How to Handle Tricky Situations with Hospital Staff

Navigating Tricky Situations in Hospital Setting —Special ‘Know Your Options’ Series

When it comes to dealing with unsupportive hospital staff or conflicting information it can be easy to feel overwhelmed or stunned, especially in the moment.

Today Stephanie and I are talking about key phrases to use when you find yourself in one of these situations and other tips to keep in mind so you are prepared for all of the different potential scenarios. Stephanie is a doula, lactation consultant and certified childbirth educator so you will definitely want to soak in all of her amazing knowledge!

Grab your free download — How to Handle Tricky Situations with Hospital Staff

Have you taken our quiz?! I have been so surprised by the results so far! Where Should You Give Birth Based on Your Personality?

Choosing an Evidence Based Hospital

When it comes to finding a hospital, there are some key things to look for to ensure you will be setting yourself up for the most mother-baby friendly care possible!

Today Stephanie and I are talking about questions you can ask on the tour you take of the hospital prior to choosing where you will give birth. Because many doctors only have privileges at certain hospitals, you may want to look into the hospitals early on in your care when choosing a doctor. Stephanie is a doula, lactation consultant and certified childbirth educator so you will definitely want to soak in all of her amazing knowledge!

evidence based hospital

Grab your free download — Choosing an Evidence Based Hospital!


Have you taken our quiz?! I have been so surprised by the results so far! Where Should You Give Birth Based on Your Personality?

Is Your Doctor Evidence Based?

Finding an Evidence Based Care Provider—Special ‘Know Your Options’ Series

When it comes to finding a doctor, does it ever make you feel completely stuck? How do you know if they will be right for you?

Today Stephanie and I are talking about why we recommend finding an evidence based care provider and how you can tell if the person you’re interviewing (YES, you should absolutely be interviewing your doctors!) is practicing evidence based care. Stephanie is a doula, lactation consultant and certified childbirth educator so you will definitely want to soak in all of her amazing knowledge!

ob interview questions

Grab your free download — Guide to Finding an Evidence Based Doctor!

Still have questions? Submit them and we will do our best to answer all of them on our Facebook Live this week on 9/20/17 at 1pm CST. We’ll be discussing the major warning signs that your doctor might not be practicing evidence based care and answering YOUR questions.

Have you taken our quiz?! I have been so surprised by the results so far! Where Should You Give Birth Based on Your Personality?

hospital birth


Take Our Fun Birth Quiz!

This quiz isn’t meant to be a black and white set in stone determining factor of where you should give birth but it is meant to get you thinking about some of your daily preferences based on your personality and how they might play into your labor experience! Take the quiz and let us know what you think of your results! We’ll follow-up with some great educational content to help you prepare for an informed and empowered birth experience!

Quiz photos by Monet Nicole Birthing Stories

Fertility Awareness Method (FAM): Natural Birth Control

This guest post was written by Austyn Smith

The book “Taking Charge of your Fertility” by Toni Weschler provides deep insights into what happens in a woman’s body during a typical menstrual cycle. Learning about these changes in detail helps women become very in tune with their body’s physical signals of fertility (or lack thereof). In part one of this series, we discussed using Toni’s Fertility Awareness Method to help in troubleshooting infertility issues naturally, and ultimately achieving pregnancy. In part 2, we will discuss using this same method as a means for birth control.

Natural Birth Control After Baby

I have successfully used the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) for natural birth control for over four years, and have loved it. It entails charting your body temperature, your cervical mucus, and your cervical position as a means for noting your fertile and infertile times, and then planning intercourse accordingly. Although this method is not for everyone, it can be a great option for women who prefer not to use traditional birth control or have adverse reactions to it (myself). Using this method does require a bit of planning and consistency in order to be effective, so it is ideal for the organized or schedule-driven mama.

