75 posts categorized "Pregnancy"

My tale of two IUDs

May 08, 2017


At this point, this photo has gone viral.  I've received the photo via numerous personal texts, direct messages, and posts to my Facebook wall.  And, so, I figured I'd better come clean and share with you all: my tale of two IUDs.

Over a dozen years ago, I wrote about deciding on my first IUD, and this is one of uM's most trafficked post on the site.  I eventually decided to go with the Paraguard [copper] IUD, and I didn't regret it.  

Five years after its insertion, I knew something was up.  I peed on two sticks and I knew it wasn't wrong.  The IUD had floated way up into my pregnant uterus, unable to be retrieved, and I proceeded to fend off worries that I'd have pre-term labor, infection, miscarriage, or something else horrible.  My OB at the time frightened me with these risks every time I saw him, and I felt like he scribbled "malpractice risk" everywhere in red ink on my chart.  When he told me "C-section at 36 weeks or else....", I left him for another doctor.  I met my new OB at 38-weeks pregnant, and he helped me deliver a healthy baby boy, vaginally, at 39 weeks and 5 days.

Well, that boy, our miracle baby, is now 7.5 years old.  I promptly got my next Paraguard within a couple of months of delivery.

When I got that irksome feeling in my uterus again, five years after the insertion of the most recent Paraguard, I couldn't do anything but laugh.  I was nauseated and bloated and...  blessed.  There was no other way to dice it.  I was lucky to the Nth degree, chosen by some higher power, to defeat those odds that were so hard to defeat the first time around.  My partner tells me, however, that the odds aren't any higher the second time around; the odds are statistically the same as they always were: really freaking low.

And, yet, it happened.  Again.  This time around, no scare tactics would bother me.  I enjoyed my pregnancy as much as I could, relished what I knew would be my last - and fourth - gestation.  And, it was the perfect pregnancy.  I felt healthy, energetic and ever-fertile.  We didn't know the gender of our baby until the moment he emerged, in the early morning of his due date almost two full years ago.  And, now, we felt complete.  Really we did.  Period.  End of story.  With a vasectomy to punctuate it.

I can go into many details of those two pregnancies, which I documented in full to close family and friends via FB.  For now, let me just go on record to say: I have two IUD babies, and - I swear - yours will work!

What to eat when you're pregnant: The Pregnancy Plate

November 06, 2012

Guest post by Stephanie Pearson

Nutritionists, like myself, love to share their geeky scientific knowledge about food. We can reach a sort of cerebral high when we get to breaking down and classifying nutrients into their chemical constituents. There is a point, though, at which dissecting the fascinating interplay between enzymes, peptide chains, and our own physiology falls short. When we single out and supplement the parts rather than taking in the whole food, what are we missing?

This is what pulls me out of nutrition geek-talk into my love affair with the simple perfection of food in its whole form. Thinking in terms of food rather than nutrients is a more tangible, more traditional way to ensure high health during pregnancy. Indigenous cultures from all corners reserved specific foods to be consumed by mothers during preconception, pregnancy, and postpartum periods. We too deserve and need to eat special foods during the childbearing years. Certain foods that were repeatedly prized in traditional cultures were wild oily fish, grass-fed butter, liver, greens, olives, seeds, seasonal fruits and vegetables. Together these foods provide the most important vitamins and minerals for fetal development, including: vitamins A , D, B (including folate), C, and E, calcium, protein, omega-3 fats. Beyond what conventional nutrition tells and encapsulates for us, bringing actual foods to plate during pregnancy may provide a source for the important and mysterious co-factors that allude the lens of science.

Here’s what’s on the plate:

Continue reading "What to eat when you're pregnant: The Pregnancy Plate" »

Progesterone Levels & Pregnancy

October 05, 2012

An urbanMamas recently emailed:

I have a question and wonder if any urbanMamas already know the answer. I have heard, anecdotally, that some doctors and midwives want to check a woman's progesterone levels as soon as she finds out she's pregnant so she can get on hormonal support if necessary. Other offices don't want to see her until 7-10 weeks in. I just found out I'm pregnant (yay!) after a previous early miscarriage, and I think I'd like to find a doctor/midwife who would be willing to see me now and get some bloodwork done to test hormone levels. I'm not sure how to find that person though! Does anyone know - who is willing to test progesterone early in pregnancy in Portland?

Home births: On the rise, and safer?

August 02, 2011

I've desired a home birth from afar since I was pregnant with my second son, Truman. There was no way I was going to convince anyone of that after I suffered a partial placental abruption in week 23, especially as an attempted VBAC, and sure enough, I ended up with a cesarean, taking home births (at least in my husband's opinion) forever off the table. (Monroe, my third, was a VBAC in the hospital.)

flickr / eyeliam

Whether or not I have another baby and try to convince the interested parties in the sensibility of such a birth, I'm still head over heels in love. I've had several friends who birthed at home; my neighbor did, and so did a friend whose basement birthing room (next to the laundry machine) I ooh-ed and ahh-ed over, wishing. Home births are on the rise in the U.S., up 20% between 2004 and 2008, and not just because of the romance or (as I heard someone say on the radio) the "feminist machoism" -- there are a lot of us without insurance, and home births are just far cheaper. A midwife's services for a home birth are usually around $2,500 to $3,000 for the whole pregnancy and delivery; we all know that hospital births, without private insurance, can top $12,000 for a simple dilate-and-push procedure.

Today on Here & Now, I listened to a midwife whose statistics gave me a thrill. Detractors bring up the scary what-if scenarios, but according to these numbers, of 100 home births 88 were successfully accomplished at home, with 12 going to the hospital; and nine of these only requiring very minor medical intervention once they arrived, with only three of 100 being emergencies. This sounds extremely safe to me; I doubt the statistics of in-hospital births could compare to such a low intervention rate.

I know we have a lot of home birthers here in Portland; does anyone know if there have been statistics kept on such things here? If you've wanted a home birth, how did it go -- both the negotiations and the actual birth?

Radiation: Don't Worry?

March 23, 2011

Most of us parents were young during the Chernobyl accident, and have vivid memories of our first exposure to the story of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I can still see, in my memory, terrible black-and-white photos of the devastation in Hiroshima. It was so inhuman; there was so much humanity. Exposed, its surface melted away. And the concept of the invisible threat, the sickness that eats away at you from inside, insidiously: how can it not stay with a girl?

