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Category Archives: Health and Wellness

Routine Prenatal Vaginal Exams

I’m often asked if midwives perform routine vaginal exams during prenatal visits.

My answer is simple—no we do not.

Why? Because there is no evidence that shows any benefit from the procedure unless you are planning an induction.

A routine prenatal vaginal exam is where a woman is checked for how dilated—or open—their cervix is, how much it has thinned, and the position of the baby in the mother’s pelvis.

Is this helpful? Yes and no.

It can satisfy your curiosity about how open you are, it can confirm baby’s position, but it doesn’t tell us when the baby will be born. Midwives usually determine fetal position easily by feeling your belly. Sometimes ultrasound is needed to confirm positioning.

In cases of induction, it’s helpful to know what’s happening with your cervix beforehand to decide if induction at that time is the best choice and which medications should may be most effective.

The Evidence

One study from 1984 showed that there was triple the risk of water breaking prior to the onset of labor when moms had routine vaginal exams. Avoiding this is preferable as it can lead to increased interventions such as induction of labor or an increased risk of infection in both the mother and the baby.

While the 1984 study was small (about 350 women) another study in 1992 had almost double that (over 600 women). The second study showed no increased risk associated with having a routine vaginal exam starting at 37 weeks. But then again it also showed no benefit—unless it was related to induction.

Why would the two studies show different results?

There were some questions about whether the doctors in the first study had swept the membranes of the women whose water broke after vaginal exams. Sweeping or stripping the membranes can increase the risk of your water breaking before labor starts.

In Conclusion

As midwives, we typically do not do routine vaginal exams at the end of pregnancy unless requested. And we usually don’t offer it unless there is a good reason to do so. If you want to have it done it’s absolutely your choice, but the evidence says there’s no real benefit, but there’s also no harm.

If you do not want a vaginal exam it’s okay to say “no thank you” to your care provider.

It’s your body. You don’t have to give a reason why you don’t want a vaginal exam.

If you’d like to back up your choice with the studies I mentioned, click on the links or review the sources link below for a list.

Source: https://evidencebasedbirth.com/evidence-prenatal-checks/

Top 5 Foods to Give You More Magnesium

When life hands us busy schedules it can be difficult to get some of the valuable vitamins and minerals your body needs.

Magnesium is one of the most important minerals for our bodies and boasts a powerful list of health benefits. Making sure you have enough magnesium in your diet or supplementing additional magnesium rich foods is an easy adjustment to make for some great payoffs. Magnesium helps alleviate headaches, cramps, constipation and even ineffective contractions. 

Only one in three people aren’t getting enough magnesium in their diets.

This deficiency might actually be causing some of the symptoms you’re experiencing.While some people will require their magnesium in supplement form, there’s some food choices you can make that will give your body an all natural boost. 

Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are one of the best kept secrets of the health food aisle. Raw or lightly roasted pumpkin seeds provide almost 50% of your daily magnesium intake while giving you a hearty dose of zinc and vitamin E. These seeds make a great snack that keeps you energized throughout the day whether you eat them plain or seasoned. Add some pumpkin seeds to your trail mixes for a effortless boost of magnesium.

Spinach

Spinach is an amazingly versatile super food that is rich in vitamins and minerals. While eating spinach raw keeps many of these properties stronger, sautéing your servings will keep that incredible dose of magnesium intact. One serving of spinach gives you nearly 40% of your daily dose of magnesium. Try subbing your salad greens with baby spinach for that extra magnesium kick your body is craving.

Cooked Quinoa

Looking for a hearty side dish for dinner or a filling vegetarian dinner? Quinoa might be a good choice for you. Similar to a rice or barley, quinoa can be worked into tons of delicious meals for anytime of day. These dainty grains pack 30% of your daily magnesium intake into a modest 2/3 cup serving that can morph to match any flavor profile.

