Archive for the ‘natural birth’ Category

So You’re In Early Labor. Now What?

Monday, April 24th, 2017

 

One night, you are awakened from slumber at the beck and call of your compressed bladder. No, wait. That’s not it. There’s a crampy tightness that feels familiar. Where have you felt that before?

Menstrual cramps! It feels crampy. Weird. You decide to get up and move to the bathroom. After a few minutes, you get back and bed and feel more cramps. Hm. Weird.

Could this be it? It could be! This is it! You’re finally in early labor!

You know this because the contractions are coming, no matter what you do. You’ve had a big glass of water. You’ve gotten up to pee. You’ve had a snack. You’re content to let the rest of your house rest while you anticipate the birth day to come.

So you’re in early labor. Now what?

You think back to what your midwife told you, and you remember that she gave you several things to do during this slow building time.

  1. Let Your Midwife Know. As soon as you know you’re definitely in labor, she’ll want to know. She or her assistant might swing by to check on you and baby, or just triage you over the phone, depending on what’s happening and your needs.
  2. Rest. This is not the time to try and “get things moving” by taking a long walk, doing nipple stim, or anything else that is supposed to speed things along. This is the time to conserve energy. If you can talk through your contractions, you can sleep through them.
  3. Eat & Drink. Whatever time your labor starts, eat normally. One good meal is often enough to sustain you through the work to come. No food is off-limits, though it’s wise to keep in mind that you may throw up, so avoiding choking hazards or harsh foods might be a good idea. Comfort foods are wholesome, nourishing, and encourage happy hormones. Also, keep drinking. Water, juices, herbal teas that you enjoy, smoothies, and broth are all great candidates. Whatever sounds good.
  4. Do Life. There is no reason to put off that quick trip to the store to get milk and bread, or going to the movies. There is no reason to go out if you didn’t plan to, but just going about your day, doing your best to ignore what’s happening. At this point, it’s really no big deal, and it helps your progress if you can be content, happy, and moving.
  5. Distract Yourself. Sometimes, especially when it’s your first baby, it’s so hard to keep your mind off your contractions. But the rule of thumb is that you must ignore them until they demand all of your attention, whether you like it or not. Conserving energy in early labor is paramount! Don’t use breathing or coping techniques from your classes yet either. They contribute to the sense of time, and can make you far more tired than you need to be. Instead, watch funny movies, go to the park, go out on a date with your partner, bake a birthday cake, start a slow cooker meal for after the birth, or call a friend to chat.

I like to tell people to “be in denial” about their labor until their labor gets all up in their face! Just take care of yourself, pretend like everything is normal, that nothing is going on, and let your body keep the secret just a little while longer. You will be shouting to the world in your own way soon enough, so save your breath. Smile. 

“To move into active labor, a woman must give up ideas of how she thought labor might be; in other words, she must surrender.” ~Elizabeth Davis in Heart & Hands

Open up to the path your labor has chosen, and surrender time.

Grace & Peace,
Tiff

Birth Plan Sample

Monday, February 28th, 2011

A birth plan is designed to facilitate communication between you and your provider, especially necessary if you are  birthing outside the home environment.  Secondly, it is to offer information on the individualized care you as the mother would like during labor, birth and immediately postpartum for you and your baby.

It should be brief (no more than one page) and only have the bullet point information that is specific to individualized care and desires not usually within your care provider’s standing orders or usual protocols of the birth location.

It is important to take a written birth plan to a prenatal visit at least a month prior to your given estimated due date in order to have a clear understanding of expectation and agreement. If it becomes apparent that you and your provider are not on the same page, this gives can give time to seek out another provider that fits you and you fit with. Remember it is not a legal document that your location of delivery or care provider must adhere to.

 =======================================================

Birth Needs and Desires for: _______________________. 

Care Provider:_________________.

Estimated Due Date: _________________.

 

Labor

I am planning on a no to low-intervention natural birth.  I plan on being mobile, lightly snacking, drinking orally, and having ___________ present.   I understand that intermittent monitoring of me and my baby will be necessary.  I want to be fully consented for any procedure that may come up and fully participate in the medical care for myself and my baby.  I understand that there is pain management available to me, I will ask for it if I so desire.

  • I plan on wearing my own clothing. I will ask for a gown if I change my mind.
  • I would like a saline lock in lieu of a running IV.
  • Limited vaginal exams after initial assessment.
  • In the event an induction and/or augmentation is medically necessitated-
    • Ripening – Foley Catheter instead of Cytotec (misoprostol), Cervadil or Prepadil
    • Pitocin – A very gentle and slowly administered dosage increase.
    • AROM – will only consent to if an internal fetal monitor is a must.
  • Spontaneous pushing and delivery in any position I am most comfortable with.
  • No cord traction or aggressive placental detachment, including deep uterine massage.
  • Delayed cord clamping for at least 10 minutes or until my placenta spontaneously detaches (baby can receive oxygen or other assistance while still attached to me).

Postpartum and Baby Care

  • Request that my baby is on my belly or chest for assessments and warmth (even oxygen can be given on me)
  • Delayed bathing
  • Delaying vaccinations including eye ointment and vitamin k.
  • Exclusive breastfeeding, no pacifiers, sugar water, or formula. I will hand express if necessary.
  • No separation from me unless absolutely medically necessary not just protocol.

