Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

A Glimpse of the Homebirth Difference

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

A client of mine had her home visit from me this morning. It coincided, on purpose, with the 36 week homebirth visit from her midwife. I cannot say enough how lovely the experience really is.

My client was asked many pertinent questions about her physical and emotional health; her stress levels and what she’s doing to cope; her nutrition, hydration, and rest; and what she was hoping to have on hand at the birth for her comfort. Everything from essential oils, to where the birthing pool would be, to checking the availability of all of her supplies was covered. Then, oh joy! the midwife listened to the baby, and we got to stand in silence and awe of the precious sound.

I was delighted when my client allowed me to palpate her belly, under the supervision of the midwife and intern midwife, to get an idea of baby’s position.

Everything about this appointment was professional, warm, friendly, thorough, and centered on the mother – my client.

For a whole hour of her day, my client got to experience attention and love being centered on her and her baby. She got to be loved at the beginning of her busy day.

It was beautiful, and I can’t think of a single hospital experience — no matter how kind and warm the nurses are — that equals the time devoted to my homebirth clients. What a privilege to be a part of the journey of those who choose this “road less traveled.”

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany

Top 10 Things I’d Do If I Were Pregnant Again

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

Image from decalsground.com

We all have things we’d like to hit the rewind button for. Today, I thought I’d share the top ten things I’d do differently if I were to miraculously find myself pregnant again. Why not? It’s not something I’ve shared before on this blog. I don’t often get very personal, but I’d like my readers to see me as a real person, who has made real decisions about birth.

So, without further ado, and in no particular order:

The Top 10 Things I’d Do If I Were Pregnant Again:

Image from richmondmidwife.com

1) Have a water birth.

The first time I’d heard of water birth was at our group tour of the birth center where DS #1 was born. In answer to another mom’s question, the midwife leading the tour said something like “No, we don’t do water births here, because we don’t think babies were meant to be born that way.” They did allow moms to labor in tubs, and I tried it. My labor practically stopped. I didn’t know then that if you get in the tub too early, the water can slow/stop your labor. I never thought twice about it all the time I was birthing my four children. Now that I have seen several water births, I would definitely choose to have a pool set up in my house for that purpose.

2) Have my placenta encapsulated.
This is an option I had no earthly idea about when I was having children. I think it could really have helped me with a whole slew of issues. I never struggled with baby blues or a PPMD, but I did have pretty roller-coaster-y emotions in the immediate postpartum days. Also, I have never been able to say that my milk supply was abundant, and I think the reassurance of the placenta pills’ ability to boost supply would have been a welcome comfort to me.

3) I would take a comprehensive, independent childbirth class.
Since I am a certified childbirth educator, I don’t think I’d actually take a full course, but I would probably take a refresher workshop of some kind, just to see if there is any new information out that would be important for me to know, and to give my husband a chance to internalize information he has heard at random since I became a doula. There is always room to grow, and I think we would both benefit from additional education.

One more thing. If I found out that I had to birth at the hospital, for some medical reason, I would definitely take a full, comprehensive course. Since I have never birthed at a hospital, I would really need to fully equip myself for the big differences I would face.

4) I would take a breastfeeding class.
Breastfeeding, for me, though a beautiful experience, was a struggle. I never had cracked, bleeding nipples. I never had to overcome hospital “booby traps,” because I never birthed in a hospital. I had the full support of my husband, my friends, and my mother.

Still, I was never able to meet my breastfeeding goals. When I look back, I know it was simply a lack of basic knowledge of how breastfeeding works. I hadn’t even read a book about it. I think that, if I were pregnant now, that is the first class I would sign up for, and would make sure I had the phone number to some good lactation support.

Image from portlandplacentaservices.com

5) I would make placenta prints.
Before I had it encapsulated, of course. I would frame them and hang them in my living room. They’re gorgeous when done correctly.

6) I would exercise.
Now that I have started trying to take care of my body, and can see the immediate benefits to my emotions, my confidence, and my overall well-being, this is something I would do during pregnancy. Though I did eat well, I never officially exercised with any of my kids, except for the occasional walk with a friend. I know that if I kept up a good exercise routine, I would probably enjoy my pregnancy more.

