Posts Tagged ‘baby’

Childbirth Education Myths 1

Monday, January 27th, 2014

Over the next several weeks, Team Preparing for Birth will be debunking some common myths surrounding childbirth education classes. Check back every Monday to see the newest post.

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MYTH #1: “I’m having a homebirth, and my midwife will do all my education.”

Home birth families often see childbirth classes as an extra, rather than a valuable and necessary tool to help them have the birth they are hoping for. The most common objection they have is that they will be able to get all the education they need from their midwife. While midwives do educate their clients to some extent, this perception that they can (or should) cover everything is a myth, for several reasons.

1) Education is not a midwife’s job.

Just as obstetricians are not childbirth educators, neither are midwives. Just because midwives are more likely to do more education than an obstetrician, does not mean they give comprehensive education, and they should not be expected to. That is not their job.

Rather, a midwife’s primary job is to maintain the clinical safety and health of the mother-baby dyad. This will involve some education, yes, but only as a by-product of good midwifery care.

A good midwife will encourage her clients to be active participants in their care by reading, taking classes, and educating themselves proactively, instead of passively relying on the lack of intervention common to home birth. Midwives want clients who are thinking women, who take responsibility for their own care, and who can integrate what they learn in practical ways.

 

2) The reality of transport.

Another downside to relying solely on your midwife for childbirth education is the preparation for hospital transport. Realistically, around 10% of women and babies need something that cannot be offered at a homebirth, for whatever reason. It is not a midwife’s job to prepare you for the hospital.  Her job is to prepare you for birthing safely at home. Therefore, an expert on the hospital system is needed to prepare a birthing woman, in case of a transport. Most midwives spend very little time in the hospital, due to the low transport rate, so their expertise on local practices may be limited.

On the other hand, childbirth educators work very hard to stay up-to-date on all policy changes, protocols, and the general attitude of the staff in local hospitals. They often work (or have worked) as doulas, and have regular opportunities to interact with staff in the local hospitals that midwives simply don’t have. (This is not a criticism, merely a reality.)

While a midwife can go over what a typical transport looks like in her practice, a good childbirth education class will be able to prepare the client for what a hospital birth will look like. She can help the client to understand how to navigate the environment, and teach her how to communicate with the staff effectively.

 

3) The birth tool belt.

Midwives know that most women need a wide array of pain management techniques available to them, since an epidural is not an option at home. While a midwife will teach her clients the importance of stress management, emotional health, and relaxation, there is no substitute for a good independent childbirth course where you can actually practice tried and true techniques from all kinds of sources. This creates a solid foundation of knowledge, provides varying perspectives, and allows the birthing pair time and space to learn or review valuable tools for labor.

 

4) Prenatal appointments can only cover so much.

Even though midwifery appointments are much longer than typical obstetric appointments, it is still a very limited amount of time for a woman to learn all she needs to know about birth. Not to mention the birth partner, who may not be able to attend very many of the appointments. Childbirth education can fill in the gaps, empower a birthing pair, and provide opportunity to practice valid techniques in a real-world environment.

It is never wise to assume that your care provider will simply take care of everything, no matter who they are. Leaving the decision-making and responsibility solely in your midwife’s hands is not fair to her, to you, or to your baby. You owe it to yourself to take a proactive approach to childbirth education.

 

Dad Matters – A doula’s perspective

Sunday, September 29th, 2013

Many men in our culture are fairly apprehensive about birth. Most have never seen a real birth, or talked about it outside of sex ed. They are often nervous about birth itself, seeing their partner in pain, the what-ifs, and all that may come after. They doubt their ability to support their partner in her journey, and wonder if they’ll be strong enough.

In fact, they often doubt and fear and wonder just as much as their partners do, but are often not allowed to express it, because they’re not the ones giving birth, so they feel that they don’t really matter. They may feel like they don’t have much voice in the process, and are just expected to go along for the ride, smiling and nodding whenever the experts speak.

Yet, at the same time, they are expected to know everything about birth, protect their partner, communicate her wishes, and support her physically and emotionally without pausing for breath.

Many worry that they just can’t live up to all of that. It really is an awful lot to ask of one human being, after all. Especially since history shows us that there have always been many support people surrounding a mother during birth.

Still, many men don’t realize just how much they are capable of. They don’t realize that they matter, too, and that they can enter their partner’s birthing space with confidence, ability, and strength to meet the challenges of supporting a labor and birth.

 

So, how do we help fathers to step into the birthing space with confidence?

 

We free them to be who they are, that’s how. We let go of our expectations, and help them to form their own expectations and desires for supporting the birth of their child. We help them to see that they alone can define their role in the drama and sacredness of birth.

I would suggest two important things that may help a father gain confidence and acquire tools to help him fulfill the role he wants to play during birth: 1) Independent childbirth education classes, and 2) Hiring a doula.

The more a man knows, the less he will fear birth, and taking Childbirth Classes is one of the best ways to lower anyone’s fear level in anticipation of birth. Many men appreciate information given in practical, interactive ways, and independent childbirth classes are often right up his alley. He can join with like-minded dads, ask questions, and have his concerns addressed more readily.

Information is a great, big factor in helping couples manage their stresses and fears regarding birth—as much for the father as it is for the mother. As an educator, at the beginning of a series, I usually see high levels of apprehension, which quickly fade from week to week, to be replaced by realistic expectations and informed confidence in both parents.

This is just as powerful for the father as it is for the mother. When Dad has confidence in Mom’s ability, she believes in herself all the more, and Dad begins to see that he has power to influence her for the better! Dad is able to acclimate himself more readily to the realities of birth, and begins to realize that he is an important part of her support team. Perhaps the most important part.

He feels a little more ready to step into his support role, and probably has clarified what he wants that role to look like. He will feel more confident about what he can do, and more realistic about what he might not be able to do.

 

In which case, he may begin to consider…

 

Hiring a Doula to help him fill in the gap in the support team he might not be able to fill himself. If he participates in choosing and hiring a doula, he is much more likely to have his own expectations met, as well as those of his partner. When Mom and Dad are both fully supported, Dad is far freer to just be and do what his partner needs him to be and do.

While he will likely remember a lot of what he has read and learned about, that information may become secondary to him during the birth, and take a backseat to more immediate concerns in his mind.

He may become simply focused on loving this woman who is birthing his child. And why shouldn’t he? Why should he have to remember every counter pressure technique? Every massage technique, position change, or even the water jug and bendy straw? Why shouldn’t he be the face close to hers, his eyes beaming his love, concern for, and confidence in her?

A doula allows Dad to be front and center in the support role he always wanted to fill for Mom, in whatever way makes the most sense for their individual relationship in this particular moment. If he wants to be the Expert – he ought to be equipped to do that. If he doesn’t, then he needs the space and freedom for that, too. Or anything in between.

When he is free, all his anxieties and apprehensions tend to fall away, and he finds that birth is a challenging, beautiful, amazing space to be in with his partner. He finds that he is strong to meet the challenge, just like she is. Together, they grow in strength and confidence, becoming truly ready to meet this tiny new person they have made.

Doulas help open wide the door, making the birthing space more navigable, understandable, and pleasant for fathers. This, in turn, can only benefit the mother as she is able to rest in the support of her birth team. She no longer feels concern for her partner, because he shows no reason for her to be concerned. She is able to just birth.