Cesarean: In the event a cesarean becomes necessary and is not a true emergency requiring general anesthesia.  I would like to keep the spirit of my plan A to plan C so the delivery can be as family centered and intimate as possible.

  • Only essential conversation related to the surgery and delivery
  • Lower sterile drape or have a mirror present so I may see my baby emerge
  • Only one arm strapped down so I may touch my baby
  • Pictures
  • Aromatherapy as I desire for comfort, abate nausea and to mask surgical odors
  • Baby to stay with me continuously in OR and recovery
  • If baby must leave OR for treatment, my partner/spouse goes with baby and I would like my ____________ to stay with me so I am never alone.
  • Breastfeed in OR and/or recovery
  • Delayed immunizations
  • Delayed washing and dressing of baby
  • No separation from me except what is absolutely medically necessary

This “plan” may be copied, pasted and edited  for use by others.

Grateful For My Birth(s) Carnival

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

I am so thankful to all of the submissions I received for this Why I am Grateful for my Birth(s) blog carnival. I have found no matter what a woman can learn something and be grateful for something in every birth experience no matter how difficult or wonderful. Enjoy these quips and please go to their blogs to read in completeness.

Tiffany Miller of Birth In Joy says in an excerpt from her post The Most Important Piece, “I am thankful that Mom believed in my ability to breastfeed my new baby, even though it hurt at first. She never told me that I had so severely damaged her nipples, as she tried to learn with no support whatsoever during my own newborn days. Nary an ounce of bitterness did she carry from that time. She knew and accepted that my path was my own, and supported me completely.” She goes on to further outline how the mentoring and support of her mother paved her way.

How grateful she is for all four natural births and her mother’s unwavering assistance. Assistance and presence she could never imagine doing without.  Just beautiful and shows how important in our lives are the ones who came before.

Kristen Oganowski of Birthing Beautiful Ideas in her post Your Births Brought Me Here writes this gorgeous, tear inspiring letter to her two children about what amazing changes they spurned in her own life, in the very life that they would come to know. Without one birth, would the other have come along the way it did?

Here is an excerpt: “When you both were born, I called myself: Graduate student (unhappily).  Teacher (happily).  Feminist (always).  Mother (timidly). Today I call myself: Doula (happily).  Birth and breastfeeding advocate (unflinchingly).  Blogger (smirkingly).  Writer (finally).  Feminist (permanently).  Mother (confidently).  Graduate student (temporarily). Your births brought me here, to this place where I am (finally) content and impassioned. All wrapped up  with a Love, Mom.

Our next post is by Sheridan Ripley of Enjoy Birth. She writes very plainly about how grateful she is for varied experiences that give her insight to what other women experience and that she is better able to support them.

Here is a peek.

  • If I had only amazing natural birth experiences would I have judged those moms who choose epidurals?
  • If I had only vaginal births would I have understood and fought so hard for VBAC moms?
  • If I only had easy times creating that nursing relationship with my boys, would I have been as supportive of my moms struggling with nursing?

Very poignant and open…..

We come to Bess Bedell of MommasMakeMilk.Com came to a place of self-awareness, peace and a fierceness to help others in her experiences. Like others her heart grew and expanded with her own knowledge and walk. A strength and confidence awoke in her to the benefit of so many coming after.

My two births birthed a new women. A mature women who has opinions, knowledge, experience and a passion in life. If I had not had my c-section I may never had given VBAC a second though. The lack of VBAC support and availability would probably never have entered my radar. My second birth showed me that success and perfection are not the same but both are wonderful and I can be happy for and embrace a mother and her experience even if it wasn’t a completely natural, completely med-free birth. Both of my experience have prepared me for the future. My future of birthing, and next time I plan on birthing at home, and my future of educating and supporting pregnant and birthing mothers.

And lastly my own blog post entry. I know I rarely speak of my own births in any detail unless it is one on one. As a community member, advocate, doula, educator, I strive NEVER to be an intervention on a woman. Today I decided to give a small window into my own experiences and why I am grateful. Please read and comment freely – Grateful For My Births.

Thank you so much to those who submitted posts. The openness of other women allow all of us to learn, grow and share as we are meant to within a healthy society. We are not there yet, but I have a hope that through this sort of connection, we are healing some brokenness.

In reading all these posts, not one is the same, not in tone or style, but every woman was changed positively in the end.

Why Childbirth Education?

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

I sit here and ponder Why childbirth education is important?. I am an educator because I think it can be a vital piece to the preparation puzzle prior to welcoming a baby.  I use the word “can” versus “is” due to the fact that all educational offerings are not created equally.

It is known that only a percentage of expecting mothers attend a childbirth class series. Perhaps they believe the staff will explain everything when they get to the hospital, they really have a deep trust in the process and are reading up on everything, or since they are having a home birth that additional education is unneeded. Whatever the reason, women are not getting the foundational information that can be incredibly helpful toward confidence, ability, decision making and mothering far beyond the birth itself.

A good childbirth class series (or rather perinatal class) is well worth the monetary and time investment for most first time mothers and can benefit those who have already birthed.  My post on choosing a childbirth class is a good jumping off point to figuring out what type of course suits the individual expecting mother (her partner or labor support).

A class series worth the time and effort will be comprehensive in nature, not just covering labor and birth. What does that look like? A class that covers midway third trimester pregnancy through 4-8 weeks postpartum. It is content that is deep and is applicable to real life.

