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Sweet Pea Births

Chandler, Arizona

Sweet Pea Births

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Stay Safe and Cool Through Your Summer Pregnancy - Part 2

Posted on June 10, 2016 at 10:05 AM Comments comments (32)
Bradley Method® instructor Krystyna Bowman, AAHCC shares ideas for staying safe and cool during the summer months

As you read on Tuesday (Part 1), dehydration and hyperthermia can cause dangerous complications of pregnancy.  Remember you have permission to be a Drama Queen during the summer months!  Take it easy and take care of yourself as the temperature climbs.  You can also enlist your partner and other family members to help you take advantage of one, some, or all of these comfort measures listed below to avoid dehydration and hyperthermia in the first place. 

The simplest steps you can take are staying hydrated, getting rest, and staying out of direct sunlight and high temperatures.  Above all, good judgment is the best guide when you are out and about in the heat and sunlight. 

Here is a more detailed list of suggestions and tips I complied from having had three (!) summer pregnancies, and all the reading I did on the subject (see the articles in the reference section below). 

There are no affiliate links in this post - please feel free to click away at the other info I want to share with you.
Bradley Method® instructor Krystyna Bowman, AAHCC shares ideas for staying safe and cool during the summer monthsClothing and Fabrics
- Wear light-colored clothing that will reflect the sunlight.
- Stay away from dark colors that absorb heat if you are  out and about during the day.
- Wear non-restrictive clothing to minimize swelling – you want to encourage optimal circulation as much as possible.  Pay special attention to wear clothing that isn't restrictive around your waist area.
- Wear a cooling bandana – there are several brands available in the stores, or you may be able to shop local and support a crafter at an area farmer’s market.
- Wear fabrics that are breathable and keep you cool, such as Cool Max (wicks sweat), Lycra (keeps shape while being elastic) and Supplex (cottony feel and quick-drying).  Stay away from Spandex and nylon based fabrics that don’t let your skin breathe.
- Breathable fabrics can also help prevent heat rashes on your breasts and abdomen, the areas that rub against the fabric the most.
- Avoid open-weave fabrics that allow the sun to reach your skin.
Cool Comfort Measures
Bradley Method® instructor Krystyna Bowman, AAHCC shares ideas for staying safe and cool during the summer months- Carry a spritzer bottle or personal misting fan with you.  For extra cooling, keep them in filled in the refrigerator until you need to take them with you.
- Take frequent, quick showers – air dry if you have time, or pat dry if you need to move on with your day.
- Stay cool indoors by sitting in an air conditioned space or near an electric fan. 
- If air conditioning isn’t an option, try an air filter or a dehumidifier.  These are especially helpful if you live in a humid climate.
- Find the most comfortable room in the building and make that your nest.  If your house or workplace doesn’t have one of those rooms, think about investing in a personal air conditioner that you can leave in your space, or move around with you.
- Keep beauty products such as sun lotion, moisturizer or toner in the refrigerator.  Applying a cold product to your skin will give you an instant cool down.
- Use cold packs or ice cubes at wrist pulse points, the back of the neck and on the forehead.  You can keep long-lasting soft-gel cooling strips in your car or purse when you know the freezer isn’t going to be handy when you are out running errands.  You can also decide if THESE amazing necklaces might come in handy now instead of later.
- Get long hair up and off your neck.  You can braid it, tie it in a ponytail or clip it up.  Find easy up-dos via BuzzFeed HERE .
- Raise your legs at every opportunity – encourage good circulation whenever and however possible.
- If you don’t have a swimming pool, fill a wading pool with water and place it in a shady part of your yard or patio.  Cool off as needed!
Bradley Method® instructor Krystyna Bowman, AAHCC shares ideas for staying safe and cool during the summer months- Wear a heart rate monitor to ensure your working heart rate stays in a safe range while you exercise.  Ask your care provider what they feel is a safe active heart rate for you.
- Avoid exercising during the hot hours.  Wherever you are in the country, the temperature is generally the hottest between 10:00 am – 3:00 pm.
- It follows to limit your outdoor activities from the hours of 10:00 am and 3:00 pm - find as many places to stay cool inside as possible!
- Instead of walking outside, do your walking inside at an indoor track or at an indoor shopping mall.
- Swimming is a good warm/hot-weather option.  It supports your growing body, the feeling of weightlessness is awesome, it cools off your whole body, it takes weight off the sciatic nerve, and it encourages the baby into an optimal birthing position.
- Prenatal yoga can be another good option. A class taught by an experienced prenatal instructor will provide a good mix of heart healthy poses, strengthening poses, and relaxation (see "Mind Over Matter" by scrolling down in this post).
- Do the pregnancy exercises assigned by your Bradley Method® instructor.  They are designed to be gentle enough to do during any time of the year, yet there is enough repetition to strengthen the muscles you will need for your labor.
Bradley Method® instructor Krystyna Bowman, AAHCC shares ideas for staying safe and cool during the summer months- Drink 8-10 glasses of water per day, and more if you are active.
- Avoid caffeinated drinks.  Caffeine acts as a diuretic and it may increase the frequency of urination, which can then lead to a reduction in your body fluid levels – hello, dehydration.
- Make sure you are replacing your electrolytes...water intoxication is an actual condition that can be caused by drinking too much water in a short amount of time.  In order to hydrate safely, we have used the product made by Emergen-C.  Coconut water is a great natural "gatorade".  A third option is to use trace minerals - find a brand you trust and add them to your glass of water.

