I'm a Certified Lamaze Childbirth Educator (LCCE), Certified Prenatal Fitness Consultant (level 1), Certified Birth Doula, and most importantly a mother to 5 beautiful boys!
The Cascade of Interventions aka the Snowball Effect
In a hospital setting where your care providers are actively managing your labour, once you have one intervention it makes more interventions more likely to be needed in order to remedy the effects of the previous ones.
In our Western society culture, there has been a tendency to turn pregnancy and childbirth into a medical experience. One intervention can lead to another in a cascading sequence of questionable procedures, many made necessary only because of a previous intervention.
We are lucky to live in the time of modern medicine, however medical interventions such as labour induction, pain relief, and cesareans—measures that have saved many lives—have been overused.
When you intervene uneccessarily with nature's role, generally there is a waterfall of effects that occur because one things leads to another.
Doctors need to inform their patients of all the risks instead of assuming we don't need to know. It is our bodies, after all...
Facts - did you know that:
The World Health Organization (WHO) states that no region in the world is justified in having a cesarean rate greater than 10 to 15 percent.
In the past twenty years, the cesarean section rates have nearly quintupled in the US to 23.8% in 1989 and nearly quadrupled in Canada to 18.3% in 1987-8.
Of 11,814 women admitted for labor and delivery and attended by midwives to 84 freestanding birth centers in the US, 15.8% were transferred to the hospital and 4.4% had a cesarean section. Although the women were lower than average risk of a poor pregnancy outcome, their cesarean rate is one-fifth of the national average.
This is a wonderful representation of how one intervention can snowball into the next from "Thinking Woman's Guide" by Henci Goer.
1. Changing into the hospital gown
Putting on the hospital gown shifts the balance of power from woman to hospital. Her perception of herself shifts, and she sees herself as a patient, in the care of “experts,” rather than as a woman confident in her ability to birth on her own terms. This simple act may also make the woman feel less comfortable, feel cold or she may be concerned about modesty as well, which increases stress and makes relaxation harder.
2. Continuous Electronic Fetal Monitoring (EFM)
The major effect of continuous EFM is that it keeps the mother immobile in bed. The use of EFM is not evidence-based, and even ACOG (American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) admits it has had no effect in improving outcomes for babies . Evidence shows that Intermittent EFM with a handheld Doppler is just as effective as continuous EFM at identifying babies in distress. The only effect continuous EFM has had is that it has increased the cesarean section rate.
3. Getting the IV
IV’s restrict a woman’s mobility and make it easier to administer fluids and medications that can interfere with natural birth. Sometimes, IVs can be helpful, especially if a woman is unable to tolerate oral hydration, or in an emergency situation. In normal labor, women need to be free to move their bodies throughout labor, and should be encouraged to change positions frequently. Having an IV can hinder that. The IV is also simply uncomfortable, annoying and may interfere with her focus on relaxing with contractions as well and make holding hands with her support person more uncomfortable or impossible. Even a hep lock can be bothersome in the same ways. The perception that having an IV readily available is helpful in an emergency is not evidence based. Many times this IV port is not working well enough to handle an emergency and must be restarted.
4. Labour Augmentation with Pitocin
The use of synthetic oxytocin (Pitocin®) makes labor more painful for the mother, and more difficult for the baby to tolerate. There are studies that show Pitocin may interfere with the body's natural ocytocin hormone production which may hinder the mother's natural efforts in the pushing stage, may contribute to postpartum hemorrhage and may interrupt her bonding with her baby, contributing to postpartum depression. http://www.birthresourcenetwork.org/resources/54-pitocin-the-whole-story
5. Pain Relief
Because the contractions are so intense with Pitocin, the mother frequently will choose to receive an epidural for pain relief.
6. Restriction of Movement
An epidural keeps a woman confined to bed for the duration of the labor and birth. Being unable to move restricts the woman’s ability to help her baby get into a good position for birth. It may also hinder the baby's ability to move, too.
7. Contractions Slow Down
Epidurals can slow labor progress, which results in increasing dosages of Pitocin® to increase contraction intensity and frequency, which can lead to an even greater need for pain relief and greater risk of fetal distress.
8. Progress Slows or Stops
Assuming the woman reaches full dilation, the epidural can interfere with the woman’s ability to push effectively.
9. Fetal Distress
Hard contractions, combined with reduced blood pressure and the lack of blood flow to the baby, can cause the baby to go into distress.
10. Cesarean Section
After having exhausted all of the tools at the obstetrician’s disposal, this one option remains.
