As of June 16, 2018 my family and I have moved to Portland, OR! This move was unexpected of sorts. My husband decided to find a new job around November 2017 but we never imaged it would lead us to Portland. My husband got a job at Oregon Episcopal School as their Middle School Band Teacher. We are very excited to be in Portland and discover all Portland has to offer! We are looking for recommendations on hikes (appropriate for toddler children), the best Farmers Markets and your favorite restaurants. Give us your favorites in the comments! And, if you know of a pregnant person in the Portland area (I'm in Raleigh Hills), feel free to give them my information! Thank you!
Photo credit: www.appleblossomfamilies.com
The umbilical cord has connected the baby to the placenta for the last 9 months. It has helped to provide the baby with everything the baby needs. Even after birth the umbilical cord and placenta continue to provide blood, stem cells and T cells to the baby through their connection.
Cord burning, instead of cutting the cord, can be a gentle and respectful way to sever the bonds between the placenta, umbilical cord and baby. It can also be a safe and sanitary way for people without access to sterile scissors. Traditionally it is a beautiful and usually spiritual ceremony that honors the role of the placenta and umbilical cord to the baby and gently and slowly servers the connection between the three.
Research shows that delayed cord clamping/cutting has many positive benefits (even for premature babies). Delaying even 3 minutes has a great impact on the baby, specifically their iron levels. ACOG now recommends delayed cord clamping and cutting. Cord burning can be a gentle and effective way to delay cord clamping.
What You Will Need:
If you would like to read a birth story that includes a cord burning ceremony - click here
Link for cord burning box set: Moontide Midwifery Shop (*I am not affiliated with this shop.)
Picture on the right: photo credit to Oxytocin Space
Cool Facts About the Umbilical Cord:
Sources Cited & Resources:
- Placenta the Forgotten Chakra by Robin Lim (buy it on Amazon here)
- American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists: delayed cord clamping recommendations
- PDF: Umbilical cord clamping is not a physiological necessity: Hutchon 2010, BJM April 2010, Vol 18, No. 4.
- Research: Effect of delayed versus early umbilical cord clamping on neonatal outcomes and iron status at 4 months: a randomized controlled trial
- Research Review: Late versus early clamping of the umbilical cord in full ter neonates
- World Health Organization: Recommendations on delayed cord clamping
- Research: Stem cells in the umbilical cord
- Scientific Impact Paper: Clamping of the umbilical cord and placental transfusion
- Birth Takes a Village: more information on cord burning
1. The placenta is the body's only disposable organ
The placenta is made from the same cells that make the baby - sperm and egg. Some cells differentiate into the baby and others go on to form the placenta. The placenta does its job supporting and nourishing the baby and when it is no longer needed, it is expelled, making it the body's only disposable organ.
2. The Montgomery glands in the areola produce a lubricant that smells like amniotic fluid
Those tiny bumps that people see on their areolas are called Montgomery glands and their purpose is to produce a natural lubricant that protects the nipple and areola. That specialized lubricant smells just like amniotic fluid, which is what the baby has been smelling/tasting for the entire pregnancy. The baby is attracted to the smell of "home" and this helps the baby to navigate to the breast for nourishment after birth.
3. The baby recognizes voices while in utero
The baby becomes acquainted with the voice of the pregnant parent as well as other voices that it is frequently exposed to. If the partner sings to the baby on a regular basis, the baby will soon recognize that distinct voice and song. After birth, the partner can repeat the song they have been singing to the baby in utero and this familiar refrain will be recognized by the baby and help calm and soothe the baby, as well as lower the baby's stress levels.
4. The baby starts labor
Even today, it is still not known exactly how a pregnant person's body starts labor or when it will happen, but recent research has revealed that there are two proteins in the fetus' lungs that are produced when the lungs are mature. These proteins seem to produce an inflammatory response in the uterus that begins the labor process.
5. The full term pregnant uterus is the strongest muscle in the human body
A non-pregnant uterus is the size and shape of a pear. But at full term, that uterus has grown to the size and shape of a watermelon in order to accommodate the mature fetus. At this point, it is the strongest muscle in the human body. It takes a lot of work to dilate the cervix and get that baby out through the pelvis. During the pushing stage of labor, the uterus does about 80% of the work, with the laboring person adding that extra "umph." If a woman was unconscious, and in labor, their uterus would still be able to push that baby out without any additional pushing effort from the pregnant woman.
