We welcome a guest blog from Ashley Taylor from disabledparents.org who did a fabulous piece on preparing for parenthood with a disability. Enjoy!
Welcoming a new baby is exciting, but if you have a disability, you may be concerned about setting up your home. There are things you’ll need to consider as you baby-proof to ensure your baby is safe and you can get to him quickly.
Prepping Your Home
In addition to standard baby-proofing, you’ll need to make sure you can get around. First, decide how you are carrying your baby. Will you use a baby holder, a sling or another device, like one that attaches to your wheelchair? When you find the solution you’re most comfortable with, purchase it. We recommend keeping any receipts in case what you bought doesn’t work as you had hoped.
It’s now time to test it with some weight inside, such as a bag of rice, to mimic what it will be like carrying your child. Take stock of where, what, and how you’ll navigate with your child in tow. This will include:
While you probably have not yet purchased items for your nursery, these steps will give you a preliminary idea of the challenges you’ll face. Keep in mind you need to budget for any specialty items designed for disabled parents, which can be costly.
Specialty Items To Make Life Safer
Disabled parents can purchase specially-designed items to help them care for their babies. While some of these are advertised as conveniences, getting to your baby quickly is actually a safety issue. Some suggested items include:
What NOT To Worry About
There are a lot of decisions to make, but you shouldn’t feel overwhelmed by concerns. Like any new parent, you have expectations and worries. The truth is that you will rise to any challenges that you have not yet encountered or considered, and your child will adapt to you as well.
According to the APA, a study of mothers with physical disabilities proved this to be true: “One mother with paraplegia would signal her month-old baby that she was ready to lift him by tugging on his clothes. Adapting to his mother's disability, the baby would curl up like a kitten and remain still during his mother's lifts.”
Parenting always brings challenges, but there are more resources and tools than ever before to help disabled parents. Take the steps that you need to, and enjoy the journey.
It was September 23 2010 and I was going for what I thought would be a normal 19 week ultrasound.... It ended up being the beginning of the worst event of my life. After that ultrasound I was sent to Sunnybrook hospital for another ultrasound and other tests. It was then determined that my baby boy Coby had Thanatophoric dysplasia. I was told by the doctors and paediatrician that if I carried him full term he would die shortly after birth. So, thinking I was doing the right thing based on their advice, I was induced a couple weeks later, putting me at 21 weeks. I went in on October 6 and delivered Coby at 8:10am on October 7 2010. He fit in my hand. It is a day I will never forget. The care at Sunnybrook was amazing. The days after leaving the hospital were not so good. They sent a nurse to my house for a couple of weeks and then after that I was alone. I called a support group but my boyfriend at the time would not go and I didn't want to go alone so I never went.... wine became my best friend. I knew I couldn't keep with that so I started a journal but other than that I kept everything in. It wasn't until 2014 that I finally went and saw a counsellor. I had a breakdown at work and knew I needed to get help. It wasn't until then that I was truly able to forgive myself for not carrying Coby full term and knowing that the doctors were looking out for my best interest as well as his.
I recommend more than anything, when dealing with something that you think you can just hide inside and it will go away, don't. Reach out for the help and even if friends and family don't know how to be around you, there are people who do. You are never alone.
I am now at a place where I can let myself think and talk about Coby and know he will always be with me.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story
I remember the night the pregnancy ended. It was a Friday in August 2015.
My husband was at work, I was alone in our apartment. I laid down in bed, meditated and allowed my body to do what it needed to do.We had started trying for our first child and within 3 months and far too much money on pregnancy tests later, I finally got my positive test.I was excited. This is what we had wanted. Even though so many other things in our life didn’t feel sorted out and the natural nervousness existed, we were ready for this stage of our life to begin.
