Low-Down on Plus-sized Pregnancies

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Plus-sized Pregnancies 101

Hey Tranquility Tribe! Pregnancy can be a tough journey for anybody, but if you’re plus-size, the journey can be even tougher. However, there are so many things you can do as a plus-size mama to help yourself along this journey, and we’re here to give you the low-down on that today!

50 percent of today’s pregnant moms are overweight and 1 in 4 are obese. The higher body mass index, or BMI, you have, the higher your risk for complications like pre-eclampsia, blood clots and premature birth becomes. One of the most common complications plus-size women face in pregnancy is gestational diabetes - overweight women are anywhere from two to eight times more likely to develop it, and unfortunately the condition can lead to further complications like preterm labor and increased risk of c-section. 

While this may sound frightening, it’s important to remember that being plus-size doesn’t automatically make your pregnancy high risk! You have the power to do all you can to mitigate this risk through your lifestyle choices during your pregnancy. Make sure you are keeping all your antenatal appointments and continuing to be screened for these risks - if they end up happening, it is best to catch them as early as possible. Eat and exercise as well as you can. Rather than dieting, focus on eating whole, healthy foods instead so you can nourish your body for baby. You may wish to consult a dietician to get help with planning healthy meals and snacks for the months ahead. Get your body moving every day, even if it’s just for an evening walk. Taking care of your body during pregnancy is a priority no matter your size - you are nurturing a whole tiny human inside of you, so looking out for your health by eating clean and exercising your body is so incredibly important for both of you!

Another crucial topic when it comes to plus-size pregnancy is choosing your maternal care team. Unfortunately, your size may lead to some unnecessary and just straight up insensitive shaming from medical staff. Some may doubt your ability to get pregnant at all or not have faith in you and your body along the way. On the other side of the spectrum, some providers may be uncomfortable bringing up the topic of your weight out of a fear of offense, which is not great as you need to be having these conversations in order to properly address risks. Finding a plus-size friendly provider is essential - you deserve to have someone who believes in you and your body’s ability to get through this incredible journey!

When it comes to finding the right size-friendly provider for you, use your village! Talk to other plus-size moms about their experiences, ask providers about their experience working with plus-size women and don’t be afraid to shop around with different providers until you find the one with the best fit. Often times, plus-size women are told that their weight should be “under control” before they even get pregnant. You don’t need somebody who is going to shame you for not having lost weight before you got pregnant - you need someone who is going to empower you to get through this journey the way you are right here, right now! 

Finally, you should keep in mind that your pregnancy may look a little different from the ones you see around you. Plus-size women often take longer to show than those with a lower BMI, and when that bump does come around, it may not take on that perfectly round shape you see in the media. In fact, plus-size bumps can often take on the shape of the letter B instead! No matter your shape and size compared to other mamas, know that you and your body are doing all that important work just the same!

Don’t forget to join our private Facebook, The Tranquility Tribe Podcast, and follow us on Instagram at @tranquilitybyhehe!

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Perinatal Mental Health with Jess Vanderwier Part 2!

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Continuing the Conversation: Perinatal Mental Health with Jess Vanderwier Part 2! 
(This is a two part episode! To catch up and check out Part 1, click here!)

Hey TBH Village! This week, we’re back to continue our super important conversation with mental health therapist Jess Vanderwier about postpartum mood disorders. Let’s dive back in!

When it comes to treatment, it all loops back into the risk factors that cause postpartum depression and anxiety issues in the first place. A professional can help you evaluate all the aspects of your postpartum life that can contribute to these issues. For example, in terms of biology, it would be important to get a physical checkup, especially concerning your thyroid, to make sure there is not an underlying issues causing symptoms. Sleep is another important factor to look at it, as lack of it can both cause and exacerbate issues - you should ideally be getting a solid four hour chunk of sleep every night, so if you need to enlist the help of family and friends to get that or even a postpartum doula, you should not be scared to do so! 

Social support should also be evaluated - a lot of mamas think they have to do everything all on their own (Jess felt this same way!). You have to recognize the incredible work you and your body just did in creating a tiny human and even if you are normally the type to always be in a season of giving, it’s important to open yourself up to being comfortable with being in a season of receiving. Finally, eating habits are something that are often overlooked but still so incredibly important. The focus after birth is often on how baby is doing with feeding, but what about mom? It’s important to be eating full, nutritious meals to fuel both your baby and your own healthy mind. 

