Thursday, July 22, 2010

26 Week Update

I am 26 weeks along and we are cruising through! The last four weeks haven’t been as eventful which is really nice. It is fun to be in the second trimester were all we are doing is watching him grow. And man is he growing! I am quite a bit bigger than I was when I last took a picture. I am wearing it well though. My back is surprisingly not as sore as you would think, and I am still moving around just fine.

I have hired a midwife. She only does home births, but she takes patients for what they call “concurrent care” if you are looking for that kind of monitoring even if you are delivering in a hospital. Basically, she will not deliver the baby, nor be at the hospital. I will simply see her for prenatal visits (and likely some postnatal visits as well) as I move through the rest of this time. I wanted to hire a midwife because of how I went into labor with Noah. I think about half the people in my life know that when I had Noah, my water broke, but I didn’t have any contractions or any signs of going into active labor. In the medicated child birth world, you go straight to the hospital where they give you lots of pitocin, the labor inducing drug to get things going. In the natural childbirth world, they call this PROM, or Premature Rupture of Membranes. It is normal and healthy, and you wait it out until your body and your baby decide to get things going on their own. This takes about 72 hours. It took me just under that time frame. I know that this concept scares the bejesus out of most, but for me I have no regrets. I got two and half more days with Noah than I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. We were both fine. I find it comforting in hind sight that he was the uber-nature baby. He came into the world when he wanted, and he left when he needed.

Doctors do not subscribe to this method of going into labor at all. There are a myriad of reasons why. Fear of malpractice suits, plus they make more money on medicated mothers, or maybe it is what insurance companies insist on for some reason. Either way, if it happens again with Aaron, I want to be cared for by someone that understands waiting for spontaneous labor, and is still a licensed medical professional, and has all the equipment (ultrasounds, etc) that my doctor has to monitor me more carefully. I also heard from a friend who uses a home birth midwife that the prenatal visits last about an hour. I probably see my OB for ten minutes when I go. The midwife on the other hand does a full checkup, measuring my belly, doing an ultrasound, checking blood pressure and pulse, and a number of other things. She also goes over how I am handling stress, what am I doing for diet and exercise, and helps manage the vitamins and supplements I am taking. It is a very thorough checkup! I find that incredibly comforting. Also, when I have questions, she is available all day and into the evening. She always picks up the phone. I don’t leave a message with someone else or on voice mail and wait for her to call me back. She is just always there. In moments of panic, she is a real lifesaver! I will of course continue to see my regular doctor too since that is who will actually deliver Aaron in the end. I am just covering all my bases and enjoying the best of both worlds by splitting my time between a doctor and a midwife.

I saw the midwife last Friday and she was remarking on how much weight I have gained in the last month. I have gained nine pounds! She then went over my diet with me. I am pretty anal about food and after I satisfied her that I am not living off of french fries, potato chips and the like, she turned her attention to check up on Aaron’s growth. That’s where we found the answer. He is measuring four weeks ahead of schedule! He has been growing like a weed, and frankly knowing that now makes a lot of sense. I have been hungry pretty much all the time lately. I have had a hard time keeping up on that for him! He has been in the middle of a huge growth spurt. Noah grew the same way. He was always measuring ahead. With two very tall parents this is completely normal and to be expected. In the ultrasound, Aaron looks great. He moves around just fine. His heart rate was in the 130’s. Everything looked perfect. He is just one big growing boy!

Aside from Aaron’s massive growth, as the summer is progressing, I am getting more and more swollen. My hands and feet feel like sausages. I haven’t seen the bones in my feet for a few weeks now. I have also been getting some braxton hicks contractions. The midwife says that this is normal and likely a sign that I need to slow down and rest more. Focus on staying hydrated and keep eating small snacks throughout the day. They don’t hurt and they aren’t coming regularly. I likely had them last time, but just didn’t get what they were. I haven’t had any food aversions yet. I am craving watermelon and the occasional Root Beer. I have always liked watermelon, but I don’t like Root Beer ordinarily! I don’t let myself have one except for every so often. Clearly Aaron loves it though! He is moving around more and more. There are times when it feels like he is knitting sweaters in there. He doesn’t kick so much as he feels like he is busy working on something!

As you can see from my previous post, the PUPPPS is back this time around. The skin on my legs started feeling a little itchy, and then right around 23 weeks it tipped over into being PUPPPS. PUPPPS stands for Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy, and it is an allergic reaction to the pregnancy, and in particular, some research is showing that it is an allergic reaction to male fetal DNA. It causes an extremely itchy rash akin to poison ivy and it usually pops up later in the pregnancy. Usually 3rd trimester, but because of the severity of how bad I tend to get it, it came mid way through second trimester this time. It is pretty rotten, and last time I had no choice but to take mega doses of steroids throughout the rest of pregnancy. This time I seem to be doing really well with the amazing acupuncturist I have found. She has a treatment plan that is really keeping it under control so far. I am so grateful! The midwife too has been pulling together a concoction of supplements that helps a lot too. Between the two of them, I am doing really well. It takes a lot of work keeping on top of it all, but to stay off of those drugs makes it very worth it! Pray that it works throughout the rest of the pregnancy!

Hope all is well with each of you! Thanks for reading!

