Wednesday, January 21, 2009

On Iron and Home Births

What's up with the low iron levels?

As I said previously, my iron levels are low. There are two levels that get checked - your ferritin levels and your haemoglobin levels. Your ferritin is supposed to be between 15 and 200 (mine is 4). Your haemoglobin is supposed to be over 120 (mine is 104). Iron can be low for a variety of reasons, but pregnancy is the culprit this time.

While you're "gestating" baby does a great job of sucking every good thing out of you. And if you're not eating well enough, taking enough supplements, etc. it will result like this: Baby gets all the good stuff they need and Momma gets what's left. So that's the case here. Our little girl is just fine, she's got everything she needs. I've just gone into deprivation mode on iron, because she took her portion first, and I'm left with the remainder. Same goes for calcium and... well everything else in my body.

But the things that makes iron deficiency (aenemia) obvious are: paleness (well, that's hard to gauge on me...), lighter mucous membranes (ie. pull your eyelids down from the bottom and they are pale pink, instead of red), and excessive tiredness.

Well, a few weeks ago I noticed I was exhausted all the time. I just thought it was a symptom a la Third Trimester! :) But I was wrong. It was my iron. I shouldn't have been that tired, that much, that quickly.

Yes, I have had this problem before. I had it with Joshua, in fact my scores were very similar to this time. I think I got 112(hm) and 6(f). My midwife caught the problem about 4 weeks before he was born and had me taking 3 doses of iron a day to combat the problem. I'm almost positive I had the same problem with Oceana, but was never diagnosed.

What else can happen when your iron is low?

You can hemorrhage during delivery. *YEAH!* So, I'm motivated to take my iron! Your blood can't clot like it's supposed to when your iron is low and the result is a lot of unnecessary bleeding. This isn't to say that all cases of hemorrhaging are due to low iron. But it seems to be a pretty common problem. I'm pretty sure I had low iron with Oceana because I bled a lot with her (in the first 1/2 hour after birth) and barely at all with Joshua. The difference was simply my iron intake. And since I've got low iron again with this baby, I'm assuming it happened to me each time.

Iron deficiency makes you more at risk for needing a blood transfusion after birth. There are other risks, but I'd say loss of blood is up there pretty high on my "I-don't-want-to-go-there" list.

And as for home birth. That is my plan, to have this baby at home. So far, I've done a little bit of research, seeing what I need and what I can do ahead of time to make my time more relaxed.

On my list of things to do:
* Find an old shower curtain to put down on the bed/the floor
(so I can feel free to birth wherever I want)
*Bleach the bathtub
(a continuation of the above freedom)
*Wash up plenty of towels and blankets
*Freeze some meals so I don't have to eat junk food those first few days
*Put some baby clothes in the hot water cylinder cupboard
(to keep them toasty)

Things I've already done:
Washed up the baby blankets and towels and stored them in the hot water cupboard
(so that they are always warm)
Washed up an old flannel bed sheet that I don't care about and put it in the HWC.
Organized for a home birth with my midwife
Arranged for Oceana to go to Gramma's house while I'm in labor
(while she was at Joshua's birth, she was little and didn't understand much. Now that she is older, I am concerned she won't like what she sees)
Organized who will be present for labor and birth
(Matt and my midwives, sorry everybody else!)

And there you have it. If you have any suggestions about home birth, any links to provide others information on home birth, or links to your own home birth stories on your blogs, feel free to drop a comment with those. I'd love to read up on other people's experiences, as I'm sure others are as well.

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  1. Hi,
    This woman just had a baby at home. Her blog is
    Hope this helps!

  2. Gosh! You look beautiful!! All baby from what I can see!! I think you are very brave & I'm praying for your iron levels to come up!!!
    Emily in Mississippi

  3. You sound pretty organized to me! I cant believe how far along you are already- Time sure flies when you arent the one expecting. And let me say your belly is seriously cute. Definately has that 'Im smuggling a basketball' look

  4. has some great birth stories. I loved my homebirth !

  5. You gotta cute "little" bump workin' there;)

  6. I know I have said this before... however, you are about the cutest prego woman I have ever seen. Oh that I could have been as cute as you pregnant.

    Kudos to you for having your baby the way you want.


  7. I had both of my children at home (I'm also in New Zealand, and funnily enough it seems like nearly half of my friends had homebirths - they're quite common in my circle!). My birth stories are on my blog:

    I had low iron with my first born, and I did bleed a bit afterwards, but all was fine (midwife gave me a jab to stop the bleeding). My son was HUGE (10lb 6oz) but it was a fantastic birth!

