There's a Book For That!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Boston, MA, USA

"If you don't know your choices, you don't have any." -Diana Korte 

Informed Decision Making. If you have all the information in the world at your fingertips, why wouldn't you take advantage of that? There are millions of books circulating that address everything under the sun. If you think of a topic, I promise there is a book for it. There are books on eating and nutrition during pregnancy, birth position, stages of labor, pain management, exercising during pregnancy, preparing your pet for a new baby, and so much more. However, (and this is a BIG however) not every book is endorsed by birth workers and medical professionals. We know that some books recommend and suggest things on both ends of the spectrum and anywhere in between. Reading evidence-based books is important so you have research acting as the foundation of your decisions. After discovering what the evidence shows, you can consider how these choices will impact your family and your idea of birth. 

Recently, some birthing books have come under heavy fire because of the recommendations the book suggests to expectant moms. The first thing to do when considering if a book is the right fit for you (and a healthy read) is to read consumer reviews. Consumers are animals; the most brutally honest beings. This can make or break the sales of a product. When reading reviews by other mothers and families who have read the book, be sure to note the reviews that are deeper than "great book" and "loved it!" I'm speaking specifically of "why's" and "what's." Why did that consumer like the book? What stood our to the reader that stuck with them through their experience of pregnancy, birth, labor, and postpartum? Why do they recommend this book to others? What is the target market they recommend this book to? Making sure you like what the book suggest is important and that you believe in the same principles of the author(s) is crucial when choosing a book. 

After reading reviews from other expectant parents, you should research the author(s). Is the author well known? Is the author respected in the medical community and birth world? Do medical providers agree with the suggestions and recommendations in the book? What are the credentials of the author? Knowing information about the author will give you good insight as to whether or not the book is worth your time. 

Reading in Preparation 
Lamaze, Hypnosis, and Bradley! Oh my! One of the most important options you have as an expectant mother is how you will prepare for childbirth. During your research, you will find hundreds of classes that promise to prepare you to the fullest for your birth experience. Before committing to a specific method, first (just like the books and authors) do your due diligence. Consider if you believe-- and truly, deep down, in your core believe it-- what the method teaches. If you don't believe in hypnosis, Hypnobirthing is probably not for you. If mindfulness is not your thing, Mindful Birthing will be difficult for you to find comfort in this way of thinking. Lamaze focuses on deep breathing and distraction techniques as way of pain management. Bradley is a 12-week program, so time investment is important to consider when looking into childbirth classes. There are other childbirth classes ranging from one-day courses to 4-week (once a week) classes. Classes will vary in the intensity and the involvement of you, as the expectant mother, as well as partners. There are so many methods in which to prepare your body, mind, partner, and expectations of birth. Choose what is best for you. 

Know Your Options 
You have many options during labor and birth. Knowing all of your options allows you to guide your birth (as much as you can guide an unpredictable event like birth) in the way you envision your birth happening and to make the best choices for your body, your baby, and your family. This is the chance for you to put all of your research to use. Having conversations with your Healthcare Provider about hospital/birth center protocols, provider preferences (they all have preferences one way or the other), and what to do if you choose to do something different is essential to your care. Making informed decisions with your partner and provider will allow for open communication, but also for you to feel supported, knowing that everyone on your team is on the same page and knows what you want. Having conversations about topics that may make you feel uncomfortable or nervous such as cesarean sections, emergency procedures, and what will happen to your baby immediately following birth will help you feel prepared as to what to expect.

What options do I have?
Everything! You have choices on where to have your baby such as at the hospital, in a birth center, and at home. You can choose to go to the hospital in early stages of labor or to labor at home. You can choose to be as medicated as you'd like to no medical intervention unless absolutely necessary. You have a choice (unless otherwise stated by your provider and the hospital protocols) in deciding which pain management medications you use. You get to choose your provider- midwife or obstetrician. You have a choice in your support team-- partner, doula, other family member or friend or all of the above. You get to choose whether or not you research your options to find the one that is best fit for you, your baby, and your experience. There are choices you have about the care your newborn receives and what happens to your body following your birth such as what to do with your placenta and umbilical cord blood. You have many choices to ensure your birth is unique to fit your idea of birth.

What if I don't like reading or don't have time to read?

