A Lotus Birth AND Placenta Raw Consumption Story: How you can do BOTH!

I always thought lotus birth was super neat but I also was not willing to give up raw consuption to give it a try. I later learned a way around this, where I could do BOTH! This is how:

Our journey began on June 15th around 11 am when baby and placenta arrived earthside. After baby was born, I laid in the birth pool for some time. When I decided to get out I stood up, gave a gentle push, and PLOP! Placenta went right into the pool. My husband grabbed a bowl, I placed the placenta in it, got out of the pool, and sat on the couch with baby still attatched to the placenta.

Once I felt up to it, it was time to prepare the placenta for consumption and set up the lotus portion! I didn’t get to it until about 6-8 hours after birth. When I was ready to prepare the placenta, I sanitised all of the counter space I would use and laid down parchment paper. I took the placenta to the sink and washed off excess blood and peeled off blood clots. Once this was done, we returned to the table with baby in tow.

I first removed the membranes from the placenta. Fetal membranes are very healing for wounds, cuts, and burns – unbeknownst to most! I kept these and stored them. What you see me holding up in the photo below are the membranes. This is the sac baby lived inside while in utero.

Once the membranes were removed, I went on to remove the maternal side of the placenta to keep for consumption. Below you will see an image of the maternal side of the placenta. This would be the side that attatched to my uterus, supplying baby nutrients. As you can see, there are still a few more blood clots on the placenta. Those were removed later.

Just to complete the placenta anatomy lesson, the photo below is of the fetal side. This is the side that baby cuddled up with inside of their sac! In the top left of the photo you see the membranes that I had removed.

The maternal side is made up of lobes. The lobes are what I cut off into 1-2 inch size chunks. Each chunk is considered a ‘dose’. In the photo below you will see the membranes in the pile on the left, the lobes (that will be frozen and consumed) in the middle, and a small pile of blood clots on the far right.

The placenta is now lacking the maternal side, left only with the fetal side. This is what the maternal side looks like when you remove the lobes!

Once the maternal side and membranes are removed, the only thing left is the fetal side and cord which is attatched to baby. This is where the lotus portion begins. Before we get into that, I will explain how I finished the raw consumption preparations.

Once I had all of the lobes cut into 1-2 inch pieces, I rinsed them off thoroughly, removing all remaining blood/blood clots. I used a baking sheet, lined it with parchment paper, and placed each lobe piece on the tray, and popped it in the freezer! Once they were frozen, I placed all of them in a baggie to better preserve.

It is suggested to use 1 inch pieces in each smoothie. I personally use more because I absolutely love the energy from them! I typically throw in one big piece or 2 pieces.

I add to my smoothies frozen fruit. You can use any fruit, really! I personally suggest having some kind of berries in your smoothie to mask the color of the placenta. I use strawberry, along with that I will add blueberry, mango, peaches, pineapple, apples, bananas; whatever I feel like adding that day. No precise amount! I also add yogurt and a liquid. You can use milk, water, or juice. Whatever you might prefer. Many women will also add in supplements! If there is anything you need to supplement, this is a great opportunity to get it into your body – just throw it in the smoothie! Once all of your ingredients are added you blend and enjoy!

I would have myself a smoothie as desired. Anytime I need energy, I’d have a smoothie. Somtimes once a day, sometimes 3 times, somedays none at all!

If you don’t really want to consume a smoothie but want to consume the placenta, you can break the chunks up into smaller pieces and swallow them whole! This is great when you are in a hurry but still want the benefits of consumption. But what are the benefits of consumption? Here are a few:

Image from MotherWise.

Some can’t get down with raw consumption – I get that! There is also placenta encapsulation that can be done as well! Even if you want to choose a lotus birth. It’s just a longer process. Feel free to take our Placenta Encapsulation Specialist Certification course to learn more!

Back to the lotus portion! What is a lotus birth? Check out our article on lotus birth to learn more if you aren’t sure. Why would someone want to do that anyway? What are the benefits of keeping baby attatched to the placenta until it falls off? Here are a few reasons:

Image from ‘womanofthewomb’

Below you will see 3 images. These were the supplies I used for the lotus birth. The brown paper is a list of each herb used and what they are used for. The jar is filled with herbs!

Once I gathered the maternal side for consumption, I prepared the lotus! I rinsed off the fetal side to start. This is what we were left with. I placed 2 rags inside of my bowl, poored a small layer of salt, and placed the placenta on top.

Next I added the salt on top! The salt is used to help preserve and keep stinkies away.

The entire placenta should be covered in salt. Once this is complete, the herbs can be added.

This is how it’s done! Many women will add flowers and crystal stones on top as well for an added touch!

