A Bun in the Oven…for the second time! Reflections of How to Avoid Certain Pitfalls

Pregnancy can be extremely exciting, but also a daunting experience. There are so many things to consider (even when it’s your second) and the questions and options that arise can seem a bit overwhelming, to say the least!

  • What should I eat (and drink) and which foods do I need to avoid?
  • What activities can I still enjoy?
  • When do I need to go to the doctor?
  • Should I choose a midwife or OB?
  • What screenings are necessary and which ones are just the latest rage in pregnancy technology?
  • What do I take (or avoid) if I get sick?
  • Do I need the vaccines they recommend?
  • What pediatrician will I take my child to see?
  • How long can I stay at my job?
  • What about childcare?
  • How will this new bundle of joy be welcomed by his/her siblings?

As I recount my second pregnancy and birth, you will see comments in blue from my friend and long time, holistic RN- “Nurse Mo” who will act as the voice of reflection.  In other words, she’ll point out what I might have done differently had I known then what we both know now.  Don’t get me wrong, life gives us what we need to learn and grow.  However, if telling you about the pitfalls I encountered (and having Nurse Mo interject her professional insights and comments) helps you avoid the trials, tribulations and heartaches that I went through, then my mission has been accomplished.   Additionally, at the end of this blog, you’ll see a list of my own reflections.

My story about pregnancy #2: 

I thought I had it figured out by the time I learned I was pregnant with our second child, 10 short months after our son, Kendall was born. I was fully anticipating a smooth pregnancy this time around since my first pregnancy had been a breeze. But, that didn’t turn out to be the case.

I suffered from terrible migraines, for which I was prescribed strong pain relievers to use at the onset. However, the goal was to prevent them from occurring at all. So, my doctor informed me that I could prevent them by drinking a lot of caffeine. Since I wasn’t a coffee drinker he said, “Then drink soda. Drink lots of it. Not just any soda…drink Mountain Dew. It has more caffeine than most of the others.”

Nurse Mo’s Notes: So, you can probably guess what my first comment is going to be here: “This was crazy and completely unhealthy advice given to Jill from her OB!  First of all, a good physician would have investigated the source of the migraines.  Maybe they were due to stress, too much sugar, food allergies, a toxic liver, etc.  Many of these conditions can be rectified with diet and lifestyle changes.  Secondly, we’ve known for many years that pain medications (especially Tylenol but certainly other pain meds during pregnancy have many negative ramifications on the growing fetus).  Lastly, – Mountain Dew, are you kidding me? Not only does this particular soda contain higher than normal amounts of caffeine (also harmful in excess to a growing fetus), but it has high fructose corn syrup as it’s source of sweetener which we know is an incredibly unhealthy source of sugar.  With this kind of advice, I’m sorry to say, this pregnancy was not off to a good start or headed in a healthy direction.

Well, this was music to my ears! I LOVED soda, but had given it up when I got pregnant. Although, I had never been a big fan of Mountain Dew, I decided to “take one for the team”. After all, I didn’t want to take medication unless I absolutely had to. If I could prevent them with something so yummy…well?? Mountain Dew it was!

Besides the migraines, I also experienced yeast infection after yeast infection. In retrospect, it’s no surprise since I was feeding the yeast overgrowth with tons of sugar. Yeast infections are no joke…they made my skin crawl! However, my doctor didn’t offer any real solutions for them, as he had with the migraines other than over-the-counter creams, of course.

In my despair, I complained to my mother-in-law who immediately went to the library to try and find solutions. After reading a few articles, she decided that the local natural health store might have some resources that could be helpful. We visited the cute little store where the manager told us about candida and yeast-free diets and suggested a book for us to purchase. This sounded like the craziest thing I’d ever heard. I mean, really…how could FOOD be related to yeast infections? I remember thinking this lady must be “one of those quacks”, and she just must have been trying to make a sale. I had suffered with yeast infections throughout my life when I took antibiotics, and they eventually went away using the creams. So, I decided to ignore her nonsense and I would just deal with them and the creams and be done with it.

Back in the 1980’s when I became aware of the havoc an overgrowth of candida can cause, I too became one of those “health food quacks” Jill spoke of. Except, it wasn’t quackery! See, candida is a normal organism in everyone’s body. They live in our gut mostly but are also on our skin and even line our intestinal tract.  All is well until a problem arises, such as when the other good friendly bacteria are killed off by an overuse of antibiotics or stress or too many toxins and sugar.   Then the immune system can no longer keep the candida population in check. Now those little yeasty organisms start having a party! What happens next: the overgrowth of candida weakens the immune system making it more susceptible to infections (including recurrent yeast infections). Candida can also cause a syndrome known as “leaky gut” which allows undigested material into the blood stream causing the immune system to create antibodies against those foreign undigested compounds.  Now a cascade of symptoms can occur that one would never associate with yeast occurs and includes: food sensitivities, fatigue, brain fog, attention and focus issues, depression, anxiety, etc. Believe me, dealing with a systemic yeast overgrowth goes way beyond vaginal discharge and itchiness! Here’s the good news: that health food quack was right, dietary changes (namely getting rid of sugar and white carbs) can not only relieve the symptoms, it can put the yeast population back in check and prevent further recurrences. Now why didn’t that doctor know that?