Bradley Method® instructor Krystyna Bowman, AAHCC shares ideas for staying safe and cool during the summer months- Eat little meals more often.  Large meals increase your metabolism and this could make you feel hotter.
- Eat fluid-filled foods, such as strawberries, celery, watermelon and cucumber.  HERE are more ideas for hydrating foods.
- Make healthy popsicles by freezing organic fruit juices.
- Treat yourself to a meal at a restaurant – use their air conditioning and you can keep the heat out of your kitchen since you won’t be using your stove or your oven for food prep that night.  As a bonus, pack half of your meal in a to-go container and have it as a snack later.
- Read more about eating during pregnancy HERE - archive post from Spring 2014.
Hustle and Bustle
Bradley Method® instructor Krystyna Bowman, AAHCC shares ideas for staying safe and cool during the summer months- Do your chores early or late in the day when the temperature is cooler.
- Move slowly and avoid rushing.
- Avoid movements that could lead to light-headedness, such as repetitive bending or rushing around on staircases.
Mind Over Matter
Bradley Method® instructor Krystyna Bowman, AAHCC shares ideas for staying safe and cool during the summer months- Relaxation – the key to The Bradley Method®.  It is easier to keep your body temperature lower if you are calm and relaxed instead of stressed and hurried.  Take the time to practice some mental imagery and move through your day with the intention to stay cool.
- Breathe – a good rhythmic breathing pattern can reduce heat production in your body.  The foundation of relaxation is breathing that supports a relaxed state.  Bradley instructors love to encourage abdominal breathing anytime and anywhere.
- Meditate – even an one-minute practice can make a difference - really!!  Find some meditation resources HERE - archive post from Spring 2015.
Sun Safety
Bradley Method® instructor Krystyna Bowman, AAHCC shares ideas for staying safe and cool during the summer months- Stay out of direct sunlight as much as possible.  Sunburn impairs the body’s ability to cool itself and it causes the loss of body fluids.
- If you must be or choose to be in the sun, use a good sunscreen, at least SPF 15.  The natural momma in me will encourage you to find a sunscreen that is organic, thereby minimizing the amount of chemicals absorbed into your bloodstream.  EWG publishes a sun-screen guide - find it HERE.
- Avoid mid-day direct sun exposure.  If you live in the north, this means stay out of the sun between 11:00 am – 4:00 pm.  If you live in the south, this means 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.
- Use a sun hat and sunglasses to avoid prolonged exposure or sunstroke.
- Apply a sun lotion at the end of the day whether or not you sunburn.  The ingredients will soothe and restore your skin from the drying effects of the sun.
Did I forget to mention one?  
What is your favorite sun safety tip?

Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, PaysonThe material included on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation. This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.


Stay Safe and Cool Through Your Summer Pregnancy - Part 1

Posted on June 7, 2016 at 9:31 PM Comments comments (34)
Bradley Method classes offered in Arizona - Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Payson, AZ

Ideas to Have a Safe Pregnancy 

During the Summer Months
Hello, Mr. Sun!

My friend and colleague Tina Lebedies suggested this topic.  As it turns out, there is a lot to write about when it comes to coping with the heat while you are pregnant!  So this is how I am going to organize this topic: I am going to split in two parts.  Today I am going to share why it is so important that you take extra care – be a Drama Queen when it comes to taking care of yourself if you are pregnant in the summer.  Then I am going to list the concerns with their symptoms and suggestions to ease the symptoms. 

Check back on Friday for Part 2 of this post. I am going to share some ideas and give you some tips to stay cool and live smart through the summer months.
We are lucky in Arizona – to stay cool we head indoors or get wet and then let our skin air dry.  In humid climates, the added moisture makes it harder to stay cool – I am glad we live in a dry heat!  I had three summer pregnancies that lasted through July, and two went through September!! We are not good planners in that department - LOL.  At least, now I am well-versed in finding to cool off and stay cool – for that I will count my blessings.  It comes in handy now that I am toting four Sweet Peas through the hot summer months :)
The first thing I am going to point out as a Bradley Method® instructor is that keeping track of your diet and fluid intake is of utmost importance, even more so in the summer.  Eat between 80 – 100 grams of protein per day, and include salt in that equation to keep a balanced diet.  I cringe when I read pregnancy articles that suggest a pregnant woman should reduce her salt intake if she is swelling. 
Cutting back on salt can cause a decrease in the amount of blood circulating through your body and placenta (a condition called “hypovolemia”), thus reducing the supply of nutrients passing to your baby.  How will you know if you are not getting enough salt?  Too little salt in the diet leads to leg cramps and fatigue, so if you are experiencing these symptoms exclusive of the heat factors I am going to write about below, try salting your food to taste and see if those symptoms are minimized or go away altogether.
I assure you that you are not the only pregnant person who is feeling just a tad hotter than usual this summer.  It doesn’t matter if you are still in your first trimester – you will be a little hotter even though your body doesn’t show your pregnancy yet.  In some ways it’s even more important that you protect yourself because it is a time of crucial development where overheating can have devastating effects on the baby.  If you have already been making your coach take care of you and he or she thinks you are being over-dramatic, then have them read this post, or any of the “official” articles I reference at the end of the post.
Why You Feel Hotter
There are several reasons why your core body temperature is elevated:
1.  Your body is undergoing hormonal fluctuations.
2.  You are carrying the extra weight of your baby, and if you are like me, you have extra padding your body insists on adding on, no matter how well you eat and how often you exercise.
3.  Your body is working to cool your body, plus the body of your growing baby.
4.  Your increased metabolism also increases your body temperature, and it works harder as your baby demands more from your body.
Why You Need To Insulate Baby
Your baby’s body temperature is 1°C (almost 2°F) warmer than your body temperature, and they cannot sweat to cool themselves down.  The only thing cooling your baby is your body’s knowledge of how to grow your baby.  If your body starts to heat up and it can no longer work to keep your baby’s temperature down, there are many things that could happen.
Whatever the trimester, your baby’s heart rate could start to go up.  In regards to the first trimester specifically, studies have shown that babies are especially susceptible to heat stress in the first trimester of pregnancy when the major body systems are developing.  An elevation in the pregnant mothers body temperature above a safe range has been associated with birth defects such as heart problems, abdominal wall defects, nervous system malformation and neural tube defects.  Exposure to extreme heat could also increase the risk factor for experiencing a miscarriage or pre-term labor.