I was newly pregnant and happy for 2 weeks before things started to go wrong. I started to spot blood and then it quickly turned darker—it was bright and never seemed to let up.I went to the hospital and they checked my levels and did an internal ultrasound. Everything was fine—business as usual I suppose. But they sent me home with the warning that if I indeed was miscarrying this pregnancy there was nothing anyone could do about it.The process of bleeding- hospital visits, family doctor appointments.. so many blood draws went on for nearly 3 weeks.I didn’t have many cramping episodes and generally felt fine. I was just bleeding. It became a part of my life- every time I wiped I would check.. Yep, still bleeding. After a while among all of my sadness and frustration it became sort of like a game. I would pee on pregnancy tests once or twice a day- Yep, still pregnant. This baby was really holding on.But eventually it wasn’t a game anymore. I felt like a prisoner. I was isolated- no one understood what I was going through. I didn’t want to talk about it yet at the same time it was all I wanted to talk about. Everyone around me was planning for fun end of summer weekends away and I had an upcoming back yard party to welcome my husband to the country (he had just immigrated 4 months prior).I started being mindful- I told this little baby every day that it didn’t need to hold on. It was okay to go. I was thankful for the lessons it taught me and I would be okay if it was just too hard to stick around. I wanted to move on, I didn’t want to be a prisoner anymore.The fateful Friday night it happened… my never to be baby finally let go. I went to the hospital with my mom on the Sunday morning and was told the news that I indeed had miscarried. On the way home my doctor called me to tell my HcG’s were too low based on a test done on Friday. I let her know that it had happened and thanked her for her call.I cried for a while, told my husband and he comforted me as best he could. I laid in bed for the day and for the following weeks to come one side of my life went on like it had never happened and the other side was a terrible, mess. I was angry at my friends for talking about it among themselves but not actually addressing me with kind words or recognition of my difficulties. I was angry at myself for allowing this to happen, even though I knew deep down it was out of my control and I was generally just angry at the world. Everyone around me had successful pregnancies and beautiful children—and I couldn’t make it past the 7 week mark. In my head I was a failure. I had effed it all up. The thing was I didn’t want to go back to the time of not being pregnant and of not thinking of myself as a mother – I remember telling my girlfriend that it seemed so foreign to me. I wanted to plan and be excited and move forward with this stage of my life. And the truth is people don’t know what to say—I always got the typical “Well atleast you weren’t farther along..” or the typical “these things happen..” Really? I didn’t know anyone it had happened to. And yes, I wasn’t farther along—how horrible that would be for a woman who had carried longer and never got to successfully deliver. But frankly that sentiment enraged me and only further confirmed that people just didn’t understand. Some of the closest people to me just didn’t understand. I was angry for months to come. As I look back in retrospect now I realize how traumatized I was, how frozen I was with grief. For the next year, even while moving through a successful pregnancy I always expect to see blood when I go to the bathroom. I didn’t go to the doctors for 9 weeks after I found I was pregnant again with our son. I remembered what the hospital said- if I was going to miscarry there was nothing anyone could do. I decided to do everyone, and myself, the favour by just waiting it out. I wanted to know I could get past the point I never made it to before. A few nights ago I laid in bed watching my now one year old son sleep. Thinking about writing this, very unsure what I had to say about the whole experience. Sure, I could talk about how this experience brought me to my beautiful son and without it he wouldn’t be here. I can’t imagine my life without him- he brings so much joy to everyone he touches. And while the above statement is true, frankly the whole experience still makes me very sad. I will always remember those weeks leading up to that fateful Friday night. When I was pregnant with my son I always dreamed of a little girl. I was told that is the next baby in queue—I prefer to think that she was the one who never made it.
Sometime early in April 2015 I realized my cycle was late. I have never been very good at tracking these things but, we’d gone away in early February and I had to spend $10 on 8 tampons (seriously. $10. For 8 Tampons. I had to ration them because I didn’t want to buy more) so I knew approximate timing. We were a happy family of 4 with a 4.5 year old girl and an almost 3 year old boy. We live in a 3 bedroom house. I was back at school studying to become an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). Life was good. Life DID NOT include plans for a baby. My coping mechanism was to just deny. I did nothing. So my cycle was late, no big deal. It would come eventually. Around the middle of April I went out to dinner with a good friend. I remember telling her that it was all okay. Yah, my cycle was late, but I had some cramps – surly that meant that I was going to start my period that day. Remember that feeling when you’re trying to get pregnant? All the little symptoms that are so minor but become such a big deal? ‘Is that tenderness in my breasts?’ ‘I think I have to pee again, surely that’s more frequently!’ This was the opposite – ‘my breasts are only tender because I’m getting my period.’ ‘I’m not peeing any more than normal, it’ll come! It’s fine!’ About another week later I finally decided I needed to know. I bought a test on my way to a support group at the hospital. Took the test in the hospital bathroom. It was positive. Pretty quickly positive too – none of this ‘wait two minutes stuff’. I think I went into shock. We weren’t trying for another baby. We had a great life with what we had. Another baby would just change our lives so much! And what if this new baby was sick? What if I got sick? I don’t do pregnancy well, what if something happened this time?
