Tag Archives: Decisions

Wake Up & Smell the Breast Milk!

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Ok, ok, ok, so I admit it.  I was a lazy mom.  Really lazy, I mean, the laziness I’m talking about may reach epic proportions.  And I have reasons, very good, valid ones, before you start to judge.  I was lazy because I didn’t want to really wake up at night with my newborn, and because I didn’t want to bring extra stuff in my already full diaper bag (who knew babies came with so many accessories?!), and because it was so very easy (except for the learning curve at the beginning), and because after all the research I consulted, I found it to be the healthiest thing I could do for myself and my sweet little lady.  And in all of this, I am not the least bit ashamed of my laziness, nor will I ever apologize for it.

What was I so lazy about?!  I chose breastfeeding over formula feeding (nearly exclusively for the first 8 months, and with supplementation of solid food and formula from 8-13 months).  My choice was made out of convenience for me, but also for health, environmental, ethical, and moral reasons.  This was my choice, because the preparation of formula seemed crazy, when I had milk stored, ready, warmed, and perfect for my baby, at every stage of her development.  So why would I purchase formula and bottles, and go through a lengthy preparation process (which most people do not do correctly).  Some people say that formula preparation is simple, but I argue that it is not.  As new parents to a newborn who would take about 3 hours to nurse, because she fell asleep so often at my breast, we would undertake a lengthy preparation process (incorrectly, I might add, if you’re wanting to prepare the formula safely according to the preceding link) of bottles of formula at night when she would wake up (and guess what I would do, I’d pump!).  It seems as though I could have known more about bed-sharing or co-sleeping (and I do now), so I could have gotten the much needed rest that all new mothers crave, while feeding my baby.

I soon discovered that I wanted to snuggle my warm baby against my body so I could nourish her with my milk, rather than feed her with a product that was derived from the milk of a cow who was forced to wean her baby way too soon (seems to me the calf deserved her milk, not my baby Sydney).  And we got used to each other, and sometimes we even slept in her rocking chair at night, cuddling with each other, Sydney nursing at leisure, and me getting some rest.  We had a wonderful breastfeeding relationship, and this is one of the reasons I am proud that I was so lazy.

But now, human innovation has developed a product that seems to make formula preparation as easy as preparing your morning cup of coffee.  A new product that touts, “It’s very simple, very intuitive, hygienic and of optimum safety.”, according to Martin Grieder, Nestle’s head of advanced nutrition systems.  And because baby bottle warmers are not enough, people now have the option of simply putting a capsule of pre-measured formula into the machine that provides the proper portion of water, at the proper temperature, so it is (indeed) like making coffee.  All of this, but at what cost?  Allow me to evaluate:

