearing cycle. Providing the pregnant person with individualized education, counseling, and prenatal care, continuous hands-on assistance during labor and delivery, and postpartum support. Midwifes can work in a variety of settings and generally utilize interventions less and only if they are indicated. The midwifery model is for low risk pregnancies and if a pregnancy is determined high risk, care will be transferred to an obstetrician.
  • Medical Model of Care- This model of care focuses on preventing, diagnosing, and treating the complications that can occur during pregnancy, labor, and birth. Prevention strategies tend to emphasize the use of testing, coupled with the use of medical or surgical interventions to avert a poor outcome. In many cases, low risk people find themselves having the same testing and interventions as their high risk counterparts.

Doula: A doula is a professional trained in childbirth who provides emotional, physical, and educational support to a mother who is expecting, in labor, or has recently given birth. The doula’s purpose is to help people have a safe, memorable, and supported birthing experience. The support of a doula has shown to have a 39% decrease in cesarean rates, shorter labors, less interventions, and a 31% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with their birth experience.  Because the doula is not medically trained, she does not attend to fetal/maternal physical health but more so focuses on mother’s emotional well being before and during labor.

Birth Educator: A birth educator is trained to teach childbirth education classes to expectant families, so they can be informed consumers. Childbirth educators are a resource for families providing information they may not have access to outside of a birth class. They help couples learn valuable coping skills and strategies to have an empowered, informed birth experience. While your birth educator may not be present at your birth, she is considered part of the birthing team.

Placenta Encapsulation Specialist: Placenta encapsulation is the process of turning your baby’s placenta into capsules to aid in your postpartum recovery. The placenta encapsulation specialist adheres to all OSHA & EPA guidelines regarding blood-borne pathogen transmission, infection prevention, standards for sanitation, and safe food handling. The encapsulation process happens within 72 hours of baby’s birth and is believed to help with increasing energy levels, lactation, postpartum anxiety/depression, increased levels of CRH (stress-reducing hormone), and restoration of iron levels in the blood.

Chiropractic Care: There are many hormonal and physical changes you’ll experience during your pregnancy. Some of changes will have an impact on your posture and comfort. As your baby becomes heavier, your center of gravity shifts, and your posture will adjust. This may also create added pressure and misalignment in the pelvis. A misaligned pelvis may pose complications during delivery. When the pelvis is out of alignment, it can make it difficult for your baby to move into the best position to be born, which is rear-facing and head down. In some cases, this could affect a person’s ability to have a natural, low intervention birth. A balanced pelvis also means your baby has a lower chance of moving into a breech or posterior position. When your baby is not in an optimal birthing position, it can lead to a longer, more complicated delivery. Evidence points to improved outcomes in labor and delivery for people who’ve received chiropractic care from a Webster Certified Chiropractor during their pregnancy. Chiropractic care can help balance the pelvis, allowing baby the room need to get in the most optimal position possible, while also allowing for a comfortable pregnancy. In fact, chiropractic care may even help reduce the length of time you’re in labor. Locate a Webster Certified Chiropractor, one who specializes in pregnancy and pediatric care, today!

Acupuncture: Many people sing the praises of acupuncture during pregnancy to ease some common discomforts such as back and pelvic pain, nausea, heartburn, swelling, and constipation. So how does it work exactly? Researchers have found that acupuncture points correspond to deep-seated nerves, so that when the needles are placed, the nerves are activated and the energy flow will regain balance. This, in turn, triggers the release of several brain chemicals, including endorphins, which block pain signals and help to relieve a number of pregnancy symptoms.

Clinical Psychologist: This support person cannot be encouraged enough. This particular birth team member will allow you to prepare for the birth as well as process and heal post birth as you enter into parenthood. Benefits of a mental health therapist encompass well being, which ultimately affect baby and partner’s well being. Becoming a new parent has the possibility of bringing in unexpected stress and anxiety. Having a safe space to process this can make all the difference.

Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist: This particular support involves biofeedback and exercises to encourage relaxation and strengthening of the muscles of the lower pelvis, which have the tendency to weaken in pregnancy and through postpartum. A physical therapist measures muscle tone and the strength of muscle contractions, which give you the information you need to proceed with tailored exercises. When necessary, the therapist may use a massage-like technique called myofascial release to help stretch and release the connective tissue between the skin and the muscles and bones in your pelvic region. Pelvic floor PT may strengthen your pelvic floor, re-training your abdominal function, help libido levels or painful intercourse, and treat incontinence.

