Postpartum Tips {1} Placenta Encapsulation

I am going to a do a few posts about what has been the most helpful for this tricky postpartum time. Everything from vitamins to underwear! Here we go with the first installment and, arguably, the most important one!

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With my first pregnancy I hadn’t heard of Placenta Encapsulation. I planned to plant my placenta under a tree at my parents house but because of the infection that Nolie and I both had during labor the hospital took my placenta and wouldn’t give it back… I was bummed but didn’t think to much about it.

Fresh from the tub!

I didn’t have PPD but I did struggle with extreme fatigue and some serious mood swings. Everything felt SO huge in each moment, I felt out of control and like I couldn’t grasp what reality was- just whatever I was feeling in that very moment. I heard about Placenta Encapsulation when Nolie was about a year old and I was intrigued. It seemed a little gross to me at the time but I filed it away to think about when we were pregnant again.

I started hearing about it everywhere… Friends of mine were doing it, Anderson Cooper was talking about it and even January Jones was taking her placenta pills. I began to research. Here is an overview (and a great web resource) of the benefits.  Here is a list of the known ingredients in Placenta that have healing properties.

Gonadotrophin: the precursor to estrogen, progesterone and testosterone,
Prolactin: promotes lactation,
Oxytocin: for pain and bonding; produced during breastfeeding to facilitate bonding of mother and infant. In pharmaceutical form this is a very addictive drug because it promotes a feeling of connectedness with others,
Thyroid stimulating hormone: boosts energy and helps recovery from stressful events,
Cortisone: combats stress and unlocks energy stores,
Interferon: stimulates the immune system to protect against infections,
Prostaglandins: anti-inflammatory,
Hemoglobin: replenishes iron deficiency and anemia, a common postpartum condition,
Urokinase inhibiting factor and factor XIII: stops bleeding and enhances wound healing,
Gammaglobulin: immune booster that helps protect against postpartum infections.
Source

With all the research in favor and my desire to boost my energy and stay more even keeled this time around, we went for it.

getting a closer look

We chose to have my placenta encapsulated at our home, I am too interested in the whole process to send it away!  Doula David encapsulated for us and talked us through each step and let Nolie help out too. It was a whole family experience and so interesting.  Placentas are beautiful!

For me the benefits have been obvious- I am far less tired than I was after having Nolie. Despite having an active 2.5 year old to care for too and a  6 week old who nurses every 20min when she is awake and tandem nursing. I feel more stable in my day to day. I am far more able to look at a situation and feel calm and rational (it isn’t the end of the world when Nolie pours milk on the floor or dumps rice on the rug). Also my milk supply has been awesome and came in really quickly. I can feel a huge difference in my countenance and milk on the days that I take my placenta pills vs. the days that I forget.

Here is a little bit of the process in photos…

Separating the membrane from the placenta.

slicing it up, getting ready to dehydrate

all ready to be dehydrated

done dehydrating!

 

Getting filled into my bubble gum flavored capsules!

I will be doing this for any future births, for sure. This is my number one Postpartum tip. Look into this if you are pregnant, the costs vary from city to city it seems. In our town it is pretty affordable and seems worth every penny. I also encourage you to put the “gross out” factor aside and have it done in your own home. Knowing the process and seeing that organ in action is pretty incredible. I felt some measure of pride in seeing it and knowing that it sustained my sweet girl for her whole in womb life. My placenta yielded 182 pills and I take somewhere between 3-6 pills a day depending on how I am feeling ( I start with three each morning and take more if I am dragging).

If you have any questions feel free to email me (autumnmeyer25@gmail.com) or put it in the comments section. If there are lots I will do a FAQ post as a follow up- do your research, this is worth it!

EDD- empathy teaching

40 weeks

Today is my due date. I can say with total assurance that I never thought I would be sitting here, April 23rd, without a baby.

Having my first come almost two weeks early and second pregnancies are “typically shorter” along with being prepared for a home birth from 37 weeks on (because, duh, you have to be)… this last bit has felt very long.

BUT I am thankful. Achy, tired, enormous and thankful.