A sample of course content:

  • Pregnancy Basics
  • Common Terminology
  • Normal Physiologic Changes and “helps”
  • Exercise
  • Nutrition
  • Prenatal Testing
  • Birth Plans
  • Informed Consent
  • Communication and Self-Advocacy Skill Building
  • Overview of spontaneous Labor and Birth
  • Labor milestones with Comfort and Positioning Strategies
  • Overview of all Options in Labor, Birth and Postpartum
  • Labor Partner Role
  • Immediate Postpartum
  • Navigating first weeks Postpartum
  • Overview of Infant Feeding and Norms
  • Bonding
  • Medications and Interventions
  • Cesarean and VBAC
  • Unexpected Events
  • Role-playing Scenarios
  • Relaxation and Visualization Practice
  • Local/Online Resources

How the educator reaches her class is fundamental to the learning process and take away of participants.  I encourage women to interview the potential educator. Finding the right fit in a class is no different that in provider, doula or birth location.

Even if a woman knows she wants an epidural, TAKING A GOOD CLASS is vital because she will be having a natural birth the epidural is on board and her Plan B could very well be a natural birth. Being prepared will only serve her well in the fluid process known as labor and delivery.

Gaining knowledge that will help a woman to partner with her provider, address her own needs fully and help her to define her own birth philosophy gives her a leg up on being responsible and in charge in her own health care and even outcomes.

The vast scope of what a solid class series can offer an expecting mother (her partner or support person) is incredibly valuable and can not be understated. A class that provides for encouragement, comfort, safety, respect, connection, structure, evidence-based information and real life application can plant seeds and prosper skills that will carry a woman well into her mothering years. These skills are for life, not just for labor and birth. I am stunned often by how birthing knowledge carries me in daily ability with my own family.

Here’s to happy and deep learning!

The Best isn’t Better. Usual is where It is at.

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

There has been much ado surrounding the language of breastfeeding being normal and usual versus the best for baby and mother in great thanks to Diane Weissinger. It is so valuable to recognize that while we all desire to be the best, we often hit the normal everyday averages in life. We are comfortable reaching a goal that seems more attainable. Best or better can feel so far out of reach where average and usual seem quite in reach most of the time. None of us generally want to be below the average or usual. Thus the language of the risks of NOT breastfeeding is so vital.

I would like to see the same type of language revolving around pregnancy and birth as well.

In the overall picture here is the usual occurrence: Ovulation leads to heightened sexual desire, which leads to sexual activity, which leads to pregnancy, which leads to labor, which leads to birth, which leads to breastfeeding…..

So how do we look at language as an important part of our social fabric and belief systems surrounding this process?

Let us look at contrasting statements of what is often heard and how a positive point of view can be adapted.

Pregnancy is: a burden, an illness, an affliction, a mistake, something to be tolerated……

Pregnancy is: a gift, wonderful, amazing, part of the design, someone to grow…..

Labor is: scary, worth fearing, the unknown, unpredictable, painful, to be avoided, to be numbed from, to be medicated, to be induced, out of control, unfeminine…..

Labor is: what happens at the end of pregnancy, hard work but worth it, manageable by our own endorphins and oxytocin, an adventure, not bigger than the woman creating it, to be worked with, worth be present for, is what baby expects……..

Pushing and Birth are: terrifying, physically too difficult, only works for women who are not too small, short, skinny, big, fat, young or old, responsible for pelvic floor problems, out of control, horrible……..

Pushing and Birth are: what happens after dilation completes, to help baby prepare for breathing, bonding and feeding, sometimes pleasurable, sometimes fast, sometimes slow, able to occur in water, standing, laying down, squatting, on hands and knees, often most effective when a woman is given the opportunity to spontaneously work with her baby and body, not always responsible for pelvic floor issues, amazing, hard work, worthwhile, sets the finals hormonal shifts in motion for mother and baby……

Is it really BETTER? I say no. It is usual and normal.

  • Spontaneous labor is not better – it is the expected usual occurrence at the end of pregnancy.
  • Unmedicated labor and birth is not better – it is what the body mechanisms and baby expect to perform at normal levels.
  • Unrestricted access to movement, support and safety in response to labor progression is not better – it is the usual expectation to facilitate a normal process.
  • Spontaneous physiologic pushing is not better – it is what a woman will just do, in her way.
  • Spontaneous birth is not better – it is what a mother and baby do.
  • Keeping mother and baby together without separation is not better – it is what both the mother and baby are expecting to facilitate bonding, breastfeeding, and normal newborn health.

Denying the norms and adding in unnecessary interventions, medications and separation is creating a risky environment for mothers and babies. Thus increasing fear, worry,and even a desire to be fixed at all costs.

Perhaps even worse, an atmosphere has been created where the abnormal has become the expected norm and the normal has become the problem to be eradicated.

Bottom line, our language matters and will help shape for the positive or negative the future of birth.

What Does Pushing Feel Like? Many perspectives.

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

Women often ask me what does pushing feel like. As an educator and doula it is probably one of the more challenging concepts to address.

Some of the imagery can be quite vulgar.  “Push like you are pooping.” Do women REALLY want the image of pooping out their babies?! Or the imagery puts pushing in a neat box. “The urge will overwhelm you and you cannot help it.” “You will just know.” Those do not adequately speak to what can occur. Some women get no urge to bear down until the baby is very low and engages the nerves. Others will have the urge when baby is high and dilation isn’t complete. Still other women do not get an intense urge at all regardless of pain management or natural birth.