  • Money – The capsules themselves are said to cost roughly double the cost of canisters of formula, and the machine is an additional cost (at $284 US Dollars).  Not to mention the cost of bottles for the formula to go in.
  • Time – Whether a person is preparing a bottle of formula, or a machine is, there is still time that is being taken to do so.  We must also account for the amount of time that a hungry baby has to wait.
  • Environmental – Not only are factory farms milking cows and creating huge waste, but the transportation method used to ship said milk to factories that make the infant formula, and the formula making process itself are environmentally unfriendly.  The canisters or capsules that formula is placed in also clog our landfills and are killing our planet.
  • Convenience – I seriously doubt people are going to bring these machines with them when they are out and about, so it seems that the “convenience factor” goes right out the window.
  • Health – Research has proven that babies that are formula fed are at a much greater risk of developing many diseases and health problems (diabetes, obesity, heart disease, ear infections, cancer, and the list goes on and on and on).  Additionally, mothers who do not breastfeed also do not reap the health benefits such as a reduced risk of cancer and diabetes.
So I’m sure you know where I’m going with this.  Many of you know me well enough to know that I’m not a fan of formula, and I do not think it should be given to babies.  I do believe that all mothers should at least attempt to breastfeed, and should have excellent education and support while breastfeeding.  But, since we do not live in a utopian society, and since our society seems to be driven by convenience (which seems counterintuitive to formula feeding), and our society seems to think that breastfeeding is repulsive, embarrassing, and something women should be ashamed of, most families in the United States choose formula over breast.  So here is my argument against this product.  
  1. The only milk that is perfectly portioned, the perfect temperature, and perfect for a baby/toddler/child at all stages of development is (human) breast milk.  
  2. The cost of breastfeeding is minimal when compared to infant formula.
  3. Breastfeeding is the most convenient way to feed a baby – unfasten bra, pull bra down, pull shirt up, latch baby on, look deep into the eyes of your child whose love is unconditional and unending, and enjoy.
  4. Mothers who breastfeed actually get MORE sleep than formula feeding mothers.  Breastfeeding mothers can pull a baby to her breast and fall back to sleep.
  5. Breastfeeding mothers are not using another species milk to give to their babies.
  6. Breast milk is always going to be the most perfect food for babies.
  7. Mothers of all socioeconomic backgrounds can breast feed, and it will not break the bank.
Not only is this product another barrier to breastfeeding, but it also proves to me that people are craving more convenience in feeding their babies.  So I say, as I always do, why not breastfeed?!  If you don’t want to spend your child’s college fund before he/she even has a chance to get there, and you want to get more sleep at night, and you want more convenience, and you’re tired of cleaning bottles… then why not?
Comments Welcome!

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.

The Questions to Ask

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Last night at the Natural Birth Meetup in Fayetteville, we talked about different topics.  The main topic of the night was Placenta Encapsulation, but it morphed into many other subtopics, as these meetings always do.  I am always so refreshed to hear other women’s experiences, and to share some of my own.  I felt compelled to share the experience I had with our OB when I was pregnant with Sydney, and during my birth.  I stated that often, women do not ask the right questions, so this post is going to be a guide, of sorts, in dialogue form, to help you with the right questions to ask your provider.

The Wrong Questions:

Sally:  I need to ask you some questions, do you have time?

Provider:  Sure, (glances at watch).

Sally (feeling rushed and embarrassed for even asking):  My partner/husband and I would like to do a natural birth, are you okay with this?

Provider:  Of course.

Sally (feeling more confident, now):  We would like to remain pregnant until 42 weeks, do you see any problems with this?

Provider:  No, not really.

Sally:  We would like to avoid induction, unless medically necessary, will you suggest medically unnecessary induction?

Provider:  No, we do inductions that are necessary.

Sally:  We would like to avoid c-section at all costs, do you have ways to help us do that?

Provider:  Yes, we have many ways.

Sally:  I would like to push in a different position than on my back, is this okay?

Provider:  Sure, why not?

Sally:  We request skin-to-skin bonding, where the baby is placed on my belly/chest immediately after birth, will you do this for us?

Provider:  Yes.

Sally:  We would like for the cord to stop pulsating before clamped or cut, will you honor this request?

Provider:  Um, sure.

Sally:  (Feeling peppy and like she’s chosen the right provider)  Thank you so much!!! We know we have chosen the right provider for us!

This line of questioning could go on forever, I could list so many more, but this line of questioning is all wrong.  Notice how the provider does not say much, provides no detail, and really is not answering the questions.  This is no indication of how the doctor might respond during birth.  The questions Sally is asking are the right questions, but need much more detailed answers.  She asks closed ended questions, or questions that do not require much more than a one or 2 word answer.  So I will outline the correct line of questioning.  This puts the ball in your court, and you can make a much more educated decision about your baby, your birth, and your provider or your place of birth.

The Right Questions

Sally:  Dr. Moe, my pregnancy and birth experience are very important to me, so I would like to ask you some questions quickly (pulls out a sheet of paper and pen).

Provider:  Um, Ok.  (Sits)

Sally (feeling empowered and confident.):  My husband/partner and I are preparing for a normal physiological birth (expound as much as needed: intervention free, few interventions, pain meds free, whatever you want to say), how many of the births that you’ve attended have been this way?  And, how will you help me to achieve this?

