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One test you can prepare for: Group B or GBS Colonization

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If you’re pregnant or have been pregnant, you know that hospitals will want to put you through a bunch of tests you’ve never heard of. One of these tests may be Group B Streptococcus or GBS. As stated in Mothering.com, “the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommend that all pregnant women be screened between weeks 35 and 37 of their pregnancies to determine if they are carriers of GBS. Studies show that approximately 30 percent of pregnant women are found to be colonized with GBS in one or both areas“.

30 percent is a lot! But that’s because many people normally carry the GBS bacteria without a problem. However, during labor, GBS can pass onto a newborn vaginally, and that is when issues can arise. For that reason, if a pregnant woman tests positive, the protocol is to place the mother on antibiotics during labor. The only issue is that the use of antibiotics should be limited to emergency situations when possible. Babies and moms exposed to antibiotics run an elevated risk of developing yeast infections, including diaper rash and thrush. These issues can make the first days and weeks of parenthood much more difficult. Webmd also states that “antibiotic overuse doesn’t just lead to drug-resistant superbugs, it may also permanently wipe out the body’s good bacteria. Good bacteria in the gut help people in many ways, including helping make vitamins and boosting immunity. Some researchers think that killing them off with antibiotics may be contributing to rises in chronic health conditions such as obesity, asthma, and cancer.”

People who follow holistic living tend to care a lot about “good gut bacteria.” After all, “70% of the cells that make up the body’s immune system are found in the wall of the gut.” So if one wants a strong immune system, a strong gut would be essential.   In my household, I try my best to protect the sanctity of our guts through good nutrition, prohibiting the use of chemical hand sanitizers with triclosan, eating probiotics daily in foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, kefir, and limiting the use of antibiotics to emergencies.

As for GBS, there is actually a way to help reduce your colonization while pregnant. [Current research implies that this regimen can help reduce the occurrence of GBS colonization, however it has yet to be scientifically proven. Research is currently underway by Floragen to help determine if probiotics help the vaginal flora]. My midwifery put me on this 2 week regimen before my GBS test:

  • Acidophilus- 3-4 billion live cultures per day (you can get this from Floragen Probiotic or yogurt. One Dannon yogurt has 1.7 billion live cultures). 
  • Echinacea (450 mg) 4x per day (Make sure it does not contain Goldenseal as echinacea is often paired with Goldenseal but should not be taken during pregnancy). 
  • Vitamin C (500 mg) 4x per day
  • Zinc (100mg) 2x per day

Taking that many supplements can be confusing so here’s a little time table I followed:

8:30am: 6oz probiotic, zinc, vitamin c, Echinacea

11:30am: Echinacea, Vitamin C

3pm: Echinacea, Vitamin C

6pm: Zinc, Vitamin C, Echinacea

8pm: 6oz Probiotic 

Thankfully, my test came back negative. Who knows if I would have been negative already, but I certainly was glad to take this immune boosting regimen. At 35 weeks pregnant a bunch of people around me got sick, and I feel like this regimen kept me from catching their sicknesses! WellnessMama also suggests the use of garlic. You can read her blog post on the same topic here. She was actually able to get rid of GBS after testing positive without the use of antibiotics!

I’m no doctor or a medical professional. But I’m a mom on a serious hunt to help my family be as healthy as possible. From my own experience in seeing both a OBGYN and midwife, I learned that levels of care in traditional western medicine and holistic practices are extremely different. In my perspective, prevention and holistic care aligns with how I want to live my life. I’m just sharing my journey here in hopes to help encourage others who believe what I do.