My calling is people. I have always liked waiting tables and making coffee,  far more than making money and following a corporate dress code. I like to talk to people, hear their stories, share my own, and make friends wherever I go. After I had Nolie my calling felt far more specific.

I love Moms.

I love connecting Mamas, listening to their woes and triumphs, sharing my own, and being vulnerable and also sharing what I feel like is important in parenting. My Facebook mom group is totally important to me… however dumb that might be. They have opened up an outlet for me to meet women who are struggling through the same issues (be they marriage, motherhood or body related), women who are wanting to give/receive milk for their babies, women who have hearts as true as can be- who give and give and still ask “do you know anyone who needs a meal?” .  I love Moms.

I feel like this pregnancy being so different has given me new empathy that I wholeheartedly lacked before. Spending the better part of 20 weeks with Antepartum depression gave me new understanding. I get it when women don’t feel connected with that baby. When they feel like giving up and giving in and just being “done”. I get the failures in parenting a toddler that come with that weight. Post 20ish weeks I fell hard in love with this baby and, it seems, with eating. The anything and the everything. I have a new empathy for Moms who gain more than the “recommended” amount. I am hovering around 50 pounds of weight gain (after eating whatever I wanted, not working out and still only gaining 25 with Nolie)… I have empathy for the “overweight mother” stamp. I have an easy time getting how “it just… happened”.

And now I have another new space to grow and gain empathy… “overdue”. Those dates sit in our head and even though they are pretty much arbitrary they sure carry a TON of weight. Inductions live and die by them. Plans are made with those dates in mind. There is an END and yet… it can be totally off, wrong, inaccurate, pointless.

“When are you due?”

“today.”

oh. . . and yet, more than likely, it won’t be today.

So tomorrow when I am hit with the inevitable question “when are you due?” I get to have the distinct pleasure of answering “yesterday” and watching their faces get awkward… confused… or, the best, empathetic.

 

casting and coming to terms

WARNING: these images are of a cast of my body and fairly graphic.

I have struggled with body image for ages. But this pregnancy it has gone into overdrive. I am so awed by what womens’ bodies are capable of and how they are designed to stretch and accommodate and sustain a whole life (and don’t get me started on how incredible it is that we create an entire organ during pregnancy! holla at your placenta!!) but I have a very hard time transferring that excitement to my own body packing on the padding.

Pregnancy does something to me. I become simultaneously SO proud of my body, what it is doing, how well it is working, how incredible the design is and, in the same moment, I am filled with total loathing. So much weight, So much stretched out, So empty of milk and sagging while still growing… it can feel grotesque to be such a huge bulked up version of myself.

A dear friend and artist wrote me and extended the offer to cast my belly, so, full of my sweet Harbor baby, I couldn’t say no. It felt like I would be saying no to Harbor. Saying I was ashamed. And I am working so hard to not be.

She arrived on a sunny Saturday morning and we got to it.

One of the main reasons I wanted to do a cast was just to see how it felt!  I am a really tactile person and I  knew I would like the feeling of it. But otherwise I was kind of at a loss… would I really want to hang a life-size version of my body on my wall? No. Likely not. So what would this be other than just a fun experience? Well, that came to us pretty quickly after we peeled off the cast.

I was at a loss. That space that my belly holds is just.so.big. I was astounded. I have been known to say “how can a whole baby fit in there!”  but seeing my belly off of myself it was pretty clear that my body was made to fit a baby in it. That round dome looked cozy and perfect to hold a whole baby, and just the right size.

I let the cast dry for a couple of days (and Nolie’s too!) and just looked at it a lot. It intimidated me. I felt awed by its size and how much I knew was happening inside of that belly but I also felt repelled. How could I be so big? How could my breasts look like that? How could I let myself get to this…

There is a funny thing about body image stuff. The less aware I am of my body the more I am “ok” with it. If I can ignore it, just live in it and not spend any time thinking about it, looking at it or wondering about it, the “easier” life is. I can eat anything, not exercise and just not care. But my body deteriorates within that, and my self image suffers too; internally the words don’t shut off- just because I have quit the mirror. But I Feel better in some weird way because I am really disconnected from myself, my movement, my feelings and how I feel in my skin.

