"Ask me for strength and I will lend not only my hand, but also my heart."
~ Unknown

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Bringing Sexy Back!

Bringing Sexy Back!!!

At some point, you might have wondered how pregnancy will affect your sex life. Will you ever have uninhibited sex again? Will you have as much sex during pregnancy as you did before? If you haven’t thought about it I am sure your husband has!!!

Whether you’re completely uninterested in sex now that you’re pregnant, or you’re feeling sexier than ever (you go girl!!!), most women find that pregnancy changes their sex lives in ways they never expected.

The great part about sex during pregnancy is that this is probably the first time you have been able to make love without worrying about getting pregnant! Whoo-hoo!!!

The majority of couples experience ups and downs in sexual desire during the nine months leading up to a baby’s birth. Here are common issues that many couples have experienced:

Pregnancy Changes and Sexuality

  • First Trimester

For many women, the first three months of pregnancy can bring fatigue and nausea. If these symptoms are present, you certainly aren’t gonna feel like gettin’ your groove on. A recent study shows that 54 percent of pregnant women experience diminished desire during the first trimester. Don’t worry. Your interest is likely to pick up again in just a few weeks.

  • Second Trimester

This is the “Golden Time” of pregnancy, particularly when it comes to sex. The fatigue and nausea have lifted, and you may be feeling sexy again as you begin to “show.” At this stage pregnancy brings an increased blood supply to the pelvic area. Your breasts increase in size during pregnancy, enlarging even more with sexual arousal. Be aware that dads may feel inhibited as they come to terms with the fact that you are carrying a real, live baby. They may be concerned about hurting the baby (I am sure Dad thinks he might poke an eye out or something) or about him “overhearing” sexual activity. If you do develop serious concerns please talk to your doctor or midwife about any concerns you have, and try to enjoy this period.

  • Third Trimester

Toward the end of the final trimester, many couples experience a drop in sexual activity. The sheer girth of a pregnant woman’s belly may make lovemaking difficult — except in a few “creative” positions. Even so, many couples continue to enjoy relations right up until the end. Can sex late in pregnancy cause preterm labor? A recent study by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists shows that intercourse after 29 weeks does not increase a woman’s risk for preterm labor (assuming that the pregnancy is a normal one).

The Big O

Orgasms can be much different during pregnancy. Some woman will finally become orgasmic during pregnancy due to the increased fluids in the area making you much more sensitive. Other women will become multi-orgasmic for the first time.

In general, orgasms are very good for you and baby! When you have an orgasm the baby is unaware of what you are doing, but does experience the euphoric hormone rush that you will experience. There will also be minor rhythmical contractions of the uterus, as there have always been, but now that the uterus is bigger you can feel them much more. This is not preterm labor, unless you have this cramping sensation or contractions for more than one hour.

Maintaining Intimacy and Open Communication

Mutual understanding and open communication will help you and your partner survive these nine months. In the meantime, you may need to get creative. Try different positions or experiment with massaging and touching one another in new ways. Most importantly, start to stress quality over quantity when it comes to sex. This advice will carry over into the exhilarating but busy child-rearing years

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

What Kind of a Doula am I? ~ Sherel's Philosophy

You may have noticed over the past couple weeks my colleagues have each written a blog post about what their philosophy is of being a doula and supporting birthing families. It is our goal to each contribute on a regular basis to bring our readers information on birth and to help you to get to know us a little better. I guess that I am the procrastinator of our group because I volunteered to go last and I am still down to the deadline trying to get my thoughts down in print.
I think that the most wonderful thing about doulas is that each one is different and has their own philosophy on how they support parents during pregnancy and the birth experience. I think this is wonderful because each family has their own ideas of what kind of birth they will have and what kind of support they will need along the journey. It is so important that expectant parents get the kind of support that works best for them.

I feel that my main role as a doula is education. I have learned from my own births and those that I have attended that good preparation makes a world of difference when a woman is deep in the throes of labor. Even with good preparation there comes a point where having loving and gentle support is the one thing that keeps many women going.

I often wonder when I read the research on birth why so many doctors choose to use so many medical interventions when many studies show the harm of them such as induction and epidurals. Then I hear mothers speak of their own births and how they scheduled an induction because then all of their family could be there and wouldn’t miss work or how mothers would never give birth without an epidural because they are “not that brave”. I have heard this over and over again from mothers who have no enthusiasm about the birth event and are only grateful to have it passed and receive their beautiful healthy babies. I realized that doctors all too often hear this version of birth from the expectant mothers they work with. Expectant mothers who approach birth with fear and trepidation wanting only to be rescued from the pain are the norm in our society. Whereas, those who educate themselves about how they can birth peacefully and beautifully with their bodies doing the work to bring their newborn into the world, are looked at as strange and even crazy.

