To test or not to test, that is the question

You are finally at the end of your cycle and your period is nearing.  Should you take a pregnancy test before your missed period?  The commercials on tv say that some tests can detect a pregnancy several days before your missed period.  While that is true, it is more accurate to wait until you have gone past your longest luteal phase (probably about 14 days). I say to wait with my finger crossed behind my back.  Guess what?  The first month we tried to conceive I went out to the store and bought one of those early pregnancy tests.  I nervously took the test and waited the allotted amount of time.  It was negative.  That didn’t deter me though.  I tested several more times in the following days until my period arrived – right on time.  I had given in.  I would like to blame the ladies in an online trying to conceive forum for making me test, but really, it was my behavior.  I own up to the fact that I bought the tests and I took the tests.  Oh, and I didn’t tell my husband.  I was secretly hoping to surprise him with a positive result. So, you may be wondering if I learned my lesson that first month.  Nope!  In some things I am a very slow learner.  After a second month of testing early, I did start to learn my lesson and began waiting a bit longer to test.  Pregnancy tests are expensive!  Over the 5 years it took us to conceive, my husband joked that we should have bought stock in pregnancy tests, First Response in particular. I can’t tell you whether or not to test or even when to test.  The choice is ultimately yours.  If you can handle seeing a negative and you really want to test then go for it (you may want to get the Dollar Tree cheap pregnancy tests though).  If you think seeing a negative early on will be too hard or will take away your hope then please wait.  Finally, if you really want your period to show up so that you can move on to the next cycle – Test!  This is a surefire way to make your period show up the same day or the next in my experience 🙂 Are you curious how and when we ended up finding out we were pregnant with...
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Beyond the Birth Plan

Birth Plan.  Two words that most expectant parents hear at some point during their pregnancy.  In fact, all expectant parents are encouraged to create a birth plan these days, but it is a staple of an un-medicated birth.  A birth plan is exactly what it sounds like – a plan for your birthing time.  This can include information on the people you would like in the birthing room, requests about music and lighting, phrases and words that care providers should use, services you would like to accept or decline for mom and/or baby, a description of the pain management techniques being used, etc.  Some birth plans are long and others are quite brief.  There is no right or wrong way to write a birth plan and no specific template that must be followed.  Regardless of how it is written, it helps the expectant parents to really spend time thinking about what they want to occur before, during, and after birth.  It also encourages conversation with care providers before the big event.  By sharing the birth plan early and often with care providers, it becomes much easier to work as a team with your care provider during the birth.  The birth plan is an excellent tool for setting and communicating clear expectations. Many births go exactly as “planned”.  We were fortunate enough to have one of those birth experiences.  Everything went according to our plan.  In our Hypnobabies birth preparation we envisioned our birth occurring a certain way.  The only thing that didn’t go according to that visualization was the fact that our birthing time began at 3AM instead of 3PM.  That change to our birth plan and visualization wasn’t a problem, although I felt bad waking up our doula at 3AM! **Hypnobabies students please use your bubble of peace.** The tricky thing is that birth plans are still just a plan.  Plans don’t always get carried out just the way you envision.  This can be very unsettling, upsetting, and even traumatic for expectant parents.  One of my clients had a beautiful birth plan laid out.  She took the LEAN Expectations class early in pregnancy and then completed the Hypnobabies birthing series with Julie Byers.  She ate a healthy and varied diet, she practiced her birthing relaxation techniques, and prepared for the birth of her second baby.  Her first birth had been medicated and she walked away from that birth...
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Ovulation to Conception: Timing is Key

You have probably heard the saying, “Timing is everything”.  In the case of conception it is not EVERYTHING, but it is certainly one of the biggest factors in achieving pregnancy.  Unfortunately, until we try to become pregnant too many Americans (male and female) have little knowledge of the female ovulatory cycle.  We all know that the typical time between periods is about 28 days and many women know that the magical “28-day cycle” is just an average. We are woefully uneducated, however, of most facts past this basic knowledge.  The lack of education leads to unplanned pregnancies and missed opportunities for conception. This post is going to cover some of the basics about the female cycle, timing conception, and resources you can use to further educate yourself.  Let’s start first with the basics of the female fertility cycle.  The American Pregnancy Association offers a great breakdown of the ovulatory cycle.  Basically, there are two phases to a woman’s cycle – the follicular phase and the luteal phase.  The follicular phase is the time prior to ovulation when the follicles are growing with the goal of releasing a mature egg during ovulation.  As this maturation process occurs, several hormones are at work in the body.  As the hormone levels rise, they trigger a release of LH (Luteinizing hormone), which tells the biggest follicle to release a single mature egg in a process called ovulation1.  Once ovulation has occurred, usually around day 14 of a woman’s cycle, the luteal phase begins.  The luteal phase lasts approximately 14 days, during which time the endometrium builds up to support a possible baby.  At the end of the luteal phase, if conception has occurred, mama likely receives a positive on a pregnancy test2.  If conception has not been achieved, a woman’s period arrives as the built up endometrium sheds and a new cycle begins. Now that you have a basic understanding of the cycle, let’s talk about timing conception for just a moment.  In order to achieve pregnancy, intercourse is necessary in the days leading up to and including the day of ovulation (more on this in just a moment).  Remember that the Mayo Clinic notes that around 14 days into a typical 28-day cycle ovulation is likely to occur (day 21 of a 35 day cycle, day 16 of a 30 day cycle, etc).  There are many signs that ovulation is approaching that...
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Birthing Classes: Birthing from Within