Now we're faced with the crisis that will be our own children's Chernobyl, perhaps: the earthquake and tsunami that devastated so much of northern Japan, and the developing crisis as the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant deteriorates. I took my boys to Seaside yesterday with my parents; Truman was so terrified of the idea of a tsunami that he kept going back to Grandpa's truck (there's a story there about the policemen who decided I was a very bad parent because I was spending more time calming everyone's fears than making sure I had eyes on all three boys -- a story for another day that I'm sure I'll tell soon). Everett got scientific and figured out how he could estimate the power of the waves through scientific observation, calming his own fears of one of those waves going Japanese on him.

The short answer to this crisis coming to Oregon shores, as I've learned after lots of research into Walletpop stories on radiation danger and sushi, is not to worry. About this, anyway; any radiation that gets here is at least a million times below toxic levels. Japan exports almost none of its fish, and whatever it would export wouldn't be any more dangerous than a mercury-laden river fish. (We in Oregon actually export a ton of fish and other products to Japan; it's an interesting story, too.)

There's plenty more to worry about. I'm freaking out on a near-daily basis about pesticides and the dangers of exhaust; I'm pretty sure it's part of the reason I struggle so with my boys. Other people are really concerned about radon in their homes; evidently, it's potentially a far, far worse source of radiation than any nuclear plant -- although you can have your radon levels tested and there's a fix. Other friends are having some big worries about lead contamination -- in the paint, in house keys, in the soil, in old furniture you hadn't suspected, in lots of jewelry little kids might get their mouths on (even though it's not meant for kids -- funny how that works). A bunch of us are very concerned about BPA and other plastic-based endocrine disruptors.

And another thing. I got an email which led me to this post I wrote forever and a day ago about radiation exposure of parents and how it affects the yet-to-be-born offspring. I didn't do a lot of research at the time and didn't follow up beyond the post. But I still haven't dismissed it. The mama who found my post wrote,

My dad had polio as a small child and was treated in an iron lung chamber. My aunts recall the doctors believing the radiation exposure is what caused his numerous bouts of cancer. My dad passed away at 40 after battling cancer most of his life.

All this attention on radiation has me wondering if I've been exposed, and what that potential danger could be. And, of course, if I could have passed anything along to my children.

I'd love to talk with someone locally about this. I don't even know where to start or what kind of doctor to call to get checked.

Do any of you have experience with this sort of thing? If you have ideas for how this mama can get tested for the markers of inherited radiation -- if that could be a problem -- please chime in! And tell us what's keeping you up at night with this disaster; I can't stop thinking about my parents' house, that would surely fall in an earthquake and slide into the Nehalem River; wouldn't my 1912 house crumble, too? There's just so much to worry about, you hardly know where to start.

Pregnancy support groups?

June 10, 2010

A friend asked on Twitter if I knew of any pregnancy support groups; and I haven't been able to answer her because I'm out of the loop here! All I have had, if you exclude my first-pregnancy birth prep class, is you (which is plenty :). Have any of you participated in or led pregnancy support classes? Please share!

We last discussed pregnancy support groups about a year ago, and many of you mentioned prenatal yoga (I've had a lovely experience with Shana at Yoga Shala on Division), La Leche League, and hospital-sponsored groups like these at Providence. I feel as if something is missing, though. Is this a hole in the community that needs to be filled; or is it already, and I'm just not finding it?

Centered prenatal care: Will it work?

April 23, 2010

(photo - sarah gilbert)

I guess it should not surprise me at all that so much has changed in the last four years. You see, four years is about how long it’s been since my last “first visit” to the Midwifery group at OHSU. Some things stay the same, but some things have definitely changed. During my medical history review, the nurse asked me the same questions as the last two times (the same questions I had just filled out on the piece of paper, no less).  And the same blood draw and urine catch (thank GOODNESS they’ve opted out of doing that each visit.  It’s impossible to do that around a big belly!).  But then, the nurse brought up “Centered Prenatal care”, which is currently being re-termed and she doesn’t have a flyer for, just yet.

Centered?  Apparently this is the name for prenatal care in a group format.  The schedule is set from the beginning of care.  There are 10 sessions, 2 hours each.  No waiting in the waiting room.  There will be the usual external exams, weight checks, blood pressure and measurements.  It will just all be done… communally.  The group will be comprised of women who are all due the same month as I am.

So how can I decide if this is for me?  My partner said he was already ok with this type of care and that it was up to me.  I’m trying to weight the pros and cons.  Set schedule, no waiting is a good thing.  Having others to sympathize and commiserate with, also a good thing.  But traditional appointments are about 20 minutes long, and there are 10 of those, too, generally.  So the time difference of 20 hours vs nearly 4 is quite a difference, waiting time aside.  Then there’s the fact that this is my third time at this.  I guess it could be naïve of me to say there’s nothing for me to learn, but it’s sort of how I feel.  What other benefits can a group setting for this care offer? (besides the obvious of reducing the number of times the midwife has to say the same thing to 6-10 different women).

Maybe, in the end, it’s not all about me?  Maybe it’s about what I can share with others?   I’m sensing the practice is generally new here in Portland but the nurse said they’ve never had any issues getting “critical mass” for their groups, since the program’s inception.  So, have any of you mamas tried group prenatal care?  Did you love it?  Hate it?  Want it to be a little different?  I’m sure it’s a very personal choice but I’m hoping someone has some insider information for me.

Cord-Banking: Have you done it?

October 30, 2009

Mamas, I honestly have no idea on this one.  Might you have some thoughts or experience to share with this urbanMama?

I've got 3 boys and another on the way and my mom really wants me to bank the cord blood this time. I've been reading about it, found a cost comparison chart along with basic services, but I was wondering how many families have actually done it and what did they base their decision on when choosing a company? Also, at what age, if applicable, did you decide to stop paying the annual fee?  I read somewhere you had to be registered by the third trimester (which is coming up soon!) and now I'm panicking that I need to make a decision this week.

Seeking Pregnancy Support Group

August 02, 2009

As mamas, we could use support at all stages of our mamahood.  An expecting mama recently emailed:

I am wondering if anyone out there knows of/belongs to a pregnancy support or discussion group here in the Portland area. I am looking for a space and time where pregnant moms are getting together to talk-laugh-network and generally support one another.