Give yourself the gift of a well-rounded birth team, ready to support an expectant family every step of the way. Being uplifted and encouraged during labor makes all the difference prenatally and postnatally. Investing in getting information and support while you embark on one of the greatest (yet challenging) adventures in your life will have big pay outs in your wellness long term. Physical, mental, and emotional supports are vital in attaining the wellness you deserve.

Stay well and best wishes.

3 Ways to Encourage Labor

encourage labor

Hi! Kristie here. 39.3 weeks pregnant and searching all the ways to naturally encourage labor and give this babe a boost to exit utero. The days are long and uncomfortable and bending to pick up after my toddlers seems like the most impossible task. So on the blog today, I have some insight about encouraging your babe to make their grand entrance. Remember to speak to your care provider before trying these methods at home.

1. Sex– Yep. I said it. This is something any full-term pregnant person may cringe at the sound of, but I firmly believe it worked with my other two pregnancies. But why? Human semen is a biological source that has the
highest concentration of prostaglandins that can occur naturally. Prostaglandins are known to ripen the cervix and get it ready for labor. Also, an orgasm has been to shown to increase uterine activity in healthy pregnant people.

2. Acupuncture– This ancient Chinese practice has many benefits. One of the many is induction. Certain points are avoided during pregnancy when receiving acupuncture treatment because of this very reason. Pushing the
body into induction mode too early is an unwanted outcome. However, when a pregnancy has reached between 39-41 weeks, these particular points are treated. This treatment has been used to help soften and dilate the cervix
with the onset of labor contractions. It may provide a way of reducing labor pain and avoiding a medical induction.

3. Massage– Studies show that a massage can raise your body’s level of oxytocin, that hormone that can bring on labor contractions. Some massage therapists swear by their ability to help jump-start labor when a parent-to-be
is overdue. Many may even focus on certain pressure points to move labor along. Not a fan of massages? Meditation and even just cuddling with your partner can help relax you, which might get your oxytocin levels pumping.
So if you’re anxious about that baby who doesn’t want to leave their cozy bed, try a stress-relieving activity like one of these discussed above. What’s the harm anyway in being in a fully relaxed state of mind for when labor
does decide to begin?

**While 40ish weeks may seem close to an infinite amount of time, it truly is just a blip in your and your babe’s life. Try your best (speaking to the choir here) to enjoy and bask in the miracle of pregnancy. Easier said than done, I know, in those final weeks. Baby will be in your arms soon enough. Trek on, you got this!

Why get Chiropractic Care During Pregnancy?

chiropractic care pregnancy

Pregnancy does a number on the body! From pushing organs up and out of the way to affecting
one’s posture to restricting full-range-of-motion. There’s no question that pregnancy can be the
root of discomfort. Thankfully, there is hope! Chiropractic care during pregnancy can help keep
the spine, pelvis, and hips healthfully aligned in order to prevent or put a stop to aches and
pains you may have believed to be unavoidable. It could even make for an easier labor.

The gold standard for chiropractic care during pregnancy is the Webster-technique, named after
Dr. Larry Webster who originated this technique that prioritizes pelvic alignment and has been
shown to improve pregnancy, labor, and delivery outcomes. When considering chiropractic for
your pregnancy, please look for a Webster-certified chiropractor. This particular method of
chiropractic has a variety of benefits.

Easing Common Pregnancy Discomforts
Many women deal with various discomforts or pain during pregnancy. Low-back-pain is very
common as is hip-discomfort. Pubic-symphysis-pain, which can at times be extremely
uncomfortable, is also seen frequently in pregnancy as the pubic bones shift to allow room for
baby. Chiropractic can help in reducing pain associated with pregnancy by assuring that all the
bones affected are kept well-aligned and by reducing or negating spinal pressure which, left
untreated, can lead to pain.

Smoother, Quicker Labor and Delivery
Regular chiropractic adjustments during pregnancy can lend to a smoother and quicker labor
and delivery. Through keeping your body in ideal alignment and in turn, helping baby into an
optimal position, labor and delivery are less likely to have complications. Chiropractic has even
been cited as helping move a breech baby into a head-down position. Chiropractic primes your
body to push baby down and out so you don’t expend unnecessary energy and time during
labor waiting for your body to make the adjustments needed to help baby out.

Improved Nervous System Function
Keeping one’s spine in alignment through regular chiropractic care helps to keep the nervous
system functioning properly and can improve overall health. Having improved nervous system
function allows the body to more readily adjust to all of the internal changes pregnancy causes
and can help to keep you more comfortable and physically healthier throughout pregnancy.