Despite all of the dire warnings from conventional parents all over the world about the "family bed", modern parents are challenging this old school teaching. There's a new wave of parenting and medical experts that firmly support the family bed, like Dr. Sears and renowned Dr. James McKenna.
There's new research and evidence that have shown the many benefits of family sleep-sharing. Tons of modern parents have decided that co-sleeping actually provides a safer, sounder sleep for everyone in the household.
Not only does co-sleeping give the new mom a much needed amount of shut-eye, but scientists believe there is an evolutionary link to this night time habit. We are the only species of animal on this planet that does not sleep with their young. Think of that for a moment...we have instincts for a reason, to protect ourselves and our loved ones.
SIDS; the suffocation of an infant. As any mother knows, any move your baby makes will wake you. Once your baby moves into a unhealthy sleeping position you will instinctively wake up and move baby back to good. You can't do that if you're in a whole other room. And, another amazing fact: a baby's heartbeat will actually match that of it's mothers when placed within touching distance, hence if breathing issues develop during sleep, they will be quickly remedied. Think of this: another word for SIDS is COT Death. What is a cot? A CRIB!
For years and years, the biggest rule of family sleep, as per parenting experts, has been that babies should never be allowed to sleep with their parents. This, we were told, will lead to poor sleep habits, unhealthy dependencies, ruined marriages and even SIDS. So not true! The crib is actually only a Western world habit that has been instilled in us for 150 years. Prior to this it was generally assumed that babies and children would sleep with their parents. Most families could not afford separate rooms or beds for everyone in the house.
Additionally, sharing sleep was a reliable way to make sure that the youngsters stayed warm. Children will also sleep more soundly when placed in close quarters with their parents. Of course! Children feel more relaxed and secure when they are close to the most important people in their lives. When children are relaxed and secure, they are healthy emotionally. Enough said!
Breastfeeding provides an awesome bonding experience between you and your baby. It provides without question, hands-down, the absolute best nutrition for babies.
Here are a few common questions regarding breastfeeding that you may be wondering about during your pregnancy.
What does research show about the benefits of breastfeeding for babies?
They have fewer illness...and if they do get sick, the effects are milder.
They have fewer ear infections.
They are less likely to be admitted to the hospital during their first year.
They are 1/3 less likely to die of SIDS.
If breast fed for over a year, their risk of developing diabetes is cut in half.
What does research show about the benefits of breastfeeding for mamas?
Chances of breast cancer, cervical cancer, and osteoporosis are reduced.
The milk-producing hormone pro-lactin has a relaxing effect and stimulates maternal instincts.
On-going milk production burns calories, which helps with weight loss after pregnancy.
The bond that mama and baby will have is amazing!
How do I prepare for breastfeeding?
The best thing about breastfeeding is that you already have everything you need! You may still have questions on how it will affect daily life, how to get started, or how to handle your work situation. Feeling confident on the topic by reading up or joining a breastfeeding clinic will make the transition easier and more successful for you and your new baby.
How do I get started?
Good old Mother Nature has already taken care of most of it for you. Some general things you need to know to help you get started are:
1. How to position baby correctly and comfortably
Make sure you are comfortable...use pillows supporting your arms and in your lap.
Position baby as close to you as possible, so that he does not have to turn his head to reach your breast.
Support your breast so it's not pressing on your baby's chin. Your baby's chin should 'drive' into your breast.
Latch baby on. Encourage him to open his mouth wide and pull him close by supporting his BACK instead of the back of his HEAD, so that his chin drives into your breast. His nose will be touching your breast.
If it hurts, detach baby and try again.
IT TAKES PRACTICE! so be patient with baby and yourself.
*note: see my next blog post "Breastfeeding, Going Beyond the Basics" for great breastfeeding positions.
2. How to make sure baby is getting enough milk
If baby is getting enough milk, he will have 4-6 (or more!) wet diapers per day. The color of his urine will also tell you if he's getting enough liquid. Dark, apple juice colored urine (after the first 4 days) suggests that baby is not getting enough. You may notice a residue on the diaper, due to urate crystals from over-concentrated urine (which is normal in the first few days only). Between week one and week four, babies who are getting enough hind-milk will produce at least 2-3 yellow, seedy stools a day. Remember, baby's are super sleepy their first week or two, so don't be afraid to wake them up to feed them...they need their milk!