Having my cast laying there, on the washing machine, was this daily image of me- but not me- that I was facing. And slowly it grew more and more beautiful to me. Odd and beautiful, overfull and still just right.

I decided to decorate it, cover it in affirmations and hang it near the birth tub in our room. To take the time to pray and think about what words I knew I needed to write on my body to make it an encouragement to myself and a piece of art and not loathing. I knew that I needed to sit with this piece and really look at it and realize all that it is and has done. That this belly looks so swollen because my entire baby is being sustained by it. That my breasts look like they do because not only are they preparing to be the total source of nutrition for my littlest girl but they are still the source of a lot of comfort, and being used daily, by my big girl too. They have grown and shrunk, filled and emptied and are about to do it all over again.

Both my belly and breasts are beautiful. Both deserve words of affirmation and care written all over them in paint and in my mind, regardless of how they look. The words I poured onto this cast are the words I need to swim in daily.

I spent a good chunk of time after this just crying. Took a hot shower and talked to Harbor about how incredibly designed women are. That WE can do this. That she knows what to do and that (as hard as I fight it) my body knows what to do too. That we are designed with each other in mind. That she and her sister were both made perfectly to fit out of me and no matter how they emerge their births are a beautiful first page of our lives together.

I chose the words Breathe, Strong, Brave, Enough and Fearfully and Wonderfully Made- those adorn this piece of art. This art that is my body and has and is housing my children. I cried over the words. It was extremely cathartic for me to remember that those words don’t need to come from someone else, I don’t need to be “enough” or right for anyone because I am designed as enough. I am made right. And I am enough for my girls and my God.

I highly suggest doing this beautiful ritual if you are pregnant and even if you aren’t. Taking time alone to sit with it and think about what that shape means for you and to you. Speak, write or pray some words over it that fill you with too much emotion to contain.

Thank you so much Janette, I don’t have words.

If you are in the Seattle area and looking to do a cast (for any reason) or need a doula, please check out my sweet friend and her beautiful work.

Full Term- BELLIES!

I have written about pregnant bellies before and shared images of women who were coming into the third trimester. This time I want to show you just what  a range of belly there can be with a healthy, full term, and cooked baby in there.

I am currently enormous feeling. 99% of my shirts don’t cover me and I don’t own enough leggings to cover every day of the week. I feel large, heavy, done, stretched and maxed out. BUT I know that I am close. So close. Be that close, like tonight. Or close, like next month. Either way, we are standing in the safe zone and on the doorstep of meeting our new littlest lady.

My baby feels bigger this time and my body feels better and more connected and ready. My belly is full.

These ladies were all incredible enough to share these images with me and I am so thankful. Each of these bellies is Normal. Right. Beautiful. Healthy. and doing a HUGE job.

If you feel too small, you aren’t. If you feel too big, you aren’t. If you feel like a frump, you aren’t. You are growing a miracle, life, person, and you are doing it well. 

These women are my birth affirmations. These bellies are the reminders that so many women have done this before me, will do this after me and that I am not alone.

We aren’t alone in this. We aren’t alone in the doubts and feelings, the heaviness and weariness. We are together in this growth. 

The confidence, beauty and poise I can see in other women who are so full with their babies is hard to transfer to myself. But these images are fighting that.

These women are images of life and strength, power and confidence. Notice how they look at the camera without hesitation? That isn’t a fluke. That is how the power of pregnancy flows through us because we aren’t alone in the image, we are holding onto our babies and the protective, sexy, powerful confidence just pours out even if we don’t feel it.

I am Enough.

My body is enough. My birth will be enough. My baby is enough. I am enough. Each of these women, completely on their own, is more than enough.

You are SO much stronger than you

think you are. 

I read a quote the other day that took my breath away. That summed up everything I believe in my day today. The words I will think on while I labor and in the days when I struggle with Nolie and being the mother of a toddler.

Gratitude turns what we have into Enough.

