A fresh empirical look at what is happening with online dating, the pill and their long term affects on our culture today.
Category: Achieving Pregnancy
Your Cervix Is Amazing!
Ladies and Gentlemen! Has anyone ever told you how amazing a woman’s cervix is?
A woman’s anatomy is hidden inside, causing it’s sophistication and perfect design to go unnoticed but I am here to tell you, the cervix is one of the coolest parts of our body!
The cervix is an incredible and intelligent gateway between the vagina and uterus. Throughout the month the cervix opens and closes as we become fertile and infertile, allowing sperm to travel up into the uterus with its agenda of implanting an egg.
When we are infertile our bodies view sperm as possible bringers of infection so our cervix remains tightly closed and sperm die in our vaginas within 30 minutes due to the naturally acidic environment.
When we are fertile our cervix (which I like to think of as a grand hotel with a nice solid door) opens and cervical mucus is released providing small rivers and channels for sperm to swim up. The cervix has small indentations in its walls called cervical crypts, which can be thought of as little hotel rooms. The cervix is so intelligent, it traps sperm that are shaped imperfectly or swimming oddly in the lower crypts while sperm that are healthy and superior are ushered with specific cervical mucus into the upper crypts of our cervix, right next to the uterus.
A woman can be fertile and secreting fertile cervical mucus for up to seven days, the fertile mucus and cervical crypts hold the optimal sperm, feeding them glucose until the moment we ovulate which is a 24 hour window at the end of our fertile cycle. With the sperm released the cervix begins to close back up, our cervical mucus dries up, our fertility leaves and our vaginas become protectively acidic once again.
This dance happens (for women who are ovulating) once a cycle regardless of sexual activity. There are ways to chart the comings and goings of our fertility and use the knowledge to avoid or achieve pregnancy. Once we master our bodies language of fertility we can monitor our fertility regardless of age or what is happening in our lives (breastfeeding, menopause etc.).
Our cervix is also responsible for keeping itself closed while we are pregnant, protecting the uterus from any infections and helping us hold our babies inside until we are ready to give birth. Once we give birth the uterus opens to 10cm to allow our babies to pass down into our vaginas and into the world and then closes up once again, it is an incredibly busy part of our bodies that deserves recognition.
Lets hear it for our cervixes!
HypnoBirthing® Online Home Study Course
Blue Lotus is now proudly offering a HypnoBirthing® Online Home Study Course!
Do you live too far from Franchesca to be able to attend a group workshop or have a full schedule that is challenging to work around? The HypnoBirthing® online home study course could be for you.
In the online course Franchesca guides you through all of the same material she teaches in a group workshop. The classes are comprised of five units and are around two hours each. Homework assignments are given at the end of each class and a phone or email follow-up (clients choice) will be scheduled with Franchesca to go over any specifics or answer any questions that arose while watching the class material.
Steps for Registering for HypnoBirthing® online course
Step One: Follow this link and create a user account for yourself. Be sure to include your mailing address in the registration process so I can send you your practice materials and HypnoBirthing® book in the mail. Self Registration
Step Two: Once you have created an account you will log in and be taken to a page that says “You are not registered for any courses at this time”. Click on the blue tab that says “Catalog”.
Step Three: You will be taken to a screen where the HypnoBirthing® class will appear along with a green button that says “Add to Cart”. Click the green button and the class will be placed in your online shopping cart.
Step Four: Click the green shopping cart in the upper right hand corner and complete the checkout process.
Step Six: Once you have paid for the course click the tab on the upper right hand corner that says “Dashboard” and you will be taken to the HypnoBirthing® Online Class, you can expect your class packet and practice materials to arrive within one week of registering for the course.
Cost for the online course is $385
Billings Online Home Study Course
Now proudly offering online home study courses for the Billings Method of Tracking Ovulation. Learn how to track your fertility from the comfort of your home any time of the day!
Are you interested in learning about the Billings Method but live far from Franchesca or have a challenging schedule to work around? The online home study and email/phone follow-up is a great option for you!
