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Fibromyalgia and Pregnancy: 6 Things to Help You Survive and Thrive

What woman isn’t tired and achy during pregnancy? Whether suffering through morning sickness in the early months or slowly waddling around in the third trimester women may often feel pregnancy is closer to an extreme physical sport than the hearts-and-flowers ads depicted on TV. Add fibromyalgia to the mix and the pain and fatigue can leap to a whole new level.

With its symptoms of musculoskeletal pain and fatigue along with issues related to sleep, mood and memory fibromyalgia can take a lot out of a person even under the best of circumstances. A number of medications can help keep problems in check but many may not be fully safe to take when pregnant.

The good news is some women can experience a lessening of symptoms during pregnancy with the increase of serotonin and cortisol. This does not happen for everyone, however, so a woman should be prepared for any outcome.

Fortunately there are some things women can do both in advance of becoming pregnant and while carrying the baby that may help.

  1. Do any experimenting with treatments before pregnancy. Take the time to explore different treatments that would be safe to use during pregnancy and find one that works before actually getting pregnant.
  2. Evaluate your life situation and look for areas to cut back on to save as much energy as possible. Consider working part time or not at all depending on fatigue levels and other symptoms. Accept help when it’s offered. Everything from meals being dropped off to errands run by someone else can translate into extra time to rest. Delegate when possible. Ordering groceries online and/or hiring a cleaning service can be a godsend.
  3. Stay active as much as you can. Exercises like stretching and swimming in a warm (but not hot) swimming pool can be helpful in keeping muscles loose and symptoms at bay. Yoga and meditation may also offer some relief.
  4. Try non-medication options. A warm bath may soothe soreness though try to limit the temperature to 100 degrees or less and time to 15-20 minutes to avoid becoming too hot. Massage from a therapist who knows both fibromyalgia and pregnancy can also be something to try.
  5. Keep in touch with your fibromyalgia specialist as well as your obstetrician. Problems ranging from pain to postpartum depression (which can strike during pregnancy or after the baby’s birth) should be discussed and addressed.
  6. Keep your eye on the prize. As challenging as a pregnancy with fibromyalgia may be, remember it’s only nine months…and has a terrific reward at the end.

Written by Kristen Stewart
Kristen is a freelance writer specializing in health, nutrition, parenting and lifestyle topics. To learn more, visit her website at





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5 Ways to Avoid (or Banish) Pregnancy Migraines

Most pregnant women expect common symptoms like morning sickness and back pain. Pregnancy migraines, on the other hand, catch many by surprise. This is especially true because they can be unpredictable.

Some women who had migraines before pregnancy, for example, experience them more often when with child while others are stricken less frequently. Still other women who have never had a migraine suddenly have one for the first time during pregnancy.

Experts are not entirely sure why this is nor can they guess which camp a particular woman will fall into. Hormones are an obvious culprit but they are not the only one with experts also pointing fingers at chemicals in the brain which can affect blood vessels. Outside forces can be at work too including stress and fatigue, sensory stimulation like heat, cold, bright lights and loud noises, tobacco smoke and some foods and food ingredients.

Regardless of the cause, pregnancy migraines can be miserable with throbbing pain on one or both sides of the head. In addition, either before or during a migraine some women may experience an aura that can include light flashes, blurry vision, blind spots and/or tingling or numbness in arms or legs. Dizziness, nausea, vomiting and fatigue can also accompany the migraine.

