Posts Tagged ‘baby’

A Mother’s Body

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Labor?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blog Carnival – Grateful for Birth Experiences Due 11/23

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

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

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

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

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

I look forward to hearing from many of you.

What’s a doula to do?

Sunday, October 10th, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

Looking at the flip-side now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Best isn’t Better. Usual is where It is at.

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

There has been much ado surrounding the language of breastfeeding being normal and usual versus the best for baby and mother in great thanks to Diane Weissinger. It is so valuable to recognize that while we all desire to be the best, we often hit the normal everyday averages in life. We are comfortable reaching a goal that seems more attainable. Best or better can feel so far out of reach where average and usual seem quite in reach most of the time. None of us generally want to be below the average or usual. Thus the language of the risks of NOT breastfeeding is so vital.

I would like to see the same type of language revolving around pregnancy and birth as well.

In the overall picture here is the usual occurrence: Ovulation leads to heightened sexual desire, which leads to sexual activity, which leads to pregnancy, which leads to labor, which leads to birth, which leads to breastfeeding…..

So how do we look at language as an important part of our social fabric and belief systems surrounding this process?

Let us look at contrasting statements of what is often heard and how a positive point of view can be adapted.

Pregnancy is: a burden, an illness, an affliction, a mistake, something to be tolerated……

Pregnancy is: a gift, wonderful, amazing, part of the design, someone to grow…..

Labor is: scary, worth fearing, the unknown, unpredictable, painful, to be avoided, to be numbed from, to be medicated, to be induced, out of control, unfeminine…..

Labor is: what happens at the end of pregnancy, hard work but worth it, manageable by our own endorphins and oxytocin, an adventure, not bigger than the woman creating it, to be worked with, worth be present for, is what baby expects……..

Pushing and Birth are: terrifying, physically too difficult, only works for women who are not too small, short, skinny, big, fat, young or old, responsible for pelvic floor problems, out of control, horrible……..

Pushing and Birth are: what happens after dilation completes, to help baby prepare for breathing, bonding and feeding, sometimes pleasurable, sometimes fast, sometimes slow, able to occur in water, standing, laying down, squatting, on hands and knees, often most effective when a woman is given the opportunity to spontaneously work with her baby and body, not always responsible for pelvic floor issues, amazing, hard work, worthwhile, sets the finals hormonal shifts in motion for mother and baby……

Is it really BETTER? I say no. It is usual and normal.

  • Spontaneous labor is not better – it is the expected usual occurrence at the end of pregnancy.
  • Unmedicated labor and birth is not better – it is what the body mechanisms and baby expect to perform at normal levels.
  • Unrestricted access to movement, support and safety in response to labor progression is not better – it is the usual expectation to facilitate a normal process.
  • Spontaneous physiologic pushing is not better – it is what a woman will just do, in her way.
  • Spontaneous birth is not better – it is what a mother and baby do.
  • Keeping mother and baby together without separation is not better – it is what both the mother and baby are expecting to facilitate bonding, breastfeeding, and normal newborn health.

Denying the norms and adding in unnecessary interventions, medications and separation is creating a risky environment for mothers and babies. Thus increasing fear, worry,and even a desire to be fixed at all costs.

Perhaps even worse, an atmosphere has been created where the abnormal has become the expected norm and the normal has become the problem to be eradicated.

Bottom line, our language matters and will help shape for the positive or negative the future of birth.

That Pesky Due Date

Friday, September 10th, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sisterhood of the Scar Revisited

Sunday, January 3rd, 2010

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

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

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

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

Shocking quotes regarding maternal choice to VBAC birth

Friday, October 16th, 2009

Joy Szabo has been in the news lately for desiring a second VBAC for her fourth baby (vaginal birth, emergency cesarean, and vaginal birth).  She has been denied locally in her area of Page, AZ to have a vaginal birth. Due to this situation, the International Cesarean Awareness Network has been assisting her in fighting the VBAC ban along with seeking out additional options.

After reading the latest article regarding Ms. Szabo, I am completely dumbfounded by the remarks made by other readers of her story.  I am stunned by how it seems the general populous regards a woman’s autonomy and medical rights.  I am also including positive comments as counterpoint. Where do you fall?  What do you believe? Many of these comments point me in the direction of what is so wrong with the system.  That of physician and hospital trumping patient.

You decide is the comment pro or con?

“…..it seems like many people do not grasp malpractice and insurance companies. This is not about the hospital, but about medical professionals and hospitals not wanting litigation. Can you blame them? After spending tens of thousands of dollars on an education before making a dime, I would do what I needed to to avoid a lawsuit, too! … we go to doctors because they DO know what is best for our health! Like another poster said, in health care, the customer is NOT always right.”

“My son was born by c-section, then my daughter vaginally, with no adverse affects. While I agree it’s the doctor’s decision to take the risk or not, it seems over-the-top conservative. Does the doctor’s insurance premium go up if this procedure is performed? Then charge more and give the patient the option.”

“C-sections are done in the US more routinely than in any other developed country but our infant mortality rate is not lower but higher. Doctors do not want to deliver on weekends, at night, if the mother is one week over her electronically determined due date. Yes complications can happen, more so if you are made to stay in a bed hooked up to monitors, a monitor screwed in to the baby’s head, your water broke prematurely, inducement before the baby or mother are physically ready to give birth. All of this leads to more injuries and deaths than needed. Doctors look upon birth as an illness, not the process that it is – an inexact human birth. I am not suggesting giving birth in a field alone, but a c-section has a greater risk than the V-Bac especially if she has had one already. C-sections for true emergencies yes, otherwise no.”