It is suggested to switch out the salt and herbs every 12 hours. Which I did, but after 24 hours in the bowl, it was time to switch to a baggie.

I can’t tell you how many times I pulled the placenta right out of the bowl while holding/walking with baby. He didn’t have a short cord either! With multiple children and the house still needing to run, I found it hard to stay stationary. I also found it easy to forget about the bowl and placenta. I spilled the bowl a few tims as well- salt everywhere. The baggie was MUCH easier and family friendly in my opinion. I was able to seal it for the most part, which prevented spills and placenta being pulled from the bag. It also helped when we were traveling with the car seat.

The cord dried very quickly! Although it became hard, it also was flexible, in a way. It wasn’t really ever a bother, it never seemed to hurt him either.

On day 4 of life, while having a diaper change, he kicked his cord and it popped right off! He didn’t flinch or fuss either! This is what it looked like when the cord detached:

I continued to add breastmilk to the belly in the days going forward.

As for the placenta that is left in the herbs, I plan to plant it with a plant that thrives in acidic soil like a blueberry bush, magnolia, or a dogwood tree. Until then, it sits in my freezer!

The lotus experience over all was beautiful. It was something I’m glad I was able to experience. Will I ever do it again if I have another baby? Probably not! I found it to be extra work postpartum for something that did not really resonate for me, spiritually. I do though, encourage others to try it if they feel called to do so!

As for raw consuption, I think I will always consume raw. With my first I did not consume placenta postpartum. With my second I consumed in encapsulation form. With my third and fouth I consumed raw. If you ask me, there is no comparison. Raw consumption provided far more energy than encapsulation ever did. As for taste, with my third I felt that it tasted slightly metallic- like. It did not bother me though! With my fourth, there was no taste at all. Even when I used 2 pieces, it tasted like a regular smoothie!

Neither of these choices are for everyone, but if you feel inclinded to give it a try – DO IT! You can even choose consumption and carry out a lotus birth at the same time!

To learn more about placentas, the preperation of, and much more, enroll in the HERBAL Placenta Specialist course at herbal.teachable.com !

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Lotus Birth; A Spiritual and Sacred Ceremony

Ever think to leave your newborn baby attached to the placenta and carry both baby and placenta around until it severed on its own?

Don’t call it crazy until you look into it! There are many reasons why a mother or family would desire and opt to do this. There is name for this practice; its called a Lotus Birth!

What is a Lotus Birth?

A lotus Birth, otherwise known as umbilical nonseverance, is leaving the umbilical cord uncut after birth. Not just delayed, like delayed cord clamping, but left completely intact! The mother would leave the baby and placenta attached until it separates naturally from the umbilicus (the belly button!). The separation occurs anywhere from 2-10 days ishh. Some add herbs and such to the placenta as well!

Everywhere the baby would be carried, the placenta would be carried along as well!

Where did this practice come from?

This became popular in 1970 ishhh. In 1974, Claire Lotus Day was carrying a baby. Ms. Day previously studied the work of primatologist Jane Goodall, whom observed chimpanzees. The primatologist noticed that after birth, the chimps would not bite and sever the umbilical cord. They would leave it intact and rest in the trees until it detached naturally. It seemed so natural and instinctual to Ms. Day!

While pregnant, she looked for and found a doctor that would support her choice to take her son home from the hospital with his placenta and cord still intact. She made it happen!

That is where the name came from!

Why would someone do something like this?

1) Spiritual and Emotional Reasoning
This is more of a spiritual and emotional act. For many, Lotus birthing is a sacred ceremony. The family likely values the transition between womb and mother. The family may also respect the connection the baby has with the placenta. Baby did just spend 9 months with it…

2) Calmer and Peaceful Infant
Babies that stay connected to the placenta until it severs naturally are observed to be more calm and peaceful.

(I will say though, that most babies born at home will likely be calm and peaceful. Homebirth babes likely aren’t subjected to a vigorous and traumatic birth. They probably aren’t entering the world into a room of bright lights and chaos of multiple people rushing around like a baby born in a hospital would.)

3) Promotes Peace and Rest
Having baby attached to the placenta also encourages mom and baby to stay home and take it slow. This promotes a time of peace and rest. You certainly won’t see a mom carrying her baby and placenta around at the grocery store.

4) Promotes Recovery and Bonding
Lotus birth helps mom recover and promotes mother and infant bonding. Some families make this a whole family deal. The whole family stays home with the baby and does what they can around the house so that mom and baby have the first few days to adjust.

5) Baby is less likely to be passed around
It may also decreases the chances of baby being passed around to visitors. Baby… attached to an organ… with a cord that is gristle like… Yeahhhh, Uncle John likely won’t want to try and interfere with all of that. It is not healthy for a new baby to be passed around to everyone. It should be mom and baby for dayssss. Skin to skin. Naps on naps.

