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Baby Massage: Bonding Through Touch

Baby Massage has been practiced in many cultures around the world for thousands of years, helping mothers and fathers to better communicate with their children through the power of touch. In today’s busy modern family, working moms and dads can feel guilty for missing out on time with our precious little ones. Infant Massage, or “Baby Massage”, is a great way to bond with your baby and have fun while making a stronger connection.

What is Baby Massage?

This easy-to-learn Massage technique is a gentle-pressure, rhythmic rubbing of your baby’s body and skin with your hands and fingers. You can use a moisturizer or lotion to help your hands glide over their skin and gently wiggle their ankles, elbows, wrists, and fingers. Developing a ritual will help your baby recognize the process. Be sure to make expressive eye contact throughout, engaging the child as much as possible. You can talk softly, hum, or sing a song.

What are the Benefits of Baby Massage?

The soothing rubbing of your hands stimulate the production of the feel-good hormone Oxytocin in the baby. Oxytocin is the hormone that gives you that warm, loving feeling. Mom produces it during breastfeeding, and Dad can produce it simply by holding the baby close. Parents relax, and baby is usually calm and receptive.

Some other benefits include:

• A better connection to your child spiritually and intellectually

• Relaxes your baby, putting them in a state of playful curiosity

• Better sleep patterns resulting in better moods

• Helps alleviate gas and stimulate bowel movementsbabymassage.jpg.

• Promotes sensory stimulation

Baby Massage is one of the most natural and pleasant methods of providing early nurturing, helping to strengthen the bond between you and your child. Parents report feeling more comfortable and confident in their ability to care for the baby. They learn to understand and respond to the baby’s cues, and learn techniques to comfort, calm, and soothe their babies. If you are looking for something special to do with your baby, consider adding Infant Massage to your routine.

For more information on infant massage or to host a workshop please visit www.DanaDurand.com

by Dana Durand, NCTMB, Licensed Massage Therapist

The Importance of Healthy Nutrition Throughout Your Pregnancy

Adequate nutrition during your preconception and prenatal periods is important for a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby. Achieving a normal body mass index (BMI) prior to your pregnancy as well as improving your nutritional status prior to and during your pregnancy can lower your risk of pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia. Remember, you are not eating for two; you only need to increase your calorie intake by 300-500 calories. You should gain weight gradually during your pregnancy, with most of the weight gained in the last trimester.

Read your food labels! What are you consuming to help with your baby’s growth?  Food labels will tell you what nutrients are in the foods you eat. The letters RDA, which you find on food labeling, stand for recommended daily allowance, or the amount of a nutrient recommended for your daily diet. When you’re pregnant, the RDAs for most nutrients are higher.

Pregnant women need a balanced diet including:

  • Whole grains: Breads, cereals, pastas and brown rice.
  • Fruits: All types of fruits, fresh, frozen or canned without added sugar.
  • Vegetables: Eat a variety of colorful vegetables, fresh, frozen or canned with no added salt. Raw sprouts should be avoided.
  • Lean protein: Choose lean protein from meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans and peas, peanut butter, soy products and nuts. Pregnant women should avoid eating tilefish, shark, swordfish and king mackerel, and limit white (albacore) tuna to 6 ounces per week. Deli, luncheon meats and hot dogs should be reheated if consumed.
  • Low-fat or fat-free dairy: This includes milk, cheese and yogurt. Unpasteurized milk and some soft cheeses that are made from unpasteurized milk should also be avoided.
  • Healthful fats: Vegetable oils including canola, corn, peanut and olive oil are good choices.

Avoid extra calories from added sugar and fats, which can lead to unhealthy weight gain. Cut down on foods such as regular soda, sweets and fried snacks. These are empty calories and of no nutritional value.

Key Nutrients for Healthy Pregnancy

  • Folate/Folic Acid: Folic acid reduces the risk of birth defects that affect the spinal cord. All women of childbearing age and pregnant women should consume 800 micrograms of folic acid each day. Sources include fortified foods such as cereals, pastas and breads, supplements and natural food sources of folate, including legumes, green leafy vegetables and citrus fruits.
  • Iron: Maternal iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency during pregnancy.  A pregnant woman needs 27 milligrams a day. Your body uses iron to make hemoglobin, a protein in the red blood cells that carries oxygen to your tissues. During pregnancy your blood volume expands to accommodate changes in your body and help your baby make his or her entire blood supply, doubling your need for iron.