For that matter, great rectal pressure may be felt, intensely abdominal use, incredible pelvic pressure may be experienced,  or frankly not much at all can be felt.

I believe whatever a woman’s body does is right for her birth and her baby.

Below are many quotes that others openly offered to help women everywhere have a deeper understanding of what pushing is like.

Quotes from real women

“My babies #1-4 practically fell out. #5 I was in what looked like early labor for 4 days. Midwife assistant came over, checked me, I was at 7 cm but ‘not in active labor’. I got into it quickly! Long story short I pushed, painfully, for 3.5 hours, baby had 11″ cord with a true knot. She needed to be pinked up but is almost 3 and is doing well.”

“When I was coached to push (w/ no 3..first natural birth) I was in agony. When I was left alone and did not push (w/ no 4), life was good.”

“I feel like if I can just get to the pushing phase, it will be a breeze from there.” (and it was. The whole “surrender/dilate” phase is much more challenging to me than the whole “take control/pushing” phase.)”

“Pushing was fantastic with my 2nd baby and awful with my 3rd! It was really surprising because after my 2nd birth I thought “Okay so pushing is the really fun and satisfying part! That’s when it gets EASY.” Then my third birth totally shocked me. Pushing was the most painful and difficult part of the birth. I had stayed so calm and collected… until then. Every pregnancy and birth is so different!”

“I love the way it feels to have a baby move through me and into my waiting hands.”

“The mirror really gave me focus and helped me push very effectively when I inspired by seeing a peek of baby head.”

“I *loved* pushing. I didn’t do it for very long (two contractions), but it was so great to finally get there. I was told to purple push (not in those terms – the nurse told me to hold my breath), and intellectually I knew I shouldn’t, but I tried it and it really did feel like I was more productive that way. I felt like a warrior. It was awesome.”

“Before anyone hates me for only pushing through two contractions, you should know that I’d been in labor for three days – so it all comes out in the wash ;-)”

“Pushing with my 2nd was horrible. 3+ hours of the worst pain I had experienced at that point in my life. Turns out her little fist was up by her cheek (um ouch) and her head did not mold much. My 3rd I did not push because she was precipitous and we were trying to get to the hospital. I felt like all the energy in the world was gathering and swirling at my fundus and then suddenly flowed through me carrying her with it. It was the best physical experience of my life.”

“I have heard some say that pushing feels good.. um, I personally have not experienced that and I have had clients remark the same … :p”

“Hmm…Definitely the best part of labor and delivery. For me though – never had any “urge” to push but still had baby out in 20 mins…I think I was feeling determined being a VBAC mom…still, would have been easier if I felt the need to and not just contractions. “

“Heard lots of clients say it feels good after hours of labor”

“Difficult. I had an urge to push “early” every time. Once I got to the “ring of fire” it was awesome though.  I knew I almost was there.”

“Ahhh, I’m not so fond of the pushing. Did it for 2 1/2 hours with my daughter (LOA) and though it was only about 20 minutes with my boys, they were both OP. That was, shall we say, unpleasant. I cannot relate to those who’ve told me it was such a relief!”

“My labor was surprisingly short, only 6 hours and she’s my first baby so far. I woke up in active labor and at 4 cm and I wanted to push THE WHOLE TIME! It was horrible having the nurse say I couldn’t push yet when I wanted to so badly, but once I did get to push, oh my goodness, it felt incredible. So much control and power, it felt so good to finally work to end. 3 big pushes and there she was. :)”

“Sheer, immeasurable power. Unbelievable!”

“Babies actually come out of your butt. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.” One of my clients recently said that. :)”

“Birth is shockingly rectal” – Gretchen Humphries. She was totally right.”

“Pushing with my first felt like I was satisfying an urge, an uncontrollable urge. It felt almost desperate I couldn’t stop it. (kinda like having that rectal urge when you REALLY have to poop). Pushing with my second was no big deal, I followed my urges again and pushed 3x and out she came in her 10# glory. It was extremely satisfying and powerful I felt like I had just finished exercising. Amazing!”

“The ring of fire OH MY it is indeed! Though as soon as the burn started the whole are went numb almost like too hot or too cold numb and the power of the urge to push my son out was almost beyond description.  Pushing was never easy for me as I have an unusual pelvic shape.  But my last son WOW no molding and quite a large head to birth him was incredible really.  No tearing, just some abrasion.  Recovery was a snap.”

“I had at the point of delivery what was the best orgasm of my life!”

“Pushing was totally primal.  I had an incredible urge and it took over.”

“The pressure of the baby entering deep into my pelvis and vagina was wild and almost overwhelming.”

“Feeling my baby when he was partially inside and partially outside of my body was a euphoric and surreal moment. The hour of pushing was well worth it.”

Bottom line – you and your baby are unique. You work together during all parts of labor including pushing through to delivery. Be confident. Use your intuition. Follow what your body desires to do.

