Posts Tagged ‘childbirth’

Passenger or Driver: The Importance of Informed Consent.

Monday, June 15th, 2015

PASSENGERYes, it almost sounds like a Dr. Seuss-ism – “Would you rather be a passenger or a driver?” Most of us would rather be the driver, I would venture.

In every other aspect of our lives, we exercise informed consent. We want to be involved, in control, and overseeing every detail. Take for example the research we do in buying our next car, cell phone, or home. Think about how much we invest in knowing our stuff, so we can avoid the sales pitch and just get exactly what we want because we desire to make a responsible informed decision.

Yet, when it comes to our health care–prenatal care in particular–we often content ourselves with being a passenger. We readily abdicate responsibility for our health by laying down our questions and concerns to take the word of a stranger. We leave our right to informed consent in the waiting room.

Why is that?

“But, they’ve gone to medical school for a million years! What do I know?” Of course, their expertise is invaluable. Their advice is often sound. While they have an intimate knowledge of the human body and its various pathologies, they do not have an intimate knowledge of your body in particular. Its quirks and signals that are all too familiar to you.

What many fail to realize is that, no matter which role we choose to play in our health care, the consequences of any and all decisions are carried by the patient. By you and me. For the physician, it is out of sight, out of mind, not because they are inhumane, but because they are human.

When it comes to prenatal care in particular, we see a unique dilemma, because the health care we receive has more to do with a physiologic process, rather than pathology or disease. This isn’t a broken femur, a tumor, or a chronic illness. It is not even a parasite, in spite of the tongue-in-cheek proclamations of many. It is something our bodies do naturally, without a lot of help. It is a process more in need of general oversight, rather than active management.

Pregnant or not, it is imperative to understand that the practitioner is hired for his or her advice. It is up to the patient to decide what to do with it. We have many options.

1. Follow the advice without question.
2. Question the advice, decide what to do.

  • What are the benefits?
  • What are the risks?
  • What are my alternatives?
  • How does this advice apply to my personal case?
  • What happens next if it doesn’t work?

3. Get a second opinion.
4. Discard the advice in favor of an alternative outside traditional medicine.
5. And more…

Medical decisions are rarely black and white.

The key is to remember who it is that carries the weight of the risks. It is ultimately the patient. There are many factors that play into the reasoning behind your doctor’s recommendations–not all of which are health-related. (That’s another post for another day, however.)

In the end, all you have to do is decide which set of risks you are most willing to live with. That is true informed consent.

Only the driver can decide that. Not the passenger.

In which seat will you choose to sit?

Thanks for reading.

Our best to you,
Desirre & Tiffany

Why take childbirth classes anyway?

Monday, June 8th, 2015

Why take a childbirth class anyway-Why take childbirth classes anyway? You and baby are made for this process, so what is the big deal?  You go into labor, have many contractions, eventually become fully dilated and push out a baby. Bam. It’s nature! Right?

Not quite, I’m afraid.

In a perfect world, women would grow up around pregnancy, labor, birth and postpartum to soak it all in. Younger girls would assist the mother, participating in many aspects of her care, and would then gain valuable in-person true life experiences that give her encouragement, education, and confidence going into her own pregnancies, births, and postpartum times. Aunties, grandmothers, daughters, cousins, and friends all would participate in this womanly art of birth. If this were still the case, it would put the need for childbirth classes to an end.

Sadly, women in our culture are all too often discouraged, educated with fear, and lack confidence about all things related to pregnancy, labor, birth and early postpartum. It is a mystery to most women as they grow up, and very few have regular access to normal birth. Indeed, the body of a woman isn’t something that is expanded on widely in health classes, or talked about with any raw clarity. The female body, and what it can do, is shrouded in mystery from puberty to the end of life. So, we need good childbirth classes because women have been giving birth in a vacuum for a long time, and have lost the knowledge they once would have grown up with.