I had all these thoughts, and more, in the 45 second walk to the room I was going too. I walked in and saw a good friend who instantly asked what was wrong. I just shook my head. She grabbed my hand and took me to another space. We got there, she shut the door, and I collapsed. I was sobbing. I couldn’t control my panic. All these worries hit me like a tonne of bricks and I was completely overwhelmed. Eventually I calmed down and we went back to the group. I sat quietly in the corner completely immersed in my own thoughts. A couple people messaged me after asking if I was okay and I tried to be funny with my answer, ‘I’m not okay, but I will be, in 9 months’. I think I figured if I can be funny and make it a joke I’ll feel better about the whole thing. I came home and called my midwife. I think I broke down on the phone with the receptionist and my wonderful midwife called me back right away. We had a very candid conversation where she let me know I had options. I didn’t have to keep the baby if we didn’t want to, but if we did, she would be there to support us. Doing something like that was never an option for us, but I did feel a bit better knowing I had options at least. I calmed down a bit and made my first appointment, on my birthday. We figured I’d be about 13-14 weeks along.
Over the next week or so, I went through periods of panic and periods of elation. I worried about the age gab between our kids and what that would mean, then I thought about all the fun things I could do with a new baby. I called people in tears, then shared my excited news with close friends and family. Eventually I stopped crying so much and started to get excited! A new baby! I get to be pregnant again! Experience that post-delivery high! Wrap my baby up while they slept on me! I could justify buying a new wrap!!! (Want to learn more about wrapping a baby and baby wearing? www.jandyberesford.com)I would get to breastfeed again! On Tuesday, May 19th I noticed a bit of blood when I wiped. It was dark brown though, and I knew that was common in early pregnancy, so I didn’t worry. By Wednesday it wasn’t dark brown anymore. It was red. I was scared and nervous and in denial. I called my midwife and she suggested an ultrasound just to make sure everything was okay. Now I was scared. I called my husband who left work to meet me and we dropped of the 3 year old with a friend. It didn’t take long for us to figure out something was wrong during the ultrasound. The tech was lovely, but it’s pretty clear when they turn the screen away and start asking how sure you are of dates. I started sobbing and shaking. It took so long for me to get used to the idea of wanting this baby and now the baby was gone? How was that fair? I got the official word from my midwife as I was picking my son up from a birthday party. She called me and I stood on the driveway sobbing and crouched over. She explained that my body was slowly rejecting the pregnancy, that the baby had died, and that I could expect the bleeding to increase over the next couple days. At some point, I would have heavy bleeding and serious cramps. She told me if I could feel free to take any pain meds I needed too since the baby was gone, and that if I filled a pad in an hour or less to call her or to go to the ER.
The next two days were a blur. I walked around in a total fog. We sent a notice to the friends and family that we had told. People dropped off flowers and food. I think my kids ate? I don’t really know. The thing is, because I was still only spotting, part of me kept thinking ‘maybe they’re wrong? Maybe it will still be okay? I haven’t lost the baby yet, I’m still pregnant. This is all a mistake.’ On Friday around 2pm I started cramping and bleeding really heavily. My wonderful parents invited us for dinner (I think so they could be sure their grandchildren ate!) so off we went. I lay on the couch in my parents family room with a heating pad held to my belly as I cried and went through early labour. I kept getting up to change the pad and eventually noticed I was running out. I had brought enough for about 6 hours which should have been plenty, but I only had one left. The next time I stood up I felt a huge gush of blood and got a bit light headed. I told my husband I needed to go to the hospital. We were both in decent spirts, joking around and just trying to be funny. We saw a doctor who asked why we were there. ‘I’m having a miscarriage’ ‘You think you’re having a miscarriage?’
