Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Conception through Early Childhood Resources

I haven't posted in almost three months!  It was an intentional, albeit unannounced, break from blogging because I just didn't care for the tone with which I wrote on August 21.  I don't ever desire to even sound to myself as if I have all the answers, and that's what I was "hearing" when I re-read my last post.  Plus, the time off for our first semester of homeschooling was a good move because it has taken a major adjustment in my daily and weekly routines to get a handle on our new normal. 

I come back to blogging today because I was asked to share my resources for all things conception, pregnancy, natural childbirth, breastfeeding, and parenting.  I always feel like when I'm asked to address something, God directed it as an opportunity for me to be that Titus 2 woman to someone.  This blog also helps me to be able to refer again to a place I collected all my thoughts if someone else should ask me for them. 

Since the beginning truly is always a "very good place to start," I'll begin with conception.

Praise God, I'm blessed to be a Fertile Myrtle!  It isn't something I take lightly, as I have several close friends and family who have experienced infertility.  God has declared in His Word that "children are a reward," (Psalm 127:3)  According to one of my resources, Your Pregnancy Week by Week, most women's first major measurable loss of fertility is at twenty-seven years old.  Knowing that many of us may not be so naturally blessed with fertility, that we were designed to bear children in younger years, and that God says children are a reward, I believe we should not delay our childbearing years.

The first step toward conception is (marriage, duh!) to see your doctor if you are on any type of birth control.  He will guide you toward deciding how long you should wait to try.  I understand one month of a regular cycle is recommended most often when coming off of a pill form of birth control, but your doctor will know what's best for you.

From my experience, having a normal twenty-eight day cycle, I just googled an ovulation calculator to conceive my first child.  I wanted to make sure we tried at the right time!  God saw fit to bless us right away.  Other than that, I can't recommend any specific resources.

What to Expect When You're Expecting is one of the most popular pregnancy books of our time!  Unless you've been living under a rock, you've most likely heard of it.  It is a good resource, not at all from a Christian perspective, but it covers everything moms need to know about pregnancy.  Many doctors' offices give this book to first-time mothers.  I was given one by my OB when I was pregnant with my third. 

A better resource to me is the book I mentioned earlier, Your Pregnancy Week by Week.  My sister-in-law loaned this one to me during my first pregnancy, and I liked it so well that I bought a copy to own myself.  Rather than taking the reader through monthly changes, there's something new to read with each week!  Again, not written from a Christian perspective, but everything one needs to know about the medical side of pregnancy.

Also, make sure you like your doctor or midwife.  If possible, a Christian obstetrician is great because you want to know that the person responsible for the life of your unborn child is pro-life!  Know, too, that the doctor is competent to take care of women in high-stress situations.  Ask other women, or even better, ask a nurse or someone else that works the labor and delivery unit in some way, who they recommend.

Natural Childbirth
The perfect childbirth experience is not the be-all, end-all of motherhood.  It's important to step back and realize that a healthy mom and baby are all that really matter when it comes to delivery.  We cannot beat our chests and become self-important when we look back at our deliveries, but praise God for His love and mercy to us through the miraculous experience He has given us to bring forth life.

That said, I do believe that natural childbirth is usually what is best for mom and baby medically speaking, and from my four deliveries to date, praying, seeking God's peace through contractions - those were awesome times of spiritual growth and reflection.  And I didn't do it perfectly!  Some really crunchy, all-natural moms would claim I didn't really go naturally because while I had no form of pain relief through medication or epidurals, I was induced into labor each time with Pitocin. 

Labor plans are important, but also be flexible as you listen to your doctors or midwives.  In order to be prepared, the #1 thing to do, especially the first time around, is to take a labor and delivery class at your local hospital.  I took Lamaze, but other methods, such as Bradley, may better suit you.

A word about c-sections here: Many hospitals are making great improvements in order to insure moms and babies don't miss the bonding that takes place during a regular vaginal delivery.  While being trained to be a breastfeeding peer counselor, I learned about laid-back breastfeeding.  I was able to watch a video of skin-to-skin contact immediately following a c-section.  Here's a link.  If you know ahead of time about the need for a c-section, you may able to make this happen. 

One of the most obvious ways God made women to nurture their children is through breastfeeding.  There's no denying it: women have milk glands, men don't.  When I hear moms say that they want to make sure Dad doesn't miss out on feeding the baby, I want to scream, "Who did God create to feed baby?"  - but I generally hold it in.  Most mammal mothers are very protective of their babies, not allowing anyone else to do the nurturing in their babies' early lives.  We in America are all too eager to hand our children to someone else.  Yes, breastfeeding takes time, and no, it isn't always easy to get, but it's worth the effort for you and baby!

Ok, so for the resources:
The Nursing Mother's Companion is one my favorites - and I actually only use the little pamphlet adapted from it, "Nursing the First Two Months" - but the original will get you through weaning, optimally at least twelve months into life. is a great on-line resource.  With my fourth child, I was able to self-diagnose thrush with this resource, and then confirm it with a phone call to my favorite lactation consultant at our hospital. is a new resource for me, and it is written by a Christian with a world-view to match!  I recently wrote the author, Krista, a question I had even though I'm not still nursing, and she responded very quickly!  Krista also writes about her childbirth experiences, both natural childbirth and c-section.  I highly recommend you check her out!

One more thought for expecting moms: If you plan to breastfeed, please don't stick a bottle in your baby's mouth out of fear they'll starve.  Healthy babies aren't born hungry, just with the desire to suck and be near mom.  Please either see a trustworthy lactation consultant or call an experienced friend for help first!  Some babies have no issue with nipple confusion, but others really struggle to take the breast after having a bottle in those first few days.  You don't want to create more hills to climb for yourself!

Parenting:  Here's where I'm going to have to take a break!  I have lots of resources, and if you've been reading this long, you're exhausted too!  I'll post soon!