Fortunately there are things women can do to try to help. For example:

  1. Keep a headache journal. Note when and where a pregnancy migraine strikes along with what has been eaten and any activities that were being undertaken in order to look for a trigger pattern.
  2. Avoid any known triggers. Watch out for chocolate, caffeine, nitrates and artificial sweeteners in the diet which are known to cause issues for some people along with anything else that has been personally determined. Staying away from smokers is a healthy practice anyway but especially important for women prone to pregnancy migraines.
  3. Take care of yourself. Sometimes easier said than done but try to find the time to get enough sleep and decompress as both fatigue and stress can contribute to migraines. Exercise may help lessen their numbers and severity. Drink enough water to stay fully hydrated and eat at regular intervals.
  4. If a migraine does strike, try to lay down as soon as possible in a dark quiet room with a cold compress. Sometimes taking a nap can decrease the pain or even stop it.
  5. Be sure to discuss pregnancy migraines with a healthcare provider. It is possible the headache could be caused by preeclampsia which is a serious pregnancy complication. If preeclampsia is ruled out, the doctor may be able to recommend relatively safe medications to take to ease the pain (always check before taking any medicines, herbs or supplements during pregnancy).

Written by Kristen Stewart
She is a freelance writer specializing in health, nutrition, parenting and lifestyle topics. To learn more, visit her website at

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3 Tips to Fighting Migraines during Pregnancy

Pregnancy can bring on a lot of changes from fluctuating hormones and other manipulations in the body. What this means for the average woman is a period of time that can be uncomfortable and down-right nauseating. However, for some women prone to migraines, these changes can actually lead to prolonged pain that is aggravated by hormonal changes. Here are 3 tips to help battle pregnancy hormonal migraines.

  • Staying hydrated – One of the most essential elements for proper body function is hydration. Whether pregnant or not, proper hydration is vital in the treatment of migraines. For pregnant women, added blood volume can contribute to headaches along with the addition of pregnancy hormones. Proper hydration helps to keep the body functioning at its peak level.
  • Eating a balanced diet – It is important to keep blood sugar levels constant for both pregnancy and migraine prevention. Especially in the first trimester when a woman may feel unable to eat or nauseated by many foods, blood sugar levels must be kept in check to help prevent migraines. Just eating some lean protein such as grilled chicken or turkey with a piece of fruit can greatly reduce the risk of hormonal migraines.
  • Hydrotherapy – Basic at-home hydrotherapy techniques can greatly reduce the pain associated with hormonal migraines. Using a combination of cold compress on the forehead or the back or the neck while soaking the feet in a warm tub of water can encourage good blood flow and circulation. Having the blood flow properly away from the blood vessels that are commonly associated with migraines decreases the pressure that is symptomatic to the hormonal headaches.

While these tips may seem simple, they are in fact fundamental in preventing and treating migraines that are brought on by pregnancy hormone. Simple techniques can greatly reduce the severity and onset of hormonal migraines.


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Osteoarthritis after Pregnancy

There is no question about it that hormonal change during and after pregnancy can leave most women feeling like a completely different person. Often times, women are left wondering “will I ever feel like myself again?” While for many women, the answer is quite simply yes – in time. For some women, however, the hormonal changes and joint movement that occurs naturally during and after pregnancy can leave a painful condition known as secondary osteoarthritis.

While the true cause of osteoarthritis is debatable, the causes of secondary osteoarthritis can result from many things. These can include injury, genetic disposition, nutritional deficiency, and of course – pregnancy. Relative to most other areas that tend to be affected by osteoarthritis, the hips in child-bearing women are among the most effected by secondary osteoarthritis.

Certain hormonal changes allow women’s bodies to adjust to the growing demand of both pregnancy and childbirth. One of the most notable changes is the production of relaxin, a hormone that increases the mobility or movement of joints within the body. This hormone is vital to pregnancy because it allows the hips to spread and move to prepare for childbirth. While its biological design during pregnancy is to increase the width of the hips, relaxing can also affect other often used joints such as wrists, elbows, and knees. This excess mobility in the joints is usually the culprit behind occasional pregnancy clumsiness.

In some occasions, especially if a woman was predisposed to any type of arthritis or has had a previous injury, the production of relaxin can greatly increase the risk of developing secondary osteoarthritis. Once the joints begin to be affected by relaxin, in many cases the joints do not react the same after the pregnancy has ended. Inflammation, discomfort, and displacement can commonly result after pregnancy thus aggravating a form of osteoarthritis that was otherwise undisturbed.

