Ever Wondered What Your Uterus and Cervix Are Up to Each Month?

Have you ever been curious as to what is actually happening in your reproductive system each month? Check out this 4½ minute animation of the cycle:

It is a brief explanation of the complexities of what happens in your body each month. You will be amazed at how intricate it all is – what extraordinary creatures we women are!

The Billings Ovulation Method® can help you to manage your fertility safely, successfully and naturally.

It is the most thoroughly researched method of regulating fertility available today – natural or artificial! Over 850,000 individual hormone assays and 25+ years of research into the role and function of the cervix in human fertility. Plus countless cycles of clinical study of women’s charts.

If you are interested in details of that research we can supply them, but probably you just want to know that it will work for you. And the best way to find that out is to give it a go. What have you got to lose?

The quickest and most efficient way to learn is to find your own individual, confidential tutor Franchesca Duval right here at Blue Lotus Fertility!

 

 

 

6 Reasons to Delay Your Babies First Bath

babes first bath

There are many reasons to consider not having your baby bathed in the first hours or even days after birth. Many hospitals seem to have an urgent need to have the baby bathed in the first hours after the newborn has been born, but as parents, you can make the decision on when to bathe your baby and who is the one to do it. There are several benefits to delaying baby’s first bath and you may reconsider when you would like it to happen after learning about the advantages of waiting. (Much of the research on bathing newborns is related to the preterm or low birth weight baby.)

  1. Babies are born with a natural skin protectantIn utero, babies are protected from their watery environment by a special substance called vernix, found on their skin. You may notice some vernix on your just born baby, it looks a bit like a white, waxy cream cheese, and some babies seem to have a lot and others not so much. Babies tend to lose the vernix the longer the mother is pregnant, so those babies born at 42 weeks might not have a lot of it visible anymore, though usually there is still some hidden in the folds of their skin and under their arms. Babies born earlier often have a larger amount. Newer research indicates that vernix has immune properties and leaving it on your baby’s skin provides a layer of protection while your new baby’s immune system is getting stronger. I think this is a great benefit especially for babies who are born in the hospital, with lots of potential for exposure to hospital-acquired infections. Vernix also is the best moisturizer ever and helps to keep your baby’s skin soft and supple. It’s important to note that the research is on the properties of the vernix but as of now there is no clinical data to prove this connection.Amniotic fluid, which bathed the baby before birth has the ability to provide some extra resistance to infection as well, so the longer it remains on the skin, the better for baby.
  2. Baby wants to be near momAfter birth, your newborn baby wants to be as close to you and your breasts as he can get. Snuggling on your chest, close to the food source, where he can hear you, smell you and feel you against his skin is a source of comfort for your new little one. Being close to your breasts can help encourage breastfeeding and support the baby making a smooth transition to life on the outside. Taking your baby away from you soon after birth for the purpose of a bath can disrupt the process of your baby getting to know you, feeling safe and secure, and interfere with those very important first feedings.Bathing-beauties-baby
  3. Lowered body temperature New babies are still figuring out how to maintain their own body temperature. Taking a baby away from his mother for a bath, may result in the baby working harder to keep their body temperature in the normal range. I have seen babies who need to be placed under the heat lamp to bring up their temperature after their bath. Mom’s chest is the perfect place to maintain baby’s temperature. A mother’s chest has the ability to heat up or cool down to help the baby stay at just the right temperature. Adding a bath into the mix just makes it harder for baby to maintain their body temperature.
  4. Keep stress hormones low and blood sugar normalBeing separated from her mother can add an additional layer of stress to a new baby just figuring out life on the outside. When your baby is taken from you to be bathed, she may cry, feel uncomfortable and upset. This causes her body to release stress hormones in response to this new situation. Her heart rate and blood pressure may go up, she may breathe a bit faster and become agitated. Working hard to respond to this stressful situation may also lower her blood sugar temporarily. If your baby’s blood sugar is being monitored due to mother’s gestational diabetes, or her size at birth, the baby’s health care providers may be concerned and want to introduce formula to bring her blood sugar back up to the normal range. When she remains closes to you, she is better able to regulate all of her body systems and maintain her blood sugar where it should be.
  5. A bath with mom or dad sounds niceSince your baby feels most secure when she is close to a parent, you might consider taking the first bath with your baby, when you are ready. Getting in the tub with your baby and holding her in your arms is a wonderful way to have that first bath. Your baby will feel secure and loved, when she does not have to be separated from you in the first days. She will enjoy the soothing water while being held, happily splashing and giving little kicks. It might feel so good that she may even fall asleep! Remember, little babies are very slippery when wet, so you will need someone to hold the baby while you get in and out of the tub. It creates special memories to take that first bath with your baby, rather than having staff do it, shortly after birth, when mom is still recovering herself and not really able to engage in the process.babybath0306_468x349
  6. Handle with glovesIn many hospitals, it is policy for staff to handle all unbathed babies with gloves on their hands, so as to protect staff from coming into contact with any amniotic fluid, blood, or vernix that remain on your newborn. Considering that the transmission of hospital-acquired infections is on the rise, some consider it good practice to have all hospital staff wear gloves when handling a newborn baby, even if a bath has already occurred. Some studies show glove use in very low birth weight babies have fewer infections when staff handle the baby with gloves on, despite the bath status.

