37 weeks

We made it! 37 Weeks!

After the great Braxton Hicks scare of 29 weeks, I’ve been counting the weeks (days, hours) down to 37 weeks. I’m planning to have my baby at a birthing center and they won’t take me before then. Every day I’ve talked to my baby and reminded him how much longer he needed to wait.

Also, there’s a couple great natural third-trimester recommendations that I’ve been technically in the clear for but I’ve been holding off on both. One is red raspberry leaf tea and the other is eating dates.

Red Raspberry Leaf tea was recommended for me when I was towards the end of my pregnancy last time. I don’t know when I would have been recommended to start because I switched to my birthing center already at 35 weeks. But I remember I started off with a little tea every day and by the end they had me drinking 3 cups with 3 tea bags each. Let me tell you, that was some strong tea! The tea builds up in your system over time and helps during labor, so it’s good to keep drinking it and allow it to accumulate. It is generally said that you should start taking the tea in your third trimester and that you should start with one cup a day.

The tea is believed to strengthen the uterus and help shorten the second stage of labor. It is also believed to assist postpartum by supporting breastmilk supply and toning the uterus back to its original size. I found this great article that explains more and shares an Australian study with measurable information of its benefits.

However, one of the ways you know it’s working, is a possible increase in Braxton Hicks contractions. Since I’ve been having a healthy dose of those as it is, I waited to start the tea until I asked my midwives. They said it was fine and to take it early in the morning so the Braxtons wouldn’t keep me up at night. I took the tea with a little apprehension and did feel an increase in Braxton Hicks throughout the day. Since I was counting down the weeks, days and hours to 37 weeks I opted to wait until after that milestone to try the tea again.

The other natural third-trimester recommendation I learned of was eating dates. A friend of the family who lives in China had recently randomly brought us dates as a gift from home. She said if I get pregnant, they will help the baby come out. Later that weekend we announced to the family that I WAS pregnant. She circled back around and exclaimed excitedly that the dates would help with that! I had never heard of dates for pregnancy before that day. But a few weeks later, I came across this article that talked about dates as a natural labor induction method. It says “randomized trials have found that eating date fruit in late pregnancy, around 60-80 grams a day of fruit, may increase cervical ripening, reduce the need for a medical labor induction or augmentation, and one small study found a positive effect on postpartum blood loss”

That all sounded like great news! The article recommends as of 36 weeks pregnant, to eat seven pieces of dates every day. Well, I didn’t think the dates would be quite that magical but if I had waited this long, I would wait one more week to 37 just in case.

Well today is the day! I literally was watching the clock yesterday thinking ‘If I get a contraction right now, would I make it to midnight before needing to call?’ and then ‘Ok, I think I could make it 6 hours’ and then at 10 pm ‘Yes! That’s close enough, made it!’ I’m so thankful to have made it to 37 weeks and now I can breathe easy knowing my little boy can come whenever he wants. I really want him here before Thanksgiving so I’ll be drinking my Red Raspberry Leaf Tea with a side of dates until I get to welcome him home!

Having some Red Raspberry Leaf Tea and dates to celebrate 37 weeks!


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My Start as a Hippie Mommy

I want to take a moment and share why I consider myself to be a hippie mommy.  And I think it appropriate to start at my “graduation date” aka the day my daughter was born!  And speaking of appropriate, seven years ago TODAY, was the day it all happened!

When I was pregnant, I wanted to have a natural birth.  I was reading several pregnancy books and I stumbled across the Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth (http://www.bradleybirth.com/).  I’m going to pause and say that finding Bradley changed my life.  Big statement, I know, but it was really the start of a new perspective on pregnancy, birth, and all things parenting.  The Bradley Method was a 12 week course and it made me realize that natural birth is nothing to take lightly. As my instructor put it, you don’t decide to run a marathon and just buy the shoes, go for a couple runs, and then run the whole race.  You train! You prepare yourself. Bradley was that preparation. It educated me and daddy to really know what to expect during labor and delivery. What was going on, and how to best adapt to the current situation.

