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All Mommy wanted was a back rub… (the benefits of prenatal massage)

I did it! I finally decided I was worth being taken care of and allowed myself what I had previously considered a luxury: a prenatal massage. You’d think after three pregnancies, I would have done it ages ago; however, I am a very stubborn and “tough” girl who doesn’t believe in “wasting” money on things purely for me. Boy was I wrong. It was wonderful and it will not be the last time I go. This looks like it’ll become a regular thing for me now that I know better. I felt so much more relaxed afterwards. And I slept! I actually slept through the whole night! This never, ever happens to me, especially during pregnancy.

So, you may be asking: What is a prenatal massage and how is it different from a regular massage? A prenatal massage is a specialized technique that is designed for a woman usually in her second trimester up to part way through her third. It’s meant to improve circulation, give you some energy, and take some of the strain away from your over worked muscles and joints. It uses a lighter pressure and you lay on your sides as opposed to your back and tummy. Lying on your back is never a good idea when you’re pregnant. The weight of your baby and uterus blocks circulation to the placenta. This can cause complications that no amount of massage can help. It is a little more difficult for the masseuse to rub you down at this angle but far safer.

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It also has the same great benefits as any message does. Loads of studies have shown that they relax and loosen tight muscles, reduce cortisol (that nasty stress hormone), increase blood flow (+++ for us preggers ;-), keeps the lymphatic system going strong, and flushes toxins out of the body. Just be sure to drink plenty of water afterwards as massage releases toxins that have built up in your muscles to float freely through your body, which can make you sick if you are not properly hydrated afterward.

What all this means is, that with regular prenatal massages you should become generally more relaxed. They help relieve insomnia, get rid of joint pain, and relieve swelling and headaches, even sinus congestion. Also not forgetting to mention all those neck, back, hip, leg and sciatica pain you’ve been having.

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Here are just a few warnings to keep you safe and happy. The first trimester is a little too risky for a massage.  With everything changing, it’s just not a good time (especially for surrogates or anyone getting assistance with conception). Also, research your masseuse first, don’t just go anywhere. People who specialize in this type of massage need to be specifically trained in prenatal massage. The right hands work miracles, the wrong ones could put you in the hospital. New studies are showing that the amount of trust you have in someone is equal to the amount of relaxation you will allow yourself to feel. If you’re not 100% with the person you won’t be able to reap all the benefits. Another thing: stay away from those ankles! They don’t know exactly why yet, but when you rub those bad boys, it can start labor. Unless you are past your due date, keep away. Just skip down to those well deserving (probably slightly larger) feet of yours.

Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to go book my next appointment…

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Trusted Doctor Uses Forged Surrogacy Documents to Sell Babies In India

Have you heard about this? A gynecologist in India has been charged with human trafficking and forgery after selling a baby using fake surrogacy papers. He and his “clients” have been making the international headlines for the past couple of months and it looks as if this has been going on for some time now. Dr. Bharat Atit, along with three of his staff, were arrested and booked after it was discovered that a newborn baby had been illegally sold via the Doctor by a woman and her boyfriend. Now they are investigating previous claims and more cases are coming to light.

The woman involved, claimed rape towards her boyfriend when she was 5 months pregnant. It was discovered that she had done this because they were arguing over the price of the child and she is to use this claim to cut the boyfriend’s percentage. Once this was found out she dropped the charges, however, this opened the investigation to that of the Doctor.

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This newest scandal involving surrogacy in India raises the issue of legality when it comes to these delicate waters. India has had issues before dealing with the health and treatment of their surrogates during prenatal care and the backgrounds of the women that were being used.

India was a place that was considered to be “a great deal” to go to for people looking to start an “inexpensive” family which made it easy for some, to turn a blind eye to the murkiness involved. However, with these new legal issues piled on top of the old health ones, they may be losing their drawing power for even those with lesser morals.

First, it is used as a method of human trafficking.  Second, the surrogates are treated like cattle. Yes, it is cheaper, but at what cost? This is a child we are discussing.  A child carried by a person no less important or critical to the process than the intended parent. Having a child when you physical aren’t able to is tricky enough, without weighing on your conscience as well.  People are now coming to realize it’s not worth the gamble of saving money. This is a child we are talking about and ensuring that child has the best start in life starts at conception.