If you don’t get enough iron, you may become fatigued and more susceptible to infections. The risk of preterm delivery and low birth weight also might be higher.

Foods with high and moderate amounts of iron include red meat, chicken and fish, fortified cereals, spinach, some leafy greens and beans. For vegetarians and women who do not eat a lot of meat, increase iron absorption by combining plant-based sources of iron with vitamin C-rich foods. For example, try spinach salad with mandarin oranges or cereal with strawberries.

  • Calcium: During pregnancy, calcium is needed for the healthy development of a baby’s teeth, bones, heart, nerves and muscles. When a pregnant woman does not consume enough calcium, it is taken from her bones for the baby. It is important to consume adequate amounts of calcium daily before, during and after pregnancy. The recommended amount of calcium during pregnancy is 1,000 milligrams per day for adolescents 14 to 18 years old and 1,300 milligrams per day for women aged 19 to 50. That means at least three daily servings of calcium-rich foods such as low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt or cheese or calcium-fortified cereals and juices.

Vitamin D Promotes bone strength and helps build your baby’s bones and teeth.  Fatty fish, such as salmon, is a great source of vitamin D.  Other options include fortified milk and orange juice.

There has been many studies recently revealing how common it is women of childbearing age are either insufficient or deficient in their levels of Vitamin D. This can cause an adverse outcome in pregnancy if not addressed.  Your vitamin D3 level should be > 40 ng/ml for a healthy pregnancy and for breastfeeding. Ask your healthcare provider to include your 25-OH-D concentrations of your Vitamin D level in your initial prenatal lab work.

Prenatal vitamins currently contain only 400 IU of Vitamin D3 which is inadequate.

 Protein is crucial for your baby’s growth, especially during the second and third trimesters. You need 71 grams/day. Good sources of protein include: Lean meat, poultry, fish and eggs are great sources of protein. Other options include dried beans and peas, tofu, dairy products, and peanut butter.

When you look at your food choices on your plate, you should have a variety of color!

Fine-tuning your eating habits to ensure you are receiving adequate nutrition for the health of you and your baby is key. Healthy eating during pregnancy is critical for a healthy pregnancy, healthy mom and baby!

Shelia L. Kirkbride,  MS, NC, VE.

 

colorfulplate

References:

Mayo clinic.org-Nutrients in pregnancy

maternal vitamin D supplementation reduces the risk of premature birth

http://tinyurl.com/q83koe6

https://www.vitamindcouncil.org/newsletter/newsletter-pregnancy-and-gestational-vitamin-d-deficiency/

Building a Strong Foundation for Your Pregnancy

Contemplating pregnancy?  Nutritional and optimal health should be priority number one!  Women contemplating pregnancy must keep in mind that healthy eating habits and healthy lifestyle behaviors should be established before pregnancy to make sure proper nutrient levels for early embryo development and growth.

Eating a balanced diet that includes the proper amount servings of protein, grains, fruit, and vegetables is key. Protein is essential to the very foundation of your baby’s growth. Eating enough protein ensures that your little one, from the very beginning, is getting adequate food stores to support cell growth and blood production.  Regular exercise should also be incorporated in your daily routine to prepare your body for the demands of pregnancy. Habits such as drinking or smoking must be avoided to allow for optimal health and development of the child during pregnancy and after birth.  Good habits should  include taking a daily multivitamin or a daily prenatal vitamin.  Even if you are consuming healthy foods daily, you can miss out on key nutrients.  A daily prenatal vitamin — ideally starting three months before conception — can help fill any gaps.  A quality, fast absorbing prenatal vitamin is necessary for all the basic micronutrients needed during pregnancy.eat-well-teaser

Through the course of pregnancy there is an increased need for nutrients and calories to make sure proper fetal growth. The increased need for vitamins and minerals such as folate, calcium and iron is necessary to prevent birth defects, ensure proper bone formation/retention, and to reduce the risks of preeclampsia or anemia. Folic acid intake increases to a daily amount of 800 mcg, calcium to 1200 mg, and iron to 30 mg. Your Vitamin D levels should be checked with your initial prenatal labs to be sure you levels are not insufficient or deficient.  Fetal needs for vitamin D increase during the latter half of pregnancy, when bone growth and ossification are most prominent. Vitamin D travels to the fetus by passive transfer, and the fetus is entirely dependent on maternal stores. Your body needs vitamin D to maintain proper levels of calcium and phosphorus, which help build your baby’s bones and teeth. A vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy can cause growth retardation and skeletal deformities. It may also have an impact on birth weight.  Therefore, maternal status is a direct reflection of fetal nutritional status.