I am beyond thankful for these images. For the huge spectrum of normal and healthy. For the reminders from these women that I am healthy. I am normal. I am enough. Whatever a scale reads or a doctor frowns at, whatever my pants number is or how many clothes I have to box away after this baby arrives. At this moment, full and huge, I am just right.

I will remain to be just right after this baby comes. I will have a body that shows the marks of motherhood and feeds my daughters. I will be ragged and tired and I won’t be alone.

These are my women. This is my tribe of mothers who rise up and answer the call to spread beauty, normalcy and Hope. These are the images to think on.

Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things. (phil 4:8)

Thank you again to everyone who sent me a picture. I am so moved, grateful and impressed. Our bodies are powerful and made for this and do it in so many different ways.

My next belly post will be full of Postpartum bellies- any stage (days or years since your last birth). I will be sharing my belly… in all of its very PP glory and would love if you would be willing to share yours too. If you are a Mama, snap a photo today or use one from before and email it to me autumnmeyer25@gmail.com

Spread some body positivity, pride and love. Because WE are enough. 

35/35/35(?)

Well, Monday brought with it the infamous 35 weeks= 35 days till due date . . . while last time that made me feel very, OH MY GOSH THAT IS SO SOON! This time it feels much more like, no.way.can’t.go.that.long.

I know it could be two weeks or seven weeks. I am steeling myself for the long haul because chances are, since everything is basically ready and I feel very done, this baby won’t arrive till the very end of her window. Who knows? (not me, bleh)

But this time instead of just 35/35 I get to (sarcasm!) add an additional 35 to this… yep, 35 pounds gained. Technically it is somewhere between 33-40 depending on scales. Last time I gained 27 total. I have left last time in the dust… weeks ago. I am overwhelmed by the number. I am annoyed with myself for caring about a number. And still I am terrified of the next number(s)…because there is still time and still gaining happening.

I have started a new workout plan and hopefully will keep it up till the end of my  pregnancy and I will for sure UP it after this baby comes (after a few weeks, obviously!) for lots of reasons.  I am uncomfortable in my skin at this size. I want to feel strong and capable and working out gives me that and also because, for me, working out makes a HUGE difference in my emotional state. So along with making plans for post birth clothes and postpartum wardrobe changes, I am starting to make plans now for postpartum exercise that will be safe, not take me away from my baby and that WORKS.

So here I am… all 300.000 pounds of baby and me. I know this is kind of a downer of a post… I am trying to be honest, get those ugly words out and then keep on trucking with positive thinking. But today (and the past few days) have been really hard and reconciling that number and that it has nothing to do with my worth has been a feat. So today I am trying to declare it done and let this post be the graveyard for those thoughts.

35 weeks

ps. I, in no way, think that gaining 35+ pounds is a big deal in and of itself. My problems stem from my own issues, I know many (many many) women gain far more than that and look incredible, are healthy, and maintain a healthy weight postpartum (in a healthy time frame). This post is more about my own insecurities than it is a commentary on how huge 35pounds feels. 

 

JFYI

Had an ultrasound this morning and am grinning from ear to ear. Evidently living in knees chest-pelvic tilts-downward dogs- hands and knees and bouncing constantly on a yoga ball worked for this little baby! We are, currently (for the moment! eek!), head down!

almost 35 weeks head down bumpity!

So now… best suggestions on how to get this little girl stuck? I have been doing deep squats and walking quite a bit but any other tips would be great!

I am so relived. So, so, so, so relived.

home birthing and planning for baby #2

We are getting into the planning stages, the fun parts, the collecting stuff feeling the weight and reality of this. I am about a  month and a half away from full term… Charlie and I sorted through all of Nolies newborn clothes and washed, folded and put away all these (tiny, tiny, tiny, “up to seven pounds”) itty bitty sleepers, onesies and pants. I sobbed. That was unexpected, to me, I have been crying over hulu ads and seeing little old couples walking past our house for but when it comes to clothes… I don’t know. I just haven’t been sentimental. I never cried over boxing up Nolie’s clothes as she out grew them but going through those pieces and remembering that it was SO recently that she fit into them, it just killed me. I cried and cried. The reality that we are going to be bringing another whole person into this world and into our home… it felt weighty and huge. Exciting and overwhelming. Beautiuful and, best of all, I feel really ready to meet her. Really in love with my Harbor girl already.

