c-section | tissue donation

FYI: Placenta Donation

By on June 27, 2019

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I learned and participated in something that I had never heard of until the birth of our daughter last month. I work as a doula and have participated in the birth world for several years, so was quite surprised I never heard of placental donation. I assume that if I haven’t heard of it, there are others out there that are also unaware.

The placenta is the only organ that is grown for a specific use and is released when its job is over. The placenta develops in the uterus and is the fetus’ lifeline, providing nutrients, antibodies, and oxygen to the baby, and removes waste from the baby’s blood.

Many women save their placenta, dehydrate and use as a postpartum supplement. From my research, it can have wonderful benefits. This is not something I have personal experience with, although I have been intrigued. Other women may save their placenta and bury it in a ceremony. There is a definite reverence for this organ.

Since I delivered my children via c-section, I have let all of my placentas go as medical waste. Which is commonly how placentas are discarded. This time was different, and I was given the option of placenta donation. From my research, a donation is only an option if the mother is giving birth via a full-term planned c-section. During vaginal birth, the placenta is exposed to bacteria and the tissue can be damaged.

The mother must pass the required blood tests, so she must be free of certain medical conditions or infectious diseases. A mother of any age can donate as well, and it does not interfere with cord-blood banking. The company that my hospital uses for donation uses the placenta for eye grafts. Up to 100 eye grafts can be done from one placenta. That is giving the gift of sight to a lot of people!

The amnion, or amniotic membrane, is the innermost layer of the placenta, and the portion that is used for donation. It has been used since the early 1900’s in many surgical procedures. Human amniotic membrane has properties very similar to other soft tissues and can be used for many reconstructive surgical procedures such as burns and other wounds, dental procedures, eye surgeries and for joint issues.  In surgery, the amniotic membrane can be used as a foundation material for soft tissue healing, or as a natural biological barrier at the surgical site. The other cool thing about it is that the amnion tissue type does not have to be directly matched with the potential recipient, so it benefits a large population of people.

A quick google search will offer many options for placenta donation. My hospital used Regenerative Biologics, Inc., which seems to service Florida. Many of the websites have forms and contact information so that if you have an interest, you can learn more.

 

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c-section | pregnancy

Welcome to the World, Little One

By on June 24, 2019

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After a short blog hiatus, I am back. In this post, I’m sharing Mira Ingrid’s birth story. I love writing my kids birth story while it is still fresh in my memory. All of my feelings are still close at heart. I find my 13-year-old still loves to hear his story, so writing it in mama’s words is a nice memento.

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The Planner

My pregnancy with Mira was my easiest one. My other two were delivered early due to complications from preeclampsia. This time we made it through all of our prenatal appointments, nothing alarming or risky. We had a plan for this birth. A planned c-section, the date chosen by our doctor. She was delivered at exactly 39 weeks. My bags were packed weeks in advance (just in case), and we loaded the car the night before my surgery.

May 20th was the date, and our surgery time was 7:30 am. We woke up that morning at 4:00 am, I had my shower, my husband made his coffee and we left the house around 4:45 am, not disturbing the other kids or grandma who was holding down the fort while we were away. We were at the hospital by 5 am.

As I said, my other births were emergency c-sections and totally had that feel. Emergent. This time we walked into Labor and Delivery and were greeted by name. The nurse walked us to our room, had me change clothes, give a urine sample, and I was hooked up to a fetal monitor for a half an hour or so. I filled out all of the required paperwork, had my IV inserted, and waited patiently until my doctor and anesthesiologist came in to talk before we walked to the operating room. I was also given literature on donating my placenta, which I chose to do since I had no other plans for it.

My husband was given his surgical suit and was told to put it on while they prepared me in the OR. I walked myself in the OR with the anesthesiologist and my nurse. It was nice to be aware of what was going on, seeing all of the surgical instruments, the chart with my information on the wall, and my catheter was not inserted until I was numbed with the spinal. Another huge difference– spinal anesthesia vs. epidural. It was an easier insertion and I felt less “drugged” afterward.

I did feel sick from the IV antibiotics and had the feeling for about 30 seconds that I would pass out and throw up, which was remedied very quickly by adding another med to my IV.

Surgery started roughly at 7:30 am and the baby was born before 8 am. My doctor talked to me throughout the process. After the baby’s waters were broken and right before she was born, my husband said my entire bed was shaking and the doctor had to stand on a stool to pull her out. Apparently, she was lodged into my pelvis pretty tightly and took some extra work to dislodge.

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Expect the Unexpected

I heard her cry, I knew she was born but we did not hear any updates from the nurses or doctors behind the drape. I’m not sure how many minutes we waited to hear an update, but it seemed like an eternity. Finally, the pediatrician and 2 nurses walked past us and told us she had swallowed some fluid and had to go to the NICU for some extra care. The other staff reassured us that she would be fine with her care in the NICU, and the anesthesiologist joked that she drank the jacuzzi water.