I am sure there are many other reasons, this is just what I have on the top of my head right now!

More info in the links below including How-To’s and placenta care while practicing a Lotus birth!

—–> Feel free to check out our other articles! <—–
https://motherhoodwithacrunch.wordpress.com

http://www.lotusbirth.net/
https://www.easybirth.org/index.php…

The last days of a Spirit Baby pregnancy

I’ve waited for this child since August of 2017, when they first came to me and stated I was their mother. We’ve conversed on multiple occassions, we know each other well. Baby is finally in utero – just about ready to arrive! The journey has been incredible – the end teaching me the greatest lessons of humbleness, patience, and how to adjust.

In the last moments of pregnancy, life can be a whirlwind. So many hormones flowing, so many emotions being felt, and all the bodily changes that we see come with it. Everything is uncertain, things are changing, and we have no control over when or exactly how the ride will go. We know the dynamic in the home will soon change, because no one is pregnant forever – we just cannot know when. We are waiting on a delivery with no guaranteed “delivered by” date, what a learning experience!

It leaves many women open and vulnerable, myself included. The end of pregnancy is a part of birth, if you ask me. An important part of the transition to motherhood – be it baby number 1 or number 9. I am a different person in this transition season, going through the shifting of hormones, and seeing so many bodily changes. It’s only the beginning of the transformation that will occur on birthing day and there forward!

My body is adjusting to this new life we will live, with a new very dependent infant. My mind is waking my body in the night, giving me energy and alertness – all on its own. It is preparing me for the days I will need to wake with a nursing infant. How neat that my body knows to wake me, and get used to waking, in order to prepare for this transition! My uterus is contracting, regularly. Practicing for the big marathon we will take on in a matter of days/weeks. My body is doing all the things necessary to efficiently bring my baby to me.

I’m so over pregnancy, if we are being honest. I am huge, my stretch marks are changing colors, and showing in places they never have. I can’t get comfortable often at all, my body aches, and I’m just as tired as a newborn – I swear. I am failing at keeping up with housework, my patience as a mother is insanely low, I am easily annoyed/angered/bothered. These are all normal feelings, and I know that. Worldly stresses are a huge contribution to this. Trying to keep up with normal life while in this vulnerable phase of waiting is hard! I’ve been cutting out energies left and right to help. Social media and the energy that it offers, communication with most people, and interactions outside of my home have been removed entirely. I am trying to preserve my mentality the best I can as we are in this transition. In this time of “When is this baby going to come?”, I am trying to be positive and enjoy as much as I can.

I find myself sitting, looking down at my 40 week gestation belly, watching this fully developed infant wiggle around. I’ve never been pregnant this long before, this is new territory for me. I am trying my best to enjoy this intimate and vulnerable time in pregnancy. I will miss this belly – I will miss the flips, kicks, and hiccups one day. I try to pay attention to and note all of the changes I am experiencing. The discharge, the heat flashes, the lack of patience, the change in bowl movements, feeling nauseous, waking in the night, all of the things that happen in the end of pregnancy. I’m trying to enjoy all that this journey has to offer. I’m trying my best to stop thinking about “when?” and replace it with enjoying the “NOW”.

It is definitely a learning experience, as all pregnancies have been for me. Each one with a different lesson to offer. This pregnancy has taught me so much humility, patience, and showed me the kind of mother I am, and what changes need to be made so I can improve. This has been the most transformative pregnancy thus far, out of 4. As this child’s spirit has told me before conception, this pregnancy and birth will change me. This spirit child has not failed to keep their promise! I have transformed drastically and will continue to in our journey through birth and postpartum.

I may be tired and “ready” but I appreciate and enjoy the journey. I am thankful for all of the lessons of patience and slowing down time. I am most thankful for the ability to enjoy the “NOW”, disregarding the man-made calendar as we pass 40 weeks. I will meet my spirit baby soon, whatever ‘soon’ is for this little one.

Here is to something new!

Sweet Burnt Out Birth Worker.. Take A Break

As amazing as birth workers are, we are no exception to being human, and with every job, comes burn out at some point. You could love your career with all your soul, and yet… life happens.

Let me tell you a brief story of a midwife I once knew and loved so dearly. She was a midwife for many years.. did lots of volunteer work and trainings and her birth center was small, but lovely. As a first time mama whose family had only ever birthed in hospitals, I was enamored. What I did not see hiding during appointments, was a freshly single mama, with many bills to pay, and a husband that had recently passed away. Appointments were missed, labs were not always done correctly or on time, and some things were off.. but I would not know, because I thought this was just the hands off process and I was loving it and fortunately, nothing was wrong with me, regardless. Everything was bliss and I was confident.