Women and babies deserve better. Women and babies deserve to have positive, foundational knowledge to pass down to the next generation. Women and babies deserve the care that can come when the veil is torn, and the mystery becomes clear.

Women learn in community. Quilting bees, canning day, and wash day didn’t really go away. It’s merely been replaced by play dates, mom groups, and social media. Childbirth classes are one more great way to bring women together over a common goal so that they can learn from each other. It serves the purpose of re-integrating the knowledge of generations of birthing women into the modern world.

A good childbirth class will help a woman and her partner to:

  • Gain current evidence-based information.
  • Learn how the female body works and why.
  • Understand how she and baby labor together.
  • Utilize tried and true techniques.
  • Be encouraged and grow in confidence.
  • Practice role-playing of common scenarios.
  • Solidify her unique birth philosophy.
  • Sharpen communication and consumer skills for real life application.

Why a childbirth class? Because women don’t need to be told what to do. They need to be helped and supported in what they believe is best for themselves and their babies. Because women need to discover that they are so much more capable and strong than they ever thought possible. Because they deserve a foundation of knowledge to base their decisions on.

Why a childbirth class? Because women deserve better than the status quo.

Tiffany & Desirre

Click HERE to see our available classes.

 

Dilation Isn’t Everything: The many jobs of your cervix.

Monday, May 18th, 2015

BESTA mother waits patiently on the small triage bed while the nurse concentrates on what her fingers are telling her about the progress of this labor. After a minute, she pulls her fingers out, and chirps brightly, “You are 5 centimeters dilated!” She flips her gloves into the trash can and turns to the computer to chart.

It’s a universal experience going into a hospital in labor. The progress of labor is reduced to a number between one and ten, and nothing else. An hour later, after being admitted to her room, the mother is told she is “still only a 5.” Once again, she isn’t a mother, she is a number. She is left alone to contemplate that, and to deal with it as she may.

Most of us tell our birth stories in terms of this number. “I was stuck at 5 forever!”

What if I told you that this number means very little when it stands alone? What if I told you that your cervix does a whole lot more than just dilate? What if I told you that there are more ways to measure progress in labor than that ubiquitous range of centimeters?

Well, it’s true.

My preceptor and mentor, Desirre Andrews says:

“There is a mystery surrounding cervical dilation and changes prior to and during labor. I like to think of it as the jobs of the cervix. The cervix does so much more than simply opening.”

So, the next time you have a baby, and you are facing a vaginal exam, make sure you ask about what else your cervix is doing!

1. Effacement
Hold up your pointer finger. Touch the second knuckle. From there to the tip of your finger is about the length of your cervix. In order for the cervix to dilate completely, your cervix has to shorten, or “efface,” completely. This is measured in percentages. If your cervix only reaches from the tip of the finger to the first knuckle, you are about 50% effaced. This process must happen before dilation can even occur. In many women, it occurs at the same time or it overlaps dilation. In first time moms, we often see effacement first, then dilation quickly follows. What if our mother was told that, while she was “still 5,” she went from 50% effaced to 90% effaced? That’s progress, people!

2. Ripening
Touch the tip of your nose. (You didn’t know this would be so interactive, did you?) That’s about the texture of a closed, uneffaced cervix. That’s no good for dilation, and it has to soften, or “ripen” in order to do its other jobs. This primarily happens before labor, but can also happen throughout labor. The texture of your cervix must work its way to the softness of your relaxed lips, and then softer still to match the texture of the inside of your cheek. We call cervixes at this stage “soft like butter.” Yet another measure of progress. If our mother were still at 5, but her cervix was much softer and more difficult to feel, that’s progress!

3. Position
To protect your baby, your cervix points towards your tailbone (posterior) during pregnancy, and sometimes even early labor. In order to open and allow the baby to move through it, your cervix must shift its position until it is pointing directly into your vagina (anterior). If our mother were told that though she were “still 5,” but that her cervix was easier to reach, this job has been done, and she has made progress!

