As a writer, I offer in depth coverage of issues effecting our lifestyles from health and family life to politics, fitness, food and more. I add a reassuring slant that takes the focus off fear-based journalism, a global perspective to expand our view on universal issues and humor to take the edge off serious subjects. My goal is to educate, inform and entertain my readers with stories that impact their lives and show them how their lives impact others. If they have a little fun along with that, all the better.
I used to answer reader’s questions every week over on my column: Fit Pregnancy’s Ask The Labor Nurse, but we’re changing things up over there. While I’m still writing Ask The Labor Nurse (eight years and counting), I’ll now answer reader emails right here on my own website JeanneFaulkner.com.
I’ve been talking and blogging women and men through the confusing, befuddling, disturbing, exhilarating and super funny parts of their pregnancies, births and parenting from pre-conception through the toddler years forever. I’ve worked in women’s health, maternal health, newborn care and more for more than 30 years, 25 of those as a registered nurse. I’ve been a mom to many for decades too, which adds to my arsenal of experience to draw from.
I’ve been writing about these topics and others for more than a dozen years for magazines, blogs, websites, newspapers and of course, in my book, The Complete Illustrated Birthing Companion.
I know how complicated pregnancy can seem so I’ve written up My Simple Seven Tips For Having Your Best Pregnancy and Birth and made them available for free on my website. Each week, I’ll tackle another question or two right here at The Labor Nurse – Since You Asked and we’ll get through all of this together. Feel free to email your questions to Jeanne@JeanneFaulkner.com.
All the stuff that’s on my mind that’s related to maternal and women’s health, politics, feminism and activism, parenting and writing and then some. August 4, 2014 I found this old piece I wrote about aging and my dogs on … Continue reading
Blanche emailed last week with a really good question: Our son and daughter-in-law have been told that the doctors are thinking about having her come in for a C-section at 37 weeks, because baby is on the small side. … Continue reading
As soon as you announce you’re pregnant, people want to know one thing: When is your baby due? You can wait for your doctor or midwife to calculate your due date for you, but if you know the first day of your last menstrual period, you can estimate it yourself.
Here’s how to DIY your due date in three simple steps:
1. Take the first day of your last period (let’s say it was August 1st)
2. Go back three months (that would be May 1st) and
3. Add seven days – That means your baby is due on May 8th.
What if you don’t know when you had your period?
That makes dialing in a specific date a bit trickier and you may need an ultrasound to figure it out. To get the most accurate due date via an ultrasound, you must have it performed within your first trimester – the earlier the ultrasound, the more accurate the date. If you have an ultrasound in your second or third trimester and your doctor or midwife uses that information to nail down when your baby will be born, don’t count on that due date being terribly accurate.
In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists just released new guidelines this week to help providers estimate more accurate due dates. ACOG says:
Overall, a high-quality ultrasound in a woman’s first trimester is the most accurate method of establishing or confirming the gestational age of the fetus. If an ultrasound performed less than 14 weeks into the pregnancy suggests a due date that differs by more than seven days from the estimated due date generated by a woman’s last period, the woman’s providers should change her due date to reflect her ultrasound. Before the nine-week mark, a discrepancy of more than five days is reason enough to change her due date.
Does that mean you must have an ultrasound to establish an accurate due date?
No, if you know when your period started, that should be enough information to estimate a solid due date. But here’s the thing – your due date is just an estimate, not a contract. Your baby will most likely be born near that date but it’s important to remember that only five percent of women deliver right on their due date. The rest deliver a little early or a little late and that’s entirely normal. Two weeks before a due date to two weeks after is considered a safe range for spontaneous labor to start.
If you follow all the rules, eat all the right foods, have the best quality prenatal care and exercise like a champion, will you have a perfect pregnancy? Nope, but chances are good you’ll have a really healthy one. Perfect pregnancy is a myth much like “perfect birth” and “perfect mom.” No pregnancy, birth or mother is perfect, nor should they be, but that doesn’t stop some women from trying to achieve maternal perfection. I think that’s dangerous and sets women up for competition, disappointment, frustration and stress. I think it teaches kids to have unrealistic expectations about their mother and about what it means to be fully human.
Let’s get real – Mothers are women. Women are human. Humans aren’t perfect. Ergo…mothers aren’t perfect. They come with histories, experiences and health factors that make them uniquely prepared to gestate, birth and raise their own unique children. That’s the beauty of motherhood and the complicated, multidimensional, intricate fabric of human life. Why would we want perfection when we can have all that?
Instead of aiming for some nonexistent measure of perfection, I hope women will work towards having the best pregnancy possible for them. They should consider all the factors – their health, relationships, employment, finances, friends, goals and community – then aim to make them the best they can realistically be. A healthy pregnancy for one woman might include a midwife, prenatal yoga and plans for a home birth while another woman might need a team of specialists and an intensive care unit. Neither woman has a more perfect pregnancy than the other. They simply have the one that’s possible for them.
