So That’s Why My Nipples Are On Fire….

In my Night Weaning post, I said I would explain why I had so much nipple pain in a later post. First of all, no, I’m not pregnant (sorry family and friends who thought that). Nipple pain and even nursing aversion is very common during pregnancy though, but not my issue. My issue is one I’ve had my whole life and is only getting worse as I get older: Raynaud’s Phenomenon. In a nutshell, I have frequent poor circulation in my extremities. It causes my fingers, hands, feet and toes to get very cold and change color. People touch my hands all the time and go, “AH! YOU’RE FREEZING!” and I just shrug. I am so used to it that I don’t notice it that much anymore.  It can be painful as times, but mostly it’s just freaks out other people when I have blue fingers. It never dawned on me that it could effect breastfeeding.

Jack latched himself on my breast for the first time with no trouble at all, but he latched incorrectly. It was pretty painful, but I was so overwhelmed with everything I just let him suck away. The next day (and two very badly lacerated nipples) later, a lactation consultant came to my postpartum room and corrected it all. It was so much better, but at the point he injured me so bad it was still pretty painful. But I pushed on. Pumped if I needed a break but never gave up on latching him, no matter how much it hurt. My nipples healed very slowly, slow enough that my doctor was getting concerned. But they did heal and I didn’t think too much of it. My mom told me breastfeeding hurt for her and other women in my family, so I just accepted that it was my genetics.

Every once and awhile it would still hurt when Jack nursed.  I get this weird tingling/burning sensation in my breasts and my nipples turn white. But it wasn’t that bad, so I just kept ignoring it. I assumed he had a shallow latch or maybe a minor tongue tie. I joined La Leche League and got to meet other moms with nipple pain problems. Most of babies did have a tongue or lip tie, but what the moms described didn’t sound like my pain. They said it felt like a tiny clamp on their nipple. Never felt like that for me. And we had no other signs of tongue or lip tie.

As time went on, the pain would come and go. Some days it would be unbearable and then nothing for days. Still didn’t think too much of it. Then one day my friend post a link on Facebook called “That Latch Looks Great! Really?!?! Tell That To My Burning Nipples!”  from the Milk Meg. And there it was, number seven on the list of causes common nipple pain:

“Raynaud’s Syndrome! This is when a woman will experience vasospasm in her nipple. Women will actually notice their nipples turning from white to blue or red. This will happen immediately after a breastfeed and is not helped with correcting the latch. It is related to temperature changes on the nipple after the feed and can be exacerbated when a woman has nipple damage.”

Mind blown. My nipple pain is from stupid Raynaud’s! So I did more research and my mind was blown even more. This is why it took so long for my nipples to heal when Jack first bruised them. This is why it hurt even though Jack had a wonderful latch. This why it felt like my boobs were on fire  sometimes after Jack nursed. When I was having a bad Raynaud’s day, my pain would be worse. It all made sense now. This is just a minor disorder and I wasn’t in that much pain, so I didn’t did do too much to change it. Now I try to keep warm, stay relaxed, and apply nipple ointment after nursing if possible. It was just nice to know the reason why it hurts.

Then we moved to Oregon, which was very stressful. We had to help Jack settled in to his new routine, which was stressful. And the temperature kept going from cold to hot when we first arrived, making it hard for me to figure how to stay the right temperate. Also, Jack went through a big mental leap and growth spurt during this time. He needed lots of milk and wasn’t sleeping well. No sleep+too cold+stress+constant nursing= nipple pain city! It’s worse at night because of not sleeping well. No problems during the day, he could be latched all day and I wouldn’t mind. But at night my hands are like icicles and I want to cry when Jack is done nursing.  Things are settling down so it’s getting better. And the night weaning is also going well and hasn’t been too stressful on anyone. Overall, I am glad I know what’s causing my pain and what I can do it make it better.

