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Thursday, 09 October 2014 22:00

How to Help Your Body Birth Your Baby

 

Your Estimated Due Date is getting closer, and you want to make sure you are 100% prepared for whatever your body and your baby throws your way. Here are some suggestions to help you birth your baby. All of these suggestions are interconnected, and work beautifully together to allow your body to do what it knows how to do – birth your baby!

Let your labor start naturally (and help it along if need be!)

In the world of labor and birth, this is key. Anxiety surrounding when your little babe will make his/her appearance is normal. Easing this anxiety will assist in making labor happen sooner and with less effort. The mind-body connection is powerful – especially when it comes to pregnancy, labour, and birth – so maybe baby is holding back for that one last date with your partner, for the nursery to be completed, or for you to mentally and emotionally be ready to welcome your beautiful bundle. And remember: there is no calendar hanging on the wall of your uterus. Baby has no idea when the ultrasound said she “should” arrive. Trust that your body and your baby will know when the time is right. 

Once all of these things fall into place, baby should arrive shortly! Well, maybe. Sometimes body and baby need a little push in the right direction.  There are PLENTY of natural ways that are said to bring about labor. Acupressure, acupuncture, and massage therapy can trigger your labour to begin naturally, as can several herbal and homeopathic options, but please seek the assistance of a professional for all of these options. Sexual intercourse and light activities may also jump-start your birthing experience, but be sure to get the go-ahead from your Midwife/OBGYN/Physician. If you have made too comfy of a home for your wee one and they just don’t want to come out, a pharmaceutical induction may be required. This can take many forms (Artificial Rupture of Membranes, prostaglandin gel, Pitocin drip…), but your body will most likely get the hint shortly and can take things from there.

Keep Moving

Once labor has begun: move, move, move! As much as possible and for as long as possible! Your baby is working hard, wiggling her way out of that tight womb, so help her out if you can. Your movements can be drastic and grand, like walking or swaying, or small and minute, like shifting a leg, gently rocking with your partner, or rolling to lie on the other side. Changes in movement are suggested every 30 minutes up until the Transition stage, at which time you do what you need to do, Mama!

Eat and Drink

How long do you normally go without eating or drinking anything? 3 hours? 5 hours? What about if you were going to the gym, or, say, running a marathon...wouldn’t you fuel your body properly for these activities? If you are going to labor for upwards of ten hours and then birth your baby, you need energy! Yet eating and drinking during labor is often discouraged. Your uterus is a muscle, and if it gets fatigued because of lack of fuel (food), it will not work as it should. I am not saying go and eat a turkey dinner, but eating and drinking as you see fit will do more good for your body than harm, and a zero tolerance policy for food and drink intake will set you on a fast path for fatigue. Be sure to throw some healthy snacks to nibble on into that hospital bag, or stock your pantry and fridge with easy-to-grab items for the most rewarding workout of your life!

Environment

It has been proven that certain environments are more conducive to successful birthing than others. An animal, if feeling threatened, will physiologically stop laboring and will continue only once they are no longer in danger. Your body--more specifically, the cervix--will not function as well as it could if you are feeling any one of a myriad of things: uneasy, stressed, anxious, worried, pressured, overwhelmed, uninformed, scared, upset. A calm, relaxed, non-intrusive environment, on the other hand, will allow your body to relax, open up, and welcome the experience of birth. Your physical birthing environment is as important as your mental birthing environment, so be sure to surround yourself with people you love and trust who also love and trust you, your body, and your preferences. You could also set up a playlist, bring a familiar blanket or pillow, or light some candles (or use the battery powered ones) to have full sensory control of your surroundings. 

Listen to your body

Finally, listen to your body. This is true for your entire labor experience, but most importantly as your labor is nearing its end. As your near the birth of your baby,an amazing physiological component called the push reflex will naturally kick in. I remember hearing about this reflex during my prenatal class and feeling so rewarded when I experienced it in my labor. My birthing body was taking over--all I had to do was surrender to the natural process, let it happen, and I would be holding my baby shortly. Breathing your baby down as opposed to pushing your baby out allows for a gentler and more comfortable birth (for both Mama and Baby!).

Having faith and trust in your body when faced with something it has never experienced before can be scary. But please have that faith and trust. Your body is beautiful, and it knows exactly what it is doing. 

 

There is a global c-section epidemic. Both mothers and babies are suffering trauma and health risks. New research is emerging indicating that the health of society at large is being compromised as a result.

While the reasons for the epidemic are varied and complex, awareness is growing (thanks in large part to mothers, birth workers, and advocates using social media). Earlier this year, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, jointly-issued the Obstetric Care Consensus, stating that allowing most women with low-risk pregnancies to spend more time in the first stage of labor may avoid unnecessary cesareans [1] (long understood in the world of midwifery). 

Despite the growing awareness, US C-section rates (approximately 1/3 of all births) remain far in excess of the WHO standard: “The estimated proportion of births by caesarean in the population is not less than 5% or more than 15%.”[2]  (Note that 15% is not the rate it “should be,” but the very high end of what could be expected.) 

Of course there are some hospitals and OBs with decreasing C-section rates, but the fact remains that, based on the WHO guideline, 55-85% of the C-sections performed in the US are in excess of what should be required.

Alarmingly, maternal mortality rate is higher in the US than in China[3] despite the fact that China has a dramatically higher C-section rate (47%).[4]  Worse, Abigail Higgins reports: “Eugene Declercq, of Boston University's School of Public Health, produced a short film named Birth by the Numbers discussing maternal mortality in the US. In a 2013 follow-up report, he noted that mortality rates in other industrialized nations had declined - while in the US, it increased by 30 percent in the first decade of the new millennium,”[5] partially due to C-sections. [6]

Not only are c-section rates climbing, but surgery is being forced on women against their will.  In April this year, a woman was “kidnapped” from her home by authorities in Brazil to make her comply with her doctor’s demand that she have a c-section.[7]

And just last week in what the Inquisitor said could be termed a violation of the most basic of feminine, or even human, rights, a woman in Staten Island was forced, against her will, to undergo a cesarean section.[8]

Are We Culpable in the C-Section Epidemic?

As the friends, family, and caretakers of the victims of C-section abuse, we are unwitting accomplices to the tolerance and acceptance as “normal” of C-section rates of 33% (US hospitals), and even of 90% (private hospital rates in Brazil) when, by contrast, the rate at The Farm from 1970-2000 was 1.4%[9] (lower than would be expected in any medical facility, but the statistic and their work (www.thefarmmidwives.org) merit consideration. See footnotes*)

 With one sentence—“At least you had a healthy baby”—we unconsciously endorse the system that has created the phenomenon of the “emergency birth,” and the perception that birth is dangerous enough to frequently require surgical intervention to “save” mom and/or baby.

There are dozens of reasons never to utter those words to a new mother after her C-section (all actually nuances of the single problem that it makes us accomplices). Here are the top seven. 

1.    No mother wants “the least” for herself or her newborn.

Though it may be defined differently by each of us, we all want something wonderful—the best possible.  It is never comforting to hear we got “the least.” 

2.    It implies that the baby is healthy because the mother underwent surgery.

There is tremendous and mounting evidence that the opposite is true.  Bypassing the natural birth process (in anything other than a truly life-threatening situation) compromises the mother and baby’s health in numerous known ways (emotionally and physically). Overtime we will undoubtedly discover many more ways in which the compromise to our mind/body compromises society as a whole.  

