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The Jedi Midwives

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The last 9 months, I’ve been birthing new understanding about the power of words. As often happens, many areas of my life have carried the theme lately. Most notably, Star Wars.

You heard me. And I’ll come back to it.

My ears have been listening and my senses attuned to authority figures and their use of words.

  • A parent says, “I know you love your brother and want to make amends.”
  • A nurse says, “I want you to think of me as the Wicked Witch.”
  • A teacher says, “I can tell you are all listening carefully.”
  • A doctor doing a blood draw says, “It is going to feel tight and then tickle.”
  • A midwife says, “This is going to hurt.”
  • A mentor says, “You will make the right decision.”

What we say and how we say it matters.

This article written by a physician gives several examples of doctors influencing their patients with words. There are some crazy medical stories out there about patients cured and killed by words.

I’ve been reading all sorts of stories about linguistic placebo. And practicing on my kids, “Let me give you some magic medicine for that boo-boo” and “Your brain will tell your body that the carsickness is gone. Your tummy will settle. You will rest your eyes and sleep now.”

In January, I was poked and tested as we tried to diagnose my mystery tropical illness. A nurse said, as she was holding the syringe, “this is gonna burn.” Wow. It hurt so badly! Then came the flu test. I’d never had a flu test nor seen anyone else have one. I had no idea what was involved. The nurse practitioner said, “this is really going to be uncomfortable.” I panicked. How far into my nose was she going to stick it? I started sweating and saying, “Wait, wait!” I made her give me a minute while I found prepared my hypnosis cues. Good grief. It was not a big deal at all although I almost passed out from anxiety. If she had instead said, “I’m going to swab the inside of your nose and it will tickle some” the whole thing would have been a non-incident.

Give me expectations of pain and my imagination will run wild.

Cedar will freak out if I say, “It isn’t going to hurt.” Because her toddler brain only hears, “going to hurt!” When adults are anxious or groggy or in pain, sometimes our brain only hears in shorthand, too. Instead of using negatives, “this won’t hurt” could we say, “this will feel tingly?” Or could a nurse rub the IV site and say, “I’m going to numb your skin and you will feel cold on your arm.” Why must it feel like a “bee sting”? Who sits still and welcomes a bee sting?

You can see why birth language is so important. We have a few midwives in my area who don’t fancy hypnosis. That would be ok except that they speak words that undermine it. (!!) A midwife, whether she likes it or not, is an authority figure. She says, “I’ve never seen hypnosis work,” or, says to a woman using hypnosis, “This is going to hurt” or “Push past the pain” or “You might feel a burning sensation.” A woman in hypnosis is highly suggestible. What do these statements do?

Interestingly, I rarely see OBs interfere with hypnosis. Maybe they are curious or maybe they just don’t care.

I love quiet midwives. The ones who murmur, “you’re doing wonderfully well.” The ones who don’t assume they know what the birthing woman will feel next. What if she isn’t hurting and you tell her she will feel a burning ring of fire? Or that her pains will become more intense? Do you think that will impact her? Go hang out on any birth hypnosis forum and read how care providers derail births with their words.

So what does this have to do with Star Wars? Scott and I decided to watch the Star Wars Trilogy recently. I realized that this linguistic placebo is like a Jedi mind trick. I have seen this in action. I call them The Jedi Midwives.

You remember the Jedi scenes in the Star Wars movies? The Jedi speaks gently, “We are not who you are looking for. You will let us go.” And then the storm trooper says, “You are not who I am looking for. You can go.”

Linguistic placebo.

It works at births. The midwife whispers, “your cervix is dilating easily.” The woman’s instinctual brain intuits the message. And her cervix melts away.

I’ve seen it happen. Happen in ways that were as mind-blowing as some of the medical stories about the power of words. I’ve seen The Jedi Midwives influence the birthing woman’s body with their words.

I realize there are other care providers (midwives, nurses, and doctors) who use their Jedi powers. I’ve simply seen The Jedi Midwives use them most.

What can you do if your care provider does not know the Jedi tricks?