Questions and Answers

  1. I have had a previous episiotomy, do I need another one automatically? No you don’t.  Depending on how your scar has set and the position you push in the scar can re-open or it adhesions in the scar will need to be broken up.  I would suggest perineal massage prenatally if there are any adhesions to break them up and soften the area prior and to choose a pushing position that doesn’t put all the tension on that exact area.
  2. Is is wrong to push when I am not fully dilated? Not necessarily.  Now I think grunty smaller pushes with those contractions can be effective to complete dilation if you are in transition.  Prior to that change the position you are laboring in to change where baby is placing pressure.  Knee chest can be very effective to abate very early pushing desire.
  3. What if I poop during pushing? Some women will pass some stool and some won’t.  An open bottom is vital to pushing, so it is a normal but not always occurence.  A fantastic nurse, MW or doc will not actually wipe it away but simply cover as to not cause constriction of the sphincter muscles which can disturb the pushing progress. If it is possible to discard the stool without disrupting you, it will be done very quietly, quickly and discreetly.
  4. I am very modest, do I have to have all my “glory” showing? Absolutely not.  You can maintain good modesty all the way up to delivery.  Even then you do not need to be fully exposed.  Truthfully a home birth or birth center birth with a midwife if likely going to help you have your modesty concerns respected and honored. Really no one needs to put hands in you during pushing, needs to stretch anything, or needs to see everything either.  A midwife is trained to see by taking a quick peek or simply to know when she needs to have hands ready to receive baby and to offer external positive pressure if mom wants.
  5. Is there a “right” position to push in? There IS a right position for you, your baby and your pelvis. The only way to know is to try a variety of positions, pushing spontaneously and listening to your body.  Generally the lithotomy or semi-reclined position disallows the tail bone to move up and out to create more space. Side-lying, squatting, leaning in a mild squat, hands and knees, hands and knees with a lunge, and even McRoberts can be excellent to open a pelvis to a large degree. Pay attention and go for what feels right.

Technology and the Prenatal “Diet”

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

In westernized countries, television and the internet have almost completely replaced the generational teaching and learning found in the “circles” of the past. Women would gather over sewing, quilting, canning, and life events including pregnancy and childbirth. They offered support, told their stories, spoke of family life, shared their everyday knowledge, wisdom and expertise while the children played at their feet.

At first glance it seems that through these technologies women are able to gain vast amounts of incredible knowledge regarding childbirth.  There are very popular websites, message boards and forums to meet and greet other women who are expecting the very same month.  Any topic is available to explore. Excellent places for a sense of community and belonging. The information is so prevalent that some women even eschew childbirth classes because they feel well enough prepared from all the exposure. Fantastic to be sure, at first glance.

Upon a deeper look  with a critical eye at the most popular shows and on-line communities, it becomes pretty obvious that overwhelmingly the messages and scenes actually have little to do with real encouragement and instilling confidence in a woman’s design and inherent ability to birth.

Let’s start with the satellite/cable television shows on the learning and health channels. Stop for a moment and think of what occurred during the last episode you viewed.  Did you see a spontaneous labor from entry to hospital to birth without augmentation, epidural, or any other intervention except for intermittent monitoring and perhaps a saline lock (IV port) placed? Was it an induction with an epidural? Was it a cesarean or a vaginal delivery? Did she have adequate support? Was her background given in any detail? Who made the decisions? What about informed consent? Was the laboring woman paid attention too or were the machines heeded more? What sort of comfort measures did she employ? Was she ever out of bed? Who delivered the baby?  What response to her baby did the mother have? Who saw her baby first? With that clear memory in mind, how did you feel after viewing it? What thoughts came to your mind? Now consider that essentially all of the births shown take place in a hospital. In fact any birth that does not, is often touted as extreme or some other like descriptive.

Let’s move on for a moment.

Now let’s take a look at the most popular pregnancy websites, message boards and forums where women connect with one another.  The “conversations” and threads are filled with all things related to the impending birth. Chatter about baby showers, maternity leave, body changes, vaccinations, previous experiences, breastfeeding, nursery preparations and so much more. Really anything under the prenatal sun. Inspecting further though, there seems to be an inordinate amount of discussion regarding the need for scheduled inductions and cesareans and very little conversation or even support for natural or spontaneous labor and birth.

With intervention appearing to be the ruling majority within the technological communities and filling the television, how is a pregnant woman feeding her eyes, heart, and mind on this type of diet supposed to feel confident, uplifted and excited about her upcoming birth? I am uncertain that she can with the seeds of inadequacy, fear, brokenness, helplessness, and lack of options being sewn into her being at such an alarming ratio.  Sometimes yes interventions are needed, however, in practice it isn’t a need for many women and babies.

These shows and internet locales are like junk food. Like all junk food they are not to be an integral part of a healthy prenatal “diet” that will be encouraging, expand useful knowledge, grow confidence, spark self-advocacy, promote self-awareness, ignite excitement, and offer joy to the expecting mother.

How can an expecting mother improve her “diet” regardless of the type of birth she is planning? What are the better places to “shop”?

  • Turning off the TV
  • Check out and attend local groups and support meetings. Educational sessions and workshops are often free of charge. For example: Doula Groups, ICAN, Midwifery Groups, Birth Network, Birth Circles, and similar.
  • Try some different message boards, forums and sites. See Blog Roll and Resources listed on this site.
  • Seek out positive free videos to watch on You Tube.  http://prepforbirth.com/2009/07/30/birth-videos/
  • Talk to women who have birthed in the hospital, birth center and at home. Get a variety of positive stories.
  • Try some different reading on for size. http://prepforbirth.com/books-videos-and-more/
  • Rent or borrow movies from Netflix, a doula or childbirth educator, such as, Business of Being Born, Pregnant in America, or Orgasmic Birth to name a few.
  • Take the challenge to learn about and be open to the variety of birthing techniques, locations, options and provider types that women are utilizing.