A new film called Microbirth produced by One World Birth and scheduled for release September 2014 will address this subject with grave and fascinating new evidence.

I contacted Toni Harman, Director and Producer of Microbirth, to ask about her film and the discoveries they’ve made in their research.  This is what she had to share:

     "Microbirth is a feature-length documentary that looks at how the way babies are born could have consequences for long-term health. Over the past eighteen months, we’ve been filming scientists working across many different fields who are starting to link C-section with increased risk of children developing certain chronic diseases later in life. These diseases include asthma, allergies, obesity, diabetes, auto-immune conditions, cardiovascular diseases, mental disorders and even some cancers.

The scientists are hypothesizing that this could be connected to the baby’s microbiome (its bacterial ecosystem) not being seeded properly with the mother’s own   bacteria at birth. With vaginal birth, the mother’s bacteria transfers to the baby inside the birth canal, then more is transferred via immediate skin-to-skin with the mother and breastfeeding. This bacteria innoculates the baby and helps train the baby’s immune system, helping it distinguish what is “friend” and what is “foe”.  This helps protect a baby from developing one of more chronic diseases later in life."[10]

She added that a baby’s microbiome is still seeded during c-Section, unfortunately by the operating theatre. 

3.    It assumes that something was “wrong” with mom and baby in the first place.  

We know statistically that, when we allow birth to happen at its natural pace in a peaceful, uninterrupted, supported environment, the vast majority of mothers without pre-existing conditions can successfully birth their babies without medical intervention. We also know without question that—far too often— the procedures in the hospital are actually creating the “emergency” situations that lead to C-sections. In an article called “The Cascade of Interventions,” Theresa** puts it this way:

     “We are lucky to live in the time of modern medicine, however medical interventions such as labour induction, pain relief, and cesareans—measures that have saved many lives—have been overused. In a hospital setting where your care providers are actively managing your labour, once you have one intervention it makes more interventions more likely to be needed in order to remedy the effects of the previous ones.”[11]

What was “wrong” with mom and baby is that they weren’t given the circumstances in which birth has a decent chance of occurring without surgery. 

4.    It minimizes what the mother lost in the experience.

Even when baby is healthier or saved by a C-section (again, in a small percentage of cases this is accurate), “at least you had a healthy baby” disregards the emotional and physical loss and trauma the mother experienced.  She had a dream for her birth . . .and that dream was taken away (excluding cases of elective surgery). She is experiencing loss, and is in recovery. She has the right to mourn and work through her valid emotions without having them discounted or ignored.

I contacted Lindsay Lipton Gerszt, a documentary filmmaker whose latest work is a film on postpartum depression called When the Bough Breaks, to discuss this aspect of the issue.  She said:

     “According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the C-section rate has climbed more than 50% since 1996.  Whether the C-section was medically necessary or a personal choice, many women who have had it experience postpartum depression. Although the reasons may be many and varied, one reason why women feel depressed after having a C-section may be due to the stigma surrounding it. Many are made to feel guilty for not giving birth naturally.”[12]

In a Catch-22 scenario, by not wanting to contribute to the pain these mothers are experiencing, we try to minimize it with the infamous line, “At least you had a healthy baby.”  I conducted an informal poll online with mothers of C-section, asking how they felt when hearing that statement.  One woman’s response clearly shows the complexity of the emotions mothers of C-section experience:

     "There was such a flurry of emotion. I felt angry because I knew I would have had a healthy baby without the section. I felt guilty because I knew many women who pray for the opportunity to simply have a baby . . .any way. I felt like a failure for not doing a better job of standing up for my rights and my baby's. I felt hurt from the insensitivity of that statement."

Indeed, women of C-section are not to be made to feel as if they failed or guilty for having had a C-section. Either it was truly medically indicated or they’re victims. In either instance, the mother should be supported. There is a better way to support them than pretending (in the cases where it could have been avoided) that their child was “healthier” or “saved” by the surgery. 

I believe we unwittingly perpetuate the problem and dishonor mothers and babies when we try to gloss over the serious risk and pain they endured with what we believe is the kind thing to say, but is—in fact—a benevolent, yet pernicious untruth.

I asked Theresa Morris, PhD, author of Cut It Out: The C-Section Epidemic, for her thoughts. She said,

     “Normative structures of mothering are strong, and when a woman gives birth to a healthy baby by C-section, it becomes difficult for her to question whether the C-section was necessary. Yet, we should always ask, “Would the baby and the mom have been just as healthy (or healthier) if the baby had been born vaginally?” The answer to this question, according to the World Health Organization, is yes for all but about 15 percent of women who give birth in any country in a given year.”[13]

5.    It minimizes what the baby lost in the experience.

The baby. The co-birther. This aware participant who is too often treated—at best—as an incapable, unaware “patient,” and at worst as “an object to be removed.”

Ask any birth worker who has witnessed hundreds of births, natural and surgical, “What are babies like after each kind of birth? How does their behavior differ after the different types of birth?” They will tell you that babies born naturally are generally calm and alert, while babies born of surgery—because they are drugged and shocked—are often disoriented and even difficult to rouse.

We must not allow ourselves to skirt the subject of how babies are traumatized by surgical birth in the name of protecting the feelings of new-mothers-of-c-section. It is for them and because of their experience that we must speak about this subject honestly, and protect other mothers and babies from c-section abuse.

Babies of surgical birth are traumatized. All they are programmed by nature to expect, to be ready for and capable of, is voided in birth by c-section. 

6.    It implies that the doctor has done something that was necessary—was a “savior.”  

There is enormous research indicating that a great percentage of mothers who birthed by C-section felt “pressured” to do so because they were “failing to progress” (meaning in many cases, just “taking too long” for hospital efficiency standards) and would not have chosen surgery otherwise.

In instances of multiple births and breech, many OBs simply won’t consider varying factors, “forcing” the mother to accept C-section as her only option. One mother said:

     "I was cornered into an unneeded and unwanted C-section because the obstetrician that I had didn't have the experience to catch her."[14]

7.    It encourages other mothers (and society at large) to believe that surgery is safe and often necessary to save their baby, when for the majority it’s a dangerous option involving more risk and suffering. 

     "There's the idea out there in the public sometimes that having a C-section today with modern anesthesia and modern hospitals is as safe as having a normal childbirth, but we don't think so," said Dr. Lalonde.[15]

Then What Can We Do and What Can We Say? 

What can we do about this C-section epidemic?  In an article published in The Atlantic titled “Once a C-Section, Always a C-Section?,” Whitney Pinger, Director of Midwifery Services at George Washington University, said of the situation:

     "You can’t pin it on one thing. There’s no one thing to blame, there’s no one person to blame . . .we’re all in this together; we got ourselves into it as a society."[16]

Yep, we did. And it’s high time to get ourselves out of it.  Starting with the very simple first step of never saying, “At least you had a healthy baby.”

What then do we say to mothers recovering from c-section?

We want to support all mothers after birth—and mothers who experienced any kind of trauma need particular care emotionally and physically. Again I went to a group of thousands of mothers online and asked them what they wanted to hear.  Kayla Dar, founder of Baby’s Breastie and mother of four, provided what is the simplest yet likely the perfect response: 

     "After listening to what she has to say about her birth, ask the mother:  

     How are you? How can I help?"

