Postpartum “Bliss”

July 21, 2014

confidential

Article & Photo courtesy of Well Rounded NY

10 top secret things about having a baby that nobody ever told you about…until now.

Some of you expectant mothers out there might choose to approach your Big Day blissfully unaware of what is headed down the pipeline (so to speak). This post is not for you. For those of you who are not afraid of peeking around the hospital curtain, boy-oh-boy, well, I’m going to give it to you straight.

You already know that the whole birthing thing is not pretty. But there are quite a few things that pregnant peeps everywhere will never know about the process until they are swimming in breast milk. This is because the rest of us – those moms who have been through the birthing and postpartum experience – are purposely keeping these things a secret from you. If we told you, the world may cease to procreate.

So consider what I am about to reveal to you as 10 Top Secret Tips that I really shouldn’t be telling you. But because I’m really bad at secret-keeping, I’m going to tell you anyway.

1. You will heart your hospital gown so much.
Perhaps you have ordered a special nightgown or robe to wear during your hospital stay. You may have even planned a blowout prior to your due date, and have included some essential makeup items in your hospital overnight bag. Dream on. The only gown you will want to wear is the hospital gown. It is the easiest thing to wear when attempting to breastfeed for the first time, and, because you will be leaking fluid from every orifice, you won’t want to wear anything you can’t burn upon leaving the hospital.

2. Wee-wee pads are not just for dogs.
Is your secret name Spot? Or Fido? You might think so, based on the fact that your hospital bed features three layers of wee-wee-pads, lovingly changed on the hour by the friendly hospital staff. You will have no control over the fluids that will be exiting your body, so embrace the pads. Take some home, too, because you don’t want to stain your own bed. Plus, the memories!

3. Peeing with a stranger is fun.
Not really. But it is helpful! Your first post-labor pee pee will most likely involve a kindly nurse gently walking you into the bathroom and squeezing a warm bottle of water onto your V, to help with that first excruciating tinkle. She will explain that you will need this bottle from now on every time you use the commode because you if you do not use it, peeing will feel like FIRE. Further warning: You will want the emotional support of this nurse every time you need to use the bathroom. Consider asking her to come home with you.

4. You will be wearing a lot of mesh underwear.
Did you know about the mesh underwear? I bet you didn’t. You’re probably thinking this is some kinky new trend started by forward-thinking moms in New Zealand. Maybe you are picturing something you might find at your neighborhood Adult Fantasyland store. You are picturing it all wrong. Following labor, the hospital will hide the nice underwear you had planned on wearing during your stay and instead give you something that resembles surgical gauze or cheesecloth at best to cover your lady parts. Most likely, you will develop a rash from the mesh, which is REALLY fun if you end up also having a C-section scar. So much itching! Fun fact: Once you are home and you have graduated from the mesh, you get to wear the kind of underwear you enjoyed in middle school – big, bottom-covering, bunchy-butt, elastic waist ones. This is the only type of undergarment that can accommodate the supersize, extra-long, double overnight maxi pads that you will be wearing for the next several weeks post labor.

5. Speaking of . . . Let’s talk about pads!
So you’ve gotten to enjoy one of the only perks about pregnancy – not worrying about wearing white pants in case your period pops up unexpectedly, not having to buy anything with the word “absorbent” in it. Welcome back from dreamland, ladies. After labor, you will be bleeding every day, all day, for several weeks (and possibly even months). You might even think that having a C-section negates the postpartum bloodletting. No. Postpartum believes in equal rights for all types of labor, and so, expect to bleed like the elevator scene from The Shining.

6. Also, witch-hazel pads.
Visit anyone who has just gotten home from the hospital, and you will find a trusty container of witch-hazel pads in the bathroom. Post-birth, these will become your “toilet paper”. You no longer will be able to use toilet paper unless you like the feeling of sandpaper rubbing against a painful open wound. Supposedly, witch-hazel is “soothing.”