‘No, we know. It was confirmed. That’s why I said I was having one. One of my biggest frustrations with the medical system is how they (in general) make you question everything about your own health. I know when something is off. Trust me. It’s my body, and no one knows it as well as I do. (Anyway, I digress). We moved to a second waiting room and sat and waited. For some reason I got up and went to walk out of the room. The next thing I remember I was on the floor and people were running around me. My blood pressure had dropped dangerously low. I got hooked up to an IV and moved to a bed. I passed out twice more that night. Most notably, coming out of the bathroom wearing a pair of depends and a hospital gown, in front of two ambulance attendants. Not my finest moment. I spent that night in the hospital hooked up to an IV and bleeding. The next day I had an ultra sound and learned that despite all that, I still hadn’t passed the baby. That wouldn’t happen for 3 more days. I felt it happen. It was on my birthday, the day I was supposed to have my first midwife appointment. I had a LOT of emotions after this all happened, and a lot healing to do. A miscarriage (even one that doesn’t require IV’s and hospital beds) is hard on your body and I needed to take time to recover physically. I also needed time to recover emotionally. I had A LOT of guilt. I hadn’t wanted this baby at the beginning. Did I do this? Was it somehow my fault? What about all that time I was in denial? Could I have been doing something then that would have changed the outcome? Obviously they answer is no, but it took a long time to come to that. This whole experience made my husband and I decide that we wanted another someone to join our family. About 3 months later I got pregnant again and we welcomed Max almost exactly 1 year after this experience in April of 2016.
We kept our angel baby in the freezer and planted her (with Max’s placenta) under a pink rose bush in our garden. Something worked because despite my husband and I being horrible gardeners, this rose bush has bloomed beautifully for the last two summers! I can honestly say that this was one of the worst experiences of my life. I did learn that despite everything though, regardless of what’s going on, I can keep moving forward. One foot in front of the other eventually gets you to where you want to be. I also learned just how common my experience is. So many people said to me ‘oh, I had a miscarriage’, or ‘I’ve lost two babies’. If it’s happened to you, first? I’m sorry. It’s awful and it sucks on so many levels. Second? Reach out. Speak to people. You’ll be surprised where you find support and trust me, you’ll find some.
I will never forget this baby that I didn’t get to meet. She holds a special place in my heart and I think of her as a guardian angel for Max- without her, he wouldn’t be here.
A huge thank you to Jandy for sharing her story. xo
This week is world Doula week. To celebrate Doulas all over the world I thought I would take some time and share "my why" A colleague recently asked me, what made me become a Doula. My response was the general "after I had my kids I was really interested etc etc. But she went further to ask "yes, but what is your why?" That's a very good question, so here goes. I want the families I work with to feel educated, empowered, and in control of their choices when it comes to their pregnancy, birth, and parenting. All too often I hear stories from women and their partners how they at times felt pressured, pushed, not prepared, and uneducated during the process. I want to be the kind of Doula who can inspire confidence, educate, support and prepare families for the most positive pregnancy, birth, and beyond. A huge part of my job as a Doula and part of my why is offering choices and options. There is SO much information out there in the community, that it can be overwhelming especially for first time parents. Being a resource to families is a key part of my work. I love nothing more than bringing a community of professionals together to create the ideal support team for each family I work with. Learning how different care providers can support pregnant women can make a huge difference in birth outcomes. So in short the simple answer to my why is, to give women and families the confidence to build a plan that suits them for their pregnancy, birth, and beyond.
This is Katie's story and what I love about it, is that it's not your average story. How many people experienced infertility after their first child was born? Her story shows the ugly parts that can come along with this journey, but also the surprising ones too. A big thank you to Katie for sharing her story!
When my husband and I decided it was time to start our family together we both thought “great, no more birth control and in a couple of months we will be pregnant.” Those couple of months turned into a year. I spoke to my family Dr and he just said to me to “stop stressing and it will happen.” Six months later I went back to him and asked that he send me to a professional that will hear my concerns and help me.