Researchers believe that a vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy can affect bone development and immune function from birth through adulthood.

Blog by Shelia Kirkbride

Benefits of Daily Probiotics

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help maintain the natural balance of organisms (microflora) in the intestines between harmful and beneficial bacteria and work to remove toxins from the body. The normal human digestive tract contains about 400 types of probiotic bacteria that reduce the growth of harmful bacteria and promote a healthy digestive system. The largest group of probiotic bacteria in the intestine is lactic acid bacteria, of which Lactobacillus acidophilus, found in yogurt with live cultures, is the best known. Yeast is also a probiotic substance.

Probiotics promote healthy digestion by providing beneficial bacteria to recolonize and balance the GI tract, and hinder the growth of harmful, toxic bacteria, while also promoting a healthy immune system.

Probiotics may seem new to the food and supplement industry, but they have been with us from our first breath. During a vaginal birth while the newborn passes through the birth canal, a newborn picks up bacteria from his/her mother. These good bacteria are not transmitted when a Cesarean section is performed and have been shown to be the reason why some infants born by Cesarean section have allergies, less than optimal immune systems, and lower levels of gut microflora.

What are probiotics used for?
Some people use probiotics to prevent diarrhea, gas, and cramping caused by antibiotics. Antibiotics kill “good” (beneficial) bacteria along with the bacteria that cause illness. A decrease in beneficial bacteria may lead to digestive problems. Taking probiotics may help replace the lost beneficial bacteria. This can help prevent diarrhea.

A decrease in beneficial bacteria may also lead to other infections, such as vaginal yeast and urinary tract infections, and symptoms such as diarrhea from intestinal illnesses.

Probiotics may also be used to:

• Help with other causes of diarrhea.

• Help prevent infections in the digestive tract.

• Help control immune response (inflammation), as in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Poor food choices, emotional stress, lack of sleep, antibiotic overuse, other drugs, and environmental influences can all shift the balance in favor of the bad bacteria.

When using probiotics, the idea is not to kill off all of the bad bacteria. Our body does have a need for the bad ones and the good ones. The problem is when the balance is shifted to have more bad than good. An imbalance has been associated with diarrhea, urinary tract infections, muscle pain, and fatigue.

Maintaining the correct balance between the “good” bacteria and the “bad” bacteria is necessary for optimal health.

When the digestive tract is healthy, it filters out and eliminates things that can damage it, such as harmful bacteria, toxins, chemicals, and other waste products. On the flip side, it takes in the things that our body needs (nutrients from food and water) and absorbs and helps deliver them to the cells where they are needed.

The other way that probiotics help is the impact that they have on our immune system. Some believe that this role is the most important. Our immune system is our protection against germs. When it doesn’t function properly, we can suffer from allergic reactions, autoimmune disorders (for example, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and rheumatoid arthritis), and infections (for example, infectious diarrhea, Helicobacter pylori, skin infections, and vaginal infections). By maintaining the correct balance from birth, the hope would be to prevent these ailments. Our immune system can benefit anytime that balanced is restored, so it’s never too late.

Probiotics convert the fiber in food into healthy fatty acids that nourish the cells that line the intestines. They also help the intestines make short-chain fatty acids, which contribute to the overall health of the body.

Benefits of Probiotics in Pregnancy
Many women suffer from digestive issues, such as heartburn, diarrhea, constipation and intestinal cramps, during pregnancy. Probiotics help relieve constipation and other intestinal issues by improving gastrointestinal function. The healthy bacteria can also improve the immune system of both the mother and baby during pregnancy. Probiotics can help you fight off or avoid colds and other illnesses, which is essential during pregnancy due to a suppressed immune system. Taking probiotics during pregnancy may also help prevent allergies and eczema in both mothers and infants.

A study performed by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology discovered a lasting impact on babies whose mothers took probiotics during pregnancy. According to this study, babies and toddlers up to 2 years old were 40 percent less likely to suffer from eczema compared to babies whose mothers did not drink probiotics. Additionally, babies who did experience eczema had less severe cases. This study, which was published in the “British Journal of Dermatology,” highlights the effectiveness in preventing eczema in children and did not indicate any adverse risks to the mother or baby.

