Posts Tagged ‘home birth’

So You’re In Early Labor. Now What?

Monday, April 24th, 2017

 

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

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

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

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

So you’re in early labor. Now what?

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

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

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

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

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

Grace & Peace,
Tiff

Your Job Must Be So Fun!

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

baby looking at title, your job must be so fun
This is the most common response I get when I share with someone what I do for a living. When I share that I’m growing into midwifery.

If all we did was snuggle babies and drink margaritas, I suppose this statement might be true.

But this job isn’t all baby snuggles, and it rarely involves even a chance at a margarita.

Fulfilling? Yes.

Rewarding? Absolutely.

Fun? Not so much.

That word, in fact, minimizes what midwives do. It reduces it to the same level of a weekend hobby. Is there joy in this work? More often than not, yes. While the joy inherent in this work is a big part of what sustains a midwife in the long haul, there is so much more to it. There is a hidden side of midwifery that many don’t see or understand, and it is this hidden side that flashes before my eyes when someone comments that my job must be “so fun.”

This is not a job anyone signs up for to have fun. This is a job we sign up for because we are compelled. It is an irrevocable call on our lives.

As Desirre says, “It’s a calling that follows you around until it catches you.” We often don’t even realize it’s our calling until one day we awake to the startling discovery that we cannot escape what we are meant to do. And what we are meant to do is to be “with woman.”

We are meant to be midwives.

Like the “witches” and wise women of old who quietly served women and their babies with dignity and a deep knowledge passed down over time. It is our inheritance, and it carries with it the weight of responsibility, accountability, and power. The calling of midwifery is inescapable for those who hear it, and insurmountable for those who only wish to.

It is “fun” for no one.

There is, however, fun within the work. Laughter and joy are bricks in the foundation, and this work could not be done sustainably without them. The joy of watching a father’s eyes light up at the first sound of that pattering heartbeat. The laughter when big sister has to have her tummy measured too, or big brother insists on helping us hold the Doppler.

Of course, there’s the ultimate culmination of joy, the crowning glory, when that slippery wet tiny human is lifted into a mother’s arms, ready to meet the great wide world. The moment heaven itself pauses to rejoice at another everyday miracle.

The arrival of a new soul on Planet Earth is no small thing. It is a great mystery and marvel, and it is midwives who have always been there, very near the heart of it all, acting as ushers and servants making way for the tiny new being and his mother to step into life together.

Fun?

No.

Miraculous, joyful, powerful, fulfilling, important? Yes.

Ultimately, this work is eternal, impacting future generations forever. And that is a weighty thing, not to be taken on for anything less than a deep and abiding call.

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany
Student Midwife

My Greatest Fear

Monday, August 1st, 2016

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

~Marianne Williamson in A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”

My light does frighten me. I am afraid of center stage, where hypocrisy, self-righteousness, and pride can so easily take over. I am afraid to face those who would admire and look up to me simply because of what I do for a living. I am afraid to do too well, be too successful. I can deal with and accept my darkness. My flaws and failings are all too apparent, daily. Even hourly. There are glaring gaps in my character that scream at me to stay in a place of condemnation and false humility. I am more comfortable with my sins and flaws than I am with my strengths and giftings.

No more.

I am a midwife.

This is a truth I am trying with all my heart to embrace fully.

No, I have not achieved certification, and still have a ways to go before I do, but it is still the truth. A midwife is who I am. I say it not as a credential, but as an identifying characteristic, like being a wife and a mother.

I have played small up until now, deferring to others rather than stepping into the role for which I was created with confidence and humility.

No more.

From now on, I will serve the world. I will be brilliant. I choose to shine brightly and make manifest the glory of God, in whose image I am created.

I will do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God as a midwife. Confident. Able. Strong. All to reflect his glory and his Name.

I will liberate others to shine, and to walk in the strengths God has given them. Only then can I overcome this weakness of false humility and hypocrisy. I am a child of God, and I will conduct myself as such.

I am a midwife, and I will not play small to fear any longer, by the power of the God who created me, called me, and equipped me.

I will trust in Him. I will not be afraid.

And I will not hide anymore.

100 Things I’ve Learned in 100 Births

Monday, February 15th, 2016

100 Births blog post
So, my 100th birth happened last week, just before midnight on the 12th.

100 births since 2008. 44 doula births. The other 56 births were as a midwifery assistant and student. Those began January 29th, 2014–my late father’s birthday. The birth of a new life, and the birth of my midwifery journey. A significant day for me. Among these are two unplanned home births, in which I discovered I have what it takes to stay calm in unexpected situations.

