Prenatal Health Maintenance

Mamas on Bedrest: Care for your legs to prevent blood clots

May 23rd, 2014

Greetings Mamas!!

TGIF and Happy Memorial Day weekend! This weekend marks the official start of summer in many areas of the northerm hemisphere. As promised, below you will find resources for taking great care of your legs to prevent blood clots from forming while on bed rest. I am giving a HUGE shout out to Mama on Bedrest Sarah for posing the following question to me on our community Facebook Page:

“Any suggestions as alternatives for compression stockings? I can’t do anything that increases abdominal pressure but can’t afford the compression stockings. I do get up several times a day but only to get water and use the bathroom. But I’m still worried about dvt.”

This is a FANTASTIC question and one that all Mamas on Bedrest should be concerned about. Pregnancy in and of itself increases a woman’s risk of developing a blood clot in her legs due to elevated levels of estrogen which enhance blood clotting. (Same thing they worry about when women are on the pill!) Add in bed rest inactivity and Mamas on Bedrest are prime candidates for deep venous thrombosis (DVT) or blood clots to form in the legs and then travel to the heart, lungs or brain to do deadly damage.

Sarah was prescribed compression stockings and that is an excellent recommendation-except they are expensive. Compression stockings can cost anywhere from about $80 on up. They are typically only available by prescription. So what is Sarah and other Mamas like her to do?

1. Exercises. I produced an entire video blog showing how to do leg exercises on bed rest as well as how to massage the lower legs.

2. Massage. While rubbing your own legs is good, Oh much better it feels to have someone do it for you! If your partner is willing, have him/her gently massage your lower legs. (see vlog for details). If you have access to a prenatal massage therapist in your area, or a really good massage therapist who knows lymphatic drainage techniques, a professional massage would be even better!

3. Support hose. Now I can’t speak for other areas of the country, but it is heating up here in Texas and the thought of wearing compression stockings or even support hose is daunting. However, if they are lifesaving-what’s a bit of heat? Sarah mentioned that she could not afford the compression stockings. However, she could do the next best things and wear support hose. These do place a bit of a squeeze on the legs, but not nearly the amount of pressure Compression stockings do. Hence, they are cheaper. Good brands that I know of are Gold Toe and Jobst. I highly recommend ordering products from Special Addition Maternity and Nursing boutique here in Austin if you can’t find products in your locale. They have an entire online shop and you can actually call and they can help you get fitted OVER THE PHONE!!! They can tell you (or a friend or family member) how to measure your legs and then help you select products that will suit your needs and purse!

4. Drink plenty of water. Contrary to what you may be thinking, Staying hydrated will actually help reduce swelling. You body won’t feel like it needs water and hold onto water so tightly (i.e. swell). Also, lowering or avoiding salt altogether is also helpful.

5. Make sure your prenatal supplements are really working for you and your legs in particular. Leg cramps, restless legs and blood clots are all very common during pregnancy. When you have the proper balance of vitamins and minerals in your diet, you are less likely to experience these leg problems or you will experience them to a lesser degree. To avoid leg cramps, restless leg syndrome and blood clots, make sure you have plenty of the following nutrients in your diet:

Calcium. Calcium aids in muscle relaxation allowing certain molecules into your muscle tissue.

Magnesium. Like Calcium, magnesium also aids in muscle relaxation and works in concert with Calcium. Many vitamins will include both minerals either in a 2 to l ratio (Calcium to Magnesium) or will have the minerals present in equal amounts.

Vitamin D. Vitamin D aids in calcium absorption as well as decreases overall inflammation that may be occurring. While many prenatal vitamins contain vitamin D, few if any meet the newly suggested requirements of up to 4000IU recommended by the March of Dimes and the Institute of Medicine for pregnant women.

Fish Oils-Fish oils contain essential Omega 3 and Omega 6 Fatty Acids which help prevent blood clots. However, if you have any sort of clotting disorder or bleeding disorder, you may need to avoid this supplement. Check with your doctor to see if it is safe for you to take fish oils.