The online class room contains the exact material Franchesca would be teaching in a group workshop and offers simple tests throughout the material to highlight aspects of the class that are important to pay attention to. Once the online class has been completed you will begin charting using either an online service or Iphone app which Franchesca will explain once she contacts you to answer any questions you may have about the course material and schedule your follow-ups.
Steps for Self Registering For Online home study course.
Step One: Follow this link and click the blue button on the lower right that says “New Account” create a user account for yourself.
Step Two: Once you have created an account you will log in and be taken to a page that says “You are not registered for any courses at this time”. Click on the tab on the upper right hand corner that says “Catalog”.
Step Three: You will be taken to a screen where the Billings Ovulation Class will appear along with a green button that says “Add to Cart”. Click the green button and the class will be placed in your online shopping cart.
Step Four: Click the green shopping cart in the upper right hand corner and complete the checkout process.
Step Six: Once you have paid for the course click the tab on the upper right hand corner that says “Dashboard” and you will be taken to the Billings Ovulation Class.
Step Seven: Click play on the course. There will be two screens side by side, one that the class will play on and the other that is a black white space. If you would like to take notes while watching the class material click the word “Notes” on the top of the white blank space and you will be able to type up notes and print them out at the end of each course section.
Cost for the online home study course and unlimited follow-ups is $350
Setting Yourself Up For Breastfeeding Success
Setting Yourself up for Breastfeeding Success
Breastfeeding looks like a straightforward easy experience but it can be surprisingly challenging for the first time breastfeeding mother. Here are some resources, suggestions and tools to set yourself up for a sweet successful experience.
If you are reading this and are still pregnant try to sit topless in the sun for 10 minutes a day, exposing your nipples to direct sunlight helps gently toughen them up. Also, while showering or taking a bath you can use a washcloth and gently rub it over your nipple, don’t rub until you feel pain, rub to the point that you think “hmmm that could feel painful if I kept going” the washcloth will also get your nipples used to some extra stimulation and ease the beginning breastfeeding experience.
I recommend checking out the la leche league website on proper latch (babies connection to your breast) and feeding here. For diagrams on positioning of baby see this link.
It is important for your baby to have your breast deep inside their mouth with their lips flanged (like they are puckering up) around your nipple and some surrounding areola. If your baby is sucking on just your nipple and not the nipple and surrounding areola the latch will be painful.
It is common for first time breastfeeding mothers to experience soreness or some cracking of their nipples in the first 10 days of breastfeeding. If you see that your baby has an improper latch at your breast simply wet a clean finger with your saliva, slide it into your babies mouth alongside your breast and turn it to the side to break your babies suction so you both can try again. Calmly bring your babe back to your chest and stroke the side of their cheek or tickle their chin with your nipple to get them to open wide so you can angle your nipple towards the upper back of their palate for proper depth so there is a good latch.
In the beginning both the baby and mother are learning how to breastfeed and the mother is not used to having so much suction on her breasts. Never fear, you both will learn how feed and it will become a beautiful and enjoyable experience.
It is well worth your time to secure a few simple items before giving birth so you are prepared for a smooth and graceful transition into first time feeding. Here are some tools to help you through the first few weeks of feeding and beyond:
Tall Glasses of Water: Hydration is profoundly important during pregnancy, labor and breastfeeding. While feeding, your babe is not only getting food, they are getting hydration. It is important that the mamma stays juiced up so her milk supply is strong and her baby can receive what he/she needs. Drinking a tall glass of water (follow your thirst, if you are still thirsty keep drinking) just before or while feeding will help your milk flow easily and keep you from feeling parched.
Good Fats In Your Food: Nutrition is paramount while pregnant and continues to be while breastfeeding. Your child is literally being built off of your breast milk and everything that you choose to consume. Having healthy fats in your diet in the first few weeks will help your milk come in and create richer milk which helps your child’s growth and brain development. Good fats are fats that are organic, unprocessed and either from an animal or uncooked plant source. A good piece of steak or salmon is packed with nutrients needed to sustain mamma and babe, if mamma is vegetarian then turning towards raw, organic, cold pressed coconut oil (use it like butter on toast, in oatmeal, on potatoes – pretty much anything) as well as cold pressed, organic olive oil (don’t sauté with it, pour it over your food after it is cooked for maximum health benefit. Can be added to soups, salads, rice etc.) is wonderful. Eggs, avocados, and nut butters are also fabulous sources of healthy nourishing fats. The first few weeks after giving birth are all about maximum nourishment and rebuilding your body, not a time to worry about loosing weight. Your happy breastfeeding babe will nurse any extra fats or food you consume right off of you as they gain healthy weight.