Sources:

http://www.cdc.gov/groupbstrep/about/

http://www.llli.org/faq/thrush.html

http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/integrative_medicine_digestive_center/services/nutrition_consultations.html

http://time.com/96112/why-im-breaking-up-with-hand-sanitizer/

http://science.time.com/2013/08/29/you-are-your-bacteria-how-the-gut-microbiome-influences-health/

http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/news/20110824/antibiotic-overuse-may-harm-bodys-good-bacteria

http://www.mothering.com/articles/treating-group-b-strep-are-antibiotics-necessary/

The Handbook, South Coast Midwifery & Women’s health Care

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8 Reasons Why Labor is JUST LIKE SEX

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Many expectant mothers ask me to describe labor because I was able to have a pain-free unmedicated experience. The best example I could come up with is sex. Yes, labor is just like sex. Here’s why:

1. Everyone has a different experience. Depending on the person, sometimes it’s long, sometimes it’s short, for some it’s scary, for others it’s an awakening experience. Some people feel empowered by it, and for some unfortunate others it’s scary and painful.

2. The same exact hormone is released during sex and labor. Oxytocin helps a person bond, develop a maternal instinct, helps in enduring friendship, and last but not least, orgasm! Interestingly enough, a woman needs oxytocin to go into labor. The synthetic version of oxytocin is pitocin however just like any man-made substitute it definitely does NOT process exactly the same in our body. Women have varying reactions to the same dose and it is often reported that they cause harder, more painful contractions.  Oxytocin initiates labor in a pregnant mama by causing the uterus to contract. These contractions cause the cervix to dilate and the baby to move down the birth canal. Our body works in harmony with mind and body.  If you allow stress or cortisol to be released, it will counteract oxytocin and can actually stall labor! So stressing out during labor or sex does not help a woman relax and open up.  LET THAT OXYTOCIN FLOOOOW.

3. If you’re not ready and fear sex or labor, it’s painful. Let’s face it. Women get raped by psychopathic men.  An intruder who violently penetrates the sacred woman space will inflict pain as her body would be tense, dry, and closed up. If you fear labor, your body will be tense. Your jaw might be tight and your fists may be clenched.  Such a tense body does not help you open up. If you can imagine trying to stick a carrot into pursed lips, rather than a loose jaw, the pursed lips would be harder to penetrate. Or, if you’re having a bowel movement and restrict your opening while trying to push, you’ll have a hard time releasing your waste! Likewise, it’s important to release fear and relax during labor so that your baby can slip on out.  Release, release, release. Just let your body do what it was made to do!

4. If you look forward to sex and labor, allow your body to run oxytocin, trust your body, and trust your partner, you CAN have a powerful, FEEL GOOD experience. I don’t have to describe sex because I think there’s a general consensus that unless you have a dysfunction, sex is supposed to be pleasurable. On the flip side, it’s less known that labor can be pleasurable. There’s actually a whole documentary called Orgasmic Birth. Women orgasm during labor!!!  Although I did not orgasm during labor (maybe that’s TMI) I still had my very own pain free, positive  experience. You can read my story here.

5. Labor or Sex will leave you either scarred or forever empowered and changed.

6. You won’t know until you experience it and media can have a major effect on what to expect. Virgins can only imagine what sex is like. Virgins can imagine, fantasize, or watch something in the media to portray what the experience may be like. However, more often than not, what happens on screen is not what happens in real life. Just the same, no first time mother can know what labor will be like. And unfortunately, a scary ER moment with a screaming mother makes for a more interesting movie scene rather than a slow, gradual, calm labor. But just because that mom on TV looks like she’s in hell, doesn’t mean that has to be the same experience for you. Just like how that barbie looking girl or that 8-pack GQ model probably won’t be you in the sheets.

7. It’s not entirely under your control. As much as you can prep yourself for sex or labor, some physical aspects of labor and sex are just out of our control.

8. You can prepare and educate yourself. You might prep sex with…well, I won’t go into the details. You can also prep yourself for labor. Diet plays a huge role in the creation of your baby and placenta. The type of nutrition you get during pregnancy can also impact your labor and reduce the risk of many different complications such as pre-eclampsia. Education can empower you with tools to help overcome fear and anxiety. I spent 8 weeks preparing myself psychologically for my birthing time and I’m so glad I did. It empowered me with tools to use during my labor which helped me have the pain free experience I expected!