*note: see blog post "Breastfeeding, How to Increase Milk Supply Without Drugs"
3. How to minimize nipple tenderness
Research suggests the primary cause of nipple soreness is nipple trauma due to improper positioning of the baby on the breast. Make sure his lips are not turned under and your baby is not chewing on your nipple or tongue sucking. Make sure his mouth is wide open and surrounding your aereola. Try different positions until you find a comfortable, efficient one. Don't pull your baby off; insert a finger between your baby's jaws to break the suction first.
4. How to manage engorgement
Engorgement is caused by increased blood supply and milk in the breast. Fullness is different than engorgement and usually decreases within the first two or three weeks if the baby is nursing regularly. If the milk is not being removed, the breasts may become tender and engorged. To treat this:
Try a warm shower, or apply a hot washcloth prior to nursing.
Massage your breasts to promote milk flow.
Apply cold compresses to both breasts. The cold will feel good and decrease the swelling.
Use hand expression of milk to soften the areola just before a feeding.
Feed your baby on demand, approximately every one to three hours for at least 15 minutes. Try not to miss any feedings!
A great resource, especially for first time breastfeeding mothers, is a Baby Feeding Class or Breastfeeding Clinic. There are private organizations such as La Leche League or your local hospital may have a Breastfeeding Clinic open on certain days. These clinics will have a Lactation Consultant available to answer your questions, and to provide hands-on support. A Lactation Consultant is certified in this area.
For further information and resources:
La Leche League International: http://www.lalecheleague.org
The World Health Organization http://www.who.int/features/factfiles/breastfeeding/facts/en/index.html
Breastfeeding Basics http://www.breastfeedingbasics.com/
When milk supply seems to be low, it can be a stressful thing for a new mother. As the body adjusts to the supply and demand of baby and as baby becomes a more proficient nurser, the breasts will appear to stop producing enough milk. No fear: the breasts are still producing enough milk to feed baby. They just aren't producing MORE than they need to, which causes leaking breasts and strong letdowns.
However, if the demand for the milk lessens (ie. returning to work or a baby going on a nursing strike), the milk supply will be reduced. Stress is a common reason for diminished supply. Also, a nursing mother who becomes pregnant may find her milk supply decreases as her body's hormones switch attention to feeding the new baby.
There are many ways to increase milk supply. The two most important ways are to nurse as much as possible and maintain the determination to breastfeed.
Reduce stresses. Try to relax while feeding. Nurse in a quiet room. This is your opportunity to relax for a bit. The simple act of relaxing will encourage letdown and there will be no distractions for baby to make him stop nursing before he's full.
Drink lots of water. A body that doesn't receive enough fluid intake is going to have a problem producing fluid! Drink at least a gallon of water a day.
Massage your breasts. Babies will naturally knead the breast which triggers letdown. This will in turn cause the body to produce more milk.
Watch your diet. A diet that consists of fast food and lots of caffeine isn't good for you or baby. You will need lots of nutrients to provide a nutritious meal for your baby. Some foods can act like galactogogues (supply boosters), like oatmeal or flax seed.
Use natural freshly ground herbs. Fenugreek is an excellent herb to help increase milk supply. It is an expectorant and has no side effects other than causing your milk to have a maple syrup scent. Milk thistle is another great supply enhancer, though not as effective as fenugreek. You can also buy ready-made tinctures specifically for this, like Mother's Milk, or Mother's Milk Two for pregnant mothers who are nursing.
Remember! the BEST way to increase milk supply is to let baby feed on demand...often!
Women these days have very hectic lifestyles. There are stresses with work, family, and finances. There are environmental toxins and poor diet. There is also a disconnect from our bodies and how nature has a perfect plan for the way we function. Homeopathic medicine is a medical system that uses highly diluted doses of natural substances, such as Sepia, to stimulate a person’s immune and defense system. Sepia has a broad range of action over the female body and treats a wide range of diseases. Sepia is a pure ink pigment found in cuttlefish; when threatened, it releases spurts of dark ink, or sepia. The ink is collected for preparation and diluted with large quantities of milk sugar for final use.
Sepia is mainly used for gynecological complaints such as premenstrual syndrome, painful or heavy menstruation, hot flashes, emotional and physical symptoms during and after pregnancy, candida, and sagging or prolapsed uterus. It is used for women who suffer pain during sexual intercourse or feel exhausted afterward. Women who dislike being touched either premenstrual, during menopause, or as a result of emotional problems are also helped by Sepia. Homeopathic physicians prescribe Sepia to patients whose symptoms include apathy and moodiness. It treats symptoms such as exhaustion and muscle weakness, indigestion, gas and tenderness, headaches, nausea, dizziness, hair loss, itchy or discolored patches of skin, circulatory problems, and profuse sweating.