Maybe you are pregnant, maybe you are hoping to become pregnant, maybe you have a friend who is pregnant and are curious about childbirth options.  If you haven’t discovered already, there are many different childbirth classes available.  Today Sue Holsonback, a certified childbirth educator, is telling us about the birthing class she offers, Birthing From Within. I began offering Birthing From Within Childbirth Classes mid 2013 in the upstate.  This is a worldwide birth preparation concept that not only prepares parents for childbirth but viewing the birth experience as a transformative rite of passage into parenthood.  In this class series, we build a foundation for birthing in awareness in our birth culture, whatever the birth location or outcome or events of the birth. It is the only childbirth class that devotes up to 1/3 of class time to proven pain-coping practices by having the parents practice during uncomfortable “ice contractions” in which they hold ice.  This leads to a pain-coping mindset that readies them for the intensity of birth. By expanding possibilities, be open to all birth outcomes, and bringing awareness to pregnancy, birth, and postpartum, Birthing From Within can prevent or minimize emotionally difficult births (for parents and professionals) through compassionate and honest preparation. I am excited to add this last piece of service to Empowered Birth Choices, as I now serve the entire childbearing year from birth preparation through postpartum and breastfeeding.  Classes meet on Thursday nights at The Wild Radish.  Learn more at: http://empoweredbirthchoices.com/childbirth-classes.html My name is Sue Holsonback and I never imagined I’d work in the birth profession until I had my son in 2010. Some parts of my birth were unexpected and challenging. Different aspects of breastfeeding seemed at times impossible. Parenting a toddler: can anyone be ready for that? Yet, with support, practice, and determination, I rose to each of these...
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Nordic Naturals Giveaway

For the past couple of weeks I have been writing on Facebook and Twitter about the importance of Omega-3s in our diet. Let me start by giving a little background on Omega-3s.  Omega-3s are what is known as an essential fatty acid.  Essential Fatty Acids are necessary for our body to function normally, but must be consumed from outside sources.  In other words, our body doesn’t make them and without an outside source (e.g., fish, algae, flax), the membranes of our cells become faulty, plasma cholesterol isn’t reduced as effectively, and we become more likely to suffer from atherosclerosis, coronary thrombosis, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, hypertension and certain forms of malignant disease (Essential Fatty Acids in Perspective).  Omega-3s can also help with depressions, fatigue, concentration, and brittle hair. The moral of the story here is that Omega-3s are a must have in your diet.  Now here comes the tricky part, Omega-3s are best absorbed from animal products such as salmon, cod, and grass-fed beef.  These animal forms of Omega-3s can be divided into DHA and EPA.  Both DHA and EPA are readily recognized by the body and absorbed.  There are other, non-animal, sources of Omega-3s as well.  These plant-based Omega-3s are great for vegetarians or vegans, however, their make-up is slightly different.  They have a form of Omega-3 called ALA.  In order for the body to use ALA it must be converted into DHA and EPA.  This is hard for the body to do and consequently, only about 5% of the ALA you consume through foods like flax seeds are converted to usable DHA/EPA.  (Top 10 Foods High in Omega-3) Think about how much fish you eat in one week.  Just a small 3-oz serving of Wild Alaskan King Salmon has over 1500mg of Omega-3s (Omega-3 Levels).  The recommended daily dose of Omega-3s is about 1g (1000mg) for proactive support (Dosing Recommendations).  When you eat salmon, or any other fish, you are probably consuming a 6-oz serving.  That means in one 6-oz serving of Wild Alaskan King Salmon you are getting enough Omega-3s to last you 2-3 days.  If you consume 3 6-oz servings of Wild Alaskan King Salmon per week you will be getting approximately 9g (9000mg) of Omega-3s.  This is an ideal amount for the week.  Now, have you looked at the price of Wild Alaskan King Salmon recently?  In season it runs around $28/pound.  My guess is...
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