Then, came time for the birth.

On the same day that I was birthing, so was another beautiful mama, a birth photographer. Her experience is not my story to tell, but I can tell you that ours were very similar.

I was nearing on 42 weeks and labor was beginning. It was early but coming nonetheless. After the first call, it was a long nearly 8 hours before my midwife arrived to me and I was one centimeter. I was fine with that, maybe I should get some rest anyways. My photographer, my husbands grandmother and the midwife all went home, and we got ready to rest.

I was absolutely restless, could not sit down, the pressure was heavy, I was pacing. I was clinging the shower rack in the bathroom. I was looking at my belly in the mirror through a contraction and then my water broke. The intensity escalated and I could FEEL dilation occurring. I knew I was making progress. I called my midwife right away with joy, this was it.

She arrived shortly after the call, this time, and checked me again. It felt different this time. I could feel the expand of her fingers. Yet… her voice of disappointment proclaimed I was only one centimeter still. It can’t be… She advised us to go to the hospital because something was wrong. She said she would be right behind us, to meet us there and act as my doula.

We flew to the hospital, which was just a few miles away, and upon arrival I was rounding near eight centimeters, how could that be?

I was so broken. The nurse strongly advised an epidural so I could “relax” because I was being too loud and disturbed others, and with my broken spirit, I agreed. Where was my midwife? We could not get ahold of her.

About seven hours later I did successfully have a vaginal birth of my first son. It was beautiful, I was satisfied for the most part. He was healthy, I was healthy physically, but my mentality was not as it should have been.

This story is too common with women everywhere. They do not trust OBGYNs, so they rely on midwives, and then are abandoned by those women that they entrust to protect them from the establishment and the patriarchy within obstetrics and gynecology offices and hospitals. This is absolutely unacceptable. And why is this happening?

Too often, midwives are worked tirelessly and put under so many constraints by the government and pressure from society to prove that they are not dangerous, and prove that they are worthy of the price they set for their services. These factors, in combination with life catastrophes, can be absolutely burdening on a womans soul.

Imagine, if your boss came to you tomorrow and said “Listen, I have a job for you, that you have to start right now and work every day, even after hours, whenever I call you, on for the next 10 months, but you will not get paid for it in full until the 10 months is over, and you have to file a bunch of paperwork and work under tight restrictions to make sure you even get paid at all.” That would be pretty stressful, wouldn’t it?? Many would quit. Midwifery is a labor of love, that gets tainted too fast.

Not to mention, the massive debt many midwives carry of their schooling expenses, some midwifery schools costing up to $30k on tuition ALONE.

Midwives are struggling to take breaks because of the debt they are accruing, their heavy work load and the lack of partnership in the midwifery community.

But sweet birth worker, I am telling you, its needed.

When you are over burdened as a birth worker, someone so important to someone elses birth space, it is time to call in the troops, ask for help, and help yourself. Get that self-care. Set your prices to where you can afford to call in a back up. Do not burn bridges with all the other birth workers in the community, because of your burn out in yourself. People will begin to not trust you, should you become flakey or dangerous in births, and then what will you have?

Allow yourself the freedom to say, “No, I will not take births in August. I have too much going on.” or say, “I have been to five births this week, I really need to catch up on rest and paperwork, I need to call in my back up.”

If my midwife had called in a back up, I would not have lost my dream first birth. But I also would not have spiraled into birth work, myself, so it was bittersweet. But for her own business, her own reputation, her own mental well-being, it was way past time for her to take a break in birth work…

So what can we do as a society?

Stop trying to put midwives in the same playing field as OBGYNs. Oof, thats a hard pill to swallow for some, isn’t it? We want to be equal don’t we? No. Not at all. Midwives became midwives because they want to be midwives, not because they want to be OBGYNs. If they wanted to be OBGYNs, they would be. And if you are a midwife that wants to be an OBGYN and wants to be treated as one, you should not be a midwife, end of story. Midwives should be exactly what their name derivative depicts them as, “with woman.” When a midwife has to go through the state, a bunch of legal hoops and bares the burden of apprehension for things that are of no fault of her own, and has to weigh out her license versus quality of care, simply because a woman is 42 weeks or further in gestation, or because she is having twins, or because she is a VBA2C, the water gets muddy for her, and she worries for her family, her safety, and everything she has worked so hard for. This has to stop. By restricting midwives, we restrict WOMEN as a whole, and those advocating for tighter midwifery laws are HURTING women and OPPRESSING us further. Yep, I went there.