Then, we can just step back and watch, as he exceeds all the expectations we have laid on him, and as he steps into Fatherhood in the way that makes the most sense to him and his new family.

Tiffany Miller, CLD, CCCE

Scavenger Hunt Contest

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Preparing for Birth is having an online scavenger hunt to ring in December.

 

You could win this cute pocket diaper.

 

Here is the scavenger hunt:

Answer:

1)      How many births has Desirre Andrews attended?

2)      Name a doula that is working through Preparing For Birth?

3)      How many on average gel capped pills can be made from a placenta?

4)      What breast pump brand does Preparing for Birth have for sale?

 

Answer these and provide a link to the source:  

5)      What is the most common risk of induction?

6)      What is an evidence based reason for induction?

7)      What is the Bishop Score used for?

8)      What are Daniel Berwick’s three principals of patient centered care?

 

Find:

9)      A picture of a child nursing in a funny position.

10)   A picture of artwork that’s at least 100 years old depicting a woman in labor.

 

Bonus Questions:

1)      What is your favorite pregnancy or childbirth related blog?

2)      What is your favorite pregnancy or childbirth related book?

Send your entry to nichole@prepforbirth.com by 9pm Wednesday December 5th.

The winner will be announced Thursday, December 6, 2012, and must be able to pick up the prize in person. Everyone who enters will get a coupon for a free birth or postpartum plan session with one of the doulas from Preparing For Birth.

F.E.A.R.

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

I have been thinking on the F.E.A.R. (False Evidence Appearing Real) acronym.  What else can it mean? Fear itself can be a positive or a negative. Fear can be a stumbling block or a motivator.

I enjoy coming up with affirmations and words that alter the view especially as it relates to pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum. I have been and know so many who have fear thrust upon them by friends, provider, family, strangers or have deep fear from previous experiences or from the unknown lurking ahead.

Take my words, come up with others and make your own acronyms to work with the FEAR surrounding you, inside you and take away its power.

 

F                      E                     A                     R

Feeling, Freedom, Fix, Fire, Fierce, Forge, Find, Fortitude, Frame, Fight, Force, Free, Forever, Forgive, Feel, Fearless

Everything, Exist, Eradicate, Excite, Envelop, Empowered, Encourage, Enhance, Expectation, Effort, Exquisite, Endearing, Encourage, Enhance, Effort, Expectation, Exquisite, Equal, Excel, Expert, Ease, Engage

Admit, And, Am, Advocate, Amplify, Armed, Above, Answer, Awareness, Act, Assist, Attitude, Ally, Appear, Admire, Ask, Alter, Apprehension, Action, Alive

Rest, Respect, Rise, Release, Rage, Rights, Ready, Resonate, Relief, Repair, Rely, Resist, Rejoice, Roar, Risk, Release, Re-frame, Rephrase, Remain

 

Please share additional words you come up with!

EMAB and Doulaparty Team Up

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

 

 

Join the #doulaparty on Twitter or follow along at DesirreAndrews.com, June 22nd 6pm PT/9pm ET to kick off summer birth work with something extra special!

 

I am very excited that Earth Mama Angel Baby is sponsoring this weeks live chat. EMAB has amazing products for all types of birth professionals and families.

 

A note from the EMAB Team:

 

Are you a midwife, doula, nurse or obstetrician looking for pure, safe products to comfort postpartum mamas and brand new babies? You’ve come to the right place! Earth Mama Angel Baby offers safe alternatives for your clients who are concerned with detergents, parabens, 1,4-Dioxane, artificial fragrance, dyes, preservatives, emulsifiers and other toxins. Earth Mama products are used in hospitals, even on the most fragile NICU babies, and they all rate a zero on the Skin Deep toxin database, the best rating a product can receive. Earth Mama only uses the highest-quality, certified-organic or organically grown herbs and oils for our teas, bath herbs, gentle handmade soaps, salves, lotions and massage oils.

Earth Mama now offers a Birth Pro Cart for wholesale pricing available for birth support professionals! Join Earth Mama Angel Baby on the #doulaparty chat Friday June 22 to talk about their new shopping cart plus answer any questions you may have. Earth Mama will be giving away Postpartum Bath Herbs and Monthly Comfort Tea, Mama Bottom Balm, Mama Bottom Spray, and a grand prize of their new Travel Birth & Baby Kit!

Doulas and Home Birth

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Is there benefit to hiring a doula for a home birth? I say YES absolutely.

As a seasoned doula who has attended home births as labor support and now an  intern midwife who clinically supports the mother, I believe that many women can keenly benefit from a doula when having a home birth.

The most simple reasoning is that the doula is there physically, emotionally and educationally specifically for the mother and family just like at the hospital or a birth center. She (he) is an integral part of the birth team.

  • The doula will likely be laboring with the mother first, providing a continuous care support framework for when the midwifery team arrives.
  • As the midwifery team sets up and prepares the space clinically, the doula is right there maintaining the comfort, peace and encouragement of the mother. Often lessening any disruption that new people in the environment can cause.
  • The doula is there SOLELY for the mother and husband (partner), step by step, eye to eye while the midwifery team is there to first and primarily clinically assess, maintain safety and be unobtrusive as possible.
  • The doula offers guidance and suggestions for position changes, physical/emotional comforts and helping to ensure the mother eats, drinks, voids and rests.
  • The doula gives the husband (partner) the opportunity to rest, have less stress, do the very best he/she can do along with enjoying the process more.
  • A doula can be present specifically to help with the other children.
  • A doula’s presence offers reduction in any interventions and cesarean.
  • A doula’s presence offers increased satisfaction with birth, bonding and breastfeeding……….

Simply put. A doula being present at a home birth is effectively the same as at a hospital or birth center, with the general exceptions that she would have to help a mother and family self advocate or navigate  institutional policies,  protocols and staff.

I again say YES to doulas at home births.

 

 

Social Media and You

Sunday, October 16th, 2011

Get your pregnancy, birth or postpartum story heard!

I am looking to interview several mothers/families who have been positively changed, supported or impacted emotionally, physically, socially, educationally and/or spiritually during the perinatal (pregnancy, labor, childbirth, postpartum) and/or into the first year of mothering/processing birth outcomes through the use of/participation in social media outlets (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Forums, Message Boards, etc.).

Purpose: Information will be used to complete a speaking session about birth and social media, as well as, material for additional writing, educational sharing opportunities.

If you are interested, please email me by October 31, 2011 with your contact information, when due if pregnant, how old your baby is if in the postpartum period and how you were affected by social media.

Contact: Desirre Andrews – Owner of Preparing For Birth LLC, birth professional, blogger, mentor, healthy birth advocate and social media enthusiast. Site: www.prepforbirth.com

Email: desirre@prepforbirth.com

Writing Your Own Birth “Plan”

Sunday, October 16th, 2011

A birth plan has more than one purpose. It begins as a value clarification exercise, then becomes a communication tool with your care provider and ultimately a guide of needs and desires during labor, delivery and postpartum. Even if your birth location does not ask for birth plans, it is a good idea to write one for your own benefit.