I want to share this story to encourage other moms to not just ignore nipple pain. Of course check your baby’s latch first, it’s fairly common culprit. If that isn’t the issue, then consider an underlying condition. Breastfeeding should be comfortable for both you and the baby. Just because you heard that magic phrase, “That latch is perfect!” doesn’t mean you should ignore pain. I am lucky that my condition is minor and I can get through it. If you are in a lot of pain and struggling, don’t just brush it off. Talk to Le Leche League, talk to a lactation consultant,  or even talk to a doctor. You can figure it out and get through it! You just need some help and understanding.

Resources:

Vasospasm and Raynaud’s Phenomenon, BreastFeeding Inc.

Raynaud’s Phenomenon Of The Nipple: A Treatable Cause of Painful Breastfeeding, American Academy Of Pediatrics

Seeking Relief, La Leche League

Baby-Lead Weaning: Ditching The Baby Spoon


First of all, I want to say I am not judging anyone who bottle-feds or spoon-feeds their child. All that matters is you love and care for your child. Everything else is just a difference of opinion.

The story of how I am introducing solid food to my son began when I was still in my first trimester. I pretty much spent every day for the first 4 months laying on the couch coping with morning sickness. To distract myself, I looked up pregnancy and baby stuff on Pinterest. I came across this blog post one day and I was intrigued. I thought “Maybe later when the baby is older..” so pinned it. But I kept coming back to that post and thinking about it, it just seemed too good to be true. Women on my Birth Club kept mentioning it too. I knew I wanted to nurse Jack for as long as possible. And I wanted to make my baby food. Baby-led weaning encompasses all that. But I kept telling myself  “Figure it out later.”

The pin that haunted me….

Once Jack was born and we got the hang of nursing, I knew there was no way I wanted to wean him any earlier than 2-years-old. Jack decided that most days he only wants to nap on me, so I ended up with free time on my hands and back on Pinterest. And that post came up again. It was haunting me. So I downloaded the book to my phone and read it during his naps. A major light bulb went on. It all made sense. I found the way I wanted to feed my son and any future children.

I love e-books!

I had three major concerns about feeding my child. First of all, I wanted him to mostly eat highly nutritious, whole, unprocessed food. No junk food, no food-like products, and no empty calories. I want to change the way the western-world thinks about food, and a great place to start is my teaching the new generation. Second, I didn’t want to create a picky-eater. I’ve babysat kids who threw full-on tantrums the minute you even thought of feeding them something new. One little girl cried for an hour when I suggested dipping her quesadilla in salsa. I want my son to want real food, good food. Third, I will do anything to prevent Jack from developing food issues. I have struggled with them my whole life and it’s not until a few years ago did I get it mostly under control. I want him to learn food is for nourishment—of the body and soul—and not a treat or weapon. Baby-led weaning seems to be the answer to all my concerns about introducing solids.

So, what is this crazy new idea called baby-lead weaning? In a nutshell, you only feed your child milk (breast preferably, but formula is okay too) until he is ready to feed himself. And once you introduce solid food, you allow him to learn to eat and do not worry about how much he actually consumes. Then overtime, as he eats more gradually on his own, he will want to nurse less and less until he weans himself.

It’s not a new concept. This is how our ancestors fed their children. Cavewomen nursed their babies for as long as possible because that’s all they had. And when they were older, the cave-babies sat on mommas’ laps and pulled off pieces of roasted saber-toothed tiger meat (or whatever they ate) and gnaw on it. No spoon-feedings. No jar of nasty mushed up vegetables. No force-feeding a certain amount. Why did they feed their children this way and not like most mother do now? First of all , their babies were thriving on breast milk. It adapts as the baby grows to provide the correct calories/vitamins/antibodies to help a baby grow perfectly. And it’s pretty much free and always readily available. Second, feeding a baby this wastes less. Why portion out a totally separate meal of scarce food that this tiny person probably will only eat a few bites of? And waste all that time and energy making it? That cave-baby can just take what they want, and while the family eats the rest. If cave-baby doesn’t like saber-tooth tiger, that’s fine because they already had some breast milk. Baby-led weaning is not new, but forgotten. Once convenient pre-packaged foods became the norm, the idea of feeding your baby from your plate died. Food companies convinced us that only poor, uneducated people would feed their baby table scraps. Good, loving parents will spend the money to feed their child the food they designed for babies. This way of feeding is actually the new concept.