 

_______________________________________________

Note about C-section statistics quoted in this article and in general: In my research I found varying numbers for C-section rates by State (in the US) and by country. For example, rates in Brazil in general appear between 40-50% while there are statistics indicating that 90% of births in Brazil private hospitals are by C-section.  Further, even WHO documents and reports explain their range (generally quoted of 5-15%) differently. In one report, a nuance of the minimum range was explained this way:

“The recommended minimum necessary c-section rate at population level to avoid death and severe morbidity in the mother lies between 1-5%[17]

To further complicate matters for those wanting precise numbers, consider this nuance explained by Right Diagnosis:

“The word 'prevalence' of Caesarian Section usually means the estimated population of people who are managing Caesarian Section at any given time (i.e. people with Caesarian Section). The term 'incidence' of Caesarian Section means the annual diagnosis rate, or the number of new cases of Caesarian Section diagnosed each year (i.e. getting Caesarian Section). Hence, these two statistics types can differ.”[18] 

For purposes of this article, I’d like to suggest that the precise numbers, whether 31% or 33% or 35% for the US for example, is not of primary importance. The fact that we know close approximations—that are far too high—is the point.

[1] http://www.acog.org/About_ACOG/News_Room/News_Releases/2014/Nations_Ob-Gyns_Take_Aim_at_Preventing_Cesareans?IsMobileSet=false February 19, 2014

[2] http://www.scienceandsensibility.org/?p=483 Oct 30, 2009

[3] http://www.vox.com/2014/5/5/5680964/americans-are-likelier-to-die-in-childbirth-than-russians-or-chinese  May 5, 2014 

[4] http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/epaper/2013-09/04/content_16943528.htm Sept 4, 2013

[5] http://m.aljazeera.com/story/201438161633539780

[6] Ibid.

[7] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/mother-tongue/10767161/Kidnapped-by-the-authorities-meet-the-woman-forced-to-have-a-caesarean.html  April 17, 2014

[8] http://www.inquisitr.com/1250257/mother-forced-to-have-cesarean-section-and-now-shes-suing/#UXXEWJoTczECB1Ls. 

[9] http://www.naturalbirthandbabycare.com/farm-statistics/ 

*The Farm does not serve women with preexisting conditions that make them high risk and has had varying policies over the decades about working with women with breech presentation and other situations or variations of normal.  However, the enormous difference in their statistics compared to the national average—especially given the duration of the performance—demands the comparison.

[10] Email exchange with Toni Harman, April 30 and May 14, 2014  http://oneworldbirth.net/microbirth

[11] http://thebirthingsite.com/labour/item/612-the-cascade-of-interventions.html Feb 9, 2013

[12] Email exchange with Lindsay Lipton Gerszt  April 21 and April 25, 2014.

[13] Email exchange with Theresa Morris, April 15 and April 21, 2014

[14] http://m.theglobeandmail.com/life/parenting/pregnancy/delivery/c-section-not-best-option-for-breech-birth/article1186104/?service=mobile  IL

[15]http://m.theglobeandmail.com/life/parenting/pregnancy/delivery/c-section-not-best-option-for-breech-birth/article1186104/?service=mobile  IL

[16] http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/05/once-a-c-section-always-a-c-section/362088/ May 20, 2014

[17] http://www.who.int/healthsystems/topics/financing/healthreport/30C-sectioncosts.pdf

[18] http://www.rightdiagnosis.com/c/caesarian_section/stats-country.htm#extrapwarning  April 18, 2014

**author’s full name as posted in the article

 

 

 

I had been having Braxton-hick for weeks. I never had them with my first so this was a whole new experience for me. I could feel her powerful kicks, and I knew she was strong. I talked to her often, telling her how excited I was for her to join our family. I started eating dates every day, and drinking Third-Trimester Tea. I was anxious about having yet another hospital birth, and even debated a last minute “unplanned” unassisted. But after much prayer, conversation, and thought, I decided it would be best for us to go ahead and go to the hospital. Michael promised me with the next baby, he would do everything in his power to make a homebirth happen. I knew I had to trust God to be my protector in the labor room, to be my Great Physician and Shepherd who would help, guide and protect me through the birthing process.

Friday morning, just over a week before her guess-date, I woke up around 3 am with fairly consistent contractions. I waited until Michael got up for work at 6 to tell him. He went on to work, and I made some tea and started getting things ready. I called my neighbor and friend who would be watching John, my oldest. After a while, the contractions tapered off. Disappointed, I walked the mile into town, hoping to kick-start labor again. While at my favorite thrift store, I ran into an acquaintance who’s wife was also pregnant. He shared with me that their baby girl had been born a few days earlier, in a beautiful unplanned unassisted birth. I was so encouraged and inspired by his story I almost didn’t mind that my labor seemed to have stopped.

 The contractions didn’t pick up that day, or the next. I tried not to be too disappointed and to make sure I really did have everything together and ready to go. I had been checking my cervix through my third trimester, and I was dilated to maybe a three and losing lots of clear mucous. I continued snacking on dates and red raspberry leaf tea. I knew it would soon.

Sunday morning around 1am I woke up to contractions about 7 min apart. I had to get on my knees in bed and quietly moan through them. I woke up Michael to let him know. We started to get everything together. I texted my doula and let her know what was happening. Around 5am the three of us decided it was time to make the drive. The contractions were about 5 minutes apart, and the hospital was a good hour and twenty minutes away, so we didn’t want to wait till the last minute. We woke up our neighbors and dropped off John. I was excited, but anxious as well.

Once in the car, the contractions stopped. I would have the odd one here or there, but nothing consistent like before. We stopped at a coffee shop so I could have some breakfast before we got the hospital, knowing we’d have to fight ridiculous “no solid food” rules once we got there. I had a couple strong rushes while we were there, but once again they stalled in the car. When we finally got to the hospital, we decided not to go into the labor ward right away. Instead, we walked the hospital grounds in the early morning light. We hung out in the hospital lobby. My doula had decided to wait before meeting us at the hospital, in case the contractions didn’t pick up again.

Finally I told Michael we should leave. Maybe I was just anxious about being at the hospital, and thought leaving would help. We went to a drugstore for some eye drops, a restaurant for some more food, and then tried to get a hotel room. Since it was still so early in the morning, they wanted to charge us for two nights. We decided against it. It was now about 7am and I had been awake for 6 hours with almost no sleep before that. We pulled into a park so I could lie in the back of the car and rest. After about ten minutes I decided this was stupid, labor had obviously stalled, and we just needed to go home. As we headed back up the hill, my contractions started again. I laughed at the irony. This baby just wanted to be born at home!

I picked up John from my friend’s house and walked home. Michael went to work to finish up a few things. I felt silly and stupid for having a “false alarm” like that. As John had been awake since we dropped him off that morning, we both laid down for a nap. I had a few more contractions but nothing I couldn’t sleep through.

Then around 11am they started to pick up again. I was annoyed. Couldn’t my body just make up its mind?! The contractions were very inconsistent. After consulting with my doula friends online, I decided not to encourage labor at this point. I took a warm shower and just tried to relax. No pressure points, no walking, just lots of water and rest, a Tylenol and a hot shower. The contractions remained consistently inconsistent. 12 minutes apart. 7 minutes apart. 10 minutes apart. 5 minutes apart. Michael came home, and he sat on the couch while I knelt over the birthing ball, just trying to relax. He would rub my back during contractions, and encourage John to help him.

