Archive for the ‘birthing’ Category

Preparing For Birth – Quotes from Women on What Pushing Feels Like

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

A couple of weeks ago I went on a quest to find out just what pushing was like for other women.  As an educator and doula it is probably one of the more challenging concepts to address.  Why?  Well some of the imagery can be quite vulgar.  “Push like you are pooping.” Do women REALLY want the image of pooping out their babies?! “The urge will overwhelm you and you cannot help it.” That also is not quite right some women never get the urge until the baby is very low and engages the nerves and some women will have the urge when baby is high and dilation isn’t complete (I did not say premature because I believe when the urge comes pushing “gruntily” with the peaks is alright as perhaps that will facilitate complete dilation and rotation of babe).  Some women feel great rectal pressure, some feel it in their abdominal muscles, and some don’t feel much at all going into it. Hey I do not believe we need to be fixed in this area.  I think whatever a woman’s body does is right for her body.

Below are many quotes that I frankly trolled for to edify women everywhere on the spectrum of what pushing is like. I could bore you to tears with the physiologic nature of the process but that isn’t what you really want to know now is it?! If you have questions on the new perineal massage, please refer to my previous entry https://prepforbirth.com/2009/08/25/new-episiotomy.html.

Quotes from real women

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Sheer, immeasurable power. Unbelievable!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Questions and Answers

  1. I have had a previous episiotomy, do I need another one automatically? No you don’t.  Depending on how your scar has set and the position you push in the scar can re-open or it adhesions in the scar will need to be broken up.  I would suggest perineal massage prenatally if there are any adhesions to break them up and soften the area prior and to choose a pushing position that doesn’t put all the tension on that exact area.
  2. Is is wrong to push when I am not fully dilated? Not necessarily.  Now I think grunty smaller pushes with those contractions can be effective to complete dilation if you are in transition.  Prior to that change the position you are laboring in to change where baby is placing pressure.  Knee chest can be very effective to abate very early pushing desire.
  3. What if I poop during pushing? Some women will pass some stool and some won’t. You may here that when pushing the right way you may pass some.  Hey open bottom is vital to pushing, so hey it is a normal but not always occurence.  A fantastic nurse, MW or doc will not actually wipe it away but simply cover as to not cause constriction of the sphincter muscles which can disturb pushing progess. If it is possible to discard the stool without disrupting you, it will be done very quietly and discreetly.
  4. I am very modest, do I have to have all my “glory” showing? Absolutely not.  You can maintain good modesty all the way up to delivery.  Even then you do not need to be fully exposed.  Truthfully a home birth or birth center birth with a midwife if likely going to help you have your modesty concerns respected and honored. Really no one needs to put hands in you during pushing, or needs to stretch anything, or needs to see everything either.  A midwife is trained to see by taking a quick peek or simply to know when she needs to have hands ready to receive baby and to offer external positive pressure if mom wants.

Check back later more Q and A to come as more questions are sent to me.

Preparing For Birth – Question of the Day #2

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

How did you react to and what were your feelings, words or thoughts after your baby was born (within the first one or two hours)?

Comfort Tips for a Hospital Labor and Delivery

Friday, August 14th, 2009

No matter how a hospital room is decorated, it is still a hospital room and not your home.  It smells different, sounds different, looks different, you name it not your home.

What can you do to make is more comfortable for your labor and delivery?

  • Labor at home as long as possible and arrive when you are deep into active labor (unless there is a medical reason to arrive earlier)
  • Wear your own clothing the whole time – nothing says “patient” like the hospital gown
  • A bathing suit top to wear while in the shower or tub
  • A binsi or bathing suit cover to wear while laboring
  • Bring your own pillow case or pillow – as long as they can be washed in hot water and a disinfectant after
  • Have your own toiletry items
  • Bring your own snacks and drinks – again it is what you are used to
  • Bring photos or cards to put around the room that you love to look at
  • Bring your own music
  • Aromatherapy to mask birth smells or abate nausea such as lavendar, orange, and/or peppermint
  • Your own non-food use crock pot to make hot compresses
  • Favorite blanket or soothie type item that helps you relax
  • A roll or two of your own toilet paper if you are particular or have sensitive parts
  • Your favorite lotion
  • A your husband or partner will not be with you, have a shirt or other worn so you can have the scent around
  • Any religious or spiritual materials that help you focus on the task at hand
  • Bring your own birth ball to use
  • Surround yourself with the colors that create peace, safety and comfort
  • Think outside the norm and bring flowers, herbs or other items from your garden

Though you cannot have a home birth in the hospital, you can make it more comfortable and to your liking.  You ARE renting the space while you are there.

