Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Pregnancy Awareness Month Week Four: Nurture

As is pointed out in the Pregnancy Awareness newsletter this week, to nurture means "to nourish".

It is incredibly important to nourish ourselves as mothers (as people!) - our bodies, our minds, our souls. A mother who takes time to nurture/nourish herself will, over time, be able to nurture/nourish her children more completely.

More on this later... right now I'm back to the couch with my little guy who has the stomach flu & desperately needs Mama-nurturing.

Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
Independent Childbirth Classes in Central Maine

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Friday, May 23, 2008

A Poem: Being Born is Important

Being Born Is Important

Being born is important
You who have stood at the bedposts
and seen a mother on her high harvest day,
the day of the most golden of harvest moons for her.

You who have seen the new wet child
dried behind the ears,
swaddled in soft fresh garments,
pursing its lips and sending a groping mouth
toward the nipples where white milk is ready~

You who have seen this love’s payday
of wild toil and sweet agonizing~

You know being born is important.
You know nothing else was ever so important to you.
You understand the payday of love is so old,
So involved, so traced with the circles of the moon,
So cunning with the secrets of the salts of the blood~
It must be older than the moon, older than the salt.

~Carl Sandburg

Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
Independent Childbirth Classes in Central Maine

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Pregnancy Awareness Month Week Three: Nutrition & Green Living

Here is the link to the Pregnancy Awareness Month Week Three Newsletter, which focuses on nutrition and "going green" during pregnancy.

I've already written a few posts about nutrition, because of its centrality to a healthy pregnancy for mom and baby, so I'm going to include a few resources on "green living" during pregnancy and into parenting.

It so happens that removing as many chemical cleaners from my household was one of my New Years goals this year, and it has been going very well. I have been making or purchasing natural/organic household cleaners ever since, and my house has been just as clean and a lot safer! Financially, making the cleaners is much cheaper, and that offsets the pricier cleaners that I'm buying. Plus, we just got a Target in my area, and I've purchased a few soaps in the Method line. One of the most helpful websites I've found has been the Healthy Child, Healthy World website and their homemade recipes for cleaners.

I've expanded my goal to include replacing cleaners for the people in the family too, starting with the children (who were half-way there already with California Baby and Rainbow products). Below are a few resources I've found re: kids products & chemicals:

Awards for top baby skincare products
BPA and Children's Feeding Products
Basics on cloth diapering here and here and on G Diapers.
Homemade substitutes for commercial shampoo

I've really been looking at these changes as a process... which has made it a lot easier. Making a change here, and then here, and then over there has been much more "do-able" than throwing everything out & trying to figure out replacements for everything at once.

Does anyone else have any favorite homemade/natural/organic/gentle/biodegradable etc. products?

Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
Independent Childbirth Classes in Central Maine

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Midwifery Today: Newsletter Excerpt on Chiropractic Care and Webster Technique

Midwifery Today offers a great online newsletter for people interested in pregnancy/birth/post-partum topics. It's easy to sign up for this free, every-other-week publication.

Last week there was an interesting excerpt about the need for alliances between midwives and chiropractors: "Midwives and chiropractors offer care that is personal to each individual and specific to every case. Midwives and chiropractors share the unique ability to assess a patient's status with their own hands, and both professions are blessed with the privilege of touching others to bring about a greater quality of life. These common bonds establish life-long supportive relationships between our two professions." (Jeanne Ohm; Excerpted from "Midwifery and Chiropractic: Bonding for Life," Midwifery Today, Issue 69)

It goes on to mention the Webster Technique, which is a chiropractic tool to move a breech baby into the vertex (head-down) position. To read more about the Webster Technique, click here. To read more about baby's position for birth and how mother can influence it, check out the Spinning Babies website. And here is a link to the Spinning Babies article on Belly Mapping, which is really fun.

