Tag: pregnancy

How Planned Parenthood Helped Me Plan Parenthood

 

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Note: The below words were partly written because I am told to “move to Canada” or sent images of aborted fetuses if I show support for PP on Twitter. This shows a lack of understanding (at best), and I often wonder if shared personal stories might bridge the black and white walls often placed by pro-choice and pro-birth reasoning.

My comment sections are always closed because I write for myself, and if I want trolls, I’ll post publicly on social media. So if you appreciate my words, please follow my blog. 

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I was 11 and at a Kansas City Royals game when I got my first period. My first baseball game and the realization that I was physically able to become pregnant happened on the same day.

If you know any 11-year-old children, male or female, please pause for a moment and picture them taking care of a baby.

You can’t, right? I can’t either. My son is presently 11, and he can’t even remember to brush his teeth. At the same age, had there been a rapist/molester/older boy in my life, I might have been able to carry a baby… 10 years before I could legally drink alcohol.

My periods were heavy, difficult to manage at school, and the cramping was intense, so I got on birth control pills at age 16, thanks to Planned Parenthood. What previously stopped everything in my life for a few days a month was now mild and predictable. Manageable. Many women take birth control pills for this reason.

I also decided to get on birth control pills because I became sexually active as a teenager, and realized I could never get an abortion because of my psychological makeup. However, I refuse to infantilize humans, and believe whether or not to procreate is a decision every woman must make for herself.

Every person and situation is different, and I am in no position to judge anyone else. This is the main reason I have always been, and remain, strongly pro-choice.

I was one of the youngest in my class, plus I graduated early from high school, so I am 16 in my college ID picture. I started college, and moved into an apartment, working multiple food service jobs to pay for tuition, rent, and bills at 17. I couldn’t afford health insurance. I couldn’t even afford a car.

I remained among the working poor until my early 30s, when I got my first job with healthcare. I never needed government assistance, although I definitely qualified financially during many years, but I had no children to feed, so my pride kept me from seeking help.

There were times I couldn’t afford to buy food, and yes—to stay on topic—tampons. I remember rolling up toilet paper in my underwear to create a poor person pad during that time of the month, praying it would stay in place. You do what you have to do.

I also remained on birth control pills the entire time. The reasonably priced well-woman care offered by Planned Parenthood allowed me to not become pregnant with a child I wasn’t emotionally prepared to raise.

Planned Parenthood enabled me to not need government assistance (i.e. taxpayer money) to support a child I couldn’t afford.

Planned Parenthood gave me the pills that kept my naturally-heavy periods predictable and light enough that I was able to consistently stay in the workforce—what might be labeled a productive member of society—rather than needing to call in sick every month.

When I met my husband at age 33, we decided to get married and have a child, and for the first time in my sexually active life, I stopped taking birth control pills. I became pregnant with my son almost instantly.

While my husband likes to brag that this faster-than-anticipated pregnancy was the result of his supernaturally strong sperm, I believe birth control pills are what kept me from becoming a mother before I was ready.

This was confirmed when my son was older, and after my husband’s vasectomy, I was able to get off the pill once again. My ovaries became covered with cysts—the left completely engulfed by one—and I had the most brutal period of my entire life. I had been bleeding harder than ever before, nauseated and unable to eat, for 90 days when my doctor performed the abdominal surgery to remove my left ovary, uterus, and cervix.

I had lost 30 pounds in 6 months and was subsisting on bits of saltine crackers and ginger ale before the surgery. I could only perform my motherly duties in short bursts, stopping between tasks to sit on the couch in a cold sweat as I tried not to vomit. It felt like having a stomach flu for nearly a year, and all symptoms ceased immediately post-surgery. I was given my life back.

I once again started to feel the symptoms after a year, and a sonogram revealed my remaining ovary was covered with 6 cysts, which sometimes happen when a women ovulates, but the ovary doesn’t release the egg. I was put on birth control pills to shut it down, and the cysts disappeared, saving my remaining ovary.

Even though I didn’t realize it, birth control pills had been necessary to prevent cysts my entire life. For many women, they perform this same function.

Sometimes birth control pills allow women like me to shut down their ovaries so that rather than having them removed, they can one day use them to have a child. Or they can continue to function and work. Especially for women with polycystic ovarian syndrome and endometriosis, birth control pills are a medicine.

Birth control pills should be covered by health insurance.

Birth control pills are not “abortion pills,” and work by eliminating the need to ovulate. They prevent the female piece of the pregnancy puzzle from entering the picture. If you are male and consider not ovulating to be the same thing as killing a potential baby, I certainly hope you don’t masturbate. (All of those potential lives lost… you monster!)