Preparing For Birth – A sample low-intervention birth plan

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

A birth plan is a tool to express your desires and needs for birth and initial postpartum, as well as, to make sure that you and your provider are on the same page.  Your birth plan should be brief (no more than one page) and only have the bullet point information that is specific to your care and desire or not usually done by your care provider or birth location.

Discuss with your care provider prior to labor and bring a copy with you to your birth location.  Remember it is not a legal document that your location of delivery or care provider must adhere to.

Here is a sample plan for an out of the home birth:

Birth Needs and Desires for: _______________________. Care Provider:____________________________________.

Estimated Due Date: ____________________________.

Labor

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

  • I plan on wearing my own clothing. I will ask for a gown if I change my mind.
  • I would like a saline lock in lieu of an IV
  • In the event of an induction and/or augmentation is medically necessitated-
    • Ripening – Foley Catheter instead of Cytotec (misoprostol)
    • Pitocin – A very slowly increased dosage
    • AROM – will only consent to if an internal fetal monitor is a must.
  • Delayed cord clamping for at least 5 minutes (baby can receive oxygen or other helps 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
  • 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 lighting
  • 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 and video
  • 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

Preparing for a medically necessary labor induction

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

Labor induction is increasingly on the rise, however, even ACOG has a limited statement on what is a defines medically necessitated labor induction.  This is generally defined as gestation or chronic hypertension, preeclampsia, eclampsia, diabetes, premature rupture of membranes, severe fetal growth restriction, and postterm pregnancy (postterm dates are defined generally after 42 weeks gestation though protocols and practice style is often after 41 weeks).  There are varying opinions in the birth world of what is truly medically necessary so always research your options and need.

Induction is not a panacea, it only sometimes works, is more challenging than naturally occurring labor and is often long.  I hope my suggestions and information can help you be more well equipped when it is the best solution for you and your baby.

So you do need to be medically induced, how can you prepare?  Do you need cervical ripening prior to the induction as well ?

Start with the type of induction you need.

Ripening is for a cervix that is not ready for using pitocin for induction purposes (see Bishop’s score below). Ask your care provider what your score is.  If he or she does not use the Bishop scoring ask for the particulars of each of the five categories then you can use the table yourself.  The position category denotes the position of your cervix.

Are you a good candidate for induction? Do you need ripening too?

Are you a good candidate for induction? Do you need ripening too?

If you need a ripener prior to the induction, you have two common options (Cytotec or Foley Catheter) though there are more available (Cervidil or Prepadil), they are not widely used any longer.

Foley Catheter ripening is a mechanical ripening method that requires no medicine therefore has very little negative consequence related to the usage. The catheter is inserted in the cervix, then filled with saline to fill the end of the bulb and mechanically opens the cervix up to approximately 4 cm’s while the foley is in place. The mother will go home until the catheter falls out or will remain in the hospital overnight.  The pressure from the foley catheter promotes continual prostaglandin release that encourages the effacement and works in conjunction with the mechanical dilation to open the cervix.  When the catheter falls out, unless it prematurely dislodges the cervix is ripe and ready for induction (pitocin usage). Sometimes the mother is already in early labor and may not require pitocin or require less.   For more information and studies regarding foley cather ripening view my blog page https://prepforbirth.com/2009/07/20/foley-catheter-ripening-versus-medication-studies.html.

The most common yet riskier method of cervial ripening is the use of Cytotec (Misoprostol).  Cytotec is used in an off label manner for ripening the cervix. ACOG has this to say in the revised new guidelines that include seven recommendations based on “good and consistent scientific evidence” — considered the highest evidence level — including one that sanctions 25 mcg of misoprostol as “the initial dose for cervical ripening and labor induction.” The recommended frequency is “not more than every 3-6 hours.”  Though this drug has been shown to be successful for ripening it is not without concern, consequence, risk or controversy.  Please do your research ahead of time prior to allowing this drug to be used on you and your baby.