Dehydration – a condition in which your body does not have the fluid it needs to maintain healthy body function.  When you are living for two, staying hydrated is even more important.  If you are dehydrated, it could cause the baby’s heart to beat too quickly.  It can also increase your risk of pre-term labor.  The decrease in blood volume causes an increase in the concentration of oxytocin.  Oxytocin the hormone that causes contractions to begin and intensify, and an excess of oxytocin is not a good thing unless you are supposed to be in labor.
One of the first signs that you are dehydrated is feeling thirsty.  If you are feeling like you really could use a drink, then you are already dehydrated – find a non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated beverage ASAP and drink it!
Other signs of dehydration are dry or chapped lips, dry skin, fatigue, constipation or decreased movement from your baby.  If you are experiencing these symptoms, get yourself to a place with cooler temperature, have a seat and drink some water or fruit juice.  If your symptoms don’t improve, or your baby doesn’t start increasing their movements within the next hour, call your care provider and ask for further instructions and/or head to a hospital emergency room.
Fluid Retention and Dehydration
A pregnant woman carries an average of 15 pounds of extra fluid to support the physiological changes during pregnancy.  This is considered to be a normal amount of fluid increase, sometimes called physiological edema.  A little more than half of that fluid is used to replace the amniotic fluid (it is replaced every hour by using about a cup of water that is stored in the body), it helps to hydrate and nurture the cells of the baby and the placenta.  The rest of it is used in the bloodstream to carry more oxygen and nutrients to the mom and the baby, and to remove waste products from the mom and the baby.
Interestingly, fluid retention, as opposed to the fluid increase I described above, may contribute to dehydration.  If you are retaining fluids, the fluid is absent within the cells where it is needed.  Instead, the fluid is retained in the space around the cells, causing the pregnant mom to look puffy and swollen. 
Whether it’s normal physiological edema or fluid retention, you may notice that your feet and ankles are uncomfortably swollen.  This happens since your legs are lower than the level of your heart.  It’s harder for blood to work against gravity even when you are not pregnant, so add pregnancy on top of that and you start to swell.  Add in the fact that your growing uterus puts pressure on the veins traveling up towards the heart, and voila, you have swollen feet and ankles.
You can relieve this swelling by making sure you are drinking enough water.  Believe it or not, drinking water can reduce your swelling!  While it doesn't seem like it makes sense to get rid of fluids by taking in more, the extra fluids will help flush out your system of waste products which may have increased the swelling in the first place.
On the flip side, I should also tell you that it’s possible to get too much water, also known as water intoxication.  In this case, the extreme saturation of water in your body dilutes the necessary electrolytes too much.  This can cause fatigued muscles, muscle cramps and even unconsciousness in the extreme cases. 
Use good judgment when it comes to your fluid intake – at least 8 – 10 glasses of water a day if you are moderately active, and more if you are more active.  As I mentioned above, if you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated.  Have that drink of water even if it means it’s the 12th or 13th drink you have had that day.  If your thirst persists, it may be time to call your care provider.
Here are some other things to do to decrease swelling and its discomforts:  take rings off swollen fingers, use flat and/or open toed shoes, and avoid prolonged sitting or standing positions that allow your blood to pool.  If your activity or job requires you to stay in a standing position for an extended period of time, you can get up and take a five-minute walk or march in place to encourage circulation. If you must sit, do it in such a way that shortens the distance between your heart and your feet, such as propping your feet up on a bench or footstool. The best sitting position for circulation is tailor sitting, so sit on the floor when possible, or armless chair if you are at a desk or table.  No matter what the activity, you can also try a maternity belt to lift your uterus up and allow for better circulation.
My favorite way to reduce pregnancy swelling is resting in a side-lying position for 20 – 30 minutes at a time, at least twice a day.  When you lay down, elevate your feet.  You can do this by putting a rolled up blanket or towel underneath your mattress, or propping your feet up on pillows.  It is easier to find time for this if you are expecting your first child – use the time to meditate about the upcoming birth and fill your mind with positive thoughts and affirmations. 
Even if you are mom of other children, find the time to lie down twice a day and invite them to join you.  You can use this time to tell older siblings their birth stories, look at pictures of their birth and talk about who came to visit them when they were born.  This can serve to open the lines of communication and talk about their feelings about the new baby, whatever they may be.  Finding time to talk to your children is something you will always treasure.