100 births. Not counting the ones I missed by as little as a minute. I’m not sure how many of those there are, but there aren’t very many.

There is so much I have learned since I attended my very first birth as a doula in 2008. And there is still so much I need to learn. I am delighted, honored, and sobered at the distance I have traveled. Still more so at the distance I have left to cover.

How do I do it? The same way you do your life: One step at a time, one day at a time, to the best of my ability, with the help of others who have gone before, and the ones who walk it with me.

I will not turn away.

100 Things I Have Learned in 100 Births

  1. Just when you think you know birth, you are proved wrong.
  2. If it could go wrong, it probably won’t.
  3. But you should still keep your eyes peeled.
  4. Women are truly amazing. Every one of them.
  5. Babies are people too.
  6. And they deserve the same human dignity and respect as their mothers.
  7. Affirmations work.
  8. But they look different for everyone.
  9. The circumstances of birth don’t matter as much as how the mother is treated.
  10. Empowered women are formidable creatures.
  11. Midwifery isn’t for wimps.
  12. Being on-call is stressful for my family.
  13. I must be mindful of my priorities in ways many others don’t have to be.
  14. It does take a village.
  15. You have to choose your village wisely.
  16. My village kicks arse. Especially that portion made up by my husband and children.
  17. My husband and children have given me more grace than I deserve on this journey.
  18. Pay yourself first.
  19. You can’t control for what baby decides to do on the way out.
  20. Sometimes, perineal tears happen in spite of everything you try.
  21. A birth pool really is the Midwife’s Epidural.
  22. This job isn’t “fun.”
  23. Three o’clock in the morning midwife humor is fun, though.
  24. People will text you at six in the morning to ask why the sky is blue.
  25. You really have to know your “Why” for doing birth work.
  26. Your family has to know and believe in your “Why” as much as you do, or it won’t work. It just won’t.
  27. I want to be known as a praying midwife.
  28. As a doula, my bag of tools got lighter with every birth.
  29. Sometimes, my hands, my voice, or my presence were all that was needed.
  30. I am enough.
  31. Hard things are worth it.
  32. There is nearly always a learning curve to breastfeeding, even if you’ve done it before.
  33. VBAC is incredible.
  34. The medical reasons for interventions are real, and should be respected.
  35. The health reasons for natural, physiologic, unhindered birth are real, and should be respected.
  36. It’s okay to speak the truth in love instead of just saying “Whatever you want, dearie.”
  37. Healthy mom, healthy baby needs a new definition in this country.
  38. A healthy baby is not all that matters.
  39. How we birth matters. A lot. I didn’t realize how much until I began this work.
  40. Decisions based in fear are never good decisions.
  41. It’s not consent if you’re afraid to say “No.”
  42. I am stronger and smarter than I thought I was.
  43. But I still have a lot to learn.
  44. The day I lose my sense of awe and sacredness in the birth space, I need to quit.
  45. The day I think I have arrived, and have nothing more to learn, I need to quit
  46. Making cesareans more humane is good.
  47. Reducing the number of unnecessary cesareans is better.
  48. Formula is a medicine.
  49. Breast is not best, it’s normal.
  50. Boobs are not for sex, though they do help it along.
  51. Boobs are not fully developed until they have lactated.
  52. Breakfast is always appropriate.
  53. Humility is central to this work.
  54. Being teachable is absolutely necessary.
  55. Thinking outside the box is a skill that should be developed to its fullest.
  56. Becoming a midwife is hard.
  57. Like, really hard.
  58. And expensive.
  59. As it should be.
  60. Midwifery is an artisanal skill.
  61. It should never be allowed to disappear.
  62. When you hire a midwife, you hire her whole tribe.
  63. When you hire a midwife, you are choosing to birth local.
  64. When you hire a midwife, you are choosing to be responsible for your own care.
  65. Prenatal care is what happens between your appointments.
  66. Nutrition matters a lot more than we ever thought.
  67. Midwives have known this forever.
  68. Birth is made up of strong women doing very vulnerable things.
  69. Meconium happens.
  70. And sometimes, it really sucks.
  71. I have seen the worst, and I still want this.
  72. Midwifery isn’t a career.
  73. Midwifery is a calling, deep, strong, and undeniable.
  74. If I weren’t studying midwifery, I would want to be a hospice nurse.
  75. The end of life is very much like the beginning of life.
  76. Sometimes, the thing that shouldn’t work, does.
  77. You don’t always have to understand why or how something works, as long as it works.
  78. Pulsatilla is awesome.
  79. I love seeing a family hear their baby’s heart tones for the first time.
  80. I love watching men become fathers.
  81. Gentle loving touch is a big part of what’s missing from modern obstetric care.
  82. I don’t notice nudity anymore.
  83. Placentas are not always appropriate topics of conversation in mixed company.
  84. Circumcision is a rarely justifiable elective surgery. Look it up.
  85. Methods don’t work, except for a select few women.
  86. Anyone who says differently is selling something.
  87. Flexibility is everything.
  88. Never hesitate to speak out of fear of looking a fool.
  89. If the zombie apocalypse happens, I’ll still have a job.
  90. Birth is much safer now because of two things:
  91. Infection management.
  92. Hemorrhage management.
  93. Midwives know both. Really really well.
  94. Knowing your clients gives you good instincts.
  95. Your heart knows as much as your head, even if your head is late to the party.
  96. Sometimes, the only legitimate basis for a hard call is your gut. You have to trust it.
  97. Finding heart tones takes practice and patience.
  98. If I know what needs to be done, and how to do it, I should not hesitate.
  99. Midwifery is who you are, not what you do. You either have it or you don’t.
  100. I am a midwife.