The ICPA (International Chiropractic Pediatric Association) lists the following chiropractors in the Central Maine area as certified in the Webster Technique:

Ed Shepherd, D.C.
1223 U.S. Route 202
Winthrop, ME 04364
Telephone: 207-377-9344

Jennifer L. Johnson, D.C.
90 Main Ave.
Gardiner, ME 04345
(207) 582-2222

Kathy A. Boulet, D.C.
675 Main Street
Suite 18
Lewiston, ME 04240
207-782-1171

Tyson E. Shardlow, D.C.
698-2 Lisbon Road
Lisbon Falls, ME 04252
207-353-6310

Kimberly J. Bailey, D.C.
P.O. Box 8120
Halifax Street
Winslow, ME 04901
207-873-5161

Trevor L. Bevans, D.C.
36 School Street
Bath, ME 04530 United States
207-443-2635

Steve Siu, D.C.
39 Paris Street
Norway, ME 04268 United States
Telephone: 207-743-2866

Finally, for my sister, a list of links to the free newsletters I suscribe to for pregnancy/birth/parenting information:

Midwifery Today (every other week)
Mothering (weekly)
NY Times Health (weekly) - go to "sign up for email newsletters"
March of Dimes (monthly, I think)
Childbirth Connection - newsletter sign-up is on the right-hand side in a purple box toward the bottom (monthly, I think)

Any other good ones you know about?

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Pregnancy Awareness Month Week Two: Exercise

Pregnancy Awareness Newsletter Link: Exercise

A few of my thoughts on exercise during pregnancy:

It's usually a great idea to continue whatever exercise routine you had before your pregnancy, as long as you've discussed it with your caregiver, and it helps you feel strong and energetic.

Many types of exercise can be done until the end of pregnancy, but some are easier to do than others by the third trimester. Swimming seems to be a favorite of many of my clients, as does prenatal yoga. Some YMCA's, including our local one in Augusta, offer prenatal exercise classes, and some yoga studios have prenatal yoga classes. Here are two excellent possibilities in the Central Maine area:

KV YMCA
Prenatal Fitness Programs - open for members and non-members. Nikki Ramage is their prenatal instructor, and she was a client of mine back in 2007.
Call for class schedule.
Augusta
626-3488

Jai Yoga
Baby & Me Yoga Mondays 11:15-12:15
Postnatal Yoga Mondays 2:30-3:30 (babies welcome!)
Prenatal Yoga Mondays 4-5:15
Birth Preparation Workshops
Brunswick
725-7874


I've also heard good things about this prenatal yoga video: Prenatal Yoga with Shiva Rea.

***********************************

Kegel! Kegel, kegel, kegel!!! If you're asking yourself "What is a kegel" and "Why do I care?", here's a link to a basic explanation of how & why and here's a link to some variations.

***********************************

What about exercises specific to help during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum? We discuss these in my prenatal classes, and practice them, and I can point you to some resources that I've found helpful, particularly:

Active Birth, by Janet Balaskas, for prenatal exercises and

After the Baby's Birth, by Robin Lim, for postpartum exercises.

***********************************

Finally, a comment about the link to the exercise portion of the Pregnancy Awareness Month newsletter, if you've checked it out... I thought it was kind of a depressing/negative perspective about women's post-baby bodies... Yes, many women's bodies are not the same, or at least not for a while, after they grow and nurture a baby for close to ten months of pregnancy, give birth, and (possibly) grow and nurture an infant/toddler through breastfeeding. I, personally, am okay with this! I encourage women to celebrate their bodies' changes - there was a great Mothering magazine article about this a year or so ago - I'll try to find it online and link to it.

One of the issues discussed in the expanded newsletter article was about back pain from carrying baby, lugging around the bucket carseat, etc. In my opinion, slings, which are great for baby, can also help moms carry babies from newborn to toddler in ways that are easier on the back. My favorite one is the Maya Wrap, but I know there are tons of other great options out there.

Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
Independent Childbirth Classes in Central Maine

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Recipes!

Below is a collection of recipes that I enjoyed during pregnancy, and which contain protien and/or other important nutrients. I don't, unfortunately, have the nutrient profiles, but it is relatively simple to guesstimate when you are cooking yourself by counting total protein grams and dividing the total by how many portions you've made.