I managed to get into a fertility clinic within a couple of months. After three months of blood work done throughout my cycle the Dr decided my best option would be to try clomid. I was feeling very hopefully. I took my first dose of clomid, and three weeks later I found out I was pregnant. We both were very excited. I had a very easy pregnancy but a little scary delivery. We were blessed with a beautiful baby boy.
You are probably thinking to yourself “how can she say that she experienced infertility” When I was trying for my first baby I thought I knew what it felt like to experience infertility, it wasn’t until we decided to try for our second baby that we REALLY experienced infertility.
We both wanted 3 years between our children so once our son turned two we started trying again, without any clomid. After six months of disappointment and tears I met with my new family doctor and told him what we had dealt with the first time trying to conceive. My doctor referred me to a new fertility doctor. I was on a wait list for three months to see this specialist which was frustrating and the longest three months. Once I met with the fertility dr, he was against me using clomid, he had done some drug studies and found a different fertility drug to help women conceive.
We started the blood work regime again and also a week of internal ultra sounds when they felt I was going to ovulate. For three months I took the meds, blood work and ultrasounds. The Dr was very puzzled as to why I wasn’t getting pregnant. I was ovulating on the meds and my husbands sperm count was good. I was getting more frustrated as time went on because hearing “we just can’t figure out why” not only the disappointment, frustration, time and money spent but the emotional roller coaster I was feeling.
After three months of frustration and disappointment, my Dr, my husband and I decided to try the “sperm wash” method. I was to continue to take the meds, blood work and ultrasounds and when the nurse told me what day was my “most fertile” I was to bring in my husband specimen in and they would “wash” it and then insert it into me. Great! I thought this is going to work. Three months of this treatment and 3000.00 later we were not pregnant and even more discouraged.
The next treatment that my Dr recommended was IVF. My husband and I had to have a lot of talks about this treatment not just because of the cost but the effects the fertility drugs were having on me…some days I felt like I was experiencing “out of body” moments. I was moody, gaining weight, my hair and nail were dry and I didn’t feel “right”. After a month of a lot of tears and talks we decided we would try IVF. We took out a line of credit because we didn’t have the thirteen thousand dollars to start the treatment.
Cycle one of daily injections and oral medication were hard mainly because I hate needles so having to inject myself was uncomfortable but I got over it and my husband helped when he could. We were feeling very hopeful and praying this would work. My Dr had a very positive attitude and kept our hopes up throughout the first month. On day 14 of my cycle I was at the clinic bright and early, had the procedure done then went home and laid with my legs elevated for most of the day (as instructed). Then the waiting game started and on day 28 I woke up to the most heart wrenching disappointment. I was not pregnant and with all the medications I was having the worst menstrual cycle ever. I had to take three days off work, more because of my emotional state. My husband and I decided we would do one more cycle and if we didn’t get pregnant then we would stop treatment. We decided that we had tried for close to three years and had spent thirty thousand dollars and our son was almost six and we were emotionally done. Cycle two of IVF was much more emotional for me, I cried a lot and felt depressed. I spoke to my doctor about this and he said that it was the medications. We finished cycle two and were confident it “worked” this time. Well, it didn’t, we were in debt from trying and emotionally burnt out. We thanked our doctor for his time and efforts and told him we were done trying. My Doctor was very understanding and he told us he was puzzled and frustrated because my infertility was “unexplained” because with the medications I ovulated and the IVF should have worked.