Hyperthermia, or over-heating, is one of the most dangerous conditions of pregnancy.  It can start with something as seemingly benign as heat cramps; proceed to heat exhaustion, and quickly progress to the life-threatening condition of heat stroke.  May I remind you again?  It’s okay to be a Drama Queen when it comes to staying cool and comfortable during the summer months.
These are the warning signs of hyperthermia.  As with any sign that your pregnancy is moving outside of normal, it is important to get rest and replenish your fluids.  It is imperative that you call your care provider if you experience any of these symptoms and it’s not close to your due date, and you know you been exposed to intense sun and/or heat.  If these symptoms persist after rest and fluid intake, ask yourself if you should be heading to the nearest hospital:
1.  More than five contractions or cramps per hour
2.  Bright red vaginal bleeding
3.  Acute or continuous vomiting
4.  Low, dull backache
5.  Intense pelvic pressure
6.  Swelling or puffiness of the face or hands – this could be a sign of preeclampsia
Heat Cramps
Heat cramps are the earliest warning sign of hyperthermia.  This typically follows after heavy perspiration.  The loss of electrolytes leads to muscle spasms.  If and when you experience any cramping after a lot of perspiration, listen to your body.  Take steps to reduce your body temperature immediately and replenish the electrolytes in your body.  If you can recognize and ward off a dangerous rise in body temperature at the beginning, you may be able avoid the other dangers and complications of hyperthermia.
Heat Exhaustion
Heat exhaustion is caused by prolonged exposure to high temperatures, a restricted fluid intake or the failure of the body’s mechanism to regulate your temperature.  Signs that you might be experiencing heat exhaustion are:
- Skin that may feel cool and moist and appear pale
- Headache, nausea, weakness, dizziness, faintness, light-headedness, fatigue, exhaustion, mental confusion, anxiety, muscle cramps
- Rapid, weak pulse
- Breathing may be fast and shallow or it may feel like you have shortness of breath
- Blood pressure may drop
I will repeat, the best thing to do if you experience any of these symptoms or warning signs is to take steps to reduce your body temperature immediately and replenish the electrolytes in your body.  These are more serious signs, so please don’t hesitate to enlist the help of strangers to assist you to a cooler place and to bring you water or other fluids, such as juice or an electrolyte drink.
Heat Stroke
Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention.  When you experience any of these symptoms due to prolonged exposure to high temperatures, a restricted fluid intake or the failure of the body’s mechanism to regulate your temperature, the impact on the body is much greater.  As a Bradley Method® instructor we cannot give you medical advice, what we can and always will tell you to do in these situations is to call your care provider and get yourself to the nearest hospital to ensure that both mother and baby are attended to as soon as possible.
Signs of heat stroke:
- Body temperature reaches 104°F (40°C) or hotter
- Mental confusion
- Combative and bizarre behavior
- Staggering
- Faintness
- Strong and rapid pulse (160-180 bpm)
- Skin will become dry and flushed
- Sweat very little
- Quickly lose consciousness and have convulsions

The two conditions I described today, dehydration and hyperthermia, can become medical complications that can compromise both you and your baby if you don't take simple steps to prevent them.  It bears repeating that staying hydrated, getting rest, and staying out of the heat and direct sunlight as much as possible are some of the simple yet effective steps you can take to stay safe and cool through the summer months.

Check back on Friday for a detailed list of ideas that you can use ranging from clothing to fluids and foods to sun safety.  Many of the ways to stay cool take minimal effort and do not require you to spend a lot of money.  Frugal is good in these interesting times!

The material included on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation. This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.


To Eat or Not To Eat…

Posted on November 5, 2015 at 8:07 AM Comments comments (32)
To eat or not to eat…That was the question for families planning a hospital birth.  When you are laboring at home or a birth center, you have the freedom to eat as your appetite dictates.  If you choose to have a hospital birth, you are at the mercy of your doctor’s orders and the nurse’s interpretation of the hospital protocol.  

We love it when science catches up to Dr. Bradley.  Anecdotally, we could tell students that it was safer to eat before/during labor since anesthesia has changed from the days of "knock'em out, drag 'em out" birth, as Dr. Bradley called it.  Women used to be under general anesthesia, which is administered differently than today's spinal or epidural blocks.  

We are so excited to update this post (and our class info!) with a press release from the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA):

"Most healthy women can skip the fasting and, in fact, would benefit from eating a light meal during labor, suggests research being presented at the ANESTHESIOLOGY® 2015 annual meeting. Improvements in anesthesia care have made pain control during labor safer, reducing risks related to eating, researchers note."
ASA Press Release, "Most healthy women would benefit from light meal during labor", October 24, 2015

For other reading,  HERE is some research I had found before this 2015 press release to make the case for eating and drinking in labor (in case you want to do more poking around the subject). long will it take for hospital protocols to change and reflect these recommendations from ASA? As we found out the hard way, sometimes the doctor approves something but if it is not in writing and signed off on the birth plan, it probably isn't going to happen in the hospital setting. The nurse will follow the hospital protocol or they may invent their own interpretation if none exists to cover their liability.  If you are going to have a hospital birth, I have a strong opinion about getting your wish list signed so that the nursing staff has “permission” to “break the rules” if they feel that something you are requesting is out of the ordinary.  Maybe you could ask for a copy of the ASA press release to be included in your chart that goes to the hospital.