For women like myself, Planned Parenthood has been the only affordable way to have a yearly screening for cancer, STDs, and receive birth control in whatever form to prevent pregnancy. I have never once been offered an abortion, or had it discussed in my presence at Planned Parenthood, and I visited them in 4 different cities over the span of 16 years.

I recently found out the Kansas City Royals are in a partnership with the anti-choice Vitae Foundation, and I couldn’t be more disappointed with the first baseball team I ever saw. The fact that I had my first glimpse of fertility at a Royals game struck me, considering that they are partnered with a group that would have expected me to have a baby, had I become pregnant at age 11.

If you would like to sign the petition asking the Kansas City Royals to cut ties with an organization that demeans Planned Parenthood, an invaluable resource for affordable women’s health and family planning—please sign the petition here.

In summation; Planned Parenthood gave me affordable well woman check-ups and birth control when I couldn’t afford healthcare. I will forever be grateful to and support their organization for this reason. Thank you for listening.

Expecting Exercise: 5 Workouts for a Fit and Fabulous Pregnancy

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It was once believed the only exercise acceptable for expecting women was gentle walking, which is wonderful exercise, but certainly not the only activity safe for pregnant women. There are actually many different forms of prenatal exercise that are extremely beneficial when done in moderation.

The main difference between pregnancy and non-pregnancy exercise is that expecting moms need to listen to their bodies even more than usual, prepare to be off-balance occasionally (as the body grows suddenly), and adjust accordingly.

Special care should also be taken to prevent the body temperature from becoming too elevated, as this is not good for the baby.

Below are 5 pregnancy-safe exercises for expecting mothers:

 

1. Prenatal Yoga—

Yoga is a wonderful way to stay limber and strong no matter what, but when your belly’s growing at an alarming rate, staying flexible and toned can actually help alleviate or even prevent the aches and pains that can come with sudden physical changes.

Tree pose is a wonderful way to build leg muscles and enhance balance during a time when you may feel occasionally off-kilter, and downward facing dog feels amazing when it allows the baby bump to hang freely, giving your back a much-needed rest.

Prenatal yoga can help in the delivery room by keeping women agile and strong, offering deep-breathing techniques to energize and soothe. Just be careful not to lie flat on the back after the 20th week of pregnancy, or do any yoga involving squats after the 34th week, as this can prematurely induce labor.

 

2. Swimming for Soon-to-Be Moms—

Especially in the last trimester of pregnancy when you’re starting to feel heavier and possibly experience the back and leg pains that can come with carrying an ever-expanding belly, swimming can bring relief.

Swimming takes all of the weight off the body, allowing women to float and stretch sore muscles without resistance or gravity that can make loose ligaments and joint stress worse. Swimming is also a favorite because it can be done comfortably and safely right up until the due date.

If you’ve ever considered joining a gym with a pool, pregnancy is a perfect time to make it happen, because swimming is quite possibly the most soothing and gentle exercise available.

 

3. Walking Will Work Wonders—

A daily walk during pregnancy has been shown to help women perform more efficiently in the delivery room, but most importantly, it gets positive, feel-good endorphins flowing through the body, which is great for mom and baby.

It is safe to walk as often as you please, as long as overheating or exhaustion are not issues, with a minimum of 3-4 times a week for 30 minutes being what most fitness experts recommend during maternity.

If you don’t have a safe or smog-free place to walk outdoors, a treadmill can work just as well, but be sure to keep it at a low pace to start out, and hold onto the hand rails to maintain balance.

 

4. Stationary Cycling—

Riding a bicycle outdoors can subject women to the potential risk of falling, jarring bumps, or moving objects such as inattentive drivers, making the stationary bike a much safer version of this exercise.

Cycling on a stationary bike takes the pressure off joints and allows tired pregnant ladies to sit while they increase circulation and move leg muscles, making it an exercise nearly everyone can do.

If your pregnancy is bringing with it back pain, find a recumbent stationary bike that will allow you to lean back and relax while still exercising the legs.

 

5. Light Weightlifting—

Pregnancy is not generally a good time to begin a weightlifting program, but if you normally lift free weights, use the weight machines, or any other form of resistance strength training, you don’t have to sit back in dismay for 9 months and watch the results of all your hard work atrophy.

But you do have to take it easier than usual; meaning no major straining—only maintaining. This is not the time to try to build muscle or move up to a new level.

If anything, you should dial it back until your body feels only invigorated after a session, rather than your pre-pregnancy “no pain, no gain” workouts.

 

The goal of maternity exercise should be to energize the body and stay in shape, without pushing to extremes or trying to build muscles. The pregnant body is already adding weight naturally, and changing very quickly, so consider maintenance your goal until the baby is born, rather than progress. You’ll have plenty of time to focus on pushing yourself to get back into shape once the baby is born.