I know you are probably thinking, “But my parents fed me like this and I am okay.” And maybe you are. But I am telling you that I am not. And I don’t believe many from my generation are as good as they could be either. Like I said I have major issues with food. And I believe that—Mom, please don’t take offense to this, I love you and know you did everything you thought was right—that all my food issues go back to how I was fed as a baby. I was breastfed until I was 6 months old (I am very grateful for that!) then switched to formula. I was spoon-fed at 4 months old,  and given rice cereal at 5 months. My mom did make a lot of her own baby food (I am so very grateful for that!) with fresh vegetables and fruit later on. But it was still pureed and spoon-fed. So, what was so bad about this common feeding method? It didn’t teach me anything but how to overeat non-nutrient dense foods. This led to me not learning how to control my food, which led to overeating.. This led to weigh issues, which led to body image issues. So, I am horribly sick and messed up beyond repair from all this? No. But like I said before, it was painful to handle. I know other people from my generation suffer from these issues too. Plus, there is a major rise in severe allergies, painful digestive issues, and horrible migraines that can be all traced back to food.  I don’t think we are really as okay as we claim.

How does baby-led weaning solve this? Let me explain a little bit more how it works. This is once again a nutshell of the rules, I suggest reading the book for an in-depth explanation.

  • Continue to give them milk as their main source of food. Once the learn how to eat, they will begin to wean later.
  • Introduce foods once your baby has met all the milestones, usually around 6 month.
    • Sit up unassisted.
    • Reach out for objects and bring them to their mouth easily
    • Loss of the tongue-thrust reflect (when they automatically force something out of the back of their mouth)
    • Chewing on toys or mimicking you while eating
    • Reaching for and/or taking food to their mouths, if given the opportunity
  • Feed your baby what you are eating, within reason.
  • Chose a few, basic whole foods to start out and make them sure they are easy for them to hold.
  • Let them them be in control. Don’t try to help.
  • Let them make a big mess. Don’t try to clean-up during the feed.
  • Don’t offer too much as once or they may get overwhelmed, and get discouraged. Then they will think eating is stressful.
  • Don’t overly praise them when they do eat something. Then they begin to think that eating makes you happy, so I should eat more to keep you happy. This leads to overeating.
  • Don’t scold for not eating. This will also make eating stressful, too.
  • Don’t worry about how much they are eating, it doesn’t matter. Milk will provide them with the correct nutrition and calories for awhile.
  • Don’t force them to eat something they don’t want. They may be full and more hurts their tummy. Or they simply might not like it and forcing them to eat it once again is creating stress. Or they may be allergic to it and rejecting it is their way of telling you it make them feel ill.
  • Remember, it’s not about the food, it’s about learning a skill.

Baby-led weaning has the potential to eliminate the issues I talked about earlier. Overeating is reduced because they learn overtime how much food they need to be satiated. Babies are born knowing to only remove enough milk from the breast to be full. Trust me, you can’t force a baby to latch on if they don’t want to. However, you can force a bottle-fed baby or spoon-fed baby to take more than they want. This starts them down the road of wanting more than is necessary. But if you never break their natural ability, they will continue to only eat what they need. The food issues are eliminated for two reasons: there is no drastic change and there is less stress. It’s challenging for a baby to go from being spoon-fed bland tasting mush to suddenly being expected to eat normal adult food. They get used to only one texture and one taste, and then you demand they eat all this other crazy stuff? No wonder picky eats usually prefer simple things. But if you allow them to explore various tastes and textures from the start, it’s not so challenging. Plus, breast milk varies in taste based on what mom ate, so it’s not that big of a leap. With less stress, they have the time to learn at their own pace. Would you like to eat with someone standing over you demanding you eat this or else get punished? No, you wouldn’t! So why do it to a baby? All that teaches you is you are bad and food is bad. This mentality hinders the child from learning the skill. Lastly forcing a child to eat something before they are physically ready can create health problems. Babies are born with holes in their stomach lining to allow the nutrients of milk to seep into other parts of their bodies easier. If you force a child to eat solids before they are ready, these holes do not seal properly and cause digestive and immune system issues.