Here are some helpful links:

http://www.aafp.org/afp/20060201/fpin.html

http://www.petitiononline.com/cytotec/petition.html

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/458959

http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Making+an+informed+choice:+Cytotec%5BR%5D+for+induction-a0128063329

Your cervix is ripe for induction

The most common next step is the use of Pitocin to induce labor contractions. What to expect: an IV with fluids running, continuous monitoring, and limited mobility. The increased pain and stronger than usual contractions over a longer period of time associated with Pitocin use often leads women to ask for epidural anesthesia. There are varying protocols, but the low-dose protocol is most often used today.  Induction is not fail safe, you may or may not respond to “tricking” your body into labor.  Your baby also may not respond favorably.  In the event the induction fails or causes maternal or fetal distress or host of other complications, a cesarean delivery is the next step.

Here are some helpful links regarding Pitocin.

http://www.rxlist.com/pitocin-drug.htm

http://www.corninghospital.com/Educate/Pit.htm

http://pregnancy.about.com/od/induction/a/pitocindiffers.htm

http://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?id=4975#section-4

Rethink how you pack your birth bag

Considering the length of time that you will be at the hospital  considering adding the following items to your birth bag.

  • Movies (make sure your hospital provides DVD players or you will want to bring one of your own)
  • Puzzles of all types
  • Cards
  • Games
  • Books
  • Laptop Computer
  • Extra changes of clothing
  • Extra food for husband, partner or labor support
  • Extra cash
  • Ear plugs and eye covering to make sleeping easier
  • More comforts from home to be soothing

Points to think about

  • You are having a baby and need to do the work of labor completely at the hospital. ONLY allow those who can help you keep the chaos and interruption to a minimum.  This is not a party.
  • Turn of cell phones.
  • Keep room comfortable, peaceful,  and stress-free.
  • Having your water broken artificially does not mimic it naturally breaking.
  • Use the space provided and get on the birth ball, stand near the bed and sway, use rocking chair, have equipment moved closer to bathroom so you may sit on the toilet, use as many positions as possible to help baby negotiate and to help dissuade a mal-position.
  • Induction increases the risk of a cesarean delivery becoming necessary whether from the induction failing (fooling a body into labor isn’t as easy as it sounds), maternal/fetal distress or another complication may arise.  Here is a sample cesarean delivery plan in the event it becomes necessary.  sample-cesarean-plan

My closing thought to you is take a deep breath and know when medically necessary an induction is a reasonable step.

My hope is for you to be well informed, be confident to ask questions, be strong to make your own decisions, and thrive to a successful birth even when Plan A isn’t an option anymore.

What is a labor doula? What does she (or he) do?

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

Women have supported women throughout the ages.  In our very busy and ever transient culture, the woman to woman education and support of yesteryear is sorely lacking.  It is very common for an expecting woman not have family nearby or to have support women who know the ways of natural, normal pregnancy, labor, delivery and immediate postpartum. The labor doula was born out of this need.  Essentially this is a woman of knowledge and skill in pregnancy, birth, and immediate postpartum (yes there are a few men in who are labor doulas as well) who comes alongside a pregnant woman (family) offering education, physical support and emotional support to both the mother and partner/husband/other support.

Below is a detailed description of what a doula is and does according to CAPPA a wonderful organization that trains a variety of doulas and other birth professionals.

What is a Labor Doula?

A doula is a person who attends the birthing family before, during, and just after the birth of the baby. The certified doula is trained to deliver emotional support from home to hospital, ease the transition into the hospital environment, and be there through changing hospital shifts and alternating provider schedules. The doula serves as an advocate, labor coach, and information source to give the mother and her partner the added comfort of additional support throughout the entire labor. There are a variety of titles used by women offering these kinds of services such as “birth assistant,” “labor support specialist” and “doula”.

What Does a Doula Do?

The following is a general description of what you might expect from a CAPPA certified labor doula. Typically, doulas meet with the parents in the second or third trimester of the pregnancy to get acquainted and to learn about prior birth experiences and the history of this pregnancy. She may help you develop a birth plan, teach relaxation, visualization, and breathing skills useful for labor. Most importantly, the doula will provide comfort, support, and information about birth options.