References
Parenting; Ask Dr Sears: Probiotics During Pregnancy?; William Sears;
http://alturl.com/354h8
Pregnancy Today; Probiotics and Pregnancy; Teri Brown
Colorado State University Extension; Food Safety During Pregnancy; J. Dean & P. Kendall; December 2006
San Mateo Medical Center; Acidophilus and Other Probiotics; 2011

Choosing Your Pediatrician for Your Baby

presented by Angel J. Miller, MSN, CNM

The following is an excerpt of a chapter from the book Raising Your Child in Washington, DC, a resource for parents available in local bookstores.   by Dr. Michele R. Berman

One of the most important tasks a parent must undertake is the selection of a pediatrician for their baby or older child.  Besides being a place to take a sick child, or a place to get “baby shots,” a pediatrician’s office is an important resource for new or experienced parents.  Today, many families find themselves without the traditional support systems that their own parents had available to them.  Family members are often separated by many miles.  For these families, the pediatrician provides advice and encouragement, as well as basic child-care knowledge.  Many pediatricians see patients from birth through adolescence, so picking the right pediatrician may well be the beginning of a “long term relationship.”

Pediatrics, in general, is a preventive health care specialty.  Well-care visits provide the framework of information to keep your child happy and healthy.  A typical well-care visit starts with weighing and measuring the child and plotting those measurements on a growth chart to follow their progress.  The pediatrician will then ask several questions about your child’s eating, sleeping, and bowel habits, and about what new developmental milestones have been passed.  Then it’s your turn to ask the doctor about any questions or concerns you may have.   Write them down as you think of them at home, and bring the list with you.  After examining the child, the pediatrician may discuss a variety of topics, such as immunizations, safety issues, or behavior issues.  Some will also have handouts to supplement the discussion.  On average, there are seven well visits in the first year, three in the second year, and one every one to two years thereafter.

The Prenatal Appointment

If this is your first child, the decision as to who the baby’s pediatrician will be should be made well in advance of your due date.  (Remember – babies often come earlier than expected!)  This allows the pediatrician you choose to give your newborn its very first exam in the hospital, and to support you during those joyful, yet overwhelming first days.  Although all pediatricians are dedicated to helping you raise healthy, happy children, each has his or her own approach.  You will, therefore, want to meet with several pediatricians so that you can pick the one with whom you feel most comfortable and whose approach is most consistent with your own ideas about child raising.

Most pediatricians encourage parents to come for a prenatal appointment.  This is your opportunity not only to meet the pediatrician but look at the office itself.  If possible, both parents should be present, so you will both agree on your choice.  When you set up the visit, find out who you will be seeing (one or more doctors? Office staff?), about how long it will last, and if there is a charge for the visit.  If the visit consists of a quick hello by the pediatrician while the office staff shows you around, there may not be a fee.  However, there may be a charge if the pediatrician sets aside a block of time specifically to talk with you and answer any questions you have.  Many insurance companies will pay for this, but check with your plan first.

During the interview you should first find out about how the practice works.  What are the office hours?  Do they include evening or weekend hours?  How are after-hours calls handled?  Who are the doctors in the practice and what are their qualifications?  Can you see any of the doctors in the group, or are you assigned to one doctor?  How far in advance do you have to call to get a well child appointment?  A sick child appointment?  To what hospitals do the doctors admit their patients?  Do the doctors come to the hospital where you are delivering?  Who handles phone calls during the day and after hours?  What is the schedule of visits and immunizations?  Most pediatricians follow the guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics for these.

Secondly, try to get a feel for the pediatrician’s personality.  How does he/she respond to your questions?  Does he/she seem open to your concerns or does he/she seem to shrug them off?  Are they stiff or relaxed?  Distracted?  Do they have a good sense of humor?  Observe how he/she interacts with the patients that may be in the office at the time of your visit.  The feelings you get during your visit will set the time for the relationship you will develop with the pediatrician you choose.  You want to feel comfortable and confident about someone who is going to help you take care of that special baby of yours.

Ask the pediatrician questions about topics such as: What is their thoughts about circumcision, breast feeding, or the use of antibiotics or other medications?  If you are going to breastfeed, what kind of support can they give you?  What is their philosophy about the role of a pediatrician?

