Pregnancy – My Radiant Beginnings

Category Archives for "Pregnancy"

My Baby Is Breech – What Can I Do?

Hi!  You’re probably anxious and have a million things running through your mind if you’ve come to this blog post. I will start off by encouraging you to relax. Let’s take this one step at a time.

Your baby is breech, or isn’t head down. Is this a problem or something to be concerned about?

How far along are you? A baby who is breech at their 20 week anatomy scan (ultrasound) isn’t a cause for concern.  He/she has plenty of time to turn.

A bit further along? Let’s break it down. As a midwife, I’ve seen this before. As a mother, I’ve experienced this before with my last pregnancy. What I’ve come to find is that there is a “sweet spot” with regard for optimal time to turn baby that usually results in them staying head down for birth.  Is that ALWAYS the case? Has every breech baby I’ve encountered turned head down and resulted in a vaginal birth? No. But overall, the following methods are worth a try to see if they may help you.

So, what can you do?

  • Homeopathy
  • Optimal Fetal Positioning Exercises
  • Chiropractic adjustments
  • Acupuncture
  • ECV or External cephalic version

I’ve listed them in order of least invasive to more invasive.

When would you need to consider starting these?  That depends on how far along you are and how long baby has been in a breech position.

If the first time you’re hearing about this is 33-34 weeks, you may consider starting with the appropriate homeopathic remedy, which will depend on whether there is an issue of over- or under-abundance in amniotic fluid levels or not. Different remedies are suggested based on the whole picture, not just baby’s position. Do your research or seek out a homeopathic healthcare provider who can help.

Beginning at 34 weeks: Optimal Fetal Positioning Techniques

You may have heard of Spinning Babies?

Check out their website fo more specific exercises and to expand on this information: www.spinningbabies.com

This is also a great time to begin chiropractic adjustments with a provider who is pregnancy certified, if you haven’t already. Perhaps baby is “stuck” in a certain position due to tight ligaments.

35 weeks gestation

This is what I found to be the “sweet spot” with regard for timing. The previous times we tried to encourage my little guy to turn, he just moved right back into the position he was in. Doing the ironing board technique coupled with the cold pack on his head (top of my belly) and heating pad on my lower abdomen (above my pubic area) made him turn at that time and because he wasn’t too little, he stayed that way!

If the above tips haven’t helped baby to turn just yet, you may want to consider acupuncture.  It’s actually very relaxing and can have great results.

Finally, if around 37 weeks baby has not yet turned, your healthcare provider may have set up a consultation to see if you are a good candidate for an external cephalic version or ECV. Basically, that’s a procedure where your baby is turned or encouraged to turn by the hands of the provider, usually while monitoring baby via ultrasound.

What if baby has been consistently Breech at 28, 30 & 32 week visits? (Or 2 out of 3 of those visits)

You may consider starting the homeopathy, chiropractor and acupuncture earlier, giving yourself more time.

Remember, most babies turn before delivery.  I’d encourage you to wait rather than scheduling a surgical birth at 37 weeks for a baby who has not turned. If this is your first baby, the average is to go 10 days past your due date! That means baby would have a month to turn! Meanwhile you can be doing the above tips and techniques to encourage him or her to do so.

Common Pregnancy Discomforts

Backache

Pain located in the upper or lower segments of the back.

It is common to experience some aches and pains in the upper or lower regions of the back because of the anatomic changes occurring during pregnancy. Enlarged breasts and a growing uterus contribute to a change in weight and the center of gravity. Add to this poor posture, inadequate muscle tone and an exaggerated curve of the lower back (lordosis). Aggravating factors include a posterior fetal position, standing in place for too long and bending forward at the waist.

Carpal tunnel syndrome

Altered sensations, including tingling, numbness, pain, stiffness and weakness in the thumb, index, middle and radial portion of the ring finger that can travel upwards affecting the arm and shoulder.

While carpal tunnel syndrome can exist outside of pregnancy from repetitive hand/wrist movements (typing), the weight gain, fluid retention from hormones and subsequent swelling during pregnancy sometimes compress the medial nerve in the wrist.

Constipation

Infrequent and/or difficult eliminations as stools become hardened and back up within the intestinal tract.

Although it is not considered normal, constipation in pregnancy commonly occurs as a result of the hormone progesterone and its relaxing effect on the peristalsis of the stomach and intestinal tract. The additional transit time allows more water to be absorbed in the intestines. A poor diet, iron supplements and the pressure of a growing uterus, which displaces the organs beneath, also contribute to constipation.

Dyspareunia

Painful sexual intercourse.

Physical changes in pregnancy, abdominal growth and a descended baby can cause vaginal crowding and impaired circulation. Emotional concerns of fear regarding trauma to the baby can also play a role in dyspareunia.

Edema

Swelling of the lower body extremities, legs and ankles (can include fingers) evidenced by indentations (from footwear/socks) with possible feelings of tightness.

Swelling can be caused by a variety of reasons. Typically the more common reason is due to the normal, healthy expansion of blood volume and hormones. Other causes can be diet related (not enough salt, fluids and/or protein), duration of standing/sitting and increased perspiration.

Fatigue

Drained, sluggish and general feelings of tiredness. 
(extremely common in 1st trimester)

It is common for women in their first trimester to experience fatigue as their bodies adjust to new demands and hormone fluctuations. Fatigue can also be related to a decreased basic metabolic rate, hypoglycemia, anemia, emotional stress and multiple gestation.

Headache

Sharp, dull, throbbing or steady pain located in the front, back or sides of the head.

A headache can be caused from dehydration, hypoglycemia, anemia, eye strain, exposure to toxins, exposure or recent withdrawal from caffeine & sugar and vasodilation of the blood vessels due to poor tone.