When it doesn't go your way: the sacrifices of pregnancy

July 21, 2009

My first two pregnancies progressed without incident.  And, when considering another child, I would often think: it's not the pregnancy that's the hard part, it's the 18 years afterwards.  In my previous experiences, pregnancy was "easy".

Famous last words.  In January of this year, I started feeling odd, sensing symptoms of pregnancy.  Despite our best efforts to choose the best birth control method for us, we were pregnant with the Paraguard (copper) IUD.  The fact that we were pregnant was not something to cry home about, for we were open to a family expansion one day.  We just never knew it would be while the IUD was still inserted.  (And, by the way, the Paraguard IUD is over 99% effective.)  We couldn't take the thing out and ultrasounds showed the damn T floating pretty high up in the uterus.  We considered removing the IUD with ultrasound guidance, but that seemed not too possible, easy, or safe.  We agreed we should proceed with the pregnancy and just leave the IUD in.  We went through several weeks of research, visits, and consultations with experienced OBs, midwives, and high-risk fetal specialists.  There were fears of pre-term labor and uterine infection due to the foreign body that would gestate along with our fetus.  Because of our history of two full-term pregnancies, we were at a very low risk for pre-term labor, but we would be monitoring it closely.

At 20 weeks, our ultrasound technician stated noncholantly: "Oh, you have previa.  Yup, complete previa."  The OB - not our normal OB, but one of his associates - said: "We recomment complete pelvic rest and no physical activity."  My heart sank.  Up until this point, I was still running and biking to work, and I intended to continue as long as my body felt up for it.  I felt great, especially with the running, so I felt so disheartened by the command: "No physical activity."  Not to mention, my husband and I had just planned a babymoon to Miami for 4 kid-free days!  And, complete pelvic rest definitely interfered with our plans of frequent bouts of intimacy, not to mention it was incongruous with my raging second trimester lustful hormones.

In a follow-up conversation with my regular OB, he tld me he was comfortable with me continuing my physical activity so long as I was painfree, comfortable, and asymptomatic (no bleeding or cramping).  I felt relieved.  Even though we still had to follow the no-[penetrative]-sex rule, I was glad I could still get my running in.  He also mentioned that he believed the previa would shift.  He wasn't worried.

At 24 weeks, we checked the previa again.  Still there.  More pelvic rest.  He still thought it would shift.  At 30 weeks, we checked the previa again.  Still there.  He looked me in the eyes and said: "I don't think it will move anymore."  He recommended one final check at 34 weeks to confirm previa, then to schedule an amnio at 36 weeks to check lung development and schedule a c-section once we confirm the lungs are ready.

This is really when I lost it.  An early delivery?  An amnio?  At 36 weeks instead of 40?  While I know there are more horrific birth and pregnancy stories, I was still disappointed.  My two previous worry-free pregnancies were trumped by this one, for sure.  This pregnancy never afforded too many moments of feeling carefree.  People always ask, "How are you feeling?"  I always respond: "I feel GREAT," even though I'm pregnant with a non-shifting placenta previa and IUD.  My husband tries to assure me: "Don't worry.  It could be so much worse.  It will all be fine."  In the end, of course I know he's right.  Then again, I wish it had gone smoother.

Have you had easy-breezy pregnancies like I did the first two times?  Feeling wonderful, glowy and enthusiastic?  Have you had harder sacrificial pregnancies - maybe put on bedrest or even under constant medical monitoring?  How have you dealt with and accepted your more difficult pregnancies?  How do you ease those worries and convince yourself that everything will indeed be "OK"?

What is your ideal Baby Shower?

July 02, 2009

I have baby shower on the mind of late, as I am well into our third pregnancy (my first pregnancy in Portland!).  So, I am excited at the thought.  I also came across an old thread, wherein we discussed whether it would even be appropriate to host a shower for a second-time mama, to which I say, "definitely"!  As this is our third child, I am not interested in showering baby with gifts.  I am more interested in showering baby with attention as we prepare to welcome him/her into our world.  We recently received an email also wondering about baby showers:

  1. As a mama, what was your favorite part of the shower and why?
  2. Where there any particular gifts/activities that you really appreciated?
  3. Is there anyway to get papas involved?
  4. Was there anything that you didn't like about the baby shower tradition?
  5. Is there anything you would expect from a baby shower?

birth control without the hormones

May 18, 2009

I learned recently that my husband, an Army Reservist, was going to be mobilized in July. Just as if my reproductive system was storing up ammunition for the long time he'll be in Iraq, a few days later I felt the familiar mittelschmirz; after 22 months of ovulation hiatus since my son Monroe was born, I'm back. (Yay?)

Tonight I was chatting with another mama about how my body seems to want to get me pregnant before he leaves (hello, ovaries, I'm fine waiting! really!). I don't do hormones and haven't found any injected, oral or surgical (temporary) birth control that works for me. She also couldn't tolerate hormones and reminded me about the Fertility Awareness Method -- basically, learning to read your body's signs and, if necessary, charting your ovulation cycles. Once you've got a handle on it, you can avoid intercourse completely during the fertile window.

Smart thinking. It's probably hysterical, but as I've had two close friends accidentally become pregnant while on birth control with extremely high advertised success rates, I have no faith in anything but carefully timed abstinence. I wonder, are there other mamas out there who practice birth control without hormones or other commercial intervention? Any tips, tricks, or cautionary tales?

Pregnancy: Hemorrhoids & You

April 28, 2009

There is nothing too embarassing to chat about here.  Have any of you urbanMamas experienced hemorrhoids during pregnancy?

This is a slightly embarrassing question to discuss, but 30 weeks into my second pregnancy, I'm dealing with terrible hemorrhoids (I also had them with my first). They are really awful this time, and I've discussed with my OB the possibility of having surgery for them after this baby is born. He has given me the usual recommendations about prevention (diet, OTC treatments, etc) which I am following, but they never really went away after baby #1, and I'm feeling like it's even worse this time around and tired of dealing with this painful issue.  Do any mamas have experience with the actual surgery to correct this problem? Any doctor that you used in Portland that was good?

Feedback on Laurelhurst Women's Clinic?