My husband and I waited for the rest of the surgery to be finished, and my doctor was still very gracious and talked us through his processes. He told me how much longer, and what he was doing as he finished up with my tubal ligation. After all was said and done, I was cleaned up, my doctor joked that he received quite the work out from Mira’s birth and he left letting us know he would be around later to check on me. Gus was finally able to leave to see Mira in the NICU, which was very close– the next room over and he came back with some photos so I could see what she looked like as I moved to recovery.

The rest of the day was a blur, I can’t recall the time frame although I know I texted my friends, made a Facebook post and I ate lunch without a problem. Gus went to visit Mira many times throughout the day, he wasn’t allowed to hold her and I wasn’t allowed to nurse her until her breathing regulated and her x-rays and bloodwork were clear.

This NICU stay was a hiccup in our “plan” but not traumatic. After being informed by the staff and some personal googling, I knew all would be well and we would be okay. I made sure to start pumping my breastmilk right away and my husband was awesome and would deliver it to the nurses every 2 hours. Sometime later that evening, I was told my catheter would be removed and I could get up and walk. At that moment, I was in pain and didn’t believe there was a way I could ever get out of bed. I cried to my husband that I couldn’t handle anymore and after that moment of self-pity passed, I sucked it up and went for it so I could make my first visit to meet my baby face-to-face.

It was difficult emotionally not to be able to put her to my breast and feel her skin-to-skin, but ultimately I knew this was how it was going to be, so I just made friends with my breast pump so that I wouldn’t have any supply issues or have to supplement her with formula. Thankfully, the rest of our stay was smooth. I was able to start breastfeeding her within 36 hours and she was good at latching and making progress. We both were discharged a little more than 48 hours later and went home to find our new rhythm as a family of 5.

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Feeling Supported

5 weeks have passed, life is taking on its new form and we are finding our groove and figuring out this little human. We had a ton of support in the first few postpartum weeks. We had wonderful friends and neighbors prepare food, grandmas visiting to help with the other kids and visitors stopping by to show their love and care. All of these actions have been much appreciated and really helped us adjust and bring a sense of ease in the first few weeks.

We are in love and feel loved. Sometimes we are tired and fumble through our days but all in all we are living our dream and are blessed beyond measure. Life is good.

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c-section | pregnancy

Planning for a Planned C-Section

By on January 10, 2019

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Both of my previous pregnancies resulted in c-section deliveries. With my last pregnancy, I planned for a VBAC homebirth. My house was set up, our supplies were purchased, we had a midwife, doula, and hypnobirthing techniques waiting ready for “d-day”. Life had other plans, and I ended up delivering a month early via c-section due to preeclampsia with severe features.

On the day of my son’s birth, we rushed to the hospital thinking I had the flu and a terrible headache. We were sent to a hospital about an hour away from home without any essentials, not knowing that the stay would last 6 full days. I’m pretty sure my husband wore the same shirt for 3 days! Our friend visited and brought us some of our necessities after a couple of days. However, being stuck without your essentials is a mild form of torture.

I spent a bit of time mourning my desired delivery outcome and even debating if we would ever have another baby. Well, here I am– less than 2 years later preparing for the arrival of baby #3. This time, we are doing things differently. I am under the care of an OB/GYN, and I am not attempting a natural delivery. Sometime soon, we will schedule a good day in May to deliver our daughter. I am at peace with this decision and am happy to have a plan, and can have my bag packed!

I want to share what to pack for scheduled surgery. The hospital stay is longer than a regular vaginal delivery, so proper necessities and comfort items are ideal for this time away from home.

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1. Mama’s Essentials

When preparing for a C-Section you prepare similarly as you would for a vaginal birth, just remembering that you will have an incision and a longer hospital stay. The typical length of stay is 3-4 days, so packing for that length of time would be ideal.

  • Comfy Clothes and Pajamas— You will of course, have accessibility to unlimited hospital gowns that can be handy when you are still attached to IV fluids. I personally feel more human and able to recover in my own wardrobe. Dressing in layers is wise. The temperature in a hospital, hormone fluctuations, etc can all be unpredictable. Tank tops or nursing camis, hoodies or cardigans, high-waisted leggings, pajamas, robe, high-waisted undies, and nursing bras will be my goto’s. I will choose loose, comfortable clothing that I don’t mind getting dirty. My going home outfit will be the most presentable. Also, prepare for swollen legs. Very shortly after both births I ended up with major Shrek feet! Loose, comfortable socks, slippers or flip-flops may be all that your feet will fit in!
  • Adult Diapers–Mesh panties and pads will be available from the hospital. They work well, but I found after several days they would bunch in the back with the way the hospital bed inclines. These worked well for me.
  • Phone/Camera, Charger, Tablet/Laptop— An extra long cord for the charger is nice since outlets are oddly placed in hospital rooms. Having a device loaded with Netflix is wonderful to help those long hospital days pass. This is time for guilt-free binge-watching in between naps, feedings, visitors, and diaper changes!
  • Toiletries/Grooming Supplies— Bring whatever makes you feel pretty! There will be visitors and photos taken and I personally always like to feel clean and somewhat put together. Dry shampoo can be handy in case you can’t shower initially.
  • Insurance card, ID, Notebook and Pen— A notebook and pen were invaluable for us in the beginning days. It is nice to jot down any questions or concerns, feeds and diaper changes.
  • Blanket, Pillow, Nursing Pillow— Being comfortable in your bed is a plus! You can keep these things in your car until after the birth and you are settled into your final room.
  • Belly Binder— It is possible that your hospital will provide one. Asking your doctor what his standard of practice is will help you prepare. Having compression support allows you to have a full range of motion and makes mobility so much easier after surgery. Laughing and coughing will also be tolerable with a belly binder!
  • Ice Pack, Heating Pad, Pain Cream— These are also necessities for my impending delivery! After each birth I have ended up with muscle pain or a vertebral misalignment. I am guessing it is caused from numbing of the epidural and bed transfers. After my last birth, my neck and shoulder were in worse pain than my surgery! It was miserable, so this time I will be prepared. The cold packs the hospital provided did not get as cold as an ice bag and weren’t as effective. And my go-to pain cream will be on hand… Just in case!
  • Snacks— Having some good quality, high fiber snacks are a must! Hospital food is less than nutritious or desirable, and giving birth makes you hungrier than you have ever been (especially if you had to fast the night before). I will make a batch of date nut bites, and take some Flax 4 Life muffins for after delivery. Dried fruits, nuts, nut butters, or any other non-perishable snack will be welcomed, trust me 🙂

