Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Practice Good Oral Health for a Healthy Birth

About half of women experience some swelling of their gums in pregnancy. This condition, known as pregnancy gingivitis, can be the result of hormones that cause swelling of the mucous membranes in the body. It can be uncomfortable, causing slight, bleeding, redness or tenderness. However, a more advanced oral problem called periodontal disease  may also affect the health of your unborn baby. Periodontal disease is a serious gum infection that left untreated destroys attachment fibers and supporting bone. But your teeth may not be the only thing you risk by ignoring your oral heath. 

Some studies have shown a relationship between periodontal disease and preterm birth and low birthweight babies. They suggest that expectant women with periodontal disease may be up to seven times more likely to have a baby that's born too early or too small. A study appearing in the July issue of the Journal of Periodontology found bacteria commonly found in the mouth and associated with periodontal diseases in the amniotic fluid of some pregnant women. Amniotic fluid is a liquid that surrounds an unborn baby during pregnancy. Any disruptions in the amniotic fluid, such as a bacterial infection, could be dangerous to both the mother and baby. These findings could have an important implication for women and babies' heath since simple improvement of dental hygiene may help to reduce the incidence of unknown complications in pregnancy and newborn babies.

Periodontal disease has also been linked with cardiovascular disease. The most prevalent bacteria in the samples from the studies may have come from the vagina; however, two of the species were recognized as coming from the mouth and are not normally found elsewhere in the body. These particular bacteria, Granulicatella elegans and Streptococcus sinensis, are known to be able to enter the bloodstream and have previously been associated with infections remote from the mouth such as infective endocarditis.

As you make your way through the “to-dos,” remember to check off a visit to the dentist or periodontist. This baby step benefits you and your unborn baby.
  • The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that pregnant women eat a balanced diet, brush their teeth thoroughly with an ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste twice a day, and floss daily
  • Have preventive exams and cleanings during your pregnancy
  • Let your dentist know you are pregnant
  • NO XRAYS or Mercury Fillings
  • Postpone non-emergency dental work until the second trimester or until after delivery, if possible
  • Elective procedures should be postponed until after the delivery
  • Maintain healthy circulation by keeping your legs uncrossed while you sit in the dentist's chair
  • Take a pillow to help keep you and the baby more comfortable
  • Bring headphones and some favorite music

My dad was my dentist growing up, and before I because a doula and childbirth educator, I worked as a dental assistant. I will never forget my Dad's words "Only floss the teeth you want to keep !"
Please remember that your oral health is very important to your own health and the health of your baby!

    Some of Birthwhisperer's favorite products for good oral health include:

    Tom's Natural Toothpaste and Antiplaque Floss
    Tom's of Maine - Natural Toothpaste, Antiplaque, Fennel - 6 oz

    The Radius Intelligent Toothbrush

    Monday, June 28, 2010

    CDC Issues Information for Expectant Women Living Along the Gulf Coast

    A Web page from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued information for expectant women living along the Gulf shore who have concerns regarding the oil spill.  The CDC says pregnant women should avoid the oil spill-affected areas, but claims that women will see or smell chemicals in the oil before the chemicals can harm her or her baby.  Expectant women who live along the Gulf coast are advised to avoid those areas where there is oil reaching the shore.  For women who are affected by the smell of the oil, which reportedly may cause headaches or nausea, the CDC advises staying indoors and setting the air conditioner to reuse indoor air and avoiding any activities that put extra demand on the lungs and heart.  For more information, go to

    Sunday, June 27, 2010

    The Coalition for Improving Maternity Services Applauds NIH Support for VBAC

    Raleigh, NC (March 12th, 2010)—After more than a decade of discriminatory practices by hospitals, physicians, and malpractice insurance providers against women who choose to have a normal birth after a prior cesarean, the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services (CIMS) was extremely pleased that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has finally issued an evidence-based report that supports women who want to labor for a VBAC (vaginal birth after a prior cesarean section). Read the whole story here !

    Wednesday, June 23, 2010

    Shattering "Misconceptions" About Birth

    In this seven minute video, women and men talk about the differences in the medical model of birth and the holistic model, and how misconceptions about birth shape our approach to experiencing birth.

    It has been said that "If you don't know what your choices are, you don't have any." That may be true enough, but I also believe that too many choices are overwhelming and can lead to denial or inertia. I believe that we need a simpler approach to thinking about them when it comes to childbirth.