March 19, 2009

We have had several requests from expecting mamas of late, so please continue to be generous with sharing your experiences of your health professionals and facilities.  An urbanMama emails:

I'm wondering if anyone has worked with or knows of Renee Beninger CNM at Laurelhurst Women's Clinic at Providence Medical Center.  I am pregnant with my first child, and I like how her practice works, but I can't find any information on her or the Laurelhurst Medical Clinic in the urbanMama comments. Unlike OHSU, PMCC, and Legacy where I'd rotate through the on-staff midwives and take whoever is on duty when I go into labor, she would work with me throughout my pregnancy and catch the baby. I like the idea of having an on-going relationship with my midwife and know that she will be there when I'm in labor, so this appeals to me.  Because of my insurance, though, I need to work with a CNM in a hospital. Any insights?

Providence's St. Vincents vs. Legacy's Good Sam

March 17, 2009

With one of us urbanMamas recently having another new babe (at Providence's St. V's) and with another one of us urbanMamas expecting again, deliveries are in the forefront of our minds.  We all know that first-hand experience can be oh-so helpful when making some choices, so an urbanMama is wondering if you have thoughts to share on Providence's St. Vincent's Hospital and/or Legacy's Good Samaritan.  Have you delivered there?  Have positive or negative feedback to share?

We've lived in Portland for just a couple of years now. When we first moved here, based on the wonderful reviews from others on this site, I chose Dr. Jenna Murray as my new OBGYN. I've only seen Dr. Murray for a couple of annuals so far but have been very happy with her. Now we are considering a second child and I am re-evaluating my OBGYN and affiliated hospital choice as we have since moved close to Providence St. Vincents and the offices of Women's Healthcare Associates. A friend gave me a glowing recommendation for one of the new docs there (Dr. Garvie-Loveland), and I know there are a few other highly recommended doctors in the practice. So, while I feel like I've gotten a good sense of the doctor issue, I'm now wondering about the hospital choice. Am I better off switching to St. Vincents and WHA due to the convenience factor or is there a good reason to stick with Dr. Murray and Legacy Good Sam? Any feedback anyone could offer on one hospital versus the other in terms of how nice the hospitals are, quality of care, rooms, etc.? FWIW, this second child would either be a VBAC or another c-section.

If you had your druthers: what's the ideal amount of leave?

March 16, 2009

Here in Oregon, Activistas are working hard to build awareness and support around the paid family leave bill that our state legislators are considering right now.  How dreamy would that be?  Paid family leave?

Anyway, I write in the context of today's world.  I am expecting, and I am working on a plan to tell my office the "news".  Being a small nonprofit organization, our employee manual has very little to say on the subject of family leave.  It's basically your standard FMLA stuff, which is fine and dandy, but there may be some room for negotiation.  My organization has shown me in the past that they're willing to support me and my family to retain me.  With my first two pregnancies, I was ineligible for FMLA because I hadn't been in my job for the requisite 12 months/1250 hours.

Let's just say that it didn't matter whether the leave was paid or unpaid (obviously, this is SO hypothetical).  Let's just say that we were just gathering other mamas' and papas' perspectives on how much time they did and didn't take off to be with their newly born and adopted babies.  How much is enough?  Did you take enough time?  Would you have taken more?  Would you have taken less?  Would you aim for a year?  Would you opt to take less to maintain your career?  Would you take more to maximize your time with the new baby?  If you had your druthers, how much maternity/paternity leave would you take?

Comments on Legacy Meridian Park?

March 12, 2009

We all know how helpful it is to hear first-hand experiences.  An urbanMama recently emailed:

My family recently moved to Lake Oswego and the closest hospital is Legacy Meridian Park in Tualatin.  Have you given birth there?  I would love to know:

  1. how you liked the hospital and staff?

  2. if you had/have a doctor that you absolutely love - name?

  3. do they have a post delivery "mom's group"?

I'm gonna be a mama! Yay? The surprise of mamahood

February 19, 2009

A friend recently found out that she's going to be a mama!  Yay?  Or nay?  She had to admit she was feeling a little lukewarm about it, it being unplanned and all.  But, when I thought about it, can we really plan these things?

We found out about our first baby when my then-boyfriend and I were in graduate school.  We were poor, working full-time, going to school at night.  We were eating a little and drinking a lot.  We will ill-prepared to start a family, but we did.  It turned our worlds upside down, but we now couldn't imagine a life any different.  A couple of years after we had our first child, we decided to have another.  We were lucky to find out we were pregnant, after just a couple of fun months of "trying".

It made me wonder: how many of us planned when we would first become mamas?  How many of us took on the surprise?  Or, how many of us woke up to the surprise, but found that we really could not make good mamas at that particular point in time?  If you were able to plan, what made *that* time more ideal than others?

Baby Pool: Are you in?

February 14, 2009

I've been to baby showers that included games like guessing how round mama's belly is or who could chug a bottle of milk fastest.  Come to think of it, we could've played said games at one of my baby showers.

Someone at my office is expecting her first, and announced that she was putting together a baby pool: "Who's in?"  It occurred to me, I hadn't the faintest what categories I'd include in a baby pool.  There are the usual categories like: baby's birth date and time, length, weight, head circumfrence, gender (if you don't know already), name (if you don't know already), duration of labor.  What about other categories?

  • Where did labor start?
  • Who was present at baby's birth?
  • Was it raining, sunny, or overcast when baby was born?
  • What was mama's last meal before baby was born?
  • Did baby have hair?

What do you think, mamas?  More categories to add?  How about how to administer the thing: do you pay to play and winner takes all?  Or, do you think the whole thing is silly?  Did you or a friend run a baby pool with any of the babes?

Unsustainable morning sickness: Nine months of junk?

November 12, 2008

I was nauseous in the face of herbs with my second pregnancy; with my first, I craved coffee milkshakes. I generally believe that nausea is our body's way of telling us what we should be avoiding, whether it be liquor (which I've never, not for more than a passing second, wanted in any of my pregnancies), coffee, or fresh salsa (who knows what bacterial dangers could be lurking?). Some of us can eat everything and do -- maybe those bodies are just made of sturdy stuff and don't need any special treatment? Who knows.

But many of us have been turning away from the simple carbohydrate junk food that filled our blissful teens and twenties and working to eat more "sustainably," whether we're following the lead of gurus like Sally Fallon or just trying to eat more local veggies. A mom from one of the listservs I subscribe to asked this question:

I'm pregnant and having a rough go of it.  I was sick for 9 months with my first baby with hospitalizations and all that because of the severe vomiting.

After a year of long, hard work, all the healthful food in my pantry and freezer makes me vomit, and the only things I want is crap from the store.  I am beside myself with guilt and unsure what to do.