Lastly, look around the office.  Does it seem inviting to children?  Are there things for the children to do if they have to wait to see the doctor?  Will older children and adolescents also feel comfortable here?  Are there ways to separate sick from well children?  What kind of feelings do you get about the office staff?  The nursing staff and front desk personnel are also important in making a trip to the doctor a pleasant experience.

Looking for Dr. Right

So, where do you find your dream pediatrician?  There are several ways.  First, ask your friends and neighbors who they use.  Are they happy there?  What do they like about the office?  Is there anything they don’t like?  Next, ask your nurse-midwife for a list of pediatricians they frequently recommend and on whom they have gotten positive feedback.  Your internist, family practitioner and other medical professionals can also be good resources.

Increasingly, families find themselves as part of health plans that limit their choices to physicians who are members of the plan.  In this instance, start with the list provided by the health plan and see which physicians are available in your area.  Then ask the resources listed above what they know about those physicians.  Make an appointment with the pediatricians you’d like to know more about.

Pediatrician’s fees may vary widely.  Don’t be afraid to ask about fees before you go to the office.  Ask if you will have to pay for services at the time of the visit, or whether they will bill you or submit the insurance claim for you.  If you are a member of a health plan, and the pediatrician is a provider for that plan, they will file for you, but you must usually pay a small co-payment at each visit.  Look at your health plan or insurance coverage carefully.  Not all insurance plans cover well-child care, or you may have to meet a deductible, or they may only cover a certain number of well visits.  For these financial matters, it’s best to know what the office policies are before you get there.  If you anticipate a problem with payments, many offices will work with you, as long as you talk to them up front.

As mentioned earlier, many families find themselves using the same pediatrician for many years, so you want to choose one with whom you feel comfortable, and in whom you have confidence.  Shop around.  Ask questions.  Use and trust your instincts.  Remember, your decision does not have to be a final one.  If you are unhappy with your choice, there are many other fine physicians in the area.  Good luck, and happy parenting!

Dr.Berman practiced pediatrics in the Washington, D.C. area until the year 2000 She currently is co-founder with her husband of www.celebritydiagnosis.com.

Preconception Counselling

Becoming a parent is a major commitment in life. It can be met with challenges, rewards and informed choices. Before you conceive, be sure to incorporate a healthy life-style to ensure optimal health for mom and baby. Receiving preconceptional counseling and care can lay the ground work for a healthy lifestyle and healthy pregnancy. Good health before pregnancy can help you cope with the stress of pregnancy, labor and birth. Obtaining good health care before you conceive will help you throughout your pregnancy. It also provides you with the opportunity to find out your risks, treat any medical problems that may affect the outcome of your pregnancy and adopt or continue a healthy lifestyle.

If you are planning to conceive, schedule a preconceptional visit with your healthcare provider. Included in your visit is a comprehensive history of your health including: Family history and risk factors, your medical history, surgical history, medications that you are presently taking including vitamins, supplements, OTC (over-the-counter) meds; your diet and lifetstyle and any past pregnancies.

Your preconception visit is a time for you to ask questions. Do not hesitate to seek advice, discuss your concerns and your options. Your healthcare provider is there to provide information and guidance to help you make informed choices in your healthcare to help you obtain and maintain a healthy pregnancy.

Women who are planning to conceive should stop their form of birth control several months in advance. Even though methods vary in use, it may affect when your menses resumes and becomes regular. During this time you may also want to start taking a prenatal vitamin daily to ensure you are getting added vitamins and increased folic acid.

Your lifestyle includes diet, exercise, weight, substance use, living/working environment and infection history. Current immunizations are important to prevent any infections during your pregnancy that can harm you and your baby, even if you were vaccinated as a child (measles, mumps, rubella, polio, tetanus), you may not be immune now. If you are vaccinated prior to conceiving, you will be protected. The vaccine for mumps, measles and especially rubella should be given at least 3 months prior to conceiving. During this period of time, you should use a reliable method birth control.

Optimal health at any time during your lifetime involves a healthy diet and the proper amount of exercise. Ideally, you should be in good physical shape and follow a regular exercise regimen before your conceive. If you are not used to being active, you should start an exercise program gradually.