Essentially, it is important to try to incorporate joint health for any woman that is thinking about pregnancy, pregnant, or post-pregnancy. Always allowing the body to rest if joints and muscles feel tired and supplementing with as much activity as can be tolerated can also help with secondary osteoarthritis. Having strong diets that include calcium and vitamins E, D, and C can also help reduce the risks of developing secondary osteoarthritis during pregnancy.

While most women rarely feel “normal” after pregnancy, developing osteoarthritis can make a woman feel like someone that she never was before. This condition can be painful and debilitating – not to mention a little bit inconvenient with a new baby. Trying to maintain a proper diet before, during, and after pregnancy along with basic fitness can help to avoid or treat secondary osteoarthritis.



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4 Remedies to Treat Osteoarthritis during Pregnancy

Osteoarthritis is painful and uncomfortable for the average person, but for a pregnant woman it is downright debilitating. With many narcotics, medications, and therapies being on the “no” list during pregnancy, it is easy to understand why many women that suffer from Osteoarthritis are hesitant to become pregnant. What most women don’t know is that there are many ways to help treat the symptoms Osteoarthritis that are completely natural and easily accessible. Here are 4 ways to treat Osteoarthritis during pregnancy.

Folic Acid – Folic acid is important in any pregnancy, but for women with Osteoarthritis, Folic acid plays a large role in the metabolism of nucleic and amino acids. This reaction helps to reduce the loss of red blood cells in the body and can help reduce disease activity. Folic acid supplements are safe to take during pregnancy as well can easily be added nutritionally with leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and chard.

Herbal Supplementation – There are numerous herbal supplements that are available that are completely safe during pregnancy and have shown huge success with treatment of Osteoarthritis. Some of these include Glucosamine sulphate and Boswellia. Both are easily accessible at most health food and big box retailers in a pill form. You may even be able to find liquid or powder versions of some supplements for easier digestion.

Exercise – It is important during pregnancy to maintain a light exercise routine to avoid being sedentary, it is even more important to when treating Osteoarthritis while pregnant. Light walking, jogging, yoga, and casual aerobics are a great way to keep muscles loose and reduce stiffness in joints. It also helps to keep energy levels maintained and supports digestion, which is often compromised during pregnancy.

Acupuncture – Acupuncture has a proven track record to aiding the treatment of Osteoarthritis. By changing the flow of energy and nerve stimulation from the therapy, many patients have seen remarkable results from Acupuncture. Not all Acupuncturists will work with pregnant women, so it is important to find someone that specializes in Pre-natal care.

All of these options are completely safe during a normal pregnancy, but it is important to consult an Obstetrician before adding anything new. Keeping the doctor in the loop is the safest way to ensure a healthy pregnancy while treating Osteoarthritis and also gives the added bonus of any resources that the doctor may have access to. The above methods are otherwise safe, natural, and easily incorporated treatment options for Osteoarthritis while pregnant.

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Silent Environmental Dangers for Pregnancy

As we know when a woman becomes pregnant the list of things that become off limits can be daunting. The obvious ones like alcohol, smoking, and certain medications are clear right from the beginning, but what many women don’t know are some quiet environmental risks that can also pose a real risk to a growing fetus.

While some environmental risks may seem clear, some that people may overlook are much less obvious. For example, workers at beauty salons, spas, and dry cleaners have a higher risk of miscarriage and birth defect than most other working moms. Consistent exposure to contaminants has been linked to workers in this field having unsuccessful pregnancies.

Another potential environment risks include phthalates-chemicals used in vinyl plastic and some personal care products which has been linked to harm in male babies reproductive systems. The same has been said for the plastic chemical component in some nail polishes.

Treating indoor bugs with pesticides is harmful to carrying mothers as it can cause pre-term labor and harm a baby in the womb subsequently resulting in birth defects. Pesticides, in addition to the chemical polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs – a family of industrial chemicals that contaminates the general food supply) are often times used in commercial settings that expectant mothers may work at or frequently visit.