Birth can be beautiful and peaceful and mothers can show the medical providers that there is another way to give birth without the pain medication and the lithotomy position for pushing. However, it isn’t about educating the doctors and OBs, the research is out there for them to see, it is about educating mothers so that they can choose other options besides medication. Mothers need to be informed that they can birth without fear. If the majority of mothers asked for births without medication and asked to be upright during pushing and for freedom to move during labor, the medical system would change. The evidence would be there for all doctors and L & D nurses to see and mothers would go on to be advocates for natural, un-medicated birth.

This is why I feel that as a doula I need to make the option available for all women to have the resources to be in charge of their own births. I feel that pregnant mothers are given 9 + months to prepare themselves and their minds and bodies for the birth event. My role is to help families to educate themselves in choosing the best birth for them and to choose the right support people. I do not feel that I need to be present for every woman’s birth as birth is very sacred and women need people surrounding them that they are comfortable with. I have seen firsthand the difference that a doula can make who is sensitive to the needs and comfort of all who are present. I know that having a doula at birth in the hospital can keep a woman from fighting her body and help birth to progress more smoothly. However, I feel that birth in the hospital can change if enough women are educated about their bodies before entering the hospital. That is my goal as a doula and someday as a midwife, my desire is to see mothers who ask for change in birth and reject medication for themselves and their babies.

My birth philosophy is that I want to be there for all women of all ages and with all histories and give them the tools that they need to experience a beautiful and fulfilling birth experience so that they will share their stories with those around them so that someday the landscape of birth will change and babies will come into the world free of fear and ready for the adventure that is life.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Most Uncomfortable Question

Can you...Could you...Will you... Would you help me?

Asking others for help and letting others help us can be very difficult for many women.  Add to that the responsibilities of motherhood, and it can be one giant guilt-fest.  After all, thanks to one Gloria Steinem, many of us really do try to "have it all." Oh, I'm not implying that we shouldn't or cannot enjoy limitless education, a fulfilling career, spirituality and family life.  We certainly can!  There is just one stipulation... we might need to have a little help along the way.

I am really uncomfortable asking for help.  I literally avoid it at all costs, just as my lovely coworkers and close friends.  If there is something to be done, my general attitude has been, "If you want something done right, you've got to do it yourself."  My husband found a lovely way to utilize this, in fact.  When cloth diapering our babies, he says,  he would purposely make mistakes.  He knew I would jump in and take over, thus relieving him of the responsibility.  (He still laughs about this!)  Did he still manage to get a diaper on the baby?  Yes.  Did he interact with and share loving bonding time with baby?  Yes!  Was it always up to my standards?  No.  But the point was he did it!  He shared in the responsibility (at least until I kicked him out of the nursery) and gave me some time to myself, however fleeting.  I just couldn't let go.

Fast forward six years... I am now the president of a company.  I have incredible women working with me that I trust and adore.  Thanks to one in particular, I am learning day by day to delegate and allow others to help me with tasks.  She said to me one day, in so many words,"Letting someone help you is not an imposition to that person, it is granting them the joy of serving you!"  That made such an impact on my heart!

You will find, when you welcome your little one into your life, that there may be a plethora of packages for your little one.  Folks may pop over often in those first few weeks to get a peek at your tiny miracle.  It can seem overwhelming.  Here's a little tip we give our parents, have a time limit on visits and let visitors help you while they are there!  We provide our clients with a handy sign to display during the postpartum period thanking visitors for coming and recommending some tasks they may want to assist the new parents with.  We, as your doulas, also provide postpartum assistance with household chores, meal preparation, cleaning and childcare.  It's okay to ask for help and, more importantly, it is good for your health!  Write a postpartum care plan and delegate tasks to your partner, your doula and whatever family and friends are willing.

I'm still not always comfortable asking for assistance, but I have learned to accept it.  I love my work and I love my family.  Sometimes, it can be very hard to balance.  As I watch my children grow, I see how quickly time passes and I don't want to miss a moment. I won't be at every ballgame or every recital, but when I can rely on a colleague to plan an event or trust a friend to pick up the kids from school, I'll do my best to let them.