Was this information helpful to you? If so, let me know in the comments section below. Do you have other tips and solutions to leg problems during pregnancy? Submit those in the comments section below as well. If you have specific questions, feel free to e-mail me at info@mamasonbedrest.com. If you want to discuss more, you can schedule a Complimentary 30min Bedrest Breakthrough session. 

Be well Mamas and Happy Memorial Day (In the US!!)

Stepping into the Global Prenatal Initiative on Behalf of Mamas on Bedrest!

May 16th, 2014

Global Prenatal InitiativeGreetings Mamas!!

A few weeks ago (March 21st to be exact) I introduced you to the Global Prenatal Initiative. Well, things have been heating up since that post and I want to give you an update-mainly because I have jumped in with both feet and am involved with organizing the US Prenatal Education Association!

No one is more acutely aware of the shortcomings in US prenatal care than Mamas on Bedrest. While it is safe to say the we receive prenatal care, in many instances one would be loathe to say that it is patient centered, baby friendly or offering a compassionate start to our little ones. And while many of the interventions that Mamas on Bedrest endure are necessary, how they are administered and how Mamas on Bedrest are cared for are often lacking in the compassion and nurturing department.

The foundation principle of the Global Prenatal Initiative is,

“The time spent in the womb is the foundation for long-term health, emotional security, intelligence, creativity and much more for every human being. It is vital that the link between these early stages of human development, their long-term impact and the current global challenges be known.”

~ Julie Gerland, GPI Co-Founder and Director

Dr. Gerland and other members of the United Nations have been collaborating to improve maternity outcomes and have come to the very reasonable conclusion that to make any sort of appreciable impact on our cultural deficiencies and disparities, it is imperative that we focus on human development-namely improving birth outcomes and in turn, life expectancy and quality of life. Their major focuses are:

  1. Confronting family poverty
  2. Ensuring work-family balance
  3. Advancing social integration
  4. Inter-generational solidarity

This is all well and good, but what does this mean for Mamas on Bedrest exactly???

  1. It means empowering mamas about what they can do to feel safe, secure and healthy during pregnancy.
  2. It means empowering mamas to provide safe, secure environments for their babies to develop and grow-both in utero and externally. We have to remember, whatever mama is experiencing during her pregnancy, her baby is also experiencing. As much as possible, we want those experiences to be peaceful and to have positive impacts on baby’s growth and development.
  3. It means working with both parents in the pre-conception and prenatal periods to foster healthy relationships, ones in which as much as possible both parents stay connected (not necessarily married) and involved in the lifelong growth and development of the baby.

Mamas, We already know so much of this! We know what it’s like for our families to face financial challenges because we go on bed rest and are not paid while we are not working. We know what it’s like to lose a job because we go on bed rest! We know what it is like to have to choose to nurture our children on bed rest in lieu of pursuing a career. We know what it is like to try to navigate bed rest without the support of family. We could (wo)man these panels ourselves and give birds eye views of what life is like when we don’t have the resources necessary for a peaceful pregnancies. And while all of you are welcome to step up in support of the Global Prenatal Initiative, I am stepping in and stepping up on behalf of high risk pregnant women, the Mamas on Bedrest. Stepping into this community of global prenatal health workers, it is my intention to not only represent Mamas on Bedrest but to also be your eyes, your ears and most importantly-YOUR VOICE! This is the chance for our voices to be heard, for our stories to be told and for the management of high risk pregnancies to be evaluated and changed as necessary to suit the needs of Mamas on Bedrest. I am counting on you all to speak up! I am counting on you all to tell me exactly what you needed when you were on bed rest; what would have made bed rest bearable and more successful. In return, I will relay your thoughts and request to my colleagues in the association, as well as to the pertinent United Nations sub-committees on human growth, development and overall well being.

The time has come, Mamas! We have the chance to change the course of prenatal care and birth outcomes for generations to come! Most importantly, we have the chance to make much needed changes in the care of high risk pregnancy!