Tobacco, alcohol and recreational (illegal) drug use is addictive and can harm you and your baby that can last a lifetime or even result in death. They can have detrimental affects on the organ formation, causing damage. The misuse of prescription medication can also harm the fetus. For the sake of your own health and that of your baby, now is a good time to cut back on smoking and alcohol and quit all recreational drugs. It takes time and patience to quit a habit, especially if you have had that particular habit for a long time. Ask your healthcare provider to suggest ways to get through the withdrawal state or quitting and to refer you to support groups. Your decision to quit may be one of the hardest things you have ever done, but it will be one of the most worthwhile.

Does your work environment impose any hazards? If you are trying to conceive, it is a good idea to look closely at your work place and surroundings. Are you exposed to toxic substances, chemicals, or radiation? Discuss your level of exposure to specific substances with your employee health division, personnel office or union representative.

Exposure to lead or certain solvents, pesticides or other chemicals can reduce your partner’s fertility by killing or damaging sperm. Unlike women, who are born with a complete supply of eggs for their entire lifespan, men make new sperm on a daily basis for most of their lives. Unless the damage to a man’s reproductive system is very serious, he will probably be able to make healthy sperm against a short time span after his exposure to the harmful material stops.

Healthy lifestyle choices during pregnancy are essential. Your health care provider will likely discuss the importance of a healthy diet, regular physical activity and keeping stress under control. If you’re underweight or overweight, your health care provider may recommend addressing your weight before you conceive.

Questions to Consider…
• Do I or a member of my family have a disorder that could be inherited?
• Do I need to gain or lose weight to prepare for pregnancy?
• Should I make any changes in my lifestyle?
• Could any medications I am taking cause problems during my pregnancy?
• Can I continue my present exercise program?
• Does my work expose me to things that could be harmful during pregnancy?
• Do I need to be vaccinated for any infectious diseases before I try to conceive?

What about your partner’s lifestyle?
If possible, have your partner attend the preconception visit with you. Your partner’s health and lifestyle — including family medical history and risk factors for infections or birth defects — are important because they can affect you and your baby.

The Benefits of Red Raspberry Leaf Tea in Pregnancy

Red Raspberry leaf tea is one of the safest and commonly used tonic herbs for women wanting to get pregnant or for women who are already pregnant. Red Raspberry Leaf (Rubus idaeus) tones the uterus, improves contractions and decreases constipation. Most tonics need to be used regularly, for a tonic is to the cells much like exercise is to the muscles; not much help when done irregularly . But you will still benefit even from occasional use of tonics during pregnancy, since they contain nourishing factors. The herb comes in forms of leaves to make teas or tonics as well as pill like capsules you can swallow.
Most of the benefits given to regular use of Raspberry lea tea throughout pregnancy can be traced to the strengthening power of fragrine, an alkaloid which gives tone to the muscles of the pelvic region, including the uterus itself; and to the nourishing power of the vitamins and minerals found in this plant. There is rich concentration of Vitamin C, the presence of Vitamin E and the easily assimilated calcium and iron. Raspberry leaves also contain vitamins A and B complex and many minerals, including phosphorus and potassium.
When to use: There are two basic points of view on the subject. There is agreement among many clinicians that in the 3rd trimester frequent (2- 3 cups per day of tea or 1 – 2 cups per day of infusion) is beneficial to the uterine and pelvic muscles.
The more radical point of view is that drinking one cup of tea per day in the 1st trimester and 2 cups in the 2nd trimester and switching to the infusion in the 3rd trimester ensures a strong uterus, is good for you nutritionally and prevents miscarriage. Some say it is advised to not use it in the first trimester, particularly if you have a history of miscarriage. If a mother is prone to miscarriages she may feel safer avoiding raspberry until the third trimester. This is an herb with centuries of safe use behind it, there is usually little cause for concern, but check with your healthcare provider before using.
According to Susun Weed, author of “Wise Woman, Herbal for the Childbearing Year,” the benefits listed below for drinking a Raspberry leaf brew before and throughout pregnancy are as follows:
• Increasing fertility in both men and women. Red Raspberry leaf is an excellent fertility herb when combined with Red Clover.
• Preventing miscarriage and hemorrhage. Raspberry leaf tones the uterus and helps prevent miscarriage and postpartum hemorrhage from a relaxed or atonic uterus.
o Use raspberry leaf infusion to help facilitate placenta delivery. Chips of frozen raspberry leaf infusion sucked throughout labor help keep the uterus working strongly and smoothly.