Dr. Bradley always advocated that a healthy mom should eat if she is hungry and drink if she is thirsty.  As he said, “Birthing is like playing a full game of football without any substitutions.”  He recognized that labor is an athletic event, and that a well-nourished athlete would perform better than a hungry one.

Science and the ASA catch up to Dr. Bradley:
"The research suggests that the energy and caloric demands of laboring women are similar to those of marathon runners, Harty said. Without adequate nutrition, women’s bodies will begin to use fat as an energy source, increasing acidity of the blood in the mother and infant, potentially reducing uterine contractions and leading to longer labor and lower health scores in newborns. Additionally, the studies suggest that fasting can cause emotional stress, potentially moving blood away from the uterus and placenta, lengthening labor and contributing to distress of the fetus."  

A Note About Hospitals and Nourishment
If you are having a hospital birth, you need to find out how your care provider feels about nourishment during labor, even with this announcement by the ASA. If your care provider is on board with mom eating and drinking as her body directs, great!  Get it into your birth plan, aka "wish list", that you have permission to eat and drink.  If they restrict intake, you need to think about your options.  You may question whether or not your care provider is truly supportive of your plans for a natural birth.  

You should also ask what the hospital policy is on food and drink during labor when you do your hospital tour.  It helps to know what kind of potential situations you may be facing so you can avoid stress-inducing encounters during labor.

The potential conflict between a laboring mother’s needs for nourishment and her care provider or hospital protocol comes from the days when general anesthesia was standard for hospital births.  There was a very real danger of a mom “aspirating”, meaning that food or drink the mom had consumed before labor would be regurgitated and accidently enter the trachea and lungs, creating a life-threatening condition to mother and baby.  [See reference 1]

From the press release:
"Researchers said aspiration today is almost nonexistent, especially in healthy patients. In the United States, there was only one case of aspiration associated with labor and delivery between 2005 and 2013, involving a complicated case of a woman who was obese and had pre-eclampsia (a precursor to eclampsia, or high blood pressure that can lead to seizures), according to the American Society of Anesthesiology’s Closed Claims Project database. Researchers also noted that no cases of death due to aspiration were reported in the United Kingdom between 2000 and 2005, compared to 1.5 cases per 1,000 during the 1940s. They say this is likely due to advances in anesthesia care, including increased use of epidurals and spinal blocks in place of providing anesthesia through a mask over the nose and mouth. Before these improvements, women were more likely to need a tube placed in the windpipe for breathing, which potentially increased the risk of aspiration." 

Although very few women have births under general anesthesia nowadays, the practice of restricting food and drink still persists.  You may hear it called “NPO”, which stands for the Latin, “non per os”, meaning nothing by mouth.  With the press release from the ASA, we can keep our fingers crossed that hospitals will start to change their practice protocols.

In the past, it was likely that you would only be allowed ice chips if you opted for an epidural.  The chance of needing general anesthesia was within the realm of possibility since some moms and babies “crash” after the epidural dose is dispensed.  As with all labor interventions, you don’t know how you will react until it’s administered.  Although it’s a small percentage of women that have life-threatening complications, the prospect of the drugs dropping your heart rate, blood pressure or respiration to dangerously low levels exists once they are in your bloodstream.  In the instance of a “crash”, you would need general anesthesia to perform an emergency cesarean to save your or your baby’s life, thus your nourishment options become limited to ice.

Eating and Drinking During Labor
Have your refrigerator stocked with your favorite healthful foods and/or meals as you near your estimated due date.  Labor is a funny thing – you never know what your body is going to like.  If you think you are in labor, you can go through Dr. Bradley’s list of things to do to see if you are in pre-labor (contractions slow down or stop) or actual labor (contractions continue at same pace or get closer and harder despite the change in position or activity).  To "test" for labor, he suggests that a woman should eat, drink, go for a walk, shower and nap – in that order.  

When you start with the “eat” part of the list, it will be more satisfying to eat something you really enjoy.  If you are not in labor, at least you ate something you like and you can move on with your day with a tummy-full of your particular “comfort food”.  If you are in labor, then you have eaten something that is fueling your body for the labor.  It will put you in a good frame of mind if you ate something that is a favorite and you create a positive emotional state.

The best drink during labor is water.  Water is a key to staying hydrated and avoiding the slippery slope of interventions.  A hydrated body has the energy for the work of labor.  Ample water also allows for effective hormone distribution throughout the body: the chemicals and hormones being made to stimulate and progress labor are able to circulate freely.  If you have a longer labor, consider an electrolyte replacement: trace minerals added to the water you are drinking, Emergen-C makes a powder, or coconut milk is a "natural" version of sports drinks.

Dehydration causes a spike in temperature and blood pressure, while at the same time depleting your energy by as much as 30%.  Can you see that simple dehydration can also be interpreted as the mom being “in distress”?  Your care team will not want to take a chance of making the wrong call, so they are likely to intervene or suggest drastic measures to “save” mom and baby.

Whether you are laboring at home, a hospital or birth center, small-portioned, protein rich snacks are nice to have on hand.  As your labor progresses, a laboring woman’s appetite will naturally decrease as the body shuts down other functions such as digestion to allow for full focus on the progression of labor and birth.  

Here are some foods that we and other students have found useful for quick energy boosts when mom doesn’t have the desire to eat a full meal.  These snacks are also handy for the coach to get the energy boost he needs to be a great support person for mom.  We don’t want hungry, cranky coaches during labor!!