  • Help your doula and partner understand the importance of words. Teach them about the force. 🙂 Sometimes the medical care providers will catch on as they hear your team saying, “She’s doing so well” or “your body knows how to birth.”
  • Put it in your birth plan. Perhaps you don’t make it Star Wars themed (and certainly not Padme style!) but you could write, “Please do not tell me what I will feel or discuss pain.”
  • If you’re using hypnosis, play it up. Most care providers know little about how hypnosis for childbirth works. If you give them some “rules” they may take the high road and not say anything. (Those who have their mouths open all the time generally have their ears shut.
    Barriss Offee)
  • Ask for silence. Have music playing. Turn the lights out. People are quieter in such an environment. If you’re using hypnosis, have the scripts playing out loud. It might even put your care provider to sleep. I remember a hospital birth at which the nurse kept sneaking into our room to sit on our couch. She said our room was so peaceful and smelled so relaxing. She didn’t speak. Just crept in and chilled on the couch.

The more we learn, the more we discover how much we do not know.Yoda

A first time mom “Peace-d” her baby out

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I was honored to witness this birth.  The words that came out of this mom’s mouth during the most intense part of her birthing time were “yes, thank-you, peace, love.”  It was beautiful to watch.  Here, she shares her story and offers excellent tips for expectant families.  I love her “in case I ask for an epidural” plan.  I also appreciate how she describes the Hypnobabies Special Safe Place tool. –Julie

“Child,” said the Voice, “I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own.”

The Chronicles of Narnia, The Horse and His Boy

When you get pregnant, people assume you want to hear their birth stories. And I suppose that you do want to hear them, until they get to the part about 30 hours of labor, 15 stitches or how they were cursing out their husband to get the drugs. Personally, I could have done without hearing some birth stories I was told. I guess people just want you to hear what you may be “up against.” I am thankful to have grown up with a mother who likes to remind me that she gave birth four times naturally. And I guess hearing that enough somewhere down the line had an effect on me. I think at some point long ago, I began really believing that God made my body capable of giving birth without intervention. I believe birth is natural and though it may hurt, the reward is worth doing it all over again and again. Having those beliefs engrained in me was vital, and it’s never too late for others to start believing the same thing.

So here, I want people to read my story and see that while giving birth is natural, at the same time, you don’t have to do yoga, be a member of La Leche League or have your baby in a pool in your living room in order for it to be considered natural. (And just as a side note, all of those things are great…I may even try a couple, but they aren’t crucial when it comes to giving birth naturally.) A woman who desires to give birth naturally can do so in a hospital and have a wonderful experience, provided she is prepared and surrounded by a caring support team of people who fully understand her desires for her birth.

And I am blessed to have been one of those women…

My birthing time began somewhat uneventfully. There was no gush of water that soaked my pants in the mall and sent people into hysterics like in the movies. Actually, it was just some leaking, and at the time, I didn’t know what it was exactly. So of course, I googled it. I read about tears in the amniotic sac that can heal themselves, how some women leak cervical fluid and how fastidious hygiene can keep you safe from infection and from going to the hospital where you may be admitted. And after reading way too much and spending entirely too much time concerned about it, my doula put my fears to rest. She wasn’t worried, which meant I didn’t need to be. And that’s kind of how it is with her. I was trying to describe her to someone the other day, and I think I put it best when I said, “She’s like the definition of peace embodied in a person.” Talking to her, you realize she knows what she’s talking about because you also realize that if she didn’t know, she’d be the first to tell you. I could go on and on about her, but having her with me is another story that I can tell another time.

Fluid continued to leak out of me for a couple of days. It was Thursday when it started, four days before I had predicted having her. Yes, I had my own date separate from that of the doctor’s “due” date. My guess date was May 28th, Memorial Day. For months and months I had been telling myself that was when Emma Jean was going to come. I didn’t really have a reason for that date, I just felt like she would come at the end of May and Memorial Day seemed like a good day to be born on…especially if you’re a future Olympian.  🙂

Anyway, it was early Sunday morning (12:00am) when I started to feel some pains in my lower abdomen. I wasn’t really sure what they were, but I felt like something was getting started. I tried to sleep and told myself rest is important, but there was no use. At 1:00am I was writing down my pressure waves (contractions), how long they were lasting and how often they were coming. By 2:00am I woke up my husband and told him to come to another room with me. I told him he could lie down and sleep but that I just wanted him near me because I thought I might be beginning my birthing time (labor). I don’t think he really thought it was happening, and I can’t blame him because how can you really tell? How was I supposed to be sure? So during the next couple of hours I was moving around, sitting on my birthing ball, pacing, swaying, talking to myself (“Relax, breathe, pray” and “Peace”) and just kind of staying within myself. Charlie was making sure I drank water, reading me Psalms and getting in touch with our doula.