All this is why I am foregoing the spoon and jar, and letting my son eat from my plate. In my next post, I will explain how the journey is going so far.

Resources:
Infant—Food and Feeding, American Pediatric Association.
Baby-Led Weaning Website
Breastfeeding, World Who Organization

Postpartum Recovery

It’s been six weeks since I gave birth to my beautiful son. This so called “fourth trimester” is the most challenging so far. I not only have to take care of myself and recover from the trauma of giving birth, but I have to care of a tiny little person who is totally dependant on me as well. As hard as it’s been, it’s been so rewarding. Jack has honestly made me a better person in these 6 short weeks.

As far as my recovery, some  pregnancy symptoms vanished. Some lessened, And some new ones have appeared. So let’s start from the beginning…

After Delivery:
Giving birth to an 8 lbs 9.6 oz baby will make anyone feel a million times better. My acid reflux vanished. My stomach settled and I was actually hungry for the first time in weeks. I also just felt a tremendous relief, all my internal organs were no longer squished! And thanks to the epidural, I felt no pain down there for the next two hours.

Selfie about an hours after giving birth, I
looked pretty good for being exhausted!

However, I was beyond exhausted. I rested a little bit after Michael with Jack to the nursery but nurses kept coming in the to check me so it wasn’t that peaceful.  My right nipple really hurt, Jack badly bruised it on his first attempt at nurse. How is a girl supposed to relax with a throbbing nipple? My left knee was still numb too, making it hard move into a comfy position. I needed the nurse to pretty much hold me up when they wanted to move me to my postpartum room. The epidural also left me freezing cold. The nurse gave me a ton of warmed blankets, but it took forever for me to warm up.

Hospital Stay:
Shortly after I got to my room,  Michael came in with Jack. Jack wanted to nurse again so I tried the the other breast, and he bruised that one quickly too. Now both my boobs hurt like hell, but I still didn’t mind because I knew it was best for him.

The nurse then helped me go to the bathroom. I was so sore, it hurt to stand. Plus, my knee was still numb so I really had to lean on her for support to walk. She sat me on the toilet and explained everything. I could not wipe myself for at least a week, or as long as I felt my stitches. So I had spray everything clean with a peri bottle This is when she pulled out the lovely mesh underwear and the huge pad. (look more like a puppy training pad than feminine hygiene product). Then, I was even more horrified to discovered I already had a pair of the mesh underwear on with a giant pad on! They must have put them on after they finished stitching me up and I didn’t notice because I was mesmerized with Jack. Once I saw how much blood was on the pad, it all made sense though.

As the day went on, the bleeding was less and less. And the pain and soreness lessen too (with the help of some Motrin). And about 2 hours later the feeling came back to my knee. Once my IV was finished I got to take a shower. Let me tell you, that was the best shower of my life!!!! It felt good to just have a moment of peace to relax. And it felt soooo good to wash off all the sweat and blood. I brought some of my favorite products so I didn’t have to use generic hospital stuff.

About 12 hours after giving birth, not too bad.

I examined my belly in the mirror once I got out of the shower. I looked about 5 months pregnant still, except my belly was all squish this time. Overall, the damage wasn’t too bad. And right then I didn’t care, I was just happy that squishy belly made my beautiful son.

