Category Archives: HypnoBirthing

Convenience in Parenting

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If I mention Attachment Parenting, it conjures many images, doesn’t it?  It also brings up some stigma, some judgment, and some distaste for some.  But many others who practice this method of parenting find great comfort in it.  I think that many people don’t think that this form of parenting has a place in our modern society, and see many other things as far more superior and convenient than holding, wearing, breastfeeding, co-sleeping with their baby, and for those families, that’s all well and good.  I would like to argue, though, that Attachment Parenting is not weird, and it does indeed have a place in our modern world. Sure, there are times when strollers and baby swings do offer those of us who parent attached some convenience, but allow me to offer some scenarios, and you may judge for yourself which sounds more convenient, easier, less stressful, and possibly more cost effective.  I think that most people who parent like I do, do so because it is cheaper, easier, much more convenient, and just fits with our lifestyles.

Scenario  – Attachment Parenting

It’s 4:30 am, and this is the 4th time since 11pm that you’re awake with your newborn, you’ve been awakened by gentle stirring and squeaks from her, indicating that she’s hungry.  You co-sleep and breastfeed, so you move your baby slightly to latch her on, and both of you are happy, as you drift off to sleep.  At 7, you both wake up, and get ready to face the day.  After diapering, you carry her to the kitchen to fix breakfast for your older child.  Before you fix breakfast, you put the baby in a woven wrap, latch her on as you go about your routine in the morning.  You are able to help your older child with many things, with the baby in the wrap, and your baby even falls asleep to the gentle movements and sounds of your body, which are so familiar to her.  After breakfast, you go to bathe, and take a bath with your new baby and older child.  After nursing again before leaving the house, you’re off to do errands.  During the errands, you push the shopping cart with your older child in it, and wear your baby, this time in a soft structured carrier, with legs froggied.  Baby sleeps most of the time, and only wakes to be changed, and nursed, but then goes right back to sleep.  After errands, you return home, and fix a little lunch, again, wearing your baby, then go with your children to take a nap, all together in one bed.  You nurse your newborn to sleep, and sing to your older child.  You all three fall asleep after a short period of time, and wake refreshed.  This scenario could continue, but you get the gist of what attachment parenting looks like.  Sure, there is some chaos in the lives of parents who attachment parent, but for the most part, many of the parents that parent this way have easier, more cooperative, go with the flow children that feel very loved, protected, nurtured, and often know how to express their needs more clearly since their needs have been met in the ways they have.

Scenario – Non-Attachment Parenting

It’s 4:30 am, and this is the 4th time since 11pm that you’re awake with your newborn.  You hear her on the monitor, from her room, grunting, indicating that she’s hungry.  You walk bleary eyed to the kitchen to make a bottle, and by the time you return to your baby, she is screaming in hunger.  You pick her up, sit in the rocking chair, and struggle to stay awake as you feed her.  When she has finished her bottle, you burp her, change her diaper, and set her back in her crib.  After you leave, she cries a bit, because she doesn’t smell or hear you any longer, and you are so tired that you go back to bed, letting her cry herself to sleep.  At 7am, you’re awakened again, by your grunting hungry newborn.  You get up, make her bottle, and get her up as well.  While you make breakfast for your older child, you put your baby in a bouncer with bottle propped up, so you can tend to what needs to be done in the kitchen.  As you play with your older child, and help her with things that she wants to do, you transfer your newborn to her swing, and are interrupted by your crying newborn who wants to be held by you.  You hold her, but are very busy with your older child, and the things you’re doing with your older child require two hands, and so your newborn is put back in the swing.  After another bottle feeding, you go to take a shower, and put your baby in the bouncer in the bathroom with you, and she cries through the entire shower.  You get yourself and your children ready and go do some errands.  You put your baby’s infant carrier in the large part of the shopping cart, and your older child in the front of the cart.  Your baby cries in the carrier because she is uncomfortable and hot, and wants to be held by you.  Your errands are cut short, because you grow tired of hearing your baby cry so much.  You return home, feed your older child lunch, hold your baby to feed her a bottle, and barely eat anything out of sheer exhaustion.  You then go to put your children down for a nap, but your older child fights you, because it’s still daylight and she doesn’t want to go to sleep in her room, she wants to play instead.  This ends in crying, a spanking, very much frustration, and a stressed out mama.  The baby senses the stress and doesn’t want to go to sleep either.  It takes 45 minutes to get the baby to sleep, and you’re not even sure if your older child gets a nap.  Again, this scenario could continue through the day.  Just typing it makes me exhausted.  I speak from my own earlier experiences when I say that this form of parenting did not work for us. My husband and I have had to learn the hard way, with much trial and error, what works best for our family.