My husband and I decided that we would no longer worry about birth control seeing that we couldn’t get pregnant with “help” and if we did get pregnant then we would be excited.I was 34 and my husband was 39. We would explain to our son when he would ask “why can’t you have a baby” that we tried very hard to have a baby but we can’t and that we were very lucky to have him. I won’t lie and tell you that every month I wasn’t disappointed when I would get my menstrual cycle. I would pray and hope every month. Finally after two years I said to my husband “ I am mentally done trying and I’m going to talk to my doctor” I was to the point in my life that I felt I didn’t want to find out at 45 I was pregnant. I went to my doctor and spoke to him and he completely understood where I was coming from but he also told me he could see a weight lifted off me. It wasn’t until he said that, that I did feel the weight was less, I wasn’t stressed anymore and I was in the “right” place mentally to say “ I’m done”. My doctor and I discussed what were the best options for me. The first option was for my husband to get a vasectomy, which I knew would never happen. My hubby is a BIG wimp when it comes to doctors. My doctor and I decided my best option was to have a IUD inserted. My doctor wanted me to see a gynecologist prior to having this IUD put in because of all the fertility medication I had taken, I could have cysts growing or other medical issues. I met with the new gynecologist and he sent me for four different tests. I had the first three tests done from the beginning of my cycle and then I was to come back after I had my next period so that I could have the last test done. I went home and ordered my IUD from the pharmacy picked it up so that after my last test I could have it inserted the following week.
WELL, I’m happy to say I never had that last test done and never had the IUD insert because I never got my menstrual cycle that month! That's right I was PREGNANT!!! I was shocked and cried a lot. I wasn’t crying happy tears, I was crying “this wasn’t this plan” tears. I felt terrible feeling this way after so many years but once I had wrapped my head around not having another baby I wasn’t ready for the news that I was going to have a baby. I’m happy to tell you my emotions balanced out and I became VERY happy to be pregnant and in November 2014 we welcomed a baby girl to our family. We did not find out the sex of our baby during the pregnancy, we felt it was a surprise at the beginning why not keep that surprise going and we were so surprised to have a girl! I was worried that my son who was 9 when his sister was born wouldn’t develop the bond I was hoping for with his sister. I was so wrong and they are so in love with each other and I feel that the age difference was the best thing for my son.
I hope reading my story will help with what your experiencing or have gone through.
This story is near and dear to my heart not only as a doula but as Tricia's best friend. I remember her as a young girl coming to me and telling me her news and since then I have watched her struggle and face infertility with grace and strength. I've seen her hide away from it too, and I am so so proud of her today for sharing her story with the world! Let us come together and share our stories, from sharing comes strength.
Many individuals and couples struggle with the painful reality of infertility. This is my story, this is my husbands story.
For me the story started when I was fairly young. I remember being in the doctors office and being told I had a medical condition called Turner Syndrome. I remember even at the young age I was that all I took away from that appointment was the knowledge, I was infertile.
For years I went on not fully letting the weight of that knowledge close to me. No big deal I could adopt, right?
As I grew older and my closest friends started families, I was witness to the pregnancies and births of many little miracles. As truly happy as I was for those little miracles, I'd be lying if I didn't say how much my heart ached for my own loss. And I say loss because that's exactly what it is. I believe that's when I first experienced the true grief and loss of infertility. Even through watching my closet friends bring little bundles of joy into the world, it was still OK, there was still hope that I would have that too. After all I could always adopt, right? It wasn't till l met my now husband and things between us began to get serious did the second blow of the heartache that is infertility hit. I remember the painful conversation of telling him a family of our own wasn't possible. I remember him holding me while I cried. I remember his reassuring words that it didn't matter because it was me he loved! I also remember feeling like less of a woman because this is what I was suppose to do, right? Bring a child into the world for us.
Infertility can be an incredibly painful and lonely thing to overcome. It can also be one that brings growth, strength, acceptance and a tremendous amount of love. I've been blessed with amazing family and friends. And through all my life experiences one thing that I've learned is that family is truly about more than biology! For those of us that struggle with infertility there are options, many options! We just have to open our hearts 💕
The postpartum period. What happens after our journey of birth and welcoming our own little person into the world? Happiness, Joy, sadness, fear, anxiety, sometimes even anger. Not everyone feels the same during this period of time in their lives. Who do we lean on? Who helps us navigate through this tunnel? Family, friends, medical care providers, support persons? We count on those around us to support us and give us the necessary information to survive. During my role as a postpartum doula I witness firsthand the sea of information that surrounds new parents, even second, third, and fourth time parents.