Step 1

Clarifying your needs, wants and desires. Here are the  Birth Menu of Options and Assessing Your Feelings we use in class  to begin the value clarification process.  The birth menu is most helpful when you begin by crossing out what you are not interested in, highlighting the items you know you want and circling what you need to research. The AYF worksheet is for you and your husband/partner/non-doula labor support person to go over together to ensure you are on the same page and open up conversation. Doing this prior to 35 weeks of pregnancy gives you more time to coordinate with your care provider or birth location. If you have a doula or are taking a childbirth class, she/he can help you in this part of the process as well.

Step 2

Write down in order of labor, delivery, immediate postpartum and in case of cesarean needs and desires. Your plan really needs to be within one typed page for easy reading and digesting by care provider and staff. The only items that must be listed are care options that are outside of usual practices, protocols or standing orders. Here is the Sample Low Intervention Birth Plan we use to help you see a finished format and types of pertinent information that may be necessary to list.

Step 3

Take your written plan into your care provider. This is a conversation starter, a beginning, a partnering tool. As I encouraged above, early to mid 3rd trimester gives you more flexibility in communicating with your provider and setting your plan in motion. It also gives you opportunity to change providers or birth location if you cannot reach a comfortable agreement.

Step 4

Make any changes.Finalize.  Print out final copy.  Give one to care provider, have one in your bag for labor and birth, give one to doula (if you hired one). Though this is not a binding or legal agreement it can go a long way toward the type of care and birth you want.

Step 5

Gestate peacefully until labor begins!

Tips to finding the right “childbirth” class

Friday, October 14th, 2011

If you were my best friend, I would tell you there is not any one-size-fits-all “childbirth” class.  Education can be foundational to informed decision making and better outcomes for both mother and baby.

I encourage you to go about choosing a class series in the same way you would choose a provider or birth location. Do some investigating and even interview the educator.

In the search:

  • Get referrals from:
    •  Women who have had or wanted the type of birth you are desiring
    • From local birth groups or doulas
    • Your provider
  • Do a web search for classes in your area. There may be many offerings of differing methods and philosophies outside and within the hospital setting.
  • If  you are thinking about a hospital sponsored course, find out if it is a comprehensive series or a what happens to women once they get to our hospital class? This is otherwise known as a good patient class.
  • Check out the course website, then call or email the instructor to get a feel for her style and philosophy. Even a hospital based educator should be able to call you back or email you.

Before paying and registering:

  • How long is the series?
    • A comprehensive series is between 12 and 24 hours of instruction and a minimum of  4 class sessions up to 12 class sessions. The condensed express classes of one or two partial days are not designed for good retention or appropriate processing. It IS worth the investment of time.
  • When is the class? Day of week and time of day needs to fit into your lifestyle. Again, I encourage your investment over a period of time versus a one-day class. If you cannot find a fit, consider a private class. It is important to have classes finished by 35 or 36 weeks pregnant.
  • Where is the class held? Classes may be held in like-minded businesses (chiro office, yoga studio, doula office), in home, care provider office, birth center or hospital.
  • What organization is the instructor trained and certified with? Though certification is not required, it can be very important what training and background an educator has. If instructor is certified, check out the organization’s philosophy and beliefs.
  • What does the instructor’s experience involve?
  • What is the instructor’s philosophy and style?
  • What is the cost of the course? Classes can cost anywhere from free through a hospital to a few hundred dollars. It really can be a wide range. Find your comfort level. Though expect to invest in a good class. Free or low cost classes are often not comprehensive in nature.
  • What is the course content? A comprehensive class should include a variety of topics, such as, pregnancy basics,  common terminology, normal physiologic changes, emotional health and connection, exercise, nutrition, prenatal testing, birth plans, informed consent, communication skill building, overview of spontaneous labor and birth, labor milestones with comfort and position strategies, overview of all options in labor and birth, labor partner role,  immediate postpartum, navigating first weeks postpartum, overview of infant feeding, infant norms, medications and interventions, cesarean, unexpected events, role-playing scenarios, relaxation practice and local/online resources. It is usual to expect homework on top of class time as well.
  • What are the birth outcome statistics for class participants? It may be difficult though to get true data whether a philosophy-based or method-based class.
  • What is expected of me as a class participant?
  • What do I need to bring?
  • Who may come with me?
  • Is there a lending library?

Low Intervention Birth Plan

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

A birth plan has a few real purposes. It can act as a values clarification exercise for you and your partner. Then it is a vehicle to open communication with your care provider about your needs, desires, wants for labor, birth and postpartum.  What you want and need matters.

 A brief one page plan with an opening paragraph with bullet point information specific to individualized care and desires not usually within your care provider’s standing orders or usual protocols of the birth location.

I advise you take the written birth plan to a prenatal visit at least a month prior to your given estimated due date. This gives time for conversation, to have a clear understanding of expectation and agreement.

If it becomes apparent that you and your provider are not on the same page, you then have 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: _________________.

I am planning on a no to low-intervention labor and delivery.  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.
  • External pressure and/or compresses instead of any perineal or vaginal stretching.
  • 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. I will hand express if needed to syringe feed my baby.
  • 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
  • I am willing to hand express if baby cannot get to breast right away.

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

A Guide to Finding Your Doula

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

Building a labor support team is part of conscious preparation during pregnancy for your labor,  birth and life with the very newborn. Hiring a labor doula continues to gain in popularity for the expecting family. Your doula comes alongside you in pregnancy through labor and delivery with some additional early postpartum follow-up.  For additional after birth support, a postpartum doula is a great addition.

Step 1: Finding a Doula

  • Inquire with friends, family, local support/informational groups (for example – ICAN, LLLI, Birth Network, Birth Circle, Cloth Diaper store), childbirth educators, care providers, prenatal massage therapists, prenatal exercise instructors, lactation experts and chiropractors for referrals.
  • Use your favorite search engine and type in your city or area name with the keyword doula
  • Search training and certifying organizations such as CAPPA, DONA, ICEA ToLabor , Birth Works and Birth Arts International
  • Search general doula sites such as All Doulas, Doulas.com, About.com, Doula Match or Doula.com

Step 2: First Contact

Once you have located local area doulas, the next step is  to make contact. You will likely find that most doulas are women though occasionally you will find a male doula in your area.  After visiting any websites; phone or email only the doulas that most interest you and fit your particular needs.  Generally there is not much need to contact more than three perspective doulas.

During your initial phone conversation or in your email be sure to include:

  • Full name
  • Contact information
  • Estimated Due Date
  • General location where you live
  • Care Provider
  • Birth Location
  • Top needs and desires for birth
  • If referred, by whom
  • Any financial considerations

Step 3:  Setting up the Interview

I encourage after the phone or email contact and response, set-up in-person interviews with the doulas you found most compatible with you.

  • Unless the doula you are meeting has her own office, interviews are usually held in a public place such as a coffee house, restaurant, library, park, or shopping center. If you meet at a place where beverages or food will be ordered you can offer to pick up the tab for everyone if you desire, but it is never expected.
  • Your partner, husband or other support who will be attending the birth needs to be at in-person interview if at all possible.
  • Expect the interview to be approximately an hour and to be free of charge.

Step 4: The Interview

The interview is to gain more detailed information from the doula, as well as, share more  about yourself and what you want.  It is customary for the doula to either email ahead of time her client packet or bring it with her to the interview. It may include her professional profile, client agreement, services, and support details, as well as, additional offerings.