7. Beware your first postpartum poo.
You thought that constipation during pregnancy was pretty rough. Get ready for something that makes that pale in comparison. Not only does your stomach still look eight months pregnant, but also you will now be carrying quite a load – and this one isn’t cute. Maybe for over a week. All that Percocet is super constipating, and if you end up having surgery, that just adds to the clogged-up equation. For the love of all that is holy, do not try to force the poo. Do not hunker down with a stack of celebrity magazines and use your newly acquired pushing skills to achieve bowel clearance. The poo will come to you, and when it does, assign someone to hold the baby for the next hour and a half while you push a tennis ball out of your rectum. Don’t worry. You’re familiar with that feeling by now, right?

8. Nursing bras are your new sexy.
Bras are nice. They are pretty. The expensive ones make you feel like you’re someone’s mistress. They lend shape, they contour, they even provide a little layer of protection when someone jabs his elbow into your boobs on the subway. Nursing bras, however, can SUCK. Even the ones from brands cheekily named “Hot Milk” or “Jezebel” or “La Comptesse” or whatever sultry name these companies have come up with to help you come to terms with the fact that you have to wear a bra that provides so much coverage it practically hits your chin.

9. Breast pads. An introduction:
Why must so many things concerning postpartum involve the word ‘pad’? How humiliating. Breast pads are flat, disc-shaped cotton balls that you put into your newly purchased nursing bra to catch breast milk leakage. They fill up pretty fast, and if your bra isn’t thick enough, they show through your shirt. You will feel like you are revisiting your childhood days of dressing up as Dolly Parton. And you will need to change it every 20 minutes that you are not nursing because you can’t stop leaking whenever you think about your baby. Which feels slightly vulgar, like a middle-schooler trying to hide his boner in History class.

10. Behold, the magical powers of bamboo.
You probably thought bamboo was just for pandas, or like, those expensive new swaddles that are out there. Wrong! Bamboo also helps shrink your stomach. There are a few of these corset-like tummy tuckers on the market that promise to shrink a postpartum belly as long as you vow to wear it every day for weeks, for up to six hours a day. The way it works is, your stomach is sucked in so tightly from the band that you can’t stuff your face. Also, you won’t want to leave the house with it because it makes you look like Deenie from the Judy Blume books, which conveniently prohibits you from grocery shopping or eating out. Magic!

Wishing you could turn back the hands of time to that fateful night of conception? I bet you are! But guess what? It is too late (cue evil laughter). Don’t worry. You got this in the bag. You are woman. You are Mother Earth. You are strong, like ox. A leaky, cranky, sleep-deprived ox, but still. Also: Don’t tell anyone what I’ve just told you. You can keep a secret, right?

This article is by Alexis Barad-Cutler courtesy of Well Rounded NY.  Conceived with love by former magazine editors Jessica Pallay and Kaity Velez, Well Rounded NY aims to be the singular pregnancy resource for city-savvy moms-to-be. Through reviews, profiles, expert Q&As, local guides and more, Well Rounded curates the New York City pregnancy and helps its readers come to terms – and term! – with pregnancy in the city.

Things We’ve Read: Week of July 14th

July 20, 2014

Pregnancy News Nine Naturals Things We've Read

Ask Well: Nanoparticles in Sunscreens (NYT): What are the risks from nanoparticles of titanium in sunscreens?

The Mysterious Tree Of A Newborn’s Life – The Push to Understand the Placenta (NYT): The placenta plays a huge role in a pregnancy, however very little is actually known about it.

Equal Opportunity Employment Officials Take New Aim at Pregnancy Bias (NYT): The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued new enforcement guidelines on pregnancy discrimination in an effort to underscore that employers cannot discriminate against workers because of past, present or future pregnancies.

One Mother’s Triumph: Having A Baby Late In Life (NY Daily News): Mount Sinai helps ‘older’ moms see pregnancy through to success.

Save Lives, Train Midwives (Bloomberg View): The presence of a skilled birth attendant would save millions of lives and millions of dollars.

Organic Foods Are More Nutritious, According To Review Of 343 Studies (LA Times): Researchers in Europe and the United States have concluded that organic crops and organic-crop-based foods do in fact contain higher concentrations of antioxidants on average than conventionally grown foods.

Urine Test Can Predict Premature Birth And Poor Fetal Growth (HNGN): The detection of certain molecules through a urine test can help predict premature birth and poor fetal growth.