Bottom line, the most prevalent “food group” in a diet is going to positively or negatively affect the parts and the whole of the journey to having a babe in arms.  No matter what the mother and baby live with the outcomes from the birth. Enriching the prenatal “diet” is not a guarantee of outcome or path to the birth. It does however give much more possibility and opportunity for both mother and baby to have a better birth and start together.

Building Your Birth Support Team

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

As practice through the ages and evidence shows, support during the birth process can be greatly beneficial to both mothers and babies. It is not about having an experience. It is about healthier emotional and physical outcomes for mothers and subsequently for babies as well.  Putting together a support team is not as simple as inviting a family member or friend along. There are many components to consider as this is the most intimate time to allow others to share in except for the conception of your baby.

Prior to putting together your Labor Support Team (LST):

You and your spouse/partner are generally the only persons who can speak on your and the baby’s behalf unless another individual has a medical power of attorney for the labor and postpartum time period. Learning how to be a self-advocate is an important piece of the support team puzzle.  Answering very specific questions prior to looking at who ultimately will be with you at your birth will be helpful to you in addressing specific needs, goals, philosophy, and expectations.

  • What education and self study are you doing during pregnancy?
  • Do you feel confident and equipped to birth your baby?
  • Are you confident and at ease with your provider?
  • Are you comfortable with his or her requirements and practice style?
  • Are you comfortable with the policies, requirements, and protocols of your birth location?
  • Do you have special circumstances or health concerns?
  • When you close your eyes who do you see being the most supportive of you and your choices?
  • Are you a single mother or is your spouse/partner deployed?
  • What type of help does your spouse/partner or your main support person need?
  • How involved does your spouse/partner or main support person need?
  • What type of physical support do you need (massage, positioning help, any chronic pain or health issues to contend with?)?
  • What type of emotional support do you require (affirmations, encouragement, quiet and positive, no questions asked, reminders…)?
  • What type of educational/informational support do you expect to need?
  • Are you comfortable discussing needs and desires with provider?
  • Do you feel confident in addressing the staff at a hospital or birth center?
  • Do you have a birth plan?
  • Planning a natural birth?
  • Planning an epidural in your birth?
  • Traveling a distance to your birth location?
  • Are there any specific cultural barriers or needs that ought be addressed?
  • What other considerations or needs might you have?

Now that you have answered the questions, it is likely a much more clear picture why being specific about your LST is so important.  This is an opportunity to look at and personalize what is needed in labor.  It is not for anyone else to decide what it will look like, who is going to be there, and who is not going to be there.

Putting together your LST

The birth of a baby is only less intimate than the act of making the baby. Inviting anyone into the area surrounding this event can affect the process positively or negatively. Privacy, comfort, safety, and honoring the birth of a baby are a must so choosing the person(s) to take the journey with you needs to be well thought out. Some candidates for a LST are on the below list.

  • Husband
  • Partner
  • Mother/Father (other family members)
  • Friend
  • Older Children
  • Doula (skilled and trained labor support)
  • Care Provider (OB, Midwife or Family Practice Doctor)

Many on the list are pretty obvious choice considerations. The best person(s) to have around you during labor and birth will aim to provide what you need physically, emotionally, and by way of information while supporting your decisions and desires without bringing in negativity, fear, bias against what you want, distrust for the process, anger, a sense of undermining, etc. Your support team can make or break the outcome of your labor and delivery simply by what he or she brings into your birth.  Your birth is not about any one elses satisfaction, background, needs, wants or the like. This is your birth, your baby’s birth.

The one person on the list you may or may not have heard of is the labor doula. The labor doula was born out of this need.  Essentially this is a woman of knowledge and skill in pregnancy, birth, and immediate postpartum (yes there are a few men in who are labor doulas as well) who comes alongside a pregnant woman (family) offering education, physical support and emotional support to both the mother and partner/husband/other support.  A doula does not take away from a husband or partner during the process.  Doulas are shown to decrease interventions, cesarean, epidural use, narcotics use, need for induction, and increase satisfaction, bonding, breastfeeding success, and more! For more information regarding labor doulas, click here  http://prepforbirth.com/2009/08/09/what-is-a-labor-doula-what-does-she-or-he-do/.

From the Birthing Front

Here is a sampling from women who have birthed, are pregnant or attend women in birth who answered the question “Why is having a supportive birth team important?

“I didn’t realize that I didn’t have the right kind of birth support until it was too late. This in no way is meant to say that my practitioner, or the staff, or my husband were not supportive . . . they were, but I didn’t have anyone on hand to advocate for my needs. Even though I prepared extensively for a natural birth and hired a CNM, I ended up having a cesarean. I firmly believe that the most important member of your hospital birth team is your doula.” Kimberly J.

“…because a woman in labor is in the most vulnerable state of her life. When I was in labor I needed someone holding my hand telling me I could do it… telling me all those incredibly intense sensations were, indeed, normal. I was vulnerable, and my support team protected me and supported me as I gave birth.  “For me, feeling “safe” didn’t just mean feeling safe physically… it meant feeling emotionally safe to welcome the vulnerability that labor brings and thus to be able to let go” Lily B.

“Because it means the difference between a baby and mom being healthy vs. the million of things that can go wrong if a mom is stressed, confronted, or generally ignored.  Support during birth, whatever that means for the mom, is more important in my hunble opinion than support during pregnancy. Giving birth in a hostile or unfriendly environment is dangerous.” Rachel A.