SCANDINAVIAN APPLE CAKE

2 C Cooking Apples -- Peel, Core, Chop
1/2 C Sugar
1/2 C Walnuts – Chopped
1/3 C Butter -- Melted
1 Egg -- Slightly Beaten
1 Tsp Vanilla
1 C Flour (whole-wheat)
1 Tsp Cinnamon
1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
1/4 Tsp Allspice
1/8 Tsp Salt

In a large mixing bowl combine apples, sugar, walnuts, and the melted butter. Stir in eggs and vanilla. In a medium mixing bowl stir together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, soda, salt, and spices. Add dry ingredients to apple mixture, stirring just until combined.

Spread batter into a greased 8x8" baking pan. Bake in a 350 F oven about 30 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Serve warm.


BROCCOLI SOUFFLÉ
(La Leche League Cookbook)

6 beaten eggs
12 oz grated cheddar cheese
6 T flour
half a stick of butter (or margarine)
1 - 24 oz carton of cottage cheese
1 large bunch of broccoli, chopped and steamed for a few minutes in the microwave
Garlic powder

Melt butter in a 9 x 13 dish as oven is preheating to 350. Combine all the rest of the ingredients and pour into the dish. Make for 1 hour or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean cool 10 minutes and then eat. Or freeze in two 8x8” pans or in small squares for lunches.


PEAR CLAFOUTI
(From Cooking Light. Rich, custardy & super quick. An easy way to incorporate a little more protein in your day, including some eggs. I substitute peaches for pears sometimes)

1 Tsp Flour
2 C Pear (Peel, If Desired) -- Cubed
3/4 C Flour
1/4 Tsp Salt
1/8 Tsp Nutmeg
2 C Lowfat 1% Milk
3 Eggs, Lightly Beaten
1/2 C Sugar
1/2 Tsp Vanilla

Preheat oven to 375. Coat a 10" deep-dish pie plate with cooking spray (or you can use a wide 1 1/2 quart casserole dish) and dust with flour. Arrange fruit cubes in the bottom of prepared dish, and set aside.

Combine 3/4C flour, salt, and nutmeg in a bowl. Gradually add 1C milk, stirring with a whisk until well-blended. Add 1C milk, eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract, stirring until smooth. Pour batter over pear cubes.

Bake mixture at 375 for 35 minutes or until set.

CALORIES 230(15% from fat); FAT 3.9g (sat 1.3g,mono 1g,poly 0.5g); PROTEIN 7.7g; CHOLESTEROL 113mg; CALCIUM 121mg; SODIUM 171mg; FIBER 1.8g; IRON 1.3mg; CARBOHYDRATE 41.1g


CHEESY BEEF CASSEROLE
(This can easily be made ahead & popped in oven later. It also freezes well.)

4 C uncooked medium egg noodles or other pasta
1 pound ground beef
2 cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
1 (8-ounce) package reduced-fat cream cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 small green pepper, diced
Garlic Powder
Salt & Pepper

Cook noodles according to directions.

In a sauté pan over medium heat, brown meat. Drain grease. Stir in tomatoes and season to taste. Combine well and remove from heat.

In a large bowl, combine cottage cheese, cream cheese, Parmesan cheese and green pepper.

In a 2-quart buttered casserole, place half of the noodles. Spread half of beef mixture over noodles, topped with cheese mixture. Repeat layers. Top with additional Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.


TURKEY ALFREDO PIZZA
(A great way to use leftover chicken or turkey from Cooking Light. Good source of protein & great way to get some extra greens. You can use mozzarella instead of fontina, if you want.)

1 cup shredded cooked turkey
1 (10-oz.) pkg. frozen chopped spinach
2 tsp. lemon juice (you could skip this)
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
1 garlic clove, halved
1 (16-oz.) Boboli pizza crust
½ cup Alfredo sauce
¾ cup (3-oz.) shredded fontina cheese
½ tsp. crushed red pepper

Thaw and drain the spinach. Combine the first five ingredients; toss well.

