Eat Dates Around Your Date

Eat Dates Around Your Date

As your pregnancy winds to an end and you find yourself stocking up on diapers, prepping your bag for the birth center, and finishing your childbirth education classes, there’s one other thing to remember… DATES!

Hop in the car and head to a natural foods store (Sprouts, Whole Foods, etc.) to stock up on some dates for snacking during your last few weeks of pregnancy.

The date fruit is the product of the date palm, a tree native to Northern Africa and the Middle East.  There are many kinds of dates and each variety is unique in size, sweetness, flavor, and texture.

So why eat dates in pregnancy?  So. Many. Reasons.

“They’re a nutritional powerhouse, packed with vitamins, minerals, and protein,” says Maribeth Diver MSN, CNM, a midwife at Babymoon Inn birth center.  “They’re especially rich in potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, and zinc, and they contain 23 types of amino acids, 14 types of fatty acids, and fiber.”

But that’s not all.  Research has demonstrated significant benefits for pregnant women who eat six dates a day beginning four weeks before their due date.

These women were:

  • more dilated upon labor admission
  • more likely to have their amniotic sac remain in tact until after labor began
  • less likely to be induced or have labor augmented with medication
  • less likely to have long, slow, tiring “prelabor”

Eating dates during labor has also been shown to reduce vomiting, increase energy, and shorten the length of pushing.  It has also been shown to reduce the amount of bleeding after birth.

Excited about an easier, shorter labor but not sure how to eat six dates a day?  Google date recipes or borrow one from Babymoon Inn’s registered dietitian Megan McNamee.

“Dates are a good source of fiber and potassium that can act as a natural sweetener in many recipes,” she says.  “My favorite way to use them is by blending them with equal parts nuts like macadamia nuts or almonds until smooth to form an energy ball.  Stir in shredded unsweetened coconut or cocoa nibs for fun variations.  Roll into one-inch balls and freeze.  They’re great straight from the freezer!”

Did you eat dates around YOUR date?  Do you feel like it benefitted you during labor?

Nurses and Cesarean Rate

Nurses and Cesarean Rate

With one out every three babies currently being born surgically in the United States, health care providers, researchers, and consumers are all beginning to question what can be done to lower the Cesarean rate and consequently the associated risks for moms and babies.

We recently shared a study conducted by Dr. Neel Shah and Ariadne labs that uncovered the correlation between facility design and Cesarean rate, and now a new study now looks at how nurses impact this rate as well.

The Journal of Obstetric, Gynecological and Neonatal Nursing published a retrospective cohort study that included 3,031 births and 72 nurses. While the mean nurse Cesarean rate was 26%, nurse’s individual rates ranged from 8.3% to a whopping 48%.

With such a wide variation in Cesarean rates across nurses, the study concluded that “the nurse assigned to a patient may influence the likelihood of cesarean birth.” The authors further suggest that, “Data regarding this outcome could be used to design practice improvement initiatives to improve nurse performance.”

Find the original study.

Women Catching Their Own Babies

Women Catching Their Own Babies

A few months ago while retelling a birth story in my Lamaze class, I got to the part where “mom reached down and caught her baby,” and was met with giggles at the use of the term.

We talk about about “catching babies,” pretty frequently around the birth center. A midwife or doctor doesn’t deliver a baby. The mother delivers her baby, while a midwife, birth partner, or mother herself “catches” the baby.

I realized two things at that moment in class – that a woman “catching her baby” was not only an unfamiliar term, but also an unfamiliar concept. I was, of course, delighted to share with the class the joy of catching one’s own baby – an experience that personally still gives me goosebumps years later.

Doula and birth photographer Morag Hastings or Apple Blossom Families shares my love for seeing and hearing about women catching their own babies – so much so that she recently shared a blog post containing ten stunning images of this exact event.

Morag writes:

I was showing my girlfriend my recent slideshow featuring a mom catching her own baby. She asked me part way through, ‘Where are the midwives?’ I explained they were in the background for most of the birth, they would pop over quietly for a moment then go back to the kitchen table. They were giving my clients space to work through the intense waves. Not breaking the dance that was ensuing between the birthing mom and her partner. When the baby was being born into the mom’s hands, the midwife was right there ready to help if the mom needed it.

Who caught your baby? What was that moment like?

See all of Morag’s images.

Undisturbed First Hour

Undisturbed First Hour

We often use the term “undisturbed birth” to describe a birth free of interventions and other stress-inducing factors that disrupt the natural hormonal process that takes place in a physiologic birth.

But as research shows, that period of minimal disturbance should continue after baby arrives as well, for at least an hour that is often referred to as “The Golden Hour.”

In a post on Collective-evolition.com, Alexa Erickson discusses four benefits of an undisturbed first hour in which the newborn and its mother have uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact:

Allows the baby to begin breastfeeding
Permits body system regulation
Allows the baby to receive better oxygen
Initiates motherbaby bonding

To facilitate this undisturbed hour, Erickson recommends

There should be a warm blanket placed over both mother and baby to slow the production of the adrenaline hormone in her to avoid interference with oxytocin and prolactin hormones being produced. The environment should be quiet.

Height, weight, head circumference, and the newborn exam can all wait. So can the eager relatives waiting to hold the new baby! For a healthy baby, the best place to be immediately after birth is skin-to-skin on its mother.

To read more about the benefits of an undisturbed first hour, see the full article.

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