    In my classes, I like to focus on the biological norms of birth, long before I start talking about variations of normal, such as breech birth or things that can become problematic. Many women have heard about problems, but have not heard much about normal, beautiful, undisturbed birth.

    Most women have grown up hearing horror stories about childbirth and most of what they have seen portrayed in the media with regard to birth has been very negative or frightening. My first goal is to open women up to a new "Birth Theology," if you will. Hearing the voices of women who have birthed normally, and who have emerged with a sense of accomplishment and confidence are very powerful forces, and I like to share them as often as possible. I thought this short clip was a great example, so I am sharing it today.

    Monday, June 21, 2010

    The New Thalidomides

    Recently, while on vacation in Boone, NC, I was enjoying an antique shopping adventure. I had not a care in the world, when suddenly I was reminded of the harsh realities of life. I came upon this LIFE Magazine cover from August 1962.  I was born in 1958 and somehow escaped the horrors of Thalidomide. Thalidomide was sold in a number of countries across the world from 1957 until 1961 when it was withdrawn from the market after being found to be a cause of birth defects in what has been called "one of the biggest medical tragedies of modern times".

    Although thalidomide was not approved for sale in the United States, millions of tablets had been distributed to physicians during a clinical testing program. It was impossible to know how many pregnant women had been given the drug to help alleviate morning sickness.
    The word “phocomelia” means seal limb. It describes an extremely rare condition in which babies are born with limbs that look like flippers. The long bones of the arms fail to develop, but fingers sprout from the shoulders. In some cases, the legs fail to develop as well.
    Doctors began to see more and more cases, and it turned out that a drug called thalidomide, which pregnant women were taking for morning sickness, was responsible. Magazines and newspapers ran shocking pictures of seal-limbed children, and the drug was banned in 1962. By then thousands of children, had been born with thalidomide-induced birth defects.
    Today, pregnant women face many decision in the childbearing year. As a doula and childbirth educator, I have seen and read about the tragic consequences of some of those choices.
    Cytotec, among others, comes to mind.
    Since Cytotec was introduced in 1988, a growing number of obstetricians have embraced it as a "miracle" drug -- in spite of data that leave serious doubts about its safety. Lacking FDA approval and scientific consensus on how to use it on pregnant women, doctors have taken it upon themselves to administer Cytotec to their patients, many times without the women's informed consent. Clinical trials suggest that Cytotec is effective at "ripening" the cervix and inducing labor.
    "Cytotec enables doctors to practice daylight obstetrics," says Dr. Marsden Wagner, a neonatologist who served for 15 years as a director of women's and children's health in industrialized countries for the World Health Organization. "It means that as a doctor, I can come in at 9 a.m., give you the pill, and by 6 p.m. I've delivered a baby and am home having dinner."
    The Cochrane Collaboration, an international body of independent analysts and physicians that publishes widely respected assessments of drug efficacy, cites numerous reports of uterine rupture and fetal distress involving the drug. "It cannot be recommended for routine use at this stage," the group concluded last year.
    Searle sent out a memo to 200,000 health care providers warning them that "Cytotec administration by any route is contraindicated in women who are pregnant because it can cause abortion." The company noted that the off-label use of Cytotec has resulted in reports of uterine rupture, hysterectomy, and the death of mothers and infants. Without informed consent women and babies are being treated as little more than human guinea pigs. Wagner, the former official with the World Health Organization, notes that Cytotec is not used to induce labor in Europe, and chides American obstetricians for what he calls "vigilante obstetrics."  
     How many injuries from iatrogenic causes must women and babies suffer before we wake up ?
    Thalidomide was introduces 50 years ago and we are still being treated like guinea pigs even in the light of warnings from the best collection of medical and scientific evidence ever known to humankind. Please ask questions and trust your gut. YOU are the best expert of what is safe for you and your baby.

    Wednesday, June 16, 2010

    How To Use Acupressure Points To Induce Labor in Postdates Pregnancy

    *Please note ! Birthwhisperer shares this for your information only. Please consult with your midwife or physician before employing these self-help techniques.

    Many women today face the threat of induction of labor, especially when they are being cared for by a medical provider in pregnancy. Studies have shown that due dates are arbitrary guesses, at best, and that waiting on labor to begin on it's own is the best practice for safe and healthy labor and birth. However,there are times when women may benefit from acupressure to augment natural processes, such as in the case of a stalled labor, or being past 42 weeks, or when being threatened with a medical induction, which carries far more risks to mother and baby than simple acupressure techniques as described above. Many doulas are aware of these points, and that's just one more reason to have a doula at your birth !