There’s this sad seperation in the western medical world of our mind and body. You’ll see a general practitioner for a physical sickness and a psychiatrist for a mental illness. The body and mind are so connected and the more you can understand and trust your body in labor, the better your experience can be.  Many women in the U.S.  turn to an obstetricians to help bring their baby into the world. As much as OBs are fantastically smart and licensed to use forceps or cut open your womb, they may or may not be sensitive to your emotional needs. There is a psychological and emotional aspect of labor just as in sex that should be addressed. Unfortunately those needs often get thrown out the window once all the beeping machines turn on.  For all those expectant mothers out there, trust your amazing body that is creating life!  Let your birthing experience and the beginning of motherhood get off on the right foot by allowing your oxytocin to flow naturally from within. That same oxytocin that opens up your body and brings your baby into your arms will be the same oxytocin that gives you that motherly, nurturing bond. Get down with your bad mama self and labor on!

XOXO to all the mamas out there.

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Why I went from seeing an OB-GYN at a hospital to a home birth with a midwife

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I don’t go around parading that I had a home birth to new moms I meet. However, occasionally, the subject comes up. I know it’s an uncomfortable topic for some people because there seems to be this whole natural vs. medicalized labor world. I don’t share my beliefs to put anyone down–it’s simply to share the journey I made. I went from knowing nothing about labor to researching day and night for 6 months. I feel that there are many assumptions made in the general public about the way labor is “supposed to be” and much of this information is not necessarily true.

I made this video to explain how and why I went from deciding with my husband to have a home birth. I am a little weird and into counter culture, but our decision was a clear, educated decision about the well-being of our family. We try our best to live holistically, to be mindful of our air, water, and food. We believe our bodies to be just like plants and that if we do good things to nourish our bodies and mind, that we will have healthier lives. From all the research I did, I found that a home birth with midwives we interviewed, was better for my body and mind. I took into account the positive aspects of a natural vaginal labor, my mental health and risk for postpartum depression (because of family history of depression and bi-polar), and also the experience for my new baby. Below is a 30 minute video explaining from A-Z how we came to the conclusion and what our experience was like.

Here are some research articles, books, documentaries, and various links. There’s actually a ton more research but here is just some of the links I’ve compiled for this blog post:

Orgasmic Birth Documentary→ Orgasmic Birth

Hypnobabies→ Hypnobabies Website

Maternal Death Rate in U.S. vs other countries→Washington Post Article
CIA Govt Statistics of Maternal Death Worldwide

Interventions during labor that can lead to a higher chance of C-section as well as info about c-section, forceps, and other procedures that have life long effects on the female body→ Childbirth Connections Article

C-section, Birth Trauma and links to PPD or PTSD→ VBAC.com Article

PTSD & Traumatic labor →“Maternity-care providers say the increase in the number of medical obstetric procedures in labor and delivery, like Caesarean sections and premature births, could be contributing to PTSD.” Wallstreet Journal Article

Gut Bacteria from the Birth Canal via Vaginal Delivery → Science Nordic Article

Medical News Today Article

Sexual trauma linked to difficulty in labor→ National Institutes of Health Research, Our Bodies Ourselves Article
Labor and food during labor→Dr. Sears ARticle
But in hospitals they have outdate policies because of liability that require laboring mothers to not eat→WebMD

Ina May’s Guidebook to Childbirth→ Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth

 

CodanStill

Mister Rogers is in My Neighborhood

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With a newborn, days feel like months and months feel like years. Therefore, I’m very excited to celebrate my son’s 9 months. As much as I’m astonished by the way my son has developed, I am even more astounded by how much I’ve matured. People ask me what life is like as a mother now and I can only describe it as being like one of those expanding spheres that kids play with:

www.hoberman.com

Love, relationships, responsibility, and housework is harder, deeper, and yet more meaningful all at the same time. My life before parenthood was this parallel universe where I existed in this same body, however could get piss drunk without a thought. Obviously, things are much different now and getting piss drunk today entails losing control of my body. And to lose control of myself is to lose all care for my baby. That idea alone is terrifying.