A doula can help the woman to determine prelabor from true labor and early labor from active labor. At a point determined by the woman in labor, the doula will come to her and assist her by:

  • Helping her to rest and relax
  • Providing support for the woman’s partner
  • Encouraging nutrition and fluids in early labor
  • Assisting her in using a variety of helpful positions and comfort measures
  • Constantly focus on the comfort of both the woman and her partner
  • Helping the environment to be one in which the woman feels secure and confident
  • Providing her with information on birth options

A doula works cooperatively with the health care team. In the event of a complication, a doula can be a great help in understanding what is happening and what options the family may have. The doula may also help with the initial breastfeeding and in preserving the privacy of the new family during the first hour after birth.

What does a doula cost? This can be a huge spectrum and is defined by where you live.  A labor doula may volunteer, work for barter, or basics like gas reimbursement, childcare coverage, snacks, etc.  I have heard of fees from $100 to $1800 (mind you this is in NYC).  On average I would say a labor doula costs $250-$600 in many areas.   Call around or visit websites in your area to get a firm idea.

What about insurance? Private doulas usually do not bill insurance though many will give a super bill to be submitted for reimbursement by insurance.  many insurance companies after some effort will pay a portion of the fee as an out of network provider.

Will a doula provide my complete childbirth education? Sometimes.  Often not.  Some doulas are educators. I provide classes separately from doula services. The labor doula will often fill in the blanks and personalize the education the client already has.  Many doulas have lending libraries or recommended reading and watching lists.

If I am going to a birth center or having a homebirth will a doula still benefit me? Yes in both cases.  When going to a birth center a doula would labor at home then arrive at the birth center at the same time as the laboring mother just as with a hospital birth.  In a homebirth scenario the doula who is not a midwife and does no medical tasks is often a welcome extra set of hands and does the same emotional and physical support as she would do in any other location.

Does evidence support that having a doula in attendance has benefits? YES. Here are some of the benefits. Lowered epidural, narcotic, induction, cesarean, and instrumental delivery rates. Increased satisfaction, breastfeeding, and bonding.  Also shorter labors!

For more information, email me at desirre@prepforbirth.com.

Is pain in childbirth something to fear?

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

The most often fear I hear about is pain in childbirth.  It comes across as if the pain is some external force that is larger and badder than any other entity imaginable. I believe the dramatic cable channel birth shows, network tv shows, a very high epidural rate, and the rampant sharing of scary birth stories has done much to reframe what labor and delivery is today.  Though it started way back in our country about 100 years ago with the writings of Joseph DeLee who believed that women needed to be saved from birth.

Pair those with the idea that we are supposed to always feel perfect, never have an ounce of discomfort or pain in our lives (have you seen the Tylenol advertisement that quips “One more step to a pain free world”?), well it sets up an unreasonable expectation and core understanding that there is no way as a woman “I” can handle it and why should “I”?!

I shake my head that women can think we are SO fragile and cannot tolerate or thrive in such a thing as labor and delivery.  We can be fierce, strong, tender, loving, organizational, multi-tasking, boo-boo fixers, community builders, compassionate, change makers, history makers – let alone having the ability to grow a brand new person (even if in our hearts through adoption or other ways).  WOW we are amazing.

Women are all those things and much more.  Believe in the design, abilities, and intuitive nature.

Back to the pain.  So what if it hurts?  It may. It may not.  Sometimes the work of labor means discomfort or pain though it isn’t normally the sort of pain or discomfort that is alarming.  It is powerful.  It is the woman who is making the hormones required to start labor and keep it progressing.  A woman’s body is designed to offer up endorphins to match the increasing strength of the contractions along with oxytocin.  Her own body medications are powerful and can bring a strong degree of relief though they do not change the incredible power that each woman makes and experiences in labor.

Positioning movement can assist in rotating baby into a more comfortable and optimal position such as, pelvic rocks, lunges, swaying on birth ball, stair walking, curb walking, talking to baby, knee chest, advanced sims,  and a woman listening to her body to find the right movement.

Emotional pain need to be recognized and worked through in whatever way serves the laboring woman best.  Obtaining an epidural will usually not quash emotional pain and may increase it.  If fear creeps in, contractions can become painful.  Addressing the issue at hand, having support around you to, and making the space her own can help.

If at the hospital and there is something happening that is infringing on the mother’s rights or is antagonistic, she may want to consider asking for another nurse or doctor to come in and help the situation and/or seek out the patient advocate.