For most women, the best pregnancy is the one where she has access to all the resources she needs to be well nourished, well cared for and well rested. It’s the one where her partner, healthcare providers and support people understand what she wants for her pregnancy and birth, consider her and her baby’s health and then work together to support them both. When a mother has all of those resources at her disposal, well then, maybe her pregnancy can be perfect after all.
Get Real Tips:
1) Take control of your health before, during and after pregnancy by eating well, exercising regularly and getting lots and lots of rest.
2) Choose the right prenatal care for you and your health. Healthy women with no specific risk factors or complications may get the most appropriate healthcare from a midwife. Women who have complicated health histories may need an obstetrician or other specialists.
3) Don’t compare your pregnancy with anyone else’s and don’t judge other mothers for their pregnancy choices. You do you. Let other mothers be themselves.
My friend, Terry, teaches an online Women’s Health class to community college students. She asked her students this question: What women’s health issue is most important to you? One of her students sent this response:
I would have to say that having a baby is probably the thing I can relate this to easiest. There is so much involved in having a child. It starts the moment you find out you are expecting. There is this sense of community, of being surround by family and friends, and love. Babies bring out the best in most of us, and they can also bring out the worst in us. There is this juxtaposition when having a child. There are so many decisions to be made, and so much information out there. It can be very overwhelming. Everyone tells you that these choices are yours to make, after all it is “your” body. But wait, is it really your body, or does it now belong the the little person you are creating. Are these choices really yours. Just the basics like eating and exercise become these gigantic decisions.Not to mention things such as what doctor to use? Should you medicate or not? Should you have a home birth or go to a hospital? The questions seem endless. Everyone has their opinion and they are just dying to tell you what you should do. Some people are more discreet about it, others just come right out and say what they think you should do, or what they think you need to hear. The first thing most people tell you are the horror stories of their pregnancy/child birth, or that of a close friend. This advice is usually started by the person saying, “I don’t want to scare you.”, or “I don’t want to tell you what to do…” and then it proceeds to just that. The Internet is full of crazy ideas and worst case scenarios, which is just perfect for the pregnant lady emotions and imagination. They say that each pregnancy/birth is different. I truly believe that. However, there has to be a way for the important information to be passed down, from woman to woman, without all the drama and misinformation. I found it amazing how much my “personal” decisions where being propagandized. Everyone had their opinion on my choices, but in the end, I decided to just put down all the information, and go with my gut. Somehow in this situation intuition just seemed to be the way to go.
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
When Pregnancy Isn’t Part Of The Plan I get emails all the time from women (Caroline, Jodie, Viv…I’m talking to you) who are reeling from a positive pregnancy test. They’re blindsided, shocked and frankly, not at all happy to find … Continue reading
Since I’ve been sober a dozen years, I like to tell people I now have only one vice – coffee. Unfortunately, that’s a lie. While I do love coffee and I’m totally addicted to my two super-strong cups every morning of the blackest, darkest and, hottest, it’s not my only vice. I’m also addicted to horoscopes – daily, weekly, monthly, hell if I could get them hourly I’d opt in. I don’t just read one horoscope either. Nope, true confession time: I have six different horoscope apps on my phone and I read them all first thing in the morning. Then, later in the day, I go online and read a few more. I have my regular astrologers that I’ve been going strong with for years, but there’s no bigger thrill (sad, right) than finding a new one and seeing if they’ve got the stuff.
Why on earth would a smart woman rely on astrology to launch her day? It’s because I’m a total sucker for that kernel of hope/nugget of guidance that horoscopes provide. It’s because I like to believe there are stars (and spirits, ancestors and angels – I’m into those too) guiding me through this random-order life. I like to believe that the universe has its shit together and a bigger clue than I do about what’s going on around here. When every day starts with pure potential and it’s own bevy of complications, I love the simplicity, clarity and certainty that astrology provides to put my day in order.
But why six horoscopes? Because one of them is short and sweet, another is sappy but always positive, another is scientific and anotheris girlfriendy. One tackles career and money and another is long and thorough. If one of them is daunting or hints that it might be a rocky day, I hit another one that projects the day with a rosier glow. I’m not a nut. I don’t plan my schedule around mercury retrogrades and avoid signing contracts during specific transits of the moon and starts. I do, however, find that fairly often, my horoscope is quite accurate about predicting certain events, moods, and occurrences.
Do I truly believe this stuff? Meh…sometimes yes, mostly no, but that’s not the point. The point is that horoscopes offer guidance, wisdom and optimism. They shed a wee bit of light on a life that’s often murky and confusing. Why do I read them? Because when it comes right down to it, horoscopes provide hope and that’s my real vice: I’m a total hope junkie.