7) I would try a few different baby-wearing carriers.
For all four of my babies, I had a trusty ring-sling. One was a hand-me-down, and one was custom-made for me by a dear friend. I loved my ring sling, but there were some definite downsides to it. I had no idea there were any other carriers out there that would be properly supportive of my babies (Snugli’s and others like them are not ergonomically correct for a developing baby). So, if I were pregnant again, I’d hook up with the local “baby-wearing lady” in town, and try something new.

Image from hottopic.com

8) I would YouTube/Facebook/Tweet my birth.
I wasn’t on any kind of social media during my other pregnancies, but this time, all my friends would be hearing from me regularly! I’d probably try to facebook/tweet pictures and thoughts as I labor, and be able to announce my little one’s arrival as soon as he got here!

9) I would have professional prenatal photos taken.
This is something I really wish I had done before. I look at all the adorable baby bump photos around me, and sigh a little, wishing I had done the same.

10) I would have a professional photographer at my birth.
There is nothing as powerful as positive birth images. Images that reflect the intimacy, the intensity, the power, the strength, and the sacredness of birth.

There, that about covers it. I can come up with a few more, but I’ll leave that up to you! What would you do if you were pregnant again? If you’re already pregnant, what kinds of things are important to you? What are you doing to enjoy your pregnancy this time around?

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany

A Facebook Giveaway!

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

***UPDATE: Megan C. from Colorado Springs is our winner! Congrats!***

It’s finally in my hands! The new book on the mother-baby bond is OUT. I will start reading it today, and I can’t wait!

That’s not the exciting thing, though.

The exciting thing is that I ordered a copy to give away to YOU!

All you have to do to enter is head over to my Facebook page, and LIKE it. Then, leave a comment here (make sure to include your email) to let me know that you did.

Then, look for the status on my page inviting you to share it, and get another entry for sharing that status. Make sure you leave a comment ON THAT STATUS to let me know that you shared my page, and you’ll be entered to win!

I’ll draw the winner as soon as my Facebook page reaches 150 “Likes.” I’m at 141 right now, so it shouldn’t be too long before I’m able to draw names.

You’ll get one entry, per person, per day. Just watch my Facebook page for “share-able” statuses, and make sure you get your name in the hat!

This giveaway includes:

  • The Greatest Pregnancy Ever by Laurel Wilson and Tracy Wilson Peters
  • A set of homemade, gender-neutral, flannel burp cloths
  • A pretty, homemade journal
  • Anything else I can think of that might be nice

Thanks for sharing!
Grace & Peace,
Tiffany

Time Management, To-Do Lists, and Other Things Practical

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

I’m sitting in the office I share with three other women, thinking about what I want to write about this week. Lately, I have been at a loss for topic ideas, because I look around the blogosphere, and see how much truly wonderful stuff has been written about all things birthy.

It came to me that I haven’t really shared a lot about what it’s like to be a doula and childbirth educator who is homeschooling four young children and has a husband to feed and care for.

It’s interesting.

The understatement of my life!

I have discovered in this line of work that my ability to manage time is critical. When I was just “me at home,” I could fudge a lot more with time than I can now that I have a “real job” to do. Even if it is mostly home-based.

I’ve gotten a lot better at time management, actually, as I get more and more into the simple habit of just writing things down, putting them in my phone, and setting alarms for myself. It’s amazing how much more incentive there is to remember things when you’re getting paid! Ahem.

(That reminds me – I need to set an alarm really quick that will remind me to take meat out for our dinners. One sec. Okay. Done. Where was I?)

An electronic and/or paper brain works far better than my own grey matter. It’s sad, but true. And hey – if it makes me a better wife, mother, doula, and childbirth educator, then I’m all for it! There is no shame in using crutches if you’d be limping otherwise.

What I’m still needing serious improvement in is the nitty-gritty, paper-and-pencil, business-y stuff.

Remembering to make copies, file stuff regularly — not to mention figuring out HOW to file all this business stuff — make time for phone calls, emailing and updating clients, and working on curriculum are all things where I need some work.

Take today, for instance.

When I went to bed last night, I had a pretty long list of things I wanted to get done at the office today. Did I write them down? No.

*facepalm*

This morning, when I got here, I tried to remember it all, but could only come up with a few things. I’m running through that list pretty quickly, actually, and I think I’ll end up taking some time to read The Greatest Pregnancy Ever, which came in the mail a few days ago.

After that? I’ll probably head home, and take the girls to go get some Easter dresses for Sunday. Woohoo!
I was supposed to begin a new Home Birth Prep Series tonight, but since it’s frigging WINDY and COLD today, (there’s a winter weather advisory in effect until midnight too), I decided it wouldn’t be nice to make pregnant mommies come out in this crazy weather, and cancelled for tonight.