Plan on charting two full menstrual cycles before you begin using this method so that you can get a true understanding of charting, how it works, what it all means, and identifying your own body’s cues and signals of fertility. During each cycle you will be taking a daily basal body temperature (you need a special thermometer for tracking), recording cervical mucus, and cervical positioning (optional). A sample chart of a typical cycle is below.

sample fertility chart

As a reminder, there are three phases of a typical menstrual cycle: the pre-ovulatory infertile phase, the fertile phase, and the post-ovulatory infertile (luteal) phase. I recommend re-reading FAM part 1 to review the basics of the signs of fertile and infertile phases, before continuing on. I also highly recommend reading the book in detail before trying this method in order to get a clear picture of the procedures in detail. At any rate, here is an overview.

Phase One: Pre-Ovulatory Infertile Phase Rules

The first phase of a cycle begins on the first day of bleeding during your period. During this phase, there are two rules to follow.

First five days rule

You are only “safe” to have intercourse during the first 5 days of a menstrual cycle if you have had an obvious temperature shift 12-16 days prior.

Having this shift means that ovulation has indeed occurred and the bleeding you are experiencing is not ovulation spotting or implantation bleeding. Remember sperm can live for up to five days in a fertile environment, so any time after these first five days consider yourself potentially fertile, even if you are still bleeding. You may consider yourself “safe” beyond the first five days if you then keep the second rule.

Dry Day Rule

Before you ovulate, you are safe on the evening of every dry day—meaning you do not have any cervical discharge during the course of the entire day. If you have been dry and then have intercourse, the next day you must be careful since semen may mask cervical discharge. If at the end of a day after intercourse you have been dry all day, consider yourself safe once again (remember, sperm cannot survive in a dry environment).

Phase Two: Fertile Phase

Ideally, you are only having unprotected sex when you know for sure you are in your infertile phase. If you do decide to have sex during your fertile phase, you will need to use a barrier of some type (like condoms—we are huge fans of these), or explore other areas of arousal and climax without penetration. A woman’s egg once released survives only 24-48 hours. However, if the uterine environment is right, sperm can survive for several days, so there is a range on either side of ovulation day where you must consider yourself potentially fertile. To err on the side of caution, assume most women have an 8-10 day range of fertility. As a basic review, the signs of fertility include:

  • Cervical mucus changes from dry to sticky, then creamy, then eggwhite (extremely fertile), to sticky or dry, and finally menstruation.
  • Cervical positioning changes from firm, low, and closed to soft, high, open, and wet and then closed and low again.
  • Basal Body Temperature Shifts: a spike of several tenths of a degree which remains high for 3 consecutive days will indicate that ovulation has occurred. Remember you need a special thermometer for tracking.
  • Ovulatory Pain: Some women experience cramping in the lower abdomen on one side indicating ovulation is occurring.

Phase Three: Post-Ovulatory Infertile Phase

During this phase remember the Temperature Shift Rule.

Temperature Shift Rule

You are “safe” the evening of the third consecutive day your temperature is above the coverline.

Review how to chart temperatures and calculate coverline here. Essentially, the first day there has been a temperature rise by 2/10 of a degree, and has stayed elevated for 3 consecutive days, you can be sure you have ovulated. Highlight the previous 6 temperatures, and identify the highest of those. Draw your coverline on the chart that is one degree higher than the highest of those temperatures.

You are considered infertile at 6pm on the third consecutive night your basal body temperature is above the coverline. If your temperature is on or below the coverline during those 3 days, you must start over once your temperatures are back above the line. Remember, sex is still okay, only you must use a barrier method.

There are a few exceptions to these rules that will throw your body off a little bit—being sick, traveling, breastfeeding, or sleeping poorly for instance. So definitely review the book in detail before trying out this method.