When Sydney was born, nearly 5 years ago, we really and truly were clueless, with very little physical support system.  I attempted co-sleeping, since breastfeeding was the one thing I was really attached to, but I didn’t understand that I could stay in bed and nurse her to sleep, so I would get out of bed, and sit in a rocking chair for exhausting amounts of time, with both of us falling asleep, and nothing productive happening.  I was sleep deprived, anxious, and suffered from postpartum depression, which I’m sure could have been made better with more sleep and better support.  We stopped co-sleeping very early.

We tried baby wearing, but the ring sling I had, I never knew how to use, so I got rid of that quickly. I had no knowledge of other carriers (soft structured carriers, woven wraps, stretchy wraps, mei tais, etc).  Sydney spent a lot of time in a swing (which she hated) or in a bouncer (which she also hated).  It didn’t occur to me at all that we needed each other.  There is a special bond between mother and baby, where oxytocin and endorphins are exchanged when they are in physical contact with each other.

As Sydney grew older, parenting went well, but then frustrations mounted as she was becoming her own person, with her own thoughts, and could do more for herself.  We employed spanking as a form of discipline, out of sheer frustration.  I wish I could take that all back.  I wish I had never laid a hand on her.  Spanking is proven, through years and years and years of research to cause very real psychological damage to children.  Never have I felt like a bigger pile of crap, than when I was hitting my helpless daughter, and never have I seen a child change so quickly for the bad.  Her personality changed, and she was no longer my sweet little girl who was full of life.  We eventually got a clue and stopped spanking her, and our cheerful, wonderful, spunky, beautiful light of a daughter returned to us, but I do believe she is still learning to trust us again.

When Sydney was 2 and a half, we returned to baby wearing on a trip to California to visit family. We got an Ergo carrier as a gift, and still have it, and use it often.  Wearing Sydney has not only been very convenient for us, but it’s increased our bond as a family.  She loves being close to us, and we know and understand that now, and so many times throughout the day, she’s with us, physically… attached.  We love it, all three of us.

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Additionally, in November, when Jeremy came up to Alaska, Sydney and I started co-sleeping again, simply out of convenience, and I felt safer with her in the room with me.  She has grown to love this, and bedtime, which was once a challenge, and sometimes, even a battle, has gotten much easier.  We have a king sized bed, and she sleeps in between us.  I love co-sleeping.  I get to hear her, in the middle of the night say things like, “gorilla shoes”, and answer her bad dreams immediately.  It is obvious that she feels very safe in our bed, and very much wanted by us.  I wasn’t sure if my husband would respond positively to having a 4 year old in bed with us, but on one night when she decided to start out in her own room, as we went to get her, my husband was giddy to have her join us.  We will be adding a new baby soon to our family, and he/she will also sleep with us.  I now know that I can stay in bed to nurse, which is such a blessing.

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The transition from our parenting days in the beginning until now has been sometimes slow and challenging to go with.  But the results, ah, the results.  Wow.  What a difference.  Not only has it made a huge difference with Sydney, but our family is so much more tightly knit.  Sydney, who was always really intelligent, has grown so much more intelligent.  Our trust toward each other has increased so much.  We all sleep so much better.  Sydney knows that if she needs something, she can depend on us to meet her needs.

We are learning daily how to be better parents.  But there are some things that we definitely stand for and stand by.  Our family is so important to us, and nurturing it into the best family we can is very important to us.  We make every effort to research what is best, psychologically, physically, emotionally for our children.  This is how we have come to Attachment Parenting (which we simply call parenting), because all of these fit well in our lives, work well for us, and are founded in well researched practices. What we have found to be the best things for us may not be for you, and we have come to them through a lot of trial and error.  If you’re having trouble or challenges with some of your methods, it’s never too late to try other methods, we are prime examples of that.  I’m thankful everyday that we parent the way we do now.  My personal stress levels are so much lower, and I feel as if my communication with my uber intelligent daughter is so much better and effective.

Comments Welcome, Please.

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End of a Chapter

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In May of 2009, I went to complete my HypnoBirthing workshop to learn how to teach HypnoBirthing classes.  I convened with incredible women who were all there for the same reason, to help expectant couples have the most gentle birth possible.  I completed the training, all of the requirements, and received my certification in August of 2009.  Shortly after, I began teaching my first 3 couples, all in private classes, in their own homes.  I did all of this while attending school to complete my Social Work degree, and it was so very fulfilling to teach birthing classes.  It filled a space in me that I never knew existed, and helped me to feel very complete and fulfilled in life through the work I was doing.

From the September of 2009 and May 2011, I taught so many different couples, traveled to so many different homes, met so many different, wonderful, beautiful couples, and helped build their confidence about their upcoming births.  Some of the couples I taught invited me to their birth in the role of a doula, and that was an added bonus.  My cup overflowed.

Much has happened in life since August of 2009, so much has changed, including me.  This year alone, we have experienced two major losses; the baby I was growing in utero, and my husband’s grandmother.  Following that, there has been much uncertainty about what might happen to us, career wise, and so, because of other things on my plate at this time, I have chosen to discontinue teaching HypnoBirthing classes.