Sepia can help the woman with premenstrual pain and cramps. It is an anti-spasmodic and helps to regulate the pain caused by the over active uterus. There will be improved blood flow to the abdominal region, reducing pain and cramps caused by blood congestion. Sepia will also help with indigestion, by aiding the digestive system to absorb vital nutrients. It is also an energy enhancer; the chemicals in sepia help improve the respiratory system by increasing the absorption of oxygen levels in the bloodstream.
There are lots of homeopathic remedies to consider when dealing with menopause consider, however Sepia outranks them all with distinct indications that are so commonly associated with menopause. The most predominant issue with menopause – change in temperament. From being calm and gentle before menopause, a woman can become irritable. She is sometimes unable to show affection towards family members. The feeling of sadness, with no desire to socialize and no interest in her day to day life makes her feel almost depressed. She tires easily. Flushes of heat in various parts of the body, which may be also associated with excessive perspiration, are common. She is not interested in sex, and may experience a dragging or bearing down sensation in the uterus, feeling as if she has to cross her legs to hold it in. Heavy menstruation is possible, as is little or irregular bleeding. Backaches are often part of the symptom pattern. For this woman, Sepia can work wonders. Sepia 200 c, two doses every week for a period of one month, makes this transition through menopause a comfortable one.
Bouts of depression resulting from loss or lack of sunlight can be treated with Sepia. An individual needing Sepia will be indifferent, weepy, angry, overwhelmed, and exhausted. Moodiness and depression (particularly in women) that includes tearfulness, anger, a desire to run away and escape, feeling over-burdened, desperate, unable to cope or about to lose control. A person who is exhausted after prolonged stress and strain and argumentative, mostly with loved ones. Fear is also a prominent emotion in a depressed individual. Fear of going crazy, of having some incurable disease, or of impending doom.
Administration & Side Effects
Sepia is available in C potency’s—one part sepia and 99 parts milk sugar. Sepia is most often prescribed in the 200 C potency, which is in the high range of of C potency’s. It is prescribed for the stubborn symptoms listed above. The available forms are sugar pellets and as a liquid. Because it is a homeopathic remedy, the above ailments can be treated without a prescription. Homeopathic remedies are not known to produce side effects, as they have no effect except when matched with particular symptoms. Individual aggravations may occur, such as headaches and nausea.
What is Delayed/Selective Vaccination?
Delayed vaccinations are schedules for immunizations that are timed to ensure that children will receive all vaccinations that are currently considered to be necessary for proper health. However, delayed schedules do not follow the standard timing set by the Government and CDC. Instead, parents make the decision about when and if a vaccination will be given to their child. Delayed vax'ing also involves determining the order in which the vaccinations will take place, which may be different from what is recommended by most doctors.
Why Delay My Child's Vaccinations?
There are a few reasons why a parent would choose to lat least look into delayed vaccinations. Basically, the idea is that overall the delay will prove to be beneficial for the child from both a physical and an emotional point of view.
- to avoid dangerous side effects of the toxins present in vaccinations.
- to avoid emotional trauma caused by the administration of the vaccination (after 3 vaccinations, all of my children learn to actually hate needles, AND the doctor giving it to them! as soon as we step into the doctors office, screaming and crying ensue).
What are the Adverse Effects of Vaccinations?
- Ever since mass vaccination of infants began, reports of serious brain, cardiovascular, metabolic and other injuries dramatically increased. In fact, pertussis vaccine has been used to induce encephalomyelitis (inflammation of the brain and spinal cord).
- Federal health officials have logged 8,000 “adverse events” in girls and women injected with the Merck & Co. vaccine introduced two years ago, more than 500 of them from New York. Drug regulators have received thousands of reports of serious side effects, ranging from paralysis, heart attack - and even death - in the two years since its launch in the USA.
- FDA has been reviewing reports of abnormal behavior and other brain effects in more than 1,800 children who had taken the flu medicine Tamiflu. The symptoms have included convulsions, delirium or delusion, and death.
According to Dr. Bob Sears of AskDrSears.com, mercury was removed from virtually all vaccines in 2002, but can still be found in significant amounts in some brands of the flu shot and some older versions of the plain tetanus and diphtheria/tetanus shots. Mercury can still be found in trace amounts in one brand of the DTaP vaccine and some brands of the flu shot and newer plain tetanus and diphtheria/tetanus shots.
