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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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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Meditation and Calming the Mind

I have to admit, I never thought to write about this part of our fertility journey until today.  A friend I went through my Hypnobabies class with asked me what I visualized during the pressure waves.  It wasn’t something I talked about in my birth story and she was curious.  So, while this is a post about how I dealt with some of the stress and disappointment during our fertility journey, it is also a post that belongs in the birth category because I used these same techniques during our joyous birthing time. Many people who spend any amount of time in the infertility hamster wheel eventually can benefit from talking with someone about the stress they are feeling, the disappointment they are experiencing, and even the anxiety that can accompany trying to conceive.  I have always been a strong believer that there is a HUGE mind-body connection.  If the mind isn’t ok, there is no way the body will be ok and vice versa.  We were lucky that the Fertility Center of the Carolinas believes in the mind-body connection as well.  In fact, they offer a class to their fertility patients called the Mind/Body Program.  It is led by Cynthia Whitaker and Dr. Paul Miller.  When Dr. Forstein mentioned the program I was a little wary.  I just wasn’t sure about the group setting this program provided, but I needed someone to talk to who wasn’t my husband, wasn’t a friend, wasn’t family.  Someone who could be neutral and just be in my corner.  Someone who could offer me some advice.  That is how I came to know Cindy.  She was more than happy to meet with me one-on-one instead of in the group Mind-Body Program.  Going to talk to her was the best decision I could have made. She offered me a lot of suggestions for handling the stress, sadness, and pressures surrounding our fertility journey.  Two techniques in particular I still use today – the PEACE walk and meditation.  If you haven’t guessed from any of my other posts, I am the poster child for Type A – I am a perfectionist, I am driven, I am a fast-paced, no-nonsense kind of girl.  I don’t go anywhere leisurely.  At work, my colleagues always know when I am coming because I move quickly and with determination, which can be a little noisy when wearing heels 🙂  I...
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Birth Services: Placenta Encapsulation

There are many services related to birth out there.  Some are worth the money and time and some are not.  Placenta encapsulation has a LOT of benefits and is one of those services that is worth your time, attention, and money.  While it may not be right for everyone, it is a wonderful option for many moms as they rest and recover after the birth of their child.  Sue Holsonback, a certified placenta encapsulator in the Greenville, SC area, explains the benefits of placenta encapsulation below.  Be sure to visit her website for more information. The benefits of consuming your placenta are considered anecdotal.  However, we know that most cultures in history considered this organ sacred and utilized the many benefits in different ways.  I can tell you from personal experience as well as that of MANY of my clients: The postpartum recovery is REMARKABLY better when the placenta is prepared according to Traditional Chinese Medicine and encapsulated!  My clients have to be reminded they just had a baby 7 days ago and to take it easy because they have so much energy! The basics are that the placenta is an endocrine organ that takes over production of stress relieving hormones from the hypothalamus in the third trimester.  Yep, the hypothalamus goes on vacation.  The placenta is born.  No one is making those hormones for 7-10 days before the hypothalamus gets the message to start producing hormones again.  During that time (7-10 days) is the most common for “baby blues” to set in.  No wonder.  So, ingesting your placenta ensures that your hormone re-balance goes more smoothly, as the dosage schedule helps to bridge that gap.  The other BIG factor in postpartum depression is iron.  The second main ingredient in placenta is iron.  Iron shortage leads to fatigue, fatigue to depression (clinically proven).  And, we just don’t know why exactly but think it might be the prostaglandins, placenta capsules also help in lactation.  So, the mamas that tend to benefit MOST from capsules are those with histories of depression or anxiety, previous milk supply issues, or those with a vegetarian diet or history of anemia, or just any mom that wants to experience a smoother more energetic postpartum recovery. The encapsulation process takes place in the mom’s house and not mine.  Not only is this a requirement of my PBi certification, but meets CDS and FDA standards for controlling blood borne pathogens.  In addition, the placenta process has...
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Meredith’s Birth Story

Lindsey’s story of Meredith’s birth reminds us that our birthing time requires mental as well as physical strength.  Having the right, supportive people around you can often help you achieve the outcome you so desire! My Third Birth Story A little background first… after giving birth naturally in the hospital to my first daughter, I became a certified childbirth educator.  After the homebirth of my second daughter, I went to the next level and began serving as a doula, and eventually transitioned into serving as my own midwife’s assistant and student at homebirths. I had full intentions of training to be a midwife, but life sometimes gets in the way of our best laid plans and I eventually had to make the hard decision to discontinue my midwifery studies and focus on just being a stay at home mom and occasional doula. I found out I was expecting our third baby shortly after our 10th wedding anniversary.  We already had two daughters (ages 5 and 3), so from the get go I was convinced this new baby would be a boy.  My 5 year old had been saying for a year that she wanted a brother named Gideon, after her favorite brother on her favorite movie, “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.”  It had been something we had jokingly referred to so many times that we just immediately started calling the baby-to-be Gideon, the name had grown on us so much.  If you asked my daughter what she would name the baby if it was a girl, her answer was “Acorn Nut.”  Obviously she was convinced I had a boy baby on board too. While I was thrilled to be expecting this third baby, I was in a bit of a quandary.  My home birth midwife had moved out of state in between my second birth and this new pregnancy, and besides that, I was feeling a little gun shy about another home birth. After attending so many in the recent years I had seen a few rare complications play out (thankfully, all with happy endings) and suddenly now I was just not sure if I wanted another homebirth for myself.  I chalk it up to the normal fears any mother would have, coupled with a little too much information and real life experience about what CAN (but usually DOESN’T) happen at births.  I took my own advice and, like...
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