Choosing to get psychological help is an admirable step and can be so helpful even if you aren’t experiencing explicit symptoms of a perinatal mood disorder. This transition into motherhood can be so messy - makeup streaming down your face, messy bun, spit-up all over you messy, and it can take time, but you are so capable of coming up on the other side, even if you need some help along the way. 

If you have a new mama in your life, the best way you can help them is by encouraging real and honest conversations with them - check in and see how they are REALLY doing. There is so much to talk about when it comes to a new baby and the mom’s well-being can often get lost in that - take it upon yourself to be that checkup for them! As a friend or family member, your role is not that of a counselor but simply that of support - encourage them to get professional help if needed and walk alongside them every step of the way. Be mama’s village - bring meals, show up, ask tough questions, give her time to sleep, and help her remember that she doesn’t have to do it all on her own. Remind them that their main role is to love their baby the best way that they can - all the other to do’s will eventually get done.

As HeHe says - you have permission to do what feels right for you, and you always, always have choices.

If you want to help a new mom get professional support, Jess suggests to approach it from a place of love and compassion, starting off soft rather than jumping right into finger pointing. For example, you may suggest they check out Postpartum Support International, who has a warm line that can set you up with someone to talk to about how you’re feeling and ease you into getting professional support. They have a list of clinicians who are trained in perinatal mood and anxiety disorders and can help in setting you up with one of these people. When searching for professional support, it’s so important to find someone who has specific training in these disorders, as they can really understand what’s going on and therefore help YOU understand what’s going on. 

Finally, social media is another important point to touch on when it comes to the transition to motherhood. Unfortunately, moms often fall into the habit of guilting other moms on social media based on their own transitions and it can get nasty. It’s okay if you need to take a break from certain accounts or people on social media - choose to surround yourself with joy and encouragement instead! Your choices are yours so own them and be okay with them and don’t let what other people say get you down - there will always be haters! Build your village with the people who lift you up - you deserve it. 

Through this journey, Jess has developed her own online community - what started as a  little blog about perinatal mental health research took off with a bunch of moms becoming interested and has evolved into a safe space for women to share their experiences and talk about the real issues that moms face all while looking at it from a research perspective too! It is a space that Jess wishes she had had as a new mom - a place to both get information and to be reassured that you are not alone. If you want to join this community of over 4000 mamas, head on over to Our Mama Village.

Connect with Jess on her website Our Mama Village, on Facebook, or Instagram.

Don’t forget to join our private Facebook, The Tranquility Tribe Podcast, and follow us on Instagram at @tranquilitybyhehe!

"Welcome to the Tranquility Tribe"

Social Call with a Newborn?

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Hey Villagers! Let’s be honest - there’s nothing quite like the excitement of brand new baby rolling into town. Whether it’s a friend, family member, or neighbor who has added a new tiny human to their home, you may be waiting on the edge of your seat to meet the new babe. Before you go running to get your share of baby snuggles, there are a few unspoken rules you should keep in mind when it comes to visiting a newborn and we’re going to break those down for you today.

First of all - when exactly is it okay to come knocking on their door? Ask when it would be a convenient time for them and never come over unannounced. 

Definitely come with a practical gift in tow - you can never go wrong with food for a busy new family! Maybe pick up some fruit or something else fresh as they’re probably relying on the freezer for most of their meals.

Always lend a helping hand during your visit. Offer to take care of those dishes in the sink or throw in a load of laundry or even just to wipe down the counters - it will be much appreciated! Consider some one-handed snacks for mama!

Don’t take pictures of the baby or post them on social media unless you get permission from the parents. They may not have had a chance to share pictures themselves or just may not be comfortable with having their baby’s face on the internet, and that’s okay!

Don’t push the new mama to talk about her birth experience. She may have had a traumatic experience that she’s not ready to talk about yet, and hormones and exhaustion can make talking about the birth even more upsetting. However, if she does want to talk, be prepared to be a great listener!

If there’s an older sibling around, make sure to give them some love too! All the attention on a newborn can be upsetting to the new big brother or sister and they’ll really appreciate a bit of the spotlight on them. 