I want everyone to know that I am not in distress.  I only say this because I think many people were concerned when I posted that I would no longer be teaching, on Facebook.  I really am fine, I am taking time for myself, exploring my options, healing from our losses, and regrouping.  I will be back, and I do plan to stay in the birthing community, networking, helping, supporting, educating.  And since I have taken a job as a nanny, I do not have the full availability I once did, and that may have to be put on hold too, but for now, I am keeping options open.

I do thank all of you so very much for your support and love.

Comments Welcome.

Talking Birth

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Talking to my friend online about her birth reminds me that there are different views of birth.  There are the people who go to medical school to attend very medicalized births of frightened women who may or may not be prepared for the challenges of childbirth.  These same people attend births that are largely medicated in one form or another, and because of this, they see this as “normal”. The women who give birth in this setting often have to fight for their birth wishes.  Even if women don’t come armed with birth plans, some have desires that they would like met, but in the face of having to defend their wishes in the presence of staff, they give up.

The normal that the other group of people see is totally and completely different.  We see birth as nothing short of a miracle.  Birth is normal, it is natural, and it is healthy.  Birth is meant to happen to women, and women were built to give birth.  We grow babies that are the perfect size for our bodies.  The normal birth that this group sees has every confidence in birth.  Birth is not a medical event, and it certainly is not an emergency.  The women who give birth among this group of attendees often simply drift through birth  without a fight.  These births are peaceful, calm, quiet (sometimes eerily so), and have a sacred feel to them.  Women feel loved, at peace, protected, nurtured, and surrender to their birthing energy.

I love talking birth, probably more than anything else in this world (except for sharing stories about Sydney, of couse!).  My passion comes out, I get fired up, and I want for others to feel what I feel about this subject.  There are certain things about birth that anger me, some that make me so proud to be a woman, and some that just sadden me.

I think back to my own labor, when I felt totally in control.  And even upon arrival at the hospital, in San Ramon, CA, I felt the same.  The team of people I had supporting me was incredible.  Never did anyone treat the impending birth of Sydney like it was an emergency, or even a medical event.  I self hydrated, walked, did many position changes, had intermittent monitoring, and never heard a mention of my pain.  Going through labor was a time in my life when I felt the most vulnerable, but knew I was so loved and supported.  Sydney’s birth was at the very least challenging.  But it was also a time that defined much of my life now, it was a time that empowered me, and bonded us together as a family.

Birth is a time when women must feel supported, loved, and vulnerable.  Our birthing energy must be focused, intent, and committed.  We must labor with conviction, with a knowledge that we can do this.  Women who lose this energy, this conviction become easily steered in directions they may not want to go.  This does not make them weak at all, it just makes their path to birth different, and sometimes a bit more challenging, and sometimes still, more dangerous.

The births that OBs and L&D nurses see are dramatized because of the environment in which they are.  They are closely monitored, managed, and manipulated.  These births are mere fragments of what births should be.  Many of these births are not at all what the mothers or the babies want, but sometimes, mothers truly know no different.  Often times mothers are convinced of what they should want because of stories they have seen and heard from others (friends, family, media sources, etc), which creates fear in them, and they lose confidence and are convinced they need anesthetic assistance to get through birth.

Medicalized birth certainly has its place, it has its time, it has its necessity.  But it is not a majority of the time.  Healthy full-term mothers have a right to be fully apprised of how their bodies function, and how to work with their bodies and babies to have a birth with as few interventions as possible.

So here are some of my suggestions for a healthier birthing experience.

  1. Take ownership for how you want to give birth.  Decide now, and follow through.
  2. Eliminate the words “Delivery” and “Deliver” from your vocabulary.  They allow you no responsibility as a birthing mother.
  3. Create a birth plan.
  4. Research, research, research.
  5. Consider options you may not have considered before (home birth, birthing center, water birth, different hospital etc).
  6. Choose a care provider that is completely supportive of what you want.  If he/she is not, find another one.
  7. Prepare for birth by taking a birthing class that fits well with you and your birth partner.
  8. Believe in your abilities to give birth.
  9. Hire a doula.
  10. Be flexible about labor and birth, accept that some things in birth may shift a bit.
  11. Envision your birth, just the way you want it to be.
  12. Ask for positive birth stories only.  Walk away if people share anything less.
  13. Do NOT watch shows like Maternity Ward or A Baby Story.
  14. Arrange everything ahead of time so when birthing time nears, your life is free of undue stress.
  15. When labor begins, stay at home as long as you are comfortable.
  16. Have a happy, healthy, and safe birth.
  17. Take time following birth to talk about your birth to a person who respects you and will not judge.
  18. Do not feel like a failure if you chose to have interventions that you previously thought you would not.  You are NOT a failure.

Comments Welcome.