Provider:  (Slightly taken aback with this open ended question) Most of the births I attend at Candy Hill Hospital are medicated with epidural or some other form of pain management.  I have only attended maybe 10 unmedicated births.  I am willing to help you achieve this by allowing you to labor for as long as possible without intervention.

Sally:  Okay… We would like to remain pregnant until 42 weeks, unless it is medically necessary to take action before hand.  How many of your mothers have you allowed to continue being pregnant until 42 weeks?  And what are your reasons as a provider for requesting birth sooner?

Provider:  We generally don’t allow women to remain pregnant until 42 weeks, our cut off is 41 weeks.  We don’t like women to continue pregnancy until 42 weeks because the risks of a larger baby/aging placenta/elevated blood pressure/etc go up.

Sally:  (Red flags going up, immediately, she’s done her research):  Okay, I understand your reasoning, and I’d love to see some written research to support this reasoning.  But, in our case, we would like to request a non-stress test following 41 weeks to ensure everything is fine with baby and me, and to ensure that everything is going smoothly in my pregnancy so we can go until 42 weeks.

Provider:  I guess we could do that, we will talk about it more as time gets nearer.

Sally:  Sounds pretty good.  Since we would like a normal physiological birth, we would like to avoid induction, unless medically necessary.  What is your induction rate? And what are the reasons you induce?

Provider:  Our induction rate is pretty high.  We induce because the baby is too big, the baby is late, there are medical problems with the mom such as high blood pressure, diabetes, other issues, and to help the mother to be more comfortable.

Sally:  Oh, ok.  (Increasingly more uncomfortable with the answers her provider is giving)  We would like to avoid c-section, unless medically necessary, first, what is your c-section rate? And, how would you help us to avoid c-section?

Provider:  Our c-section rate is right along with the national average of 32-33%.  We would monitor you and baby, to make sure that both are okay, and allow you your trial of labor, until it is deemed that c-section may be the best option.

Sally:  (Thinks she may want to switch providers, at this point)  All right… I would like to push in a position other than semi-sitting or flat on my back.  How many births have you attended in which the mother was in an alternate position for pushing?

Provider:  Since most of the patients I attend have had an epidural, we require the mother to lie flat during birth.  I have not attended many births where the mother wanted to push in a different position, but I guess I’d be okay with it.

Sally:  Okay.  We would like our baby to come directly to my belly/chest following birth for immediate skin-to-skin bonding.  Are there reasons you would not allow this? If so, what are they?

Provider:  We generally take the baby directly to the warmer to do the assessments of the baby.  While we understand skin-to-skin bonding is beneficial, we like to get the assessments done as quickly as possible so you can have your baby following.  We could maybe do skin-to-skin bonding for a few minutes.

Sally:  (Disheartened)  Wow.  Okay.  We would like for the cord to stop pulsating before it is cut or clamped.  Will you honor this for us? If so, why not?

Provider:  We like to clamp the cord and cut it immediately, so the assessments can be done on the baby, and with the baby attached to the cord, we cannot do that.  I guess we could do that so you could have a few minutes with your baby before we have to do the assessments.

Sally: (Feeling disheartened, discouraged, and frustrated, yet she knows she can switch providers) Thank you so much for answering these very important questions, we have some decisions to make.

Like I said, the questions are endless, and they all depend on what is important to you.  In this line of questioning, Sally receives the complete picture of what her provider is like during labor and birth, and is able to make more educated decisions about whether she would like to switch providers.

Let me say something else, if you decide to switch providers, it is YOUR decision.  You will not hurt feelings or step on toes, and if you do (Say this out loud to yourself), “IT IS MY BIRTH”.  What happens at your birth should be the well thought out plans you’ve decided on, not that your provider has decided on.