When it comes to physical pain or discomfort a variety of techniques can be employed. Some of these are – position changes, getting into tub or shower, hot and/or cold compresses, having a doula present, snacking and drinking in labor, refusing routine interventions, massage, visualization, vocalizations, prayer, meditation, relaxation, hypnotherapy, listening to music, soothing smells, visuals, and textures, having supportive people including care provider and using a birth ball.

If another woman shares an incredibly painful birth story, ask questions.  Was she induced? In bed the whole time? Lacking support? Lacking education? Poor baby position?  Augemented labor? Was she scared? Did she feel empowered? In a stressful environment?  Questions that will help understand where the pain came from.

Women can do ANYTHING for a minute at a time culminating in hours after the many months of growing and nourishing a baby on the inside. The work of labor and delivery also can bring a sense of comfidence and ability into mothering her baby on the outside.   Easy it will likely not be, but anything worth something requires effort, steadfastness, and often discomfort.  It is in that place we grow and show what we are made of.

Be confident.  Women are strong!

Increasing your opportunity for a vaginal birth in a cesarean stricken culture.

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

Today the cesarean rate is an alarming 31.8% (CDC 2007 preliminary data).  Only a maximum of 15%  of birthing women should be having cesarean deliveries in order to keep mortality (death) and morbidity (poor outcomes) to the healthiest levels according to the World Health Organization. With the staggering discrepancy in what should be and what is, you NEED to care about this topic.  You could have a questionable cesarean like so many others.

It is important that you the childbearing woman understand how to have the healthiest birth for you and your baby which is most often a no-to-low intervention vaginal birth.

When a cesarean occurs for a truly medical and/or life saving reason it is necessary and the benefits far outweigh the consequences for mom and baby.  The cesareans that occur for other than truly medical and/or life saving reasons are often not necessary or became necessary due to external influence that skewed the labor and delivery outcome (routine induction, epidural,  impatience by provider, mal-position of baby, staying in bed during labor, routine continuous monitoring, pushing in one position, lack of food and water during labor, routine augmentation of labor, lack of support, etc.)

Below is a list of ways to promote having a vaginal birth even if you have already had a baby this information needs to be known.

  • Take the ICAN webinar on cesarean prevention.
  • Interview before choosing your care provider – you are doing the hiring! Know his or her statistics.  If you do not get a clear answer, that is a RED flag.  You need individualized care. ou and your baby deserve no less.
  • Interview both midwives and OB’s.
  • Research your chosen birth location well.  There are other options outside of the hospital – home and birth center.
  • Hire a doula who shares your philosophy and is comfortable with the type of birth you desire. Some searchable places for a doula are: www.cappa.net, www.dona.org, and www.alldoulas.com.
  • Without medical reason standing in the way, labor at home into active labor if traveling to a hospital or birth center.  Well established labor upon arrival to the hospital or birth center decreases the opportunity for interventions, medications, and cesareans.
  • Get educated! Take a childbirth class that promotes confidence, consumer awareness (knowing rights and responsibilities), and evidence-based practices. A “good patient” class is not what you want to take.  READ books that share positive stories and good information.  A few of the searchable sites are: www.cappa.net, www.independentchildbirth.com, www.lamaze.org, and www.ican-online.org.
  • Turn off your TV – stop watching the dramatic birth shows.  They are not real.
  • Use mobility in labor.
  • Drink and snack in labor.
  • Say NO to routine interventions – meaning interventions or medications without a true medical reason. These can include, IV with fluid running, artificial rupture of membranes, continuous monitoring, wearing of hospital gown, and vaginal exams.
  • Say no the the epidural completely or at the earliest at 6 cm’s dilated.
  • Push and deliver in positions other than the reclined or “C” position unless that feels good and baby is coming well that way.
  • Only have those around you who will support what you need and desire in labor and birth. When you close your eyes who is there with you in your labor “cave”? Who doesn’t fit well there?
  • Study yourself for what comforts, assures, and adds to your feeling of safety.
  • Eat healthy and exercise during pregnancy.
  • Read What Every Woman Needs to Know About Cesarean Section – http://www.childbirthconnection.org/article.asp?ck=10164
  • For more information on Cesarean recovery and support, VBAC education and support, and Cesarean prevention go to www.ican-online.org.
  • Bottom line – take your money and walk if you are not being listened to and treated as a partner in your care.