Birth Changed Me

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Sydney’s friend’s mother asked me the other day how I came to this profession.  No one had ever asked me that, and I guess I’d never really told anyone.  The truth is, if someone had asked me what I was going to do with my life, I certainly would never have thought that I’d be doing THIS.  In fact, at the age of 18, with the world before my feet, I ventured off to college in Greensboro, NC, where I was ready to take on the world.  Social Work was my major, and I wanted to be a Marriage and Family Therapist.  Today, I do not believe that’s where my gifts and passions lie, nor do I want to do anything like that.

But, it was in college that I first heard about HypnoBirthing, and became dedicated to a gentle birth for my future children.  Little did I know that I’d become a HypnoBirthing Childbirth Educator.  It was in 2007, when I was with my mother in Babies R Us at a Breastfeeding Fair, which was meant to be a pitstop on the way to Barnes and Noble to buy the HypnoBirthing book, because I had no idea that there were classes to help me along my journey to the gentle birth.  As I was filling out a raffle to win all kinds of baby items, I happened to glance at a sheet of paper that had the word HypnoBirthing on it.  I picked the piece of paper up, and saw that classes were offered in my area, so I flagged down the manager and asked where the distributor of the flyer was.  I was directed to Nicole, who taught my HypnoBirthing classes, attended our birth, and continues to be one of my friends.

Fast forward to my labor and birth.  July 16, 2007, at about 5:30pm, I began to feel the first of the surges, accompanied by diarrhea.  They began at 20 minutes apart, sped up to 10 minutes apart (which is when I ate dinner), then accelerated to 3 minutes apart upon entering the bath tub to relax.  My mother in law informed my husband that I was in labor upstairs in the tub, and that I was surging at 10 minutes apart, so when my husband came into the bathroom and heard me say, “I think it’s time to go”, imagine his shock.  About an hour later, we were on the way to the hospital, and were soon checked in.  We had Birth Preferences that were given to the nurse who would attend, and I was given the privacy to labor, with intermittent monitoring, vaginal exams only at my request, no mention of moving or hurrying things along, and freedom from an IV.  There were no references to pain, only to comfort level and how it could be improved, and my team was with me (husband, mother-in-law, and Nicole).

 

Relaxing during labor

As labor continued, exhaustion began to set in, and my focus became diverted to what was beginning to be translated as discomfort, and my relaxation was dwindling.  Position changes, sitting on the toilet, moving, walking, squatting, swaying, moaning, breathing, swaying, moving, moving, moving… Baby come out.  At hour 17 of labor, I said I needed “help”, and everyone in the room knew what that meant, but no one acknowledged it, they instead encouraged me, stayed with me, loved me, comforted me, took me on the journey of labor.  At hour 20, all relaxation had left, and I again spoke of needing “help”, and out of exhaustion, cried and begged.  Jeremy and I talked about it, and I told him I could not get our baby out of my body without first resting, and I was getting none with my extreme exhaustion and surges that were doing their job.

At hour 20, when help was requested, I was 10 centimeters open, but our sweet baby was not moving, no progression, just sitting there, and at hour 20, the nurse told us our baby was “sunny side up” (OP – Occiput Posterior, back of baby’s head on my back, not the optimal position for birthing a baby).  We tried one last position to get the baby to drop out of my pelvis so she could reposition correctly for birth, but to no avail.  Shortly after, help was delivered, and I drifted in and out of sleep.  I rested, and eventually was awakened so our baby could be born.  The doctor arrived, and was extremely hurried, so much so that the understanding nature, beautiful bedside manner were all gone.  Instead, the person who sat with her fingers in my vagina, stretching my perineum was a stranger to me.  Because of being medicated through epidural, I was not able to feel my natural impulses to aid my body in birthing my baby, so I had to use forced pushing.  About 2 and a half hours after beginning to push, our beautiful Sydney was born.

 

Skin to Skin Bonding

It was at that very moment that my life changed, and I know everyone says that, but a shift took place in my life.  We had never known that we would have a girl, and at that instant that she was there on my naked skin, something in me began to heal.  Years of tattered relationships with women in my life, years of hurt from my own relationship with my mother, years of anger toward her, years of not forgiving her, years of pain, were welling over with a healing power I had never experienced.  It was at that moment, when I looked at my daughter, that I knew my role as woman had been defined.  I felt an overwhelming sense of appreciation and love for her.

It was not until much later that I decided I needed to help women to give birth in a conscious, gentle manner.  I am so thankful I’ve made this choice, and so grateful for the support of my Sydney and my husband to do what I am so passionate about.  For me, birth was my defining moment, it was when I’ve felt strongest in my life, it was when I felt most empowered, most in control, and above all, I knew my body was built to give birth.  Never in my mind was there a doubt about my ability to birth my baby vaginally.  Sydney’s birth is the reason I do what I do today, it is my reason for looking forward to doing it all over again when I’m blessed to do so.  It is the reason I tell women and their birth companions that they can do it, that they are made to do it, that it is normal, natural and healthy to give birth freely, gently, consciously…

The births I have attended as a doula have all reaffirmed my belief in the power of birth.  I’ve witnessed as women became women, men became men, and they together became parents, nurturers, providers, givers, unconditional lovers of their new little life that they created together.