These factors are often times overlooked and not disclosed. The bottom line is to always know what types of chemicals, cleaners, pesticides, and products that are used at the places you work and shop. Not knowing what is there could be detrimental to a healthy pregnancy and baby.


  • Women's Voices for the Earth, 2013
  • The Collaborative on Health and Environment, 2013

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Using Hydrotherapy to Ease Pregnancy Symptoms

For many women that are pregnant, this time of their lives can be exhausting and uncomfortable. With few medicinal options to relieve discomfort during pregnancy, many women are turning towards Hydrotherapy to provide relief. Hydrotherapy is a natural way to allow a pregnant body to improve circulation, relieve pressure, and ease common pains with just a few simple Hydrotherapy techniques.

Soaking in a warm bath is the most popular form of hydrotherapy for most pregnant woman. It is important to note that hot tubs are off-limits during pregnancy, but a warm soak can help improve circulation around the uterus and pelvis. It can also relieve muscle tension in the lower back and legs. This method can also be used during labor to help make the process more comfortable. Soaking in a warm birthing pool relieves pressure on the spine, allowing the pelvis to open more. This can make delivery smoother and less painful.

Another Hydrotherapeutic method that can be used during pregnancy is to employ moist compression. Using a cold compress on the back of the neck can often help pregnant woman combat the bouts of exhaustion that are often associated with pregnancy. It is also recommended to use a warm compress on the lower back to alleviate muscle pain and pressure from the mom-to-be’s growing tummy. The same approaches can be used during labor to help with both pain and exhaustion. Another use of cold Hydrotherapy is spraying cold water on both the face and neck during labor as it helps with concentration and calmness.

Finally, during pregnancy, using a foot bath can greatly alleviate discomforts associated with pregnancy. Both warm and cold foot baths will have different effects. Using a cold foot bath will help with swollen achy feet that many pregnant women experience. While a warm foot bath will help relax aching feet from the extra weight and work that feet bear during pregnancy. It is important to ask a doctor before using any oils or extracts in a foot bath as some may not be recommended during pregnancy.

Hydrotherapy in its basic definition is a use of water for therapeutic applications and for pregnancy it is one of the most natural forms of relief that is available. Whether in a tub or from a spray bottle, hydrotherapy can give most women a sense of relief when pregnancy and even labor become too uncomfortable.


  • What to Expect, 2013

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Natural and Herbal Remedies for a Comfortable Pregnancy

When a woman is pregnant, her body needs as much comfort as possible. While most medications are off-limits, there are some natural and herbal remedies to ease pregnancy symptoms and make her feel better.

The most uncomfortable feeling for most pregnant women, especially in the first trimester, is nausea. A natural solution to easing upset stomachs is to use ginger. Brewed in tea, taken in capsule form, or even eating it in its crystalized version as candy, ginger can be a very effective remedy for morning sickness. Another great benefit to using ginger is to help alleviate cold symptoms during pregnancy. When used as a hot tea, it can reduce chills, coughing, and muscle aches. To help prevent colds further during pregnancy, Echinacea has been shown to reduce the risk of colds reoccurring as well reducing the length of the cold as well. Use Echinacea in hot ginger tea to both treat a cold and reduce its length.

Cranberries have long been revered for their healing properties, but during pregnancy they are often used to help treat and avoid UTI’s altogether. Used in juice or tea, cranberries have natural antibiotic properties that can help avoid the use of medicinal antibiotics completely.  

Getting proper sleep and relaxation are vital for a comfortable pregnancy, but sometimes can elude women. A simple answer for this is Chamomile. Used in tea, both hot and cold, chamomile provides natural sedative properties that not only help pregnant women sleep more soundly, but also provides stress release and relaxation.