Me at 7 months pregnant on the beach in my homeland of Costa Rica.

When we first sat with our instructor, she asked where we were planning for me to give birth.  We told her at a local hospital. She said ok, but just keep your minds open because after you learn what you are going to learn, you may change your choice.  Ok, well you know, you never know what will happen so to play it safe we’d feel more comfortable at a hospital. We continue our classes and learn of all the things we do and don’t want as part of my birth.  We write a birth plan. It includes things like no continuous electronic fetal monitoring, no internal checks every hour, no pitosin, no episiotomy. I also wanted a water birth, and the hospital had a bathtub in the room, but you can’t go in it after your water breaks.  You know, when you need it most, but anyways, risk of infection and all that. We sit with our ObGyn to let him know all the things we do and don’t want and he very kindly explains that for mommy and baby’s safety, they can’t honor those wishes because their top priority is making sure everyone is safe and that’s just what they need to do.  Hmm, well now we knew enough to know that, in a healthy pregnancy, that’s just not necessarily true.

So we decided to go tour a birthing center, just to compare.  Every point that we said “we want to do this” the answer was “sure, no problem”.  I mean, within reason. If it comes down to a true emergency, they will do whatever they need to do to make sure everyone is safe.  But they respected the kind of birth I wanted to have and were able to provide that experience for me. I want to save my whole birthing story for another post (spoiler alert, perfectly healthy baby born in a birthing center, and I am SO glad that we made the switch!)  But suffice to say, choosing a birthing center was totally the first flower in my hippie crown.

Inspiration Family Birth Center where my daughter was born.
(Sorry I couldn’t fix the formatting but I figured a not-cropped picture was better than none!)

During our Bradley classes, our instructor also talked to us about co-sleeping, babywearing, Elimination Communication, amber teething necklaces and Baby-Led Weaning.  See why she changed my life? Again, stay tuned for blog posts on each of those practices, but it was so eye-opening to even know these things were out there! I did each of these things with my daughter and each one brought us closer together and more in touch with each other.

Something I loved about Dr. Bradley is that he grew up on a farm.  He watched animals do their thing when it came time to give birth. Fast forward and he becomes a doctor and watches how “modern” women give birth in a hospital.  There was a huge disconnect in these two birthing ways! Yes science and medicine have come a long way and no I have no desire to crawl into a barn and give birth in a pile of hay.  But there IS a lot of wisdom in nature and I think the closer we can get to the way things are naturally done, the better off we are.

I think trusting our instincts goes a long way too.  When your baby cries, it sucks. When you pick them up and comfort them, it feels awesome.  Their soft little skin on your face as you give them kisses and cuddles feels great. Then a study comes out saying it actually is scientifically proven that there are therapeutic benefits of touch!  But you didn’t need a published article to tell you that. Follow your instincts, in your gut and your heart it feels right.

Me and my little Bird on my 30th birthday. She was 11 days old.

There are lots of mainstream parenting practices that are really easy to just do because it’s what you do.  I mean look at any baby shower decorations and you’ll see cute pictures of baby bottles, pacifiers, diapers… all of these are actually optional.  There is so much room for reducing waste and using natural products. This of course spins out beyond parenting into everyday life. Now that my daughter is older, it’s not about the baby stuff.  It’s about composting, recycling and reducing waste wherever we can. It’s about spending less time indoors and more time outdoors. It’s about eating clean and remembering to stretch. I do still live in an All-American suburb and drive an SUV.  But I do try to turn off the AC and open the windows when I can. It’s all about balance and striving to do just a little bit more every day.

So that’s my origin story, so to speak.  As I go on, I’ll share my experience with each of these practices in more detail and I hope to inspire you to trust your instincts, live a little greener, and celebrate your inner hippie.

Namaste,

Andrea