“Did anyone else notice that when they list the risks of a C-section, they failed to mention that the mother is 4-7 times more likely to DIE than with a vaginal birth.?!?!?! They also fail to mention all the potential complications to her health, the roughly 30% rate of problems following the surgery (some severe enough to require rehospitalization) and the challenges associated with caring for children while recovering from major abdominal surgery.  Good for this mom and I hope more mothers will take courage from her”

“This story is exaggeration. If the woman wants a vbac, she just has to show up at that hospital in labor and refuse a section. They can’t force her to have a c-section no matter what they would prefer she do. You can’t force a woman to have a c-section under any circumstances, so as long as the docs and nurses say she and the baby are tolerating labor, she has no reason to fear being forced into an operation.”

“I worked in the hospital for 5 years and then in a birth center for the last 4 years. I had to get out of the hospital because I started feeling guilty about my complicity in that system in which so much goes on behind closed doors of which the patient is never informed. I’ve had docs tell me in the lunch room that they are doing a c-section because they have an important golf game, fishing trip, or hot date. Then they go into the room, lie to the woman and say, ” oh your baby is too big, your progress is too slow, it’s never going to happen.” the woman believes them and thanks them so much for saving their babies lives. Over and over and over again. In Miami we have over 50% c-section rate, and it’s way more convenient for the docs. If VBACS are not allowed at more and more hospitals, the rest of the country will soon be like it is here…..”

“I find this decision by the hospital(s) to not do a VBAC as a little crazy. My older brother was born (in 1955) by C-section; both me (in 1958) and my younger brother (in 1962) were born vaginally. NO COMPLICATIONS. It could be done 50 years ago, but not now??”

“The risk of MAJOR complication from a second cesarean is TEN TIMES that of the risk of uterine rupture in a VBAC mother. Someone please explain to me how an “elective” repeat cesarean is safer than a VBAC? Especially since more than 75% of uterine ruptures occur PRIOR to the onset of labor. How is a scheduled cesarean at 39 weeks (which is the ACOG recommendation) going to save the mother who ruptures at the dinner table at 34 weeks? Using their logic, we should all go live at the hospital the moment we become pregnant after a previous cesarean, just in case our uterus blows up and we need an OB and an anesthesiologist “immediately available”.”

So what do you think?  It worries me that is seems the mother’s rights do not count for much. That in some of the comments the idea of  forcing a cesarean is no big deal if it makes the doctor’s position safer.

I think that most people are woefully under educated on childbirth and what safety really means.  A conservative physician errs on the side of evidence not defensive practice.  Do your own research. Be your own advocate.

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)?

What might a cesarean get you? Often more than is bargained for.

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

This is a  slight re-do from a popular blog post from early 2008. The information is vital and pertinent to the near 1.5 million women (based on previous CDC data) who will have a cesarean surgery this year.

Having a cesarean section will almost always  get you a baby.  Generally there is much more to it and anyone could bargain for or anticipate even in the best of recoveries.

Let me count the ways in no particular order:

  • A scar that in no way makes a bikini look better. Sometimes described as a shelf or a pouch.
  • The feeling of failure, guilt or less than deserving of motherhood.
  • The struggle of living with the huge dichotomy of loving your baby and perhaps hating the birth.
  • Higher probability of losing your ability to have more children either through physiologic secondary infertility, pregnancy complications, self-induced secondary infertility, hysterectomy or lack of sexual intimacy in relationship.
  • Higher probability of difficulty in breastfeeding.
  • Postpartum depression or PTSD, especially in an unwanted cesarean.
  • The feeling of failure as a wife or partner.
  • Having others discount your feelings and needs. After all you “just” had a baby. Really you just had MAJOR surgery, perhaps by coercion, a true medical indication, or completely from interventions and medications.
  • Living with the idea that you failed to pass induction, you failed to push out your baby, you failed because _________ (fill in the blank).
  • Obtaining your records to find what you were told and what was written are different. Could your trusted care provider have lied and cheated you?
  • Simply finding out that no one told you and you didn’t think it would happen to you. That being induced, getting the epidural, allowing AROM, not getting out of bed, etc. is why you had the cesarean. Is maternal ignorance and fear enough to quell what you feel and make it okay?
  • How can you trust yourself as a mother when you ignored your maternal intuition and kept saying yes, because the nurse, midwife or doctor told you to?
  • The way your marriage or partnership takes a turn toward hell or in the least a divided place.
  • Living with dread when a hungry hand sweeps over your scar. Being sexual can be extremely difficult physically and emotionally.
  • Having great fear of becoming pregnant again.
  • Having great fear of going for a VBAC and ending up in the OR at the end.
  • Not being understood and having others say to your face how lucky you are that you got to take the easy way out.
  • Pain.
  • Difficulty moving, walking, getting up, rolling over, coughing, laughing, tending to personal cleaning…. You get the idea. It is surgery.

Though not every woman will experience what is on the list, many do.  For all of these – there a stories layered and interwoven for too many women.

Every thirty seconds a woman is surgically having her baby delivered. Light her a candle. Offer her a meal. Let her speak. Listen to her intently. Don’t judge her. Send her to ICAN. http://www.ican-online.org/.

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.