It’s important to note that all herbal applications should be used in moderation when pregnant. But when trying to stay comfortable and healthy during pregnancy there are natural and herbal remedies that can provide both.


  • Aviva Romm, M.D., 2012

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The ABC’s of Pregnancy Supplements

When a woman finds out she's pregnant, the assumption immediately is that she can eat what she wants and as much as she wants of it.  In reality, only an additional 300 calories a day is needed to support proper growth and development of a growing fetus and her food choices are vital to the process. What is less assumed but incredibly important is that a woman must  increase her levels of supplements or vitamins to make sure that her body is getting the proper amount of elements that it needs. Make no mistake, the connection between mother and growing baby is taking a toll on her supplement and nutrition supply, but this can be combatted with some simple changes and dietary enhancements.

The most noted supplements that a woman needs when pregnant are Iron, Folic acid, and DHA. These three components are vital towards a healthy pregnancy. Iron helps with hemoglobin production and is essential for placenta growth. Folic Acid is important for neural and brain development for the growing baby. DHA is crucial to help build cognitive function for the baby and can reduce the risk of pre-term labor for the mother. There are others, but these are the heavy players that most doctors will require you supplement for. An easy way to incorporate everything that a pregnant body needs is to take a standard prenatal vitamin. There are many available with a lot of language that can be confusing.

Look for a prenatal vitamin that includes:

  • 600-1000 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid.
  • 200-400 IU of vitamin D.
  • 200-300 milligrams (mg) of calcium.
  • 85 mg of vitamin C.
  • 1.4 mg of thiamine.
  • 1.4 mg of riboflavin.
  • 20 mg of niacin.
  • 2.6 mcg of vitamin B12.
  • 15 mg of vitamin E.
  • 11 mg of zinc.
  • 27-60 mg of iron.

While many manufacturers are starting to incorporate DHA into their prenatal supplements, if it’s not in it already – add it. In fact, the common number that is recommended is 200mg a day of DHA to provide appropriate and adequate function for mom and baby. Nutrition is another way to try to increase supplements during pregnancy. While it is difficult to get everything you need from diet alone, there are super foods that can help you build a better nutritional grounding. Foods rich in Folic Acid include any leafy greens such as broccoli and spinach which also include high levels of Iron. These can also include some citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit and strawberries. To add more Iron, lean red meats and eggs are an excellent choice. DHA is a little trickier that it comes mainly from fish but is still attainable. It isn’t recommended for pregnant women to consume undercooked fish, so for most women eating fresh tuna is out. But other options such as Salmon or Tilapia can be consume 2-3 times a week safely and is encouraged.

When in doubt the key is to ask a doctor. Your nutritional health is not only important for your growing baby, but also for yourself to keep up with the stress of being pregnant. Eat healthy foods, take a solid prenatal vitamin and drink plenty of water and your pregnancy should be nutritionally fit and well supplemented.


  • Babyfit, SparksPeople, Inc. 1999-2013

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Lemon Water, First Trimester Tonic

Typically, in the first trimester, many women, including myself, reach for ginger ale to calm a queasy stomach. But even if the ginger ale is organic, it still has a ton of sugar in it. And we all know, sugar is the devil.

One day, I had a very strong craving for lemonade. It was too late to run out somewhere and get it, and I happened to have one fresh lemon on hand at the house. So I figured, what the hey, I will make myself some lazy homemade lemonade and see if it does the trick. And sure it enough, it totally hit the spot and it made me feel better. Really feel better, not the momentary “better” that sugar makes you feel, and then you feel 10 times worse a few minutes later.

I have continued my lemon water tonic since then and it still amazes me. It immediately settles my stomach and makes me feel better. And I feel great knowing that I am not putting any sugar into my body and growing baby.

I love that I am getting vitamins, nutrients and minerals (lemons are high in potassium, citric acid, calcium, phosphorous and magnesium) in the form whole foods.