Any advice from those of you out there who've been adopting Nourishing Traditions-style food practices in your household? Here is our previous discussion on horrible morning sickness.

Certified Nurse Midwives in Portland

November 06, 2008


I know lots of urbanMamas have given birth with midwives, either at home, in the hospital, or at a birthing center, and we've given our feedback on certified nurse midwives before. Jess Bee asks for more of your advice:

I was wondering if anyone had suggestions for Certified Nurse Midwives at a Birthing Center in Portland. My insurance company will only cover this kind of midwife. The only one I have found so far is Michelle at Alma. Anyone have experience with her or anyone else?

The Unexpected: Now We're Having Three Kids

August 19, 2008

An "oops" can definitely become one the best things that's happened to us, right? But what if in your all your careful planning you realize that you will soon be a family of 5 rather than 4?  A freaked-out mama needs your advice. And please, please remember the rules of engagement of being respectful, and careful not to pass judgment.  This mama writes and wants to know what it's like having three kids:

So, my husband and I spent the weekend realizing we are pregnant with our third...a definite oops.  I hope you all had much more relaxing weekends!  I was the one hesitant to pursue permanent methods of birth control and just last week (no kidding) decided I was getting an IUD right after the kids start school.  Right now, our heads are spinning with all kinds of thoughts...like, how could we be so stupid as to let this happen?  Isn't this pretty environmentally irresponsible of us (we've been entertaining the idea of an electric car, but it's looking much more like a minivan for crying out loud!!)?  Basically, we are so happy with our two and things are seeming much more manageable these days than they have for a long time (our kids are 7 and 3).  Basics like keeping the house clean and biggies like taking trips (all our family lives on the east coast) and going back to work seemed feasible, finally.  I haven't worked for pay since we moved here 8 years ago (2 months before our son was born) so I was really ready for some intellectual stimulation and professional (not to mention financial) gratification.  Not that working is impossible with three kids, but I haven't even done it yet with one kid, much less a newborn, and how hard (and expensive) must it be to find really good care for three?  I'm not even sure I can take care of three yet!

I keep coming back to the thing I've heard countless times...three is so much harder than two!  Three is such a huge adjustment!  You're always outnumbered...you have to switch from man-to-man defense to zone defense (OK, this is the only sports metaphor I've ever used in my life).  And from different people lately, we've each gotten this bit of advice: If you have another, you can't just have one more, you've got to keep it even by having two more; three is just too hard because someone always feels left out.  By the way, we are both disregarding that thing about having four...no way.  But all the stuff we've heard about the difficult adjustment to three is making me even more nervous.  My husband has mentioned, "You know, you don't have to go through with this...we could make an appointment..." but I think I'm likely to regret that in the future.

So, I guess I'm looking for your experience about having a third, or about unintended pregnancies...or whatever ya got that's helpful!  I don't know exactly what I'm looking for, but other people's stories often help!

Seeking Hospital Midwife: Glucola not required.

July 29, 2008

We recently received an email from a mama, new to Portland, who has a specific request for her natural hospital childbirth experience:

I am looking for a Midwife that delivers in Hospitals that does not require the Glucola drinking for the glucose tolerance test. I am hoping to find one that is open to using the jelly beans or a specific meal instead. I know there are great birth center and homebirth Midwives that do this, but I was hoping someone might be able to reccommend a Hospital Midwife that does also. After 3 horrible experiences with the Glucola, I am hoping to avoid it this time.

Cycling while pregnant: Have you?

July 12, 2008

There are mamas among us who love to bike, even while pregnant.  Shout outs to the urbanMama photographed here, at 8 months pregnant (photo credit to Jonathan Maus of bikeportland.org).  Colleen recently emailed, though, and would like to hear from all of you: Have you biked while pregnant?  Did you stop biking during pregnancy?


I bike to and from work each day (just under 6 miles each way) and it's a gift. I'm able to squeeze in some exercise without having to set aside time (read: w/o having to wake up even earlier than my two-year-old and/or sacrifice time spent with her) and by doing something that I have to do anyway (get to and from work). It also keeps me sane during the winter months.

We are now considering adding to our family, but I'm concerned about whether or not my daily bike ride would be ok while pregnant. Since finding time to exercise wasn't much of an issue pre-baby #1, and cycling to and from anywhere wasn't possible in the town in which we were living at the time, this is a new complication. And frankly, giving up this part of my life up, even for a short period of time, is potentially a real sanity breaker for me.

I expect this is something that I'd have to cover with my care provider, but I'm wondering what other cycling urbanMamas have done. If you continued to cycle, what was your experience like?  Did the shift in your center of gravity throw you off?  Did your belly get in the way of your legs while pedaling?  Did you get weird stares?

Webster Technique?

May 16, 2008

How do you reposition a baby?  Of the myriad of ways to flip and twist, do you have experience with the Webster Technique?  An expecting ma emailed:

I was wondering if anyone there had experience with a chiropractor who had experience with the Webster technique? I am 36 weeks pregnant and my baby is head down, which is great, but I think she might be sunny side up. I have read some online about positions that help babies turn from posterior to anterior, but wondered if there was more I could be doing to get her in the best position for birth. If anyone knows of a good chiropractor who has experience with this, I would be grateful for the information!

Pregnant Defense Minister in Spain: Right On

April 16, 2008

My, my.  This is too good to be true!  A 7-months pregnant defense minister?  A national Cabinet with more women than men?  In one of the more macho counties on the planet?  Ooh-la-la.  And we thought a woman Presidential candidate was the feminist accomplishment of our lifetimes!  If you didn't hear the short piece on NPR's Morning Edition today, check it out.  There are some terrific quotes, like the one from a Spanish man asking the interviewer how he'd feel if a "pregnant chick who doesn't know anything became Minister of Defense in the U.S."?  Like wow.  And I was complaining about The O's 'gush' comment!  Read more and opine on this "situation" over on Activistas.  We are aflutter.

Portland Birthing Center Recommendations

March 01, 2008

Although we have had some recommendations of Midwives & Birthing Centers and for Natural Hospital Births, we can always use more.  Carly is looking for any of your experiences to share:

My husband and I will be moving to Portland soon and are expecting our first baby in July. I am hoping to get a recommendation for a good birthing center in the Portland area. I saw the thread about natural hospital births, but I am specifically hoping to find a non-hospital birth center. I found the Andaluz Waterbirth Center and Natural Childbirth and Family Clinic online, but not sure if they are good, or if there are others in the area that I haven't discovered yet.