 

There are many benefits to delaying the bath of your newborn until both you and baby are stable and ready to participate in this special “first” moment. There is no medical reason that a newborn must be bathed in the first hours or days. I encourage you to learn more about the appropriate time to bathe your baby and make a choice to do so when you and your baby are ready. Sharing your wishes with hospital staff can be done respectfully and your wishes can be honored.

firstbathwide-620x349

 

Sources:

Loring, C., Gregory, K., Gargan, B., LeBlanc, V., Lundgren, D., Reilly, J., . . . Zaya, C. (2012). Tub bathing improves thermoregulation of the late preterm infant. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs, 41(2), 171-179. doi: 10.1111/j.1552-6909.2011.01332.x

Medoff Cooper, B., Holditch-Davis, D., Verklan, M. T., Fraser-Askin, D., Lamp, J., Santa-Donato, A., . . . Bingham, D. (2012). Newborn clinical outcomes of the AWHONN late preterm infant research-based practice project. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs, 41(6), 774-785. doi: 10.1111/j.1552-6909.2012.01401.x

Ng, P. C., Wong, H. L., Lyon, D. J., So, K. W., Liu, F., Lam, R. K., . . . Fok, T. F. (2004). Combined use of alcohol hand rub and gloves reduces the incidence of late onset infection in very low birthweight infants. Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed, 89(4), F336-340. doi: 10.1136/adc.2003.031104

Preer, G., Pisegna, J. M., Cook, J. T., Henri, A. M., & Philipp, B. L. (2013). Delaying the Bath and In-Hospital Breastfeeding Rates. Breastfeed Med. doi: 10.1089/bfm.2012.0158

Visscher, M. O., Utturkar, R., Pickens, W. L., LaRuffa, A. A., Robinson, M., Wickett, R. R., . . . Hoath, S. B. (2011). Neonatal skin maturation–vernix caseosa and free amino acids. Pediatr Dermatol, 28(2), 122-132. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-1470.2011.01309.x

Photo Credit: Goldmund Lukic/E+/Getty Images

 

Sperm Simplified

Sperm Simplified

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.

Happy Loving!

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.

 Estrogen

* 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

Avoiding Pregnancy

Avoiding Pregnancy

Are you looking for a method of birth control that is chemical and device free? Charting your fertility is a great solution. This is not the rhythm method, it does not involve temperature taking, day counting or internal checking.

Fertility is determined each cycle by the sensation felt throughout the day at the vulva (lowest opening of the vagina) and mucus discharged which you can see when you wipe with toilet paper. A quick recording of what you felt/saw throughout the day is added to a chart and soon you will begin to see your natural patterns of fertility. Once you can correctly identify your pattern of fertility through the help of your teacher you can begin to use that information to have sex on the days that you are infertile without fear of becoming pregnant.

Women are only fertile during one time in a cycle; during this time sperm can live inside of our bodies for up to five days. When we are infertile, sperm can only survive inside of us for three hours. The time we are fertile is when we ovulate, there are a few days leading up to ovulation and a few days after that you should avoid having sex to keep yourself from becoming pregnant. Once you have correctly identified your peak time in the month (ovulation) you can have sex any time of the day without fear of pregnancy until your next bleed when you start looking for signs of fertility again.

The few days that we are fertile can be different every cycle; the only reliable way of knowing when those days are is through the correct observations of your fertility that you and your teacher will discover through charting. The rhythm method (assuming that you ovulate on the 14th day of your cycle) is incorrect and puts you at risk for pregnancy because every cycle is different, even if you bleed every 28 days.

It is possible to be fertile during the last few days you are bleeding and it is only through understanding your signs of fertility that you could prevent pregnancy should early ovulation occur and you have unprotected sex on the last few days of your bleed.

Our bodies are actually remarkably simple and give us multiple clues as to when we are fertile so we can make educated decisions every month about whether or not we want to get pregnant. There is no need to be taking hormones, chemicals or inserting IUDs once we know how our bodies operate.

What is Fertility?

What is Fertility?

There is an unconscious story being told in our society that our fertility is a burden and liability. We are told that our fertility is something that we should suppress because having children before we want them can derail our life plans and end possible opportunities.

We are not properly taught about our bodies. Doctors and clinics do not have time to teach us so we take the prescribed methods of birth control such as hormone oral contraceptives, nuva rings, IUDs etc.

While these methods of controlling our fertility effectively prevent pregnancy they come at two major costs. The first cost comes in the form of women being robbed of the chance to fully understand their cycles. Women are only fertile during one time in their cycle and that time is easy to identify with proper training. The second cost comes from the high doses of chemicals that we now see related to increased rates of breast cancer and infertility in later years of life when women are ready to try and conceive.

If you are currently on a chemical form of birth control I invite you to ask your doctor or look online at the risks involved with using them, the list of contraindications is often longer than risks associated with smoking but no one seems to think twice about it. Why is this? I believe that people accept what is given because we think there are no other answers to harnessing our fertility. I am here to tell you that answers are available and they are simple, clear and more user friendly than you might imagine.

Lets start to reshape the way we think about our fertility.

Websters dictionary defines fertility as:

A) Producing or bearing fruit in great quantities <productive>

B) Characterized by great resourcefulness of thought or imagination

<inventive> a fertile mind

C) Capable of sustaining abundant plant growth <fertile soil>

D) Affording abundant possibilities for growth or development

E) Capable of growing or developing

When looking at fertility in it’s original definition it becomes less of something to push away and more of something to encourage.

Here at Blue Lotus Holistic Fertility and Contraception we are offering a new way of thinking about womens bodies. Holistic Fertility is a movement of being fertile with your mind, body and spirit working as one. Managing our fertility through daily awareness and observations puts us back into power because we are the ones knowing where we are in our cycles. When we put ourselves on hormones, chemicals or devices we become divorced from our innate cycle of fertility and loose touch with ourselves. How can we be whole beings when we are uneducated about such a large part of our bodies natural process? Many of us take the chemical route because we do not have access to any other information but I am here to tell you that there is a better way to prevent or encourage pregnancy.