6. Amniotic fluid and breast milk change in taste based on what the pregnant woman is eating.
The baby is tasting and swallowing amniotic fluid in utero, and drinking breast milk for nourishment after they are born. The mom's diet influences the "flavor" and taste of both of these liquids. A varied and interesting diet during pregnancy means the amniotic fluid has a variety of different tastes, and the same goes for breast milk after birth. Eat "around the world" using a variety of foods and seasonings and your baby enjoys the results too.
7. A mother's chest can heat up or cool down depending on the needs of the baby
After birth, when the newborn is placed on the mother's chest skin to skin, the mother's chest area has the ability to flush and heat up or even cool down based on feedback from the newborn's skin and body temperature. This allows the newborn to adapt to maintaining their body temperature with extra help from the mother at the start. Another great reason to have that uninterrupted skin to skin immediately after birth.
8. A 35 week baby’s brain weighs just two-thirds of what it does at 39 weeks
The last weeks of pregnancy put the finishing touches on the baby and let it enter the world ready for life on the outside. There is an amazing amount of brain growth that occurs in the last few weeks. The maturing fetus adds another one-third of it's brain weight in those last few weeks, which is why is one of many reasons why it is so important to prevent preterm birth.
9. Squatting opens the pregnant woman's pelvic outlet 28%
Changing positions during labor and pushing is very important. Doing so allows the baby to move down through the pelvis. When a laboring person squats, they are able to increase the diameter of their pelvic outlet by 28%, which is approximately one to two centimeters.
10. The capacity of a newborn's belly is the size of marble
When babies are born they are usually ready to eat within a very short while. Colostrum, baby's first food, is at the ready and provides everything that the baby needs for nourishment and hydration. Newborns need to eat frequently because their bellies are very tiny. A just born baby's stomach capacity is about five ml, (one teaspoon) which is approximately the size of a marble.
I get excited about placentas. I can't help it! They are amazing, cool, life giving and an organ. A woman's body grows a child and a placenta in 8-9 months! The placenta is what protects, nourishes, and supplies the baby. While I don't expect most people to get as excited as I do about placentas, I thought I would share some really cool facts to at least get you interested.
-The placenta is also called "tree of life" due to the fact that is literally gives life to the fetus/baby (via blood, nutrients, oxygen, etc) and because of how it looks. If you look at the picture above, the umbilical cord is the trunk of the tree and all the veins are the branches.
-Every minute about 20% of the mother's blood supply flows through the placenta. Every minute!
-The placenta grows 32 miles of capillaries (any of the fine branching blood vessels that form a network between the arterioles and venules).
-Spread out, the tissue formed to exchange oxygen and nutrients would cover 120 to 150 square feet.
-The mother's blood and the baby's blood never mix! Thanks to the placenta.
-Trophoblasts cells (from the outer layer of the embryo) create the placenta and pave the way for the placenta to gain blood supply. They are very invasive and will even "pave" themselves over the pathways of the mother in order to create a pathway for the placenta.
-The placenta plays the role of many organs while supporting the baby/fetus in the uterus, including liver, kidney, endocrine system and the respiratory system.
-The placenta has also been called the "chronicle of intrauterine life" (by scientists) because it tells a story of what has gone on in the life of the fetus/baby during development (especially if something goes wrong).
-The placenta acts as a gland - secreting numerous hormones that are essential for baby's growth, labor, and to establish breastfeeding. Some of the hormones include: estrogen (responsible for increasing blood flow and stimulating uterine growth), progesterone (helps to maintain the uterine lining), relaxin (responsible for causing the mother's joints and muscles to relax and stretch in preparation for labor/birth), and the Human Placental Lactogen (responsible for increasing mother's metabolism).
-The placenta has cells from both the Mom and the Dad (from the sperm).
-The placenta provides some immunity and infection protection for the fetus/baby.
- The placenta does not contain any nerve cells, so it cannot be under the direct control of the brain or spinal cord. The placenta develops and functions without being connected to your brain — how amazing!
-The placenta is the only disposable organ. It comes out when it has done it's job (and what a fine job it does, too!)