Continue reading "Portland Birthing Center Recommendations" »

You Did It! We Raised $662 for the NMC

February 13, 2008

M_still4Thanks to all you urbanMamas who watched The Business of Being Born at Zenana Spa or Milagros in the past few weeks!  Your $5 donations added up to a good chunk of change for the Nursing Mothers Counsel of Oregon: $662 all told!!  Give yourselves a hand, mamas.  How great that we all came together, watched an inspiring documentary, discussed it online and in-person, and contributed to a local non-profit that helps local mamas. 

And a big thanks to the movie's makers for creating an opportunity to come togehter as a community around this issue and raise funds for a worthy cause.  If the film inspired you to rise up and make some changes in the business of being born in this country, check out the action resources on the movie site.  Might just be a good fit for you!  And if you're itchin' to share your birth story with other uMs, start typing!

As for the tumbnail photo above, this was one of very favorite moments in the film.  The sheer joy of it all.  it makes me smile, and remember, every time I see it.

Sharing our birthing stories

February 07, 2008

With all this business about The Business of Being Born, we get to thinking, we'd love to hear more stories of our births! Some of us birthed at home, at hospitals, at birthing centers.  Some of us birthed alone, with partners, with friends, with family.

So, it's ON!  Let's share our birth stories here (and read Monica's story for inspriation) or here (when we talked about the culture of induction).

The Business of Being Born: Let's Talk!

February 02, 2008

If you're going to screen The Business of Being Born in the next two weeks here in Pdx, or already did last weekend, it'd be great to keep the dialog going and learn about action opportunities related to, well, the business of being born!  So head on over to Activistas and weigh in, see what others thought of the film, and connect with other mamas who are interested in doing something about what many perceive to be a serious birth problem in this country. 

With a Cold and Pregnant

January 24, 2008

It is still cold season, can't you tell?  So what to do when your pregnant with a cold.  Emily needs some of your suggestions for curing or at least helping to get some relief.  She writes:

I am wondering if anyone has any cold remedies for a pregnant mama. I've got the vaporizer going and am getting as much rest as I can, but I'd love to hear what people suggest for a sore/itchy throat, sneezy/congested nose, and body aches. Thanks!

Please Share Birthing Experiences with Kaiser

January 19, 2008

To prepare herself for her experience and to learn more from others, Lisa is wondering if any mamas can share stories of their births through the Kaiser system:

We are planning at delivering at Sunnyside, where they do have midwives, and just finished a new birthing center (our hospital tour is early February), but we are not guaranteed the midwife we are seeing or the ob I've been meeting with the last few months.  Any moms out there who did deliver using Kaiser insurance and can provide some reassurance? This is our first and I want it to be a positive experience!

Pregnant with abnormal glucose and anemia

January 16, 2008

What do these tests really mean?  Should we worry?  Have any of you had this experience?  Lisa is starting her second trimester with her first child, and she has just moved to Portland.  She is looking for some reassurance and insight:

I just received an email from my ob this morning that I had an abnormal glucose test AND am anemic. I am physically active and feel like I eat really well and am very bummed about receiving these news. I need to now follow-up with further testing and increase my iron supplement, but have received no guidance yet on either from Kaiser. Can anyone tell me if the results of these tests are normal? Or if you had experience with either of these tests?

Doula recommendation the Vancouver area

January 15, 2008

We've had many previous discussions about Portland-area Doulas and Doula services.  However, Jane writes to request Doula recommendation on the other side of the Columbia River:

My sister in law is due this May.  She and her partner are having the babe at the SW Washington Medical Center.  Though she would have loved to have the baby at home they can't afford it.  Can any of you Mamas recommend a doula that works out of the Vancouver area?  They live in Ridgefield but will be in Vancouver for the birth.  Thanks so much!

I am almost certain that some Portland area Doulas will also attend births in Washington but I'm not sure if there is state-specific licensing that requires a Doula to be licensed before attending births in a certain state.  Do any of you mamas or even local Doulas have any recommendations to share?

Prenatal Fitness Class

November 08, 2007

We've talked about prenatal swim and prenatal yoga, but perhaps you could recommend other general prenatal fitness programs or ideas?  Sarah writes:

I am seeking recommendations for a good prenatal fitness or water aerobics class. I just found a great prenatal yoga class, but I am looking for something different to attend maybe one other day a week. If I don't have a scheduled class, I know I won't exercise.  My criteria: It can't be too intense because I am currently a total failure at exercise, having spent the past two years neglecting myself while caring for baby No. 1.  Ideally I would love something in water, but I don't know if water aerobics exists for those under age 65. Probably something for senior citizens would be right up my alley. A non-water prenatal fitness class would be OK, too.  I'm basically looking for some stress relief and also would like to build up some stamina in preparation for another labor.

Seeking Belly Cast Artists!

October 16, 2007

Sept_oct_2007_109 A belly cast is an oh-so lovely way to remember those fond moments of carrying your child within.  My husband and I happened to meet a woman who was a neighbor and also an artist who did her very first belly cast on us.  The process turned a beautiful autumn afternoon into a time for my husband and I to really celebrate our late pregnancy together.  The result is a piece of work (my partners hands cast on my belly) that will commemorate that moment for years to come.

Has anyone had a belly cast done?  Can you recommend where?  Did you do it on your own at home?  Karli writes:

Where can I have this done?  I'm now 29 weeks pregnant.

Laugh til you pop?

October 11, 2007

Anyone have any hilarious suggestions for Camellia?

I'm currently 37.5 weeks pregnant, and our home birth is (hopefully) quickly approaching. Our midwives recently explained to us that the most common reason women end up needing hospital transfers is that they become too exhausted to continue laboring at home. To avoid that eventuality, they advised me to get as much rest as possible in the early stages of labor (my husband is concerned that when the excitement of labor + the nesting instinct kick in, I'll go crazy doing a million things and wear myself out). To that end, we're talking about watching funny movies together while we're waiting for things to get going. I've also read that laughter can be very conducive to relaxing those pelvic muscles (the same principle as when you nearly pee your pants laughing). So does anyone have any recommendations for funny, light movies that nearly had you bursting at the seams? I'm thinking something mindlessly entertaining with no tense moments.