A couple weeks ago, I stumbled upon a Mister Rogers Neighborhood LP titled “You Are Special.” I watched his show as a child but playing it for my son was something really special. His messages are so simple but carry such depth.

These days, I play it for my son daily. He sits for two 15-minute sessions during the day and we will listen to the entire album. CodanStill I face him outside so he can watch the bees, birds and trees in the backyard. I feel like it’s a good habit to form instead of being bombarded nonstop by our daily distractions. He gets 30 minutes a day to just sit, listen, watch nature, and be still. We started off with 5 minutes a day, and ultimately worked our way up to 15 minutes at a time. He happily sits there now and gets excited at every song change.

This super neat article about Mister Rogers revealed that the LP I found was one of his earliest records because it’s spelled “Misterogers.” This 44 year old record teaches my son about different types of emotions and feelings we have, our good days and bad days, and about the different types of people we meet in life. I’m learning to be a mom and sometimes the reality of it all, or perhaps the weight of it all, is scary at times. But then, I have to remind myself that I am special, that sometimes I have good days and bad days, and that there will be all different sorts of people I meet along the way. Although I’ve lived 315 more months than my son, the lessons he’s beginning to learn are the same ones I’m still trying to process.

The Pros and Cons of Mechanical Breast Pumps vs Manual Breast Pumps and Their Environmental Impact

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It’s interesting to see how quickly technology progresses today. If you watch this video with kids trying to figure out rotary phones, you’ll realize how far we’ve come along in just the past 50 years.

While technology improves our standard of living and brings greater efficiency to our daily lives, occasionally they cause more harm than good. And in some cases, they’re completely unnecessary!

Here’s my 17 minute video rant on my experience with a mechanical vs. manual breast pump. 

Call me crazy, but I find my manual breast pump to be WAY better on so many levels than my mechanical pump. (Why do I have both? I got a hand-me down mechanical pump that was used only once). Call me crunchy, hippy, or whatever, but I swear, my hand pump is by far better than my mechanical pump. This youtube mom of 4 agrees!

Here’s a quick breakdown of the pros and cons of the two different types of pumps I use:

  Medela Pump In Style Advanced Mechanical Double Breast Pump

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Lasinoh Manual Hand Pump

 

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Weight & Bulk 7 lbs and is so heavy and large it comes in its own bag that I need to carry separately from my work bag. So light I can’t weigh it…it’s several ounces. So small and light I can slip it into my purse.
Convenience & Comfort Convenient with the hands free bra because I can type, eat, do anything with my hands while pumping. However, it’s big, heavy, and bulky so it’s inconvenient to carry around. I also need a power source—to plug it in or always have AA batteries ready to go.

The suction is controlled via the power source and if on too high of a setting can make it very for the nipples. It is also a little confusing in the beginning because it looks like a laboratory experiment with all the wires, tubing, bottles, and flanges. Had tender nipples when I first started using it.

Requires my hands—one to express the boob, and the other to pump. Does not require any additional power source other than the hand! Very easy and not difficult to squeeze. Super light and fits into my purse.

The suction is controlled with your hand and so you have no way of sucking too hard. It’s much easier and theres an additional little comfort padding that makes it softer and more cushion-y on the breast. Never had a problem with tender nipples.

Loud Factor Pretty loud! Requires me to find a place I feel comfortable with the machine going for 10-15 minutes. Super quiet, I could pump in a library without anyone noticing.
Efficiency in Pumping I pump 6 oz in 10-13 minutes

 

I pump 6 oz in 8-11 minutes

I break down in the video why manual pumping is quicker for me.