Most importantly, do NOT step foot near that house if you are sick or have been recently! Newborns are so susceptible to bugs and the last thing the tired family needs is a sick baby! Even if you’re not sick at the moment, make sure to wash your hands often during your visit, and although it’s hard, avoid giving baby kisses! On this note, leave your kids at home - the presence of more children in the house can be overwhelming for the new parents, not to mention all the germs that come along with them.

Finally, don’t overstay your welcome - the new family is exhausted and is probably trying to stick to whatever bit of a routine they manage to put together. Keep the visit short and sweet while reminding the new parents that you’re only a phone call away if they’re ever in need. 

Mama-to-be? Check out our blog post on why you may want to say 'no' to your visitors, here!

Don’t forget to join our private Facebook, The Tranquility Tribe Podcast, and follow us on Instagram at @tranquilitybyhehe!

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Feely Snotty in Pregnancy? There's a reason!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Mucus Production & Pregnancy

Doesn't sound awesome, but doesn't sound too bad, does it?

You're probably thinking a runny nose and you're not too far off, but it can also look like ear infections and sinus infections. During pregnancy, your hormones rage (duh!), but the specific surges in estrogen does helpful things like increasing blood supply to your vaginal area and creating your mucus plug.

Since you're pregnant, you can't take most medications. Even if you could, many people choose to limit medication consumption during pregnancy and nursing. So what are you to do? Just be a walking snot factory for 9+ months? No, not at all. Like everything else, you have some choice here on your approaches.

Here are a few remedies to clear mucus:
- Drinking lots of water
- Adding electrolytes to your water
- Eating garlic + onions
- Cutting down (consider eliminating) dairy
- Netti pot
- Drinking hot liquids
- Turmeric health shot
- Eating soup
- Rest, rest, rest
- Acupuncture

You may also experience ear infections. Here are some remedies:
- Check in with your doctor (you may require an office visit)
- Mullein Garlic (purchased at whole foods, ear drops)
- Eating garlic + onions
- Avoid dairy
- Turmeric health shot
- Netti pot
- Hydrate!!!

A neat trick that I learned recently from a nurse was to bend over and put your head below your heart. If the stuffiness drains and the throbbing stops, it is due to pregnancy. If it doesn't drain and the throbbing doesn't stop (or gets worse) it's most likely stopped up and could be a possible ear infection. *This in no way constitutes medical advice, diagnosis, or a cure and should not be taken as such*

If you get a fever, no matter how tiny, check in with your healthcare provider. Be sure to avoid colloidal silver as it is not safe for pregnant or nursing people.

Pregnancy changes everything in your body...and I mean everything. Right down to your sinuses, your baby is already controlling you in every sense. Now that you know you have a reason to nap and decline Friday night's invite to supper club, do it. Take advantage of growing this tiny human. Take the time to honor the messages your body is sending you (rest, hydration, and slowing down).

You only get to experience this pregnancy once. Stop and enjoy it.

Don’t forget to join our private Facebook, The Tranquility Tribe Podcast, and follow us on Instagram at @tranquilitybyhehe!

"Welcome to the Tranquility Tribe"

Perinatal Mental Health with Jess Vanderwier

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

(This is also an episode of The Birth Lounge Podcast, listen here for part 1 of this series!)

The transition to motherhood is an exciting time, but what’s often not talked about in our culture is how scary and lonely that transition into the unknown can be. In this two part series, we’re going to be going into the nitty of gritty of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders in hopes of erasing the stigma and increasing your awareness of these postpartum possibilities. 

Jess Vanderwier is a mental health therapist and mother who experienced a pretty rough transition to motherhood herself. She had a pretty normal pregnancy until about 22 weeks, when she started feeling some really strong cramping. In the emergency room, she found out she was at high risk for preterm labor and her life quickly transitioned from one of a busy, working woman finishing up graduate school to someone stuck on bed rest. While she thankfully carried the baby to full term, she was then quickly hit with the struggles of being a new mom, especially in terms of sleep and breastfeeding issues all while having no family nearby. As a counselor, she couldn’t believe that she herself didn’t know how difficult the postpartum period could be. After about 4 months, she ended up telling a doctor about her struggles and got support by building up her village. She’s now passionate about supporting and informing other moms about these struggles so they can be aware of and prepared for them before they even have the chance to go through them and is here to help educate us today! 