Come together as a community for fellow birth workers. We need to drop this concept of competition and rise up and support each other. We need to take the responsibility where we have open time and open hearts, to take back up births for even our “competition.” Create a birth worker calendar with fellow birth workers around you, where you can help with each others kids, be back ups for each other, make meals for each other after a long birth, and then some, rather than expecting to make birth work survive in a dog eat dog world. We do not have to be more business model, we need to be more village model. We also need to create a safe space for birth workers to speak freely, without fear of what they have said and what they are going through, being blasted to anyone that wants to hear negativity and gossip. A fellow birth worker that gossips about anothers private life, is not a healthy birth worker in the community.

Demand better for our women as a whole. Demand more rights for women in birth. Demand responsibility for OBGYNs and hospitals, the same way they would demand responsibility for midwives in the present day. They want midwives to be held fully responsible if anything happens, yet they cause death in both birthing people and babies on the daily, and continue working as if nothing happened at all, without their million dollar malpractice insurance even scuffed.

PAY YOUR BIRTH WORKERS. Birth worker burn out also happens because people are expecting birth workers to work for free, because they love it, right? Its a cute little hobby, right? No. Its FOOD on the table for their family. Its their electricity. Its their car to GET TO YOUR BIRTH. Its birth supplies for your birth! Pay your birth workers so they can effectively support you, and continue to support others, with minimal chance of burn out.

When tragedy strikes, can we rise up as a community for one another? Not just fellow birth workers.. but everyone. When there is a death, when there is a set back in a business and we see a small business struggling through hard times, can we be there to support them in every way we can?

In corporate America, we tend to not see the delicacy in birth work, because we try to turn everything into heavy profit, or we see it as “everyone has hard times, they can deal with it,” but that is not the village mentality and endless love that this world needs. That is the mentality that builds war, that builds competition and evil and neglect. Birth work is human life, love, bonding, trust, primal memories and mental health. Birth work is important and we need to, as a community, rise up and help prevent and ease burn out.

Birth workers, this is a call to action, make a plan. How can you help yourself? Where are you falling short on self-love and self-care? What in your business model can improve to help ease that burn out? What resources in your community is available to you? Feel free to comment your ideas below, and maybe you can help another struggling birth worker out there.

Is your Midwife there to serve YOU? – Questions to ask a Potential Midwife

So you want to hire a homebirth midwife?

That’s a great choice! There are many great midwives that serve women all across the world. They usually serve in a more natural minded manor and know more about physiological birth than their obstetrician counterparts.

When you go about hiring a midwife, it is important to be aware that they are not one size fits all. They are each very different, all will practice differently, all will have different views on what physiological birth is, and not all midwives are attending for YOU.

When choosing a midwife, be aware that most are limited in how they can serve you due to state laws. Most licensed midwives will not serve you completely autonomously with out risking losing their license. Which is sad – but important to be aware of. This is something many women are unaware of when hiring midwives. There are also midwives that are not bound by legalities and can serve you completely autonomously. These women are often considered Traditional or underground midwives. There are also licensed midwives who are willing to bend rules and fudge numbers to ensure a safe, out of facility delivery, making you the number one priority. Be sure you know who you have along for your journey before hiring!

A few questions you may want to ask a potential midwife would be:

1. What does a physiological home birth look like to you?

Some may have a more medical version of home birth in mind with monitoring vitals, checking the cervix, and so on. Some will have a more natural flowing version where medical monitoring/assisting only occurs when needed.

2. How often do you need to monitor baby?

In some states licensed Midwives are required to monitor baby every few minutes. This can be an unnecessary bother during labor. If this is something you’d like to avoid, be sure your midwife is able to support your choice of limited monitoring.

3. Are cervical checks ever required, if so, how many?

Most women do not enjoy cervical checks during labor. They can be hindering during labor and are 100% unnecessary. If your birth plan is to avoid cervical checks, be sure to discuss this as some may require them.

4. What all might risk me out of your care?

Closer to the end of pregnancy, many women are shocked when their provider says they “risked out” of care. This means you are no longer a client and they will no longer serve you. Some midwives will risk you out for silly reasons such as baby being breech, solely to protect their license. Be sure you are aware of every situation that could risk you out of their care before signing a contract.

5. What would necessitate a transfer during labor?

During labor, your midwife can choose to transfer you. Transfer is necessary in some situations! Unfortunately, some will choose to do so for unnecessary reasons, with out warning. Of course, you can refuse transfer, but they may be required to call 911 before they leave – this then becomes your issue to deal with while you are vulnerable. Some will transfer for silly reasons such as two slightly elevated blood pressure readings, baby being breech, or “failure to progress”. Be sure you are aware of all scenarios your provider will transfer for, before labor. It is important to also discuss what you will do in the case of a suggested unnecessary transfer. Will you stay home and continue with delivery or will you do as she suggests? This should all be discussed prior to laboring day.