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Overall, India doesn’t seem to present a viable option for surrogacy now to those who were able to justify their means to an end before.

As I am doing research for this blog I have also just learned that India has now implemented new guidelines this year which no longer allow foreigners of same-sex couples, single individuals, unmarried couples or couples who have been married less than two years to commission a surrogate there. Also, if you did qualify to utilize their surrogacy programs, you would still be required to provide a letter from your countries government expressly giving you permission to bring your child home from India and that your country would agree to recognize this child as a product of a surrogacy pregnancy and birth.

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I think the chapter on surrogacy in India is closing, and very quickly. After everything, it is my opinion this is for the best.

Oh the Changes! Your NEW pregnancy boobs.

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Ch-ch-ch-changes (turn and face the strain)… this always gets stuck in my head when I’m thinking about anything prenatal. So much goes on in a woman’s body during pregnancy. Some noticeable to the observer, some not so much. Your breasts are definitely a noticeable one. Usually, to the greater satisfaction of your partner. Hands off though, ‘cause: Ouch! Those things are for looking only, no touching at first. They will be so tender, but boy are they perky. Go ahead and enjoy them while they are still all yours. Take as many glances in the mirror or pretend to be looking down at your shirt and check yourself out as much as you can! So many things bum us out when we’re preggers, uncomfortable or self-conscience. Not this though. Uncomfortable maybe a little, but admit it: it’s totally worth it. Enjoy!

There ARE some less enjoyable aspects of your new boobs…There are several other things besides their size you may notice that happen to them throughout your 40 weeks. They’ll get tender; your nipples may stick out more and/or get darker; you might notice some stretch marks (coco butter worked best for me); You may even get your colostrum (a watery yellowish pre-milk substance loaded with nutrients for the newborn)  leaking from them near the end of your journey.

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After delivery, it doesn’t get easier right away. I’m going to let you know something that no one ever told me before I had kids: breastfeeding, pumping, and/or stopping your milk production can HURT! That’s right, it can all be fricken’ painful and uncomfortable. No matter which route you take — nursing, expressing for someone, or using formula — you’ll get rock hard breasts and your nipples will get sore. Sometimes they crack and oh-ho-ho that smarts! If you’re not allergic, lanolin is a godsend for those babies. When you do stop your milk production, the best recommendations I have are these: Frozen cabbage leaves tucked into your bra (I kid you not, they really DO work!). It really relieves the pressure. Many say to take a warm shower. Warning: That is an immediate fix only! It will encourage your breasts to produce MORE milk, not stop it. You’ll just be starting a vicious cycle of pain and relief over and over again. They make breast pads to catch the leaks but those can be pricy. I’ve found that just buying pantie-liners or pads (depending how heavy you leak) and cutting them in half works just as well. They also conveniently have that sticky back to attach to whatever clothing you may be wearing.

The boob fairy give(ith) and she take(ith) away. You may be one of the lucky ones that get to keep your perky and full pregnancy boobs. I know some of those lucky ladies myself. Unfortunately, I wasn’t one of them. Mine just kind of went back to being my pre-pregnancy size. Other ladies I know said they got what they call “Mom boobs”. Bigger but saggier. It really is the luck of the draw. It’s all part of that ever changing process we woman chose to go through to procreate. Definitely, well worth it if you ask me.

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Double Trouble… being sick while pregnant

Oh man – oh man – oh man. UGH! I was just starting to feel better. No more nausea, no more vomiting; I can finally keep things down and morning sickness was slowly becoming a thing of the past. Then…BAM! I’ve got a cold. That stuffy, achy, icky-ness feeling that I wish would just go away. With so many changes already going on in my body and so many things I can’t do, eat or take during pregnancy, this is just the icing on the cake isn’t it? What can I do? What can I take? Is it worth it, or do I just suffer? Blah….