Here are some other benefits of Lemon Water:

  • It is a very mild detox. It helps any bacteria or toxins that build up, get flushed out of your system, by stimulating your liver to just plain work better.
  • It aids in digestion, helping to move things along. And if you are pregnant, you know that getting a little help to move things along is very needed! It also helps with heartburn, which thank God, I have not had to experience yet (maybe it’s the lemon water!), but when I was pregnant with my daughter, I had it so bad, I had a bottle of Tums glued to my hands at all times!
  • All that calcium and magnesium you are getting goes to your baby and will help them build strong bones.
  • It lowers blood pressure.
  • It tastes good!

Be sure to take a swig of regular water after you drink your glass of lemon water, the acidity can hurt your teeth’s enamel.

Did you drink lemon water while pregnant? What benefits did you see?

Stephanie Brandt Cornais has one daugther, Penelope born on 11.11.09. You can find her at her blog,

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Visualize Your Way to An Easy Labor

Sometimes it feels like all we do is look to the future and new ways to communicate.  Email.  Text.  Skype.  Who knows what is next?

It’s important amidst all this shiny new technology, however, not to forget to listen to ourselves and our bodies—especially when it comes to such a significant life event as pregnancy and childbirth.  One way to do this is through imagery.

The oldest language in the world according to Dr. Catherine Shainberg, a psychologist and imagery teacher who created DreamBirth™, it is pre-verbal and allows for communication through pictures.

For many of us today in our fast-paced society talking to our bodies through images may sound quaint or even a little kooky.  But wait.  Not so fast…

Who hasn’t heard of the Olympic athlete visualizing a perfect performance before a competition and then nailing it?  While that might be one of the more common uses there are others as well.  What about using mental pictures to help lower blood pressure?  Or employing imagery during childbirth to encourage a smooth labor?

Examples are all around us.  It’s just that many people don’t take the time to stop and listen.

DreamBirth™ has come out of just such a place.  Using imagery exercises designed for pregnancy and childbirth and facilitated by a certified DreamBirth™ practitioner, it allows women to dream while waking and use images to speak directly to and of the body.

One of these facilitators is Claudia Raiken, a doula, DreamBirth™ practitioner and childbirth educator at The Birth Studio who has assisted in over 200 births.  As much as she is awed by DreamBirth™’s power, however, she does understand the skepticism associated with it.

“When pregnant women come to me, many of them don’t know about DreamBirth™,” says Ms. Raiken.  “They are not coming to me because they are attracted to it.  They are coming to me because I’m a helper in childbirth.  I get a big gamut of people who think this might be crazy.”

And yet?

They try it—and like it.

Ms. Raiken has used DreamBirth™ with women whose babies are in a breach position or have umbilical cords wrapped around them, coaching them to communicate with their unborn children through images of how to move in utero to alleviate the issues.

She also uses it to help women work through apprehension about the process.  “Fear is one of the biggest components that can come in the way of an easy childbirth because the hormones of fear cancel out the hormones of birth,” she says.

Using imagery can also help reduce pain during labor, encourage flexibility and strength in body tissues and accelerate the post-partum healing process.

The good news is exercises can be done any time.  Walking down the street, in bed, during meditation.  It doesn’t matter.  Nor are they long or time consuming.  The results, however, can be amazing.

To learn more, Ms. Raiken can be contacted by phone at 917-561-4954 or email at

By Kristen Stewart

Kristen Stewart is a freelance writer specializing in health, nutrition, parenting and lifestyle topics. To learn more, visit her website at

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My Story…Natural Miscarriage at Home

Please be advised: This is a personal testimonial that contains cursing and will be somewhat graphic at times.

As most of you know from Facebook, I recently had a miscarriage. I was almost 12 weeks pregnant.

The whole experience, even though I know there is always good in every situation, has pretty much sucked ass. I want to share my story for several reasons: It is therapeutic for me.

I have been so tight lipped about previous miscarriages, that I feel like this miscarriage is an opportunity for me to pull everything back up from the past, things I stuffed down and really grieve and process them all.