4. Dilation
Last, but not least we have dilation. Your cervix must open up from a tightly closed position, all the way up to “10 centimeters.” Really, it’s not 10, though. At this point, nothing can be felt except baby’s head. It’s often now simply called “complete dilation.” The thing to realize about dilation is that it cannot happen unless the cervix is doing all of its other jobs already. They often happen seemingly in tandem, but sometimes a mother will be “stuck at 5” while her cervix is effacing, softening, and moving forward. Once those jobs happen, dilation is a downhill race to the finish (though it may not seem like it).

So, the next time you consent to a vaginal exam in labor, make sure you get more than a number. Ask about effacement, softness, and the position of your cervix. Your cervix is amazing and has a lot more to do than just open. Make sure it gets all the credit it deserves!

Were you informed of the various ways the cervix works before and during labor? How might this change the way you approach your future pregnancy care?

-Tiffany

In Honor of International Doula Month

Monday, May 11th, 2015
May Is International Doula Month!
 Not only were we able to celebrate World Doula Week recently, I found out that there is an entire month to celebrate doulas! Now, I could re-state all the facts about professional labor support. I could share famous doula quotes. I could toot my own horn, as it were.
However, I don’t want to do this. I would really prefer to sing the praises of my excellent clients, and what a joy it has been to serve every one of them over the past seven-plus years. Doulas would not be doulas without the need for it, and that starts with birthing women reaching out for the help a doula can offer.
So, this goes out to my clients.

Thank you.

Thank you for choosing me to walk with you, whatever your journey.

Thank you for asking questions.

Thank you for learning and growing, and letting me be a part of that.

Thank you for sharing your strength, dignity, and unique experiences with me.

You are amazing. You are the reason I love this work.

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany

NEW Class Schedule at Preparing For Birth!

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

Click to go to registration page!

Click to go to registration page!

Have you registered yet? We are accepting registrations for our May/June and July/August classes! Register for July/August classes by June 1st, and receive an early-bird thank you gift!

Here’s what our Tuesday night line-up looks like:

    Essentials for Childbirth 4-week Series

  • May 5th-26th
  • July 7th-28th
  • Essentials for Postpartum 4-week Series

  • June 2nd-23rd
  • August 4th-25th

Wondering About Weekend Options?

    Early Pregnancy Workshop*

  • May 9th
  • July 11th
  • Essentials for Childbirth Condensed

  • May 16th
  • July 18th
  • Life With Baby

  • May 23rd
  • July 25th
  • Essentials for Postpartum Condensed

  • May 30th
  • August 1st
  • Basics of Breastfeeding

  • June 6th
  • August 8th

Specialty Workshops (COMING SOON!)

  • VBAC Intensive Workshop
  • Embrace Grace Childbirth Essentials
  • And more!

While we’re at it – I want to hear from YOU! Since we’re starting up the ol’ blog again, I want to know what topics YOU are most interested in! What would you like Team Preparing for Birth to write about?

I’d like to open with a Q & A series. Email any question you have regarding home birth, midwifery, doulas, childbirth education, pregnancy, labor & birth, breastfeeding, and/or pregnancy fitness to tiffany@prepforbirth.com, and we will answer all your questions in series over the next several weeks.

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany

Brand New Class Offerings

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

spring cleaning

We are spring cleaning at Preparing for Birth. out with the old format and in with the new! We are very excited to now be offering Saturday workshops and 8 weeks of Tuesday night classes.

Classes are now a la carte or bundled. You choose what suits you best in your pregnancy and postpartum periods.

For first time mothers, we recommend our Comprehensive Essentials Bundle. This includes every class we offer as a series.

For those who have had a baby, we recommend our Essentials for Childbirth Condensed as a refresher course and any other Saturday classes of your choosing.

For those with specific needs or require alternate day or night options, we offer in-office private classes designed with your needs in mind.

Our classroom is a comfortable, open, and inviting. It is a home away from home environment. We use modern technology alongside tried and true techniques.

For a complete listing of our classes, click here.

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

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!

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