“Birth is one of the biggest events that define a woman’s life. When she is in labor her senses are heightened by the hormones going through her body. Her perception of those around her will make or break her birth experience. A trained experienced birth team knows how to keep the emotions of both professional and non professional people positive and empower the woman to birth not only her baby but a stronger more confident self into being.” Amber-joy T.

“A supportive birth team can mean the difference between a physically healthy birth and a birth that can take months to recover from. Regardless of the actual events at a woman’s birth (vaginal birth, cesarean, medicated, non-medicated, home, hosptial, birth center), a supportive birth team can also mean the difference between having a happy, rewarding, and empowering birth and a birth in which the birth is not owned by the mother emotionally. Mental health can be more important than physical health and more costly to treat down the road. Always take care of yourself emotionally.” Nora M.

“Birth is such a vulnerable and powerful experience. I remember that I had to tap into a side of myself that I had not yet known until birth. Every *vibe* from others around me affected my state of mind during the process. Without the complete support of my birth team, and husband, I would’ve when that point of surrender hit, given into the doubts and crumbled under the pressure; But becauseI did have a supportive team, I was empowered to press forward and experience the most amazing moment of my life uninhibited.” Julie W.

So now take a moment to think about who will offer you what you need and help you attain what you want in labor and delivery.  Having continuous support no matter the type of birth you want is important because you and your baby matter.  Your birth matters.

Preparing For Birth: Quotes about Childbirth

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

Here is a compilation list of childbirth related quotes and sayings that I find powerful, interesting, affirming, or simply thoughtful.  Please feel free to respond with your own favorites.  The author of the quote does not need to be famous. I would be happy to expand the list. Enjoy!

Birth may be a matter of a moment. But it is a unique one. Frederick Leboyer

If you lay down, the baby will never come out! Native American saying

In men nine out of ten abdominal tumors are malignant; in women nine out of ten abdominal swellings are the pregnant uterus.  Rutherford Morison

Birth is the sudden opening of a window, through which you look out upon a stupendous prospect. For what has happened? A miracle. You have exchanged nothing for the possibility of everything.” William MacNeile Dixon

No one who has ever brought up a child can doubt for a moment that love is literally the life-giving fluid of human existence. Smiley Blanton

On the birth of her 2nd son Owen. ‘I wanted to give birth as opposed to being delivered!’ Ricki Lake

Do it afraid. Krista Cornish Scott

Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is about making mothers ~ strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength. Barbara Katz Rothman

Having a highly trained obstetrical surgeon attend a normal birth is analogous to having a pediatric surgeon babysit a healthy 2-year-old. M. Wagner

Water birth is one of many lovely ways to enter the world. Judy Edmunds

The parallels between making love and giving birth are clear, not only in terms of passion and love, but also because we need essentially the same conditions for both experiences: privacy and safety. Sarah Buckley

The effort to separate the physical experience of childbirth from the mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of this event has served to dis empower and violate women. Mary Rucklos Hampton

The wisdom and compassion a woman can intuitively experience in childbirth can make her a source of healing and understanding for other women. Stephen Gaskin

It is true that naturally occurring labor can feel larger and greater than the woman birthing.  This is not so as she creates from within the very hormones that increase the strength, power, and frequency of her work of labor. That is the good news, it is from her, for her, by her.  Desirre Andrews

We have a secret in our culture, it’s not that birth is painful, it’s that women are strong. Laura Stavoe Harm

The knowledge of how to give birth without outside interventions lies deep within each woman. Successful childbirth depends on an acceptance of the process. Anonymous

We try to give a birthing woman freedom to find the right position for her own needs and comfort. Unfortunately, in our society we think of birthing as something done while lying down. Michel Odent

Only with trust, faith, and support can the woman allow the birth experience to enlighten and empower her. Claudia Lowe

Natural childbirth has evolved to suit the species, and if mankind chooses to ignore her advice and interfere with her workings we must not complain about the consequences. We have only ourselves to blame. Margaret Jowitt

Never underestimate the power and determination of a pregnant woman who is told she cannot. Desirre Andrews

Birthing is the most profound initiation to spirituality a woman can have. Robin Lim

Women’s bodies have their own wisdom, and a system of birth refined over 100,000 generations is not so easily overpowered. Sarah Buckley

Babies are bits of star-dust blown from the hand of God. Lucky the woman who knows the pangs of birth for she has held a star. Larry Barretto

No other natural bodily function is painful and childbirth should not be an exception. Grantly Dick-Read

Birth is an experience that demonstrates that life is not merely function and utility, but form and beauty. Christopher Largen

Women today not only possess genetic memory of birth from a thousand generations of women, but they are also assailed from every direction by information and misinformation about birth. Valerie El Halta

One is constantly having to balance the high expectations of modern health care with the need to respect the human soul. This is especially so with birth. Benig Mauger

There is no way out of the experience except through it, because it is not really your experience at all but the baby’s. Your body is the child’s instrument of birth. Penelope Leach

“Birth is the sudden opening of a window, through which you look out upon a stupendous prospect. For what has happened? A miracle. You have exchanged nothing for the possibility of everything.” William MacNeile Dixon

A woman can only enter a hospital while not in labor for a non-medical induction by her own two feet.   Desirre Andrews