This week I did something I rarely, ever do. It involved spending inordinate amounts of time in bed, lots of gasping and moaning and virtually no sleep. I got totally sweaty and my hair was a pony-tailed, bed-head mess. You’d think that one night of hitting the sheets before dark would be enough, but nooooo…three nights in a row and it still wasn’t enough and oh my God, those nights were endless.
You know what I was doing, right? Wait, what? No…not that…I wish.
I got sick with a god-awful cold that snuck up on me like a mugger with a broken bottle. It hit me hard. This was no lady-like, delicate sniffle, pat-pat of the tissue, pink nosed kind of cold. This was The Big One – a cold so ominous and threatening, it laid me out. One minute I was fine and the next…face down and miserable with coughing, hacking, and buckets of snot. I dry-swallowed ibuprofen and popped Sudafed like a junkie. I daydreamed about nose tampons as I emptied box after box of tissues. It startled my kids, worried my husband and frightened my dogs. This cold was a mother-fu*#er and not in the best sense of the term.
Why am I blogging about this? Because being sick this week made me feel totally sorry for myself. It made me whiny and pitiful and turned me into a poor, poor excuse for a human being. But it also provided a rare opportunity for me to stop everything, quit being productive, and fuggedabout taking care of anyone else. This cold took the week I intended to be brilliant, creative and filled with profitable and beneficial activities and blew that plan to back forty. Instead, this week became all about me and that is a rare, rare moment in any mother’s life
When, after several days, I finally got out of bed and took a look in the mirror, I was smacked with a stark reality check. It was a snap shot moment of who I am right now and it was not pretty. After I took a good hard look though at my puffy, weepy face and sweaty, snarly hair, I gave myself a little wink and said to myself, “Honey, this is us at our worst, in all our booger-crusted glory, clutching the inhaler, addicted to cough drops, wheezing, dripping, red eyed and migrainie. Take a good look because guess what: We’re all right. In fact, we’re doing just fine.”
Sure, I looked and felt like crap, but I saw this as an opportunity to hit the skids (in a sober kind of way), sink deep into my healing place and plug in with my need to rest, nurture myself and get better. I wrote myself a prescription for ample doses of cheap reading material and TV on my laptop. I napped, dozed and yes, wrote, but I did it from bed. I was completely unprofessional and told my coworkers and clients that I was sick, slow and a wee bit stupid. I hoped they’d be kind about it. They were. And the world kept spinning.
For someone who writes an awful lot about health and wellness, you’d think blogging about sickness might be contraindicated. But our body’s ability to heal itself combined with a commitment to self-care is at the heart of what makes us healthy. Sometimes you just have to get good and sick to remind yourself of that.
My husband and I will soon celebrate our 33rd wedding anniversary. We got married way too young and the odds were probably stacked against us and yet, here we are so many years later and we’re still together. We’re not celebrities, not wealthy, not in the spotlight and not any different than anybody else who has picked a lifetime partner. We’ve been through some seriously great times together but we’ve also been through some shit and I mean real-life shit that could be way too much for some couples to withstand. So what’s the key to our longevity? It’s pretty simple. We’re happy together, we like each other’s company and we’re still genuinely in love. That accounts for most of why we’ve been able to stick it out while other couples can’t. We have other keys though and here are ten of them: Read More
When Jennifer wrote about her gratitude for a long career as a waitress, even including the crap customers, she inspired me to write about my own experience as a long-time labor and delivery nurse. She posted my piece, titled, In Gratitude for a Long Career on her website last week. Check it out. Jen’s blog is wonderful.
Click on this link and Use password ami123 to watch our clip.
After much dedication and work I am pleased to announce the arrival of a book I coauthored. The Complete Illustrated Birthing Companion can be found here.
I’m writing for my favorite organization – Every Mother Counts, a global maternal health advocacy organization. Check out some of my articles and the work we do to help mothers around the world.
Ask a woman when she was hungriest, she might say when she was pregnant or breastfeeding. Ask a man and he might remember being a teenager, growing several inches a year. If you ask me, it was when I was driving home from work, pregnant with my first baby. Continue reading
Despite her obsession with My Fair Wedding, when my daughter turns 12 next month she’ll have a birthday cake and a slumber party, not a wedding cake and marriage. As an American girl, she’s lucky to grow up in a culture where girls can choose who and when they’ll marry, that values women’s contributions to the workplace and society; where motherhood is something a girl can aspire to (or not) when she’s ready, not while she’s still a child herself.
Little girls getting married sounds like a reality TV mash up of Toddlers & Tiaras meets Housewives of the Developing World. Unfortunately, it’s reality for 25,000 child brides (and grooms, but mostly brides) who get married every day. In the developing world, one in three girls under the age of 18 is married, one in seven is under 15 and it’s not uncommon for 10 year-olds to marry men three times their age…Continue reading this Huffington Post article (Click Here)