Archives

The Benefits of Red Raspberry Tea

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; it is 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 Red Raspberry leaf 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) isred raspberry leaf tea
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.
  • 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

Presented by Angel J. Miller, MSN, CNM

www.midwiferycareassociates.com

https://www.linkedin.com/in/angeljmiller

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

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

Best Exercises for Your Pregnancy

yogamomCongratulations on your pregnancy! Now you can sit back, relax and put your feet up for the next nine months, right? Not so fast! Attitudes and beliefs about prenatal exercise have drastically changed over the past twenty years. No longer is pregnancy viewed as a time to sit, watch TV and each chocolate. These days, moms can actually maintain and improve their fitness levels while pregnant. And exercise provides many numerous benefits such as a boost in your mood and energy levels, helps you sleep better, helps prevent excess weight gain and increases your stamina and muscle strength. You cannot lose!

Regular exercise during your pregnancy can improve not only your heart health and boost your energy, but improve your overall health. Maintaining a healthy body and healthy weight gain can help reduce common pregnancy complaints and discomforts like lower back pain, fatigue and constipation and can even help with shortening your time during labor by strengthening your endurance.

First, consult your health care provider if it is okay to exercise. If you have been participating in a regular exercise regimen and are having a healthy pregnancy, there should not be a problem continuing with your regimen in moderation. You may have to modify your exercise according to your trimester of pregnancy.

If you have not participated in an exercise regimen three times a week before getting pregnant, do not jump into a new, strenuous activity. Start out with a low-intensity activity and gradually move to a higher activity level.

The best type of exercise during pregnancy:
• Increases your heart rate steadily and improves your heart circulation
• keeps you flexible and limber
• manages your weight gain by burning calories
• prepares your muscles for labor and birth
• won’t cause you to push your body too hard

Research shows that healthy pregnant women who exercise during their pregnancy may have less risk of preterm labor and birth and a shorter labor process, are less likely to need pain relief, and recover from childbirth faster.

Regular, moderate exercise not only gives you a healthier pregnancy, it may give your baby a healthier start. Research shows that when pregnant women exercise, their developing babies have a much lower heart rate. Babies of active moms may also have a healthier birth weight. Experts recommend that you exercise for 30 minutes a day, on most days. Most exercises are safe to perform during pregnancy, as long as you exercise with caution and do not overdo it.

Your pregnancy exercise regimen should strengthen and condition your muscles. Always begin by warming up for five minutes and stretching for five minutes. Following your choice of exercise, finish your regimen with five to ten minutes of gradually slower exercise that ends with gentle stretching.

The safest and most productive activities to perform during your pregnancy are brisk walking, swimming, indoor stationary cycling, prenatal yoga and low-impact aerobics (taught by a certified aerobics instructor). These activities carry little risk of injury, benefit your entire body, and can be continued until the birth of your baby. Other activities such as jogging can be done in moderation. You might want to choose exercises or activities that do not require great balance or coordination, especially later in your pregnancy.

Use common sense:
• Avoid exercising that involves lying on your stomach or flat on your back after the first trimester of pregnancy.
• Stay well hydrated and drink plenty of fluids before, during and after you exercise.
• Avoid overheating and humidity, especially during the first trimester when the fetus is undergoing its most important growth and development.
• Stop exercising if you feel fatigued, develop persistent pain or experience any vaginal bleeding; check with your healthcare provider if regular contractions occur more than 30 minutes after exercise (possibly a sign of pre-term labor).
• Avoid heavy weightlifting and any activities that require straining.
• Avoid exposure to extremes of air pressure, as in high altitude exercise (unless you’re accustomed to it) or scuba diving.
• Do not increase the intensity of your workout beyond pre-pregnancy intensity level
• Eat small, frequent meals throughout the day. Sedentary pregnant women need about 3,000 calories per day during the second and third trimesters; if you are physically active, your caloric needs will be higher to make up for the calories burned up during your exercise regimen.

Basic exercise guidelines:
• Wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothes, as well as a good support bra
• Choose shoes that are designed for the type of exercise you choose. Proper shoes are your best protection against injury
• Exercise on a flat, level surface to avoid injury
• Finish eating at least one hour before exercising
• Get up slowly and gradually to prevent dizziness
• Never exercise to the point of exhaustion. If you cannot talk normally while exercising, you are probably over exerting yourself, and you should slow down your activity.

Physical changes during your pregnancy will create extra demands on your body. Keeping in mind the changes listed below, remember you need to listen to your body and adjust your activities or exercise regimen as necessary.
• Your developing baby and other internal changes require more oxygen and energy.
• Hormones (relaxin) produced during pregnancy cause the ligaments that support your joints to stretch, increasing the risk of injury.
• The extra weight and the uneven distribution of your weight alters your center of gravity. The extra weight also puts stress on joints and muscles in the lower back and pelvic area, and makes it easier for you to lose your balance

If you have any medical condition, such as asthma, heart disease, hypertension or diabetes, exercise may not be advisable. Again, consult with your health care provider before beginning any exercise regimen.

Exercise may also be harmful if you have a pregnancy-related condition such as:
• vaginal Bleeding or spotting
• Low placenta (low-lying or placenta previa)
• Threatened or history of recurrent miscarriage
• Previous premature births or history of early labor
• Weak cervix

Talk with your health care provider before beginning any exercise program. Your health care provider can also suggest personal exercise guidelines, based on your medical history.

Stop exercising and consult your healthcare provider if you:
• Feel pain
• Have abdominal, chest, or pelvic pain
• Notice an absence of fetal movement
• Feel faint, dizzy, nauseous, or light-headed
• Feel cold or clammy
• Have vaginal bleeding
• Have a sudden gush of fluid from the vagina or a trickle of fluid that leaks steadily (when your bag of “water” breaks, also called rupture of the amniotic membrane)
• Notice an irregular or rapid heartbeat
• Have sudden swelling in your ankles, hands, face, or experience calf pain
• Have increased shortness of breath
• Have persistent contractions that continue after rest
• Have difficulty walking

Regular exercise will keep you and your baby healthy while staying fit, and enjoying your pregnancy!

Written by: Angel J. Miller, MSN, CNM, certified nurse-midwife, Midwifery Service Director, Washington, D.C. Area and co-author: Nine Months In ~ Nine Months Out.
References
Miller, Angel, Kelly, Stacia, Kirkbride, Shelia, Matthews, Corry. Nine Months In ~ Nine Months Out. Sterling, Va. Ironcutter Media, 2011.
http://www.webmd.com/baby/exercise-during-pregnancy
http://kidshealth.org/parent/index.jsp?tracking=P_Home
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/pregnancy-and-exercise/art-20046896

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