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Luckily, most doctors have a list of “approved” products that are safe for you and the baby. Unfortunately, it’s a rather short list and even shorter during your first trimester. Good-old-fashioned-home-remedies may even work better for you (they always seemed to for me). However, always, always, always check with your health care provider first before taking anything herbal or over the counter. Even if it’s what your mom, your grandma and your great-grandma took and what all your friends suggest. It’s better to double check with the pros and be safe than sorry. You never know for sure what new discoveries have been made in the last couple of years and for the safety of that little one (and you) it’s always best to ask beforehand. There is never such a thing as too many, or too stupid, a question when it comes to your health. That is especially true when it comes to prenatal care. Also, that stuffy nose you’ve got may not even be a cold in the first place.

A lot of woman, (around 30%), are congested during their pregnancy, it’s a condition called Rhinitis of Pregnancy, and it has nothing to do with allergies or a viral infection. It has to do with the high amounts of estrogen and blood in your body, causing swelling in the mucus membranes and blood vessels in your nose. This leads to congestion, runny nose, sneezing and mild headaches. Be prepared, you may have it during your entire pregnancy (sorry). I did, the second time around. It’s annoying, but as long as there are no other symptoms it is perfectly harmless. Your risk of sinus infections also increase when you are pregnant, so if you feel pressure, pain, are coughing, have a fever, swelling or any other symptoms, contact your provider for help.

Another culprit is those pesky allergies that you had before the pregnancy. They run amuck once you get knocked up and can increase in potency. There are a few medications a doctor can prescribe for you that are safe to take, but it may be best to just try to stay away from the source for a while, considering that you can get pregnancy rhinitis on top of any of these lovely illnesses.

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What you can do is this: keep elevated and use pillows, pillows and more pillows. Take them all from your partner. You’re allowed…seeing as you are probably kicking off all of the covers anyway, it’s a fair trade. Drink plenty of liquids and hang out in your warm bathroom after a shower for a bit or wet a washcloth with warm water and breath through it for a while. It’ll be a nice soothing relief from congestion. Some people like saline drops or spray (Saline only! No added stuff) to clear everything out. Vaporizers and humidifiers also work well at night; just make sure you clean them regularly. The last thing you need is more irritants and bacteria floating around. Also, avoid anything that may be an irritant. Do your work out indoors on days when the air quality is poor. Stay away from smokers, paint and chemical fumes (which you should be doing anyways) and get your partner to dust and clean any mold and/or pet dander from inside your home.

As mentioned before, there are so many different methods and home remedies out there.  I’ve only mentioned a few.  

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What are some of the methods you use?  What Holy Grail of discoveries can you offer those sick in the morning (afternoon, evening and sometimes midnight)?

Post your comments below and then repeat after me: “This too shall pass.”

I Want Candy…information on Gestational Diabetes

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From Halloween until Super bowl, the holidays of sweet and savory junk food are upon us and it can be a tough time to just say no! If you’ve ever been pregnant during this tempting time of the year, you will know just how tough avoiding the temptation can be. Even if you haven’t, just know it’s tougher when you believe you are “eating for two”. This is not true by the way – you do need to eat and burn more calories when you are pregnant, but not enough for a whole other person. This is why Gestational Diabetes is such an easy trap to eat your way into.  Most people know about Type 1 Diabetes (an autoimmune disease) and Type 2 Diabetes (a metabolic disorder); but not many people know what gestational diabetes really is; how you get it, how it’s treated, if it’s permanent or what affect it will have on the baby?

Firstly let’s start with a definition (from Web Dictionary):

Gestational diabetes (or gestational diabetes mellitus, GDM) is a condition in which women without previously diagnosed diabetes exhibit high blood glucose levels during pregnancy.

Gestational Diabetes (GD) will usually go away after you deliver the baby, however, statistically, many of the women who get it, will develop Type 2 later in life (boo).  Secondly, it is not entirely clear as to how it develops in the first place. It only appears in about 5% of American pregnancies.  

Unfortunately, Gestational Diabetes is on the rise. While it is linked to your weight, poor diet and lack of exercise, genetics and ethnicity play a crucial part in it as well. Gestational diabetes makes its appearance in the 3rd trimester and is usually treatable by a controlled diet and, sometimes, insulin.