Grady, Denise. "The Mysterious Tree of a Newborn's Life: The Push to Understand the Placenta." The New York Times [New York]. 14 July 2014 The New York Times Web. 28 May 2016
Pyanov, Maria. "What is a Placenta? 10 Amazing Placenta Facts" BellyBelly 25 January 2015. Web. 28 May 2016.
There has been a lot of media coverage and panic over the Zika virus. Kaiser Permanente even called their pregnant mamas in California and played a prerecorded message about the Zika virus, A lot of the information was from the media and not really helpful. Where do you turn when there is so much panic about this seemingly new virus? Are you parents, friends, or family calling you and freaking out? Have you cancelled any and all trips?
I have some good news. The Zika virus has been around for 70 years and has never thought to be a public health risk. Most people who contract the Zika virus have no symptoms, or think they have a mild case of the flu. Over the decades it has infected tens of thousands of people without any cases of microcephaly (babies born with abnormally small heads and corresponding learning and developmental problems) being reported.
Rebekah Wheeler, RN, CNM, MPH puts together a great article on the Zika Virus combining all the science and facts that we know this far. In it, she explains why there is a sudden link between Zika and microcephaly.
"There was a Zika outbreak in Brazil in 2015, with between 500,000 and 1,500,000 Brazilians getting the virus (FRAMEWORK, S. R. 2016). At the same time, local health officials in northern Brazil noticed that there was a sharp increase in rates of microcephaly. Brazil usually sees about 150 cases of microcephaly each year, but in 2015 that number was above 3,000, a massive increase (FRAMEWORK, S. R. 2016). Researchers began to suspect, due to the fact that the Zika outbreak happened at the same time as the increase in microcephaly cases, that perhaps contracting Zika during pregnancy might be the cause of microcephaly in the fetus. What they don’t know, and may never know, is how many of the babies with microcephaly were exposed to Zika in utero. This may never be possible to measure, as Zika does not stay in the bloodstream for more than about 12 weeks (FRAMEWORK, S. R. 2016).
Regarding the suspected link between Zika infection and microcephaly, it is very important to know that this is a suspected link, not a proven one. In fact, experts from the World Health Organization are being very careful to say that the link between Zika virus and microcephaly is a suspected one, but has not been confirmed in any scientific study. Microcephaly has historically been known to have multiple non-Zika causes, including Down Syndrome and other genetic disorders, exposure to toxic chemicals, smoking in pregnancy, maternal malnutrition and some severe maternal infections. Further cause for caution in assuming a causative link comes from Colombia, where they have had more than 3,000 cases of Zika but no increase in microcephaly rates."
We do not know that Zika causes microcephaly. There have not been conclusive studies or evidence found that actually prove that Zika causes microcephaly. Studies are being done by the CDC. Scientists are working to discover the link, if any, between the two. As of right now, pregnant women and women trying to get pregnant should be careful, but there is no need to stay inside and cancel all travel plans.
Reasonable Steps to Avoid Zika
(from Rebekah Wheeler, RN, CNM, MPH)
Rebecca Wheeler goes on to say in Part 2 that she does not think it likely that the Zika Virus and microcephaly will be found to be linked. She says "there are factors about Zika that make it unlikely to be a frequent risk, and that also point to a very small likelihood of it causing microcephaly in most cases:
I hope this has helped to put your mind at ease. While pregnant women have to be careful about and avoid so many things, I do not think the Zika Virus should not be at the top of the list, especially for women in the US.
To read the full articles by Rebekah Wheeler, RN, CNM, MPH, visit Science & Sensibility - Part 1 and Part 2.
It is hard to know just what your new baby is saying. New babies do communicate through facial features, actions and crying. Usually, and with a little practice, you can figure out what your baby needs before your baby is crying hysterically. Below is a helpful info-graphic to help you learn the ropes of just what your baby is trying to say! :) Enjoy!
This is a fun list of things that usually go along with pregnancy. Feel free to comment with some of your own "you know you're pregnant when..." times.
You Know You're Pregnant When...
Can I labor over there?
Can I labor on the chair?
No! No labor over there!
Don’t labor on the chair!
Sit there, sit there, you will see,
You must labor with this IV!
I do not like this sharp IV!
I need to move, to dance, to pee!
Doctor, Doctor, let me be;
Say, get your pesky hands off me!
No! You can’t move, or dance, or pee!
You must labor with this IV!