Lanolin: Helps keep your nipples hydrated while first learning how to feed and prevents cracking and bleeding. Ideally the lanolin would be used in a situation where you are topless after feeding and alternating the breast which you are feeding from. For example, nurse your babe on your right breast until they are full then apply the lanolin to the right nipple to protect it. When your babe is hungry again they can nurse off of your left breast and after the second feeding the lanolin should be absorbed by the right nipple. Lanolin residue is not harmful to the baby, but large amounts of it should be gently wiped off before attempting to feed – this will prevent your child from slipping all over your breast and getting an improper latch. The best quality of natural lanolin I have found can be purchased here.
Proper Pillow or Prop For Shoulder Support: The first few weeks your babe will be feeding round the clock and it is important to have proper support for your upper body while you feed. Different pillows work for different stages, I personally have had the best experience with this pillow while my daughter was small (this pillow also doubles as a great way to prop babe up when they are wanting to see what is going on in the room). Once she was three months old we switched to this Sweet Pea Pillow which doubled as a fabulous maternity pillow while I needed support when sleeping with my pregnant belly. Having a pillow to rest your babe on takes the strain off of your body and allows you to fully relax which also helps your milk flow and the overall enjoyment of connecting to your child.
Happy Bonding and Nursing!
Labor Snacks, Sweet Simple Foods To Keep You Going
Labor Snacks, Sweet Simple Foods to Keep You Going
The process of giving birth burns on average the same amount of calories as a 30mile hike! When thinking about snacks to have on hand think hydrating, juicy, and easy to prepare treats that the momma and birth support will enjoy. All drinks can be offered through a straw for ease and sips should be given to the momma at least once every 15 minutes to help her stay hydrated.
Here are some sweet simple snack ideas to get you inspired:
Home Made Labor Popsicles:
This is a simple way to stay both hydrated, and nourished throughout labor. Many women experience nausea with contractions, and these labor pops are a great way to head that off. The coolness is also refreshing and easy to take in.
1-2 oz of dried red raspberry leaf
1 quart of water
Quart size jar with lid
Honey and lemon to taste
2-3 1mg calcium tablets
ice tray or paper dixi cups
To make the labor pops, steep 1-2 ounces of red raspberry leaf in a quart of water for at least 20 minutes up to four hours. Strain and sweeten with lots of honey and lemon, these will add much needed calories and lemon can help ease the nausea (as well as the red raspberry leaf). Crush the calcium tablets and add to the tea. Calcium is a muscle relaxant and can help with some aches and pains during labor. Pour the mixture into the ice tray. When labor commences, eat throughout the labor. They really are easy to eat when nothing else sounds to good! (credit to hakima widwifery).
Also Try Peppermint Tea pops, brew up a strong batch of peppermint tea and add a decent amount of honey to taste – the honey will give you a boost of energy while the cool refreshing peppermint will give you and your birth support just the thing you need to feel refreshed.
Honey Sticks are also great for a swift blood sugar booster – these can be snuck into a hospital which does not allow the laboring mother to eat foods.
Instant Miso Soup is a nourishing swift snack that can be prepared with simple not water in the hospital or added to some bone broth at home (see article on making bone broth for instructions and health benefits).
Fruits and avocado – think lite and easy snacks that can be presented on a beautiful plate can boost the laboring womans spirits.
Coconut water either from the can or from a freshly cracked young coconut provides electrolytes and hydration which is essential for a yummy smooth birthing experience.