If you’d like to embark on a fitness program or modify your existing routine to cater to your growing, beautiful new shape, get clearance from your doctor, and try some of the pregnancy-safe exercises discussed above.

Prenatal Yoga: 7 Super Benefits for Mom and Baby

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Whether you worked out regularly before pregnancy, or have decided to find a way to have the healthiest pregnancy possible by starting an exercise program, prenatal yoga has many benefits to offer both mother-to-be and baby.

Obviously, increased flexibility and strength will relieve some stress the rapid weight gain of pregnancy places on the body. But there are many other ways prenatal yoga can help women stay strong and healthy until their due date, and beyond.

Check out 7 of the many great things prenatal yoga can do for expectant mothers below:

 

1. Yoga Reduces Anxiety—

Bringing a new human into the world can be a simultaneously joyful and stressful time for anyone, but for the well-being of both mother and baby, it’s important to keep anxiety levels low.

Yoga has been proven to reduce nervousness, lower blood pressure, and increase oxygenation through deep breathing, all of which create a soothing sense of peace and calm.

Breathing exercises during yoga can also teach women to control pain and tension during labor, increasing the chances of achieving a natural birth if so desired.

 

2. Yoga Improves Balance—

Because the body is growing and changing so quickly during pregnancy, it can be hard to maintain balance, giving expectant mothers the reputation for being clumsy. But to be fair; who wouldn’t be clumsy when faced with trying to adjust to a new, larger body every week or so?

During this constantly-fluctuating bodily transition, building the balance-giving leg muscles through certain yoga poses (such as tree pose, for example) can really reduce the wobbliness and off-kilter sensations many pregnant women experience.

 

3. Yoga Increases Mindfulness—

Yoga is great for encouraging people to become more in touch with their bodies, allowing them to better listen and respond to needs.

Never in a woman’s life is mindfulness more important than during pregnancy, because now another person’s needs must be considered and recognized. Being aware of certain food cravings and indulging them, for example, can give the body necessary nutrition.

Remembering to treat yourself with care, respect, and having patience with the pregnancy process are examples of enhanced mindfulness that can benefit both mother and baby.

 

4. Yoga Reduces Aches and Pains—

Pregnancy can be an uncomfortable and even painful experience for some, with common ailments often occurring in different trimesters. Many women feel nauseated in the first trimester, for example (or the entire pregnancy), and some experience heartburn, back pain, or joint pain as the baby grows.

By increasing flexibility and strength, yoga can alleviate or even prevent many issues during pregnancy, with poses that open the hips and shoulders to reduce strain. Certain yoga positions can also lessen back pain, and help with digestive problems like constipation or heartburn.

 

5. Yoga Provides Emotional Support—

As any support group member will tell you, there’s something very soothing about being around people who can understand the matters with which you’re dealing, and a room full of other pregnant women is no exception.

By doing taking a prenatal yoga class together, you’ll likely find yourself making friends, relating and bonding with other mothers-to-be, which can help you feel less alone or worried about what’s normal.

Bonus: Talking with women who are further along in their pregnancies can better prepare you for what to expect.

 

6. Yoga Maintains Fitness—

Doctors disagree on whether or not women can continue to lift weights, run, and do more strenuous exercises during pregnancy.

Activity levels while pregnant also vary from person to person, and those with high-risk pregnancies may be forbidden from certain exercises for this reason as well.

But yoga, when done gently and carefully (with a doctor’s permission, of course) can be a gentle way to retain muscle mass, strength and flexibility.

It’s more important than ever before to stay healthy during pregnancy, so don’t use it as an excuse to lie around and lose all of the fitness progress you’ve made; simply modify your routine and keep moving.

 

7. Yoga Encourages Meditation/Naps—

One of the best pieces of advice any new mother will hear about her infant is “sleep when they sleep.” But this can be a frustratingly difficult goal to achieve, because when you’re constantly getting up to change diapers, feed and soothe a baby back to sleep, it’s hard to wind back down enough to fall asleep yourself after they finally nod back off.

But prenatal yoga teaches the relaxation pose and often ends with a session of quiet meditation that trains yoga students to relax on command. If you can carry this ability into motherhood, you’ll be able to rest quickly whenever your new little one does, which is a wonderful skill to have in your parenting arsenal.

 

As you can see above, prenatal yoga has many benefits for mind, body, mother and baby. Consider adding this wonderful practice to your exercise regimen today to stay in great shape throughout your pregnancy, and consider doing postnatal yoga for a great way to lose the baby weight faster afterward.