It’s comforting to believe that all home birth midwives have your best interest at heart, but this unfortunately is not always the case. Those are a few questions that might be able to help you decipher if she is more concerned about you or licensure. A few things you could do to protect yourself if your midwife drops you or suggests unnecessary transfer would be:

1. Do not pay in full until the deadline of payment.

2. Be informed on your states midwifery laws and the legalities surrounding.

3. Have a plan of what you will do in the case she drops you out of care.

4. Discuss each unnecessary transfer scenario and what you and your partner would do if she made the suggestion to transfer.

5. Discuss with your midwife prior to labor what you will do if she feels she needs to leave your birth to protect her license. Discuss each situation and scenario.

6. Make sure there is a refund policy in your contract, be sure you agree with it.

7. Be sure your partner and/or Doula are in the loop with all of the above because they will be the ones you look to for support if your midwife drops you or suggests transfer. Everyone involved should know what would “risk out” of care as well as what might necessitate a transfer. No need for surprises on laboring day!

I’ve heard too many stories where a home birth midwife left a woman hanging, mostly for unnecessary reasons. Most times, the woman was unaware that their midwife could abandon them like they did. Most did not get any amount of refund, and many were left with traumatic births. This is what drove me to create this article. Women in their childbearing years need to be aware that this can happen. They need to know what questions to ask and how to decipher if the potential midwife is a good fit, prior to signing a contract and paying in full. She can be a sweetheart and say she supports, you but there is more to it than that.

Again, not all midwives are the same. It’s important to acknowledge that there are a few snakes in the grass. Many midwives will have your best interest at heart, will bend silly rules for you, and put you before themselves – be sure the woman you hire is one! There are amazing midwives out there, you just have to look! Keep in mind, if your midwife is driven by the law, that is exactly what she will deliver.

Constant Electronic Fetal Monitoring

Did you have those two straps put on your belly when you were in labor? One monitoring contractions and the other monitoring fetal tone? Or maybe you had an NST (Non Stress Test) completed monitoring baby to “make sure everything was okay”? Did you know that these constant monitoring systems are not necessary? Were you aware that they are actually showing to be harmful in low risk pregnancies?

Let’s talk about it!

Electronic Fetal Monitoring is an ultrasonic machine, monitoring baby’s heart rate while a pressure sensor is monitoring mom’s contractions. The fetal monitoring creates a baseline and records how it changes with a contraction. The maternal monitoring tracks the duration and frequency of mom’s contractions. There are other variations of EFM but we will stick to these two for today as they are moat common. It became a thing in hospitals in the 1970’s, without being proven safe. It has been used ever since, in about 90% of births held in facilities! They have even gone as far as creating monitors that are wireless and waterproof so you can wear them in the shower. Let’s also note that these new updated monitors have very little research completed on them. A technological breakthrough or a disservice to a physiological function?

Studies completed show the slew of complications associated with constant EFM. Increased chances of cesarean, vacuum, and/or forcep delivery are a few of the interventions connected with continuous EFM use. All associated with several types of birth injuries. In fact, the cesarean rate in the US went from 5% to 32% from 1970 (when EFM began)-2016. With “non-reassuring fetal heart tones” being the second most common reason for first-time Cesareans in the U.S.
(https://journals.lww.com/greenjournal/Fulltext/2017/11000/Practice_Bulletin_No__184___Vaginal_Birth_After.48.aspx)

NST testing is also a form of constant EFM. They are called Non-stress Tests because “it doesn’t inflict stress on the fetus”, even though the claim has not been proven. There is not a scenario where an NST would be the best option, in my opinion. If there were concerns of decreased fetal movement or fetal distress, an ultrasound would give a more accurate conclusion than that of an NST. Especially if the possible issue would be related to oxygen/placenta/cord complication. Of course, that is merely my opinion. More on NST another day!
(https://americanpregnancy.org/prenatal-testing/non-stress-test/)

In 2009 the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force released a suggestion stating that “Low-risk women should not be candidates for continuous EFM. It does not improve long-term outcomes, and it increases operative deliveries”. Again, this began in the 1970’s with zero research or studies completed. Women were not informed that they were literal guinea pigs, trying something with zero safety studies. To this day, evidence on our updated technologies are failing to prove safety for the baby during labor.
(https://journals.lww.com/greenjournal/Citation/2011/03000/Electronic_Fetal_Monitoring_As_A_Public_Health.33.aspx)

Why are we going this route? Especially when we have options of intermittent monitoring such as fetal doppler and fetal stethoscope use! There has only been one study completed thus far, as far as I am aware, comparing EFM use during labor to intermittent monitoring using a doppler or fetal stethoscope. The outcome was insane! The EFM group of constant monitoring detected 54% more abnormal fetal tones than either of the other methods. As a result, 28% more of those in the EFM group were subjected to a cesarean than in the intermittent monitoring group. The system is over active and creates more fear and concern than is necessary. The link to this study is shared below.