Possible Short Term Side Effects
- Skin Rashes
- Nausea, Vomitting, Diarrhea
- Coughs, Runny Noses
- Ear Infections
- Loss of Muscle Control
- Brain Inflammation
- Hemolytic Anemia
- Sudden Infant Death
- Possible Long Term Side Effects
- Brain Damage
- Other Severe Neurological Damage
- Allergies and Hypersensitivities
- General Damage to the Immune System
- Incomplete or Arrested Development of the Immune System
- Auto-Immune Diseases
- Stealth Viruses
Contrary to popular belief, vaccines do NOT give permanent immunity from the diseases they vaccinate against. Most studies show that a high percentage of people who were vaccinated as children have no stored immunity by the time they reach adulthood. If exposed to the diseases at this later age, they usually have a much more serious case of these illness, which can be fatal more often than when the diseases are acquired naturally as children.
Children are being exposed to the risks of vaccination without the benefits of either short-term or long-term immunity. For example, in the last 30 years every case polio in the U.S. has been among previously vaccinated individuals.
The side effects from vaccinations appear to be higher than the risks of serious side effects from the naturally acquired diseases (ie. in conditions like auto-immune diseases, diabetes, and cancer, all of which are now at epidemic levels where vaccinations are widespread).
More Info. as Recommended by Child Experts
Dr. Bob Sears recommends giving only two vaccines at a time, as opposed to as many as six with a standard schedule, to allow a baby's body to detoxify the vaccine chemicals and reduce the chance of chemical overload from grouping too many chemicals together at once. He recommends giving only one aluminum-containing vaccine at a time, as opposed to the standard four, to reduce the toxicity of aluminum on the baby's brain, and only one live-virus vaccine at a time to allow the baby's immune system to better cope with the effects of the active virus.
Elizabeth Cohen, CNN medical correspondent, recommends delaying the newborn Hepatitis B vaccine to avoid the common side effects of fever, lethargy, and feeding problems. Hepatitis B is primarily a sexually transmitted disease which infants are highly unlikely to contract! It is further recommended to split combined vaccines into individual "shots" when available to decrease the chance of negative reactions. Check titers (blood immunity levels) before giving booster shots. Some children do not require boosters according to standard immunization schedules, because their original vaccinations are still working.
The 12 Childhood Vaccines
- Hepatitis B (HepB)
- Rotavirus (Rota)
- Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (DTaP)
- Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
- Pneumococcal (PCV)
- Inactivated Poliovirus (IPV)
- Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR)
- Varicella (Chickenpox)
- Hepatitis A (HepA)
- Meningococcal (MCV4)
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV) - ie. Gardasil
Common, but potentially serious, diseases include pneumococcal disease, pertussis (whooping cough), rotavirus, and influenza. Common, but less often serious, diseases include chickenpox and hepatitis A.
Rare, but potentially serious, diseases include tetanus, diphtheria, haemophilus influenza type B, meningococcal disease, poliovirus, measles, mumps, and rubella.
Sexually transmitted diseases, very rare in children, include hepatitis B and human papillomavirus.
Alternatives to Vaccination
Beyond vaccines, early germ exposure and a eating immune boosting foods improve a child's immune function.
- No vaccinations until a child is two years old.
- No vaccines that contain thimerosal (mercury).
- No live virus vaccines (except for smallpox, should it recur).
These vaccines should be given one at a time, every six months, beginning at age 2:
- Pertussis (acellular, not whole cell)
- Polio (the Salk vaccine, cultured in human cells)
Basically, In a Nutshell...
Delayed vax'ing is giving fewer shots over a longer period of time, to reduce the risk of adverse side effects and to give the child's immune system a better chance to cope with toxic chemicals and live viruses. Parents who understand vaccines the preventable diseases that vaccines cause can make informed decisions regarding their child's vaccination schedule.
The whole idea of vaccinating overlooks the CRUCIAL importance of actually catching the childhood diseases as part of the normal development of our immune system. If our immune systems are never properly trained and allowed to exercise, how can it do its job throughout our lifetimes.
What is Natural Family Planning?
Natural family planning (also know as The Billing's Ovulation Method) is a method used to determine when a woman is fertile. By learning to identify your natural signals of fertility, you can use this method to become pregnant or avoid pregnancy and to safeguard your reproductive health. During the menstrual cycle, there are numerous changes occur in a woman's body.
Why Would I Want to Practice Natural Family Planning?
This method enables a woman to safeguard her reproductive health while allowing effective management of fertility. This scientific method of fertility management is completely natural, and as a result, there are none of the harmful side effects commonly associated with many contraceptives.