 

 

Mamas On Bedrest: The Global Prenatal Initiative

March 21st, 2014

Global Prenatal Initiative

Greetings Mamas and “Happy Anniversary”!!

I am pleased to present to you the Global Prenatal Initiative (GPI). GPI is an initiative of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (UN ECOSOC) Commission of the World Organisation of Prenatal Education Associations (OMAEP), and is in partnership with the 20th Anniversary of the United Nations International Year of Families. The GPI is an awareness raising campaign. The mission of the Global Prenatal Initiative is:

  1. Raise awareness in all sectors of society of the long-term impact of the 9 months of pregnancy for individual and global peace, sustainable development and poverty eradication.
  2. Emphasize the impact of parenting, and especially the key role of the mother during pregnancy and birth, for the future of humanity.
  3. Advocate putting “prenatal education” at the heart of all education, health, social development and policy making.

Julie Ryan Gerland is the Chief United Nations Representative for the OMAEP and the co-founder of GPI. Julie’s work with the UN focuses on improving Maternal Health and Reducing Infant Mortality, sustainable development, the Commission on the Status of Women and all peace issues. She is a perinatal education pioneer, co-author, international lecturer and advocate in the field of very early parenting from pre-conception to the first year after birth. Julie founded the Holistic Parenting Program: Preconception to Birth & Beyond, a program for parents and professionals in Provence, France. Julie’s mission in life is to raise awareness of the necessity of “a calm and peaceful start.” Through her program, Julie educates men and women before they conceive on the importance of creating a calm and peaceful environment for the eagerly anticipated child. She people to heal their own wounds from their individual, family and cultural upbringing prior (optimally) to becoming a couple and most certainly before becoming parents. Her intent is to solidify the bond between man and woman and than between parents and child.  In her own words, 

“The Global Prenatal Initiative (GPI) is a wake-up call to the essential paradigm shift that makes global sustainable development realizable. The “9 Months to Save the World” begins at conception. The time spent in the womb is the foundation for long-term health, emotional security, intelligence, creativity and much more for every human being. It is vital that the link between these early stages of human development, their long-term impact and the current global challenges be known.” 

“If we want peace, for instance, babies must experience peace from the start then they grow up knowing peace, being peaceful and re-creating peaceful activities and environments which will in turn bring global peace. How can we expect someone who has always known violence from the moment of conception through the most vulnerable time of development, the nine-months in utero, followed by a violent birth and early infancy to act peacefully?”

2014 marks the 20th anniversary of the International Year of the Family, an event created and celebrated by the United Nations. OMAEP and it’s global partners will be celebrating, discussing UN priority themes as well as bringing light on the vital role pregnancy and birth play in the long-term development of every human being. OMAEP and its member associations will assemble and diffuse the scientific and psychological knowledge on the importance and long term impact of the «primal period» from preconception to the post natal period, and the mother-father-child bond during this time.

I am fascinated by this work and these initiatives. It also makes me wonder, how is the US faring in the face of these initiatives? Our invasive medical techniques, high rates of induction and cesarean section, our high rates of maternal and infant morbidity and mortality (especially in black women) and our high stress, vary rapid lifestyle kind of make me go “ouch”.  Reading these initiatives and the work that is being done at the international level, I ask myself, “What do these workers think of bed rest?” How does bed rest even factor into the Global Prenatal initiative? And most certainly I wonder, “If there were programs such as the Holistic Parenting Program in the US (and there may be and I’m just not aware of them!), would there even be a need for bed rest?”

I am just learning about GPI but I believe that its work is coming at a critical juncture in the “revolution” that is perinatal health and work. The anniversary celebration will be going on all year all over the world, so I’ll do my best to keep you up on the latest.

What’s going on in prenatal health in your neck of the woods? We have mamas in our community from all over the world, so we’d love to hear what’s up. Share your happenings in the comments section below! Have a question or comment on GPI? Feel free to e-mail us at info@mamasonbedrest.com.