My personal experience with this was much more like the first line of questioning.  I can blame it on being a first time mom, being uninformed, or whatever I’d like it to be about, but what it came down to was I chose my provider for the wrong reasons.  My neighbor at the time wanted a fully medicated birth, and said her provider was “really nice”.  Well, most providers are really nice, they wouldn’t have much of a practice if they were ogres.  So my decision was made because my neighbor, who wanted a totally different birthing experience than I did, suggested the doctor to me.  If you want an intervention free birth, unmedicated birth, natural birth, normal physiological birth, however you want to describe it, DO NOT CHOOSE YOUR PROVIDER BASED ON THE CRITERIA OF “NICE”.  Ask open ended, detailed questions that will require thought, words, and an indication of the actions your provider will take.

Also, remember that you may always decline any procedure.  Simply say no, stand firm, and ask to sign a document saying you declined, if necessary.  Again, I will say this, and again, I want you to say this out loud (let this be your mantra), “THIS IS MY BIRTH.”

Please share comments, experiences, input, whatever you want to say, myself and my readers would love to read it.

Thank you so much for reading. Have a beautiful day!

Birth and Death

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Recently, I’ve encountered some very real, natural life occurrences.  And as I have encountered them, I have realized the similarities between birth and death, and realized there are huge, vast differences between the two as well.  As I teach HypnoBirthing classes to excited expectant parents, I also know that there are people preparing for death.  Everyone dies, but it seems that we, as Americans are so afraid of death, that we keep it a secret.

I’ve had a challenge in explaining to my daughter, who will be 4 this year, the realities of life.  I don’t know how much she understands,  but I am as honest as I can be, at an age appropriate level for her.  I answer questions when she asks, while sometimes inside, I have questions too.  It seems that in this past week, I’ve reached a level of comfort and clarity with the end of life.  I’ve also discovered that I have almost as much passion for end of life issues as I do for birth.

I think this passion grows out of my Social Work background, and the belief that everyone has the right to dignity.  At the beginning of life, mothers choose to birth their babies in a manner that is most comfortable to them.  Dignity is present when mothers’ wishes are honored.  At the end of life, many people prepare an advanced directive, decide what they would like to have happen, and how they would like to be treated.  Dignity is present when the wishes of the dying are honored.

Sometimes, though, wishes are not honored.  Many providers who care for pregnant women have a skewed view of what normal birth is, and so their methods do not mesh with the wishes of mothers.  Many times, birth is hurried, labor is induced, babies are rushed, when this is medically unnecessary.  A similar situation arises with the end of life, hospitals are so concerned with saving life, that even in situations where patients wish for no intervention, intervention is ever present.  Advanced directives can be helpful, as can Do Not Resuscitate orders, but if they are not in hand, they cannot be honored.  Procedures are performed to keep people alive, because a large part of the medical system is there to “fix” what is wrong.  In dealing with birth and death, since they are both natural occurrences, there is nothing to fix.

I understand that we, as humans, are extremely selfish.  We want our babies here NOW, and we want our loved ones to stay with us forever.  The thought of saying goodbye is excruciating, but it is a reality that we must face.  Allowing people to be born and to die on their own time is essential.  It provides a balance to life, but it also provides dignity to those who are entering or leaving our lives.

With death especially, we must remember that there are some things that death has no power over.  Death cannot change the love we feel and it cannot take our memories.

For those of you preparing for the birth of a baby or the death of a loved one, I pray for the wisdom for you to know that it will happen in its own time.  I pray for you to feel the comfort of just letting things stay as they are, now.  I pray for you to understand that you cannot control what or how it happens, though you may feel an intense need to.  I pray for you to soak in every moment of waiting, allow it to saturate your very being.  I pray for you to just be.  Allow yourself to not rush or prolong what is inevitable, it will happen, and when it does, just breathe.

Additional suggestions:

Birth:

  • Think about the kind of birth you want for yourself, your birth partner, and your baby.
  • Research everything.
  • Take a birthing class.
  • Create a birth plan.
  • Talk to your provider at length about your wishes during labor and birth (if he/she does not agree or seem on board, switch providers/hospitals or both).
  • Be confident in what your body was created to do.
  • Be flexible in your approach to labor and birth.
  • Hire a Doula.