Consumer Reports: Not So Natural Beauty Products (ABC News): Sales of products labeled “natural” have soared, but are these products actually all natural?

How To Dress The Bump Without The Frump (Today Parents): Baby bumps are always in! With maternity clothes evolving, it’s easy for pregnant women to stay fashionable.

17 Highly Scientific Facts About Parenting (HuffPost): The truth about parenting.

Natural Fixes For Your Summer Beauty Problems

July 18, 2014

Summer Beauty Tips

Pregnancy can be difficult at the best of times but it can be downright demanding during the hot summer months. Not only is your body changing, but a whole new crop of summer beauty problems such sunburn and sweat means your beauty routine needs an overhaul too. Luckily, that’s the one thing you don’t have to sweat about this summer – we’ve figured out the best all natural, pregnancy safe beauty fixes for all your summer beauty woes: 

Summer Beauty Problem: Sunburn 

We all know that sunburns can be downright painful at times. To soothe your skin:

Summer Beauty Problem: Chlorine Dry Hair

The healthiest of hair can get incredibly dry after long weekends spent swimming in chlorine filled pools or splashing around in the salty ocean water. To bring shine and lustrous texture back to your hair:

  • Use an all-natural deep conditioner in your hair, such as Nine Natural’s Mandarin + Ginger Restorative Conditioner, to tame your tresses.
  • Work a small amount of coconut oil into your hair, leave on for 20 min & wash out. For added hydration and moisture, leave the coconut oil in your hair overnight and wash it it out in the morning.

Summer Beauty Problem: Sweat

Sweat is a part of everyday life but it can get excruciatingly uncomfortable during a summer pregnancy. To combat sweat:

Summer Beauty Problem: Dry, Itchy Skin

Dry, itchy skin seems like a rite of passage with pregnancy – especially during the summer. But it doesn’t need to be. To hydrate your skin:

Summer Beauty Problem: Swollen Feet & Legs

Swollen feet during the summer is a beauty problem for all women, but it’s especially bad for pregnant women. It may not be possible to prevent swelling from developing, but you can prevent it from becoming severe:

  • Wear comfortable shoes and avoiding tight straps or anything that might pinch if your feet swell.
  • Keep your feet elevated as often as possible.  Keep blood flow moving by stretching and taking walking breaks throughout the day.
  • Cool your feet down in cold water.

Summer Beauty Problem: Breakouts

Excess hormones from pregnancy and extra sweat from hot summer months can lead to the perfect acne-causing combination. To manage acne naturally:

  • Exercise as sweat detoxifies the skin.
  • Wash your face twice daily with a gentle, all-natural facial cleanser. Pat dry your skin as rubbing can irritate the skin and worsen your acne problems.
  • Use natural skincare products and makeup that is free of harsh chemicals such as dimethicone and fragrance, which can clog your pores or cause irritation.
  • Change your pillowcase often to prevent bacteria buildup on the fabric of your pillowcase.
  • Consult our Acne During Pregnancy guide for more tips!

Summer Beauty Problem: Hyperpigmentation

Although pregnancy can give your face that great glow, it can also lead to hyperpigmentation – a darkening of skin around particular areas on your face. Sun exposure can worsen this issue. To minimize hyper-pigmentation:

Pregnancy Mental Health Series: An Introduction To Maternal Mental Wellness

July 16, 2014

In our culture, the word pregnancy conjures up a “glowing” image akin to an earth mother walking in a field with wild flowers. Her world seems blissful, peaceful and brimming with promise for the future.

In reality, pregnancy is rarely, if ever, such a walk in the park.

Hormone levels peak at over 100x pre-pregnancy levels, bringing with them various physical and emotional changes. Furthermore, the sense of unknown and lack of control that comes with being pregnant is often stressful and can be down right terrifying. Many of us feel they can’t ask for help. We write off feelings of sadness and anxiety as a ‘normal’ part of the hormonal shifts of pregnancy. Many of us ‘just wait it out’ if experiencing negative psychiatric symptoms with the expectation that we will feel better once the baby is born. Unfortunately, this is often not the case.