Rub cut sides of garlic clove over crust; discard garlic. Spread Alfredo sauce evenly over crust; top with turkey mixture. Sprinkle with cheese and red
pepper.

Bake at 450°F for 12 minutes or until crust is crisp. Cut into wedges and serve.

CALORIES 316(29% from fat); FAT 10.3g (sat 5.2g,mono 3.5g,poly 1.1g); PROTEIN 19.2g; CHOLESTEROL 39mg; CALCIUM 351mg; SODIUM 837mg; FIBER 0.6g; IRON 2.5mg; CARBOHYDRATE 35.6g


HAM AND PEAR MELT
(I load all four tortillas at a time, then broil the second round while we're eating the first round, so they're still warm. This recipe could easily serve four for a lighter meal, or save leftovers and reheat in microwave for lunch.)

4 Flour Tortillas
4 Large Slices Deli Ham
2 Small Ripe Pears -- Thinly Sliced
Shredded Cheddar Cheese

1. Place tortillas on a cookie sheet or broiler pan.
2. Layer one slice of ham (2 if small) and sliced pears over HALF the tortilla.
3. Thinly sprinkle cheese over the entire tortilla.
4. Broil 2-4 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly.
5. Fold side without meat/pears over the meat/pear side. Serve immediately.


LA BAMBA CASSEROLE
(From Cooking Light. An easy casserole packed with protein.)

1 Pound Ground Turkey Breast
1 (5.25 OZ) Can chopped Green Chilies, drained
1 Cup Onion, chopped
2 Teaspoons Chili Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 (10 OZ) can Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies, undrained
1 (16 OZ) Can Fat Free Refried Beans
1 1/2 Cups (6 OZ) Cheddar Cheese, shredded
Salsa
Sour cream

Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add turkey and cook through. Add next 5 ingredients and sauté 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook 5 minutes or until liquid evaporates.

Spoon turkey mixture into an 8" square-baking pan coated with cooking spray. Spread on the refried beans over the corn. Sprinkle with the cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes in 375 oven. Serve with salsa and/or sour cream.

CALORIES 344(28% from fat); FAT 10.7g (sat 6.3g,mono 2.9g,poly 0.8g); PROTEIN 32.2g; CHOLESTEROL 77mg; CALCIUM 269mg; SODIUM 902mg; FIBER 7.4g; IRON 3.2mg; CARBOHYDRATE 30.7g


SMASHED POTATO AND BROCCOLI CASSEROLE
(Easy Cooking Light casserole.)

1 Lb Red Potatoes – Halved
1/2 C Broccoli -- Chopped
1/4 C Onion – Diced
1/4 C Part-Skim Ricotta Cheese
1/4 Tsp Dried Dill
1/4 Tsp Salt
1/8 Tsp Red Pepper
4 Oz Sour Cream
1/2 C Sharp Cheddar Cheese

Preheat oven 375 F.

Place scrubbed potatoes (you can use peeled baking potatoes instead) in a saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 20 minutes or until tender.
Drain potatoes in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/2 Cup of cooking liquid. Return potatoes and liquid to pan. Mash with a potato masher until slightly chunky.

Add chopped broccoli and next six ingredients (broccoli thru sour cream) in a greased 8x8" pan or a casserole dish. Bake at 375 F for 35 minutes.

Sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Bake another 5 minutes or until cheese melts.

CALORIES 292(17% from fat); FAT 5.6g (sat 3.2g,mono 1.5g,poly 0.3g); PROTEIN 14.9g; CHOLESTEROL 19mg; CALCIUM 257mg; SODIUM 405mg; FIBER 3.9g; IRON 2.5mg; CARBOHYDRATE 45.5g


SPINACH, MUSHROOMS & BROWN RICE CASSEROLE
(I ate this a lot while pregnant & really enjoyed it, especially with turkey kielbasa and applesauce or fruit salad or carrot sticks. This dish cooks up very quickly, esp. if you use pre-sliced mushrooms and cook the brown rice ahead of time. It is also full of good protein and lots of spinach.)