Then there was the thing pregnant women are warned about and dread…going poop for the first time after delivery. I read some pretty dramatic accounts on other blogs. I will spare you the details and say it really wasn’t that bad. Take the stool softeners they give you, drinks plenty of water, and take it easy. Don’t stress over it.

I was happy to be discharged. I was sick of the nurses coming in every 2 hours to check Jack and I—especially at night. We would have just gotten him to sleep and someone would wake him up to check him. Then we had to start the whole feeding, changing, calming process again. Then another nurse would come in and we had to start all over again. How do they expect new mothers to recover properly if you wont leave them alone!?!?

Weeks 1-2:
I was very tired and very sore when we got home. I was still bleeding and my whole lower body hurt if I stood for too long. For the first week it was pretty much a cycle of feed Jack, change his diaper, put him back to sleep, nap, and wake up to fed him again. Jack only slept 1-3 hours at a time so it was hard to get good rest. My parents were here so my mom was cooking and cleaning for us. I really recommend for at least the first week having someone do this for you so you can rest.

I weighed myself for the first time since giving birth 4 days after. I had already lost 15 lbs! My belly was going down but still all squishy.

2 weeks postpartum, not that pretty.

At week 2 my stitches dissolved. My bleeding slowed down a lot, more like a light period. It would get worse again if I was too active though, which would cause the soreness to come back. I quickly learned I still needed to take it easy. My hormones ran totally wild during this week too. I cried about everything and snapped at people for no reason. My advice is to just not have visitors the first two weeks if you can help it. It’s just too stressful, I really wish I would have know that beforehand. Next baby no one until week 3.

Weeks 3-4:
This is when I started to feel a lot better. My bleeding all but stopped by week 3. I was a lot less sore and actually wanted to start doing things. However, Jack had other plans. He had major growth spurt and wanted to cluster feed all the time. This resulted in major engorgement. I pretty much couldn’t leave the house because I would start leaking. And the scabs on my bruised nipples turned into cracks. So you can imagine how much fun his constant feedings were…

The next week was a lot better. Jack started sleeping almost threw the night and stopped cluster feeding. I got to sleep and regain to sanity. And, my bleeding totally stopped and I was not sore at all. And I was happy to see I lose another 5 lbs, making me only 7 lbs away from my pregnancy weight!

4 weeks postpartum, everything going back into place.

These two weeks were the peak of night sweats. I’ve had them since about 25 weeks pregnant, but it these two weeks was like I was sleeping in the flames of hell week 3 and 4 postpartum. I would wake up drenched in sweat. It was awful.

Weeks 5-6:  No pain, no soreness, and no bleeding at all.But I felt kind of weak still. So I started going for walks with Jack 4-5 times a week too to get my strength back.

I lost another 2 lbs as well, but my stomach is still all stretched out. My non-maternity jeans do fit, but they are not comfortable around my waist. I am not that upset by it, I know I will get back in them in time. I mean really, even having them almost fit less than 2 months after giving birth it pretty freaking amazing!

6 weeks postpartum, I looked deflated.

My nipples are healed and it no longer hurts to nurse. I am still having some leaking issues, but I wear breast pads most of the time so it’s not an issue when I go out anymore.

My hemorrhoids are still there, but getting better. To be honest, I slacked on caring for them because I was busy with Jack the first few weeks. If I stayed on top of them all along, I bet they would be gone by now.

So worth it, look at his big eyes!

Overall, I am very happy with my postpartum recovery. I probably should have focused a little bit more on myself at times (like getting more sleep and not trying to do too much), but when your baby is crying you drop everything to make them happy. But now that Jack and I have a routine established, I am able to do more stuff for me. It’s surprising how just brushing your hair and putting clean yoga pants on makes you feel pretty again.

I love my boys so much.