Friday, July 2, 2010

PUPPPS Home Remedies

You guys are going to have to forgive me, but I need to post a public service sort of thing here. As of 23 weeks along into this pregnancy (way freaking early, I might add) the PUPPPS came back. Last time around I developed an allergic reaction to the pregnancy (called PUPPPS), where I found that my belly, legs and arms (mostly my belly) were covered with an itchy rash that was akin to having poison ivy that I enjoyed living with for the last trimester. I researched as hard as I could to find a holistic alternative to taking the mega doses of steroids that the doctor prescribes to treat the condition. I failed miserably, and had no choice but to side with modern medicine.

This time around, knowing what it was and identifying it sooner, I gave the holistic thing a shot, and so far I am doing really well trying some new stuff I didn’t do last time. Posting about it on the blog is important. I did this last time and it has helped in two ways. One, I had it documented so I would know what to do when or if it showed up on the next pregnancy. Two, my fellow itchy moms out there are desperately sitting at their computers ready to scratch their skin off and are googling for this stuff, and I know my past blog posts have come in handy. Ladies, I do this mostly for you, since when we find something that works, we need to share it with each other!

Here’s what I am doing that is working (so far at least!)…


Supplement Dosage Frequency Where to Find It
Flaxseed Oil (or Mercury Free Fish Oil – mercury is terrible for the baby so be careful if you go this route!) Ignore the package instructions. What’s important are the EPA and DHA counts on the back of the bottle. You must get it up to around 800 mg each per day in order for it to be therapeutic. Don’t forget to add in what is in your prenatal vitamin as well! I get 814 mg of EPA and 764 mg DHA a day, and it is working great. These nutrients are also fantastic for brain and eye development for the baby, and will help as they develop motor skills when they are older! Break it up into taking it 3x day to get to the needed EPA and DHA counts. Remember - 800 mg total for the day of each nutrient. Any grocery store or drug store
Dandelion 550 mg 3x Day Natural foods market
Apis Mellifica (Homeopathic Medicine that helps relieve itching as needed) Limited to manufacturers packaging Follow package instructions Natural foods market

*Takes about a week of taking the flaxseed oil and dandelion for it to start working. The Apis Mellifica should help right away.

Limit foods that cause swelling. This includes diary and eggs. Make sure you are still getting adequate calcium and protein through other means such as lean meats and dark green leafy vegetables.

Squeeze a slice of lemon into a glass of water. This helps eliminate toxins, and help improve your liver function over time, which helps with alleviating PUPPPS.

Topical Remedies:

  • Grandpa’s Pine Tar Soap – Get this at your natural foods market. Take a lukewarm shower with it. Get yourself soaped up, and use a shower puff to really work it into a good lather for a couple of minutes before rinsing it off. It takes about a week of doing this remedy for you to start noticing a difference.

  • Eucerin Calming Cream - As soon as you get out of the shower, cover the rash with this cream. You can get it at any grocery store or drug store. Put it in the refrigerator for an extra cooling effect.

  • Sarna Anti-Itch Lotion – This is another topical cream that works well too. Get it at any grocery store or drug store. It works on the first application, but repeated doses aren’t as effective.

  • Hydracortisone cream – Great to keep on you to treat itchy spots as needed. Get it at any grocery store or drug store.

  • Clarisonic with body brush (optional and expensive, $200) – This is a body brush that is made by the makers of the sonicare toothbrush. This should be used sparingly, but can be helpful every so often. Part of PUPPPS is that the skin builds up quite a bit of dead skin cells. When you are applying topical treatments, it gets difficult for the lotion to penetrate through the dead skin and get to the part that needs to be healed. The Clarisonic brush will gently slough off dead skin cells without scratching. You will feel itchy afterwards, so use carefully and only every once in a while. This is an especially helpful remedy when you are done being pregnant and the PUPPPS is finally beginning to heal up and go away. Use in the shower with your pine tar soap. Soap up, and run the Clarisonic brush over the effected skin until the timer goes off (it only stays on for a limited time). Rinse off, get out of the shower and apply lotion. You can buy this from or from higher end salons.

Acupuncture has been known to help treat the symptoms of PUPPPS. It will tone down the itching substantially. Not all acupuncturists are fully trained on how to treat this condition, so be careful on who you go to. If you live in Colorado Springs and want a recommendation, shoot me an email. I would be happy to share the name of the person I use. I saw someone who wasn’t good last time (links to those blog posts are below). The lady I see now is fantastic! Each treatment will cost around $50-$65 each, depending on the clinic, and you will need to go 2-3 times (or potentially more) depending on the severity of your rash.

Other Tips:

  • Wear loose clothing like dresses. Let your skin air out as much as possible. Don’t wear restrictive clothing that doesn’t breathe.

  • No hot showers! Take lukewarm showers instead. The heat can exacerbate the rash.

  • Try to stay in cool environments. If it is summer, stay in air conditioned places as much as possible. Again, heat makes it worse

  • Avoid the temptation to scratch. If you scratch the rash, it will make it much worse. The patch of skin you scratch will become raised, inflamed, more itchy and even painful.

  • Clip your nails back and sleep wearing gloves at night. Sometimes without realizing it, you can scratch yourself in your sleep. You will wake up feeling miserable. Prevent yourself from doing this by wearing a light pair of gloves at night.

My other blog posts on PUPPPS:
Sarah's Adventures at the Witch Doctor
PUPPPs Remedies
PUPPPs Update
Sleeping with Gloves On

Finally, I am not a doctor. You need to consult with your OB on this to see what they recommend. Anything they say trumps what I have written here. These are merely things that I have independently tried that have worked for me. Every woman and every pregnancy is different and I don't pretend to be an expert! Good luck!