1 Tbsp Olive Oil
3 Tbsp Butter
1 Large Clove Garlic – Minced
1 C Mushroom -- Sliced
2 Pkg Frozen Spinach -- Thawed & Drained
1 1/4 C Cheddar Cheese -- Shredded
1/2 C Small-Curd Cottage Cheese
3 C Brown Rice -- Cooked
Salt
Pepper
Paprika

Heat oil and butter in a large skillet. Add garlic and mushrooms and cook, stirring, for one minute. Add spinach (water thoroughly pressed out), stirring, for one minute.

Stir in pepper, cheddar cheese and cottage cheese. Stir until cheese melts.

Add brown rice and mix thoroughly. Stir until heated through. Taste for salt and pepper, seasoning accordingly.

Spoon into dish and sprinkle with paprika.


FIESTA QUICHE
(An easy dinner that includes some of your egg servings. Serve with green salad.)

4 Flour Tortilla
1/2 C Sharp Cheddar Cheese
4 Oz. Can Green Chiles -- Drained And Chopped
1/4 C Green Onion -- Sliced
1/2 C Salsa
4 Eggs
1/3 C Milk
1 Tsp Chili Powder
Tomato -- Wedges
Sour Cream
Cilantro

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a 12" quiche dish with vegetable oil cooking spray. Arrange the tortillas in dish. Sprinkle the cheese, chiles, and green onions over the tortillas. Dollop with picante sauce. Combine the egg substitute, milk, chili powder, and pepper. Pour into quiche dish.

Bake uncovered for 40-45 minutes. Remove from the oven. Let stand a few minutes to set.

Garnish with tomato, sour cream, and cilantro and serve.


CRANBERRY APPLE SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE

2 Med Sweet Potatoes – Peeled
1 Granny Smith Apple -- Cored
1/2 C Dried Cranberries
2 Tbsp Butter
1/2 C Brown Sugar
1/2 Tsp Cinnamon

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Cut sweet potatoes into 1/4" slices. Coarsely chop apples. Layer sweet potatoes and apples into 1.5qt or other small casserole dish. Top with cranberries. Dot with butter and sprinkle cinnamon over all.

Bake, covered, at least forty-five minutes, until potatoes are tender.

Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
Independent Childbirth Classes in Central Maine

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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Eating Protein for a Healthy Pregnancy

How much protein does a pregnant woman need to eat? Different sources recommend different amounts - some say as little as 60grams/day, with others suggesting more. Dr. Thomas Brewer's diet plan for pregnancy is on the high end of the recommendations, with a goal of 80-100 grams/day. After forty years of research, he came to see a link between poor nutrition and pre-eclampsia, preterm labor, and babies born at a low birth-weight. The Bradley Method childbirth classes teach his plan, and so do I, because I truly believe that it promotes a healthy pregnancy and a "blue-ribbon" baby (the name of Brewer's website: www.blueribbonbaby.org).

One of the most important outcomes of his research was to recommend that higher amount of protein/day. It seems like a lot, at least at first. But there are lots of very do-able ways to get that amount most days.

Here are some of my suggestions:

1. Eat eggs. Dr. Brewer recommends two/day. I suggest getting the non-caged, omega-3 enhanced ones, at least for the duration of the pregnancy... in some areas, you might even be able to find them locally (I can, and they're not even more expensive than the large grocery store eggs...). I've never had 2 eggs/day for any length of time because I don't really like them plain. I did try to increase the frequency with which I ate them during pregnancy, though, and these are some of the ways I enjoyed them:

** Scrambled, with cheese
** Scrambled, with cottage cheese
** Scrambled, plain or w/herbs & milk
** Omelet
** Chicken in Basket (egg in bread hole)
** Chicken in Basket w/cheese
** Fried, in sandwich
** Egg Salad, plain
** Egg Salad Sandwich
** Devilled Eggs
** Hard-boiled, in salad
** Eggs Benedict
** Poached, w/ toast & melted cheese
** Custards
** Egg soufflé w/ cheese
** Quiche
** Frittata (Italian dinner omelet)
** Strata (eggs layered w/ bread & filling)
** Breakfast Casseroles

Keep in mind that eggs have about 7g of protein each. So an egg sandwich (two pieces of whole-grain toast, one egg, a slice of cheese and lettuce/tomato) would have about 20g of protein in it. An two-egg, cheese, ham and veggie omelot would have about 25-30ish grams (depending on how much cheese and ham you used). Adding one hard-boiled egg to a salad adds those 7g too.

Even if you're like me and don't enjoy eggs overeasy or plain scrambled eggs, you might find some tasty and healthful options that appeal to you on that list.

2. Choose lean cuts of meat/fish and low-fat dairy - eating a lot of protein doesn't have to mean eating a lot of fat.

3. Also think about non-animal sources of protein. Whole-grain bread has about 4g of protein per slice, and whole-wheat pita and English muffins have some too. Brown rice has about 6g in 1C. A 1/4C of nuts has 6-10g.

Combining non-meat protein foods that complement each other can equal the complete protein of meat, too. For example:

** whole grains + legumes
(wheat bread + nut butter)
(brown rice + beans)
(wheat pita + hummus)

** whole grains + dairy products
(cereal + milk)
(granola + yogurt)
(pasta + cheese)
(pizza + cheese)

** vegetables + dairy products
(broccoli + cheese)
(spinach + cheese)

4. Think about how you divide up your protein throughout the day - breakfast, lunch, dinner, a snack or too... if you eat some protein in each meal or snack, you might be surprised at how close you can get to 80-100 grams without changing your diet very much.

5. Use a before-bed snack to increase protein intake on the days where you've fallen a little short of your goal - a piece of peanut-butter toast and a small glass of milk (about 20g); a small dish of ice cream (6g); a yogurt fruit smoothie (10-15g); a cheese stick (7g) all can boost a mom up to her goal.

Finally, here are some ways that I enjoyed eating protein during my pregnancies:

** Yogurt shake w/ fruit and dry milk powder
** Egg salad sandwich on wheat pita w/ lettuce
** Whole wheat pita & hummus
** Puddings, ice cream or frozen yogurt (!!)
** Graham crackers w/ peanut butter
** String cheese
** Cottage cheese eggs
** Salad w/ chicken or ham, egg, cheese & veggies
** Cottage cheese & pineapple or other fruit
** Yogurt w/ banana & granola
** Cream of wheat w/ brown sugar, pecans & raisins
** Open-face cheese melt on wheat bread

I'll do a recipe post later!

Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
Independent Childbirth Classes in Central Maine

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Sunday, May 4, 2008

Pregnancy Awareness Newsletter Link

Pregnancy Awareness Newsletter for May 4th: Eduation Week

I found this comment in the newsletter particularly insightful: "During my pregnancy with my daughter India (who is now 3) I read what seemed like hundred of books. Books on pregnancy, books on birthing, books on parenting and then some. I had no firsthand experience of being a mom and I wanted to go into motherhood equipped with as much information as possible. I feel it is important to educate oneself to feel empowered but I also feel it is important to weed out what does not feel right to you. Use your intuition to guide you and you will find your way."

There are lots of ways to learn about pregnancy and childbirth: talking to friends/family, reading books and magazines, going online, watching television shows etc. All of these methods are much less powerful than actually experiencing a bunch of births, in real life.
One of the best ways to learn about anything is by seeing it done. In the "olden days", birth was a part of life that happened where everything else did - at home, with our families. So from a young age, to adulthood, and then as grandmothers, women used to be a part of many births - not just their own but their mothers, sisters, aunts, daughters, friends, etc... Over time, more and more births moved into hospitals, and birth has become more and more separate from everyday life, simply because it is not something that we "do" regularly. Most women do not attend a birth (except on their own birth-day!) until they themselves are birthing a baby.