Home Made Electrolyte drink:
In a mason jar of water fill with chilled fizzy water the juice of a freshly squeezed lemon, two pinches of salt and either honey or maple syrup to taste. The lemon/salt combo provides electrolytes like any energy drink without the added dyes and preservatives.
Once your baby is born the momma is going to be quite hungry (and rightfully so!) good post labor foods to have on hand are things that can be prepped/reheated easily that are rich in good fats and carbs. Think lasagnea, cheese tamales, good burger, her favorite comfort foods. The richness of the post labor meal will help the mothers breast milk to come in. Good fats and hydration are key to a healthy milk supply.
Happy Birthing and Snacking!
What are sperm? How long do they live? Are they male and female? How do they implant in a womans egg?
The term sperm is derived from the Greek word (σπέρμα) sperma (meaning “seed”) and refers to the male reproductive cells.
The sperm cell consists of a head, a midpiece and a tail. The head contains 23 chromosomes which will join the 23 chromosomes of the female egg, there are also enzymes used for penetrating the female egg. The midpiece contains a filamentous core which helps the sperm metabolize (recharge) during the journey through the womans cervix, uterus and fallopian tubes. The tail helps propel the sperm forward for the journey up to the womans fertile egg.
Study findings have showed a range of 42 to 76 days from the time of sperm production to ejaculation in normal men. Men are born with a set number of underdeveloped sperm cells which are not technically sperm, yet. These cells eventually mature at puberty and they will create the reproductive type cells. Healthy males will create sperm their entire adult life from these underdeveloped cells.
The process is called spermatogenesis.
During spermatogenesis the underdeveloped cells make exact copies of themselves. Each cell will make four copies that will then mature into reproductive cells. A woman’s egg will always carry the X chromosome (female chromosome), it is the males sperm which determines the sex of a child. Sperm can carry either X or Y chromosomes. Sperm carrying the Y chromosome (male) are able to swim faster than those with the X chromosome, but also die off faster. A couple trying for a male baby who know the womans peak time of fertility could make love as ovulation occurs to give the male sperm the best chance at reaching the egg first. A couple trying for a female baby could make love in the days leading up to ovulation while the woman is fertile and abstain the day of ovulation to give the slower hardier female sperm a chance to reach the egg as it becomes ripe.
Sperm can live for up to five days during a womans fertile time of the month when she is producing favorable cervical mucus to protect the little swimmers. This means they can be resting inside of a womans cervix 5 days in advance of ovulation and still fertilize the egg. The egg, unfertilized, has a life span of only about 24 hours. If a woman is infertile the sperm are able to live for a maximum of thirty minutes the vagina. If left in the air sperm have an even shorter life span of a few minutes.
If the sperm does indeed reach a fertile egg it will meet the egg in a specific portion of the tube, called the ampullar-isthmic junction, it rests for another thirty hours.
Fertilization — sperm union with the egg — occurs in this portion of the tube (shown to the left as being cut for a tubal ligation). The fertilized egg then begins a rapid descent to the uterus. The period of rest in the tube appears to be necessary for full development of the fertilized egg and for the uterus to prepare to receive the egg.
A membrane surrounding the egg, called the zona pellucida, has two major functions in fertilization. First, the zona pellucida contains sperm receptors which are specific for human sperm. Second, once the membrane has been penetrated by the sperm, it becomes impermeable to penetration by other sperm.
Following penetration, a series of events set the stage for the first cell division. The single-cell embryo is called a zygote. Over the course of the next seven days, the human embryo undergoes multiple cell divisions in a process called mitosis. At the end of this transition period, the embryo becomes a mass of very organized cells, called a blastocyst. It’s now believed that as women get older, this process of early embryo development is increasingly impaired due to diminishing egg quality.
What are the best ways to cultivate healthy sperm?