What the ASA recommends:
"A light meal could include fruit, light soups, toast, light sandwiches (no large slices of meat), juice and water. Most women lose their appetites during very active labor, but can continue to drink fluids such as water and clear juices, researchers said." 

- Honey sticks.  According to, “Honey is also a rich source of carbohydrates, providing 17 grams per tablespoon, which makes it ideal for your working muscles since carbohydrates are the primary fuel the body uses for energy. Carbohydrates are necessary in the diet to help maintain muscle glycogen, also known as stored carbohydrates, which are the most important fuel source for athletes to help them keep going.” [2]

- Trail mix.  You get the nice variety of nuts, dried fruits and if you want, candy, in one bag.  I found myself picking out my favorite nuts and fruits and snacking on them – literally one or two at a time – as we got into the active phase of first stage labor.

- Protein bars or chews.  Look for bars that are low in carbs and added sugars –the key is to provide an energy boost without an energy crash afterwards. We have had students that use the “PowerBar” brand Energy Bites, as well as Gel Blasts that are bite size energy foods.

- Handful of nuts.  If you have a favorite nut (besides your coach-lol), bring some with you.  You can eat 1 or 10, whatever you are in the mood for.  I like nuts because you get the energy boost in whatever quantity you are in the mood to chew and swallow.  Trader Joe’s sells packages nuts in handy single serve packets.  I usually eat 2 or 3 pieces, and Bruss would finish off the bag for his energy boost.

- Popsicles.  While working hard in labor, a popsicle can be refreshing.  To prevent an energy crash, look for a brand that uses natural fruit as a sweetener instead of added sugars.  Added bonus: you can also push it against the top of your palate to stimulate oxytocin production.

- Applesauce cups.  Provide potassium along with a little protein.  The nice thing about applesauce is that while some people prefer them cold, they don’t need to be refrigerated.  Again, look for naturally rather than artificially sweetened sauces.

- Banana.  Another source of potassium that is portable and easy to eat.  To prevent a sugar burst, pair this with a cheese stick to balance out the carbs.

- Soup or clear broth.  Campbell’s came out with the “Soup at Hand Cups” that are single serve, portable and microwaveable.  They were a God-send during our third birth.  The nurse didn’t want me to eat “just in case”, but she was okay with me drinking – hence, I could drink my meal and stay nourished through our 34 hours at the hospital.

- Single serve smoothies or juice drinks.  I am thinking along the lines of Stonyfield Farm Smoothies or Drinkable Yogurts for a liquid protein boost, or the Odwalla line of Protein Beverages.  It’s a little sip of something sweet with carbs that still offers a protein source for energy.

As you noticed from the list, some of these foods need refrigeration or a heating source.  These are considerations if you are having a hospital birth.  It stands to reason that if you will not have access to a refrigerator or microwave, the items that won’t stay cool with an ice pack or the foods that need to be heated need to left out of the cooler.

The bottom line: eat to appetite and drink to thirst for the best labor possible!  I hope this list gives some ideas with which you can fill your refrigerator or cooler.  What did you eat during your labor?

Bradley Method classes offered in Arizona convenient to Chandler, Tempe, Gilbert, Mesa, Ahwatukee, Scottsdale, Phoenix and Payson, AZThe material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation. This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.



Energy for Pregnancy and Labor

Posted on January 10, 2012 at 9:37 AM Comments comments (0)

Energy in pregnancy and energy for labor I made the mistake of serving sweet gooey treats for snack in class tonight.  It got really quiet after we did our labor rehearsal – oops.

So what are ways of increasing your energy during pregnancy, or additionally, your labor, if you are feeling low energy?   

Abdominal Breathing 
 We talk about it often in class – deep abdominal breathing is one of the best ways to increase oxygen in your body while still maintaining a deep level of relaxation.   

 Chest breathing wastes a tremendous amount of energy.  
 “Chest breathing is inefficient because the greatest amount of blood flow occurs in the lower lobes of the lungs, areas that have limited air expansion in chest breathers. Rapid, shallow, chest breathing results in less oxygen transfer to the blood and subsequent poor delivery of nutrients to the tissues.”  
  - From  

 Abdominal breathing can also eliminate the vicious circle of the fear-tension-pain cycle.  By relaxing, you can stop the chest breathing that causes tension that causes pain; the pain causes fear; fear causes more chest breathing that winds up until mom and/or baby are showing signs of distress that leads to more intervention.   

Trace Minerals 
 Birth is an athletic event, whether you have a sprint, marathon or something in between.  The more vigorous your labor is, the more important it is to restore your body’s supply of minerals. Exercise and stress, both of which may be present during labor, can drain the body of electrolytes and trace minerals, elements needed to maintain proper fluid balance and recharge energy levels.   

 In addition, energy is passed through the body via electrical charges.  In order to work well, properly functioning electrical cellular communication is essential.  Minerals act as catalysts for the biological processes in the body, including muscle response, the transmission of messages through the nervous system, and the utilization of nutrients in food.  All of these are essential if you want the most efficient labor possible.   

 Strive to find a trace mineral supplement with a flavor you can tolerate.  At the very least look for an electrolyte drink that will help replenish the minerals you need and might be using up through the course of late pregnancy and delivery.   

Take a Nap 
 Whether you are tired during the day when you are pregnant, or feeling exhaustion set in during labor, a nap is a great solution to help mom and dad face their labor with renewed energy and confidence.  A twenty-minute nap is a very effective tool for increasing alertness.  If you can get a 30-60 minute nap it helps with decision-making skills.  Both of those would be beneficial in labor.   