Speaking of feeling pretty, something that really helped me emotionally recover from all the changes to my body was my husband. As much as appreciated him doing anything I asked him to do with Jack, what helped the most was him just telling me I was the little things he said. Like after I was done nursing Jack and I wanted to cry from the pain, he would kiss my forehead and say thank you for feeding him. Or when I showed him how my stomach is stretched out more on one side because that’s were Jack attached, he put his arms around me and said I was beautiful. He was without a doubt the best thing to help me through these past 6 weeks.

Dealing with Severe Acid Reflux

Around 10 weeks, I got some very mild heartburn. It happened maybe twice a week and would ago away easily with antacids.  I also figured out what foods triggered it pretty quickly. One of the wonderful delights in the Bay Area is garlic fries, but raw/not totally cooked garlic quickly became a no-no. Mainly because your husband will not appreciate going down to the car at 2 AM to get your Tums while staying overnight at his sister’s house.

It started to get a little worse around 20 weeks, but a few more antacids would usually do the trick. We went to my parents’ house for Christmas when I was 26 weeks. I didn’t overeat, but I ate 3 full-sized meals a day, which lead to more nights of me sitting up with horrible heartburn. My mom bought me a bottle of Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar Drink one day when it was really bad. It helped tame the throat burn, but didn’t really settle my stomach. When I got back home, I started eating smaller meals, which worked great for a few weeks.

Then one night when I was 29 weeks, I woke up coughing and suddenly realized stomach acid was rising in my throat. Michael asked if I was okay, as I was quickly racing out of bed, but all I could was shake my head no. I made it to the bathroom just in time to throw up a bunch of stomach acid. It hurt so bad, I started crying instantly. Michael calmed me down, gave me antacids and soy milk, and helped me prop myself up pretty much vertical in the bed. But my stomach/throat hurt so bad, there was no way I was going back to sleep.

The next day all I could eat was plain toast for breakfast, plain ramen noodles for lunch, and a grilled cheese (vegan) for dinner. Even water upset my stomach and burned my throat. After a few days of this my stomach felt better, but I was getting more dizzy. That Friday I had doctors appointment and brought it up. She said I am probably getting more dizzy because I am not eating enough, which is not good for someone with low blood pressure. She said I could take Zantac everyday from now on. And if that doesn’t help, she will send me to a specialist.

We bought Zantac that night it started working within an hour. I ate a decent dinner that night and felt a lot better. The box says to take 2 pills every 8-12 hours as needed, but when I woke up in the morning I felt fine so I didn’t take one. Half way through work that morning, my throat/stomach were on fire again. I took another one as soon as we got home that night and the relief came back. I decided from now on, I need to just take two everyday so I can eat/drink enough and not be in pain. I have been doing that for a week now and it’s been going well. I hope this treatment sticks, I don’t want to go to a specialist.

Heartburn and acid reflux are common problems during pregnancy. Usually caused by increased hormone levels effecting your digestive system. Or, the baby could be shoving your organs out of the way to make room to grow. My brother actually permanently moved my mom’s esophagus, causing a lot of stomach problems for years to come. Since Jack is measuring big and he is growing more into my body rather than outward, I was expecting this to happen. However, I was not expecting it to this painful!

Here is my advice for anyone else experience severe acid reflux:

  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals of simple but more nutritious foods. I try for 6 smaller meals every 2-3 hours.  See my food blog here for meal suggestions.
  • Sleep with your head propped up above your stomach. This can be done with pillow, foam wedges, or Dr. Oz. suggests putting something under your actual mattress.
  • Try a bit of apple cider vinegar mixed with some apple juice.
  • Also try some aloe vera juice. It didn’t stop the burn, but afterwards it helped sooth/heal my stomach and throat.
  • For fast acting relief, take a few antacids. I really like Tums Smoothies, taste good and dissolve easier in your mouth.
  • If get’s really bad, ask your doctor what other medicines you can take.