(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2542781/)

The evaluating article below from The Journal of Perinatal Education states “The indiscriminate use of EFM in the labor room is not improving outcomes, and is actually causing harm to healthy women with uncomplicated pregnancies. Employing a low-tech, high-touch approach needs to be the main philosophy while providing nursing care to most laboring women.”

(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4010242/)

Why is EFM used in facilities without being proven safe? Here are 7 reasons why:

– Liability
– Lack of resources
– Time
– Marketing
– Training
– Nurses views on monitoring
– Lack of leadership from professional organizations
These reasons are elaborated in great detail in the article below:
(https://evidencebasedbirth.com/fetal-monitoring/)

What is quite eye opening in my opinion, is that in other countries such as Canada or the UK (where health insurance is not a thing), they do not suggest constant electronic fetal monitoring for low risk women. This leads me to believe that revenue may be a factor in the equation.

How does constant fetal monitoring make you feel? Do you feel safe using these “tools” during labor? Does the idea of being strapped with bands, on your contracting abdomen, during labor, sound like a brilliant idea to you? Especially when it has never been proven to improve the outcome, but likely worsen outcome in many cases. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want anyone touching me in labor. I do not even want any clothes touching me, let alone tight bands strapped around my belly that is contracting every few minutes.

Please research this topic in depth before consenting to its use, be sure your choice is fully informed. If you would like to learn more, I would suggest checking out the links below. The link to Evidence Based Birth sharing on EFM covers the topic in great detail, I’d start there. The last link is loaded with many studies on EFM as well. Make your own educated choice!

https://evidencebasedbirth.com/fetal-monitoring/

https://www.bmj.com/company/newsroom/is-continuous-electronic-fetal-monitoring-useful-for-all-women-in-labour

https://www.birthinjuryguide.org/2014/05/risks-electronic-fetal-monitoring/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4010242/

LGBTQ+ Baby Making Options

This article is inspired by Tampa Bay Birth Network! You can find more information about their organization at their website: Tampa Bay Birth Network

Some people view not being able to get pregnant while in an LGBT relationship, as a positive thing. Natural birth control right?! We must reconsider our words, as some LGBT couples really struggle through the fact that they cannot accidentally conceive or easily begin to try doing so, like a lot of heterosexual couples can. But, there ARE options!!

LGBT couples are four times more likely than heterosexual couples to adopt, likely many due to this challenge, or by preferred choice, but what if your family, simply does not want to adopt, but wants to have biological children? Your feelings are valid and there are choices beyond adoption!

First, it is very important to make a game plan, when trying to conceive as an LGBT couple. What are the realistic options? What are the most cost-effective options? If the cost-effective options do not work, what will be the next step, and can you afford the more expensive treatments? How much money do you need to start saving for the treatments? Set goals for when you or your partner would ideally like to be pregnant! Start eating healthy, whether you are the partner contributing sperm to a carrier, you are the partner getting pregnant, or you just want to be extra healthy for that brand new baby that is going to be coming into your life.

If you will be using a sperm bank, there are a lot of different options, and a plethora of things to be looking for. Check the pricing! Is it affordable? What does the initial fee cover? What extra fees are there to view potential donors and once you have decided on one, what are the legal fees involved? What are the sperm shipping costs? How is their matching process? Do they have facial matching options? (This is where you can put a picture of anyone you want, including your spouse, and get matched up with donors that look like that person). Do you want the donor to be completely anonymous, have their contact information released when the child turns 18 (known as an Open-Identity Donor), semi-involved (in their life, but not as a parental figure), or do you want to co-parent with the donor? Do you know someone who will be a donor for you PERSONALLY? Most sperm banks have very strict qualifications as far as medical history, including relatives, luckily! Not all sperm banks are LGBT friendly though. Biogenetics, California Cryobank, Cryobiology, Idant Laboratories, Pacific Reproductive Services, Rainbow Flag Health Services and Fairfax Cryobank are known to be LGBTQ friendly. Fun fact, there are also such things as Donor Sibling matching sites, where families that used the same donor, can talk about their kids and meet, if they would like to!

IVI – This is intravaginal insemination, meaning that donor sperm is placed in the vagina, as close to the cervix as possible, to travel up through the cervix, into the uterus, to meet an egg! This can be done at home with the right equipment, or in-clinic. A midwife, if they are willing, may also assist you, if you feel you want a professional alongside you, depending on state laws. IVI typically has a 10-30% success rate, depending on whether the sperm is washed or not (washed sperm increases chances, but this will have to be done in-clinic and can be more costly).