Suggested Interview Questions:

  • Why are you a doula?
  • What is your philosophy of childbirth?
  • Where did you get your training?
  • Are you certified? Why or why not?
  • How long have you been a doula?
  • What is your scope of practice?
  • What types of births have you participated in?
  • What types of birth locations have you been to?
  • How many births per month on average do you attend?
  • How many clients would max you out in a month?
  • Have you ever missed a birth? Please explain why.
  • Do you specialize in working with a specific type of clientele or birth plan?
  • What has been the most challenging birth you have attended? Why?
  • How do you work with my husband/partner/other support?
  • Have you worked with my provider before? If yes, please describe the experience.
  • How many prenatal visits would there be?
  • In general, what is covered in the prenatal visits?
  • Will you help me make a birth plan?
  • Please explain how your fee is structured.
  • Do you accept barter?
  • Do you have a back-up and do I meet her ahead of time?
  • When do you go on-call?
  • Do you labor at home with me?
  • What do you do if I am induced or need to schedule a cesarean?
  • When will you see me postpartum and what does it include?
  • What are your expectations of me as a client?
  • How long do I have to decide before you would contract with someone else around my EDD?

Of course that is a fairly long list of overview questions. Brainstorm some of your own. The interview is not meant to be a free prenatal visit, it is simply to find out if you and the doula are a fit personality wise and in how she practices.  Most doulas do not expect to be hired on the spot. You  need time to think and process after each interview. If a doula is pressuring you to hire on the spot because she fills so quickly, that could be a red flag and cause for you to take a pause.

Step 5: Hiring the Doula

Within 1-2 weeks,  contact the doula you would like to hire and proceed and those you did not choose to let them know you have hired someone else so they will not be holding your EDD space open any longer.

Details to be clear about when initially hiring your doula:

  • Sign and return the agreement/contract she gave you at the interview (if applicable).
  • Return any intake paperwork by mail or email.
  • Payment  – First portion of fee is usually paid upon hiring a doula.
  • Ask her usual business hours and contact preference for non-emergencies or labor related needs.
  • Let her know your contact preferences and all phone numbers to reach you and your spouse/partner or other support.
  • Set the date and time for the first prenatal appointment. Give her directions if your home is not easy to find.
  • Get clarity on what routine contact she would like from you (updates after care provider appointments, etc.)

Happy doula-ing!

Blessing the Mother…..

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

Blessing the mother ease the period at the end of pregnancy and ease the transition into postpartum.

Ideas that bless before and after birth:

  • Freezer Meals
  • Organizing Fresh Meals for end of pregnancy through first month post birth.
  • Buy baby wearing gear for her.
  • Organize a Blessingway
  • Write down encouraging and affirming words in a beautiful card.
  • Listen to her.
  • Buy her a baby wearing, cloth diapering, breastfeeding class, etc. to her desires as a surprise.
  • Organize housecleaning party for end of pregnancy and once or twice postpartum.
  • If she has other children, have them over to give her a rest.
  • Donate toward her doula, midwife or doctor.
  • When she is postpartum, visit her and prepare a variety of snacks so she is never without food.
  • Offer to run errands after the baby is born.
  • Offer to give her time to shower.
  • Buy her a reusable water bottle so she drinks enough fluids.
  • Give her permission to phone you during odd hours after the birth if she needs support, advice.
  • Offer to dog sit or take care of any pets as needed after the birth.
  • Check in on her about 3 weeks after birth to see how she is doing emotionally and physically.

What other ideas do you have to add? Please leave me a comment.

Postpartum Preparation

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

Planning and preparation toward the postpartum period is very important.  Sometimes it is even more important than pregnancy and birth preparation due to circumstance or birth outcome.  Too often labor, delivery and perhaps the “stuff” that goes with having a baby take priority, while the incredible change that occurs with having a new baby is seemingly ignored.

Below is a listing of important information to think about, investigate, understand and/or plan for.  Make a note of people in your immediate life that can be a resource as you go through the list.

Look carefully at class descriptions you may take in your local area, some are very thorough and others may only be introductory or without valuable content.

Here’s to postpartum preparedness!

Common Physical Changes and Needs for the Mother (first days or weeks)

  • Uterine involution, after pains and bleeding
  • Breast expectations and breastfeeding norms
  • Hormones and symptoms
  • Healing – Vaginal tears, episiotomy, cesarean, perineal soreness or swelling, hemorrhoids
  • Nutrition
  • Night sweats or urination
  • Fatigue

Common Psychological Changes

  • Mother and Father/Partner Changes
  • Processing the birth experience
  • Processing becoming a family
  • Postpartum mood disorders
  • Peer and professional support resources

Understanding Your New Baby

  • Babymoon
  • How baby’s feed
  • Attachment
  • Infant development
  • Normal sleep patterns
  • High, average or low need baby’s

New Family Dynamic

  • Coping with sleep deprivation and exhaustion
  • Managing stress
  • Grieving the changes
  • Siblings and pets
  • Knowing how to get the right support
  • Postpartum doulas and practical support

Making Your Best Decisions

  • Defining Parental Roles – Financial, Baby Care, Changing the Status Quo
  • Choosing a health care provider for your baby
  • Early Infant Health Care Decisions – Vaccinations, Circumcision, etc.
  • Parenting philosophies
  • Developing your parenting style
  • Where baby will sleep
  • Boundaries with family and friends
  • When to seek professional help

Relationship Care

  • Realistic expectations
  • Sexual intimacy
  • Practicalities of life
  • “Dating”
  • Priorities

Single Parenting

  • Arranging practical support
  • Making a community
  • Parenting needs

Unexpected Outcomes

  • Processing a difficult birth
  • Babies with medical needs, coping and advocating
  • Dealing with loss, grief, and trauma

We also offer a postpartum strategies class that goes into more detail on many of these topics.

Creating a relationship 10 minutes at a time

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

It has occurred to me through my time with doula clients and students,  that many care providers serving hospital birthing mothers do not ask any questions of their pregnant patients during the 7-10 minute prenatal visits that lead to a substantive working relationship.

I have also learned that too often the pregnant “patient” does not know to tell her provider anything about what is going on in her life or pregnancy since she is not queried first.

Thinking there must be a way to better bridge this very real separation to solid patient-provider relationship building, I am drawing from my work as a midwife assistant in the making of this tip list.

Pregnant mothers your provider needs to know so much more about you and your pregnancy than blood pressure, weight, fundal height and fetal heart tones. I encourage you to freely offer the below information at every appointment to grow personalized care, advisement and support.

1) Appetite/Diet/Supplements – tell your provider if your appetite has increased or decreased between visits. Do you have food aversions? Are you taking any supplements or want to take supplements?

2) Sleep habits – tell your provider how you are or are not sleeping.  For example, are you having trouble falling asleep, falling back to sleep or staying asleep.

3) Nausea – Do you continue to have nausea? When? How often? Does it correlate with anything in particular?

4) Hemorrhoids – if you have them or not. What you are doing for them.

5) Varicose veins –  Are there veins sticking out or causing issue anywhere in your body?

6) Bowel habits – Are you experiencing normal or abnormal bowel habits?

7) Exercise – What have you been doing? Do changes need to be made?

8) Stress – Is there anything in your life that is really stressing you? Stress can impact pregnancy health. Important to discuss.

9) Related Providers – Are you going to any pregnancy related providers (such as chiropractor, acupuncturist, yoga, etc.)?