* Eating a proper balanced diet
*Reduce stress. Stress interferes with reproductive hormone production
*Exercise regularly. The body works as a whole. Exercise brings oxygen and nutrients to the entire body
*Maintain healthy body weight. Too much or too little body fat interferes with the production of necessary reproductive hormones
It is best to avoid:
*Chemical toxins of every kind
*Recreational drugs and prescription Drugs. They both have the same harsh effects and consequences on the reproductive system and body as a whole
When thinking of the components of the reproductive system, male or female it is worth while to look at our lives and ask what building blocks we are surrounding ourselves with that have effects on our bodies and minds. The reproductive system is a great marker of our overall health, if you are interested in conceiving a child consider cleansing and properly building up your body so the strongest and healthiest of sperm, egg, uterus and state of mind can be present during conception to give your future child a healthy running start in this life.
Credit for some content in this article goes to UCSF Medical Center.
Ovulation – Hormones Explained
So what exactly is ovulation?
Ovulation is the release of a ripe fertile egg from the ovary, it is a womans peak time of fertility in the month.
The physiological journey that a womans body goes through every cycle to achieve ovulation is the product of a series of hormones that lead into one another. This article is intended to shed light on the hormones behind ovulation in a way that any of us could understand.
The information in this article will first cover the full function of the glands and organs involved in ovulation so there is groundwork for understanding the overall sequence of events which will be covered at the bottom of this article. If you already have an understanding of anatomy and physiology feel free to skip to the bottom of these writings.
The act of ovulation and menstruation are the result of a hormonal dance between the Hypothalamus (master gland), the pituitary gland, ovaries, and uterus.
A fresh cycle begins with the first day of a womans bleed. The bleed causes estrogen and progesterone levels to fall and the Hypothalamus begins to work.
The Hypothalamus is a gland and portion of the brain located above the pituitary gland.
* It controls many physiologic mechanisms including: appetite, thirst, emotional reactions, and temperature.
* At menarche (first period) and throughout the reproductive life of the woman, the hypothalamus stimulates the pituitary to produce both follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH), which in turn causes the menstrual cycle to occur.
* Hormones are chemical messengers that are produced in one part of the body, travel through the blood stream, and affect other parts of the body.
* The hypothalamus is influenced by our environment and emotional state and acts as a major computer in our body analyzing signals from other areas of the brain as well as hormonal signals.
The Pituitary is a gland is an endocrine gland about the size of a pea and weighs less than 0.02oz. It is a protrusion off of the bottom of the hypothalamus at the base of the brain.
* The anterior lobe of the pituitary gland secrets FSH and LH that in turn stimulate the ovaries to mature and release ova (egg(s)). There is a feed back mechanism between the ovaries and the hypothalamus which increases or decreases the amount of FSH and LH produced in the pituitary. The pituitary gland also secretes prolactin to stimulate the production of breast milk.
Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH): is stimulated into production at the beginning of the cycle, because of the decrease in the ovarian hormones, estrogen and progesterone production at the end of the previous cycle. FSH stimulates several of the most sensitive follicles in the ovary to begin growing.
* The level of FSH fluctuates and must reach a threshold level before any follicular growth takes place.
* Several days of follicle growth are required before the follicles secrete enough estrogen into the blood stream to signal the hypothalamus/pituitary that the threshold for FSH has been reached.
* There is an intermediate level of FSH which must be exceeded before the dominate follicle is boosted into its full ovulatory response.
* There is also a maximum level of FSH, only 20-30% above the threshold which must not be exceeded, otherwise too many follicles would develop and multiple ovulations would occur.
* The drop in FSH after the intermediate level is reached causes the follicle to be receptive to the secondary pituitary hormone, LH which will surge before ovulation.
* Usually only one follicle is boosted to ovulation.
Luteinizing Hormone (LH) Stimulates certain cells that line the follicle (theca interna cells) to produce progesterone. The LH levels surge prior to ovulation and cause the egg to be ruptured from the follicle. Luteinization causes formation of corpus luteum from the ruptured follicle. Progesterone and estrogen are secreted by the corpus luteum.
The corpus luteum (yellow body) is formed from the ruptured follicle and functions for 11-16 days in the absence of pregnancy.
*The corpus luteum produces progesterone and estrogen.