I think that the separation of birth from everyday life has made women more scared and anxious about it. The info-tainment baby tv shows don't help either. If most of what I knew about birth came from cable tv and a few acquaintences or friends who shared scary birth stories with me, I'm sure I would be thinking about birth from a very scary, anxiety-filled perspective. The tv shows compress something that might take 10-20 hours and shape it into a narrative that makes sense and is exciting enough to bring people through the commercial breaks. So much of realtime birth is boring, really - it's waiting for things to pick up, it's moving through real life until the flow of contractions strengthens and moves us into Laborland, it's resting in the tub or on the birthball, resting in-between pushing contractions etc. All this resting and waiting and moving on with life isn't terribly interesting, which is why a long labor can be condensed into such a short narrative which really doesn't tell the truth about the whole experience. And that's one of the big problems with these shows - that they seem like non-fiction - hey! this is something that really happened! - but really, they've been so distorted that they've become fiction, and are no longer a credible source of information.

The Listening to Mothers II survey summary states that "First-time mothers identifited books as their most important source of information about pregnancy and childbirth, and those who had given birth before relied most on their own prior experiences. Far more mothers were exposed to childbirth through TV shows than through childbirth education classes. As they neared the end of pregnancy, most women felt confident and a majority also felt fearful about their upcoming birth." Ack! is about as articulate as I can be about the more TV shows than childbirth classes sentence.

Later this week I'll post some of my favorite pregnancy and childbirth books, and discuss how childbirth classes can be helpful. I'll leave you with this fun link I found today: Virtual Labor Game

Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
Independent Childbirth Classes in Central Maine

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Saturday, May 3, 2008

Pregnancy Awareness Month Week One: Nutrition

Welcome to Pregnancy Awareness Month at Birthing Your Baby!

The goal of Pregnancy Awareness Month is to empower pregnant women with information, “how to” ideas and inspiration to incorporate PAM’s four key initiatives – education, exercise, nutrition & wellness and nurture – into their life routines and to show women how easy it can be to make healthy changes in their lives for themselves and their children. I'll be celebrating here with posts on weekly topics, starting with nutrition this week and stress management next week.



Eating well during pregnancy is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your baby. Everything your baby receives to grow from a handful of cells to a healthy, full-term infant ready to meet the world comes from you! Your body changes too - for example, a pregnant woman needs more protein and iron and fluid because her blood supply increases by around 40%!

I think most people understand the value of eating well - but what, exactly, does "eating well" mean?? What nutrients do women need more of during pregnancy? Which foods contain these nutrients? How can a pregnant mom figure out if she's eating enough of these nutrients? What about prenatal vitamins? Is seafood safe? How does eating well change during different trimesters of the pregnancy? What about morning sickness? heartburn? These are all common questions that Birthing Your Baby childbirth classes can help answer.

Here are a few of the general tips I offer my pregnant clients:

Eat a lot of protein: 80-100 grams per day. Proteins are the building blocks for your baby's growing body. Protein also supports a pregnant mother's increasing blood supply. Some studies report that 80-100g protein daily reduces your risk of pre-eclampsia, a preterm or low birth weight baby & other complications. Look for a post later this week with specific tips on increasing protein in your diet.

Go lean. Make lean protein and dairy choices: skim or low-fat milk, yogurt, and cottage cheese; lean cuts of chicken; ground turkey or leaner ground round instead of ground beef; lean fish; lower-fat cheeses like part-skim mozzeralla, ricotta, or cream cheese. These are all good protein sources without as many calories from fat.

Choose whole-grain carbohydrates. Carbohydrates give your body the energy to function properly and grow your baby. Whole-grain and other complex carbohydrates are processed slower than simple carbs, keeping your blood-sugar levels stable and helping you feel full longer. Whole-grain choices include 100% whole grain bread, pita, crackers, or English muffins; wheat pasta (Barilla offers a non-wheat pasta that has great fiber and protein); brown rice; quinoa, oats, corn meal and other grains.