I do this because it has to be done, I do this because Sydney’s birth guided me to it, I do this because I believe in my entire being that women have a right to know they can give birth gently, I do this because women are powerful beings, I do this because I love it.

Birth changes me everyday.

A very special thanks to the couples who have welcomed me into their births, and to my Sydney who is the catalyst for this change.  You’ll never know how much this all means.

Comments Welcome.

Response to Mamapedia responses

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I submitted my article “New Surge In Birthing” to Mamapedia for many reasons:

  1. To spread the word about such a beautiful birthing method
  2. To encourage pregnant women to seek something different (for themselves and their babies)
  3. To bring awareness to the joy, comfort and empowering nature of gentle birthing, rather than the traumatic nature of how birth is already portrayed in the United States
  4. To write about a subject our country needs to hear about more (for our mothers, fathers, and babies)
  5. To hear responses from women everywhere (and to honestly and candidly respond with wholehearted appreciation)

I knew it was a risk to allow this article to be seen by women who may not feel the way I do about birthing, but I had no idea I would have such a negative, insulting, and critical audience.  The few people who supported my post through your positive words, I really do appreciate it.  Most of the comments, while not shocking to me, created a sad feeling within me, because I realized that the way our society has deemed birth to be has so deeply ingrained itself and affected women (to the point that they are defensive about the experiences they had when birthing).

My post was in no way intentioned to insult anyone, to create animosity, or to belittle anyone who had a c-section, an epidural, or an otherwise medicated birth.  There is no need for these women to justify your births to me, there is no judgment from me about your birth, and I would certainly hope that my readers do not pass judgment on you either.  If they (my readers) pass judgment on you, then they must also pass judgment on me as well, because I had a medicated (yet peaceful) birthing experience, that I blogged about in an earlier post.

As I read the article that Mamapedia so kindly published on their widely read website, I scoured it for the phrase “natural birth”, since some of the women who seemed deeply offended by my post spoke largely about “natural birth”.  Nowhere in my post did I speak of “natural birth”, because HypnoBirthing does not tout itself as a “natural birthing” technique, method of philosophy.  HypnoBirthing can be used in any birthing circumstance.  Allow me to share the birthing experiences of the couples I have taught, and of myself.

  • Me – Epidural after 20 hours of unmedicated labor (OP baby)
  • First couple – Home water birth, unmedicated with midwife attending (10 pound baby)
  • Second couple – C-section after 26 hours of labor and several hours of pushing (OP baby)
  • Third couple – Planned C-section (breech presented baby)
  • All of my other moms are happily awaiting their babies’ birthing days, with positive expectation

Out of all of the couples that I have taught, only one has been an unmedicated birth, but that does not make that birth or mother any more beautiful and wonderful than the other mothers I have worked with.  Nor does it undermine or dismiss the incredibly empowering experiences the medicated birthing mothers had.  All of the couples I have taught have had gentle, beautiful, empowering, and incredibly moving birthing experiences.  In fact, every one of the mothers I have worked with has said nothing but positive things about HypnoBirthing and the preparation for their births.

I am deeply saddened that in the United States, childbirth “preparation” classes, some providers, and hospitals tell couples that epidurals have no effect on babies.  Totally and completely untrue!  I am so frustrated by people saying this!  Let’s set the record straight.  Epidurals are narcotics, and they directly affect babies.  The affects of epidurals have been researched extensively, and here are some of the affects on both mother and baby:

  • (Mother) Drops in blood pressure (that’s the reason a blood pressure cuff is kept on a mother’s arm)
  • (Mother) Slowed labor because of not moving around during labor (mothers need to move during labor to facilitate the easy descent of the baby)
  • (Mother) Difficulty in pushing the baby out (increases the likelihood of other methods being used: forceps, vacuum extraction, pitocin, c-section)
  • (Mother) Interference with love hormone, oxytocin (often breaks down protective instinct over baby, and bonding can be difficult)
  • (Mother) Headaches (postpartum)
  • (Mother) Feelings of being emotionally detached
  • (Mother) Hip problems from knees being pushed to my ears (Personal)
  • (Mother) Void of emotion or protective instinct (Personal)
  • (Mother) Increased chance of tearing during birth
  • (Mother) Limited positioning options for birthing (decreased pelvic room for baby to emerge)
  • (Baby) Trouble latching on for successful nursing
  • (Baby) Interference with bonding with mother
  • (Baby) Drowsiness at birth
  • (Baby) Fetal distress