Understanding Your Cycle
During each cycle, one of a woman's ovaries releases an egg (referred to as ovulation). The egg moves toward the uterus via the fallopian tubes, where fertilization will take place. An unfertilized egg may live for up to 12 hours after it is released. If pregnancy is not achieved, the egg will be shed later during menstruation.
First Part of the Cycle (Follicular)
At the start of each menstrual cycle the pituitary gland releases the hormone FSH which makes the immature eggs grow. While the egg is developing, the area around the egg (follicle) produces estrogen (which causes the lining of the lining of the uterus to grow and prepare to receive a fertilized egg). Once the egg has reached a certain size and maturity, the estrogen in the blood "tells" the pituitary gland that the egg is ready to be released. The pituitary gland then sends out a high level of the hormone LH (also known as the LH surge). This hormone surge will cause the follicle to burst and the ovary to release the egg. Ovulation has occurred. The egg then travels through fallopian tube to the uterus. The remainder of the follicle left in the ovary will now start to produce progesterone. If you have sexual intercourse now, and sperm fertilizes the egg, the woman becomes pregnant. The fertilized egg attaches to the uterus and the follicle remains will keep producing the progesterone needed to keep the egg implanted and growing.
Second Part of the Cycle (Leutal Phase)
If no egg is implanted after a few days, the follicle will stop producing progesterone and will be reabsorbed in the ovary. The levels of progesterone and estrogen fall and the lining of the uterus starts to break up. The unfertilized egg and the lining of the uterus are released through menstruation and the cycle begins again.
How Does Natural Family Planning Work?
There are many methods used to determine your fertility:
Cervical Mucous (CM) - during the first part of your cycle, after menses has ended, your CM will be dry. The closer you get to ovulation, the "wetter" you will become. This wet CM is fertile (so, the wetter you are, the more fertile you are). This wet CM will help to move the sperm along to reach their goal. It also makes the vagina a "non-hostile" environment for the sperm. If you are wanting to get pregnant, this is the time you would want to have intercourse as much as possible. If you are using the natural family planning to avoid pregnancy, then this is the time to avoid intercourse. As soon as ovulation has occurred, your CM will quickly become dry again.
Cervix - this is a somewhat invasive procedure. It takes some time to understand the cervix. If you gently insert a finger into the vagina, you will feel a barrier. This barrier is the cervix (the opening to the uterus). At the beginning of your cycle, your cervix will be low, closed, and firm (like the tip of your nose). The closer to ovulation you get, the higher it will get. It will also start to open (to allow sperm access) and become soft (like your lips). After ovulation, the cervix will quickly lower, close, and become firm again.
Basal Body Temperature (BBT) - Taking your BBT each day will tell you a lot about your cycle. During the first part of your cycle, your temperatures remain low. Once ovulation has occurred, your BBT will rise significantly (about a full degree F). Once ovulation has occurred, you know you are no longer fertile for the remainder of this cycle. Charting your BBT will only tell you when ovulation has ALREADY occurred. Your BBT will rise due to the increasing progesterone that is released by the follicle after ovulation. This rise in progesterone makes your body warm to help a fertilized egg stay nice and cozy while it grows and develops.
Ovulation Predictor Kits (OPK) - These kits look similar to home pregnancy tests, but instead of measuring HCG in your system, they detect LH (the hormone that tells the ovary to release the egg). Once the OPK is positive, you know you will ovulate within 12-36 hours. If you want to be pregnant, this is an excellent time to have intercourse. Using OPK's are not recommended for use if you are trying to avoid pregnancy. This is because sperm can live in the vagina for up to 5 days (and the OPK's will detect ovulation about 12-36 hours before it happens).
Using a combination of these methods will determine fertility almost 100% of the time. You can find many online charting websites to record BBT, OPK results, CM, and more. One such site is Fertility Friend which is free to use.
How Effective is this Method?
The Natural Family Planning method can help help you avoid pregnancy up to 98% of the time (2 pregnancies per 100) when it is practiced correctly. As many as 2 out of 3 women who don't have fertility problems become pregnant if they have sexual intercourse on their fertile days.
Billings Ovulation Method is used by millions of women around the world. It was developed by Dr.'s John and Evelyn Billings, validated by eminent international scientists and successfully trialled by the World Health Organization. By learning to identify your natural signals of fertility, you can use the Billings Ovulation Method to become pregnant or avoid pregnancy and to safeguard your reproductive health.