    My daughter was even bigger (10lb 10oz!) but her birth was a wonderful, almost painless 90 minutes from start to finish.

    I love homebirths. I can't wait to read about yours Susie!

    BTW, I'm not sure if I've ever commented before, but I'm a long time lurker! :-)

  8. Hey Susie! I am a homebirthing mama! I did want to mention one thing about Oceana not being present at the birth.... I think she would do great! She has travels this journey with you guys every step of the way. She is a strong girl. Especially if she has her own support person like grandma or a trusted aunt, she will most likely do just fine.

    Both my kids were at my last birth. My son Kaleb was 3 1/2 and my daughter Jasmyn was 2. They did just great. Here is the link to my birth story:

    For our family it was an awesome experience that bonded us all to Mason that much more. But that being said, you know Oce the best. And I am sure whatever you and Matt decide is what is best for your family!

  9. When choosing who to have with you, remember that homebirth is much more intimate than birth in a hospital and you may want more privacy. Then again, you may not. Be sure to have a clear plan for those attending, what their roles are, that they must respect your wishes if you order them out at the last minute, have them bring something to knit or read so they aren't wandering aimlessly around waiting for something to happen.

    You sound like you've got it well in hand. I'm very excited for you that you've choses homebirth. I think you're going to like it a lot.

  10. Congrats on your decision to do a home birth! You won't regret it! Good for you for keeping it small and private. It has been just my husband and our midwife at both of my births, and they were simply beautiful!!

    One suggestion I have is to have some Peppermint Oil on hand to help curb nausea during labor. You can just rub a little right under your nose and just sniff away : ) It works really well! I even that trick a few weeks ago when our hose was plagued with the stomach flu, and didn't throw up even once!

    I'm so excited for you! We will be praying for a beautiful & safe delivery of your sweet little girl

    Here's a link to my daughter's birth

  11. I just had my second at home 2 and a half weeks ago, and it was wonderful! And let me tell you, you are so fortunate to live in a place friendly to midwives and homebirths! I live in a state the is very hostile to them, and I didn't find my midwife till I was halfway through my pregnancy, and she lived in a different state! Ease for a homebirth is incredibly patchy in the US.

  12. Susie,

    You are looking so great, honestly. You just have that beautiful glow. I think home birth is wonderful and so intimate. I am praying for you to have the most wonderful delivery. And you are right about Oceana. Some kids get scared seeing their mommies in pain. I don't comment as regularly, but I visit every day. Take care sweetie, you are on the short end now:)

    Love and Hugs, Laurie

  13. P.S. Iron is not absorbed by the body without plenty of Vitamin C, just like calcium and vit. D are symbiotic.

  14. One of the most wonderfull things in the world after a home birth is to drink a huge glass of cold Simply Orange orangs juice. I look foward to this each time and toward the end I keep an unopened bottle in the fridge. Simply Orange is my fav. orange juice its so differant than the others. With my last home birth I think I had 3 glasses...oh yes, and keep a bendy straw around that way if you drink water or something during labor it makes it easier if you are laying down. Plus it makes you feel special to have a bendy straw. :)

  15. look so beautiful in this picture.

    i'm praying for you as the time draws nearer for your baby's birth.

    Susie (too)

  16. Praying for your iron levels and that the desire of your heart for a home birth will be granted to you. I agree with you to have Oceana at Gramma's (I wish it was this Gramma). I witnessed both Joshua and Evan's births last year and it was hard. I almost had to leave the room when Heather was pushing during the final stages. It was hard to see her struggling and I think it would be hard for Oceana as well. You know your daughter and you'll make the decision that's best for all of you. You always do :) Love you sweetie!

  17. you look wonderful. I love your hair curly! I will be praying that you have the birth you want. It is such a big deal. I just started reading Monique and the Mango Rains. Its about a peace corp worker who spends two years with a midwife in Mali. It is super good so far! If you like to read you should check it out.

  18. You look absolutely beautiful!! If you get a chance, check out - they have a homebirth section on there and the ladies are great with advice and support!

  19. You are so unbelievably cute, or gorgeous, or what, I don't know :) but you look GREAT!

    I had two homebirths - best experiences ever. My first was 14 hours, my second 2.5 hours.

    Here's a link to the local magazine for birth choices - this is what solidified my desire for homebirthing.

  20. Several of my friends and family have had all home births, my advice, get a photographer to be there. Hospitals won't let one be there, but it's your house, do what you want! The home birth pics are awesome! Just a thought!