• Easing of morning sickness. Many women attest to raspberry leaves’ gentle relief of nausea and stomach distress throughout pregnancy. Drink a cup or two of raspberry leaf tea or infusion each day. Sipping the infusion before getting up or sucking on ice cubes made from the infusion increases the strength of this remedy.

• Reducing pain during labor and after birth. By toning the muscles used during labor and birth, Raspberry leaf eliminates many of the reasons for a painful birth and prolonged recovery. It does not counter the pain of dilation of the cervix.

Red Raspberry Leaves do not start or encourage labor. It can help the contractions to be productive once true labor has begun because it strengthens the uterine and pelvic muscles but it is not an oxytonic herb (one that would induce labor). That being said, it’s important to talk with your midwife, obstetrician or herbalist before beginning drinking red raspberry leaf tea or taking a supplement. Some will recommend you wait until you are 36 weeks along before incorporating the tea into your health regime while others may encourage you to begin right away. Each situation and pregnancy is different so it’s best to get other’s opinions before beginning red raspberry leaf tea.

Tea recipe: To make a tea, pour 1 cup boiling water over 2 teaspoons of herb and steep for ten minutes. Strain. During the first two trimesters, drink 1 cup per day. During the final trimester, drink 2-3 cups per day.

Excerpts from Weed, Susun. “Wise Woman Herbal Childbearing Year.”
http://www.motherandchildhealth.com/Prenatal/raspberry.html

What to Do When your Bag of Waters Breaks

It is common to be in labor without your water breaking. Actually, only thirty percent of women experience their water breaking before the start of labor.

What Is My Bag of Waters?

The bag of waters—or amniotic sac—is a bag or “membrane filled with fluid that surrounds your baby in your uterus during pregnancy.” The bag of waters is very important to your baby’s health. The fluid protects your baby and gives your baby room to move around. The bag itself protects your baby from infections that may get into your vagina.

Is it urine or is it amniotic fluid? If you are leaking, it can be difficult to determine if your membranes are leaking or if it is urine. In most cases, it is probably urine. There are several ways to tell the difference, but there is no definite answer. When in doubt, smell it! Urine has a distinct smell and color. You will leak urine when your bladder is full, when coughing , sneezing or laughing; even when you are exercising. Only 3 percent of pregnant women will go into premature labor (before 37 weeks) as a result of ruptured membranes.

In most cases your membranes will rupture as you are nearing the end of your pregnancy, and this is definitely one of the early signs of labor. If your water does break in public, and you have visions of a huge gush of water running all over the floor, then you have probably been watching too many movies. It is most likely going to occur as a slow trickle, or at most, a small gush of fluid of colorless and odorless amniotic fluid. Call your healthcare provider if your water breaks and the fluid is green or brown. This is an indication that your baby had a bowel movement in utero.

What Should You Do When Your Water Breaks

First, don’t panic! Follow the instructions your healthcare provider discussed with you if and when your water breaks. Immediately after your water breaks, know that nothing should be placed in your vagina at this point. This will help prevent infection.
•Wear a maxi pads, not tampons, to keep the amniotic fluid from wetting your clothes
Keep your vaginal area clean
When you go to the bathroom, be sure to wipe from front to back
Sexual intercourse is officially off-limits

Call your healthcare Provider immediately if:

Your due date is more than 3 weeks away from today
•The water is green, or yellow, or brown, or has a bad smell
•You have a history of genital herpes, whether or not you have any herpes sores right now
•You have a history of Group B strep infection (“GBS positive”)
•You don’t know if you have GBS or not
•Your baby is not in the head-down position, or you’ve been told it is very high in your pelvis
•You have had a very quick labor in the past, or feel rectal pressure now
•You are worried.
•If you feel something in your vagina, or see any of the umbilical cord at the vaginal opening, get medical help immediately

Call your health care provider within a few hours if:
•Your due date is within the next 3 weeks and
• You are not in labor and the fluid is clear, pink, or has white flecks in it
• Your baby is in the head-down position
•Some health care providers will want you to come in to the office to confirm that the bag of waters has broken and listen to the baby’s heartbeat as soon as you notice that the bag of waters has broken. Others will suggest you stay home for several hours to wait for labor to start.