Here’s the part where everyone wants to know, “Ok, seriously, how bad did it hurt?” And much to people’s dismay, it’s really hard for me to describe. I think because I was using hypnosis, my entire birthing time was dream-like. People who read this will probably think, you mean, nightmarish? And no, I mean dream-like. I mean that my thinking brain had shut down and because I had a place to go to, a place I had visualized many times, a state I had practiced being in, I went there and I decided I would stay there until all of this was over. So the pains were not in the forefront of my mind. I felt them, I expected them but they didn’t consume me. I was able to relax into them instead of running away from them and it made all of the difference. I will say the most vivid pains I remember during this time happened when I tried to lie down. My husband suggested I try to rest since I’d been up for several hours, and although this would have been a good thing for me, every time I stopped moving and tried to lie down, it took me out of my zone and the pain was much more present. So instead, I moved around, talked to myself and listened for 4 or 5 hours. I think I listened to my Easy Birthing Guide (from my Hypnobabies CD library) 6 or 7 times through. Charlie just put it on repeat, and I think hearing those birthing prompts, the positive reinforcement and just hearing it over and over, really helped me stay within myself, in the zone. I honestly don’t remember what was on the track at all but having that playing repeatedly gave me something to concentrate on, which in turn relaxed my body and comforted me. Needless to say, I pretty much paced, swayed, etc…my way through my birthing time until my doula said she thought it was time to head to the hospital.

And then came the ride to the hospital. Here, I can answer the pain question better. It was terrible. I had to sit upright with my knees touching the dash (we installed the car seat behind the passenger, not smart, put it in the middle) as we drove for 25 minutes to the hospital. I couldn’t move, all I could do was breathe and moan as we hit every single light on Wade Hampton. It was terrible. It was the most present and non-dreamlike state I was in during my entire birthing time, and it is the reason that next time, Lord willing, I won’t be getting in a car at all. But I told myself the whole ride this wouldn’t last forever and that we would make it there…and we did.

Upon arriving at the hospital, I remember walking from the car through the lobby, to the elevator and into labor and delivery. I took my time on that walk knowing that where I was going was a different environment than my home had been. My home had been dark, comfortable, relaxing and this place was bright, unfamiliar and different. So as I walked in and up, for about 5 minutes, I got my breathing, relaxation and everything else I had at home back on queue knowing that I needed to be in the same state in order for this to continue progressing. I trusted that my doula and my husband would take care of answering questions, filling out papers and finding our room. And that’s what they did, except for the filling out of papers. We miraculously avoided that altogether during this time; for whatever reason, the nursing staff felt like the papers could wait until later…turns out they can. [Mona was her nurse.  Mona is AMAZING!]

I walked into the room and got up on the bed, for those of you reading who know yoga moves, in a child’s pose. I will never know why I did that, I just trusted my body to know what it was supposed to do. And that’s just what happened. My butt was in the air, my face was resting on pillows and my arms were outstretched. Also, in the very far reaching corner of my mind, I prepared myself for getting an IV, something I knew was policy considering me being positive for Group B Strep. But God knew the desire of my heart and totally answered my prayer: no IV. For whatever reason, the nurse didn’t push the issue. The nurse checked me, I never heard the results [she was fully dilated] and not long after, the doctor checked me. He said and I will never forget it, “Norie, if you want to have this baby now, you can,” in a familiar non-chalant manner. In my head I kind of laughed to myself, ya, Dr. Stafford, I would! However, that didn’t necessarily mean I knew how to. But then my body once again took over and big pressure waves started coming. My doula said to me, “Norie, let your peace build with those waves and then when it can’t build anymore, breathe all your peace down.” And for whatever reason, that made complete sense to me. I visualized big waves building up, up, up, and when they couldn’t get any bigger, I visualized my peace coming on top of them and smashing them down. I know it sounds weird, it sounds weird to me now, but at the time, it made perfect sense. So as the waves built, I peace-ed my baby out. And I will say that during this stage, I was definitely more aware of pain in a sense. I remember as Emma Jean’s head was coming, feeling a burning sensation, different than anything up until this point. But at the same time, what is pain when you know that on the other side is life? I mean, yes, I felt pain but I knew that I was having a baby so it wasn’t something I cared about. All I cared about was breathing Emma Jean out and into this world where I could finally hold her in my arms. Somewhere during this stage my doula jumped up on the bed and grabbed both of my hands and as I breathed peace, I squeezed her and was able to let my peace go down further. Also, toward the very end, I remember feeling Emma Jean coming out and my doula leaned in and reminded me of my “aah-aah-aahs” that helped me slowly, gradually and not forcefully breathe Emma Jean out. I’m glad I let out those aahs because I feel like they were a part of the reason I didn’t tear. And as I let my peace crash down one more time, my body trembling, heart racing, brow sweating, I felt a huge release and Emma Jean emerged. I was overwhelmed. She was passed underneath me, so when I opened my eyes after the last push, there she was, my baby girl. I picked her up carefully, rolled over and held her close.