Cost Retails $299.99 but can be subsidized through insurance or varying different types and versions can be free thanks to the Affordable Care Act 2014 Retails $34.99
Environmental Impact Requires manufacturing of the mechanical component of the breast pump, extra plastic for the tubing, and additional pump, additional manufacturing of cloth, zippers, synthetic materials for the backpack, also requires energy to power the pump, uses AA batteries when on the go, and is much heavier and larger in trucking/shipping/transportation costs which in combination create more emissions. Then…it gets thrown away at the end! Simple pump with one flange and minimal plastic manufacturing.

It’s weird to me that I don’t know a single mom who uses a hand pump. I get weird looks and “omygosh I can’t believe you use a hand pump. That must be so hard.” Well, nope, actually my hand pump is amazing, so simple to use, and doesn’t sound like a heaving cat. It’s just another one of those goddamn MUST HAVE baby items that I find to be a ridiculous marketing ploy by baby companies. I mean, they call the pump, “Pump in style.”

Aside from the manual pump being so easy and compact to use, it has a significantly  smaller foot print on mother earth. And yes, some parents don’t give a rat’s ass about the environment as long as their baby has THE BEST OF THE BEST. But maybe this item that costs 10x more is really NOT the best of the best. It is my belief that if we want to help protect the future of our children, we must help protect mother earth as well.  As a working mom away from my exclusively breastfed baby anywhere from 30-40 hours a week, I can safely conclude that the manual hand pump is more than sufficient and is not only easier to use, it’s a lot less bulk and a hell of a lot simpler. SO THERE YOU HAVE IT. GOT GETCHYOSELF A HAND PUMP!!!

The Hormones of the Menstrual Cycle (and why they matter!)

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In my last post, I outlined some reasons why understanding your cycle is super important!  Today we’ll go a little more in-depth into the menstrual cycle and take a look at how it all fits together.

There are two main phases of the menstrual cycle: the follicular phase and the luteal phase.  These two parts are separated by ovulation, which generally happens around the middle of the cycle, but can vary from woman to woman and cycle to cycle.  In the first half of the cycle, our bodies are producing a lot of estrogen, and in the second half we are producing a lot of progesterone.  Estrogen and progesterone have their own unique jobs in the body, and our fertility depends on them!  The image below shows estrogen levels in blue and progesterone in red.  The black line in the middle represents ovulation.

Menstrual Cycle Hormones (glad rags version)

 

The bottom of the chart above shows what happens in the ovaries during each phase of the cycle: at the beginning of each new cycle, several immature eggs begin growing and developing.  At some point during the follicular phase, one of the eggs emerges as the “dominant” egg, and continues growing alone (unless in the case of multiples, where two or more grow together).  The egg grows because of the increasing levels of estrogen in the body.  Eventually, the body reaches an “estrogen threshold” and the egg is developed enough to be released into the uterus.  The egg breaks through the ovarian wall and ovulation occurs!  It is swept up by the fimbria, small finger-like projections on the ends of the fallopian tubes) and is carried into the tube.  If sperm are already present, fertilization can occur.  If sperm are not present, the egg lives for only 12-24 hours and then is reabsorbed back into the body.  The follicular phase has ended.

The other thing estrogen does is the production of cervical fluid!  Cervical fluid is crucial for pregnancy, as it gives sperm a medium in which to swim once in the female body.  Cervical fluid is produced by the cervical crypts, inside the cervix, and changes in consistency and color throughout the cycle.  As a woman gets closer and closer to ovulation, the cervical fluid generally becomes more stretchy, wet and clear.  Each woman has her own, unique cervical fluid pattern.  Women who track this pattern each cycle can use the information to achieve pregnancy (they can time intercourse close to ovulation) as well as prevent pregnancy (they can identify when their fertility begins and ends, and avoid unprotected intercourse during that time).  Cervical fluid is, unfortunately, often misunderstood (“What the heck is all this stuff on my underwear?!”) but is an amazing part of being a woman!