Death:

  • Talk to family about your wishes.
  • Create an Advanced Directive, detailing your wishes (on paper).
  • Decide on details concerning what will happen to your body, before you pass on.
  • Know that no matter how much everyone prepares, this will not be easy on anyone.
  • Have the confidence to express your details to those you love.
  • Determine whether Hospice would be a viable option for you in your final journey in life.

Your input is greatly appreciated.

Keep our boys INTACT

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I sit here tonight, with my mind swimming with what to write.  There is so much misinformation about circumcision, so much myth, and so many “I circumcised my son because…” floating around.  To be honest, I’m tired of all of this, and I’m tired of people feeling the need to defend their decision to have their son circumcised.  There is no need to justify, what’s done is done. I say what I say, I write what I write for information, not to judge the decisions of others.

So what is circumcision anyway?  Well, in plain and simple terms, it is the removal of the foreskin from the penis.  In other terms, it is genital mutilation (from Miriam-Webster Dictionary online – Mutilate -1.  : “to cut up or alter radically so as to make imperfect & 2.  :to cut off or permanently destroy a limb or essential part of”), a (most of the time, non-consensual) removal of perfectly useful, normal, healthy skin that is SUPPOSED to exist.  Penises are formed with foreskin as an essential functioning part of them, and for some reason, many societies have created a stigma around it, so much so that I was told the other night that a childbirth educator here in town is stating that a good and valid reason for having a newborn boy circumcised is for the sake of his bonding with his father later in life.  I shared this with my husband last night, and he looked at me bug-eyed, deer in the headlights, and said, “Yeah, because men bond with their sons naked?!” And to add to that thought… Are men and their sons really bonding over their penises?!

One of my favorite sites on the internet, Peaceful Parenting, recently posted an excellent post, by Audrey Bryk, about keeping boys intact.  This article is stated in terms that are easy to understand, and that lit a fire under me.  Just as was stated above, one of the reasons in some cultures for circumcising boys is so that they can be “like their dads”.  Bryk argues that is it not easier to just state that someone made the decision based on information that those parents knew to circumcise the father, but that the parents of the son chose to keep him intact (a more complete and well-informed decision).  That seems to me to be a much simpler conversation than why an essential portion of his penis was cut from him shortly after birth.

I remember so vividly praying that Sydney was a girl, literally praying.  I sensed a lot of pressure from my husband and his mother to circumcise if we had a son.  Though I knew very little about circumcision, and had never seen an intact penis; something inside of me thought it was wrong, unethical, immoral, against everything that I believed.  I had no basis for this thought, but I felt extremely strongly about it.  It seems strange to me that I stood up very strongly for everything that I wanted for the birth of our beautiful baby, but something in me had a hard time standing up for keeping a son intact.  I no longer have that issue.

There is so much to be said for genital integrity.  So much to be said for having a say in what happens to your own genitals.  So much to be said for informed consent.  And this is what I will say:

  1. Boys/Men deserve to remain intact until they are able to make a fully informed decision.
  2. The reasons for circumcision are not based in medicine, but rather in preference of parents (for many reasons, appearance, misinformed hygiene myth, religion, etc).  This is not their decision to make, it is NOT their penis.
  3. Doctors should not perform a procedure on a patient who is non-consenting (the baby boy is the patient, after all).
  4. Mutilation of the genitals at birth is not something that any baby boy chooses for himself.  In fact, this is what baby boys have to say about it: 
  5. Grown men have a right to feel certain feelings about not having been allowed to make that decision for themselves. 
  6. The correct, valid, researched, and true information about intact vs. circumcised needs to be made public and talked about.  We cannot be ashamed to discuss this! Here is an excellent site:  Circumcision Decision Maker

I would like to say, that though this post is short, it holds every bit as much passion as any other that I’ve written.  My lack of words is an indication that so much is wanting to come out, and the words are not finding their way onto the screen (Come on, fingers and brain, WORK!).  But nevertheless, see my words for how I intend them.  I am not someone you need to justify your reasons for circumcising your son(s) to, I am not here to judge.  I just ask that all of you research the decisions that you make on behalf of the children you bring into this world.  Who knows what long lasting effects this may have on his psyche, sexuality, emotional well-being, self-esteem, physical appearance, etc.