    Breastfeeding Linked to Lower Diabetes Risk

    Breastfeeding Linked to Lower Diabetes Risk 

    An Australian study may show a link between formula feeding and higher diabetes rates among mothers. The study included 53,726 women over age 45. Among those who had never had children, the rate of type 2 diabetes was roughly 5 percent. Women who breastfed each child for more than three months, the rate of diabetes was about 5 percent. Women who had children but had never breastfed, the rate of type 2 diabetes was almost double, 9.5 percent. Among those who started formula before three months, approximately 7 percent said they had diabetes. Read more in this news article .

    Monday, June 14, 2010

    This Just In : Another study confirms that Vaginal Birth After Cesarean is a Reasonable Choice

    A study in the June edition of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology reviews evidence about maternal and neonatal outcomes relating to vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC).  The authors identified relevant studies from multiple searches of MEDLINE, DARE and the Cochrane databases (1980 to September 2009) and recent systematic reviews, reference lists, editorials, Web sites and experts.  Overall, there were low rates of maternal harm for both trial of labor and elective repeat cesarean delivery.  Maternal mortality rates were higher for elective repeat cesarean delivery at 0.013% compared with 0.004% for trial of labor.  Rates of maternal hysterectomy, hemorrhage and transfusions were similar for both trial of labor and elective repeat cesarean delivery.  Perinatal mortality was increased for trial of labor (0.13% compared with 0.05% for elective repeat cesarean delivery.  The study authors concluded that VBAC is a reasonable choice for the majority of wome
    n, since adverse outcomes were rare.  To access the full study online, go to

    Thursday, June 10, 2010

    Available Online: New RSV Video for Parents

    Available Online: New RSV Video for Parents
    Children's Hospital St. Louis is sharing a new, web-based, two-minute informational video about respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). In addition to identifying the signs and symptoms of RSV, the video offers prevention tips with useful information. Premature infants are at a greater risk for developing life-threatening complications of RSV, a major cause of respiratory illness in young children. View the video and learn more about RSV on the hospital's "What is RSV" page

    or visit the CDC website here : 

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010

    Breastfeeding Shown To Decrease Incidence of Fever After Immunization

    A recent study conducted at a vaccination center in Naples, Italy evaluated the effects of breastfeeding on the risk for fever after routine immunization. Mothers of babies scheduled to receive routine immunizations were instructed how to measure and record infant temperature on the evening of the vaccination and the next three days.  Information about the incidence of fever was gathered by telephone on the third day after vaccination.  450 infants were included in the study.  Fever was reported for 25% of infants who were exclusively breastfed, 31% of infants who were partially breastfed and 53% of those who were not breastfed.  The authors of this study noted that the protection that breastfeeding provided “persisted even when considering the role of several potential confounders.”  They conclude that, in this study, breastfeeding was shown to be associated with decreased incidence of fever following immunization.  To read the study online, go to

    Monday, June 7, 2010

    Childbirth And Spirituality

    A new study has examined childbirth and spirituality.  The study, which appears in the spring edition of the Journal of Perinatal Education, shows that there may be a role for spiritual beliefs in the clinical assessment of women having babies.  The authors recommend that caregivers ask mothers, “Do you have any spiritual beliefs that will help us better care for you?” during their clinical assessment.  Researchers conducted a secondary analysis of published and unpublished narrative data collected over the past 20 years from 250 culturally diverse women.  Themes in the study included:  childbirth a as a time to grow closer to God, the use of religious beliefs and rituals as powerful coping mechanisms, and childbirth as a time to make religion more meaningful.  To access the full study online, go to Childbirth & Spirituality Study.

    Saturday, June 5, 2010

    Acupuncture in Pregnancy Podcast

    Acupuncture is a drug-free therapy well suited to pregnancy. It has a high degree of patient satisfaction, and an increasing body of evidence supporting efficacy for a range of common pregnancy complaints.
    Conditions which may be effectively treated include morning sickness, backache, insomnia, hemorrhoids and exhaustion. Treatment of pelvic girdle pain with acupuncture can be effective in just a few sessions, a condition for which allopathic medicine offers little help.