As if migraines and yeast infections weren’t enough, when I had the much anticipated ultrasound to determine the gender of my sweet baby, they discovered that he had fluid in his kidneys. I was assured that these issues typically resolved by the time the baby is born. But, to be on the safe side, they insisted that we do ultrasounds monthly until I delivered him. I thought this was awesome…I would get to see my baby growing each month! And heck, insurance would even cover it!

As a former Natural Childbirth Instructor and Labor and Delivery Room Nurse during the time (1980’s and 1990’s) when Ultrasounds were becoming all the rage, initially, I didn’t think much of them. However, as they have become more common place and they are done more frequently during pregnancies, I and many others in the natural health professions have heightened our concerns about their safety! Check out the article on Page 26 of Pathways Magazine, “Questions Regarding Prenatal Ultrasound and the Alarming Increase in Autism”. 

By 35 weeks, my migraines had become somewhat debilitating so I was placed on partial bedrest. I could walk around as I felt I could, but I wasn’t to work. I did get some rest, but became restless after about a week. I knew we would be moving to Florida for my husband’s job transfer 3 short weeks after my due date, and there was so much to do. So, I packed some when I could, but began panicking when I realized that we just needed more time.

What if I went past my due date? Jackson would need his post-birth care for the first few weeks at the pediatrician’s office. I expressed my concerns to my doctor, and he suggested we just induce labor at 39 weeks. That would give me a full month to heal from the birth process, plus get him the postnatal care he would need right away. Lee and I thought this was the perfect solution!

Inducing labor is sometimes very necessary especially if the baby’s health is in jeopardy or if mom has a medical condition such as preeclampsia, etc. However, not allowing Mother Nature to initiate and orchestrate the process of labor and birth simply because it is not convenient for the patient or the doctor’s schedule is unwise. Article link to health hazards of labor induction.  

The day of his scheduled induction came and we were so excited to welcome our sweet baby boy into this crazy world!

If I knew then what I know now AND had access to the resources I have now…

Boy, oh boy, would I change so many things!

 1) I would have spent some time preparing my body for a healthy pregnancy BEFORE I got pregnant in the first place. Maureen outlines tips for that HERE. 

 2) I would have begun an intense internet search to see why I could possibly be having so many headaches and yeast infections.

 3) I wouldn’t have discounted lady at the natural health store nor the book (I can’t remember the title) she had suggested which explained that my headaches could have been candida-related. When you treat/prevent the candida overgrowth, you prevent the headaches. Makes total sense to me NOW. My doctor said I just needed more caffeine. He was the doctor, not me. So, he MUST know about that potential link, right?? Wrong!

 4) I certainly wouldn’t have guzzled Mountain Dew on a daily basis in an effort to stave off headaches. Check out this article on Caffeine Intake During Pregnancy

 5) I had been an avid reader of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” and “What to Expect the First Year”, but I didn’t even know that books on vaccine safety existed. I would have educated myself well on this subject, as well through books such as “What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Children’s Vaccinations” by Stephanie Cave, MD or “The Vaccine Book” by Robert Sears, MD, and followed an alternative vaccine schedule, especially after learning of Jackson’s kidney issues in utero. At the very least, I would have delayed vaccinations until we had some answers. I certainly wouldn’t have given them at the hospital when he was just hours old, with remnants of Pitocin in his system!

 6) I would have eaten healthier. I had NO idea that food had ANYTHING to do with my health! Can you imagine?!? I mean, we learned a little about the food pyramid in school, but surely that was just generally speaking or for people who were overweight, right? For starters, I would eat organic and non-GMO as much as possible. I would eliminate all refined sugar, and because of my yeast issues, I would have added candida-fighting foods such as coconut oil, garlic, apple cider vinegar, more cruciferous vegetables, and ginger to my diet.

 Here is a great article that Maureen has written explaining many of the things the “Today Me” would have done differently: Raising Healthy Kids in a Toxic World. 

 7) The “Today Me” would tell the “Yesterday Me” that the doctor doesn’t always have all the answers. If something doesn’t seem to make sense, I need to research it myself! It’s MY body!! I’m ultimately the one in control. When your doctor doesn’t have satisfactory answers, go to someone else. A second opinion is always an option! The “Today Me” would have sought out the opinion of a holistic physician or naturopath.

 8) I would have let nature run its course, instead of inducing labor one week early simply to accommodate our moving schedule. We could have been inconvenienced instead of putting these unnecessary drugs into my body (and his).

 9) I would have researched whether so many ultrasounds were potentially harmful to him, and why they were concerned in the first place. 

What healthy tips do you have to offer young moms-to-be? We would love to hear your comments below!