So, I have even more time to figure out what I’m supposed to do “at work” today. I will not remember everything else that was supposed to be on my list until bed time tonight, I’ll wager.

As tricky as it is to manage all the practical ins and outs of my days, it seems to be working so far. I’m procrastinating less, learning more, and growing. Not without setbacks, of course, but I celebrate every step.

What tricks and tips do you use to help you figure out what you need to do in your daily routines for work? How do you organize paperwork in your birth business? What works best for you?

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany

All We’re Really Trying to Say

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

There is a misconception I have noticed among the general population in regards to birth professionals who advocate for the kind of birth outlined in the above photo. How surprised they are when they learn that doulas, childbirth educators, and midwives are actually all for advances in technology and care. We just desire that practice be driven by evidence, not by the shiny new toy.

Let me explain.

I think part of the misunderstanding lies in the belief that because birth professionals outside the medical profession unapologetically share what is scientifically verifiable to be the healthiest norms for mothers and babies, that we are therefore against hospitals/technology, etc. Nothing could be further from the truth!

Speaking for many like myself, what we really desire are two things: 1) True cooperation between hospitals, doctors, and midwives, so that women and their babies get the best, individualized care, and 2) Practices based on the most scientifically sound evidence, rather than the shiniest new toy or convenience for the care provider, or any other reason than the medically verifiable health and well-being of the mother-baby dyad.

Cooperation between the medical establishment and midwifery care isn’t an either-or proposition. Advocating for normal childbirth does not equal opposition to hospitals and all they offer.

Normal birth and all that it implies is a truth with a solid foundation of evidence – nothing more, nothing less. It is not a commentary on any individual woman’s story. It is not a value judgment on the choices made by any woman. Every birth experience is valid, and has inherent value. Every birth is still a miracle. Birth is always sacred and special , no matter how the precious little ones make their appearance.

Every birth is ours, as women, to own and learn from. The planned cesarean is no less valid than the natural home birth so many birth professionals support and love.

Information shared about normal birth is what it is: statements of fact, backed up by evidence, and fueled by an undeniable passion for helping women empower themselves to make truly informed decisions regarding the care of themselves and their babies.

A passion to change the world.

To change the world through loving women and their families, and building bridges of communication between women and their chosen care provider. If we can do those two things, the rest will follow so much more easily than if we tried to force it.

To accomplish the change we are advocating for, we need to speak. Out loud. About unpleasant, but truthful subjects.

And we need to do it all through the filter of love and compassion.

I encourage you to take our words to heart if you can. If it’s too painful – speak out. Find out why it hurts so much to hear about another beautiful home birth. You matter. Your voice matters.

Thanks for hearing me out.

Tiffany

Something is Better Than Nothing.

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

As a birth professional, a big part of my job is walking alongside women and their partners during the childbearing year by educating them about almost every aspect of their pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum period.

I meet women where they are, not where I think they should be. Often, not even where she thinks she should be. Ask any mother, and she can give you a whole laundry list of things she thinks she can do better. Her mind is filled with “if only’s.” Part of my job is to encourage her to grow and change in ways that will benefit both her and her baby.

However, I’m not the one walking her journey. I’m just with her for a relatively short period of that journey. I get glimpses and snapshots of her and her life, not the big picture. I do not have the power to make decisions for her, and even if I did, how can I really know, at the deepest levels, what is truly right for her and her family?

In pregnancy, labor, and birth, there is not a definitive “right” and “wrong” for many decisions that come up. There are things that are good, things that are better, and there are things that are usually best, but even those can be subjective. There are no guarantees.

So, as an example, take a smoking mother.

We all know that smoking is harmful to anyone, and there is no known “safe” level for nicotine in an unborn baby. We all know that it’s wise to quit when we are carrying a child. Of course, we would love nothing more than to see her totally quit the habit, for her health and for her baby’s. However, we also know how horribly difficult it can be to cut off a nicotine addiction.

How horrified are we when we see an obviously pregnant woman smoking? How much do we look down on her poor choices, and feel a righteous indignation that “we would never do something so terrible!

What we are missing is the other side of that coin.