The above came from the following sources:

http://www.americanpregnancy.org/labornbirth/epidural.html

http://pregnancychildbirth.suite101.com/article.cfm/do_epidurals_affect_babies_

http://www.kimjames.net/epidural_risks_and_side_effects.htm

While one of the goals of HypnoBirthing is for women to have as few interventions as possible, it also advocates for mothers doing what their bodies tell them to do, and to accept whatever changes in labor that might occur.  This in no way indicates that HypnoBirthing is a “natural birthing” method.  However, it does advocate for education of mothers and fathers, to enable them to make the decisions that are best for them and their babies.  Through education, advocacy, and empowerment, HypnoBirthing very successfully helps couples experience gentle births (even and especially for the babies).  You would not believe the beautiful, peaceful, and gentle nature of HypnoBirthing babies.  I have the pleasure everyday, of being in contact with the mothers and fathers who gently and peacefully bring their babies into the world.  So yes, birth can be peaceful for babies, and it most often is with HypnoBirthing.

Thank all of you so much for the feedback, and thank you eternally to Mamapedia for publishing an article about a subject I am so passionate about.

Comments welcome.

Updates.

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This past Saturday, I attended the La Leche League Baby Fair as a vendor.  As I prepared for this event, I became more excited for the community to learn more about HypnoBirthing through My Gentle Birthing.  It became clear after the doors opened and women began to trickle in then flood the baby fair, that I chose the perfect business name.  Women flocked to my booth as they read My Gentle Birthing, because they were perplexed by what seemed to be an oxymoron (Gentle and Birthing together in the same statement).  Pregnant moms stood around my booth as I told them about HypnoBirthing, and I watched as some of the faces changed from disbelief to amazement.  Women signed my sheet requesting more information, and Cape Fear Valley Medical Center and Birth and Women’s Care came to get some brochures and business cards to distribute to their patients and clients.  The networking potential was huge there, and it was wonderful to get publicity for My Gentle Birthing in a community that seems to only know of one way to birth.  It was a truly refreshing experience to bring attention to such a beautiful birthing method.

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To shift gears a bit, as many of you know, I am passionate about mothers and babies (and mothers giving birth gently and with their wishes adhered to).  The other night, I attended a film screening at Birthright Services in Garner.  I was inspired by the film, and by the conversation that ensued following the film.  As the conversation continued, doula training was brought up.  I am very interested in becoming a doula, and helping to support women as they labor and give birth.

I was so inspired by what I learned that I came home and the next day started looking at doula training, and found a Doula Organization called toLabor (formerly ALACE).  I made the decision after reading about it, finding a certification class that is being held next month close to home, and evaluating childcare options, that I will attend this training!

There are no words to express how grateful I am to have this opportunity.  There are no mistakes, things always happen for a reason.

I look forward to bringing more expertise, knowledge, and gentle nature to Fayetteville and the surrounding area through My Gentle Birthing.

Malpositioned babies

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Imagine planning and practicing for your gentle birth, and being told your baby is breech.  Such a thing happens to 3 to 4 percent of all pregnant women in the United States every year.  While most hospitals consider a breech baby an immediate surgical birth, there are ways to help turn a baby, through natural and non-invasive ways.

The same is true for many other positions the baby may assume before birth.  As pregnancy progresses, between 32 and 37 weeks, babies naturally turn head down in the uterus, into the vertex position.  Vertex position is the ideal way for a baby to be born, and more specifically, with the baby facing his/her mother’s back (anterior position, with his/her occiput (back of head) facing the front of mother’s body).  Sometimes, however, babies do not make this turn that nature intended, and malpositioning occurs.  The term malpositioned refers to a baby that is not in vertex anterior position (head down, occiput facing forward).

The most widely heard of malposition is breech, which means the baby presents butt first.   There are four types of breech presentation, to include:  complete breech,  footling breech, knee breech, and frank breech.  Complete breech occurs when a baby is sitting cross-legged, presenting butt first, footling breech is similar to complete breech, but one or both feet present, knee breech is similar to footling breech, but a knee instead of the foot or feet present first (knee breech is the rarest form of breech presentation), and finally, frank breech is a position in which the baby’s feet are near his/her face, and his/her legs are straight, with his/her butt presenting first.  I am sure that many people think that breech presentation occurs often, but breech only accounts for 3 to 4 percent of all births.

Malpositioning of the baby also includes OP (Occiput Posterior) or “Sunny Side Up”, this means the baby’s occiput is facing the back of the mother.  Such a position may cause tremendous discomfort, exhaustion, and cause difficulty with relaxation for a gentle birth.  (Sydney was OP, and her birth story follows.)  Another sort of malposition is transverse, which means the baby is lying horizontally or semi-horizontally with no particular body part presenting for birth.  Asynclitic position is another malposition, in which the baby’s head is tilted.  This may cause the cervix to not open evenly, and may make birthing more difficult.

