40 Weeks to Freedom – It’s Worth the Wait

2019-09-23T06:19:12+00:00September 23rd, 2019|Categories: Fertility Blog|Tags: , , , , , , |

Why does it seem like the last month of pregnancy lasts longer than the previous nine? My fellow moms – I absolutely get  why you want to end it as soon as possible. The final weeks are uncomfortable and anxiety ridden. Waiting for the baby to arrive and FINALLY starting your maternity leave, plus meeting your baby is the most exciting day! It’s no wonder we want to rush to the end by inducing labor instead of allowing labor to begin naturally. Inducing labor is defined as: you or a care provider uses a drug or an action to cause labor to start before it starts on its own. Doctors and researchers don’t really understand how or why labor begins when it does, so the drugs and interventions don’t always result in labor actually beginning and progressing to delivery. One quarter of moms that are induced end up with a cesarean birth when labor stalls or goes on too long.

Researchers now believe the fetus actually signals the beginning of the labor process, possibly when the lungs have matured enough to take the first breath of air. The fetus likely signals a hormone release that relaxes the cervix and starts uterine contractions. Because of the complexity of the labor process, it is best to allow it to begin naturally even if your due date has come and past.

A due date can be misleading, the exact date of fertilization can be nearly impossible to know for sure. Also, just like babies reach milestones at different times, it’s normal to have a range of normal gestation. Anytime between 39 and 42 weeks is considered a safe time to deliver, and waiting for labor to start naturally is another reassuring signal your baby is ready to be born.

Doctors used to deliver babies earlier in pregnancy for their convenience and at mom’s request (if she was uncomfortable – what part of pregnancy IS comfortable??) Doctors noticed the number of babies that required special care for breathing problems, breastfeeding problems and inability to regulate their body temperature increased as babies were delivered earlier. The American Academy Of Pediatrics recommends waiting until 39 weeks to consider an induction. Read the AAP position statement here The Timing of Planned Delivery:Strengthening the Case for 39 Weeks

If you are thinking about trying to induce your labor at home, there are several things women have been told to try to get labor going. Unfortunately, none of the home remedies have been shown to be effective when reviewed by researchers.

  • Hypnosis: not effective, compared with doing nothing
  • Homeopathy: not effective, compared with doing nothing
  • Sexual intercourse: not effective, compared with doing nothing
  • Sweeping/stripping membranes (office procedure done with a vaginal exam): not effective, compared with doing nothing
  • Acupuncture: not effective, compared with doing nothing
  • Breast stimulation: increases the likelihood of starting labor, but more research is needed to understand safety (there are concerns that strong contractions could reduce oxygen flow to the fetus, although the study that raised this concern was done in women with high-risk pregnancies)
  • Castor oil: effective at starting labor, but does not decrease the chance of having a C-section. Castor oil causes nausea and diarrhea in most women. More research is needed to understand safety.

If you feel the need to induce your labor or have any health concerns, talk with your doctor before trying any of these techniques. There are times when induction is the right choice for you and your baby.


Breastfeeding Act 2

2017-07-19T14:53:39+00:00July 19th, 2017|Categories: Fertility Blog|Tags: , , , |

For all the challenges of adding a second baby to your family, waiting for your milk to come in may not be one of them. Talk to second time moms and most will share the experience of milk coming in faster and less anxiety about low milk supply. For all of us that are currently, or can recall the experience of, chasing a toddler and now caring for a newborn, less anxiety about anything is a blessing.

Researchers have identified possible reasons our bodies get better at breastfeeding. The first reason is you now have skills -you know what you are doing, your newborn may be new at this, but you are not. You have handled a floppy newborn, you know what a good latch looks like and can problem solve when needed. You are a breastfeeding ninja -or well on your way. Maybe you made some mistakes the first time around and you know more now (apologizing to my first born, sorry Colton).

The second reason is at the cellular level. All the breast changes you felt were caused by your breasts growing new tissue for milk production and storage. During your first pregnancy, your milk-making cells were programmed to get to work and create food for your baby. That programming never deactivates and your cells stay ready to jump back into milk production. This also has the additional benefit of reducing breast cancer risk, programmed cells are less likely to mutate and become malignant.

In a 2015 study, researchers discovered momma mice made more milk-producing structures with their second pregnancies, backing up the theory that we make more milk the second time around. Another set of researchers confirmed with a human study that found one week after birth, mothers made 30% more milk than with their first born.

Other studies found second babies spent less time nursing. This makes sense since you have plenty of milk and can efficiently latch and position your baby. You also have another child and may have less time to sit and gaze at each other without worrying about what little brother or sister is getting into.

This was my experience – I breastfed for longer durations with each baby. My first was breastfed for 10 months and my last baby was breastfed for 2 ½ years, mostly at night and in the morning. I felt more confident about breastfeeding in public or at work and was in no rush to introduce solids with my second and third babies.

So if you are having your second baby, try not to stress about your supply and get ready to enjoy your growing family. Our bodies are fantastic systems, prepared to care for and feed our babies. If you would like to learn more about the milk-making structures in your breast and how breast milk is made, check out The Boob Tube, our monthly Facebook Live show – here’s the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8viUUPMvBAE&feature=youtu.be

Hormones – The Invisible Directors

2017-04-02T03:04:47+00:00April 2nd, 2017|Categories: Fertility Blog|Tags: , , , , , , |

Motherhood is a transformative process. From the beginning of your pregnancy to the day your little one is weaned, your body is working to meet the needs of you and your growing baby.

The orchestraters of your transformation to motherhood are hormones. Hormones aren’t just the pesky chemicals that make you cry at paper towel commercials – they direct cells in your body to change, create, contract and relax. At the first pangs of pregnancy hormones are influencing your body and breasts to prepare to care for your new baby. When your little one arrives and the placenta is expelled, a sharp drop in the hormone progesterone occurs. Progesterone is crucial to maintaining your pregnancy, but after birth it is no longer needed. This sharp drop in progesterone signals your milk making cells to prepare to get to work. (Fun fact: this hormonal signal is so strong; mothers that adopt infants can induce lactation by taking progesterone for a period of time and then abruptly stopping. Thus mimicking pregnancy and delivery, and inducing lactation!)

Your body prepares for lactation months before your due date. Cells in our breasts begin to wake up during the first trimester thanks to another hormone, prolactin. For most moms, breast tenderness and swelling are the first symptoms of pregnancy. The breast changes you feel even before your baby bump starts to show are your breast cells preparing to make milk, thanks to exposure to prolactin. This preparation to make milk involves programming of dormant, or sleeping, breast cells. (Another fun fact: this programming of cells into milk producers provides protection from breast cancer later. Research shows breast tissue cells that have been activated to produce milk are less likely to grow into cancer in the future.) Prolactin tells your breast cells to make milk and if progesterone is present the hormones cancel out and only small amounts of colostrum is produced. But after your baby and placenta are delivered, progesterone drops and prolactin takes over! Oxytocin is another hormone that plays a big part in breastfeeding – known as ‘the mothering hormone’ it helps you relax and release your milk when your baby is at the breast.

After your baby is born, hormones still play a big role in milk production, although the laws of supply and demand are the determinants of your milk supply. To set yourself up for breastfeeding success, put your baby to breast as soon as possible after birth. No baths or swaddling – just a quick wipe off and skin to skin with you for the first breastfeeding session! Early breastfeeding is another signal that tells your body to start milk production. It can take 50-75 hours for mature milk production to begin, and putting your baby to breast helps create more milk, faster.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding cause our bodies to change in profound ways and hormones are the invisible directors of this transformation process.