Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Birthing Naturally in the Hospital

If you're expecting a little one (or planning on expecting one in the future), no doubt you've thought about how you'd like things to go at your baby's birth. Maybe you long to have a home birth, but for whatever reason, that just isn't possible. You can still have a natural experience if you are giving birth in the hospital. I will share a few tips that will get you closer to your goal.

Create a Birth Plan- I will just say this up front: if your desire is to just let nature take it's course, please, please, please do not show up at the hospital once you're in labor and expect it to just "flow" that way. You must have a plan. (Now, I know in some circumstances, plans can go out the window, so to speak, but if you have a plan, you're way more likely to see things happen the way you envision than if you didn't have one in place at all.) I would guess that the majority of hospitals are used to laboring women receiving the whole nine yards of interventions. In my experience, having done my utmost to deviate from this path, I was met with a ton of resistance- hospital staff members just aren't typically used to the natural birthing process (again, just in my experience).

Find an OB or Midwife you are very comfortable with- Explain to them in the beginning what you would like to see happen at the birth of your child. Make sure you're both on the same page. Expect your practitioner to ask questions like "what do you want to do in this or that situation?" If your doctor seems adamant that any particular situation would require augmentation or any kind of intervention, you may want to consider finding another birth attendant if possible. You want your doctor or midwife to be open to your ideas, and it's also nice to know that they see you as an informed party, and not just a silly pregnant woman with outlandish ideas. I realize that obstetricians probably see hundreds of births per month, and so they're quite used to the birthing process. They are definitely necessary if things go awry, but I think often times, they have a set "routine" or a mindset of how things should go. You want to know that they don't view you as just another patient. You are about to become a mother- and you want them to be a partner with you in helping you make that transition as smoothly as possible.

Research your Hospital- Find out their C-section rate. Find out what kind of policies are in place. Are they natural birth friendly? Do they offer laboring tubs? Will they readily provide non-medical pain relief measures like birthing balls, allow you to labor in the shower, or somewhere other than the bed? Take a tour of the hospital if it's available (usually it's done by one of the nursing staff) and ask any questions you have during or after the tour. If the staff seems familiar with natural pain relief methods, that's a good indication that many other mothers have given birth naturally in their facility, and they're used to it!

Read, Read, and Read Some more! There is so much information out there that you won't get during the five minute face-to-face you get with your doctor during your prenatal visits. Here are some of my favorite books for pregnancy and birth. You must take responsibility for your health and the health of your baby. Become familiar with the routine prenatal tests, as well as hospital procedures and find out which ones you will consent to and which you will decline. (Did you know you could decline certain tests and procedures?) Should you take the glucose screening test? What about ultrasounds? You need to know the benefits and the risks to each one. Is it necessary for the baby to be monitored the entire time you're in labor? Researching ahead of time will help you to make the best decisions.

Stay Home as Long as Possible- The longer you're in the hospital, the more pressure you are likely to get to receive some sort of intervention to speed things along. Often times first labors take a LONG time (there are definitely exceptions to this rule, though!) Many times once an intervention takes place, it starts the "cascade of interventions". (Receiving Pitocin is a biggie- it causes more intense contractions that are very difficult to handle with natural pain relief methods. Many laboring moms opt for an epidural once labor really picks up, and this can lead to even more necessary interventions. Just because something is done routinely, doesn't mean it's necessarily safe or the best option). Staying home while you labor can help you feel more comfortable, and in the event that labor takes a really long time for you, you can likely avoid many unwanted interventions. Another thing you may want to do is preregister for your hospital stay, that way you can quickly get checked in to your room once you arrive at the hospital.

Are these tips helpful? Did you give birth naturally in the hospital? What other ideas would you add for those who desire a natural experience in the hospital?

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day2day joys

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Frugal Things I Do: Health and Beauty Edition

With our current financial situation, I've been forced to get creative about certain things that I would normally choose to spend a little bit more money on. Some weeks, there has been enough money for gas to get my husband to and from work, and maybe pay a bill or two and not a lot else! So certain things that I never really considered "luxuries" (but if I'm honest w/myself, just aren't "necessities") are just not do-able sometimes. What do I do? What any other woman would do: adapt. Make do. Get clever. Here are some of the things I've done to avoid having to spend money unnecessarily! And the bonus is that all of these are more natural and better for general health as well as the environment!