There is so much more I could add, but I wanted this to be off-the-cuff, and not over-thought. It was important to me that it be in my brain’s real-time, and not artificially cooked up to be more or better than what I actually am.  It’s just very random thoughts off the surface of my brain. Some deeper than others, but all true.

What about you? How many births have you had or attended? What have you learned about yourself or about birth through them?

Grace & Peace,
Tiff

30 Days of Gratitude, day 18: Scrubs.

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

thankful 2015 day 18Scrubs. Those ubiquitous uniforms worn by most health care workers. Whether they are hospital issued, color-coded for security, or fun designs to please the kiddos, they are a genius invention.

Today, I am thankful for scrubs.

Many midwives don’t feel quite comfortable wearing them to births, as they feel it brings a too-clinical/medical air to the home birth environment. I get that, in some ways, and can empathize. However, I happen to disagree.

Here are a few reasons why:

1) I have yet to meet a mother who takes issue with scrubs being worn in her home. (That’s not to say there aren’t any, just that it doesn’t seem to be the norm in our area. I’m sure I would accommodate if a request were made. Though, I’d insist on the pants at least…)

2) Our job is, in fact, clinical. It just happens to come from an entirely different worldview and care model. A midwife’s responsibility is still rooted in clinical health and safety, though it goes far beyond that into supporting wellness. It makes sense to wear clinical duds.

3) At a birth, we are often likely to be “baptized” with various bodily fluids, and you can’t beat a good pair of scrubs for drying time. Not even a bathing suit dries faster. I can’t imagine having to finish work at a birth in sopping wet jeans.

4) They are snazzy. We can express ourselves with the wide variety of options available though I have yet to find TARDIS scrubs…help me out?

5) They are easy to clean. Seriously. It’s like they’re incapable of holding stains. So, I can essentially guarantee that I will look professional.

Their only downside? Those elastic waistbands like to migrate downwards. A lot. So, midwife’s crack might be a thing. Totally worth it, though.

What are you thankful for this fine fall day?

Warmly,
Tiffany Miller
Childbirth Educator, Student Midwife

30 Days of Gratitude, Day 6: A Warm Bed

Friday, November 6th, 2015

thankful 2015 day 6The days may have been warm, but the nights are getting pretty darn chilly in these parts, so we are all finding ourselves thankful for our warm beds. There is nothing more satisfying to on-call birth professionals than falling into our own warm bed after an all-nighter. Except, maybe, that first cup of coffee upon awakening. I think it might be a tie.

“It includes lots of my favorite things: my pillow, quilts, sleeping, and (usually) solitude,” quothe Erin, one of our midwife assistants and childbirth educators.

I think it’s safe to say that it goes for all of us.

Beds are incredible places, full of dreams, cuddles, and the cool side of the pillow. Our beds are our havens. Some of us have a little coffee station close by, so as to be able to drink that first cuppa without leaving the cozy sanctuary.