How do we know, on the surface, that this isn’t the first cigarette she’s had in weeks? How do we know she’s not working her butt off to quit, but is struggling just like anyone else? How do we know she’s not eating really healthy foods, staying hydrated, and doing mild workouts to stay as healthy as she can?

When will we get to the point when we realize that something is better than nothing.

If that woman were my client, I would assume she knows the dangers of cigarettes to her unborn child. I would assume she feels badly enough about smoking as it is, and that what she needs from me is encouragement to do what she can with what she has at that moment, just like the rest of humanity.

I would remind her that everything she is able to do well, is enough. That something is always better than nothing. That smoking one less cigarette everyday does make a difference, and shows that she is trying.

Even if I did know exactly what would be right for this mother, should that change the way I see her as a human being? May it never be!

As a doula and childbirth educator, I have come to realize that I might be the only person this woman ever meets who does not look down on her. Who treats her with respect and dignity. Who believes in her ability to make good choices for herself and her baby. Who will cheer her on and encourage her in every effort she is able to make, and will ultimately help her to empower herself to continue in her personal growth beyond the ending of our professional relationship.

It’s a valuable lesson I think all individuals would do well to learn. To look beyond what is seen, to the heart, whenever we can. And, when we can’t, to leave well enough alone and refrain from judgment. It’s one I am grateful to have learned early on in this birth career of mine.

This posts is an offshoot from a seed planted by my mentor and friend, Desirre Andrews, who has taught me to think outside the box more than anyone else I know.

Grace & Peace,
Tiffany

What is a Doula?

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

A doula…

…is a big ol’ momma heart with soft, wise hands attached. And she knows when to reach out those hands, or when to sit on them.

…is a light-bearer. She illuminates the path ahead for birthing families, then hands over the torch, and falls into step beside them.

…is a believer: in women, in babies, in daddies and partners, in birth and all that goes with it.

…is a builder of bridges. With the bricks of understanding, compassion, and communication, a doula helps build a safe, reliable bridge over the waters of conflict between a birthing family and their care provider. She walks across that bridge with each family, confident in everyone’s ability to be kind to one another.

…is a voice of passion and reason. She speaks the truth in love, and seasons it with grace.

…is a human being, with flaws of her own. She gives the graces she desires to receive, and owns up to her mistakes, learning from each one.

…does not need to be perfect to be effective in her work – she only needs to be teachable and humble.

…is a professional, with skills and knowledge for the task at hand. She not only trusts the birthing family, she trusts herself to be what they need, when they need it.

…is a space-saving device. She protects the privacy and peace of the families she serves, and finds creative ways to help them feel at home, wherever they may be.

…[fill in the blank].

How would you describe a doula?

Grace & Peace
Tiffany Miller, CLD

The Most Important Piece: Following Up

Saturday, December 4th, 2010

This is the the introduction to a series of six posts, inspired by this post, in which I will be writing about the critical role your support team and place of birth play throughout your pregnancy, labor, and birth. Over and over again, we find that a woman’s satisfaction with her birth experiences has less to do with how much pain she experienced, or the method of birth. It has far more to do with her feeling of autonomy, and her feelings of being supported (or not).

Women who feel as though things were just “done to them” throughout the childbearing year, especially through labor and birth, are more likely to struggle with feelings ranging from dissatisfaction to outright depression. In contrast, women who feel that they were the ones making the decisions, and that those decisions were fully supported by those around them, especially their care providers, are the ones most happy with their births.

Epidurals, IV narcotics, massage, showers, and position changes are all well and good. Valuable tools for pain management, but it turns out that having these things available is not as important as a support team who strives to empower and encourage women by practicing true informed consent, including informed refusal.

When the decision-making power is put into a woman’s hands, and she understands fully that it is she alone, along with her baby, who lives with any consequences of her decisions, good or bad, birth can be the most empowering experience in a woman’s life – even if the physical circumstances are not ideal.

Inspired by my mother’s critical role in my births, I have decided to write a series of posts about the various possible members of a typical birth support team.

I’ll be writing first about various care providers, the general differences between them, and how to choose the one who best suits you. I’ll talk about your partner/spouse’s role, and how birth has the potential to strengthen the bond between you. Doulas, of course will have a post all their own, including how to choose one based on your individual needs. Last, but not least, I’ll write about childbirth education options, explaining their role, as well as how to choose a good childbirth education course.

Join me for the next few weeks as I gather my thoughts together on this subject – it is truly the Most Important Piece of your birth experience, and I don’t want you to miss a thing!