Around 3pm I decided to go lay down again. I had to moan through contractions, and they were almost unbearable without Michael rubbing my lower back. But they were still so inconsistent. They definitely weren’t following a pattern of getting stronger and closer together. I had my parents on standby, as they had a six-hour drive ahead of them, I doubted they would make it in time for the birth. Then, at one point, I looked up to see John throwing up all over the floor. What?! He suddenly had diarrhea too! I called my mom and asked if they could come down. It could still be a few days before the baby came, but I didn’t want to have to send a sick kid to the neighbor’s house! Nor take care of one by myself in prodromal labor. So they packed up and started the journey down, not a moment too soon.

I texted my doula and asked her to come over so she could work on my back and give Michael a break. I decided to take another shower in the mean time to calm the contractions. I checked my cervix again, and it was still very high. So high I couldn’t tell how far dilated I was. But, I could touch her head! I had been having bloody show all day, so I knew my plug was gone, but thankfully my water was still intact. As I undressed in the bathroom, I happened to glance in the mirror and see a purple line on my lower back. “No way!” I thought. A purple line running up the butt crack is a sign of dilation. Once the line reaches the top of the butt, it signals that the cervix is at 10 cm. But I couldn’t be at 10cm already, could I? The contractions had been so inconsistent, and I didn’t feel like I was in transition, mentally or physically.

I stepped in the shower and tried to just relax. As another wave came over me, I heard myself pray, “Oh God, please let Michael forgive me for what I’m about to do!” That made me pause. What was I about to do? Suddenly I realized, “I’m going to have this baby right now!” I could feel her moving lower and lower into my pelvis. I stayed in the shower till all the hot water ran out, filled with doubt about going to the hospital still, half hoping that she would suddenly come and I would get my accidental freebirth.

I got out of the shower, and realized I couldn’t stand by myself during contractions. I had to lean on Michael and sway. My knees gave out with each surge, and they left me feeling weak and nauseous. They had all of a sudden jumped to three minutes apart, consistently. Michael asked if I wanted to go back to the hospital again. I was scared. I didn’t want another false alarm. It was such a waste of gas and everybody’s time! After Michael reassured me it was ok, we would make the drive 20 times if we had to, I agreed to go.

Getting in the car was the last thing I wanted to do at this point, and I was genuinely concerned we might have a roadside baby. But we called our neighbor to come get John again, and texted our doula and my parents to let them know what was going on. I found out later our doula was almost to our house, so she just turned around and followed us down. Thankfully the contractions slowed down in the car again, but stayed regular. I felt like there was a baseball between my legs the whole time. And of course, we hit every red light along the way.

At one point, as I felt another surge building, I said out loud “I don’t want to do another one!” Michael rubbed my hand, which helped distract from the sensations in my belly. But that contraction was definitely harder. I knew I had to keep a positive attitude. “Just one more,” I kept thinking. “I can do anything for 1 minute.”

We finally arrived at the hospital. Since it was after 6pm we had to go in through the ER. I had to fill out some forms, even though I was preregistered. They called for a wheelchair. I explained I didn’t need one, I didn’t want to sit down anyways, but the aide insisted she would get in trouble if she didn’t bring me up with a wheelchair. I told her she was welcome to bring the wheelchair with us, but I was not sitting down. We used it to bring up the luggage.

Once in triage, I changed into the hospital gown. I was too tired to protest or care at that point. I sighed and resigned myself to lie down on the monitors. It was awful lying down like that. When the nurse left, I turned to Michael and whimpered, “I hate this. I wouldn’t have to do this if we were at home.” He had already promised me our next baby would be a home birth, but that didn’t make this hospital birth any easier.

The on-call midwife finally came in to check me. I was only 6cm. I was so disappointed. I realize now that I had likely closed up from being in the car and at the hospital, and I probably was 10cm at home. But at the time I was only 6cm, and felt so discouraged. I didn’t even have an idea of how much longer we’d be there before she was born. The midwife informed me of my GBS positive status, which I knew about already, and mention the routine antibiotics. I told her I was familiar with the risks and had decided to forgo treatment. After a brief lecture, I was finally shown to a labor/birth room.

Once we were alone in the room, Michael asked me if I would reconsider the antibiotics. He had known my plans before hand, but hearing the midwife’s lecture had made him nervous. I agreed to go ahead and get treatment. I had been on the fence about denying the antibiotics anyways, so his request was all I needed to hear. We told my nurse we had changed our minds, and she went to tell the midwife, and also let my doula in. My doula instantly set up shop, setting up a diffuser with lavender essential oil and getting out her labor balls to massage my back. She also had some peppermint essential oil on a cotton ball, which really helped with the nausea I was feeling after each surge.

The nurse had asked me to lie back down on the monitors for a few minutes. I asked if we could wait till after the next contractions. She agreed and went about her business, setting up equipment and preparing the IV. Since she was so busy, I decided to stay standing up until she asked me to lie down again. She put the IV in my hand while I was leaning against Michael and my doula was rubbing my back. I stayed like that for a while, with Michael and my doula taking turns rubbing my back and being my support. As it turned out, I never did end up going back on the monitors.

Finally my mom showed up. My dad had dropped her off and gone on up to our house to pick up John. It was very special for me to have my mom there. She had offered to be there when John was born, but since I was laboring all night I felt bad and told her to go home. Now I realized how much it meant to both of us to have her there. My mom has always been a huge advocate of natural childbirth, having herself used the Bradley method. I have learned so much from her about birth while growing up. I loved having her by my side for this experience.

After a while I felt my legs getting tired. When my doula mentioned getting on the bed, I quickly agreed. I climbed up and knelt on the bed, leaning against the raised headboard. It felt so good to be able to relax my whole body against the sheets. I munched on ice, spoon-fed to me between surges, and I also asked to hold the cotton ball of peppermint oil myself, so I didn’t have to ask for it every time. I still had no idea how much longer things would be. I only knew I could do one more.

Suddenly I felt her head low in the birth canal, and I HAD to push. “UUUGGHH I’m pushing!” I moaned loudly. The nurse calmly asked me to roll over so she could check me. “Um, no!” I thought. When she asked again, my doula leaned down and repeated the question to me. I shook my head violently. No freaking way could I move right then. One contraction rolled into another as I groaned and pushed. I felt the nurse’s hand (I don’t know why she couldn’t have just checked me like that to begin with), reach in and touch the baby’s head. Obviously my back was turned so I didn’t see what happened next, but I was told later that the nurse turned and ran out of the room, ripping her gloves off and yelling for the midwife as soon as she hit the hallway. My mom turned to my doula and did a fist pump. The baby was coming!

With my first, I had a pushing urge, but it definitely wasn’t quite so intense. This time, it was like taking a giant poop. She HAD to come out NOW! “I want her out of me!” I yelled. I let out a growl/scream and pushed as hard as I could. I knew I was probably going to tear; I didn’t even care, I just wanted her out! I tried to breathe her down, to pace myself, but the urge to push was overwhelming. I don’t even remember a ring of fire, just an intense urge to get her out.

The midwife came in, and when she saw how I was positioned over the bed exclaimed, “Well, that’s one way to do it!” She asked if I wanted to deliver in that position. I nodded. Even if I wanted something else, no way could I move. I found out later she had never helped deliver a baby in that position before. I felt proud to have given her that experience.