Some have beds full to the brim with children, those natural hot water bottles of cuteness.

Some have beds that move, making reading in bed more luxurious, and lower back pain less noticeable.

Many have bedside tables stacked with books, and have a hard time choosing which ones we’ll be reading from evening to evening.

Some have our beds gloriously to ourselves, and it has become our haven when we are overstimulated and touched out from a day caring for other humans–whether they be our own tiny humans, or our clients is immaterial.

Beds, beds, glorious beds on a cold and biting autumn night, or a crisp day after a long birth. They are things of beauty, whether made or unmade, spartan or covered in fancy pillows, king size or queen or full or twin. They are our beds, and we thank God for them on this lovely day in November.

What are you thankful for today?

Warmly (possibly from my bed),
Tiffany Miller
Student Midwife, Childbirth Educator

30 Days of Gratitude, Day 3: Community

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

thankful 2015 day 2Today, Team Preparing for Birth is grateful for the community of birth professionals and birthing families here. We have a special dynamic in the Colorado Springs area, thanks to a few pioneers of community building here–Desirre Andrews among the most vocal supporters of a unified community for her entire career. She says:

We live in a unique region that has excellent in-person and online connecting points for pregnant and postpartum families. Midwifery care for home or hospital birth is readily available. There are all types of doulas, several educational options, and fantastic lactation support accessible locally.

I’m thrilled to have Preparing For Birth as part of this thriving community since January 2003.

Specifically, Desirre has cultivated a strong community in the Preparing for Birth office space. We share our space with three other midwives and their assistants, as well as childbirth/breastfeeding educators, and a doula. (I’ll save those for another post!)

The four midwives confer regularly, share the client load when needed, and back each other up regularly. This is one of the safest ways to offer home birth, for both our clients and the midwives. Desirre has worked hard to build a solid foundation, and it proved itself invaluable this year. It was a tough year for all the midwives in the office, but they have walked it with grace, unity, and a stalwart courage I have never seen the equal of.

I am proud and grateful to be a part of the community here, and I hope to contribute to its structure as I grow in my own career as a midwife.

It’s Day 3. What are you grateful for today? Share in the comments, and link to your own blog post, if you have one!

Warmly,
Tiffany Miller
Childbirth Educator, Student Midwife

Fall Childbirth Class Schedule

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

Fall Childbirth Class in Colorado Springs
Thanks so much for your patience as I took a break from blogging while I was away at the CAPPA conference in Tucson, then hit the ground running with several births nearly as soon as I landed back in the Springs! That said, we are gearing up for a busy season.

Our fall childbirth classes are on the calendar, which you can check out HERE.

What I want to highlight are the names of our Saturday workshops. Since we began offering them in the spring, I have gotten a lot of helpful, specific feedback from Saturday students, and am excited to offer our new “Tool Kit” Saturday schedule!

It’s shorter. It’s sweeter. It’s more relevant than ever.

Plus, we have way more fun than is probably good for any of us!

Here’s the nutshell version of each new Tool Kit class:

  • Early Pregnancy Tool Kit: Nutrition, fitness, specialty diets, what to expect in the 1st and 2nd trimesters, care providers, and birth locations.
  • The Natural Birth Tool Kit: Planning a natural or home birth? This is the class that will equip you to handle labor, birth, and that first “golden” hour.
  • The Epidural Tool Kit: Planning to have an epidural? This is the class just for you! What you can expect, how it all works together, and that first “golden” hour.
  • The Newborn Care Tool Kit: More than just diapering, this class covers what you really need to know about your “4th Trimester.” Getting out of the house, parenting styles, babywearing, bonding, and more.
  • The Postpartum Tool Kit: This class covers topics rarely discussed. Relationships, family planning, emotional/mental health, and even basic logistics.
  • The Breastfeeding Tool Kit: Everything you need to know from nipples to normal feeding to nursing in public. Bonus: This class is for your partner too!

We also have some fabulous specialty “Tool Kit” classes:

  • The VBAC Tool Kit: This class is especially geared for those going for a vaginal birth after cesarean(s). The nuts and bolts of stacking the deck in your favor, no matter where you are choosing to give birth.
  • The Teen Tool Kit: This class is in the works, so stay tuned for the first scheduled appearance! It will be a two- or four-week Tool Kit just for teen moms and their support partner(s). We’ll cover the basics of coping with labor, breastfeeding, and sex ed.