10) General  – Are you feeling well or not. Do you need more information or referrals?

There is so much more to you than a pregnant uterus. You are a holistic person who needs to be treated as such. I would venture that something much more individualized can come out of your care with simple sharing!

Here’s to whole care!

Say What? Getting a handle on birthy terminology.

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

So often I am in conversation and forget that everyone does not eat, drink and sleep birth related information like my peers and I do.

I have put together a list of useful terms and definitions to take the “What?” out of navigating the host of terms surrounding pregnancy and birth.

  • AROM – Artificial Rupture of Membranes – using a finger or tool to open the amniotic sac to to allow the fluid to release.
  • Birth Center – Free standing location usually run by one or more certified nurse midwife. True birth centers are almost always independently run. They are not overseen by a hospital or in a hospital. May be near a hospital. Often set-up like a home birth space and epidurals or other pain medications are not available.   Hospital “birth centers” are labor and delivery floors not birth centers in the true sense of the term.
  • Bloody Show – Mucous and blood mixed together as dilation and effacement occurs.  Starts off as blood tinged mucous and becomes heavier as labor progresses.
  • Braxton-Hicks – Practice contractions that do not dilate or efface the cervix often felt at the top of the uterus versus the bottom.
  • CBAC – Cesarean Birth After Cesarean – This is a repeat cesarean after a woman desires and tries to have a vaginal birth after cesarean.
  • Cervix -The lower portion of the uterus that provides an opening between the uterus and the vagina. Also known as the neck of the uterus that softens, effaces, dilates and changes position during labor.
  • Cesarean – Baby born via a surgical incision made through the abdomen into the uterus.
  • Contraction – Tightening and loosening of your uterus. Productive contractions are often felt at the bottom of the uterus, start out like period cramps and progressively grow stronger, longer in length, and closer together.
  • Doula – Is an assistant who provides various forms of non-medical and non-midwifery support (physical and emotional) in the childbirth process. Based on a particular doula’s training and background, the doula may offer support during prenatal care, during childbirth and/or during the postpartum period. A birth doula provides support during labor. A labor doula may attend a home birth or might attend the laboring at home and continue while in transport and then complete supporting the birth at a hospital or a birth center. A postpartum doula typically begins providing care in the home after the birth. Such care might include cooking for the mother, breastfeeding support, newborn care assistance, errands, light housekeeping, etc. Such care is provided from the day after the birth, providing services through the first six weeks postpartum. In some cases, doula care can last several months or even to a year postpartum – especially in cases when mothers are suffering from postpartum depression, children with special needs require longer care, or there are multiple infants.
  • Effacement – The thinning of the cervix which occurs before and while it dilates.
  • Endorphins- Any of a group of peptide hormones that bind to opiate receptors and are found mainly in the brain. Endorphins reduce the sensation of pain and affect emotions.
  • Epidural - A medical method of giving pain relief during labor. A catheter is inserted through the lower back into a space near the spinal cord. Anesthesia is given through this catheter, and results in decreased sensation from the abdomen to the feet.
  • Episiotomy – A surgical procedure to widen the outlet of the birth canal to facilitate delivery of the baby and avoid a jagged rip of the perineum. (Natural abrading or tearing is preferred and episiotomies are not evidence-based to be used except under specific circumstances).
  • ERCS – Elective Repeat Cesarean
  • First Stage – Early, Active, and Transition. This encompasses the effacement to 100%, dilation to 10 centimeters/complete, position movement of cervix from posterior to forward as contractions begin while staying longer, strong and closer together prior to pushing and delivery.
  • Foley – A foley catheter is used to release the bladder if a woman unable to urinate due to an epidural, post surgery, or with a swollen urethra post birth.  It can also be used for successful cervical ripening in lieu of cytotec.
  • Fourth Stage – First hours after placenta is delivered.
  • Fundus –  Top of the uterus. During labor contractions the fundus thickens and gets more firm as the strength of contractions increase and dilation increases.
  • HBAC – Home Birth After Cesarean
  • Ina May’s Sphincter Law -Tapping into the concept that if one sphincter is open and relaxed, the others will also open, relax and be able to handle, quite adequately, the task at hand. This also includes the aspect of birth requiring privacy, sacredness, and honor as well so a woman feels safe, unwatched and supported.
  • Induction – To attempt to artificially start labor usually by pitocin, artificial rupture of membranes with or without cervical ripening (Cytotec, Cervadil, Prepadil or Foley Catheter).
  • Intervention – Anything that does not exist in a spontaneously, naturally occuring labor and delivery that is done.
  • Kegel Exercises – Named after Dr. Arnold Kegel, consists of contracting and relaxing the muscles that form part of the pelvic floor (sometimes called the “Kegel muscles”).
  • Lochia – Post birth bleeding that though a wound site from the placenta detaching from the uterine wall, it mimics a heavy and long menstrual period.
  • Midwife – Is a person usually a woman who is trained to assist women during pregnancy,  during childbirth, and postpartum as well as the newborn post birth.  There are many types of midwives – some work in the home, at birth centers or in the hospital.
  • Miso – Misoprostol is the pharmacological name for Cytotec a drug used for cervical ripening and induction though a controversial, off and against label used ulcer Medication
  • Mucous plug - The mucous that blocks off the non-dilated and non-ripened cervix for protection.
  • Natural Birth – Labor and vaginal delivery free from intervention except for intermittent fetal monitoring. In the hospital only a saline lock and intermittent monitoring. Can also mean no monitoring.
  • Obstetrician – Is the surgical specialty dealing with the care of women and their children during pregnancy, childbirth and the immediate post birth time.
  • Oxytocin – A hormone made in the brain that plays a role in childbirth and lactation by causing muscles to contract in the uterus (womb) and the mammary glands in the breast. It also plays a role in bonding with mate, child, and socially.
  • Pelvic Floor Muscles -The sphincter mechanism of the lower urinary tract, the upper and lower vaginal supports, and the internal and external anal sphincters. It is a network of muscles, ligaments, and other tissues that hold up the pelvic organs.  Includes bladder, rectum, vagina and uterus.
  • Pelvis -The basin like cavity formed by the ring of bones of the pelvic girdle in the posterior part of the trunk in many vertebrates: in humans, it is formed by the ilium, ischium, pubis, coccyx, and sacrum, supporting the spinal column and resting upon the legs.
  • Perineum – The area between the anus and the vulva (the labial opening to the vagina).
  • Pitocin (oxytocin injection, USP) is a sterile, clear, colorless aqueous solution of synthetic oxytocin, for intravenous infusion or intramuscular injection.
  • Placenta -The organ that develops during pregnancy that transports nutrients to the fetus and waste away from the fetus. The placenta is attached to the uterus and is connected to the fetus by the umbilical cord.
  • PROM – Premature Rupture of Membranes – when the amniotic fluids releases before labor starts.
  • Prostaglandin – Any of a group of hormone like fatty acids found throughout the body, esp. in semen, that affect blood pressure, metabolism, body temperature, and other important body processes such as cervical ripening.
  • RCS – Repeat Cesarean
  • ROM – Rupture of Membranes
  • Saline Lock/Buffalo Cap/ Hep Lock – Is the apparatus that the IV line hooks into.  It is silicone tubing that is lightweight with a plastic needle that stays under the skin to allow easy vein access.
  • Second Stage – Pushing phase after cervix is completely dilated to delivery of baby.
  • SROM – Spontaneous Rupture of Membranes during labor.
  • Stripping membranes –  Pressing the amniotic sac away from the inside of the cervix.
  • Third Stage – Delivery of baby to delivery of placenta.
  • UBAC – Unattended Birth After Cesarean
  • Umbilical cord – The cord that transports blood, oxygen and nutrients to the baby from the placenta.
  • Uterus -The muscular organ in which a fertilized egg implants and matures through pregnancy. During menstruation, the uterus sheds the inner lining.
  • Vagina – A muscular canal between the uterus and the outside of the body. Also known as the birth canal.
  • Vaginal Birth – Baby born vaginally with or without medication and intervention.
  • VBAC – Vaginal Birth After Cesarean
  • WBAC – Water Birth After Cesarean