When the baby started to crown, in my mind I could see her dark head of hair coming out. I wanted to ask what color her hair was. My son was blonde with blue eyes, but all pregnancy I had been dreaming of my brown haired, brown eyed baby girl. I just couldn’t get the words out. I was screaming as I pushed, gasping in air loudly. Any thought of keeping my voice deep and low was gone from my mind. Finally, I felt her slip out of me.

I instantly sat upright and ripped open the snaps of the hospital gown so it fell off of me, ready to reach down and grab my baby girl. “Don’t sit on her!” everyone said. “How silly,” I thought. I wasn’t going to sit on the baby I had just pushed out! I was much too aware of her for that! “Give her to me!” I kept saying over and over. But they didn’t give her to me, they were too busy suctioning and drying her off. Finally the midwife asked, “So, how do you want to do this?” “Just, pass her between my legs!” I said, while thinking “duh!” And finally they handed my sweet little girl to me. She had brown hair! I held her tightly and they helped me turn over and lay down. Baby Joelle had arrived at 10:05 pm, barely two hours after we arrived at the hospital.

We delayed cord clamping for a while, but the midwife was concerned about the amount of blood. She asked if I wanted a shot of Pitocin, which I declined, and then told me she needed to cut the cord and get the placenta out. I asked what the concern was, why the rush? She simply said she needed to make sure I wasn’t bleeding behind my placenta. (What? Whatever, I had just had a baby, I didn’t care). She put traction on the cord and pushed HARD on my stomach till the placenta gave way. I tried putting baby on my breast to help, but she wasn’t quite interested yet.

After the placenta was born, she assessed me for tears and informed me I would need one stitch for a minor tear. I asked her if it could be skipped. She left it alone for a while to see if it would stop bleeding, but after a few minutes told me that it had started bleeding again when she opened it back up (um, no duh! If you open up a cut again it’s going to bleed!). I begged her to not give me any stitches, that I would just keep my legs together. But she didn’t think much of that idea. I finally caved. She did one stitch, and then said I needed another. The second one hurt so bad. I could feel every tug and pull of the needle. “This is exactly why I didn’t want stitches!” I thought.

The stitches were the only real problem I had with my hospital birth; that, and the fact that my baby wasn’t passed to me right away. But overall, it was about as good of an experience as you can get in a hospital setting. It certainly wasn’t the home birth I had wanted, but it was still a wonderful, empowering experience. Even though the midwife hadn’t even had time to read my birth plan, she still respected me enough to ask for informed consent and respect my wishes. I really appreciated that. Thanks to her, my wonderful husband, my doula, and my mom, our family had grown to four with little drama. And for that, I praise God.

Joelle Akiko

March 30, 2014, 10:05 pm

5lbs, 15.7 oz, 17 in.   

Published in Birthing Stories

      1) Figure out what your health coverage insures.  If it is slim or nothing for a home birth or midwifery care, go over your finances and consider what you can afford (keeping in mind that some midwives offer income based sliding scales as well as payment plans.).

2)  Interview Midwives and Doulas:

-It is good to interview several before deciding on one. In some areas home birth midwives may be scarce so it will be easy to find their names and plenty of reviews. In other areas, there may be a lot of midwives that service the area and it is a good idea to do lots of research, read reviews, along with speaking with them in person. A good way to find positively reviewed midwives and doulas is on birth community sites that have forums for specific locations (IE: mothering.com offers “tribes” that connect you to mothers in your area of the world).  Most midwives and doulas offer a free consultation before they become “yours”.

               Examples of what to ask at a Midwife consultation:

                - Who certifies you? Are you a CPM, CNM?

                - What is your training background?

                - What is your educational background?

                - Why did you become a midwife?

                - How long have you been in practice?

                - What is your whole cost, do you offer a sliding scale?

                - What is your transfer rate?

                - Do you do any “routine” screenings, tests, etc and how do you process them?

                - Do you have any hospital affiliation?

                - For what reasons would you suggest I don’t deliver at home or need a transfer?

                - What equipment do you come with to a birth (and in case of emergency)?

                - Do you bring a nurse or apprentice to births?

                - Do you offer birth tub rentals if I desire a water birth?

               

                Examples of what to ask at a Doula consultation:

                -Who certifies you? (CAPPA, DONA, CBI, BAI, etc)

                -What techniques do you use to help me cope with labor/birth?

                -How many times do we meet before/after birth?

                -How long will you stay with me during/after labor/birth?

                -How much is your whole cost and do you offer a sliding scale or bartering system?

                -Do you have a lending library or other resource rentals (birth tub, birth balls, etc)?

                -Can you help me write a birth plan?

                -Do you offer any other services (placenta encapsulation or preparation, childbirth classes, Blessingway hosting, etc)

3) Prepare yourself with information as you deem appropriate. There are lots of great books and resources to help you prepare for birth. Below is a list of books that may be worth a read:

                - “Ina May’s Guide To Childbirth” by Ina May Gaskin

                - “The Thinking Woman’s Guide To A Better Birth” by Henci Goer

                - “Childbirth Without Fear” by Dr. Grantly Dick Read

                - “Gentle Birth Choices” by Barbara Harper

                - “Homebirth” by Sheila Kitzinger

                - “Spiritual Midwifery” by Ina May Gaskin

                - “The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth” by Sheila Kitzinger

There are many, many wonderful home birth resources on the internet as well. As a pregnant woman it is best to work under the philosophy that images and words will greatly affect how you feel and view birth during this childbearing year. So, although there are plenty of things to discover on the world-wide web, discretion is always good. Some sites that I recommend are below (these sites have categorized headings so you can navigate what will be useful and what you wish to see and avoid what you wish not to see):

-          www.thebirthingsite.com

-          www.birthwithoutfearblog.com

-          www.mothering.com

-     www.birthingnaturally.net

-     www.givingbirthnaturally.com

Consider hiring a private childbirth educator (or speak with your Doula-they often offer crash courses in childbirth for their clients) to meet you and your partner in your home for a childbirth class. (Or even split the cost with an interested or other pregnant friend!) .  You could also find a class through hospitals or ask your midwife or doula if she knows and recommends any childbirth courses in your area or online.

Some find attending a natural childbirth class to be just what they need to feel comfortable with home birth while others find their own research and support of their doula and midwife to be enough to prepare. Whatever you choose to help inform yourself, do so at a level that is comfortable to you-over researching and under preparedness have both posed issues for pregnant mothers as our minds can be particularly vulnerable during this time. If you find the more you dig for information the more anxious you become (or the more tempted you are to absorb negative stories and visuals), take it down a notch, tell your support people and advert your attention back to the positive thoughts for YOUR birth.

4) Speak openly with your partner. Decide what your hopes and wishes are for who will be present at the birth of your child, what roles you hope them to play. Discuss your partners comfort levels and work together to become comfortable with your plans. Think about the possibility of having a water birth, what music you may want, anything special you wish to be used to enhance or mellow your birth environment, sit down and consider all the aspects you wish to cover in your birth plan, specifically what roles everyone will play.  Enjoy this part of the planning, find common grounds with those you intend to include and make sure the people who support you believe in the process.  Reading a book together or sharing helpful articles can be a nice way to bond while preparing for your home birth. If you intend to include your older children, introduce them at age appropriate levels to the idea of mommy having her baby at home. There are several children's books out there that talk about what they can expect. 