 I wonder what students picture as the length of nap when we encourage them to sleep during their labor. I think most of them must imagine a 2-3 hour nap, think it is impossible and cross it off the list since so few of them have been able to nap in their labor.  We know from experience that sleeping can be incredibly restorative during labor.  If Coach can convince Mom that just twenty minutes will do her well, remind Mom she doesn’t have to hunker down for a long time.  Mom will not miss out on anything by sleeping just twenty minutes; in fact, you can drastically change your outcome by being rested.   

 So turn off the lights, wrap her in a comforting blanket and stroke or talk her to sleep with your soothing voice.  If Mom responds to music, find some relaxation tunes to play for her.  Maybe use an eye mask to block out light – it seems to be easier to fall asleep when it is dark.  

Go for a Walk 
 We encourage all our students to be walking at least twenty minutes per day from the first day of class until the day they have their baby.  Regular physical exercise not only increases stamina, it also helps energize the body.  During the day or during a low-energy point in labor, a walk might be in order.   

 A change in pace or scenery can help restore energy.  I am not talking about constant walking to speed labor, especially if you start with contractions that are more than ten minutes apart.  If your contractions start that far apart, a good meal and rest are in order to conserve energy.   

 My first question to a tired couple is, “Can you get mom to sleep?”  If that doesn’t work, it is possible that a walk around the building or around the block doing abdominal breathing will oxygenate and wake up your body when you need to restore energy.   

Eat protein-rich snacks 
 Click here to read my list of good choices for labor snacks.  They are high in protein and complex carbs.  I try to avoid processed sugars or starches that rapidly convert to sugar – no need to repeat the effects of a quick sugar up and down that we saw in class tonight!   

Drink water 
 If you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated and it’s time to get mom some plain water to get her fluid level back up.  In labor, the body is working in ways that you cannot measure.  Water is crucial to get the hormones that stimulate and regulate labor circulating effectively throughout the body.   

 Early signs of dehydration include thirst, loss of appetite, dry mouth and head rushes.  If Mom has a desire to eat, she needs to be eating to store energy for the point in labor when she is no longer hungry.  If this suppressed due to dehydration, she will miss out on her opportunity to store energy.  Head rushes can lead to an untimely fall, which could potentially change the course of your labor depending on the severity of the fall.   

 Continued dehydration can lead to increased heart rate, increased temperature, fatigue and headaches…which could also be construed as the mother going into distress.  You can absolutely head off a false distress warning in labor by making sure Mom is drinking eight ounces of water per hour, or chewing on ice if that is what she prefers.  If Mom is hydrated and this happens, then you know it’s time to pay attention and alert your care provider.   

 A side note on hydration: if Coach is good about getting Mom the necessary water, Coach also needs to be good about getting her to the bathroom.  A full bladder can lead to unnecessary pain in labor if the baby’s head is pushing against a full bladder.  It might also impede the progress of labor if the baby’s head is blocked from entering the vaginal canal by a full bladder.   

Figure out what works for you. 
 Conserving energy is extremely important because you don’t know how long you will be in labor.  There isn’t much we can control about labor if you follow the course for a natural birth.  You can influence how rested you feel.  It would be unfortunate to end up with medication, an episiotomy or a cesarean if the only factor for that choice is being too tired to make it through with the energy you needed to meet your baby.   

What are the energy saving or energy restoring methods that you use?  

 Would you like to read more about today’s suggestions?   

 For information on the minerals you need and how your body uses them: 

 Start a Walking Program While you are pregnant, focus on walking for energy and stamina.  After your baby is born you can consider the suggestions on walking for weight loss. 

The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation. This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.  

We are now enrolling for our Spring Series 
March 5, 2012 to 
May 21, 2012   

For more information or to register, 
please call us at 
or email us at 

The Importance of Water

Posted on October 18, 2011 at 11:40 AM Comments comments (1)
We are officially on our babymoon.  Thank you to my fellow Bradley® teacher, Lisa Pearson, AAHCC for contributing today's post that addresses the function of water in pregnancy.