Some of the products I've replaced:

SHAMPOO/CONDITIONER- I used to go through a ton of shampoo and conditioner. I'd say I probably bought a bottle of each at least once a month. I was an every day shampoo-er (unnecessarily as I've come to find out). I heard about using the baking soda and apple cider vinegar method from various sites, so I had to try it. Basically, you take a couple tablespoons of baking soda, add a little water to make into a paste, then massage into wet hair and scalp, rinse well and then add a 50/50 blend of water and apple cider vinegar (I use a squeeze bottle to squirt it onto my hair).  You can get a box of baking soda for 50 cents and a gallon of ACV for $4 (it will last for months and months!) I will say that my hair and scalp rebelled for the first few weeks of not being washed every day, but eventually we adapted. (This one I actually started because of was tired of dumping chemicals on my head and didn't want to spend major bucks on organic shampoos and conditioners). I've been doing this for about a year now, so it's something I definitely recommend trying.

FACE CLEANSER- I just use a bar of Castile soap. I used to use Dr Bronner's, but recently I discovered Kirk's Castile Soap which I found for around $4 for a pack of three bars (at Safeway).

FACE SCRUB- I use a mixture of honey and granulated sugar. It's about a tablespoon of honey mixed w/about a teaspoon of sugar. (You can use more or less sugar depending on how "gritty" you want it.) You could probably experiment with different textures for exfoliating different areas...maybe use raw sugar for those rougher areas, or even ground almonds or something...

BODY WASH- Again, Castile soap. It's a switch the whole family has made and it works for everyone (including my sensitive four year old and almost two year old)!

FACIAL MOISTURIZER- Extra virgin olive oil. I put some in a small spray bottle in my bathroom and spray a little into my hands, rub together and apply to my face- I typically avoid my forehead just because I tend to get oily there- but it works great everywhere else! Plus, it's one of several natural oils that have SPF (about a 4). I discovered that one day when we had gone out to the public pool. My shoulders and arms got sunburnt, but not my face at all, and I realized I had moisturized w/the EVOO that morning.

EYE MAKE-UP REMOVER- More EVOO here! I just spray a tiny bit in my hand and dip a cotton swab, and apply over the eye area. A little goes a long way, so if you try this, use sparingly.

STORE BOUGHT LAUNDRY DETERGENT- I just made my first home made batch a few days ago, and I'm really happy with the results. I tried this recipe. And I used (you guessed it) Castile soap. Works great! (I add a few squirts of dish soap and a cup of vinegar to the wash- but I usually do that anyway).

DISPOSABLE DIAPERS- We switched to cloth several months ago, and I love it! I could use more supplies to have a larger stash (I pretty much wash every day), but I started with 12 AIO (all in one) diapers that I found for a steal on Craigslist. (The lady I bought them from had ordered online, and didn't specify the gender of her child- she has two boys- so ended up with 12 girly colors/designs- she asked $30 for all 12!) It was really overwhelming when I first decided to look into using cloth, and I thought it HAD to be expensive, but that just isn't the case. There are many frugal ways to start cloth diapering. Keeping your eyes open for deals on Craigslist or other sites is one way. I have a friend who folds receiving blankets into diapers and uses a waterproof cover. That's great way to use all those receiving blankets that don't get much use after the first three months!

Bonus: After the first month of using cloth, my husband came to me and said "thank you for making me buy these (hee hee)! I'm not sure how we would've managed this month if we had to buy diapers too."

BABY WIPES- I have about a dozen baby wash cloths that I use for this task. I make my own wipe solution as well. You can make it by combining two cups of warm water, a tablespoon of olive oil and two tablespoons of baby wash (I've even grated the Castile soap and melted it on the stove with a little water in place of the baby wash since we don't use it any more).

BABY POWDER- I know this only costs a couple bucks, and is something you only buy a few times when your baby is in diapers, but we were out and I wasn't in a position to run out to the store. I had corn starch on hand in the kitchen, so I had a bright idea. I used a butter knife to pop the top off the baby powder bottle, and funneled some cornstarch into the container. Voila! Baby powder. (I tried using it without the container before that, but it was really messy).

What ways have you found to avoid spending too much money in the "health and beauty" department? I'd love to hear your solutions!

See more green posts here!