In North America, 1 in 5 people will be diagnosed with a mental illness at some point in their lives - and that’s just the recorded cases. When looking at perinatal women (pregnancy to postpartum) the research shows that somewhere between 1 in 5 to 1 in 7 women will be diagnosed with a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder. They are the number one complication of pregnancy/birth, so even though they’re not screened for as much as things like gestational diabetes, they happen even more often.

How can two women have a similar perinatal experience but then two different very mental health outcomes? It really all comes down to risk factors - the whole pregnancy experience doesn’t happen in isolation as there are so many other factors that influence your experience. Biological factors play a big part, such as a history of mental health issues in yourself or your family. If you experienced bad PMS before the baby, that could put you at risk as well because of the hormonal link. Thyroid issues are also something to look out for, as these are often developed after pregnancy and can mimic anxiety and depression.Your social structure can also play a big role - are you living in a town with just you and your partner? If you don’t have a solid social support system in place, the transition to motherhood can be really tough. 

There are a number of other factors that can put you at risk. If you’ve had a complicated pregnancy, previous pregnancy losses, or a history of sexual trauma and abuse, you may experience difficult perinatal emotions. If you’re a perfectionist with a type A personality like Jess, the postpartum period can be very triggering as everything in life can suddenly feel out of your control. Everything from financial stressors to your relationship with your partner to your baby’s sleep patterns can play a role in your emotional experience. 

You may be feeling overwhelmed by all these risk factors, but we don’t want to scare you - we want to empower you! By being aware, you can reach out for support before you’re deep in the trenches. 

So what are the different ways that perinatal mood and anxiety disorders can manifest? We’ll start with what it’s not: the “baby blues.” This is a normal part of the postpartum experience, with the height of it occurring usually 3-5 days after birth as a result of the release of a bunch of hormones. You might feel weepy and anxious, but it’s just your body adjusting to these hormones. It shouldn’t last more than 10 days postpartum, but people tend to blame mood issues on the baby blues months after baby is born. 

Now for the disorders - perinatal anxiety can make you very irritable and put you into the throws of excessive concern about baby and baby’s health. You may be afraid to take baby outside or have difficulty sleeping because you’re having racing, spiraling thoughts. You may also feel physical symptoms such as shortness of breath, a racing heart and appetite changes. 

With perinatal depression, you could experience a deep sense of hopelessness and a fear that you’re never going to feel like yourself again, never going to sleep again, or maybe even never love your baby like other moms seem to love theirs. You may feel overwhelming rage or guilt and shame, and physical symptoms such as appetite changes and difficulty concentrating and sleeping. 

Perinatal OCD involves experiencing intrusive, repetitive thoughts, usually about harming baby or yourself - but you don’t have the urge to actually act on these thoughts. For example, you may experience the thought that you’re going to drop baby onto the tile floor - you know you’re not going to do it and you’re scared by the thought, but it still continues to pop up in your mind. You may experience guilt and shame about these thoughts, hypervigilance, and a fear of being alone with baby. 

Finally, perinatal psychosis is a medical emergency and if you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms, medical help should be sought immediately. You can experience thoughts similar to those of OCD, but you may feel like you actually have to act on them. 1-2 out of 1000 postpartum women experience these symptoms, which include suicidal thoughts, delusions, hallucinations, extreme insomnia, and rapid mood swings.

Every birth, child, and pregnancy is different - so you can experience a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder even if you’ve had babies before with a fine postpartum experience. This applies vice versa - if you had a bad experience the first time, you’re not doomed to have it with your pregnancy.

Again, while this can all be scary and overwhelming, the goal of this information is to empower you, ensure you that you’re not alone and encourage you to find your tribe and love them hard to take this on! Next time, we’ll be back to continue the conversation with more information from Jess on postpartum challenges and getting and giving support. 

Connect with Jess on her website Our Mama Village, on Facebook, or Instagram.

Don’t forget to join our private Facebook, The Tranquility Tribe Podcast, and follow us on Instagram at @tranquilitybyhehe!

"Welcome to the Tranquility Tribe"

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