Seeking Specific Suggestions for classes/instructors

September 14, 2007

We previously discussed pros and cons on alternative methods childbirth preparation classes, like hypnobirthing and Birthing From Within.  Seeking specific recommendations, Debbie emails:

I am looking for specific recommendations for Childbirth classes/instructors - Bradley and Natural Child birth preferred.

Obstetrician: Portland newbie needs recommendation

August 30, 2007

I'm always amazed at the chutzpah it must take to move while you're pregnant! Of course, if you're coming to Portland, it's for a good cause. Alecia is one such gutsy mama, and needs a recommendation for a good OB/GYN on the west side. You all gave us lots of raves and reviews of your fave obstetricians and gynecologists last winter; any new ideas or specific doctors in her neighborhood?

My husband and I are moving from Texas to Hillsboro, Oregon. I will be around 20 weeks when I arrive in November. We have researched Providence Saint Vincent and were wondering if you could recommend some OBGYNs. Obviously some who are reputable. We are also aware of the Women's Healthcare Associates right by this particular hospital. Any suggestions would be wonderful! We are very excited about this big move and want the best doctor for our first baby!

Need Childbirth Class ASAP

August 14, 2007

Camellia is in quite a predicament.  She's expecting her first child, but her childbirth class has dissipated.  Any help or suggestions?

I just found out that the childbirth ed class we registered for months ago has been canceled. Help! I'm already in my last trimester and am anxious about finding space in a class that's right for us before the baby comes! This is our first baby so learning the ropes is very important to us. We're having a home birth with midwives and a doula so we're looking for something appropriate to a non-hospital birth--but at the same time, if there is a lot of cheesy poetry-reading and birth-art making, my husband is liable to chew is own leg off. It seems like the main options for traditional, mainstream classes are Bradley or Lamaze and that the main alternatives available are Birthing From Within or Hypnobirthing style classes--we're more inclined to select one of the latter two options but aren't sure which would be a better fit. The approaches seem very different since Birthing From Within seems to emphasize acknowledging that birth is painful and hard work but learning how to cope with/use/overcome the pain, while Hypnobirthing seems to claim that birth doesn't need to be painful at all with the right mental preparation (am I understanding these philosophies correctly??) I would love to hear feedback on parents' experiences with different types of childbirth ed classes, recommendations of good instructors, what worked/didn't work, etc.

Birth stories: About our culture of induction

July 27, 2007

Trumandaddyfirstpic_200After my successful VBAC, Rebecca wondered if Pitocin could possibly be a cause of our country's high c-section rate. That got me thinking, and as I'm doing research for a book I'm pitching on pregnancy, last night I came across two really interesting recent books: Pushed: The Painful Truth about Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care and Born in the USA: How a Broken Maternity System Must Be Fixed to Put Women and Children First. Amazon had several pages from Pushed in its little 'inside-the-book' feature and I was struck when reading about one hospital in Florida whose power went out during Hurricane Charley.

The labor & delivery ward changed its policies and cancelled all inductions. Mothers were sent home unless they were in active labor. No one got Pitocin, no one's water was broken, and epidurals were contraindicated. Their c-section rate went down to almost zero, and even first-time mothers had quick and relatively easy labors. What's more (here's a shocker, haha), the births were evenly distributed between day and night, weekday and weekend (did you know that more births happen on Tuesdays than any other day in the U.S.?). Even fetal distress and interventions after birth dropped to almost nothing.

Essentially, the lesson seems to be that induction is the enemy of a relatively easy birth, and what's more: a healthy baby. Most of the nurses who worked the Hurricane Charley shifts at that Florida hospital have quit and a few are campaigning for changes in the 'induction culture' of birth in the U.S. While it's certainly not true that Pitocin causes c-sections, it could be a major contributor to our unusually high c-section rate. It's anecdotally true for me: I had a bunch of Pitocin in each of my two c-sections, but none in my vaginal birth. I'll continue to do research because it interests me (and Rebecca, let me know what you find) -- but in the meantime, I'd love to hear your stories.

Success with the hallowed VBAC

July 15, 2007

Sarah_withmonroe_afterbirth_200 Many of you commented on my post about pregnant grumpiness, and to my personal blog, telling me to go for it! and try for the Hallowed VBAC. I've had two c-sections with my two boys, under vastly different circumstances, that ended the same way: labor (with pitocin) to complete, push for two hours, baby's head never moves much past "0", time to give up. Because I'd struggled so to VBAC with Truman, my second, my OB was doubtful I'd have much luck this third birth. Both boys were 7 pounds, 7 ounces (not big), and Truman was born at 37 weeks, so a full-term babe might be near-impossible to fit.

As they were both tilted a bit, the diagnosis seemed to be that my birth cavity wasn't shaped quite right, or my pelvis was a touch too small. I'd tried going without drugs entirely with Truman so I could push in every imaginable position; I had yoga and doulas and considerable mental preparation. Although a few of my friends and family believed -- hoped -- prayed I'd be able to VBAC with baby #3, even I doubted it.

Dr. Kehoe gave me a "less-than-30%" chance of success. After much introspection, I decided that, heck, a 10% or 20% chance is still a reasonable chance, and convinced her to support me in trying.

But the day I went into labor Dr. Kehoe was off, and her younger partner showed up around 4 p.m. on July 9th with her mouth set. The risks of laboring -- with the chance of a uterine rupture, or trauma to the baby, or to me -- seemed too great. When she saw me at 4 cm, she wanted to have me in the operating room by dinner time. Somehow, I talked her onto the VBAC team (by calmly listing my reasons for wanting to try, and begging, a little).

Drwilliams_delivering_300 And what do you know. Though I progressed slowly at first, by 11 p.m., I was at complete at the baby was at +1. Plus one? I couldn't believe it. 40 minutes later, Monroe was born, it was a textbook delivery. And he was, unbelievably, 7 pounds, 7 ounces. The whole story is here.

I am, to put it mildly, very. very. happy.

Monroe_inblanket_200 Who's to know for sure, but I think it was the lack of pitocin, my somehow-developed patience for my body to go into labor on its own (the hardest part, patience), and probably no small help from the prayers and hopes and belief of my friends and family. So if you're trying for a VBAC, even after two surgeries? Tell your doctor it can be done. And turn off that pitocin, just in case!