We all know it is important to stay hydrated, especially when we live in the desert.  Why is it so important?  Does it matter what we drink to hydrate our bodies?  What is the best way to hydrate our bodies?  How much do we need to drink in order to properly hydrate our bodies?
Ok, let’s start at, “why is it so important?”.  Our bodies are hydroelectric machines that need water in order to function.  Feeling thirsty is actually a LAST DITCH EFFORT for our bodies to get our attention to our severely dehydrated state, it is not the first step. 
Our entire bodies are made entirely of cells. Picture cells this way…cells are like little shower heads in reverse.  Meaning they are covered with little perforations that allow moisture in for hydration.  Moisture gets inside the cell and hydrates it, the remaining moisture then coats the outside of the cell to hydrate the outside where it stays sort of like a bubble until needed.  Cells travel throughout our bodies hydrating organs, muscles, etc as they move along their journey allowing our bodies to work at their optimum.
Does it matter what we drink to hydrate our bodies? What is the best way to hydrate our bodies? 
These two questions are sort of one in the same.  Yes, what we drink matters very much; which leads us to the best way to hydrate our bodies.  Water is the ONLY way to truly hydrate your body. 
Why?  Let’s continue…water is the only moisture that can get inside those little perforations.  Every other liquid just cannot break down small enough to get inside.  When liquid cannot get inside and hydrate the cell from the inside out, the cell starts to dry up and shrivel like a raisin. (This is one of the reasons we get wrinkles!)  Now, it gets more insidious from here…the liquid other than water that we have put into our bodies is sticky and sticks to the outside of the cell.  As it travels throughout the body, it is not a hydrated cell so it cannot feed moisture to the organs like is needed and we start to get dehydrated.  As these cells go through the urinary system and the moisture is now eliminated, the insidiousness starts to get worse.  The sticky liquid is now leaving the cell and takes with it any moisture from the inside, leaving the cell completely dried up.
How much do we need to drink in order to properly hydrate our bodies? 
Most of us think of the 6-8 tall glasses of water per day rule, right?  Well this is not true.  Think about it…if Person A weighs 100 pounds and Person B weighs 350 pounds, how can 6-8 glasses of water a day be right for both of them?  How about people who gain or lose large amounts of weight (for example, being pregnant and getting appropriately larger quickly and then giving birth)?  How can the same amount be enough at both our lighter weight moments and our heavier weight moments?  This just makes no sense. 
A better rule of thumb is this:  take your weight in pounds, divide by 2, and that is the number of ounces of water you should be drinking every single day.  If you are drinking other liquids, for example, you just cannot live without your morning cup of coffee, you need to increase your water intake accordingly to cover that coffee that is so dehydrating.  Also, if it is very warm or you are exercising and you are perspiring, you will need to add more water to make up for that as well.
Now that you have learned all this lets go back a moment to why it is so important.  Remember those little dehydrated cells moving throughout our bodies?  Let’s continue on their insidiousness.   The cells move to our organs in their dehydrated state but they have no moisture to give to our organs to make the organs run smoothly at their optimum levels.  All the cells are dehydrated so what do you think happens next?  Our organs get dehydrated.   When our organs are dehydrated, our bodies start to go into power saver mode kind of like a city doing purposeful brown outs in summer to avoid a complete blackout.  Our bodies start to shut down the least important functions to save the moisture for the most important, the heart and the brain.  Without the heart and brain working properly, the body cannot continue, so other organs that are less important start to power down.  At first they go into a less active mode.  They are still working, still doing their jobs, just not as quickly or as efficiently.  The power down means our bodies are running sluggishly: digestion is not as good, we are tired, toxins are not being flushed out of the body.  The toxins show up on our skin as age spots, etc. 
As the drought in our bodies continues, more organs power down.  Eventually the organs begin to completely shut down.  Now we have major problems.  The pancreas stops processing sugar and we become diabetic.  Abnormal cells are not flushed out of our bodies but instead gather together with other abnormal cells somewhere in our bodies.  A cluster of abnormal cells is cancer.  The list goes on, but you start to get the idea. 
Does the type of water make a difference? 
Oh yes, very much.  First of all, distilled water is not for drinking, it is for cleaning.  The process that removes all the bad things in the water, also removes all the good things in the water as well.  It does not differentiate.  You cannot use distilled water in a freshwater fish tank, your fish will die.  Distilled water is “dead” water.  Our bodies cannot function with dead water; our bodies need good, healthy water. 
Also, make sure you know what is in your water: know how it is processed and where the water comes from.  Most bottled water is just city water put into a bottle for your convenience.  City water is full of chlorine.  “So?”, you ask, and think, “I swim in chlorine.”  That may be true but…a study conducted in 1998 by the California Department of Health issued a warning to pregnant women in regards to drinking water processed with chlorine.  A pregnant woman who drinks water processed with chlorine increases her risk of miscarriage!  Although a 2005 study of the same issue concluded that there might be less of a risk than implied by the 1998 study, a risk still remains.

There is another ingredient that you want to try to avoid in your drinking water: magnesium sulfate.  Magnesium sulfate is used in hospitals to slow labor.  Certainly not a good water to use when you are in labor! 
One last thought…water alone does not make the hydroelectric machine function properly.  In order to be used to its fullest potential, water needs salt.  No, you don’t have to salt your water, but you do need to add a little salt into your diet.  If you are concerned about adding salt because of high blood pressure or other reasons, try sea salt.  It is the healthiest salt because the way it is processed leaves all the minerals needed in the salt, whereas iodized salt and kosher salt remove the minerals.  This however, is a whole other blog post conversation.
Moral of the story…drink plenty of water and know where it has been before it arrived in your drinking glass!  Now, I am going to go get a refill on my ice water.

For more reading about Chlorine & Tap Water:
Water Quality - 1998 Study

Water Quality - 2002 Report

Water Quality - 2005 Study

Risk of Chlorinated Pools & Pregnancy
About the author:
My name is Lisa Pearson and I have been married for 20 years to a wonderful man.  We have 2 children, both girls, ages 16 and 4.  Our first birth was a traumatic one using a different method and the second was a fairy tale birth using the Bradley Method®.  We have been Bradley® teachers for 3 years because of that birth.  I am also a doula and soon to be student midwife; as well as just finishing up with my certificate in holistic nutrition.  We teach in North Phoenix just off the 51 highway.  Our classes are on Thursdays at 5:00 pm and Saturdays at 4:00 pm.  Our next class series will begin on Thursday, December 1, 2011 and Saturday, January 7, 2012.  You can find me on the Bradley® Birth website in the teacher information section, or call me at 602-494-3554 or email me at [email protected]

The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation. This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.