Heartburn

Burning sensation in esophagus due to reversed peristalsis.
(may be felt in chest or neck)

Progesterone, a pregnancy hormone, affects the cardiac sphincter (top opening) of the stomach by relaxing it and decreasing the movement of the stomach, which prolongs the emptying time. This issue combined with the effects of a growing uterus that pushes and displaces the stomach cause digestive fluids to enter the lower esophageal tract causing an uncomfortable, burning sensation.

Hemorrhoids

Though hemorrhoids can be present without pain, the abnormal dilation of veins located in cushions around the anal sphincter can also protrude, swell, itch and become noticeably painful.

Hemorrhoids are most often caused by constipation, so many of the factors that lead to difficult bowel movements can therefore also be tied to this discomfort. Additional contributors include standing for prolonged periods, weakened blood vessels, lack of venous valves, pooling of blood from backflow during abdominal pressure (such as repeated straining from constipation), progesterone’s effects of relaxing vein walls and poor circulation from the increased pressure of the growing uterus.

Insomnia

Sleeplessness or difficulty falling asleep.

Mentally it may be difficult to get good sleep because the mind is racing with thoughts, concerns, anxieties and/or anticipation! Physically, insomnia could be due to hypoglycemia, deficient intake of B vitamins, discomfort with growing uterus or an active baby.

Leg Cramps

Sudden pain causing a tight pulling sensation in the leg.

Leg cramps can occur because of deficiencies in the diet, including inadequate salt intake. While there is evidence that too little sodium, calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphorous can be responsible, it is interesting to note that excess calcium has also been attributed to leg cramps. Additionally, the weight of the growing baby and uterus exert pressure on veins and nerves from the pelvis running below, which contribute to the possibility of leg cramps.

Nausea & Vomiting

Common between 4-14 weeks of pregnancy, this queasy unsettled feeling, which may or may not include vomiting, can occur at any time of day or persist throughout the entirety of the day.

Various influences can be attributed to the nausea and vomiting experienced by 1/2 to 2/3 of pregnant women. In the first trimester the influx of hormones, such as estrogen and HCG (human chorionic gonadotrophin), along with their concentration as the blood volume has not yet expanded can negatively affect some women. In addition, changes in dietary needs versus intake, decreased blood sugar and conflicting emotions have been linked to nausea and vomiting as well. Late in pregnancy, nausea & vomiting can be caused by the increasing pressure and discomfort from the growing uterus.

Pruritis gravidarum

Intense itching, usually occurring in the third trimester, can begin on the abdomen and spread generally all over; form of jaundice in pregnancy.

The increased amount of hormones, estrogen and progesterone can effect the liver’s ability to excrete bile salts. As this condition is related to the liver, it can also occur if the liver has been compromised because of other circumstances not related to hormones.

Round ligament discomfort

Can be described as a sharp pulling pain or cramp, felt on one or both sides of the uterus extending into the pelvic area (or solely occurring there).

The round ligament is made to stretch with the uterus; therefore as it grows the stretching and pulling itself can be uncomfortable. Pressure from the enlarging uterus in addition to the frequency of contractions toward the end or pregnancy, make triggering this spasm more likely.

Sciatica

Irritation of spinal nerve, felt from the hip area to the back of the upper leg, described as sharp pain, tingling or weakness.

The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body and runs from the lower spine down through the back of the thigh. Because it runs through an opening in the pelvis, pregnancy, more specifically the growing uterus, causes shifting that can impede or encroach on this nerve causing irritation and radiation of the pain.

Varicosities

Dull aching pain from enlarged blood vessels, typically located in the legs or vulva.

Varicosities can occur because of the combination of expanded blood volume and the relaxing effect of progesterone. Lack of vein wall tone and weakened valves from the lower extremities compete with the increased blood flow from the uterus. In addition, family history of varicosities can contribute to a person’s likelihood of developing the condition.

References

Davis, E. (2004). Heart & hands (4th ed.). Berkeley, CA: Celestial Arts.

Frye, A. (2008). Holistic midwifery: A comprehensive textbook for midwives in homebirth practice (Vol. 1). Portland, OR: Labrys Press.

Myles, M. F. (1975). Textbook for midwives with modern concepts of obstetric and neonatal care (8th ed.). London, UK: Churchill Livingstone.

Parker, S. (2008). The naturally healthy pregnancy: Whole health for your whole pregnancy. Calhoun, LA: Dewdrop Publishing.

Varney, H., Kriebs, J. M., & Gegor, C. L. (2004). Varney’s midwifery (4th ed.). Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.

 

Exercise

Exercise

Women in a low risk pregnancy are highly encouraged to stay active. Pregnancy is not the time however to start up a new or more rigorous activity. If you were pretty active prior to getting pregnant you are better prepared to continue that activity (with your doctor/midwife’s approval). Walking is always a great choice as it is low impact and can be started at any time (and is encouraged throughout pregnancy)!

When exercising it is important to remember your body is changing and the hormones of pregnancy can cause you to be less balanced. (Watch those activities that require a lot of coordination!)

It may be helpful to borrow or invest in a heart rate monitor so that you can be sure you aren’t exceeding your target heart rate for extended periods of time and know when to back down.

Nutrition

Nutrition

USDA Health and Nutrition for Pregnant & Breastfeeding Women

Quick Tips:

  • Be sure you’re getting enough protein each day! (Snacks should contain protein too, not just meals!)
  • Eat small amounts of food more frequently (at least every 3 hours) to avoid drops in blood sugar.
  • Watch portions! You’d be surprised that “eating for 2” doesn’t equate to as many calories as you would think. On average, depending on your activity level, most women only need an extra 300 calories per day in pregnancy.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking enough water!
  • You’re growing a human being, eat a variety of fresh, whole foods to get adequate nutrients!