As we discuss maternal mental wellness in this and future posts as part of our Pregnancy Mental Health Series, remember – just as you take care of your physical health, you must also take care of your mental health for both the health of you and your baby.

How Your Mental State Changes During Pregnancy

While pregnancy used to be a time that was considered ‘protective’ from emotional problems, we now know that this is not the case. Instead, postpartum mood and anxiety disorders (PMAD) affect up to 20% of new moms, and are considered the most common complication of pregnancy. Thirty-percent of these women developed symptoms either before or during pregnancy that continued into the postpartum.

Many factors influence whether a woman will experience mood symptoms during pregnancy, including:

  • Degree of support at home
  • Whether the pregnancy was planned or a surprise
  • Financial stability
  • Age
  • Family history for mood and anxiety disorders
  • Pre-pregnancy health and mood status – women who experienced severe PMS (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder) may be at an increased risk of experiencing mood symptoms in pregnancy
  • History of or existing psychiatric illness – women who abruptly stop their medications shortly before or after conception are at a significantly increased risk of relapse during pregnancy

How To Improve Your Mental Wellness Before Pregnancy

Ideally, a woman feels stable emotionally and physically for at least 3 months before conception. Do this by taking care of the entire body beginning before conception.

  • Minimize toxin and chemical exposure
  • Eat healthy foods that are organically sourced or locally grown
  • Take prenatal vitamins
  • Exercise before and continuing into and through pregnancy can help to improve the health of a pregnancy

Women who are suffering from or have a history of depression, anxiety or another mood disorder should speak with their mental health provider or OBGYN ideally in advance of conception about ways to maximize emotional stability while simultaneously minimizing risk to their future babies in pregnancy.

Realistically, Your Mental Wellness Will Be Challenged

Mood symptoms in pregnancy and postpartum can become very serious, and have short- and long-term negative effects. Many effective treatment options exist, and over 90% of women improve once in appropriate treatment and your doctor this article.

You should seek help during pregnancy if you:

  • Experience frequent dramatic shifts in mood
  • Cry often
  • Have difficulty sleeping (beyond from having to pee at night)
  • Eat too little or too much
  • Isolate from friends and family
  • Feel overwhelmed, worthless or guilty
  • Unable to enjoy things you usually enjoy
  • Lack motivation and feel apathetic
  • Have thoughts of harming yourself or your baby

Mental Wellness Affects You And Your Baby

Future posts in the Nine Naturals Mental Wellness + Pregnancy Series will focus on mental health during pregnancy/the postpartum period  and will address specific risks associated with suffering from untreated mood symptoms during those times.

The important thing to remember is that being ill in pregnancy and during the postpartum period may have negative affects not only for mom, but also for her baby. Treatment for resolution of symptoms is often the safest option as compared to remaining untreated.

Online Resources:

  • Postpartum Support International (PSI): www.postpartum.net
  • Postpartum Progress: www.postpartumprogress.com
  • Massachusetts General Women’s Mental Health Site: www.womensmentalhealth.org
  • If you need immediate help, please call 1800-SUICIDE. In an emergency, if you fear you are at risk of harming yourself or someone else, please call 911.

Mental Health During Pregnancy

Carly Snyder, M.D. is a Psychiatrist in New York City with a focus and expertise in Reproductive Psychiatry. Dr. Snyder is the Clinical Course Director for the Reproductive and Perinatal Psychiatry Program at Beth Israel Medical Center. She holds faculty appointments in Psychiatry and Obstetrics and Gynecology at Beth Israel Medical Center, and a teaching appointment at Mount Sinai Medical Center. Dr. Snyder serves on the Board of Directors for Postpartum Support International, and is a member of the Women’s Mental Health Consortium in NYC. Dr. Snyder also sees patients in her private practice located on the Upper East Side of New York City. She received her undergraduate degree from Emory University, attended NYU School of Medicine and completed residency at Beth Israel Medical Center, with additional sub-specialized elective training at Weill Cornell’s Payne Whitney Women’s Program. 