    There is growing interest and supporting evidence for the use of moxibustion to encourage babies in the breech position to spontaneously turn to a cephalic presentation, to avoid an elective cesarean section. Moxibustion involves heating an acupuncture point at the corner of the little toe (Bl 67) twice a day for 7-10 days.

    Acupuncture may be safely used in pregnancy, although it is important to avoid contraindicated acupuncture points and points that may induce the onset of labor before term.  

    Similarly, babies have benefited greatly from treatment of common conditions such as colic, vomiting, poor sleep, teething and eczema. 

     To access this and other MIDIRS podcasts visit

    Friday, June 4, 2010

    Lyndsey's Journey To VBAC

    My Journey to a VBAC from Lindsey Meehleis on Vimeo.

    If a picture paints a thousand words, then this says it ALL.

    I am Kathryn. I am a Doula. I make a Difference.

    I am Kathryn. I am a doula. I make a difference, a beautiful, vital difference.
    I can take the hand of a woman who has not yet walked the path of labor and giving birth, and I can say will all sincerity "I know it is overwhelming. I know it's hard. Every birth is unique, but there are things that every woman who has given birth before have in common. I have walked my own paths path of labor and birth, and I will walk yours with you now. I can show you some of the ledges and roadblocks, and I know some detours. Look into my eyes and know that I have personally experienced many of the things you are feeling right now and I can completely sympathize with you. I have felt the power of babies moving through and out of my own body and into my arms. I have nursed babies at my breast. You are not alone in what you are feeling. I will not leave you. Come now, and let's walk this path together."

    Thursday, June 3, 2010

    Caffeine Intake During Pregnancy Associated With Impaired Fetal Length

     Caffeine intake of 6 or more units per day during pregnancy is associated with impaired fetal length growth, according to the results of a cohort study reported online April 28 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
    "Caffeine is a widely used and accepted pharmacologically active substance," write Rachel Bakker, from Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and colleagues from the Generation R Study. "The effect of caffeine intake during pregnancy on fetal growth and development is still unclear."

    The goal of the study was to evaluate the associations of maternal caffeine intake from coffee and tea with fetal growth measured during each trimester of pregnancy and with the risks for adverse birth outcomes. From 2001 to 2005, a total of 7346 pregnant women in the Netherlands participated in a population-based prospective cohort study from early pregnancy onward.

    Questionnaires were used to determine coffee and tea consumption in the first, second, and third trimesters. Serial ultrasound studies allowed determination of fetal growth characteristics, and hospital record review allowed determination of birth outcomes.

    A regular serving of 125 mL of coffee in the Netherlands contains approximately 90 mg of caffeine (caffeinated), decaffeinated coffee contains 3 mg, and tea contains 45 mg per 125-mL serving. This was used as the standard for calculation of daily caffeine consumption. Each unit of caffeine exposure was based on 1 cup of coffee (90 mg of caffeine), and total caffeine intake was categorized as less than 2 units, 2 to 3.9 units, 4 to 5.9 units, and 6 or more units per day.

    Caffeine consumption was not consistently associated with fetal head circumference or with estimated fetal weight in any trimester. In contrast, higher caffeine consumption was associated with smaller first-trimester crown-rump length, second- and third-trimester femur length, and birth length (P for trend < .05). The risk of having a small-for-gestational-age infant at birth was increased in mothers who consumed at least 6 caffeine units per day.

    "Our results suggest that caffeine intake of ≥6 units/d during pregnancy is associated with impaired fetal length growth," the study authors write. "Caffeine exposure might preferentially adversely affect fetal skeletal growth. Further studies are needed to assess these associations in non-European populations and to assess the postnatal consequences."

    Limitations of this study include observational design with possible residual confounding; and missing data on coffee and tea consumption, which may have led to loss of power.
    "Length- or skeletal-related fetal growth characteristics seemed to be most consistently affected from the first trimester onward," the study authors conclude. "Further structural and functional studies are needed to assess organ-specific effects. Our results suggest that pregnant women should be advised to not consume ≥6 caffeine units (.540 mg) per day during pregnancy."

    The Erasmus Medical Center Rotterdam, the Erasmus University Rotterdam, and the Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development (ZonMw) financially supported the first phase of the Generation R Study. One of the study authors was supported by the Netherlands Organization for Health Research. Am J Clin Nutr. Published online April 28, 2010.