I also think that more women should talk openly about miscarriages. It happens so frequently, and it is such a normal part of being a woman, but hardly anyone talks about it or even acknowledges it.

For me, in the past, when I was younger, I did not want to talk about it at all, even with close friends, because I was so ashamed. I felt like I deserved it and that it was my fault and that it meant I wasn’t good enough to be a mother.

I also want to tell the story of what natural miscarriage at home is like. There is hardly anything online about it. I found this article and then a few random comments on forums. And I think it can be a very scary process, if you have not had a natural live birth (as in totally drug free) before and do not know what to expect. So here we go.

At almost 12 weeks, I thought I was in the clear. The pregnancy started out tough, with spotting happening from the placenta tearing away and then reattaching. Being on bed rest was hard, but I thought it was all behind me and everything would be ok. Viable pregnancy, the Dr. said!

When I started spotting again, I figured it would be ok. I figured I would go and get an ultrasound and see the heartbeat and it would all be fine. I was trying to stay positive, but I think I must have been a bit delusional.

I had been spotting all weekend and called my high-risk ob, first thing in the morning on Monday. I dropped Penelope off at a friends and Peter met me at the hospital from work later that morning. At the ultrasound appointment, the technician was very quiet, and that should have been my tipping point, but finally she said, “unfortunately, I don’t see a heartbeat.”

As a side note, not once, did either she or the OB say, I am sorry. Or even definitely say your baby is dead. Peter actually had to ask them to say it and spell it out. Before he left that office, he needed to hear the Dr. say that he was 100% sure the baby was dead.

They left us alone and Peter and I hugged and cried. When the doctor came in, he told me that I could go to the hospital for a D/C or have a natural miscarriage at home.

Having a natural miscarriage was a no brainer for me, no question about it, I wanted to avoid the hospital and an operation if I could. We also talked about having tissue sent off to be tested, but opted not too.

Peter and I are at point were we have not 100% closed the door on getting pregnant again, but we are pretty much done being pregnant and we are not going to take any extreme measures or even try to have another baby, so it seemed kind of pointless to go to great measures to get tissue tested. I also did not want to give up any piece of placenta or my baby’s body. I wanted everything to be buried together in my garden. And then we left.

Peter asked if he wanted me to take the day off work and be with me. I just wanted to be alone. I came home and took a long walk around my neighborhood to process everything and make sure I was centered. I also wanted to bring on labor and start the miscarriage as soon as possible.

I had long talks with my body about getting this show on the road. I did not want to have to wait weeks for it to start. Thankfully, I was lucky.

My body got right with the program and labor started that night. It started as soon as I put Penelope to bed. I walked around the house for awhile, and rocked my hips back and forth during contractions. It started off slow and then got very painful, very fast. I came out of our bedroom and got Peter and just fell to my knees and started crying. I kept crying and telling him it hurt so bad. After a few minutes I went to sit on the toilet. I sat there thinking, “this fucking bull shit.” All this pain and all I am going to get out of it at the end, is a dead baby to bury.

I wanted to go to the hospital and get a D/C. I never actually said it out loud, but the thought lingered in my mind for awhile, as I worked up the courage to carry on at home. Then my water broke. Peter looked at me and was said, “um, are you peeing?” And I was all like, no dude, that is blood and water, not pee.

Looking back, similar to Penelope’s birth, right before my water broke, I had the same major freak out, and thought I wasn’t going to be able to go on. I passed lots of blood that night, and contractions eased up enough for me to go to sleep around 1a.

The next day I felt fine in the morning, but around 2:30p, the contractions started up again. Peter was home by 3p and I tried to sit on the couch and watch TV with him and Penelope, to cuddle and nurse her to distract me, but I couldn’t handle the pain. I felt a strong urge to get in the bath. Again, just liked Penelope’s birth, all I wanted was to get in the warm water. I sat in the warm water for about an hour, having contractions.

