Category Archives: Physical Support

Pharmakokinetics are Fascinating!

When a person takes a drug their body absorbs the drug, breaks it down and then eliminates it. The study of this action is called pharmakokinetics. Why is this interesting for moms? Some drugs, even over-the-counter drugs are not good to take when you are pregnant or nursing. Some drugs are ok for nursing, but not pregnancy. How do doctors determine which drugs are ok?

There are reference books, to start with. One of the main reference books for nursing moms is called Medications and Mothers’ Milk by Dr. Thomas Hale. Dr. Hale is a pharmacist and a medical school professor and the publisher of my own book: Doulas’ Guide to Birthing Your Way.

Several factors help decide if a drug should not be taken by a nursing mom. Here are a few to keep in mind:

— Only about 1% of the mother’s dose reaches the baby through her breastmilk in many cases.

–If a mom has a condition which needs a drug, older drugs that have been on the market longer, are often safer than newer and less tested drugs are.

–The side effect that a mom gets from a drug is likely to be the side effect her baby will get (nausea or diarrhea for example).

— Smaller, premature or sicker babies tolerate drugs worse than healthy mature babies do.

–Keep in mind that just because a drug is over-the-counter, doesn’t make it safe for pregnant or nursing mothers.

–Most drugs will allow a mom to continue nursing or another drug can often be found to treat the condition which does!

–There are drugs which are considered safe for nursing moms which treat postpartum depression.

–When in doubt, call your La Leche League Leader or lactation consultant for help with a drug you are unsure of.

The Rebozo at Birth

Rebozo used as a shawl

I use the rebozo, a Mexican shawl, as a support tool for birth. Doulas use simple tools to help the birthing mother make progress in labor. It can be something as simple as a warming or relaxing shawl. It can also help gently tip a baby into a better position for birth. If the baby’s head is in an acynclitic position, wrap the rebozo across her abdomen like an apron and apply gentle pressure to tip the baby into an upright position. You can also use the rebozo to reposition a posterior baby. Tug on the rebozo gently, but firmly in the direction you wish to turn the baby. I take the rebozo to all of my births and I use it often.

Rebozo used for relaxation

Turning a posterior baby with rebozo

Pregnancy and Massage

A doula massaging a mom before labor.

Pregnancy and massage go together like rice and beans. If your doula is massaging you before labor begins, it can help her establish a touch and trust relationship with you. Your doula’s main purpose is to help you relax. The more she practices with you before the birth, the easier you can slip into that relaxation during labor.

Your doula is not the only one who can massage you. If you go to a massage therapist, be sure that she is very familiar with pregnancy massage. There are some places you should not be massaged which could put you into premature labor. This is also true of pedicures. One of the do not touch unless you want labor places is on your ankle. Pedicures often come with foot massage. Be sure your pedicurist knows what to avoid.

Your partner can also massage you. Make sure that your pregnant belly is supported by pillows and that you let your partner know what you like. If his touch needs to be harder or to the left, let him know. That kind of communication will help you in labor. No one can read your mind! So find a good massage therapist near you and give yourself a treat. You are the queen!

Here is a good place for massage if you are in the Pittsburgh area.

All Moms Need Postpartum Support

This Indian Goddess shows what all new moms need, more arms!

As soon as you start putting your baby to your breast, you will realize why so many Indian goddesses have many arms. You will wish you had six or eight arms, too! A baby squiggles. You may also want to do something else other than hold your baby (occasionally). Babies don’t really like to be put down. Keep in mind your baby just recently was carried in your womb continuously. Now you want to set him down?

Being a new mom means coping with several things all at once. You are recovering from your birth. You are learning how to breastfeed. You are learning how to mother. You are tired. The normal household and work stuff you used to do still awaits. And everyone wants to meet your new, beautiful baby!

No wonder new moms need extra hands. Sometimes those extra hands are friends or family. This works if your friends and family are hoping to help you, not just visit and see the baby. Sometimes the extra hands are a postpartum doula. She can help you negotiate the transition from adult woman to established mother. It isn’t an easy transition, but it is  a wonderful one.

New moms need to concentrate on the basics. Get sleep. Eat regular meals. Nurse your baby. Recover physically. And Repeat. Anyone who helps with making those things happen is wonderful. Any friends who think just holding the baby is a big help can disrupt your new rhythm. Before your baby is born, try to find out who will help you will your postpartum recovery. This will save you worry and frustration.

Doula Support in Early Pregnancy

A medieval pregnant woman receiving herbal help.

Pregnancy and birth are a normal and beautiful process. Yet, sometimes, mothers suffer miscarriages and loss. Any mother who has previously had one or more miscarriages can use doula support right at the beginning of her pregnancy. As doulas we can advocate for you and support you emotionally at a time when you might not even be telling people you are pregnant. We can advocate for you by helping you get specialized medical and even herbal pregnancy support.

Mothers who have previously had difficult bouts with morning sickness or other problems can also use early doula support. Pregnancy and birth are a journey which does not have to be lonely. Let a doula support you on your journey.