The Doula Seed

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

Whenever I am asked why I am a doula, I need to stop and think for a moment.  My response every time is that as a doula I am filling the gap (along with others)  that is missing in today’s transient and autonomous society. When I respond, I am thinking of the days when girls and young women learned the ways of pregnancy to all things postpartum at the feet of their grandmothers, aunts, sisters, cousins, and other women in their community.  What a beautiful and age old scene that is.

Then that scene brings me to my own journey in becoming a doula.  Here is my “why” story.

Living without my own mother since I was 10 years old, I yearned for the mentoring and teaching that I am called to act upon in my life’s work.   Even without my mother, I was blessed to grow up around some other women who modeled breastfeeding, cloth diapering, and natural birth for me.

I also think of the journey that brought me to being a doula for real.

I had an epiphany one day almost 25 years ago when a close friend and I were waiting for the bus to get home from work.  She described her birth – left by her partner during pregnancy, her mother refused to come since she was unwed, and she was at an overtaxed county hospital where the staff was barely in the room to support her.  She was utterly alone and scared.  My heart broke for her and her daughter. No woman should ever be alone to fend for herself under those circumstances.  EVER.  In looking back, I can say at that moment my doula heart seed was planted though it would be years before the seed came to full bloom.

Fast forward a couple of years and I had a knack for mamas and babies.  I could help a baby latch and mom grow confidence in breastfeeding.  I knew how to calm a mama when she was tired and at her wit’s end. I understood the pregnant mama and could easily encourage.  I was invited to attend a birth of a family member I was very close to.  She delivered in a freestanding birth center.  It was an amazing natural birth with very little requirement of her except to labor and birth.  An atmosphere of encouragement, freedom, and calm. I will say it was one of the most comfortable places I have ever been in my skin supporting her.  I didn’t understand the job I had done with her, but it was good.  I think I was on a birth high for weeks.  The doula seed was beginning to ferment.

I attended birth along the way for friends and other family, assisted in breastfeeding and talking through general pregnancy issues. Mind you I hadn’t had my own children, was educated and worked in fields that had nothing to do with birth.  I loved the mamas and families that I knew.  When I started having my own family, it seems the mojo went into high gear.  I was asked questions all the time about many things pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding related, no matter where the place or situation.  Even my husband began fielding calls when I wasn’t home from friends who needed baby help.  The doula seed was slowly sprouting.

When my dear youngest boy weaned himself, I began wondering OKAY now what am I going to do while maintaining being a SAHM? My sister-friend “J” found the CAPPA website and told me I needed to take the trainings and then I could really support the families in my community as an extension of what I was already doing.  Get the education she said.  I went to the site, spoke to my husband at length and took the leap.   Three trainings in 5 months.  Then I began to to seek out clients, put together curriculum, and found a local doula group to join.  The doula seed exploded into a blossom of great fragrance about me.

I ill not say the work is easy. Anything worth any value is not.  From the prenatal meeting, to the birth while looking into a mother’s eyes encouraging her down the path so many have walked before, to the early postpartum time in assisting with breastfeeding, attachment and family health, I am honored and blessed doubly.  Participating in the most intimate time possible, witnessing the transformation that so often occurs in a woman (and her huband/partner/family), and hearing that first sound of life when her baby “speaks” is beyond description.  A miracle takes place each and every time.

The doula blossom has deep roots now.  On occasion it needs some pruning, soil treatment, and large doses of sunshine as all beautiful plants need to maintain health and well-being.  Still it is very good.

Cesarean vs. VBAC: A dramatic Difference

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

I have been invited to share with you an intimate and challenging (and graphic) journey of a mother from an unexpected primary cesarean, physician decided repeat cesarean and a home water birth after those two cesareans.

Before you watch it, take a deep breath and have an open mind. A box of tissues may be in order as well.

Cesarean vs. VBAC: A Dramatic Difference from Alexandra Orchard on Vimeo.

Watch how a baby is delivered in a cesarean birth and see the dramatic difference of what both the mother and baby experience in a home water birth after cesarean.


Thank you Alex for allowing me to share your story!  Many blessings to you and yours.

For more information on cesarean recovery, support, prevention and VBAC information go to www.ican-online.org.