What Do I Do Until Labor Starts?

Most women will go into labor within 48 hours. If you are waiting for labor to start and your bag of waters has broken:
• Put on a clean pad
•Do not put anything in your vagina
•Drink plenty of liquids—a cup of water or juice each hour you are awake
•Get some rest
•Take a shower
•If there is any change in your baby’s movements, call your health care provider right away

Check your temperature with a thermometer every 4 hours—call right away if your temperature goes above 99.6.

For more information regarding this topic visit:

http://www.acnm.org

http://www.webmd.com

Delaying Umbilical Cord Clamping

Clamping and cutting of the umbilical cord should be delayed for three minutes after birth, particularly for pre-term infants, suggests a senior doctor, Dr. Andrew Weeks, in the British Medical Journal. 28/08/2007.
Early clamping and cutting of the umbilical cord is widely practiced as part of the management of labor, but recent studies suggest that it may be harmful to the baby. Dr Andrew Weeks, a senior lecturer in obstetrics at the University of Liverpool, looked at the evidence behind cord clamping. For the mother, trials show that early cord clamping has no ill effects, he writes. But what about the baby?

At birth, he says, the umbilical cord sends oxygen-rich blood to the lungs until breathing establishes. When a baby is born it must transfer from receiving oxygen from the placenta to receiving oxygen from its lungs. For this to happen, the baby’s lungs must first expand, and the burst of blood from the umbilical cord helps to get the newborn’s lungs to expand properly. So as long as the cord is unclamped, the average transfusion to the newborn is equivalent to 21 percent of the neonate’s final blood volume and three quarters of the transfusion occurs in the first minute after birth. For babies born at term, the main effect of this large autotransfusion is to increase their iron status.

This may be lifesaving in areas where anemia is endemic. In the developed world, however, there have been concerns that it could increase the risk of abnormally high levels of red blood cells and bile pigments in the bloodstream often leading to jaundice. But trials has shown this is not the case.

Umbilical cord blood is a baby’s life blood until its birth. It contains stem cells, red blood cells, and more recently scientists have discovered that umbilical cord blood contains cancer-fighting T-cells.
For pre-term babies the beneficial effects of delayed clamping is greater, he says. Delayed clamping is consistently associated with reductions in anemia, bleeding in the brain, and the need for transfusion.
He proposes that in normal births, delaying cord clamping for three minutes with the baby on the mother’s abdomen should not be too difficult. The situation is a little more complex for babies born by caesarean section or for those who need support soon after birth. Nevertheless, it is these babies who may benefit most from a delay in cord clamping. For them, a policy of ‘wait a minute’ would be pragmatic, he says.

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) policy supports delayed cord clamping, stating:

“The optimal time to clamp the umbilical cord for all infants regardless of gestational age or fetal weight is when the circulation in the cord has ceased, and the cord is flat and pulseless (approximately 3 minutes or more after birth).” 

They continue:
“Clamping the umbilical cord immediately (within the first 10 to 15 seconds after delivery) prevents the newborn from receiving adequate blood volume and consequently sufficient iron stores.
Immediate cord clamping has been shown to increase the incidence of iron deficiency and anemia during the first half of infancy, with lower birth weight. Waiting to clamp the umbilical cord allows a physiological transfer of placental blood to the infant which provides sufficient iron reserves for the first 6 to 8 months of life, preventing or delaying the development of iron deficiency …

For premature and low birth weight infants, immediate cord clamping can also increase the risk of intraventricular hemorrhage and late-onset sepsis.13 In addition, immediate cord clamping in these infants increases the need for blood transfusions for anemia and low blood pressure infants and infants born to iron-deficient mothers being at particular risk …

Numerous research studies and experts are also confirming that waiting to clamp the cord offers significant benefits. Among them:
• In the Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, researchers say delayed cord clamping is “mankind’s first stem cell transfer and propose that it should be encouraged in normal births.”
• In a BMJ editorial, James Neilson, professor of obstetrics and gynecology, states that delayed clamping should be practiced.

Resources, Support:
“Early versus delayed umbilical cord clamping in preterm infants”. Rabe H, Reynolds GJ, Diaz-Rosello JL http://tinyurl.com/4w63wv8 (Cochrane Review)

ACOG Recommends Delayed Umbilical Cord Clamping for All Healthy Infants http://tinyurl.com/lopdtn8