“A newborn baby has only three demands. They are warmth in the arms of its mother, food from her breasts, and security in the knowledge of her presence. Breastfeeding satisfies all three.”” Grantly Dick-Read

“Birth is powerful…..let it empower you” Anonymous

“Childbirth is more admirable than conquest, more amazing than self-defense, and as courageous as either one.” Gloria Steinem

“Deep within each woman, lies the Knowledge of how to give birth without outside interventions.” Unknown

The pains of childbirth were altogether different from the enveloping effects of other kinds of pain. These were pains one could follow with one’s mind. Margaret Mead

To enter life by way of the vagina is as good a way as any. Henry Miller

The need to pursue healthy birth options and birth rights for women and babies doesn’t end with our own births for women will always birth after us. Desirre Andrews


Shocking quotes regarding maternal choice to VBAC birth

Friday, October 16th, 2009

Joy Szabo has been in the news lately for desiring a second VBAC for her fourth baby (vaginal birth, emergency cesarean, and vaginal birth).  She has been denied locally in her area of Page, AZ to have a vaginal birth. Due to this situation, the International Cesarean Awareness Network has been assisting her in fighting the VBAC ban along with seeking out additional options.

After reading the latest article regarding Ms. Szabo, I am completely dumbfounded by the remarks made by other readers of her story.  I am stunned by how it seems the general populous regards a woman’s autonomy and medical rights.  I am also including positive comments as counterpoint. Where do you fall?  What do you believe? Many of these comments point me in the direction of what is so wrong with the system.  That of physician and hospital trumping patient.

You decide is the comment pro or con?

“…..it seems like many people do not grasp malpractice and insurance companies. This is not about the hospital, but about medical professionals and hospitals not wanting litigation. Can you blame them? After spending tens of thousands of dollars on an education before making a dime, I would do what I needed to to avoid a lawsuit, too! … we go to doctors because they DO know what is best for our health! Like another poster said, in health care, the customer is NOT always right.”

“My son was born by c-section, then my daughter vaginally, with no adverse affects. While I agree it’s the doctor’s decision to take the risk or not, it seems over-the-top conservative. Does the doctor’s insurance premium go up if this procedure is performed? Then charge more and give the patient the option.”

“C-sections are done in the US more routinely than in any other developed country but our infant mortality rate is not lower but higher. Doctors do not want to deliver on weekends, at night, if the mother is one week over her electronically determined due date. Yes complications can happen, more so if you are made to stay in a bed hooked up to monitors, a monitor screwed in to the baby’s head, your water broke prematurely, inducement before the baby or mother are physically ready to give birth. All of this leads to more injuries and deaths than needed. Doctors look upon birth as an illness, not the process that it is – an inexact human birth. I am not suggesting giving birth in a field alone, but a c-section has a greater risk than the V-Bac especially if she has had one already. C-sections for true emergencies yes, otherwise no.”

“Did anyone else notice that when they list the risks of a C-section, they failed to mention that the mother is 4-7 times more likely to DIE than with a vaginal birth.?!?!?! They also fail to mention all the potential complications to her health, the roughly 30% rate of problems following the surgery (some severe enough to require rehospitalization) and the challenges associated with caring for children while recovering from major abdominal surgery.  Good for this mom and I hope more mothers will take courage from her”

“This story is exaggeration. If the woman wants a vbac, she just has to show up at that hospital in labor and refuse a section. They can’t force her to have a c-section no matter what they would prefer she do. You can’t force a woman to have a c-section under any circumstances, so as long as the docs and nurses say she and the baby are tolerating labor, she has no reason to fear being forced into an operation.”

“I worked in the hospital for 5 years and then in a birth center for the last 4 years. I had to get out of the hospital because I started feeling guilty about my complicity in that system in which so much goes on behind closed doors of which the patient is never informed. I’ve had docs tell me in the lunch room that they are doing a c-section because they have an important golf game, fishing trip, or hot date. Then they go into the room, lie to the woman and say, ” oh your baby is too big, your progress is too slow, it’s never going to happen.” the woman believes them and thanks them so much for saving their babies lives. Over and over and over again. In Miami we have over 50% c-section rate, and it’s way more convenient for the docs. If VBACS are not allowed at more and more hospitals, the rest of the country will soon be like it is here…..”

“I find this decision by the hospital(s) to not do a VBAC as a little crazy. My older brother was born (in 1955) by C-section; both me (in 1958) and my younger brother (in 1962) were born vaginally. NO COMPLICATIONS. It could be done 50 years ago, but not now??”

“The risk of MAJOR complication from a second cesarean is TEN TIMES that of the risk of uterine rupture in a VBAC mother. Someone please explain to me how an “elective” repeat cesarean is safer than a VBAC? Especially since more than 75% of uterine ruptures occur PRIOR to the onset of labor. How is a scheduled cesarean at 39 weeks (which is the ACOG recommendation) going to save the mother who ruptures at the dinner table at 34 weeks? Using their logic, we should all go live at the hospital the moment we become pregnant after a previous cesarean, just in case our uterus blows up and we need an OB and an anesthesiologist “immediately available”.”

So what do you think?  It worries me that is seems the mother’s rights do not count for much. That in some of the comments the idea of  forcing a cesarean is no big deal if it makes the doctor’s position safer.

I think that most people are woefully under educated on childbirth and what safety really means.  A conservative physician errs on the side of evidence not defensive practice.  Do your own research. Be your own advocate.