Recovery after Delivery
Chiropractic care shouldn’t be limited to pregnancy alone, it also works wonders at helping you
recover after delivery. By seeing a chiropractor shortly after delivering your baby, your body will
become realigned more quickly and you’ll feel better sooner. This is particularly helpful when
you have a new baby to care for and no time to deal with pain or discomfort.

If you’re dealing with discomfort during pregnancy or just simply looking to keep yourself healthy
and properly aligned while growing your baby, chiropractic is the way to go! Optimizing your
health and bodily-alignment during pregnancy benefits both you and baby Seek out your
nearest Webster-certified chiropractic provider and make that appointment today, you will be
thankful you did.

 

If you are in the San Antonio area, check out the San Antonio Birth Network for our preferred chiropractors.

Nourishing Recipes For The First Trimester

Nourishing recipes for the first trimester

Obtaining Essential Nutrients With Whole Foods

Eating a colorful, varied, and minimally processed diet is ideal for optimal health, and during pregnancy this becomes more apparent. Your body requires specific essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to support and grow baby.

In these three recipes, I will explain why certain foods are ideal during the first trimester, and how their specific nutrients help you and baby. These nourishing dishes are all free from grains, dairy, and refined sugars.

First Trimester Smoothie

Coconut milk is a great alternative to traditional dairy; it is a rich source of several B-complex vitamins including B1, B3, B5, and B6. (There are 8 B-vitamins) Some of the many benefits include immune and nervous system support, and enhanced energy production. During pregnancy, you also require more protein to support the rapid growth of your placenta and baby. Almond butter is a delicious addition to the smoothie and a great source of plant protein.

½ sliced, frozen banana

½ cup fresh or frozen blueberries

3 tbsp almond butter

¼ tsp cinnamon

½ cup full fat coconut milk

¼ tsp lemon zest

Place all ingredients in blender and mix.

Ultimate Prenatal Lentil Salad

Adapted from My New Roots

This salad is particularly delicious! Lentils are an amazing source of folate, a B-vitamin that helps baby’s neural tube develop properly. Folate also helps support red blood cell production, which is important as your blood volume increases throughout pregnancy. Lentils contain a ton of protein and fiber, which really increases the satiety factor of this dish.

1 cup black (du puy) lentils, rinsed, cooked, and drained

¼ cup dried tart cherries

handful of finely chopped fresh herbs. (I enjoy mint and parsley)

3 tbsp chopped capers

¼ cup chopped almonds

Vinaigrette:

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp strong mustard

1 tbsp maple syrup

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1 tsp ground cumin

¼ tsp turmeric

¼ tsp ground coriander

¼ tsp ground cardamom

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

¼ tsp nutmeg

¼ tsp cinnamon

Place salad ingredients in bowl. Prepare vinaigrette by placing all ingredients in a jar with lid. Shake well to combine. Pour vinaigrette over salad and toss everything together. This dish tastes best fresh at room temperature.

Wilted Greens with Creamy Lemon Tahini

Adapted from Love and Lemons

This recipe is loaded with superfoods. Dark leafy greens including spinach, chard, and kale are rich in vitamins and minerals. Greens like spinach are a surprisingly great source of calcium, which is needed for baby’s bone development. The addition of avocado lends more than creaminess to the sauce. It also contains high levels of vitamin B6, which helps baby’s brain development. Vitamin B6 can also ease nausea, a common first trimester symptom. Dark greens and the sesame tahini provide a superb source of iron, which supports red blood cell production, helping to prevent fatigue and anemia. Adding lemon to this dish enables your body absorb iron more effectively.

4 cups dark leafy greens (I prefer baby spinach)

1 cup broccoli florets

⅓ cup sesame tahini

½ avocado

juice of 1 lemon

salt and pepper, to taste

Sauté greens and broccoli in olive oil and set aside. Blend tahini, avocado, and lemon together in food processor. Add 1-2 tablespoons of water, to thin, if necessary. Plate greens and pour sauce on top.

Enjoy!

Breast+Skin+Sling: An interview with Austin Rees

Babywearing Baltimore

My guest on the blog today is Austin Rees. Austin is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and a Certified Babywearing Consultant through the Center for Babywearing Studies. She is the owner of Breast+Skin+Sling, and the co-founder of Sacred Milk. Austin prepares mothers prenatally with the foundations of breastfeeding, skin-to-skin, and babywearing. She facilitates personalized ceremonies to celebrate life’s transitions. Austin also provides one-on-one babywearing consultations in our community. (featured image credit: Kate’s Takes)

It is common today for parents to take a birthing class. Why should parents seek out a breastfeeding and babywearing class before the baby arrives?