I’ll be linking each post here, so you can have them all in one place. Please – always feel free to post a comment or question, or email me.

The Most Important Piece Series

Never Forget

Friday, September 11th, 2009

02026rI will never forget September 11th, 2001. Ever.

It is forever etched in my memory as though it happened just yesterday. We were stationed in Washington D.C. My husband was in the Air Force Honor Guard. I was a few doors down from our house, babysitting an infant whose father worked at the Pentagon, and whose mother was in the the Navy. He liked to be rocked to sleep, and while I rocked him, I had the TV on CNN, muted. Thankfully, the baby’s father was not in the section affected by the hit.

As it dawned on me that the New York skyline was burning, my first thought was “Why would they play action movie clips on CNN?” I laid the baby down in his crib, and turned the sound on. I watched the 2nd plane hit the 2nd tower, and tears began to stream down my face.

It wasn’t long after when I felt a shudder run through the ground. My husband, who had come home to change clothes between jobs, ran over to wear I was, and together, we saw smoke rising from across the river. We didn’t know what had been hit for a few more minutes, but not long after we found out it was the Pentagon, Levi was called back into work to be on call for patrols along the Potomac and on top of the dorm building.

Of course, both our families back home were very concerned for our safety, even though they knew Levi didn’t work at the Pentagon, and it took several more hours before we could call home and reassure our parents that we were well.

I will never forget the weeping, the horror-stricken faces, the mute agony etched in new lines on countenances blackened by ashes. I will never forget the jumpers in the Twin Towers. I will never forget watching the collapse of both buildings, and sobbing at the thought of the thousands of people just…gone. I will never forget the grief that broke the collective heart of our country, and moved us to action. I will never forget the men and women lining up to enlist in the services, desiring to be a part of whatever our country would do in response. I will never forget the American flags draped out of every window, and from every wall. I will never forget seeing my representatives singing “God Bless America” on the steps of the Capitol building at the top of their lungs.

I will never forget those who still have scars – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual – because they lost someone, or gave of themselves to help.

I will never forget to thank the heroes of that day.

I will never forget the God who stretched out his hands and loved our nation 2000 years ago, and to whom we turned for answers in the days following 9/11. May we always turn to him, and be comforted.

In Honor of Labor Day

Friday, September 4th, 2009

I doubt I’ll be able to post much of anything with my Grammers & Papo here for a surprise visit. Totally awesome. 🙂

So, to keep you entertained, I decided to post this little meme I found over at Rocks In My Dryer. It’s a neat little meme all about labor. The kind where nine or so months of your life culminate in your falling in love with someone you have never met, and has done nothing but sit on your bladder and punch you in the ribs for the last half of those nine(ish) months.

Enjoy! And participate! Even if you don’t have a blog…post your answers in a comment.

How long were your labors?

  • Turbo: 37.5 hours
  • Cuteness: 8 hours
  • Sunshine: 3-4 hours
  • Little Dude: 3 hours
  • How did you know you were in labor?

  • Turbo: Contractions started getting regular, and kept me awake.
  • Cuteness: Contractions kept me awake.
  • Sunshine: I felt “weird” at bedtime, then couldn’t sleep because contractions started.
  • Little Dude: I just “knew” at bedtime, and sure enough, the contractions started not long after I lay down.
  • Where did you birth?

  • Turbo: At a birthing center in Virginia.
  • Cuteness, Sunshine, & Little Dude: At home in my bed.
  • Drugs?

  • Not for pain. I used water, movement, massage, counter pressure, rice socks, music, and a lot of vocalizing. Levi said I sound like a cow. 🙂 With Turbo, since my labor was so long, I was at a higher risk of hemorrhage, so my CNM gave me an injection of Pitocin in my thigh to ward that off just after I birthed the placenta.

    C-section?

    I am so grateful that there was never an instant of concern over the safety of either my babies or myself to indicate the need for one, though I am so glad it would have been available if I or my babies had needed it. 🙂

    Who caught?

    We had a wonderful CNM for the first two births when we were stationed in D.C., and she helped Levi catch each of them. For the last two, I had THE BEST Registered Midwife anyone could ask for, and Levi was also in on the whole catching thing. Awesome!

    If you want to play along with this meme, just cut and paste the questions into your own blog, and leave a comment so we can find you! Or, if you don’t have a blog, just leave yours in a comment here, so I can read it!

    Thanks so much!