5) Make an “in case of emergency” transfer plan with your midwife and inform everyone that will be present of the plan.  Prepare a separate birth plan for the event of a transfer if you feel it suites to calm you.  Most midwives will have you fill out a form that will include what hospital you wish to transfer to if possible, ambulance service if you are rurally located, etc.

6) Trust in the process and have faith that you picked people who will support you. This step is consuming affirmations, day-dreaming, picturing your birth, connecting with your baby, enjoying the fact that you are going to join the ranks of every mother that has ever lived(for the first or subsequent time), as well as give birth in the comfort of your home like so many generations before us. Cool, huh? Remember, you are strong, you are capable, the hands around you offer healing knowledge and support, the space around you offers peace, and your baby knows how to be born just as you know how to birth him. Allow yourself to feel the spiritual aspect of your pending home birth and enjoy every second! 

Published in Birthing Places

"Natural Childbirth"…well that can only happen in a birth center or at a homebirth…right?

It is often easy to come up with an extensive list of questions when you are considering a home birth with a Midwife. We tend to think long and hard about the questions we want to ask to make sure we can trust her with our safety and the safety of our baby. During a standard home-birth Midwife appointment, you often get a minimum of an hour to sit and “interview” with a prospective Midwife. There is time enough to get a feeling for one another, a sense of whether she will provide the kind of one-on-one care you desire for your natural birth at home. Then you get an hour with them at almost every single prenatal visit, as well. This adds up to a lot of one-on-one time between you and your care provider to be on the same page, to know and understand one another.

For many families though, a home birth is simply not an option. Whether it is for financial / insurance reasons or for a health concern that puts them just outside the qualifying spectrum of the Midwifery Model of Care. Regardless of the personal circumstance, many women who either choose or need to birth in a hospital still desire to have a “natural childbirth.”

The kind of birth where there is no pressure to perform on a grid-line standard, and fit into a cookie-cutter diagram that has a one-size-fits-all approach. The kind of birth where they are free to listen to their bodies needs and respond to natural urges and do not need to feel stressed by the cascade of interventions which are routinely associated with a hospital birth.

Women do not often pause to consider what kinds of questions they would ask an OB or certified nurse-midwife (CNM), in the same way that they would ask a home birth Midwife. Women come up with a vast number of detailed and personal questions when "interviewing" for a Midwife, or even a Pediatrician for their baby, however, they do not usually do this when seeking care for themselves with an OB/GYN. There is often this sense of, "this is what I am faced with, so I need to find a way to make the best of it." Unlike Midwifery Care, you are not afforded an hour of time with an OB/GYN, or hospital staffed CNM. Most visits are generally anywhere from 5-15 minutes, on a good day. There just seems to be this “rush” factor, which often times, flows over into the delivery room.

~ There are many factors involved in the lack of communication between an OB and an expectant mother ~

-Many women become intimidated and shut down by the sometimes rushed and rigid demeanor of an OB.

-There is a sense that they went to school for this, they know what they are doing, "so who am I to question that...?"

-An OB might have a response to a question which makes the woman feel inferior or demeaned for even asking such a question. 

...just to name a few.

These situations often lead to a sense of not having ones own valuable input into the birth of their baby, whereby holding them back from really digging in and asking the probing questions necessary to build the kind of relationship where mutual respect is involved and a foundation of working together on common ground. Sometimes the connection between the two is so limited that neither even knows where to begin. It becomes a tedious process of coming in – doing checks – and going out – see you next time. Understand that an OB meets with countless women from day to day. Whereas a home birth Midwife, has a specific number of clients she will take on in a given month. An OB will often deliver multiple babies per day, and a Midwife, usually between 2-6 per month. The job of an OB can easily become a job that reflects the business of providing medical care, rather than a passion of providing health care. This is not their fault, it is simply the way that society has set it in motion.

It is important to recognize which care providers do and do not have the qualities you are looking for. There are OBs out there who "trust birth" and have a great respect for the power within a woman's body to birth her baby. They do exist and the numbers of them are growing as awareness and education grows, but also because women are finally being heard. Women are standing up and demanding better care, demanding that doctors recognize that they are capable beyond measure, and that birth is not an illness or problem which needs to be controlled, managed or fixed... and that a woman who is having a vaginal birth does not need to have her baby "delivered" from her body.

So how does one really know whether

they have the right OB/GYN or CNM for them? 

~ or ~

Where do you begin in finding

the care provider that is right for you?

One of the first steps is recognizing that you are never “stuck” with a specific care provider. You have a wealth of options and choices available to you! We are blessed to have a society full of highly intelligent Doctors, Midwives and CNM's, all of whom have individual qualities to meet the needs of each specific woman. You simply have to take the time to find what you are looking for.

Finding a Doula can be one of the best places to start! A Doula provides physical, emotional and informational support for women throughout their pregnancy, labor and birth, and into the postpartum, breastfeeding, and newborn care stage. A Doula also works with many different kinds of birth professionals, and in all different kinds of birth settings. It is one-on-one specialized care, at it's finest!

When it comes to your care provider…

A Doula Can: 

- Help provide you with guidance in making sure your care provider is the right one to meet your birthing needs.

You may have been referred to a friends OB/GYN, because they had the perfect experience that they desired with that care provider. Every woman's needs are different, and what is right for your friends, neighbors, church family, or sister, may not be the right fit for you.

Perhaps you have an amazing OB/GYN for all of your gynecological needs, or maybe they even played a crucial role in helping you during the family planning stage. Some women find that while their care provider may be perfect for their gynecological needs, they are not necessarily the right care provider for their pregnancy and birthing needs.

- Help you in forming your desired birth plan, and giving you the words necessary to communicate effectively with your care provider about areas of your pregnancy and birth which are important to you.

Forming the right birth plan for you, means fully understanding all of the options which are available to you. A Doula has this knowledge base and they can be a wealth of knowledge about areas of birth that many have never even taken into consideration before. Some of them also teach their own childbirth education classes. If you have a Doula who teaches childbirth education classes, taking their class, rather than a hospital based class, can be helpful in many areas, including creating a closer bond prior to your birth.

Doula's also understand the language that surrounds pregnancy and birth. They are good at reading between the lines, and recognizing "red flags" that might suggestion your care provider and you are not on the same page in a particular area so that you know to address that with them ahead of time, rather than in the throes of labor.

- Give you recommendations of the best hospitals locally, with a known record for helping mother’s who want to have a natural childbirth.

They have watched and supported other women through their personal experiences with local hospitals and care providers. They can provide guidance in determining whether your wants and desires can be met in a specific location, or with a specific care provider.

It is also important to note, that our birth system is changing, slowly but surely, changing for the better. Many hospitals and OB's who were not "natural childbirth" experienced 2- 5 years ago, are very experienced today. This is due in part to awareness being spread on natural childbirth, women speaking up for what they want, Midwife knowledge and recognition, the movement back to home-birth, and also because of the positive presence of "natural childbirth" workers, such as Doula's, being present in the hospital birth place.

- Provide you with names of OBGYN’s or CNM’s whom they feel might meet your criteria in achieving the birth you want.

Again, they have watched and supported other women through their personal experiences with local hospitals and care providers. This gives you an idea of where to begin the "interview" process, as you search for the right OB or CNM, and the right birthing location for you and your personal desires.

- Give you resources to local natural childbirth / natural parenting groups within the community, where you can find support and build relationships with other women and families along the way.