Small Meal Ideas

source

I mentioned in my last post that I am suffering from horrible heartburn/acid reflux right now. Guess my little son decided that my stomach was annoying and shoved it out of his way. As a result, I had to start eating 6 to 8 smaller, more simple meals to keep my stomach happy. I thought I would share the list of small meal ideas I came up. These are not only great for heartburn issues. Try them for kid’s lunches, party finger foods, and smaller meals for diets.

Breakfast:

  • 1/2 cup oatmeal cooked with rice milk with a 1/2 a banana mashed and 3 chopped up dates
  • Smoothie: 1/2 an avocado, splash of apple juice, handful of spinach, and 1/4 cup blackberries
  •  Burrito: 1 warmed medium flour tortilla,  1/2 an avocado, handful of kale,  handful shredded carrots
  • 1 tablespoon of natural peanut butter spread on a piece of whole grain toast, and half a banana
Lunch:
  • 1 cup of my Feel Better Vegetable Soup
  • My rice cheese or Soy Cheese Quesadilla , but with salsa or hot sauce
  • Half Sandwich or wrap: 1 medium tortilla or 1 slice of bread, 2 tablespoon avocado, handful of greens, half a handful of shredded carrots, and a bit of stone ground mustard
  • 1/2 cup of plain cooked lentils over 1/2 cup rice with a bit of kale or spinach
Dinner:
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pasta, a bit of olive oil, handful of sautee kale or spinach, and a bit of salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 of cup of chopped vegetable salad with a light apple cider vinegar dressing
  • 1/2 cup whole pinto beans, 1/2 cup brown rice
  • A plain Tofu Scramble—light or no spices, no tomatoes, and no onions
Snacks:
  • 1/4 cup raw almonds or cashews
  • 1/2 an avocado
  • 1/2 a banana
  • 8 dates
  • 8 carrots and 2 tablespoons of hummus
  • 1 small apple with 1 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 6 ounces soy or rice yogurt
  • 1/2 cup sliced cucumber and 1/4 cup whole wheat crackers

And remember to stay away from sugary drinks. Drink as much water as you can. Try coconut water to keep your electrolytes up.  And try some low sugar apple juice with a splash of apple cider vinegar to settle your stomach and soothe your throat.

Why I Got A Flu Shot And Things to Consider Before You Get One

There is a lot of controversy when it comes to vaccines. I don’t want to get into the whole debate, but I wanted to put some information out there so you can make your own informed decision about how to prevent the flu.

I never got the flu shot until I was 22-years-old and I was a pretty healthy kid. I did get sick a lot in college, but not with the flu. I had a lot of tonsil/sinus/ear infections (and yes all the thee at the same time) starting my sophomore year at Oregon. After 2 years of some horrible infection every 3 months, I had to get my tonsils out. A few months after I got a very bad cold. The doctor told me I most likely got sick again because all these infections slightly damaged my immune system. He recommended I get the flu shot every year from now on.
After that I started to take more preventive measures to avoid getting sick and it worked pretty well for awhile (which proves to me that your body can fight off germs if you give it a chance). Then I started dating my now husband, and the week before finals our last term at UHH, he caught the flu….and gave it to me. I did get the flu shot that year, but that particular shot did not inoculate against the strand we caught. It was a strand effecting Japan and they did not think it was hit America that flu season (or so the urgent care doctor told me)….guess they didn’t realize that Hawaii is not really near the mainland and would get the virus sooner…
The flu was awful. Ten days of us both squished in front the AC in my apartment trying to keep our fevers down. Coughing all over each other and barely being able to move. Needless to say, I NEVER want the flu again. EVER. It was the worse sickness I have had in my life. I honestly think childbirth will be more pleasant.

So, I have been trying to not take unnecessary medications since I found out I was pregnant. I took a few Tylenol (for aches and pains) and Benedryl (for sleep and nausea) on occasion, but only when I really really needed it. When it came time to get the flu shot, I had to think about it. I did not want to get the flu again, especially when there can be a lot more serve complications when pregnant (including death of the mother and fetus). But I did not want to harm my baby and there is some nasty junk in flu shots.