What about morning sickness? Although nutrition is important during all stages of pregnancy, it can be a real challenge during the first trimester to eat well. Pay attention to what you are able to tolerate, and try to make those choices as healthy as possible. Try taking prenatal vitamins at night instead of in the morning - that can really help with daytime nausea.

Snack to Improve Nutrition. Think about food groups when you snack and aim for a snack that has a little bit of fruit/veggie, protein, and complex carbohydrate.

Some examples:
**a glass of skim milk with a banana & a graham cracker;
**a cheese stick, some apple slices/carrots/grapes & a few Triscuits;
** a small yogurt with granola;
** peanut-butter toast & a banana;
** dried fruit with cheerios & some almonds;

You can also use snacks to make up any gaps in your daily nutrition. For example, if you know you didn't meet your goals for fruits/vegetables at the end of the day, have a piece of fruit or some carrot sticks before bed. If you didn't meet protein goals, have a piece of peanut-butter toast and a glass of milk. If you didn't meet calcium goals, have a yogurt smoothie or a small scoop of ice cream for a treat.

In addition to discussing nutrition thoroughly in my classes, I also offer the following books from the lending library:
** Guide to Healthy Eating During Pregnancy
** Nutrition for a Healthy Pregnancy
** The Family Nutrition Book
** Pregnancy Survival Cookbook

Finally, here are some online resources for more information on nutrition:
Blue Ribbon Baby - Dr. Tom Brewer
Interview with Dr. Tom Brewer: Eat to Beat Pregnancy Complications
Nutrtion Info from Dr. Sears, including portion sizes
Nutrition Information from Beth Isreal Deaconess Medical Center
KidSafe Seafood
Pocket Seafood Selector


Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
Independent Childbirth Classes in Central Maine

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Thursday, May 1, 2008

A Little About My Birth Philosophy

There is so much I could write here... and this topic is one I'm sure I will be writing more about... plus I think this is a "talk the talk vs. walk the walk" kind of topic: what people write and say (and do!) about birth often reveals a lot about how they feel "philophically"...

I believe that birth is an essentially safe process - "birth is as safe as life gets" is a quote that is sometimes passed around childbirth educators, doulas, and caregivers, and one that I whole-heartedly believe. Birth is not perfectly safe, there are no absolute guarantees, but neither are there guarantees to other activities that we do regularly and without an overabundance of fear or anxiety.

I believe that birth can be an empowering, transformative experience for women (and their partners) - not only is a baby born, but a mother is born... a family is born. Of course the most important outcome is a healthy baby and a healthy mother: a healthy family! There are many paths to this outcome, and women deserve to have choices, to be able to make the choices that will work the best for them and their babies.

I believe in informed consent regarding all aspects of pregnancy, birth (and parenting). There are lots of choices to be made during the birth year: who will attend the birth? where will the birth space be? how will the woman handle the intensity of contractions? prenatal tests? breastfeeding? and on & on. Accurate, evidence-based information will help women make the choices that are right for themselves, and their babies. Sometimes this information is easy to find, and other times, in-between the horror stories shared by well-meaning friends and relatives and the info-tainment of birth shows on tv, it is hard to sort out what might seem to be true, or what the proverbial "everyone" does, and what is actually accurate and evidence-based.

I believe that when women do the thinking and planning ahead of time, it can be much easier to "let go" and live in the moment for the birth. Not all women will make the same decisions, and that's okay! What's important is for women to fully understand the strengths and benefits offered by her various choices, as well as the challenges and risks that they sometimes pose. I suggest using the BRAIN acronym to evaluate various choices: benefits, risks, alternatives, intuition and nothing (what happens if we do nothing). I believe that listening to our intuition (our gut, our heart) is an important tool too!

So, that's a start. I need to get outside in this gorgeous Maine spring weather and plant some violas with the kids!

Christina @ Birthing Your Baby
Independent Childbirth Classes in Central Maine

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