Connecting with other "like-minded" women who have walked the path before you, or are currently going through their journey at the same time as you can be one of the most amazing blessings. Doula's have many connections within the natural birthing community. Everything from breastfeeding support, essential oils education, alternative medicine, chiropractors, massage therapists, natural practitioners, cranial sacral therapists, and so much more!

Below is a list of accumulated questions which I have found to be very helpful for my Doula client’s to ask when “feeling out” a care provider, to see whether they can have their desired birth, while being under the care of that provider.

Already Have a Care Provider

You can take the questions which pertain to you from the list below, and prioritize them according to which areas are of the greatest importance to you. Begin to ask a handful or two of those questions at each prenatal visit.

Do not shrug off responses which do not meet your qualifications. The list of available doctors is lengthy. Of course there is always going to be a give and take when choosing to birth in a hospital setting. So a certain amount of flexibility is often needed, but know going into the situation which items are your priority and are not subject to flexibility, and which ones you can take or leave.

Looking For a Care Provider

If you do not already have a care provider, or have made the decision to find a new one, you can request to do an initial interview with potential care providers. At this visit, go through your top questions first, and then have a second set should time allow.

In any circumstance, you should always listen to your care provider carefully. They will often tell you exactly how they expect your birth will be, even if it isn't with their specific words. Always use your intuition. If it simply doesn't feel right to you, then it mostly likely is not right for you.

Respectful & Attentive or "Red Flag"

Be aware of how the care provider responds to the question. Do they seem confident and knowledgeable? Is their response calm and collected? Is the tone warm and understanding? Did they not know how to respond? Did the care provide have no idea what you were talking about? Did the care provider seem agitated or respond defensively? Was your question put off… to be discussed at a later visit when you are “farther along?”

Don’t be afraid to go after what you want. This is your baby and your birth!

~ Important Questions To Consider ~

Professionally

  1. Why did you choose this profession and what makes it so important to you?
  2. How long have you been a practicing _______? (OB, CNM)
  3. What is your training/ education/degrees/certifications, etc. ?
  4. How many babies have you /witnessed / helped bring into this world?
  5. What is your philosophy on birth?
  6. What does “natural childbirth” mean to you?
  7. Where do you personally stand between medically managed childbirth, and natural childbirth?
  8. Are you connected with a natural childbirth / natural parenting community?
  9. Do you provide individual care based on the needs of each patient, or is care carried out on a standard protocol regiment?
  10. Have you had experience with a Doula before?
  11. Which methods of pain management do you recommend?
  12. Will I be expected to progress through my labor according to a specific timeline?
  13. What is your induction rate?
  14. What is your cesarean rate?
  15. Have you ever performed a “Family Centered Cesarean?”
  16. Is laboring in a water pool or bath tub an option? Delivery?
  17. How many births do you typically attend to in a month? Year?
  18. Are you planning any vacations, trips or other events around the time of my estimated due date that would interfere with your presence at my birth?
  19. Who is your back-up? When would I meet them? Do you work off a rotation schedule with other care providers?
  20. What kind of follow-up visits will we have with you after the birth?
  21. Have you had any loss of a baby or mother? If so, why and what happened? 

Pregnancy

  1. What role do you feel nutrition and exercise play on a healthy pregnancy and the effect on the labor and birth process?
  2. What are a few of the top nutritional recommendations you have for prenatal health?
  3. Is there a set of routine tests which must be done during pregnancy? Which? When?
  4. Will I be required to do the Gestational Diabetes screening? What if I do not have any symptoms of GD? How is this test carried out? Will I eat a specific meal prior to testing or will I be fasting and drinking a sweet orange substance?
  5. How many weeks of pregnancy do you feel are crucial to having a healthy baby?
  6. If baby and I are healthy, can we allow labor to begin on its own? Even 1 week past our estimated due date? 2 weeks past our estimated due date?
  7. Will you deliver a breech baby? Frank? Footling?
  8. If so, what kind of training and experience do you have in the delivery of a breech baby?
  9. If my baby were to be breech, what recommendations would you have for encouraging my baby to turn naturally?
  10. What medical options would be available to turn my baby?
  11. Do you deliver twins? Experience? Cesarean necessary within your care?
  12. What risk factors do you look for when determining if a cesarean section is needed, prior to labor beginning?

Labor and Birth

  1. What are your recommendations for a family who wants to labor at home for as long as possible before coming to the hospital?
  2. Do you require a heparin lock be in place?
  3. Will IV fluids be necessary during my labor or may be allowed to drink freely on my own?
  4. How often do you feel it is necessary to have a vaginal exam during labor? May I refuse these checks?
  5. Are you familiar with other ways of determining dilation, besides vaginal exams?
  6. What risk factors do you look for in determining whether a cesarean section is necessary while I am in labor?
  7. How often will my baby be required to be monitored through Electronic Fetal Monitoring?
  8. Will I able to labor in any position I feel comfortable? May I move around freely?
  9. May I eat while I am laboring?
  10. Can I push in any position I choose?
  11. Is directed pushing typically done, or am I encouraged to push with the urges of my body?
  12. Will you delivery my baby? Would you assist myself or my partner in delivering our baby?
  13. Do you provide perennial support while pushing to minimize the possibility of tearing?
  14. Do you perform routine episiotomies?
  15. Would you be accepting of allowing me to tear naturally, rather than have an episiotomy?
  16. How do you handle a nuchal cord?
  17. What is your position on delayed cord clamping?

Immediately Postpartum

  1. Will my baby be given directly to me for skin to skin contact immediately at birth?
  2. Can routine checks of baby be done while my baby is in mine or my partners arms?
  3. Which test and routine practices will be necessary in the first few hours of birth?
  4. Which will be necessary in the first few days of birth?
  5. What is your position on delayed cord clamping?
  6. Does your practice / hospital have any standard procedures for families who desire to take their placentas home with them?
  7. Is it possible to fill out the paperwork needed to accept or decline certain routine procedures for my baby, before being in labor and before baby is born? That way our time immediately after the birth can be focused on bonding and welcoming our new little one into the world.
  8. How long will we be expected to stay in the hospital before being released?
  9. Will my baby have to go to the nursery during our stay, or can my baby remain with me for the duration of our stay?
Published in Birthing Assistance

I read this book immediately upon receiving it today. Though I can see its great contribution to these fields, I did not read it from a childbirth provider's, scholar's, or politician's point of view. I read it as a mother who chose home birth at 42 years old---amongst other reasons--to avoid being caught in the "cascade of interventions"--or what I call the "birth template" prepared for us by committees. I read it as someone who writes and advocates for natural childbirth.

Cut It Out, written by Professor Theresa Morris, offers new insight to answer the question: "if most women do not want or choose c-section and most maternity providers claim not to prefer c-section over vaginal birth, why has there been an astronomical increase in the c-section rate in the United States?" It doesn't discuss why there are c-sections, but why there are so many c-sections. The author suggests (and supplies abundant research to back it up) that it's not as simple as the typical list of reasons offered: mothers "to posh to push," or women being overweight, or too "small," or doctors just choosing the easiest or most profitable route. She explains that there is a complex of committees--organizations--in place in which doctors and women are participants, but that "Maternity providers and women are constrained by hospital rules and behavior, even if the expected behaviors do not lead to improved outcomes."