Dr. Snyder’s treats women experiencing emotional and psychiatric challenges at any age. Her approach uses a combination of traditional psychiatric methods with integrative medicine-based treatments to optimize the whole body, mind and well-being. Dr. Snyder provides individualized treatment that focus on improving a woman’s physical and emotional health. In addition to more traditional psychiatric modalities, she has extensive experience treating patients with natural supplements, either alone or in combination with pharmacotherapy. For more information, visit Dr. Snyder’s website or follow her Twitter.

The Unspoken: Varicose Veins

July 14, 2014

varicose veins

Article & Photo courtesy of Well Rounded NY

Brooklyn-based surgeon Dr. Yan Katsnelson tells us the best ways prevent and treat varicose veins.

While there’s undoubtedly a lot of focus going into your midsection during pregnancy, there are other parts of your body that are overlooked–sometimes because you can’t see them so well. Yes, you bought the best stretch mark cream but what about your legs? Up to 55 percent of women are affected by vein issues, including varicose veins which can often be triggered by pregnancy. Does your mama have vein issues? Then you may be at higher risk. Cardiothoracic Surgeon Dr. Yan Katsnelson says, “It’s estimated that about half of people who have varicose veins have a family member who also has them.” But you’re not alone. And there are natural ways to try and prevent them.

Here Dr. Katsnelson sheds some light on how to deal with varicose veins during pregnancy.

What causes varicose veins?
Many women first develop varicose veins–or find that they get worse–during pregnancy. As your uterus grows, it puts pressure on the large vein on the right side of your body (the inferior vena cava), which in turn increases pressure in the veins in your leg.

Veins are the blood vessels that return blood from your extremities to your heart, so blood in your leg veins already works against gravity. When you’re pregnant, the amount of blood in your body increases, adding to the burden on your veins. In addition, your progesterone levels rise, causing the walls of your blood vessels to relax.

What pregnant women can do to prevent varicose veins?
One of the best ways to prevent varicose veins is to wear compression socks, which helps to promote blood flow through your veins, preventing blood from pooling. It is also important to continue to exercise throughout your pregnancy. Something as simple as walking for 20 minutes each day can help keep your veins healthy. It is also important that you avoid wearing tight clothing and high heels. Make sure to leave the heavy lifting to someone else in your family during your pregnancy as well.

Are there any particular diets or exercises women can do to prevent varicose veins?
Eating a healthy, balanced diet comprised of whole grains, vegetables and fruits is important. In addition, make sure you get enough vitamin C in your diet as it helps to promote blood flow. Elevating your legs throughout the day is an easy way to keep your blood flowing and a key way to prevent varicose veins from forming. Low-impact exercises, such as walking, cycling and swimming, also help to prevent varicose veins.

What should women do if they develop varicose veins during pregnancy?
If you do develop varicose veins during pregnancy, don’t be alarmed. Invest in compression socks to help promote blood flow, which can make sure your varicose veins do not worsen. In addition, make sure you eat a balanced diet, engage in low-impact exercises and elevate your legs.

Is it possible for them to go away naturally?
Most of the time, the appearance of your varicose veins will improve a few months after pregnancy. However, varicose veins will not completely disappear on their own. Compression socks will help reduce pain and swelling, which can visibly reduce their appearance as well. Treatment for varicose veins is the only option that will completely cure the disease and decrease chances of complications of blood pooling in the legs.

What kind of treatments are available?
Due to technological advances, you can treat varicose veins without having to undergo surgery. Endovenous laser therapy is a non-surgical treatment that helps to permanently eliminate varicose veins. The procedure, which usually takes about 15 minutes from start to finish, uses laser energy to heat and close the veins that are not working properly. Other healthy veins naturally take over to promote healthy blood flow in the leg.

Are varicose veins harmful to a pregnant woman?
Varicose veins can lead to discomfort, such as swelling and an aching pain. Most of the time, they are not harmful. However, if you do not treat them, they can lead to serious health issues like skin ulcers and the development of blood clots.

This article is by Kaity Velez courtesy of Well Rounded NY.  Conceived with love by former magazine editors Jessica Pallay and Kaity Velez, Well Rounded NY aims to be the singular pregnancy resource for city-savvy moms-to-be. Through reviews, profiles, expert Q&As, local guides and more, Well Rounded curates the New York City pregnancy and helps its readers come to terms – and term! – with pregnancy in the city.