Ovaries: Under the influence of FSH and LH the ova mature and are released from a cyst like structure called the follicle. Usually only one follicle reaches maturity and releases an ovum at ovulation. Following ovulation, the ruptured follicle collapses and becomes the corpus luteum. At birth, the ovaries contain about 500,000 eggs but during a womans reproductive life only about 500 ova will ever come to maturity.
* Folliculogenesis (maturation of the ova) takes 85 days.
* FSH and LH, act as synergistis – cause the growth and development of follicles containing the ova and stimulate the production of estrogen.
* Is the predominant ovarian hormone before ovulation.
* Stimulate the growth and development of the reproductive organs prior to menarche (first period).
* Stimulates the cervical crypts to produce mucus
* Causes the endometrium to proliferate in preparation for implantation
* Causes the cervix to soften, open and rise.
Progesterone: with the rupture of the follicle and subsequent ovulation, the follicle collapses and is now known as the corpus luteum which functions of 11-16 days
* Through the influence of LH certain (granulose) cells in the collapsed follicle now begin to produce progesterone and estrogen.
* Progesterone is the dominate ovarian hormone after ovulation.
* Progesterone acts on the endometrium to stimulate the glands to produce fluids, which will nutritionally support a new human being.
With that groundwork laid we can now understand the sequence of events that take place to make ovulation occur.
1) Estrogen and Progesterone levels fall
2) Suppression of FSH(follicle stimulating hormone) and LH(luteinizing hormone) lifted, a new cycle commences
3) The hypothalamus produces GnRH (hormone which triggers the pituitary)
4) Pituitary produces FSH
5) The ovary grows follicles (a cluster of 6-7)
6) Which produce estrogen
7) Which causes growth of the endometrium and the cervix produces mucus
8) Estrogen feeds back to the hypothalamus which turns off FSH and sends out LH
9) which releases the ovum from the follicle
10) stimulating formation of the corpus luteum
11) which produces progesterone and estrogen
12) The progesterone changes the endometrium which affects the cervical mucus
13) If fertilization has not occurred, corpus luteum regresses after 6-7 days
14) Estrogen and progesterone levels fall
15) Suppression of FSH and LH lifted
16) Menstruation commences 10-16 days after ovulation, and a new cycle begins
Credit for the research goes to WOOMB (World Organization of the Ovulation Method – Billings).
Prenatal Tai Chi in Sebastopol California
Franchesca Schaaf & Yoga Studio Ganesha Present
PRENATAL TAI CHI
SUNDAY EVENINGS 4:00-5:00
138 WEEKS WAY SEBASTOPOL
Why Prenatal Tai Chi?
A successful birthing experiencee is based upon proper flow of energy, the opening of
the lymphatic system and unifying mind/body to call out the inner warrior. Tai Chi helps practitioners come into their whole selves in a gentle yet swift way, providing internal stillness despite external circumstances.
Prenatal Tai Chi teaches it’s movements in a repeated single form before moving onto another in a fluid sequence, in this way new and well seasoned practitioners are able to follow and understand how the energy is articulating itself and maximize chi flow.
SLIDING SCALE $15-10
MULTIPLE CLASS PASS DISCOUNTS AVAILABLE CONTACT FRANCHESCA AT (831) 334-4244 BluelotusFertility@GMAIL.COM
Have you been trying to conceive but are unable to become pregnant?
Did you know that a woman ovulates once a month and that peak moment of fertility can occur on a different day from cycle to cycle?
Did you know that it is possible to bleed every 28-35 days and not have ovulated?
It is not the bleeding that is the sign of fertility but rather the ovulation. Ovulation can be determined through sensations felt at the vulva (opening of the vagina) throughout the day and visual confirmation of cervical mucus discharged. A simple charting of the days observations provide a record for women to look back over and get acquainted with the patters of their fertility. No temperature taking or internal checking needs to occur to correctly identify peak fertility each cycle.
Through proper charting a woman can identify prime time for love making to encourage conception of a child. Proper charting gives women an understanding of what their hormones are doing throughout the cycle and provides clues to understand if not conceiving is due to lack of ovulation each month. If we find that a woman is not ovulating we can then counsel on gentle lifestyle adjustments to bring her body into natural alignment so she can conceive.