An out of hospital birth class is essential to gaining the information on how to facilitate the process of birth and know your choices in birth. Skin-to-skin, and the breast crawl (infant independently moves to the breast to nurse) occurs immediately after birth. Understanding how to facilitate this instinctual experience before the birth is beneficial. I find mothers profit from the knowledge and foundations of how Milk works, the importance of skin-to-skin, along with an understanding of the normal newborn before the baby arrives. With this knowledge I have witnessed mothers step into motherhood trusting their bodies, their babies, and their Milk. I help mothers discover their innate instincts and wisdom so they enter their unique Milk relationship secure, confident, supported, and connected to their baby. Armed with the knowledge of how to initiate a good start is key to avoiding difficulties. I observed working with mothers postpartum that a majority of the issues they experienced could have been prevented if they had the proper information before the baby arrived. Babywearing can also start immediately, and knowing how to comfortably and confidently use a carrier can be a valuable tool.

Babywearing is commonly seen around the city. How would you react if you see someone wearing a baby improperly while at the store?

I am always excited to see another parent or caregiver wearing their baby while I am out. I usually try to make eye contact or say, “It’s great to see you wearing your baby.” If I notice someone wearing their baby and the straps are twisted, or it does not look to the carrier direction guidelines I may observe to see if they are interested in striking up a conversation. When I engage with someone who is wearing I ask how they feel. If they are happy and comfortable, I praise their excitement. If they say this is great, but xyz, I will share some babywearing tips that may help that situation.
motherblessing baltimore
mamablessing-2.jpg-photo-credit-Brenda-Amaya-Photography-300x200

On your website it lists you offer facilitating ceremonies for families in the DC/MD/VA area. What are some reasons for someone to reach out to you to create a ceremony for themselves or someone else?

I enjoy designing personalized ceremonies to create a circle of support for someone. I have been facilitating Mother Blessings for pregnant or adopting women for 10 years. In place of a traditional baby shower, a Mother Blessing is a special ceremony designed to acknowledge, honor, and celebrate a woman’s journey into Motherhood. Family, friends, and mothers contact me to create a ceremony and provide a loving place where the honored mother can explore the challenges and joys that lie before her as she approaches childbirth or adoption, and mothering her first or multiple children.

I also facilitate Birth Story Ceremonies; a place where a mother can experience deep listening, and allow the power of sharing her story to heal, celebrate, grieve, release, process and acknowledge her experience, her journey. These are designed to make way for the mother to experience her birth story. We open our heart and commit our undivided attention to her. This allows her to fully express her experience, reflect upon it, and take the steps she needs to move forward. We step aside and create a safe space so she has complete control, and unconditional support.

A Weaning Ceremony is a time we can come together to honor a Mother’s Milk relationship. We make way for the mother to experience her Milk story by opening our heart and committing our undivided attention. This allows her to fully express her experience, reflect upon it, and take the steps she needs to move forward. We step aside and create a safe space so she has complete control, and unconditional support.

I also create customized ceremonies. Recently I designed one for a special woman who was about to undergo radiation for breast cancer. We designed activities that supported releasing fears, created personal power, and we weaved a web of support, pledging our assistance throughout her treatment and beyond.

Sacred Milk is a sister program under the Sacred Living Movement. Can you share what is the Sacred Living Movement, and more about your involvement with Sacred Milk and Sacred Pregnancy?
Sacred Milk Baltimore
teaching-add-photo-credit-Kalimana-Birth-Films-200x300
Photo credit: Kalimana Birth Films

The Sacred Living Movement acknowledges all aspects of our life’s journey need to be honored, and embraced with reverence and respect. The Sacred Living Movement was designed to bring back the age-old tradition of women sitting with one another during a time of transition, witnessing each other’s process and BEING there for one another. We have a local, active Sacred Living Movement Maryland group.

Sara Goff and I created Sacred Milk after attending a Sacred Pregnancy retreat. Sacred Milk is a movement inspiring women to trust their bodies, their baby’s and their Milk. Our mission is to nourish the wholeness of each mother’s journey and shift our culture to see Milk as a holistic practice, rather than simply a feeding choice. In the last century our culture has been saturated by marketing that has conditioned us to see breasts as sexual, and human milk as just a food source. The Journey to Milk program is focused on opening space for women to remember their innate wisdom and then surround themselves with a supportive community. Milk is instinctual, natural, normal, and necessary. That doesn’t mean it’s easy or filled with bliss. Milk is not something that can be fully learned from a book or taught on the internet. Milk cannot be told. Milk must be modeled, supported and nourished in community because it is a way of living not a way of feeding.