2. Dad’s Essentials

  • A Comfortable Change of Clothes— My husband will likely stay for the first 24 hours without leaving to go home to freshen up. I do not want him to end up in the same shirt for 3 days, so I will make sure we are prepared.
  • Toothbrush/Toiletries— Anything to allow dad to freshen up after being in delivery.
  • Snacks/Water Bottle— In our last experience, my husband was a weird, neglected, third-party. His meals were not provided, and the cafeteria was closed occasionally at my meal times. This time we will make sure to have plenty of snacks and a water bottle so that he is not dependent on vending machines for his sustenance.
  • Phone Numbers/Contact List— Everyone is going to want to know the news. Our family and friends are scattered across the U.S. so having a master list of who to contact first (you know, the ones who need to know the news before it is leaked on Facebook?!) will be stored in my husband’s phone.

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3. Baby’s Essentials

The babies are pretty well set for their hospital stays. They are provided diapers, wipes, clothes, blankets, and bottles.

  • A Coming Home Outfit— Baby’s dress up debut will be on release day! Choose something seasonal appropriate and remember baby needs to dress about a layer heavier than you would dress yourself.
  • A Receiving Blanket— A nice blanket is great to cover the baby with for their first moments in the outdoors. There are so many nice types, and you can even find a blanket to coordinate with the coming home outfit!
  • A Properly Installed Infant Seat— You must have a carseat to take baby home in. I suggest an infant seat, that is properly installed (and even safety checked). If the weather is cold, a carseat cover can help avoid the elements. In our experience, we had a convertible seat installed and we were not allowed to take our son home in it. The weight requirement on the convertible seat was 5-65 lbs. I was sure that would take us all the way through carseat days. Our son was a preemie and didn’t make the 5 lb. weight requirement so we had to send our friend out on a search for an appropriate infant seat.
  • Nail Clippers/Emery Board— Both of my boys were born with long, sharp fingernails! Packing nail clippers and an emery board will prevent your little one from scratching their face!

4. Essential Oils and Supplements

If you’ve read anything I have written, you know that I am an essential oil nut. I buy mine here. There are many resources about using oils in labor/birth, pregnancy, postpartum, and on babies. I will share with you what I am packing, since I am working to pack only the essentials.

  • DiGize— For preventing gas/constipation after birth
  • Frankincense, Idaho Balsam Fir, Copaiba— These will be applied topically to reduce discomfort. I may even take frankincense & copaiba internally. I also apply frankincense to the crown of the baby’s head shortly after birth.
  • Deep Relief— A great roll-on to use anywhere there is muscle discomfort.
  • Lemon— For removing adhesive left overs! It works like a charm!
  • Thieves—  I will apply this to my feet (and I will carry Thieves Spray and Hand Sanitizer as well) to help boost my immunity and to keep my environment sanitary. Hospitals have a lot of ick!
  • Lavender— I will use this to promote rest and relaxation. Hospitals are difficult to rest in with the noises and interruptions.
  • Peace and Calming— Ditto.
  • Stress Away— For keeping me calm when the hormones drastically drop causing tears and anxiety!
  • Fennel— This is a great oil for promoting lactation. I take 5 drops of fennel vitality directly on my tongue and follow with a large glass of water as often as I need to until I notice an increase in my supply.
  • My Own Special Anti-Shrek Foot Blend:

    10 drops tangerine
    5 drop lemon
    20 drops cypress
    20 drops lavender
    15 drops geranium
    2 oz of carrier oil

    I mix this in a small bottle and apply every 3 hours or so until I notice relief.

    For my supplements, I will take my daily multiple, individual packets of collagen to help hasten the healing of connective tissues, and my protein shake for extra nutrition post surgery and for breastfeeding.

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