Wish List In 2011

Sunday, January 2nd, 2011

A clean slate. A fresh start. Hope and dreams reactivated. Passions toward change are stirred. All of this by the calendar rolling over from one year to the next. It is not just  anew year though, it is a new DECADE to set precedent in. To make a mark. Oh the possibilities and opportunities that are ours to reach for and accomplish.

In the spirit of all of this, I decided to make an #in2011 wish list on New Year’s Eve 2010 and with some help from a few friends here is what flowed out.

#in2011 breasts will be viewed as nurturing, comforting, and beautiful.

#in2011 the majority of women will be served under the midwife model of care for the majority are low-risk and will remain so.

#in2011 Childbearing women will be greeted with open arms by providers with their questions, needs and knowledge.

#in2011 pioneering social media women will gain even more ground in their work liberating childbearing women.

#in2011 delayed cord clamping and physiologic third stage will become the norm.

#in2011 doulas will be respected as educated, knowledgeable birth professionals by staff and care providers.

#in2011 childbearing women will be given opportunity not limited

#in2011 Those striving to improve the maternity system at the ground floor as educators will be mutually respectful and supportive.

#in2011 Doulas from all backgrounds and organizational affiliation will be open to one another, supportive, sharing.

#in2011 a woman with needs and opinions with not be marked for a cesarean because of it.

#in2011 Homebirth transports will be treated with dignity and respect.

#in2011 Stigma of mental illness and motherhood will be adsressed by every childbirth care provider. RT @WalkerKarra

#in2011 Childbearing women will not have to live in fear of their providers.

#in2011 We CAN change the world together for childbearing women. Put your words intro action.

#in2011 More birthing women will have low-intervention births that lead to healthier outcomes.

#in2011 Childbearing women will be seen, heard, respected and offered a variety of care options.

#in2011 there will be less imbalance of power between maternity patient and provider.

#in2011 childbearing women will rightfully claim their health records as their own -RT @midwifeamy

#in2011 we will wake up to and address the shameful disparities in access to and outcomes of maternity care RT @midwifeamy

#in2011 Less pointing fingers among insurance companies, providers & orgs that continues to feed this ever medicalized maternity system.

#in2011 I would like to see an equal playing field with accessibility to all to maternity research, guidelines, statistics…

#in2011 I would like see accountability for providers and institutions in their maternity care practices.

#in2011 I would like to see hospitals treat only the patients they serve the very best – high-risk or in-need mothers and babies.

#in2011 I would hope more women stop blindly trusting and do their own research for pregnancy, birth and postpartum.

#in2011 I would like to see arrogance leave the treatment room. It is not a personal affront for a patient to have an opinion and needs.

#in2011 I hope women are treated as holistic beings especially in pregnancy.

#in2011 I hope for care providers to be transformed into partners with their patients instead of authorities.

#in2011, I want to see care providers and family members taking postpartum mood disorders seriously. RT@smola04

#in2011 I hope women stop being treated with hostility and looked down upon for wanting something more in pregnancy, birth and postpartum.

#in2011 I would like to see more women receiving comprehensive postpartum care from their OBs and hospital based midwives.

#in2011 I hope that women will openly mentor those coming up after them to better understanding and expectations in birth.

#in2011 I hope social media efforts have even more impact on unveiling the hidden and progressing healthy birth practices.

#in2011 I hope less mamas are unnecessarily cut open in pursuit of delivering a baby.

#in2011 I hope to see midwives working together no matter the track they came up on. Being respectful and open.

#in2011 I hope to see women who have experienced amazing births be loud and proud sharing the good news without fear.

#in2011 I hope that midwives of all types will be fearless in their pursuit of their model of care for women.

#in2011I hope that hospitals and providers realize they need to offer individualized care to women and babies for the health of it.

#in2011 I would like to see women openly breastfeeding their children without shame or discrimination.

#in2011 A drop in the cesarean rate would be progress toward healthier practices.

#in2011 I want to see women in droves having their eyes opened and being fierce about the care they receive. About their maternity options.

#in2011 I would like to see less care providers offering up defensive and fear based medicine to their maternity patients.

#in2011 I hope for more accessibility to home and birth center births for women and babies.

#in2011 I would like care providers to view women as a sum of all parts, not a uterus growing a baby more valuable than she is.

#in2011 I would like to see more women taking charge of their care, taking personal responsibility and being powerful pregnant women.

#in2011 I desire more respect and autonomy for maternity patients.

#in2011 For women who want a VBAC to easily find an accommodating provider.

Is all this attainable in one year? Perhaps not, but pushing toward the positive and never taking the eye of the reason for all of this, the childbearing women and families, I do believe we can change the world and make the maternity care system as a whole a safer, healthier  and more respectful place.

What is on your 2011 wish list? If you would like to have it added here, leave a comment.

Reader Additions:

Kay Miller:

I hope that we (doulas/educators) can stop alienating the providers, instead partnering with them to provide the best care possible for the mamas and babies that we work with.
I hope that doulas/educators and providers can have mutual respect for one another, and realize the value of the care and support that each provides.
I hope that while we work to change the negatives of health care for pregnancy, birth, and postpartum, that we can remember to openly recognize and affirm the positives.
I hope that families will make decisions based on education and research, not on fear.
I hope that both “sides” stop using fear tactics to persuade families to make certain choices. A decision to home birth due to fear of hospital birth is still a decision based on fear.

Celebrating the Birth of Our New Location

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

DATE: January 15, 2011

TIME: 10am-2pm

LOCATION: 6180 Lehman Drive, Suite 103, Colorado Springs, CO 80918

WHO’S INVITED:  Mothers and families, birth professionals, related professionals, friends, media and anyone interested in learning more about what Preparing For Birth has to offer the expecting woman and her family!

What To Expect: Food, conversation, door prizes and an all around good time!

If you are interested in donating a door prize or bringing in your mompreneur/birth biz related marketing materials,  please contact Desirre for details at desirre@prepforbirth.com or at 719-331-1292.

Download the Open House Flyer.

Grateful For My Births

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Focusing on Thanksgiving, I asked others to submit a “Why I am Grateful For My Birth(s)” blog post.  In the spirit of that, here is my own blog posting. Stay tuned for the Carnival of posts to be up by Thanksgiving morning.

I myself have had four varied labors and births, one of which could be considered a “normal” and natural birth experience.