Morning sickness affects nearly 85% of pregnant women at some point during their pregnancy. Unlike it’s name tends to insinuate, morning sickness can hit at any time. For some women this lasts only briefly but for some it can last the whole pregnancy. It can be unpleasant but is not usually dangerous. There are many natural ways to alleviate morning sickness, and make your day more bearable.
NOTE: Always make sure your doctor or midwife is aware of your situation. Vomiting during pregnancy can lead to dehydration and malnutrition if it continues long enough. In some cases it may be an unrelated illness and should be investigated.
What Causes Morning Sickness?
Morning sickness is partially caused by the many hormonal changes occurring in your body.
- HCG (Human chorionic gonadotropin): This hormone rises quickly in the first trimester and levels off by week 12, which is why a lot of women feel better by this time.
- Estrogen: This hormone also rises rapidly in early pregnancy and levels off by week 12. It is believed that estrogen plays a part in heightened sense of smell as well; certain aromas instantly trigger the gag reflex.
Ways to Ease Morning Sickness
- If you’re hungry, eat!: Never allow your stomach to be fully empty. Eating small meals throughout the day will help keep your blood sugar from dipping too low and triggering nausea. Try eating carbohydrates before you get out of bed (crackers, toast, dried fruit, popcorn, granola bars, etc.).
- Protein: Protein is the best source of sustained energy and will be one of your biggest friends when preventing nausea. Eat some just before bed to avoid feeling queasy in the morning.
- Complex Carbohydrates: Avoid refined grains and simple carbs like pasta and sugar. These foods not only have little nutrition but can lead to low blood sugar. Enjoy whole wheat pastas, breads, and other whole grains.
- Drink: Dehydration is a major cause of nausea. Aim for 2.5 liters of water, unsweetened juices, and herbal teas.
- Avoid foods that can cause gas and bloating. Drinking carbonated beverages can help get rid of stomach gas.
- Avoid sucking on hard candies on an empty stomach. Although this may temporarily relieve your nausea, the digestive juices you stimulate could make matters a lot worse.
Herbs & Supplements
- Avoid taking your supplements on an empty stomach.
- Herbs. There are a variety of herbs that can help with nausea like dandelion root, wild yam, vitex, false unicorn, and black horehound. Find someone knowledgeable in the use of herbs during pregnancy to instruct you in their safe use.
- Ginger has has been clinically proven to relieve nausea. Take 250 mg three to four times per day in capsule form (do not exceed 1 g) or drink 5-6 cups of ginger tea throughout the day.
- Digestive teas such as fennel and spearmint may also be of benefit if indigestion leads to your nausea.
- Acupressure: ‘Seabands’ are designed to offset motion sickness. They firmly press an acupressure site that lies 1/6th of the way between your wrist and elbow, in the middle of the inner side of your forearm.
- Vitamin B6: Taking 25 mg of B6 throughout the day (do not exceeding 150 mg.) may help ‘shut off’ the nausea ‘control-center’ in your brain. Many women are deficient in B vitamins at the onset of pregnancy, especially those who were previously on oral contraceptives.
- Homeopathics: Try remedies such as nux vomica, ipecac, and sepia.
- Make sure you sleep when you’re tired: Exhaustion can aggravate nausea, and baby-making is tiring work!
- Indigestion: Try using digestive enzymes such as papain and bromelain at mealtime to aid digestion.
- Keep active: CO2 buildup in the blood can contribute to nausea, which can be reduced with the help of cardio activity.
- Aromatherapy: Many essential oils are not to be used during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester. However lavender oil, when inhaled, may help relieve nausea.
- Avoid smells, tastes, and textures that trigger your nausea.
Most of all, enjoy your pregnancy! you’re building a life and the trying times of morning sickness will soon come to an end.
- An estrogen imbalance (usually excessive) can cause conditions such as fibroids and endometriosis, which cause problems within the uterus. An issue in the uterus can make implantation of the fetus difficult.
- The hormones FSH (Folicle Stimulating Hormone) and LH (Luteinizing Hormone) are responsible for ovulation. An imbalance in these hormones can reduce or stop menstruation altogether and make ovulation infrequent, giving you less chances to conceive.
- Men with low sperm counts often lack sufficient levels of testosterone to produce the millions of healthy motile sperm required to conceive a baby.