For those wanting natural childbirth, of course home birth is an option, but many women feel safer in a hospital and many need to be there for valid reasons. So what does a woman do who wants natural childbirth in the hospital environment?

Read, learn, know what to expect and how to work with and against the birthing "systems." Cut It Out (a clear picture of the what and WHY in the hospital), and Ina May's Guide to Childbirth (considered a must-read by advocates of natural childbirth) would be two great books to start with for any new mother, knowing she wants the most natural, healthy, and loving childbirth experience possible, but not knowing (yet) how to achieve it.

As with any experience--the more we know about what we're going into, the better we can prepare and the better outcome was can anticipate. If you're going to give birth in the hospital, this is a book to read.


Published in Product Reviews
Monday, 30 September 2013 23:34

The Secret to CALM & CONFIDENCE in Childbirth



  

The Secret to 
CALM & CONFIDENCE  in Childbirth
 
 
With Excerpts from New Mother
 
Throughout my thirties I watched not one or two, but almost all my friends enthusiastically enter the hospital in labor, having claimed for nine months that they would have a natural birth. Yet they came out two (or ten) days later having been induced, forced to labor on their back, drugged, cut, and observed by countless strangers. Their babies had been taken from them immediately after birth and they were having problems nursing.
I wondered what had gone on behind the doors of the L&D that all of them were checking out with dramatically altered birth stories.
In my third trimester I attended an all-day birthing class at a store for new moms and babies. The women in attendance were from around the world, highly educated in their fields of work, and well to do with all conveniences of life available to them.
And yet... here are some things I heard during class:
• “I’ve heard that babies nurse every two hours when they are born, but I sleep about nine or so hours per night. What will happen to my breast milk during the nine hours that I’m sleeping?” (after telling the class that her father was an OB-GYN).
• “I’ve never heard of a birth without an epidural... I didn’t know it was possible.”
• “What is the areola?” asked on learning how to help the baby latch.
   Not one had considered a homebirth.
   Not one had considered a natural birth.
• “How much is it going to hurt?” and “How can I avoid the pain?” were the primary concerns of almost all in attendance.
Although I had already studied so much, explored, and found quality help, I attended the class to learn more about childbirth and postpartum care of baby and mom. But these women were only now seeking education and help.
What they received, though, was a lecture about towing the industry line:
• You will have an epidural and likely other drugs.
• There’s a high chance that you’ll have a C-sectionand the instructor showed a video so we "could know what it looks like and be prepared." (I left the room.)
• Postpartum instruction: if you are going to drink wine, pump first—if you breastfeed—or “pump and dump” after you drink.

How could women feel calm and confident about labor with that lack of knowledge and the guidance offered in such a class?
Women were being trained to think of childbirth and postpartum as a “procedure”—to be endured and gotten through as quickly and painlessly as possible—and to rely entirely on a system that was treating them as a “workforce” and “profit center” rather than a family being gifted with another spirit in their lives.
There was no focus on natural childbirth. No mention of home birth. No discussion of postpartum as a healing, bonding, growing, significant, and once-in-a-lifetime experience for mother, father, and baby.
A treasure lost for those parents and babies. Precious, fleeting time and experiences that will never come again!
I had a different vision for my childbirth and postpartum experience, and I believe if those women in class, and thousands—if not millions—of other expecting moms knew of other options, if they knew they could get natural, loving, nurturing help, they would create a different vision for their own childbirth and postpartum time.
A great percentage of women in the U.S. spend two to four years after high school in education and preparation for the workplace. We are even willing to take out enormous loans for the cause.
Then when it comes to motherhood, we throw ourselves into the most important role of our lives with little study and no training— subject to tremendous influence from the medical industry, Hollywood, and other commercial enterprises—reliant on professionals to do it for us, whether “it” is conceiving, birthing, or raising children.
Doesn’t our role as mother and homemaker deserve commitment, study, and investment as we give to any job in the workplace?
If you’re like I was—with your intuition hinting that something better than the norm is possible—but without knowing what a doula really does, not knowing what really qualifies a midwife, and certainly not knowing what kind of help you’ll need postpartum (but hopefully knowing you will need some), I’ve got a suggestion for you: 
We’ve been encouraged to concede our knowledge and experience of childbirth to the medical industry—but that’s exactly why so many women are fearful and end up with altered birth stories.

As with preparation for any task we want to do well—be it a test, a job interview, creating art, etc.—we must study, research, practice, watch DVDs, talk to friends who chose a similar path, look for teachers and help with congruent practices and beliefs.  
  
Let's take back and own our childbirth experience: study; find help and support congruent with our desires; do our best; then forget the rest.
That’s the secret! Knowing we've done our best we can release our fear and concern about the outcome, and move forward with calm and confidence.
If we really prepare ourselves with knowledge and support, we can go into any task—even childbirth—with confidence and calm. 
After we’ve prepared to our best ability and found that place of calm confidence, we can respond to and handle whatever develops in the process, and live happily with the outcome—even if it isn’t exactly as we planned.

For those interested in learning more about natural childbirth, here are some recommended titles to get you started:

 

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, by Ina May Gaskin

Doulas by Midwifery Today

and my book, New Mother

 
 
Wishing you joy on your sacred journey of motherhood!
 
Sunday, 14 April 2013 11:28

New Mother Book Review

"Filled with great advice for expectant moms, New Mother makes the perfect gift for any pregnant woman.

The information author Allie Chee provides allows for women to be in charge of their birth and postpartum time. Instead of just letting things happen, Chee informs us on how to plan for a desirable birth experience and teaches the reader that this really is something that you must be proactive about." 

-MIDWIFERY TODAY

 

• Do you want a natural childbirth?

• Have you considered home birth?

• Do you believe that your postpartum can and
should be magical?


NEW MOTHER: Using a Doula, Midwife, Postpartum Doula, Maid, Cook or Nanny to Support Healing, Bonding and Growth

 


NEW MOTHER, Book Summary

Reclaim the magic in motherhood!
It is possible to have it all: a more natural birthing experience; relaxing, bonding family time postpartum; time to care for yourself; time to take care of your home; and the ability to choose whatever vision you hold for your experience of childbirth and motherhood.

That’s not what we’ve been told, taught, or empowered to do... until now.
There’s more to pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum than what is usually discussed in literature and doctors’ offices: the next problem, pain, or procedure! New Mother offers a clear vision for reclaiming the beauty and sacred nature of pregnancy and parenthood.

Author Allie Chee, at age 42 and after two miscarriages, wanted a home birth, a traditional 40-day postpartum healing and bonding time, and to breastfeed and co-sleep for two years. That’s not for everyone, but indeed almost everyone would want a more natural, loving childbirth experience at home or in the hospital than the standard, mechanical childbirth template common today—and this book helps you plan for just that…a more natural, loving childbirth experience!

Throughout the work, vignettes of the author’s and other mothers’ experiences are included that will resonate with parents, keep them laughing, and encourage them to rewrite the story of their lives.

 

"If you are pregnant or are a new mother you cannot afford not to heed
the advice given by Allie Chee in her book, New Mother, if you want to experience the true joy and fulfillment of new motherhood.
A very practical book written with humor and wisdom."

-DR. MAO SHING NI, Ph.D., D.O.M., Dipl. ABAAHP

__________________________________________


More info & reviews: New Mother Blog – Reviews

On Facebook www.facebook.com/AllieChee

Buy New Mother on:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble 

Published in Product Reviews

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