From my first labor and birth, I learned that maternal ignorance no matter the intention can get you into the OR  I had to travel 45 minutes to my birth location, was only a 2 cm but nurse admitted me because she did not want me to go all the way home (she of course did not tell me that or we would have rented a hotel room nearby to labor in), I then allowed the same nurse to perform AROM at 3 cm’s because she figured it could speed things up because early labor you know is slow often for first time mothers.Walked stairs for hours but….. Now came the pitocin because my waters were broken and I was not moving fast enough. Then came horrid, blinding back labor. At some point I got a partial dose of fentanyl. Then another. Finally in transition about 20 hours in, I thought I wanted the epidural. I did not get one as I was complete and pushed for nearly four hours. Then finally after a failed vacuum assist to rotate his head and help me I ended up in a cesarean for deep transverse arrest for an acynclitic, deflexed baby head.

Baby number 2 27 months later and I was for sure in no way going to get to the hospital before I was in very well established labor. VBAC, whatever, I knew if things were okay. I would never have pitocin in labor again or have my waters broken. So I labored beautifully, with no fear, hey there was some ivory tower mama left in me still. After having contractions work up to 2 minutes apart and 90 seconds long, I decided it was time to leave. My husband ran back in the house and put a water proof pad on my seat (what a very intuitive man). On the way during the 15 minutes ride to the hospital, my water broke, I mean BROKE – kaplooey. Yep water proof crib pad saved the passenger seat if our minivan. In triage I was checked and behold I was a stretchy 9 cm’s. Everyone was so happy. A VBAC good for you mama. No saline lock. Some monitoring. Then the trouble started.  The on-call doc came in and was impatient. I pushed for about an hour (mind you I was a VBAC) and when he was low enough she cut an episiotomy and used forceps on him.  Very little conversation, my husband just said she insisted and there he was. So a natural labor and almost natural birth. I still felt great. Episiotomy was far less painful than surgery…. I got my VBAC. Though  my baby ended up in NICU overnight because of forceps. That was awful. We were both very mad after we could process it. He nursed well nonetheless. Took him home the next day.

Labor and birth number 3 is told in detail on my blog post A Woman’s Voice Birthed Into Fullness so I will not report on it here.

My 4th labor and birth had me in the place of I am arriving at the hospital very late in labor even though this time I was a 1VBA2C mama. Funky contractions of a few hours each over three nights including one trip to the hospital thinking it MUST be labor, had me sitting at 7 cm’s dilated WITHOUT being in labor. How did I know that? I asked my midwife to check me every day after the short bout of contractions. I just laughed and laughed about being in “transition” dilation wise but not being in labor. On the fourth night of when the contractions started, I said OKAY I am having this baby. I did some nipple stimulation and acupressure over an hour, next thing I know 3 minutes apart contractions then closer. We got to the hospital I was 8 cm’s, walked for a half hour. Then I was 9 cm’s and pattern was back strong. Midwife came. After some odd and funny asides. I allowed AROM baby was +1 and in good position. She promised me. PROMISED me as I glared her down that this would not cause another cesarean. Baby was in perfect position. Gulp. OK. I trusted her and knew she did have our best interest at heart. No baby did not fall out. Have I mentioned I have an android pelvis? I was completely shortly after that and pushed. He was born about 45 minutes later. That for me was such a short amount of time to push. He was in my hands and on my chest with the exception of maybe two minutes for FIVE hours post birth. FIVE. He had about a 14.5″ head and came out over an intact perineum.  I was, well, normal, everyday, usual. Yep. I basked in the no nonsense aspects of it.

I learned so much through all my labors and births. Through #1 that though I made many excellent choices in my care provider and birth location, heck we even took out of hospital independent birthing classes, that maternal ignorance and a willingness to believe no nurse would do something that could cause harm was really am ivory tower point of view that women can just have babies. I knew I could birth, but knew I needed to know even more.

Through #2 that on-call providers can be dangerous people and that I COULD birth.

With #3 my voice came into being. I turned into who I am now. Like a butterfly with the roar of a lioness.

And #4 oh my baby. I became normal, just like every other woman who had a natural labor and birth. Just another birthing woman. Not special. I really liked that title.

Yes I am grateful or I would not be the advocate, doula, educator, flag waving proponent of informed consent AND refusal, strive to help and support women in their childbearing years…. oh so much more. I am grateful because in all of this I have found my calling.

Thank you to K, L, J and D for being my sons.  Thank you to bad on-call doc, well meaning but harmful nurse, horrid nursery staff, and C.E. the midwife who believed in me and my body as much as I did.

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!

A Mother’s Body

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Labor?

A mother’s body grows a new person from a microscopic connection.

A mother’s body internally reorganizes to make room for her flourishing baby.

A mother’s body soothes and gives her baby love simply from her beating heart, sounds of her breath and how she rocks.

A mother’s body is hardwired to nourish and protect her unborn child.

A mother’s body responds to her baby’s signals of movement.

A mother’s body assists her baby in turning and adjusting.

A mother’s body answers the call of labor when baby presses start.

A mother’s body hugs and helps her baby move into birthing position.

A mother’s body gives her baby hormones for calm, alertness and stamina in later labor.

A mother’s body works to push her baby into this world earth side.

A mother’s body warms her new baby perfectly skin to skin.

A mother’s body makes human milk to feed and comfort her baby.

A mother’s body is soft and worth nestling into.

A mother’s body is strong, fierce and tender.

A mother’s body is feminine and the epitome of beauty.

A mother’s body is different than before as are you now Mother.

Blog Carnival – Grateful for Birth Experiences Due 11/23

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

I invite you to participate in Preparing For Birth’s upcoming Blog Carnival set to appear on Thanksgiving morning.

Topic: “Why I am grateful for my birth experiences.” This is your point of view. I encourage you to be open about expectations, what it was really like and how it impacted you as a woman, mother, etc.

When Due: Entries need to be received by November 23, 2010 to email desirre@prepforbirth.com

What to include: Blog copy and link to your blog along with name, website, and contact information for attribution.

I look forward to hearing from many of you.

What’s a doula to do?

Sunday, October 10th, 2010

There is such a deep chasm and fracture within the doula community regarding in-hospital and out-of-hospital birth. On the one hand there are those who say anything goes in supporting women and their choices. On the other, there are those who say no doula should support a woman in the hospital environment because it is a “bad and dangerous” place to birth,  or at the very least should get kicked out if she is doing her job “right”.

Who is right? This is where it gets tricky to be sure.

With upwards of 98% of the birthing women going to the hospital in the United States, are WE really within the general doula scope of practice by taking such a hard stance of ignoring those women in need? Who is benefiting here? It is well known, that I am all for a doula deciding her practice style, what scenarios she is best suited to support within, and knowing who she is best able to support.  But to abjectly say, no doula should ever support a woman in a hospital birth, is to me akin to very interventive practitioners who believe that birth is inherently dangerous and a trauma waiting to happen. Thus, viewing every women and baby through high-risk lenses and subjecting them to high-risk protocols where there is no medical need encourages more intervention and higher-risk scenarios to actually occur.

Who does this serve taking such a hard line? Perhaps those speaking it, thinking they are pressing for the greater good. Definitely not the mothers who need the support and assistance navigating a sometimes difficult and stressful system. The mothers and babies are caught then between a rock and a hard place. Then they are effectively forced to go without support and help. The truth is women having hospital births NEED DOULA SUPPORT MORE than women choosing an out-of-hospital option.