Also – we are so excited to be planning the first ever Preparing for Birth Trunk-or-Treat on Halloween this year! Watch for details as we let our nerd selves loose in a Comic-con style costume party! Sherlock, Doctor Who, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Stark Trek, Star Wars, and more! Bring the kids, get your blooming belly painted, and get your geek on with us!

Thanks for hanging around!

Warmly,
Desirre & Tiffany

5 Things Midwives, Doulas, and Postpartum Moms Love

Monday, July 6th, 2015

5 Things Midwives, Doulas, & Postpartum

As I was in the shower today, after two births in 24 hours–one in the hospital as a doula, the other at home as a student midwife–I was appreciating the perfect temperature of the water, the smell of my shampoo, and the utterly clean feeling I had when I stepped out onto the mat. I was positively luxuriating in my shower! I couldn’t help but compare it to the first shower I took after my babies were born. That first shower post-birth is simply divine.

This got me on a train of thought I hadn’t really contemplated before.

Midwives, doulas, and postpartum mothers share a sisterhood in more than just birth. There are five things we all love after a birth, whether it was our own or one we attended.

    1: Taking off the sweaty/goopy bra.
    Taking off the bra at the end of the day is magnificent enough. Imagine peeling off a sweaty, potentially goopy and wet bra! Birthing a baby is hard work, and so is attending a birth. (Not on the same level, obviously, but we often get very physical, sweaty, and wet too) Oh, the glorious freedom of a bra slipped off and tossed aside!

    2: That first shower.
    Letting all the mess of birth wash down the drain. The sweat of hard work. The fluids, vernix, and blood of the birth. Even some of the heightened emotions are shared. They are on different scales but are sourced in the same hormones. And yes, birth professionals tend to get a little baptized with the birth fluids too. I cannot tell you how amazing it is to get into that warm shower and just feel clean again!

    3: The first meal.
    Whether it’s steak and eggs, sushi, fried chicken, gyros, cheese and crackers, bananas and peanut butter, smoothies, or a fistful of Cheetos, it doesn’t matter. No food tastes as good as post-birth food.

    4: The first nap.
    Most births happen in the wee hours before dawn, so everyone involved loses some sleep. Combine that with a hit of high-inducing oxytocin, endorphins, and adrenaline, and you have a perfectly natural sleeping potion circulating in your blood. The first nap post-birth is the best! Even if it’s interrupted by a hungry baby, or a text from a client (we’re usually still on call), it’s still lovely to sleep. Mostly because we are in bed. It’s all about the bed. And the cool side of the pillow.

    5: Seeing your kids again.
    There’s something about a family coming together again after the birth of a new baby. After you’ve come home from the hospital, or your kids were brought back home from Grandma’s, being together as a family with a new member to induct is just plain special. Some of my favorite post-birth memories, when my kids were born, were introducing them to their new tiny sibling. Now, walking in the door from the latest birth, and being greeted by four sets of arms hugging me, and four voices saying “Yay! Mommy!!!” is such a blessing.

What is your favorite thing after having a baby and/or attending a birth?

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany

This is where your pregnancy comes in!

Monday, May 4th, 2015

childbirth classes
We at Preparing for Birth are always striving to be more and more relevant to our clients and students, and we cannot do that without input from you! We are starting up the ol’ blog again, but we would rather not write about anything that you are not interested in. Of course, we want to cover new ground as more and more new evidence and information come to light, but it’s always nice to revisit topics that are key to you, our readers.

So, would you be so kind as to share in the comments what topics you are most interested in reading more about? Here are some ideas to get you started:

 

  • Doulas: Labor, antepartum, postpartum, and more.
  • Informed consent and conscious agreement.
  • Pregnancy myths debunked.
  • Home birth and midwifery.
  • Client and student birth stories.
  • Photos and videos.
  • Podcasts.
  • Book and product reviews.
  • Birth art/poetry/music.
  • Childbirth education.
  • Tips, tricks, and hacks for pregnancy, labor, birth, postpartum, and newborns.
  • Babywearing.
  • Breastfeeding myths.
  • Pregnancy fitness.
  • Pregnancy & special food needs (vegan, paleo, etc).

What else would you add? This is where you come in! Leave a comment, and share what you would like to read about here!