Then one day my mom called me one day to say that Dr. Oz says all pregnant women should get preservative-free flu shots. My response, “Do you have to do everything Dr. Oz tells you?” She told me it’s my choice, but to think of how awful the flu was last time. So I did some research first (I linked the articles I read below). Then I talked to my doctor. She said they did have preservative-free shots and it was safe. I also asked my husband, who agreed I should get one because I get sick so easily.
I was still not convinced I should get it right away since I had got the shot year I got the flu—what if I inject all this stuff into my baby and I still ended up getting very sick? But then I remembered I live on the mainland now, and odds are the shot will be for the correct virus this time. Then I read the CDC’s criteria for who should definitely get the flu shot and realized I fit into 3 of them: pregnant, compromised immune system, and blood disorders (Anemia). I realized, for me personally, the benefits outweighed the risks.

I am glad I got the flu shot now. As of this morning, 15 deaths and 13 hospitalizations in the Bay Area alone for the flu. Three of them in my county. And yeah, I know the media hypes things—I did go to a very good Journalism School and know how the news works—but those are still 15 innocent people who lost their lives.

Like I said, it is your personal choice on whether to get a flu shot or not. You need to do what is right for yourself and your baby. But please make an informed decision above all else.
Articles I read about the flu shot:

Key Facts, Center for Disease Control

Pregnancy and the Flu, March of Dimes
Five Reasons Why I’ll Never Get A Flu Shot, The Organic Prepper (Blogger)

Low Blood Pressure: So That’s Why I Keep Almost Fainting….

source

I went to my nutritionist the day after my whole embarrassing Labor & Delivery ordeal. I had a much better experience this time, no crying in my car afterwards!

I explained how I got dizzy during my counseling appointment and that was not the first time that has happened. I explained how my doctor thought it was low blood sugar, and the doctor at L&D thinks my anemia was a factor too. She took the time to actually listen to me and look over all my lab work. Yes, my blood sugar was lower when I felt dizzy, but not actually out of the normal range. And yes, my blood work from my glucose screening 3 weeks ago said I had anemic iron levels, but the ones taken the at the hospital yesterday were within normal (meaning my iron supplements are working). So she was not convinced either one was the reason for feeling so faint.

Then she say my blood pressure readings and asked if I had naturally low blood pressure. The last pre-pregnancy blood pressure I can remember was from last May, and it was something like 104/75. It’s normal but on the lower side (here to learn how to read blood pressure). At the appointment to confirm my pregnancy, it was something like 102/80, still lower but normal. I couldn’t see the rest of the numbers on my chart, but the one from almost fainting was 91/71 and at L&D it went up to 94/75.

It’s normal for your blood pressure to drop in the first and second trimester, which is normally not a that big of a deal, just some minor dizziness. However, since I have blood pressure naturally, dropping 10+ points in just a few weeks makes it’s worse. I am do not have hypotension because I am still in the normal range though. And since my baby is doing fine and I have no other complaints, she does not think I have an underlying condition causing it.

She loved my diet and said there is no reason why I cannot continue being vegan. My weight gain is perfect, she said I could have one more snack a day if I wanted actually. She loved that my husband and I go for walks daily on our break. Her only suggest was maybe a few extra walks a week to help increase my blood pressure. She made a note for my doctor to follow up on it at my appointment on Friday too.

So I am going to keep doing what I am doing, take a few extra walks, and be grateful that I do not have hypertension or preeclampsia. Between high blood pressure that runs the risk of needing an emergency c-section before I have a stroke and low blood pressure that makes me almost faint, I’ll take the slight inconvenience of being faint.

Anyways, here is a recent pic of my bump. Twenty-six weeks and 2 days here.

Go Niners!