Black Beans

These beauties are great for your digestive health and are a great way to sneak some additional magnesium into your diet. You’re getting a ton of fiber with your 30% of your daily magnesium intake. You don’t need much to gather some healthy vitamins and minerals, just a 4 to 8 cups of black beans per week for optimized health benefits.

 Cashews

This delicious snack is great for busy moms on the go looking for that extra boost of energy without the guilt. Choosing to snack on some cashews can perk up magnesium levels with 29% of your recommended daily intake. Put some in bags and throw them in your gym bag for a magnesium boost on the go and some wholesome energy to help you power through a workout.

Your body tells you what it needs.

Making the conscious choice to choose magnesium rich foods can help your body find some balance. If you’re experiencing some of the side effects of magnesium deficiency, making little changes in your lifestyle can help you feel much better.

Banishing Stress

Being a parent often means putting your own relaxation on the back burner to keep up with the kids.

Even a veteran parent can tell you it’s important to take some time to yourself every now and then, while devoting a little time each day to stress management. Everyone’s body relaxes at a different pace and while some parents are content unwinding with a nice nap on the couch, it might take some yoga or meditation to banish some of your built up stress.

Scheduling time into your day to activities that help you relieve stress and rejuvenate are important to creating a little more balance and harmony in other areas of busy life as a parent.

Meditation

Meditation can start or end your day on a peaceful and enlightened note that leaves no room for stress or anxiety. Some might choose to meditate in a specific area of their home while others define the meditative experience as a simple break away from a stressful situation. The object of meditation is to clear your mind of everything except the physical sensation of your body being grounded to the earth, thinking only of functions like deep breathing and relaxing your posture. You might choose to recite a mantra or simply close your eyes and focus on some deep, calculated breaths. 

Yoga

A yoga routine can be just as powerful for relaxation as it can as an exercise routine. Yoga allows you to focus a cluttered mind onto the pose you’re trying to accomplish and to easily incorporate meditative strategies as you hold certain poses. Yoga poses often require you to actively engage all your muscles to hold positions and fully extend limbs to reach these goals. Engaging your muscles increases blood flow, gets your heart pumping and flowing refreshing new oxygen throughout your body. Incorporating a few yoga poses once or twice per day can help you feel rejuvenated and keeping stress at bay.

Exercise

Physical activity in general can transform a bad mood and relieve stress. Light cardio, aerobics, or gentle weight lifting can improve cognitive function, alertness, concentration, and reducing fatigue. Stress doesn’t just affect our bodies emotionally, but can take a physical toll too. Exercise simply makes your body feel better and when your body feels better so does your mind. Adding some exercise to your schedule every week will keep your mind and body in top top shape.

Stress Away Essential Oil

The power of smell is an incredible thing and certain herbal blends can dramatically reduce stress and anxiety. Stress Away is an essential oil blend of tropical and citrus that relaxes and comforts the body and mind. Whether you’re using the essential oil to maintain a relaxing space in your home or a refreshing aromatherapy break on the go, Stress Away is a staple for finding a little peace every day, available on it’s own or in the Premium Starter Kit. 

With busy schedules getting busier and often more stressful, adding some stress management into your daily routine can keep you feeling centered, focused and ready to seize the day.

Real Fitness for Real Moms

Whether you’re expecting or just welcomed your new baby, a little fitness worked into your daily routine is a good thing.

Most women think that fitness is a strict gym routine of cardio and weightlifting and that type of environment can be anything but motivating and simply out of the question when you’re a new mom. If you’re looking to be healthier during your pregnancy or just after having a baby you can incorporate a great work out in fun and easy ways.

Squat!

There’s no denying the power of squats. If you’re trying to give yourself a lift, working a series of squats into your day will tone your legs and lift your hiney. Squats can also strengthen your pelvic floor during pregnancy and make to make your labor a faster process and jump start your postpartum recovery. Do 5 to 10 squats after using the bathroom, during commercials, or on the hour and before you know it, you’ll have hundreds done each day. Cleaning up after kids? Do some squats while you’re picking up toys and clutter. Before you know it, you’ll have established an awesome workout routine.