But back to the cycle: once the egg is gone, the casing of the egg that is left behind in the ovary turns into the corpus luteum.  This tiny little temporary endocrine gland produces the hormone progesterone, which keeps the uterine lining intact for 10-16 days.  Progesterone, just like estrogen, is also super important for pregnancy to occur, since it takes a fertilized egg about 7 days to travel and implant into the uterine wall.  If progesterone doesn’t keep the uterine lining together, the fertilized egg has nowhere to implant and is swept from the body during the next menstrual flow.  Progesterone also raises our body temperature, just slightly, which is how some women track if they’ve already ovulated or not.

The corpus luteum lives for about 10-16 days, waiting for another hormonal message (human chorionic gonadotrophin or hCG, the hormone that is tested for in pregnancy tests).   If pregnancy has occurred, the corpus luteum will live for up to three months, continuing the production of progesterone until the placenta takes over.  This progesterone production ensures the uterine lining is not shed.  If pregnancy did not occur, the corpus luteum begins disintegrating, progesterone production stops, the uterine lining is shed and a new cycle begins.  The whole thing starts over!

Understanding your hormones is not only a huge step in understanding your fertility and your reproductive health, but it’s also empowering to know how your body works.  Check back for my next post on more information about how you can track your hormones and use the information they give to prevent or achieve pregnancy naturally.  Until next time!

An Infographic About C-Sections in the U.S.

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Bringing Birth Back
Source: TopRNtoBSN.com/

None for me, Thank You

Learning To Be Mom And Keep My Cup Full

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7 months ago my role in life changed dramatically. Job titles come and go, but “mom” will forever be a part of who I am now. Before becoming a mom, I was a girlfriend, then a fiancee, then a wife.  All these changes required deeper communication, maturity, resilience, negotiation, respect, patience, and understanding in order to maintain a healthy, happy life together.

I have to admit, over the last few weeks, my busy days got the best of me. A typical day started off with a morning feed for baby, rushing to get dressed and ready for work while keeping baby entertained, making breakfast for husband and I, leaving baby with our nanny, working my stressful 9-5 while pumping every 3 hours, getting home, cooking dinner, cleaning up and organizing the house, doing some laundry while bathing baby, getting baby to bed, and then falling asleep sometimes with makeup on because I’m just so tired and exhausted. I felt like I was drowning in this endless amount of work. On top of it all, baby has been teething and waking up every 1.5 to 3 hours in the night. I began to feel really awful about my workload and harbored bits of resentment towards my husband.

The thing about my husband and I, is that we’ve grown a lot in the communication department since we first started dating.  Early on, we allowed jealousy, fear, insecurity, and misunderstanding to build up in our hearts until it would explode into unproductive arguments. It’s not easy to get to a root issue because it’s often sugar coated with emotions that are uncomfortable to discuss. I’m grateful we were able to have a mature, open and honest discussion a week ago. I needed it tremendously. I was overwhelmed and didn’t know why I felt bitter. When I expressed to him the difficult idea that I was resentful towards him, I couldn’t understand why I felt that way. I wanted to say he doesn’t help enough with the baby or around the house, but that’s not true. He does help when he can. It then dawned on me a week later that it was because I was losing myself and becoming unhappy overall. I wasn’t centered, my days were rushed, and I found no fulfillment day to day. I was hanging by a thread and the easiest route was to point an accusatory finger at the closest person to me, my husband.

My friend Dr. Shannetta Robinson shared this touching video by Jada Pinkett Smith about being a mom. Becoming a mom is life changing, and a lot of what our society tells us is that our lives are over and it’s all about the baby and family. However, I truly believe what Jada says is true. Moms need to first fill their own cup of happiness, so that it can overflow into their family. If mom is running on empty, she’ll start to point fingers and be upset at others for her own unhappiness.

This weekend I got a nice 2 hour break to see old friends. They say distance makes the heart grow fonder and a little distance from my fam definitely makes me appreciate and miss them more. I have my own dreams and aspirations, but I’ve got to balance them with mom life. My husband and I came to the conclusion that I need to take more “me” time. I’m thinking about swimming and doing yoga on a regular basis. There’s also this awesome Shiatsu Massage place I found nearby. I’ve gotta learn to take some “treatyoself” days.  I’m just learning to figure this whole mom thing out day by day.