Our plans this time around are far less rigorous. No long birthing class, no evenings dedicated to breathing and pressure techniques, no journaling daily to my baby,I have asked a great friend to make me a birth mix and am trying to relax into this. Trust into this. But we are doing so smartly. While our planning and prep work are far lighter we are putting more bang into our buck. Having a birth preference plan that will account for possibly having to labor and delivery in the hospital, having a doula who is well versed in hospital protocol and is respected in the birth community, a birth refesher day with an incredible birth educator that will take place in the quiet of our own home (baby free!).

And best of all, most important of all, is trying to set my eyes on the great parts, the exciting pieces and the glee I have over getting to do this again. I have no doubt I can weather labor and delivery in my home, I just want the chance. My anxiety sits fully in the worry of my choices vanishing, of history repeating and not being able to be in the peace of my own home or the birth center. But, BUT, I am letting that go. Slowly, every day in tiny pieces. With planning, with knowledge, with research and with prayer- so much prayer. Prayer for a healthy babe, a head down babe, a chin tucked babe, a restorative time and a birth that connects me even closer with my God, my body, and my husband. I am praying all of this in faith, faith that He answers my prayers and hears my heart. Faith that He has a plan and that I will be Thankful in it no matter what.

Be Thankful, always.

That is on a chalk board in my home. I am trying to let that resonate and bounce in my head as much as possible, knowing that all my plans and hopes aside, His plans will be the ones that prevail. And I will be Thankful. And I will be Thankful. And I will be Thankful.

I am feeling huge, ready and so much more tired than last time. We were horribly sick this week, all three of us came down with a stomach flu that just kicked us over and over again. Luckily it seems to be lifting. Charlie, after two sick days (his only two, crap), seems to be feeling quite a bit better. Nolie is seeming better mostly but still pretty clingy and lethargic, her appetite is starting to come back but still sticking to the BRAT diet for now. And I am still pretty out of it. Not puking any more but just fatigued… could have something to do with the giant belly, inability to sleep comfortably, and the hilariously active baby in my womb. Who knows? ;)

Thats where we are… planning, praying and preparing. And getting so, so, so excited to meet this little Harbor baby. She is a gem already and blowing our mind with how responsive she is our voices and how sweet she and her sister are already. I get teary even thinking about it. They are the shine in my days, just perfect.

Also? This quote hit me hard last time around. This time too.

For some reason, with this spring time girl, remembering to Bloom feels ever important.

 

well… here I am.

I had a midwife appointment a couple of days ago. I stood on the scale and saw the numbers tick up-up-up (luckily alone).I am currently sitting at the same weight I was when I DELIVERED Nolie…

30 weeks (not 38)

I want to practice what I preach. I want to be OK with this and know that I am active, healthy and growing just right. But the number is a hang up for me… obviously, I have written about this eleventybillion times. Maybe the baby is bigger? Maybe it is because I am still making some milk? Maybe? maybe… maybe?? All I know is that this is a battle for me and stretching me. Making me turn my thoughts to things that are FAR more important, things like family, planning our birth, playing with Nolie and loving my husband. Things like soaking up these last moments of being a family of three, the last time that Nolie will be our only.

Making me release every negative body thought and give them to God and ask for something different in return.

I am deciding that these thoughts aren’t worth it. Aren’t worth me. My worth has nothing to do with that number, praise God.

Getting Dressed (twelve)

Sleepy girl

Today was beautiful. The sun shone all day, Nolie was confident and played really comfortably at a playdate and Charlie worked a half day (and then late hours tonight, bummer). We went on a  family date and it couldn’t have been more perfect.

We walked Nolie downtown in her BOB (surefire nap) and she slept through a long lunch at a new restaurant we have been wanting to try out, it was fabulous. Then when she woke up we headed off to a darling little cake shop to share a cupcake. Just perfect. The only hang up was that she was super OVER her stroller after her nap, the 30 minute walk home wasn’t one that she wanted to be rolling for.