While all of the causes of malpositioning may not be known, some of the causes may include:

  • Stress or Fear
  • Upsetting situation
  • Tense uterus
  • Poor posture

It is important to know, however, that if your baby is breech, there are things that can be done to help turn the baby, without resorting to pain causing medical procedures.  Here are some things you can do to help your baby turn:

  • Breech turn script with HypnoBirthing Childbirth Educator
  • Webster Method (Chiropractor)
  • Seek help from a doula, who can help with exercises to help turn baby
  • Acupuncture
  • Acupressure
  • Pelvic tilts
  • Positive attitude, coupled with visualizing baby head down
  • Shining flashlight toward vagina while playing music at vagina

It is so important to remember that nature, your baby, and your body do not make mistakes, and if your baby does not turn, keep a positive attitude.  You may still have a gentle birth, because your mind dictates how your body will follow through.  If you only allow positive words and actions to happen, your body will follow suit, and you will have a gentle birth, as one of my HypnoBirthing Moms did.  I taught Ashley and Dan in the fall of 2009, with the anticipated birth in March of 2010.  They were really the model couple for HypnoBirthing, and I held every confidence they would approach their birth with such positivity, I had no idea exactly how much.  I am still amazed and overjoyed at their journey, though it did not go as they would have planned.  Here is Ashley’s story:

“When I first found out that Ava was breech I was crushed to say the least because of the road that I knew this was going to take us down. My doctor told us when we were about 34 weeks along and generally you’re told that babies have a significantly smaller chance of flipping after 32 weeks. I was told that having a vaginal birth was basically out of the question but that we could consider doing an external version or just plan to have a c-section. Both of the options they gave me were out the question in my mind at the time and in my opinion I felt even worse about having an external version than a c-section.

Having taken Hypnobirthing classes early on in our pregnancy and practicing Hypnobirthing during the months leading up to this it felt like everything was being turned on its head and there wasn’t much I could do about it at this point. I felt very helpless, sad and guilty (for being so upset about the situation despite that we still had a perfectly healthy baby girl) in the beginning. After a couple of days though the line from the Hypnobirthing CD about meeting any problems that may arise during the pregnancy or birth with calm and confidence started running through my head. The CD also mentions being an educated parent and making informed decisions, these thoughts also started running through my head. I knew that I was fully capable of giving birth naturally but now it came down to making the best choices I could with the opportunities and information  that I had in front of me. At this point I figured I had a few options 1.) Be upset and worried about the whole thing, 2.) Accept the situation and move on, 3.) Accept the situation at the moment but try my best to provide an environment for Ava to flip if that’s what she wanted to do.

I chose option #3 and I am so glad that I did. I educated myself on ways to help a breech baby to flip without using any force at all. I tried many different positions, headstands, I had a chiropractor perform the Webster Maneuver 4 times and tried to maintain as much of a relaxed frame of mind as I could. All of this was going on while my husband was deployed to Haiti which made everything a lot more difficult but praying a lot, having faith in God’s plan for our family and staying relaxed using my HypnoBirthing CDs helped me to maintain a positive attitude during this stressful time. After trying many different things to help Ava flip we were told at 39 weeks that she was still in the breech position which I was actually pretty surprised about but my husband and I were able to take the news very well because we knew that we had done everything that we felt comfortable with doing to help her flip.

If she hadn’t flipped at this point we felt pretty confident that she would not flip at all and we were ready to look into the other options. Since the 39 week appointment was my last appointment before Ava’s due date we needed to move things along quickly. Generally at this hospital breech c-sections are scheduled sometime between 38 and 39 weeks, rarely do they schedule them for 40 weeks or later. Ever since we found out Ava was breech I thought that as long as I could give Ava the longest amount of time possible to flip on her own that I would feel much better about any decisions regarding c-sections that we would have to make. I was very hopeful that we would be able to push any possible c-section out to her due date. Thankfully since I had declined scheduling the c-section at my 34 week appointment as they had wanted me to we were able to have the c-section scheduled exactly on her due date (March 5th) due to a full c-section schedule during my 39th week. I felt at ease with having a c-section in the end knowing that Ava had had a full 40 weeks in utero and we had tried as many things as we could to increase our chances of being able to have a natural birth. I am very happy with how the c-section went. Of course I would have loved to have had a natural birth but it was not in the cards for us given where we were giving birth, how far we wanted to push the medical boundaries and Ava seemed to be quite happy in the position she was in. I was alert throughout the entire procedure and I have very good memories from the day Ava was born.

I was able to begin breastfeeding her about an hour after the procedure which helped a lot with bonding and making up for the things we were unable to do due to the c-section. Her Dad was able to see and touch her right when she came out. He then was able to bring her over so I could meet her a few minutes later. We had a great moment there right in the operating room where the 3 of us were finally together as a family. At that moment when I finally knew that she was going to be ok, that Dan and I were ok and that we were all together everything came into perspective and I realized that nothing is more important than that. No matter how Ava was going to come into this world it was going to be an amazing moment and it was… one that I’ll never forget.