During the contraction, I would tell my body to open. After the contraction, I would just breath and relax and sometimes curse at the universe for this fucked up shit.

I am not sure how much I dilated, but based on the amount of pain, I would say I got to anywhere between 6 and 8 centimeters.

The pain was the same feeling as live birth, but just not as intense. I could feel my cervix opening and my belly getting hard with the contractions. My back felt like it was on fire. And then the baby came out.

It just sort of slid out, similar to the feeling of birthing a full term placenta, but obviously the baby takes up much less space coming out. I put him in my hands and just looked at him. He looked just like a little fetus, all curled up and tiny. I called for Peter to come and he touched him and said some sweet words.

I held him for a little bit, and I seemed to have a break between contractions. When they started up again, I put him in a Tibetan singing bowl that I have. A cereal bowl didn’t seem to be special enough to hold him.

On a side note, I am so glad that I had that time to hold him and look at him. The day after, I had this huge empty feeling. All I wanted was my baby and to hold my baby. Having had the experience of holding him, even though he was dead, was very comforting to me and gave me a sense of closure.

Then a little while later, I kinda of lost track of time, I birthed a huge chunk of the placenta. I am not sure why it does not all come out in one piece, but breaks apart in chunks. At that point, Peter said “um, are you going to eat it?” Which made me laugh, because the thought had crossed my mind. But I didn’t want to. I wanted every piece to be together, when we buried everything in the back yard.

I had another little break and decided to get out of the tub and rinse off. The tub at that point was completely dark and red from the blood. It was kind of creepy to be sitting in a pool of blood, but it was also kind of inspiring. The female body never ceases to amaze me. Even during this miscarriage, I am in awe of what my body is capable of.

I got into the shower and had more contractions. A little while later, I birthed another big chunk of placenta. I felt much better after that and got out of the shower a little later. I am really glad I was in the tub and shower. Sitting on the toilet feels good for many people, while miscarrying, but logistically it is pretty gross to go in after and fish out the fetus and placenta if you want to save it. Everything that came out was nice and clean from the fresh water of the tub and shower.

By 9p, the contractions had stopped and I was eating some soup. I was totally exhausted. And so thirsty, I inhaled like a gallon of Gatorade, just like I did after Penelope was born. That night, I felt lighter, and knew the worst was over. I had survived, yet again.

Over the course of the rest of the week, I continued to have cramps and back ache, but I was still able to function. I also started drugging myself with ibuprofen. I also had times of full on contractions. During those contractions, they would come on out of no where and then I would go the bathroom and little piece of placenta or tissue would come out.

The first two days, after the worst was over, I felt like a rotting corpse and as if the weight of the world was on my chest, holding me back. Each day has gotten easier and easier. I have been lucky to have Peter taking good care of me and Penelope, and I have already had several acupuncture, energy healing and massage appointments. After my energy healing appointment, the heavy grief, lifted immediately.

Physically, I am doing ok. Started some light exercise by the end of the week. I am still bleeding and expect to continue bleeding for at least another week. I am really looking forward to being done bleeding. I am sick of looking at blood and walking around with a ginourmous pad in your crotch is not fun at all.

In the end, I am really glad I was able to do everything on my own and at home. The pain and physical process has helped me deal with the emotional pain. Forcing me to be present and connect my emotional heart to what is going on in my body.

If you have any questions, just let me know and I will try to answer as best I can. This is a pretty good site for more information about natural miscarriage and pregnancy loss.

If anyone is reading this, going through a miscarriage and searching for information, my heart goes out to you. I pray that grace washes over you and makes things easier.

Also, one more note, please know that every miscarriage is different. Every body is different, every pregnancy is different and every miscarriage, especially depending on how far along you are, is different. An early first trimester miscarriage, in my experience, is not this physically hard. It is more like a heavy period.

Stephanie Brandt Cornais has a daugther, Penelope born on 11.11.09. You can find her at her blog,