As always, thank you so much for reading this post, and COMMENTS WELCOME.

Since posting this post last night, I have gotten some backlash on Facebook from people who read it.  People have become offended.  So I encourage you that if you’re offended, bring it to my attention so I know why and what created the offense.

Preparation for Birth

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There is so much talk about preparing for birth.  So I’d love for this post to be as interactive as possible.  Please feel free to comment, leave suggestions you might have for expectant mothers, and tell us how you prepared for your birth/s.

Pregnancy, for most women lasts from 37-42 weeks, and while that seems like a long time, it really is not.  In that time, couples/families become very involved in preparing for the birth, and I can’t help but wonder if families prepare enough.  We all know that couples, especially first time parents, go a little wacko on baby registries, and I’m sure stores are thrilled with this.  But are couples preparing adequately for the birth of their newest loves?

How did you prepare for your birth/s?  Do you think you prepared enough?  Do you think you could have ever been prepared enough?  So here are some questions I’d love for you to weigh in on.

  1. Did you take childbirth classes?  (If so, where were they offered?  Do you feel like you learned enough to feel comfortable with giving birth?)
  2. Did you interview multiple care providers, and shop around at several hospitals/birthing centers?
  3. Did you take other classes?  (Breastfeeding, Newborn Care, Etc)
  4. Did you research routine interventions that are used in hospitals?
  5. Did you research newborn care procedures in hospitals?
  6. Did you prepare a birth plan?  If so, did anyone help you with this?
  7. Did you have all of your questions answered by your care provider?  (Questions to Ask your Care Provider)
  8. Were you satisfied with the prenatal care your received?
  9. Were you comfortable with your care provider/hospital?
  10. Did you feel prepared to give birth?

I know that right now, in my community, there are two hospitals.  I have attended births at both, and each has its own policies and procedures, some the same, and some very different.  I cannot say that one hospital is better than the other, simply because I am not a woman who is preparing to give birth in either.  Each woman preparing for birth, prepares in her own way.  And the consensus I hear around my area is that women are not necessarily feeling prepared adequately.

The sad truth is that there is over-crowding in the hospitals, and the time that women receive with their care providers is little.  I always encourage women to ask tons of questions, and ensure that her questions are answered before she leaves her doctors office – whether she feels good about the answers or not.  I went to a Homebirth Meetup Group in Fayetteville a couple weeks ago, and heard a woman say that she felt like cattle in the system that is caring for pregnant mothers.  No mother should feel that way, ever, but especially by the providers who will help her to birth her baby.

Preparing to give birth is HUGE.  I believe that couples should research until they are blue in the face.  Here are the things I think should be researched by every expectant couple:

  1. Proper nutrition during pregnancy
  2. Advantages of hiring a Doula/Labor Support
  3. Childbirth Classes – Which one is the best fit for you?
  4. Routine interventions – imposed by care provider, and by hospital
  5. Medical reasons for induction & augmentation of labor (when it is appropriate to do so)
  6. Medical reasons for Cesarean section
  7. Routine newborn procedures – who does them, when are they done, which are mandatory
  8. Circumcision – Do you want this done?  (Here is a guide for you to look at if you’re curious about why or why not to have this done.)
  9. Vaccinations – Will you vaccinate, will you delay?

Another sad truth is that many people research what car to buy, what TV to buy, what cable service to use, where to have their dog groomed more than they do how to give birth, where to give birth, who to have in attendance, and what the process will be like for them.  Some women do not feel confident with the care they receive, but do not switch providers.  So, if I can make one suggestion, it would be to prepare for your birth, and this includes switching providers if you do not feel comfortable with them. Prepare for birth, for you and your baby.

Make this interactive:  COMMENTS PLEASE.

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.

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