Not over there, not on the chair,
Not with the ball, you’ll have a fall!
Can I labor with a Doula?
Can I use some calendula?
Can I labor on hands and knees?
Can I birth just how I please?
No! Not with a Doula!
No –what’s calendula?
Lay back, lay back, count to ten,
Breathe –he he hoo –push again!
No thank you, doctors, nurse, and crew,
I’ll go and labor without you.
I’ll labor here, I’ll labor there!
In the shower –everywhere!
I’ll labor standing, squatting, sitting
I’ll labor on my couch while knitting!
I’ll have a Doula –I’ll have three!
They’ll let me eat and bring me tea.
Try them! Try them! You will see!
You can go shove that darn IV.
Inspired by Dr. Seuss. Author Unknown.
Birth plans are a great way to learn about birth and labor! It is a way to research what you want to have happen during the birth and what you don’t want to have happen at the birth. It helps you learn how to talk about birth issues/things with your spouse, your doctor, and your friends. If you have any questions, your health care provider is a good place to start. When your birth plan is finished, make sure you show your health care provider and ask them to sign it. If you are taking any health care classes, the instructors are also good people to ask for help with your birth plan.
10 Tips for Writing a Helpful/Informed/Concise Birth Plan:
#1 DO keep your birth plan short, simple, and easy to understand (1-2 pages max).
#2 DO keep the language of your birth plan assertive and clear.
#3 DO use your birth plan as an impetus for doing your own personal research about your preferences for childbirth. (One great place to start is: www.mothersadvocate.com).
#4 DO include your fears, concerns, and helpful things for the nurse to know.
#5 DO review your birth plan with your birth attendant and ask him/her to sign off that he/she read and understands it.
#6 DO make your birth plan personal (don’t just copy paste) and DO make sure that you understand and can elaborate on everything in the birth plan if asked.
#7 DO look at examples of great birth plans online to get some ideas. (Some good places to start: www.birthingnaturally.net; www.babycenter.com; www.mothersadvocate.com).
#8 DO run through scenarios in your mind about how labor could unfold and actually talk these scenarios out with your labor companions and Doula (or perhaps even your childbirth educator or birth attendant too!).
#9 DO try to treat researching and birth plan writing as a fun and exciting experience, not a chore!
#10 DO discuss your birth plan with your partner/friend/parent/Doula.
Remember to bring your birth plan to the hospital!!
Birth Plan Resources:
Birth Plan from a Mommy: http://thehumbledhomemaker.com/2012/08/a-sample-hospital-birth-plan.html
Birth Plan Worksheet: http://www.babycenter.com/calculators-birthplan
This is a good one to look at for all kinds of ideas. I would not recommend using this whole thing – it is 4 pages long. You could choose all the boxes you want and maybe transfer them to a shorter birth plan.
Birth Plan Organizer - Choices in Childbirth (from a Doula): http://choicesinchildbirth.com/Birth_Plan_Organizer.html
American Pregnancy Association - http://americanpregnancy.org/labornbirth/birthplan.htm
Earth Mama Angel Baby - http://www.earthmamaangelbaby.com/free-birth-plan
I’m sure you have heard people talk about the “dangers” of co-sleeping, or maybe a friend gave you that look when you mentioned you and your family had decided on co-sleeping, or maybe a parent has lectured you on the dangers of sleeping with your baby (that they heard or read in the news!)…maybe all of the above. While the risk of SIDS is very real and very scary, it does not go hand-in-hand with co-sleeping or bed-sharing. If you safely co-sleep with your baby you do not increase your risk of SIDS, but you can enjoy: heightened awareness of your baby, similar protective sleeping patterns with your baby, easier breastfeeding, more sleep, a healthier baby, and much more. You can safely co-sleeping with your baby in your bed (as with bed-sharing) or right next to your bed – as with a bassinet or a bed created for co-sleeping like the Arm’s Reach beds, you just need to follow safety steps keep the lines of communication open. Co-sleeping does not have to mean bed-sharing.
A respected and knowledgeable Dr. in the field of babies and co-sleeping is Dr. Sears. He has done scientific research and studies as well as anthropological research on co-sleeping. His research shows:
Find the complete article by Dr. Sears and further research, here.
Doula Rachel has put together a blog of resources, info-graphics, and articles, with an occasional self-published blog. Enjoy!