Those pesky pregnancy hormones are to blame and even though we make three times the amount of insulin when we are pregnant, it is sometimes not enough:  the placenta (the organ that connects the baby via the umbilical cord to the uterus) is trying to prevent the mother from getting low blood sugar. In between the 24 to 28 week mark your doctor will have you do a glucose screening test. Within 5 minutes, you will be asked to drink an orange flavored sticky-flat-super-sweet-soda-pop-like substance (though I’ve heard rumors that it also comes in cola and lime flavors too). You would wait an hour and then do a blood test.  Be sure to bring a book, magazine, phone or tablet because you’re not allowed to leave during this time. Your results should be available in a few days and if your sugar levels are high you’ll have to go back and take the three hour test.

Luckily, only about one-third of woman who have to do the second test actually have GD. If it turns out that you are one of the unfortunate groups, you’ll probably have you keep track of your sugar levels with a glucose monitor and keep your results in a chart formatted journal. No candy, sweets or sodas for a while. You may also have to take insulin, however, this usually only happens during the time of delivery because some of the medications you may receive could increase your sugar levels. Also, just because you got GD during one pregnancy doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get it for the next, especially if you keep up your healthier routine.

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GD doesn’t normally affect the baby; however, in some cases it can cause the following problems: Macrosomia (aka “big baby”) meaning any baby over 8lbs 13oz, which can make childbirth difficult, most likely leading to a caesarian delivery. GD can also lead to the possibility of the child developing Type 2 Diabetes later on in life. Another effect is that the baby could become Hypoglycemic (too much insulin resulting in low blood sugar) after birth. Your doctor will test for this. While jaundice is also a common condition, the likeliness of a newborn suffering from it is higher when the mother suffers from GD.

Good luck during this tempting time of year and try to avoid the temptation if you can. The weather is cooler, the treats are abundant and all we want to do is cuddle up and eat…and eat… and eat. Just remember that “eating for two” comes with the “responsibility for two” as well. More important than that second helping, is the heath of those first (and possibly second) heartbeats inside of you. This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself this winter; knowledge is always power and maybe just reading this blog post will help keep you a little healthier, now that you know what to expect.

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A Womb with a View…the importance of prenatal ultrasounds

The doctor pulls up my shirt and tucks a paper towel down my pants. The next thing I hear is that ketchup bottle sound and feel the freezing cold slime of the gel rolling around on my tummy. But it’s worth it! It’s exciting! One, or two, or (gulp) three?! Could it be a Girl or boy? Full sets of fingers and toes? The prenatal ultrasound is one of the most exciting things about my pregnancy.

Ultrasounds can be uncomfortable, especially if they make you drink a lot of water beforehand (makes that picture crystal clear) and then push the transducer (that rolly thing) right onto your bladder. Or worse, you have a trans-vaginal scan and feel spread open like a Thanksgiving turkey by what looks like one of those “massagers” your girlfriend bought for a bachelorette party. But the payoffs far outweigh the discomforts.

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Hearing the heartbeat and seeing something moving inside me, finally makes it real. It’s so important, too. Usually the first ultrasound is done around 20 weeks and not only do you get to “sneak a peek” at what’s to come (kind of like tearing a piece of wrapping paper off the corner of your Christmas present while it’s still under the tree), but a doctor can tell so much more. What looks like a gray smudge to the untrained eyes, could be something important and treatable to them. Where and what is the placenta up to? How far along exactly? Is everything on track and developing and measuring correctly? Is there enough or too much fluid in the womb? Do they need to run more tests or is everything perfect? To the people in the know, these things jump right out. So while I am busy doting on that little alien critter floating in a black lagoon in my belly, they are measuring and cataloging not only the new bundle of joy but also its home, your womb preparing for what’s to come.

With 3D and 4D ultrasounds now available, you can capture baby’s first picture in HD!  A word to the wise: these ultrasounds are done just for fun. Don’t look for information on the baby or your health from these unless it’s directly from the doctor. The technicians are trained on how to use the equipment but not diagnose anything. Also, tell them if you don’t want to know the sex of the baby first! Things have a way of slipping out in all the excitement…

So I’ll wipe off that cold lubricant, pull my shirt down and enjoy the fact that even though this baby is still a mystery, my doctor and I have gotten a view of what’s to come and I’ve gotten the first picture for my scrapbook.

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