  • Ask about other people's experiences. Understand these stories will be heavily based in opinions and individual experiences. There are hundreds of Facebook groups that are nation and worldwide with women discussing their experiences, fears, challenges, accomplishments, celebrations, and encouraging one another.
  • Podcasts are great resources for expectant mothers that allows you to get tasks completed while simply listening to the information. I often fold clothes, cook, and drive while listening to podcasts. This allows me the flexibility to check off my to-do list and educate myself of options in the birth world.
  • Hire a Doula. A doula can help you navigate the world of choices concerning your birth options. Doulas provide judgement-free, unbiased support for expectant mothers and their family. They are well-versed on the options available to you and the pros and cons of each choice to help you understand what is best for you family. Doulas work hard to create and maintain relationships with hospitals, birth centers, and providers so they can support you from beginning to end as a part of your birth team.

"A woman' satisfaction with her birth experience is related more to her involvement in decision making than to the outcome" -Sarah Buckley, Author of Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering

Tranquility by HeHe, A Concierge Birthing and Doula Service in Boston, Massachusetts
"We can't wait to pamper you."

No One Told Me It Was Going To Be Like This

Monday, April 3, 2017

Boston, MA, USA
 “When my son, Moses, came into the world in 2006, I expected to have another period of euphoria following his birth. Instead, I was confronted with one of the darkest and most painfully debilitating chapters of my life.” -Gwyneth Paltrow

When you thought about having a baby, you always thought happy thoughts, right? You thought about baby giggles, newborn snuggles, bonding over breastfeeding, falling in love with your partner all over again, and filling a baby book with hundreds of invaluable, captured moments. Chances are that no one told you that one of the happiest moments of your life could also lead you down one of the saddest paths. Most likely, no one prepared you for the feelings of despair, failure, and second guessing your every move. Postpartum Depression rears its' ugly head at the most vulnerable times. It knows no boundaries- race, age, economic status, religion, or family make-up. Postpartum Depression is real. 

What is PPD?

Postpartum depression looks different in everyone affected. During your pregnancy, your body has a slow build up (with fluctuations here and there) of hormones needed for gestational development, health of mom, and preparing for childbirth. When you have your baby, there is a sudden drop in hormones. You can picture this as a hormonal cliff. Combining this hormonal drop with physical and emotional exhaustion, sleep deprivation, and navigating a brand new part of life known as parenthood.... can you see where I'm going with this?

General symptoms include (but are not limited to) feelings of loneliness, guilt, fear, worry, and anxiety. Mothers often report feeling sadness, helplessness, anger, aggressiveness, or irritability. Oftentimes, it presents as excessive crying and extreme fatigue which can lead to difficulties bonding with your new baby. Moms often feel as if they lack motivation, aren't successful at parenting, and don't get enjoyment out of otherwise enjoyable activities with their friends and family. A lack of concentration and loss of appetite can also be side effects of PPD.

Postpartum depression emerges a few weeks following childbirth and can last up to six months or longer if untreated. In rare cases, some mothers have reported depressive feelings in the weeks leading up to their birth. Symptoms generally intensify in the beginning of onset and eased within the following months. These feelings of despair are not forever; they will go away.

Risk Factors 

It is important to emphasize that there is no defining attribute that will guarantee the development of postpartum depression nor will one defining factor ward off postpartum depression. There is no one single identified cause or prevention. PPD doesn't develop because of something a mother did or didn't do during her pregnancy or labor.

History of mental health is a good predictor or "indicator" of your risk. Mother's who have a history of mental health illness, particularly depression, are at a higher risk of developing PPD. Family history of mental health illnesses are factors that could influence the risk of PPD. Other outside, "life factors" could increase your risk of PPD such as emotional, financial, health, or relationship stress within the last year. Mothers under the age of 20 are at higher risk as well as unplanned pregnancies and mothers who have little or no support systems.

What to do?

Call you healthcare provider immediately to schedule a visit. Your healthcare provider has numerous resources and the ability to refer you to Mental Health Counselors who specialize in postpartum depression and helping families adjust to life after baby.

If you have suicidal thoughts or ideation, call 911 immediately. There are national hotlines available to support you in this sensitive time.

PPD Moms, 1.800.PPD.MOMS (1.800.773.6667)
Postpartum Support International, 1.800. 944.4773
WellMaMa, 1.800.896.0410
Northshore University Healthsystem, 1.866.364.6667

Tranquility by HeHe, A Concierge Birthing and Doula Service in Boston, Massachusetts

"We can't wait to pamper you."

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