Fertility Prescription Medications
While there are many drugs on the market that work on hormone levels, they all have side effects. Some of these side effects are dangerous and can actually stop you from getting pregnant. For example Lupron can stop menstruation, and Clomid can cause Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome. Clomid is a medication prescribed to women who are lacking in estrogen, thus making ovulation infrequent. Studies have indicated that women taking Clomid have a 20% chance of miscarriage and a 1% chance of stillbirth. There is also an increased risk of ovarian cancer. Similarly, Lupron can decrease sperm production and testicle size in men.
The Natural Approach
Thankfully there are natural alternatives to these drugs. There are herbs that have been used for hundreds (and in some cases thousands) of years to help men and women to conceive. Modern research has confirmed that these herbs work to help you conceive faster. Double-blind clinical studies put the herbs through the strictest and most vigorous testing.
Chaste Tree (Vitex)
Chaste Tree is used to balance the hormones and increase ovulation by increasing the release of progesterone, the hormone required for ovulation to take place. Also known as Chasteberry, Doctors at Stanford University School of Medicine found that it could increase progesterone levels by an average of 56% and increase the average number of days in the Luteal Phase with basal temperatures of over 37 degrees by 42% Researchers at Basel University, Switzerland found that the herb PMS symptoms by 42.5% over a period of 3 menstrual cycles, and double-blind placebo-controlled studies have proven that Chaste Tree contains compounds beneficial for regulating menstruation. 93% of women in one study noticed a decrease of PMS symptoms after talking Chaste Tree for just 3 months. An Austalian Reasearcher at the University of Queensland noted that Chaste Tree is sometimes used by Professional Practitioners to help women avoid miscarriage.
Green Tea (Matcha)
A 2006 double blind, placebo-controlled study carried out by Stanford University of Medicine found that mixing Green Tea extract with Chaste Tree and other vitamins and minerals normalized menstrual cycles in women with both long and short cycles, and resulted in 26% of the women becoming pregnant (compared to just 10% in the placebo group) making it a 260% increase in fertility. Another 2004 study which contained Green Tea and Chaste Tree extracts resulted in 33% of the women becoming pregnant (and none of the women in the placebo group managed to conceive). The Epigallocatechin Gallate in the Green Tea extract was reported in the Food Chemical Toxicology Journal to assist fetal development, as it protected animal fetus from toxicity.
The Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Kwong Wah Hospital, Hong Kong reported use of Dong Quai to help infertile women to conceive. Dong Quai is used in Chinese Medicine for at least 2000 years to treat female reproductive problems including infertility, frequent miscarriage, ovarian function disorders, uterine cramping, fibroids, endometriosis, ovarian cysts, painful periods, heavy periods, amenoria. Dong Quai is rich in plant estrogens (phytoestrogens) which help to bring the body back into hormonal balance. It is also a good source of Vitamin B12, folic acid, choline, and iron.
Black Cohosh helps to balance estrogen levels and relieve menstrual complaints. A 2002 Biomedical Pharmacotherapy report showed that women taking a mixture of Black Cohosh and Dong Quai reduced menstrual symptoms by 54%. Unlike many estrogenic substances, Black Cohosh is safe for women with estrogen-related problems such as endometriosis and fibroids, as it does not stimulate endometrial tissue. Black Cohosh also has anti inflammatory and antioxidant benefits and protects against aging and DNA damage. This is particularly helpful for women who are over 35 or who have been exposed to toxicity.
Muira Puama has been used by indigenous cultures in South America for aphrodisiac purposes and this has been backed up by the The Institute of Sexology in Paris, which found that 65% of women with a low sex drive who took a blend of Muira Puama reported an increased libido. In the USA, herbalists use Muira Puama to ease menstrual disorders such as PMS, menstrual cramps, and to increase fertility. Muira Puama supports the central nervous system and has antidepressant qualities, helping you prepare mentally and emotionally for conception.
Siberian Ginseng has been used in Chinese Medicine to help the body to deal with both mentally and physically stressful situations, and to boost energy levels. It stimulates the endocrine system which contains all the glands responsible for fertility and hormone balance. Siberian Ginseng has anti-aging properties and is particularly useful for older women and it has been widely used as an aphrodisiac and as a general fertility tonic for both men and women. Siberian Ginseng also stimulates the flow of blood to the reproductive organs, and has been used to improve uterine muscles and boost the chances of successful implantation after conception.
Some people like to buy each herb separately and boil them up to three times a day. This will create a potent mixture of herbs that will help them get pregnant in the fastest time possible.
Steeping herbs in alcohol for a few days will create a tincture to be taken one per day.
You can purchase your herbs in capsule form from any natural health store, or even the supermarket. This is the most popular and most convenient way to ingest your fertility herbs.