Today is September 17, 2014

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Today is September 17th, 2014. My son is a nice reminder that I can never relive a day. He’s only going to get bigger.

This life has many distractions. There are too many. The new, the latest and greatest, they bombard me. I’d like to let go of all that begs for my time. Let me fall into this moment here and now.

fertility

4 Big Reasons Why Understanding Your Menstrual Cycle Is Important

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If someone told me 4 years ago I’d be singing the praises of my hormones and menstrual cycle, I would have told them, “You’re crazy!”  For my whole cycling life, I hated the fact that I had to bleed and tried to forget about my cycle as much as possible.  It was annoying, and although I understood it was part of the baby-making process, I didn’t understand why it mattered during the times when I wasn’t having kids.  I wanted to just turn it off until I was ready.

Luckily, I was also instinctively wary of hormonal birth control (which certainly would have “turned things off”) and started looking for natural birth control options.  This lead me to the Fertility Awareness Method, a natural birth control option that required me to begin the process of understanding my body and my cycle more intimately than I ever had before.  My whole outlook on life shifted (and I’m not being hyperbolic) when I started understanding my cycle.  I could not believe no one had explained to me how amazing my body is and how important my cycle is to my overall health and wellbeing.  This is only scratching the surface, but these are 4 of the biggest reasons why your cycle is actually really important and beneficial to you as a momma and a woman!

1. If you’re trying to get pregnant, there’s a fertility window every month.

Many women don’t know this, but there is actually a very specific time during each cycle when pregnancy can actually occur.  That’s because sperm can only survive in the female body when cervical fluid is present (more on this in the future… you’ll love it).  Once ovulation occurs, the egg can only live for about 12-24 hours.  If it isn’t fertilized within that window, then pregnancy won’t occur that cycle.  Timing intercourse to achieve pregnancy can be a million times easier if you know when your fertility window opens and when it closes.

(An interesting side note: men are fertile ALL THE TIME from puberty until death, with some declining fertility in the later years.  Our bodies, however, operate on cyclical patterns with times of fertility and times of rest, just like the natural seasons, that all depend on our hormones).

2. Knowing your menstrual cycle can be used as a natural birth control or child spacing option.

Because we only have one fertile window per cycle, the rest of the cycle is safe for unprotected intercourse if you’re trying to prevent pregnancy.  The best way to use natural birth control is by using the Fertility Awareness Method, which uses cervical fluid and body temperature patterns to determine when fertility begins and ends.  This piece of the puzzle is my specialty, so you’ll definitely be hearing more about this in the future!

3. You can better understand and prepare yourself for emotional ups and downs (aka: HORMONES).

Menstrual Cycle Hormones (glad rags version)

The drastic hormonal changes we go through each cycle not only affect our fertility, but our emotions as well.  Many women feel the rush and excitement of higher estrogens levels towards the beginning and middle of the cycle (the blue line above), and act more extroverted, verbal, confident, flirtatious, and energetic.  Towards the end of the cycle, when progesterone levels are dropping (the red line above), many women feel the need to retreat, reflect, and be still.  If you understand why you are feeling a certain way, it validates the feeling and allows you to give yourself what you need.

4. You can empower yourself by understanding your body and the way it works.

Have you ever felt disconnected from you body?  Frustrated about being a woman?  Confused about your cycle?  Wanting more information than your doctor provides?  Then understanding your menstrual cycle can help with all these issues and more!  By checking in with your cycle each day, you can develop an amazing relationship with your body, sexuality, and reproductive system.

Ready to dive in?  In my next post, I’ll explain the different phases of the menstrual cycle using the image below, the hormones involved, and how it affects our bodies physically.  If you’re ready to read more right away, check out the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler.

The Menstrual Cycle

 

 

Alternative info on pregnancy, labor, and parenting for the modern parent.