Here are some ideas that helped me during this experience:

1.) Do your own research and use the information you find to help make your experience what you would like it to be

2.) Be open minded

3.) Stay positive… either way the outcome is going to be great

4.) When the big plans fall through, set small achievable goals that you’ll feel good about reaching (mine were to try different exercises each day to encourage Ava to flip and to make it to her due date)

5.) Come to terms with what is happening… denying it is only going to work for so long

6.) You don’t always need to settle with what you’re told and it’s ok to say no.

I look forward to trying to have a natural birth in the future and seeing what my body is capable of… but for now I’m going to go enjoy my healthy, happy breech baby!”

Attitude is everything, and HypnoBirthing was able to help Ashley, Dan and Ava tremendously.  They clearly wanted to achieve a gentle birth they knew their daughter deserved, and they worked toward it with goals that were reachable.  I can honestly say that I have seen many babies in my life, and few are as peaceful and calm as Ava.

As mentioned above, OP (occipital posterior) is another form of malposition.  This occurs when the back of the baby’s head is facing the mother’s back.  As we prepared for our HypnoBirth with Sydney, I grew more and more excited as her birthing day drew nearer.  Here is the story of Sydney’s birth:

I went into labor on July 16, 2007 at about 5:30 pm.  My husband was at work, and my mother in law was with me.  I timed my surges to establish the baseline, which at that time was 20 minutes apart.  When I felt changes, I paid attention, but for the most part, I relaxed.  I felt fine, relaxed, ready, excited.  We hung around the house, I ate, took a bath, and my husband arrived home from work.  I was upstairs in the bathtub resting, and his mother had told him I was upstairs in labor, with surges 10 minutes apart.  When he entered the bathroom, I informed him they were 3 minutes apart, and it would be time to go to the hospital soon.  Needless to say, he was shocked.

We arrived at the hospital at about 10:30, and I was given the choice of walking or being wheeled to the room.  I chose to walk.  The nurse started me on a blood pressure cuff, intermittent fetal heartrate monitors, and asked me for the birth plan.  I cheerfully handed it to her, and she exited to read it, then returned with questions.  I continued to labor comfortably, and was not asked about pain or discomfort (per my birth preferences), and was only asked how they could help me to be more comfortable.

As my labor progressed, my body continued to clean out, and I was free to move around.  I walked, sat on the toilet, sat on my birthing ball, rested in bed, and kept moving.  My labor was becoming progressively more tiring, and I was experiencing a lot of pressure in my back, and at hour 17 of having minimal intervention (no IV, only intermittent fetal heart rate monitoring, and blood pressure readings), I whispered I needed help.  Everyone in the room heard me, but further relaxation was encouraged, and I followed suit.

At hour 20, I had reached a point of physical and emotional exhaustion, and felt as if I could not continue with my labor as it was.  At this same time, I was informed that my baby was OP, and Nicole, my HypnoBirthing Childbirth Educator (she is also a chiropractor) encouraged me to assume polar bear pose to help baby to drop out of my pelvis so she could rotate.  I did this, and was impatient and exhausted, so at 10 cm opened, I chose to have an epidural.

It is useful to know that about 70% of all OP babies are born via cesarean section.  4 hours after getting the epidural, with a lot of forced pushing (which HypnoBirthing does not advocate for, but I had no choice, she was wedged), inspiration from looking in a mirror at my baby emerging, and just pure adrenaline and determination, Sydney Ava was born.  The lights were dimmed for her entrance into the world, and she was placed directly on my stomach for skin-to-skin bonding.

She remained with us for an hour or so, before they completed any assessments in which she had to be taken from us.  Considering the circumstances of Sydney’s birth, and knowing I had prepared myself for her birth, I am extremely proud of the lengths I went to to get her here, vaginally.

It is so important during pregnancy to care for your body and your baby.  It is important to eat well, exercise, and prepare mentally and physically for the birth you’d like to have.  As much as I prepared for our birth, I still needed assistance during my labor to reposition Sydney.  I later found out about the use of a rebozo for repositioning a baby in utero, during or before labor.  A rebozo is a large cloth that is used to gently reposition the baby.  These following links include pictures and video of different techniques that can be used.

Rebozo Video

Rebozo Technique in pictures

Rebozo explanation

Malpositioning happens.  And when it does, alternatives to medicine are viable and often useful options to consider.  Remember to always ask questions, if something doesn’t sit well with you, or fit in with your values or what you think is best for your baby, a wealth of information exists that may back you up.  Research what you want, and prepare yourself for any turn your birthing may take.  In the mean time, Happy Birthing.

As always, comments welcome.

*Special Thanks to Ashley, Dan, and Ava for sharing your inspiring birth story!  I love you all!