So at, almost, 28 weeks pregnant I strapped my current baby on and off we went. It was comfortable, cozy and kept her so happy and cuddly. I really do love baby wearing.

Jacket: J.Crew (nearly 10 years old)

dress: H&M (got it at a maternity clothes swap!)

belt: (ancient gap)

skirt: F21

tights: Nordstroms

boots: F21

Wow, just realized that nothing here is maternity… pretty wonderful!

 

Carrier: BOBA! Can’t wait to try this one out with our tiny baby soon (kinda soon… like, SOON… scary soon? oh sheesh.)

Also? tomorrow is a no heat curls kinda day… I just can’t get enough.

Ripe Women

Women are fed a lot of nonsense about how we should look, act and talk. We are filled with ideas and images, words and criticisms that speak to how we will fail, not how we will succeed. Women who are pregnant are fed a whole new slew of lies. We shouldn’t get stretch  marks, we should look the same after the baby arrives, we shouldn’t be “too big” or “too small”.

Filled in this post are images of beautiful pregnant women. Beautiful and unedited women. Women who are carrying babies that are between 25-28 weeks, babies that came out in different ways. Babies that are first borns, siblings, planned, surprises and carried so well by their mamas. Beautiful bumps that are “too big” or “too small” but worked and grew babies that are Just Right.

These are the images that fight those lies.

Pregnancy is hard and growing so fast and changing so much can be a heavy weight to bear, let alone the words and comment s of strangers. The images of celebrities gaining very little weight, losing it all immediately and being back on a runways weeks postpartum do a lot to a woman who is feeling so out of sorts to start with.

Every body grows differently, shows differently and is working miraculously.

It isn’t just that I think I am fat because the girl on the magazine is thinner than me. I think I am fat because I am labeled “fat”, “abnormal” and “unhealthy” at the WIC office, the grocery store, the movie theatre and at nearly any get together with a group of women… Not to mention it starts young. Like, baby young. Barbies, television, telling toddlers to be careful how many cookies they eat, horrible one’sies that say “does this diaper make me look fat”, growth charting the crap out of every one and being concerned over ounces and needing to maintain “consistent but healthy” gain from day one on. In mothering your intuition and your bodies ability to work well is stomped on. In womanhood our bodies are labeled and given a worth based on numbers, jeans sizes and perceived “health” based on a number or by looking at you.

Healthy and normal looks different on everyone.

All of it is wrong.

Health is important. The most important. Taking care of your body, feeding it well, loving it well, making it strong and feeling strong in it. These are the feelings, images and goals that I am clinging too and aching to model for my girls. But pregnancy can do a number on you, especially if you have self esteem issues to start with. It begins innocently “wow, you look big for just 25 weeks!” or “really? 28 weeks? You are SO tiny!”. Women are doomed from the get go to feel like they are either too big or too small and this time it isn’t just our confidence in our bodies that gets undermined but our confidence in our ability to grow a healthy baby. An assault on our kids and how they grow (in us) before they even emerge!

Speaking truth, love and care for our bodies is not a gift, it is what we must be doing.

This needs fighting. Images of women who are pregnant and full and healthy are few and far between. Maternity wear tags make it look like you never gain weight anywhere but the bump and for many women this is from true. It also made me think I would never get “too” big. Just big enough to feel pregnant and cute, but never oafish and puffed up. The truth? I got big, I am big this time and I am tired of the “are you sure there is just one in there?” or “how much have you gained?” and my favorite “there is NO WAY you are only ____ weeks along!!”.

Seeing the miracle of the human body, not the flaws we are told are there because of the growth.

Thank you so much to the incredible and beautiful Mamas who shared their photos with me. Remember that awesome group I am a part of (and my various rockin’ mama Facebook friends)!?  I am so blessed to see not only how magnificent the female body is and how incredibly well it can grow babies but also with the outpouring of support for this post. There is a movement happening… we are changing, giving new words to our bodies and hearts, growing up a tribe of babies that we will strive to love and enstil some serious self esteem in. I am so proud to be a part of this generation of Mamas.