Lunges

Lunges do some amazing things for your legs. If you’re pregnant, these not only help strengthen your pelvic floor but also improve circulation and alleviate swelling. While doing some lunges, you’re strengthening your core and lower body. When recovering postpartum, core strengthening exercises help retrain the muscles and avoid injuries. Lunges are easy to do around the house, when you walk from room to room do 5 to 10 lunges. If you’re baby wearing, you’re adding some weight to your workout! Be careful with lunges while you’re pregnant, as it can be easy to lose your balance.

Stroller Workout

A walk around the block or through the park is a great way to get some fresh air, stretch your legs and give your baby a change of scenery. Pushing a stroller even adds some additional weight to your workout. It doesn’t have to be a strenuous gym visit to get an amazing workout into your daily routine. Make the most of your workout by paying attention to your posture and your breathing. Team up with other moms in your neighborhood to empower them to get up and moving!

One of our childbirth educators, Alisha, leads a walking group two times per week called Mama Movement. This is an awesome opportunity for families in our area to socialize and practice a healthy exercise regimen.

Getting back into a workout routine is easier than you think.

It only takes a few minutes each day to get some valuable activity into your busy day. A body in motion stays in motion, and whether you’re pregnant or postpartum, you can benefit from some extra activity.

Listen to your body. Know your limits. Start slow.

Find a workout routine that works for you and always keep the safety of you and your family at the front of your mind.

 

Using Essential Oils to Reach Your Wellness Goals

Essential oils are more powerful than you think.

Swapping some household solvents, cosmetics and over the counter medications with some all natural essential oil blends can help you reach your goals of living a healthier and more balanced lifestyle.

Essential oils aren’t just hype, they’re proven holistic treatments that really work. Like any medicine, cosmetic or topical product, everyone’s skin is different and may respond to essential oil treatments differently.

Find the Right Oils for You

Identify ways you’d like to switch to a healthier lifestyle. Are you looking for safer cleaning products? Tired of harmful chemicals in your hair and skin care routine? Trying to cure aches, pains, scratches and scrapes the all natural way?

No matter how you’re looking to make a change, essential oils can be your guide into living healthier and cleaner. Identify your goals and essential oils distributors will provide you a breakdown of the individual health benefits of each individual oil or blend. Be careful to choose only pure oils and extracts and beware of cheap imitations that might contain harmful fillers. You can ask your Midwife for essential oil suggestions pertaining to health during pregnancy too!

Cosmetics

Essential oils are awesome alternatives for creams and cleansers that strip your hair and skin of the good, causing breakouts and uneven tone. Oils like lavender will clear up breakouts and basil oil will wake up tired skin. A dab of cinnamon essential oil will even give your lips a plumper and fuller look. Lavender and black cumin seed essential oils are great for clearing up dry scalp and dandruff. Making the switch to essential oils can help you break away from expensive, ineffective and processed cosmetics.

First Aid

There’s tons of medicinal uses for essential oils and they’ve been used for thousands of years as powerful defense against bacteria and infections. You can use  to clean wounds, dress burns and insect bites and even sunburns. Oils can help alleviate muscle pain, headaches, sinus congestion and cold sores.

Household

Essential Oils can make your cleaning routine a whole lot safer for you and your family. Diffuse some essential oils in the air for some aromatherapy or use them diluted in a mist bottle to freshen up your space. Lemon essential oil eliminates odors and can polish wood furniture. Some essential oils can also give your laundry a boost or give you a beautifully scented DIY laundry detergent free of harsh dyes and fragrances.

Essential oils can give you the boost you need to start living a cleaner, healthier lifestyle.

You don’t need to fill your skin and your home with chemicals to look better and feel better. Armed with a variety of essential oils, you can reach your health goals and resolutions this year of making smarter choices for the environment and your family.

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