Bottom line: I make no claim that it is an easy task to doula within the hospital environment. It is not. It can be brutal. Imagine for a moment, really, close your eyes and think of what happens, what you witness as a doula when you are there — then think of all the women who have no doula present — what happens to them? What do those women experience? What do those babies experience? Now, open your eyes and breathe for a moment. It is not pretty is it?

Right there is what keeps me taking hospital birthing clients. It requires very open communication and immense work prior to labor during prenatals running through scenarios, detailing needs and desires, making certain informed consent and refusal is understood for a variety of procedures, medications, and cesarean. A mother needs to be well-versed in how to use her self-advocacy voice as does her husband, partner or other main support person.

Looking at the flip-side now.

So the other ideal, er rather idea, is that a doula should support anyone and anything because she is a doula poses other issues in my mind.  I do not see anywhere in the job description that this is what a doula ought do.  Any one doula cannot be the right doula for every mother or scenario. This way of thinking can fall into  a cookie-cutter way of practicing, thinking one can be all to everyone. Doulas are people too. Each has individual abilities, biases that need to be addressed, history and points of view.

I think it has been mistaken that a good doula is one that has no say in how she practices or who she is best to serve.  I believe there is a doula for every type of scenario and mother. It is a very individual pursuit and fit.

I know some amazing niche doulas out there who support only high-risk mothers, multiples, same-sex couples, in-hospital birthers, planned cesareans….. The list could go on.

Honestly, I will say there are some amazing doulas who can work under this very open practice style effortlessly and with excellence.  I applaud those doulas, though I think that is the minority and most are not able to keep it up without finding a comfort zone long haul.

Childbirth is such a deeply intimate and intense process with so many variables, being the right fit all the way around is necessary in my humble opinion.  I have seen doulas deeply wounded and traumatized by what happens in the birth room. Sometimes that is unavoidable, but through years of interaction with many doulas, the running thread is that the doula had misgivings even during the interview that this was probably not a good fit but chose not to refer the mother out to someone she knew was better suited for whatever the reason.

Are women and babies really being served best under this model of practice? This is for you to go ahead and answer for yourself.

Bottom Line: Women and babies need individual care whether from a doula, nurse, or care provider. Can a doula be all things to all mothers? Some, I am sure. Overall I believe not. For the health of a doula and the health of her ability to practice and support well, finding the “comfort zone” can make the difference for the mother, baby and doula. Why? Because doula work is such an intense giving of oneself (emotionally, physically, even spiritually). A continual self-assessment needs to be done just where her true and honest “comfort zone” is. By doing this, a doula is caring not only for herself by avoiding burnout, but also for her future clients and her ability to care for others with excellence and utmost professionalism.

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.

That Pesky Due Date

Friday, September 10th, 2010

Women and babies are not made with a pop out button like some Thanksgiving turkeys indicating being done. That pesky due date becomes such great topic of debate. It can lead to unnecessary interventions (such as induction, provider change because of regulations or cesarean), emotional unease (I am broken, this baby is never coming, I am LATE one minute past 40 weeks), physical distress by way of decreased pregnancy change tolerance, and mess with a woman’s work schedule (when to start maternity leave or return to work date).

Prior to home pregnancy tests and ultrasound dating, the due date was much more of a due month. Now it seems everyone has bought into this mysterious due date being something very hard fact and unfailing.

Henci Goer wrote a tremendously helpful article called “When is that baby due? ” several years back that sheds light on this very issue. She states: “When it comes to determining your due date, “things,” as the Gilbert and Sullivan ditty goes, “are seldom what they seem.” The methods of calculation are far from exact, common assumptions about the average length of pregnancy are wrong and calling it a “due date” is misleading. Understanding these uncertainties may help to curb your natural impatience to know exactly when labor will begin.”

The most common way women are finding out the due date of their baby is by using an online calculator such as this:

However, this even from the federal website does not take into consideration ovulation, only length of cycle (which is an improvement over straight up LMP dating).

So how do women handle this notion of a due date? I asked the question and here are some responses.

  • KZ –    “Last time, I told everyone my due date, and when E had other plans, I got the, “Have you had that baby, YET?? How long are they gonna make you go?” *cringe* This time, I’m wising up and saying Spring. That’s it. Spring.”
  • SL – “I used a “due season”. I told my three year old that the leaves would change on the tree and we would probably have Thanksgiving dinner and she would be here sometime after that. :)”
  • KMC-M -“I love the Ish… december-ish”
  • CLM -“I always give very generic answers to avoid the annoying “aren’t you due yet???” comments. I’ve also written on Christmas cards … “baby #3, due Spring 20??”. Once I was due at the very end of July. My well meaning neighbor was asking … “are you STILL pregnant?” on July 4th. Ugh.”
  • LE – “Whenever someone asked my due date I always said, “he’ll come when he’s ready” or “when God decides he’s ready”
  • SC – “Mid to late month was the closest I’d get.”

Seems these particular women either have previously gotten bitten by the pesky due date or learned in the first pregnancy not to put too much stock in an arbitrarily determined date. I say good for them!

As a midwife assistant, I now participate in the baby assessments. Some of these post birth assessments gestationally date baby. Often the dates are different than the due date assumption. Some earlier and some later.  This happens even with women who knew exactly when the last menstrual period, ovulation, and conception occurred along with cycle length.

Only the baby (and God according to my belief) knows the due date aka when he or she will press start.

Early is not one day prior to 40 weeks EDD just as late is not 40 weeks and 1 day over EDD. Full term pregnancy is defined as 37 weeks-42 weeks gestation.

I think it is high time “we” layoff pressuring mamas and their babies. “We” must stop trying to evict them earlier than they desire without a true medical reason. One day to any adult is nothing, but even a day to an unborn baby coming earthside can mean the difference between alive and thriving.

Sisterhood of the Scar Revisited

Sunday, January 3rd, 2010

Many years ago I wrote this piece after attending my very first ICAN conference in San Diego in 2005. I read this and part of me weeps for her, for the me I was and for the women who are becoming part of this sisterhood willingly, wittingly or not.  My pain has been transformed into outstretched hands and heart. It has given me a sensitivity and awareness of the birth world I would probably have never achieved on my own had my births been perfect, idyllic and without this trauma.

I love you dear sisters and my life would be far less without each of you.

Seems a long distance the ivory tower to the ground.  The surprise in finding the thorny bushes with burrs that dig deep and puncture again at will? Well meaning onlookers say “Well a hundred years ago you both would have died?”  And the farce begins.  Stuff it down because it is crazy not to be grateful for the surgeon’s hand.  Smile and pretend all the twisted darkness inside doesn’t really exist.  The oft daily chore mixed with joy of caring for a baby whom we are unsure is truly our own.   The continuing assault during lovemaking when a cringe comes from the depths when a loving and hungry hand brushes the incision site.  “How can he think I am beautiful?  How can he possibly want this?”  Another thing of beauty and perfection quashed underneath the burden of the surgeon’s handprint.  Oh no say it hasn’t already been a year.  The birthday.  THE birthday sounds so exciting but terror strikes.  Preparation to be happy, preparation to feel joy.  Preparation not to shortchange our amazing gift of a child under the pain of the surgeon’s knife print.

The anticipated day meant to birth us into motherhood and my child into my waiting hands to my craving breasts, I was birthed into the Sisterhood of the Scar forever.



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