ICI- Intracervical insemination. This involves the use of a speculum, catheter and syringe to place sperm into the cervix, and then placing a sponge under the cervix to prevent mucus and sperm from leaking out, then is removed a couple hours later. ICI has a 5-30% success rate.

IUI- An intrauterine insemination also consists of a speculum, catheter and syringe, but the catheter will go a bit further, into the uterus for the best chance at sperm meeting an egg, and a sponge is again, placed and later removed. IUI success rates range from 2-40%.

IVF – In-vitro Fertilization is a bit more complex than any of the above listed methods. It requires eggs to be extracted from a donor or the intended carrier, whichever is best for your family, then matching those eggs with sperm from a donor or from one, or both, fathers! Embryos will develop to approximately 3-7 days old, and then be transferred into the carriers uterus. This is relatively the same process as surrogacy and involves a protocol of medications and lots of monitoring. It is certainly the most expensive but is sometimes the only option. IVF typically has a 40% success rate, but it truly varies per clinic and their different protocols.

If you are considering surrogacy to grow your family, here are the things you should be considering!

Traditional Surrogate VS Gestational Carrier

  • Traditional surrogacy involves using the carriers egg, so she would be biologically related to baby. This may involve home insemination, in clinic insemination, IUI or the full IVF process, extracting her eggs, creating an embryo or multiple embryos, and transferring the embryo(s) into her uterus.
  • A gestational carrier is simply hosting the embryo(s) and they are not directly biologically related to her, though, if it is a a cousin, sister, daughter or any other relative, they will be distantly related, of course. This involves basically the second half of IVF where ovulation is suppressed, lining is thickened and embryo(s) are transferred. Progesterone and estrogen are supplemented to sustain pregnancy.

Review the laws of surrogacy in the SURROGATE’S home state, as those will be the laws that apply, not your home state. http://www.allaboutsurrogacy.com/surrogacylaws.htm

The process leading up to becoming an intended parent are as follows:

  • Decide on an Agency or Choose to go Independent (aka “INDY”)
  • Medical Evaluation
  • Disease/Drug Screening
  • Psychological Screening
  • Match With Your Surrogate of Choice & Pay for her to go through her process
  • Build up an escrow account for surrogate compensation, medical expenses and a little extra to cover bases
  • Decide on a lawyer to do your contracts
  • Provide sperm and/or eggs to clinic of choice to make into embryos to freeze or use fresh

You might be wondering, what is the process that the surrogate goes through?

  • Requirements: Must be between 21 and 50 (generally), not be on any type of government financial assistance (food stamps, WIC, or any variety of that), have had at least one healthy, complication-free and term pregnancy and be raising said child. People who have had gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, antenatal depression, pre-term delivery, hyperemesis gravidarum, placenta accreta, or any other complication may not qualify.
  • Background Check
  • Medical Evaluation (includes hysteroscopy, pap smear, pelvic exam, blood work)
  • Drug/Disease Tests
  • Psychological Screening
  • Follow all steps necessary to complete all necessary evaluations, contracts and follow RE protocol to raise chance of pregnancy

Contracts are so very important, so be sure to discuss these and more, in-depth, when considering matching with a surrogate.

  • Place of Birth (Hospital, birth center, home?)
  • Compensation (plus lost wages, gas, transfer fee, complication fees, any other fees that may need to be considered.. How will it be broken up, monthly, bimonthly, lump sum, etc?)
  • SET or DET (This is how many embryos you will transfer)
  • What circumstances is termination requested?
  • Involvement & Contact
  • Medical Decisions
  • Surrogate Providing Breastmilk
  • Placenta?
  • Ask questions if you are confused, make sure you and the surrogate are in AGREEMENT before either of you sign, or this may cause future conflict. Do not rush!
  • Contracts must be notarized

Once the surrogate gives birth, you will work out any final payments or paperwork that needs to be done, and you will take home your baby/babies!

If you decide that adoption IS for you after considering these options, be sure to check out the laws in your state! https://www.familyequality.org/resources/foster-and-adoption-laws/

A note about pronouns, respect and understanding for LGBT families in pregnancy, birth and postpartum: Please be sure you use a provider that respects you and your family, enough to use proper pronouns if you prefer non-binary or alternative pronouns, or non-gender specific references as opposed to ‘mom’ and ‘dad’ for example. If they cannot respect you enough to make this simple change, they will likely not respect you in birth, either!

Enjoy building your family!

With all our love and support, HERBAL.