A sea of information you say? That’s wonderful! The problem is that with all that information out there, there are bound to be conflicting theories. I often see parents struggle with which path to choose because multiple care providers have given different strategies for the same problem. I see a new community emerging where we have lost the art of trusting our instincts and being able to make our own decisions and speak up for ourselves and our babies. We have entered a world where it is acceptable to shame mothers and fathers for their choices, sometimes even threaten them. Recently I’ve encountered some heart breaking and downright frustrating stories from my families about their postpartum experiences with their care providers. As a doula I like to surround myself with professionals in the community who are liked minded. I’ve built an amazing group of people around me, but feel devastated to hear some of the stories my clients share about our community.
Medical care providers are important and needed. They have a huge place in our community and in caring and supporting ourselves and our babies. There are however big differences between offering medical advice and shaming or threatening families into doing something they are not comfortable with because of a policy or faster outcomes.
Recently I supported a fourth time mom and dad through a birth that resulted in a cesarean section. This momma had breastfed all three of her babies and was happily breastfeeding the newest addition. Upon leaving the hospital, they were instructed to come back to be checked for jaundice levels. When they came back, the nurse was concerned that the baby didn’t cry when his heel was pricked and suggested that perhaps he needed formula. Mom informed her that none of her babies really fussed about that in the past. The pediatrician then said “I am going to give him a bottle just to see if he takes it.” My clients felt they didn’t have a voice to speak up and say no for fear that if they did they would be readmitted to the hospital or that CAS would be contacted. The doctor sent them on their way but gave strict instruction to do a formula feed after every breastfeed for 24 hours, then return for a reassessment. This couple went home and said “no” to formula and only breastfeed for 24 hours. Fast forward to 24 hours later and they encountered the same nurse who says “Did you top up with formula?” Mom’s response “yes we did”. The nurse replied “OH WOW he looks so much better today!” Baby’s assessment was passed with flying colours and no more follow ups necessary.
What does this say? That in this particular situation a mother trusted her instincts but couldn’t feel safe to communicate with the team of providers who we are taught to trust and respect. It is important for families to know they have a voice. Our babies do not belong to the hospitals, or doctors or anyone else, they are our flesh and blood. It is our right to speak up and make decisions that are right for our babies. Don’t misunderstand though, these decision we make about our babies need to be informed decisions based on not only our instincts but with the information presented to us.
Another common problem I encounter are policies that override common sense or don’t allow sufficient time frames. I sometimes experience this when a hospital is trying to achieve a “good” blood sugar reading. All too often I hear “We need three good readings or else we will NEED to give your baby formula.” The first time I learned that this was not always the case was when I heard a midwife tell my client “just do what you need to do so we can pass this test and get discharged from the hospital and then you can never give formula again!” This blew my mind. Since when are we not allowed to say “no thanks I am going to take myself and baby home now!” You should never feel like a prisoner, but in many cases that is exactly how people feel.
So how do we avoid this? How do we educate families that it is okay to speak up and advocate for their babies and themselves? How do we combat that fear about going up against the man?
RAISE YOUR VOICE
Disclaimer: Always talk to your health care provider before taking any supplement or trying any interventions listed in my answers – while all of these things are safe for pregnancy you need to make sure they are safe for you!
1. Remedies for heartburn, headaches, and swelling
Heartburn: Treatment is variable depending on the stage of pregnancy. If it’s the end of the third trimester when the stomach is being displaced and pushed up by growing babe it’s hard to stop heartburn at the root but you can treat the symptoms. If the heartburn is occurring early in pregnancy, we can aim the treatment more at the root of the problem.
Some of my common tricks are acupuncture, ginger tea, raw organic almonds and slippery elm lozenges or capsules.
Headaches: There are so many reasons one can get a headache during pregnancy – but I see acupuncture, drinking lots of water and magnesium nip most of them in the butt – plus the magnesium if taken before bed can help you sleep better and settle pregnancy related muscle pains and spasms. Look for Magnesium Bisglycinate – this is the best most bioavailable form.
Swelling: Acupuncture again (because it’s really safe in pregnancy) – then looking at the reason for the swelling – is it water? Is it incompetent vasculature (blood vessels)? After evaluating the symptoms I might use something like Pascoe LYMPHDIARAL SENSTIVE CREAM, nettle/dandelion tea, horsechestnut, or bilberry capsules.