Perinatologist Recommendation

July 14, 2007

Nicole needs a referral and was hoping someone could help.  She writes:

I am new to Portland and am 7 weeks pregnant with my second child.  My first child was born 2 months early and was in the NICU for a month due to my misshapen uterus. My next child will also most likely be born premature, so I am looking for a good high risk Perinatologist/ OBGYN.  Do you have any recommendations? I know that I need to deliver at OHSU, St. Vincent's, or Legacy Emanuel due to their NICUs, but I don't know which would be the best.  Any help on that regard would be much appreciated.

Maternity Clothes Resale Shop or Charity?

July 08, 2007

Congratulations to Aarin who had recently had her second child. Now, she's looking to pass along or sell her maternity clothes.  Do you have any recommendations?

I just had my second child in April and am confident that she is my last one.  So, I am ready to pass on my maternity clothes.  I would just save them for a friend but I think they are mostly too big (mostly larges) for any of my petite friends that may need them.  Does anyone have a recommendation for a good resale place to sell them or a good charity that specifically needs maternity clothes?  They are fairly stylish and in good shape but mostly casual (as opposed to professional office attire).

Publicly pregnant: How the world makes a very pregnant mama grumpy

July 03, 2007

Sarah_thirtyfive_weeks_pregnant_tal Oh, geez. When I went into pre-term labor, I hoped it meant I would be shortly whisked away from the world in which everyone wants to know (a) when are you due? and (b) is it a boy or a girl? They're flummoxed by my mystery; really, when is the baby due? If only I knew. And, as it turns out, our ultrasound technician was focused on other things and NO I'M NOT GOING TO HAVE ANOTHER ULTRASOUND.

But my baby, it is not as eager as I'd hoped to enter the world. So as I approach week 37 (tomorrow morning by my calculation), having been two frickin' centimeters dilated for nearly five weeks now, the contractions that had been frequent have faded away. I'm never having this baby (at least not until I schedule the c-section which will likely be necessary if the baby goes even one more day in my tummy).

Hence, everyone has something to say. I must be so hot (men always offer this tidbit), I'm about to pop, I've dropped (or I'm having a boy, or both), which means I'm going to have the baby imminently! Right, but the wise women on the bus were telling me that last week. Lovely. I've tried everything to stimulate labor, from energetic walking to a brew of blue cohosh and pennyroyal (not recommended!) to buying more maternity clothes (avoid that too! bad for your budget).

I want to be grumpy but it is a bit amusing, how the belly gives your average stranger the power to overcome his or her timidity and just ask any question at all of you. And though sometimes I dream of a shirt that says, "I don't know when the baby will be born, whether it's a boy or a girl, nor do I care if it might share a birthday with anyone you know," well, I suppose it's nice that people are still smiling at that woman with the gigantic round belly, the largish rear end, and a scowl on her face. Were any of you this easily annoyed while pregnant? Please share!

Tales of a pre-birth flake

June 13, 2007

30_weeks_pregnant_200 I'm due to give birth sometime between now and the end of July, but this baby is acting like "sooner" is way more fun than "later" -- I've already had threatened pre-term labor and it doesn't seem to be slowing much. No worries, baby's healthy, my blood pressure is right where it should be, I'm even eating right. But the problem is: I'm suddenly a monstrous flake.

During the second trimester, I could do everything, and often, I promised twice that much -- to my bosses, my husband, my friends, myself. Now, I'm suffering the consequences. It's too hard to get to a neighborhood meeting on time? So I just don't show. I miss the bus for my dentist's appointment? I have my husband call and tell them I'm having contractions (I am, it's just not as bad as it sounds). That email I promised the sales team I'd send two weeks ago? Still sitting in the "drafts" folder in my brain.

I'm hoping that, like with previous births, I'll have a rush of energy in the 24-some hours before I get admitted to the hospital, during which I'll do everything (or, as much as superhumanly possible) I've flaked on these past few weeks. But I want to know: is it ok to flake in the weeks before birth? Can anyone relate? Or am I just using my achy body and fear of sleepless nights-to-come as an excuse to give in to my inner weakness?

Seeking tales of successful VBACs!

June 12, 2007

Gina has just found out that she is moving to Portland. Yay! Turns out that Gina is also due soon with her second child and hopes for a VBAC. Do you have experiences to share with her?

We just learned that my husband is being relocated to the beautiful city of Portland! Great news for us, but the timing is a little difficult. We will arrive this July, when I am 30 weeks pregnant with my 2nd baby. Have any of the UrbanMama's out there had a successful VBAC? Is so with who? Can you offer any advice to me? I'm starting all over and preparing my labor team, so I'd love to hear any birth stories from VBAC mamas - I find strength through you! Many Thanks!

Baby Registry for the urbanMama

June 04, 2007

Armed with her list of baby must-haves and baby nice-to-haves, where's a mama to register for her goods?  Some place local, hopefully?  Camellia says:

I was hoping to gather information about *where* to register--recommendations of sites that are affordable, have good quality products, and where you can register for everything you need. I've been searching around, but all of the stuff that has been recommended to me is scattered across different stores.

Pregnancy-induced dairy intolerance

May 09, 2007

Strawberry_milkshake One week ago on the nose, which was (according to my calculations) day one of my third trimester, I suddenly got terrible heartburn. I almost never get heartburn, so at first I thought I was about to go into labor, or was struck with an awful pregnancy-related disease. But no: it was just heartburn.

The next day I finally started taking Tums (for some reason my addled pregnant brain is fearful of pharmaceuticals of any kind) after my OB's nurse said cheerfully, "you can take seven or eight a day no problem!" Once I'd downed eight without marked improvement, I made the connection between my consumption of dairy and the onset of symptoms. I stopped eating ice cream, milk, and cheese, and I was fine.

Here's the thing: dairy is more than just a food group for me. It makes up a good third of my diet most days, and eliminating it is not easy. Today even a bit of butter is causing symptoms. My friend-and-colleague Julie suggested I try Tofutti and Rice Dream (works for me). Any other suggestions? Has anyone else experienced this bizarre third-trimester-induced dairy intolerance? Any natural remedies for heartburn I may not have already tried (papaya enzymes, vinegar, almonds, raw apple, chamomile, mint tea, and black tea were all unsuccessful)?

Who was at the birth?

April 16, 2007

In a comment to the recent thread on Seeking Suggestions for natural hospital birth, Leslie says:

I'd love to hear what other uMamas think of who should be present at their births...

Who was at your child(ren)'s birth? In retrospect, did it work well for you? What would have you changed?