Monitoring and charting fertility signs not only helps women understand their fertility in a very detailed manner, but can also serve as a diagnostic tool for infertility, as well as a means of natural birth control. It can be a great alternative for women who do not want added hormones, surgery, or the pressure of remembering to take a pill for birth control. I have found great success in using the Fertility Awareness Method both to prevent pregnancy, and to achieve pregnancy when I want to conceive. You may find a copy of Toni Weschler’s book here, and more information and community resources about using the Fertility Awareness Method at Taking Charge of your Fertility or

Lower Back Pain During Pregnancy

Lower Back Pain during Early Pregnancy & Beyond

This guest post was written by Dr. Heather Allen. Dr. Allen received her Master of Physical Therapy from the University of Texas at El Paso in 2001 and graduated with her Doctor of Physical Therapy from A.T. Still University in 2009. She is a licensed physical therapist in Texas. Dr. Allen has a varied clinical background with experience in neurological rehabilitation, cardiovascular rehabilitation, and women’s health. Dr. Allen’s current focus is teaching in academia.

It is estimated that at least 80% of the general population will experience low back pain at some point in their life. It is extremely common for a woman to experience low back pain during her pregnancy. This is due to the changes that occur to a woman’s body during pregnancy. First, our center of gravity is altered due to the weight and location of the baby, especially during the third trimester. Secondly, our body produces more Relaxin (a hormone that allows our joints and ligaments to loosen in preparation for childbirth). Thirdly, our abdominal muscles are stretched due to the growing baby and these muscles are unable to provide normal stability. Finally, our movement patterns are altered with all activities of daily living.

Treatment Options for Lower back Pain

Treatment options are limited during pregnancy since it is best to err on the side of caution. Most pain medications are contraindicated during pregnancy. The general rule of thumb regarding treatment modalities is to avoid any modality other than heat or ice near the baby. A recent study by Keskin et al. (2012) indicated that TENS was more effective than exercise and acetaminophen for pregnancy related low back. Therefore, a TENS unit may be a possible treatment option. This is one that we have used and love!

Whether you are pregnant or not, correct body mechanics are very important. If you are picking up a small light object from the floor, you should use a golfer’s lift technique (how a pro golfer picks up a golf ball from the ground). If you are picking up something heavier such as a toddler, you need to squat down and keep the object close to you. It is important to lift with your legs, not your back. If you are carrying an object, you should keep it close to your body. It is important to sit in a chair that has good lumbar support. After sitting for more than 30 minutes, you should stand up and walk around the room. Our bodies are meant to move, and if we stay in static positions for too long, it will make our low back pain worse.

babymoon retreat

Sleeping During Pregnancy

Towards the end of pregnancy, it is very difficult to find a comfortable sleeping position. After 20 weeks, a woman should no longer sleep on her back or stomach. This can be a challenge for women who normally sleep in these positions. When you are sleeping on your side, you can put pillows between your knees and a pillow behind your low back. Some people also find it comfortable to hug a pillow(s) in this position.

Exercises for lower back pain in pregnancy

There are a variety of exercises that can be helpful throughout pregnancy. Walking is a great way to exercise throughout your pregnancy. Swimming and water aerobics put minimal stress on your low back. Standing back extensions can be very helpful to maintain our lumbar extension. It is important to perform core exercises such as pelvic tilts in standing or sitting. You can perform alternating arm and leg lifts in quadruped. It can also be helpful to trade in your desk chair and recliner for a birth ball. We love this one!

Our core consists of our low back muscles, abdominal muscles, and pelvic floor muscles. As previously mentioned, our abdominal muscles are severely affected by pregnancy. Many pregnant females experience diastatsis recti (vertical separation of the abdominal muscles). The pelvic floor is an often-forgotten component of the core. One purpose of the pelvic floor is to support the internal organs above it, and thus it is crucial to strengthen this muscle group during pregnancy with Kegel exercises. Likewise, strong pelvic floor muscles can assist during delivery.

A women’s health physical therapist can be an excellent resource for treatment of low back pain during pregnancy. Likewise, physical therapists are trained to provide customized exercise programs, posture analysis, and body mechanic training. A physical therapist can also determine if a maternity support belt would be of benefit to you.

Sources: Keskin, E.A., Onur, O., Kiskin, H.L., Gumus, I.I., Kafali, H., & Turhan, N. 2012. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation improves low back pain during pregnancy. Gynecologic & Obstetric Investigation, 74, 76-83.