2.What to do about pregnancy related carpel tunnel
The exact same things we do for swelling – with the acupuncture being more localized to the wrist and hand J - and checking out the B12 status J
3. Cough remedies
I like Pascoe Drosera Simiaplex http://www.pascoe.ca/product-list/drosera-similiaplex - I actually have personal experience with this one – I had a VIOLENT night cough for nearly 1 month when I was 7m pregnant – it was terrible – I took 2 doses of this and never coughed again. Now I don’t always see it work that fast but it almost always provides some relief. Obviously, you also need to see your Health Care Provider to check out the cough and make sure nothing more serious is underlying it.
4.Fertility how to get pregnant
Fertility is a huge part of my practice from working with individuals and couples who are thinking about wanting to conceive in the future – focusing on detoxing and optimizing their current health to those dealing with infertility and undergoing conventional fertility treatments including IVF/donor eggs etc.
This is a case by case plan but I always start off by looking at the individual’s health history and family history so if there is something that we can improve or do before the pregnancy to help reduce risk of complications to mom or baby beforehand. I do a lot of dietary counselling to optimize nutrition so mom is prepared to grow a baby but also to improve hormonal balance and make it easier to conceive. Sometimes I use supplements we know help to create healthy eggs and an optimal environment for baby’s development. Also the research to support use of Vitamin D and probiotics during pregnancy to help child’s long term health is quite strong. Some of my favourite things for all trying to conceive moms are Nettle/Alfalfa/Raspberry Leave teas, uterine/liver castor oil packs and the seed protocol. I also teach my patients how to do BBT (Basel body temperature) charting and how to look at physical signs to optimally conceive. We can also use the charts if there is infertility to help determine what might be going on. I also use tons of acupuncture to help regulate cycles and improve egg quality and uterine lining as well as the success of IVF cycles (great research to support this) when extra help is needed. One of my favourite parts of my jobs is helping a mom/surrogate/donor create life.
5.Hair loss after pregnancy
To some degree we just have to suck this up. When you are pregnant you do not have the normal hair loss your normally do. Typically, your hair goes through three phase cycle – GROWTH, REST, FALLING OUT. During pregnancy hairs in the RESTING stage are more likely to stay there then to enter the FALLING OUT STAGE – so your hair often seems thicker and fuller. However, once you are no longer pregnant all those hairs that were in the RESTING stage will start to enter the FALLINGOUT stage so there is a more drastic hair loss at once – but don’t worry this will all get reregulated. Also making sure you are taking good quality vitamins will ensure that the hair growing is of optimal quality. I have also used some adrenal herbs to support the stress axis which helps ALL new moms stay energized and less effected by stress (which can also make hair fall out even more!)
6.Is CoQ10 safe to take while pregnant the goal was to reduce chances of getting cholestatsis but she is unsure if it is safe as she is finding
I use CoQ10 all the time in mom’s trying to conceive – once they do it is usually not indicated anymore and I also have used CoQ10 in the second/ third trimester for blood pressure concerns. I have not yet had a case where someone required it in the first trimester and I have not seen any evidence about this – where are you in your pregnancy right now? There is research (Teran E, Hernandez I, Nieto B, et al. Coenzyme Q10 supplementation during pregnancy reduces the risk of pre-eclampsia. Int J Gynaecol Obstet 2009;105:43-5) suggesting it is safe and beneficial to take 100mg 2x/day starting at week 20 (under your health care providers supervision). I would probably use liver/gallbladder herbal support such as Milk Thistle (MEDIHERB SILYMARIN) if it was appropriate for my patient (once again you need to work with your Health Care Provider to make sure something is indicated for you). During pregnancy you are more likely to get gallstones – so in patients with a history of gallstones I often will give them liver/gallbladder support as part of their preconception plan to help reduce the incidence.
A huge thank you so Dr. Stacey Fritsch-Horn. B.Sc(ENG),ND for answering some of our questions. You can contact Dr. Fritsch-Horn directly at 905-885-5111, www.porthopehealthcentre.com, www.staceyfritschnd.com.
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