I recently co-hosted a Sacred Pregnancy + Sacred Milk 2-day mini retreat for pregnant mothers in our community. It was a gorgeous event full of women showing up and witnessing to each other. In September I will be facilitating a retreat to certify Sacred Pregnancy instructors in Nashville, TN. I am excited for more women to have the option to attend these classes or retreats prenatally.

Austin is such wonderful resource for mothers and families in our area and has such a beautiful way of bringing our community together. If you are looking for breastfeeding or babywearing education in the Baltimore or surrounding area, you can contact Austin here.

When your friend has a baby: 10 ways to support a new mother

how to support a new mother

When my closest friends were having babies, I was just getting married.  I was pretty clueless about most things regarding the postpartum period and since the last baby to be born in my family was my 22-year-old sister, I knew even less about babies. I hadn’t a clue as to ways to support a new mother.

My best friend, the first one of us to have a baby, had a long labor, which ended with a cesarean. When she returned home, I am sure she was incredibly sore, but she was also clearly frustrated with breastfeeding.  When I think back to how painfully clueless and useless I was when she had her baby, I shudder.  I mean, I brought her a plant.  A PLANT!  While plants are lovely and they brighten up a room, it’s also one more thing for her to tend to and it isn’t remotely helpful to her in any way.  Oh, and that’s not all.  When lunch time rolled around, she heated up leftovers for us to eat.  SHE heated up leftovers for ME. (**shudder**)  It actually makes my stomach turn to think that I was that out of touch with what she needed.

After my own postpartum experiences, coupled with lots of training on birth and the postpartum period, I think it’s safe to say that thankfully, I’ve learned a few things since then.  Here are 10 ways to support a new mother, so the next time you have a friend have a baby, you’ll know how to shower her with love (and clean laundry).

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  1. Walk her dog. She’s healing from birth and her partner deserves a break. Take Fido for a stroll.
  2. Take her children outside. If mom has other children, take them outside to expel some energy. Playground, walk around the block, bike ride, whatever. Mom will appreciate the quiet and the kids will love the fun.
  3. Fix her family a snack or bring her a meal (or 2).  Anything you can do to take some of the load off, please do. Make them a meal or a snack, and if you can, involve the kids.  The kids will enjoy the activity and mom will get a reprieve by them being entertained.  If you won’t be there long, bring a meal already prepared, but also one that is freezable, so they can enjoy it later if needed.
  4. Bring her groceries.  When I had my first baby, a friend came to visit, and with her came 2 grocery bags full of food.  Some of the food was already prepared and the rest was perfect grab-and-go foods for snacking.  I was so touched and appreciated having new items in the fridge.  We sat around the table and noshed while she held and loved on my baby.  It was incredible and I appreciated it so much.
  5. Hold the baby and send her upstairs for a long, hot shower.  It’s amazing how much a hot shower can change a person.  Even if she doesn’t need it, take the baby, and if she has one, the 3-year-old, and send her upstairs for a hot shower and some alone time.  She’ll come down feeling grateful and refreshed.
  6. Load her dishwasher and run it.  I’m placing bets that when you go see her there will be a sink piled high with dishes.  Load the dishwasher and be sure to run it.  If you’re there long enough, empty it on your way out the door.
  7. Wash a load of laundry.  It’s amazing how much laundry a 7-pound baby can produce.  Whether it’s spit up on the onesie or breastmilk leaked on her shirt, there’s bound to be a load of clothes waiting.  Wash a load for her.  If there’s a load that’s been done, fold it.  Laundry is one of those things that can get out of hand fast. Helping her stay in front of it will take a lot of burden off of her.
  8. Take out the trash.  On your way out the door after your visit, take the trash with you.
  9. Sweep.  Dog hair, cheerio crumbs, dried up play-doh pieces.  It’ll take 5 minutes and will make a big difference.
  10. Bring her something for just her.  Bring her something that will make her feel good.  Ok, so maybe that plant wasn’t all bad.  I love plants, but whatever it is, make sure it’s something that will make her feel warm and pampered.  Maybe bring some great shampoo, bath salts, or handmade soap for the shower she’ll take during your visit.  Whatever it is, make it special.

There are endless ways to support a new mother, these are just a few.  The bottom line is make her life easy, make her plate lighter, and let her know you love her.  Having a baby is hard, and sometimes the postpartum period is even harder.  New moms are all too often left unsupported in our hustle-and-bustle culture, but we were never meant to do it alone.  Be a good friend, show up, and give her what she needs.  When she has a friend have a baby, she’ll remember how you made her feel, and she’ll pay it forward.  Little by little, maybe our culture will begin to shift.

 

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