Charlie helped dab her off, and I can’t remember much else. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. I didn’t want to. I do remember the doctor asking me for one more little push and there was my placenta, which I now realize why no one ever tells you about the afterbirth, because who really cares about that when you’re holding a new life?

And so there it is, my first birth story. I am so thankful to serve a God who allowed for me to have such a wonderful first birth covered in so much grace and mercy.

Here are a few things that I believe made a huge difference for my birth. I don’t think these are necessities for all women. However, I do believe in preparation and I believe God sees our preparation and may choose to honor it, so I think it’s best to be prepared:

  1. Pray (from day one of finding out your pregnant all the way through your birthing time, there cannot be enough prayer)
  2. Have a plan (I used Hypnobabies, but not because it was my first choice. In fact, I didn’t even know what is was really when we got into it, I just knew that I needed a way of going about birth whether that was Lamaze, the Bradley Method or whatever.)
  3. Create a birth plan (this is something that you hand to your doctor weeks before your birthing time and something you definitely give the nurses at the hospital when you arrive. It’s just an outline of the things that you desire out of your birth, things that you do have a say in. Honestly, I think the birth plan helped me more than anyone just to be confident with the decisions that we were making.)
  4. Be in as good of shape as you can be (when I found out I was pregnant, I was already in pretty good shape. And I made a commitment to try and stay in the best shape I could all the way until my birthing time. I definitely could have done a better job with this, especially during my last trimester, and I think that the longer you can stay active the more it will help you during birth. I don’t think that anyone is ever too far behind because walking is low impact but can strengthen your legs, which you will want to be strong. Also just doing squats and lunges can make a huge difference as well. And though I am not a good example of this, swimming is probably the best for you and baby, even if that just means getting a kickboard and kicking for 45 minutes. Not only will it strengthen your legs, improve cardio, it also helps baby get into a better position for your birthing time.)
  5. Drink Red Raspberry Leaf Tea (I’m not normally a tea drinker, but a dear friend of mine gave me some of this tea and told me that it would help tone my uterus on top of a bunch of other great things. So I thought why not? And I pounded the stuff back for the few weeks before my guess date, and I just believe it helped me. If at the very least, it made me believe that I did have a toned uterus and could give birth naturally, and to me, that was worth it. But I believe that it actually did do the trick and postpartum has made a huge difference in cramping, etc…If you don’t mind the taste, why not? It can only help.)
  6. Write Things Down (I wrote down a list of things that I wanted to do early in my birthing time, like take a walk, bake something, etc…of course I began my birthing time at 1am so many of those things I didn’t get to do but they were there in case I had been able to do them. I also wrote down a ton of Psalms on notecards for my husband to read to me during my birthing time. Writing them down beforehand was great because I felt comforted as I read each of them then and once more comforted when Charlie read them to me later. The other thing I wrote down were things I would say to myself in case I asked for an epidural. I knew I didn’t want an epidural, so I wrote down all the reasons why. Then I cut each one out and put it in an envelope entitled, “In case I ask for an epidural.” We never opened it, but it was there in case I had needed to be reminded of, “Norie, you can do this. You’ve wanted to do this your whole life. Billions of other women have already done it.” Or “God made your body able to do this, just trust in Him.” And so on and so forth. I think it was wise to have that envelope because even though I could say to myself, I’m not going to ask for drugs over and over beforehand, you never know what you are going to do in the moment. And I knew the only person who would be able to keep me from doing it, would be me, so I knew I had to write those out myself.)
  7. Tour the Hospital (the day we were supposed to tour the hospital is the day we had Emma Jean. In our defense, we had tried to tour earlier that week but they were too busy for us. But I think that it could only have helped because it lets you know the environment you will be stepping into as you arrive from a very different environment [most likely your home]. It’s important to know where you are going in order for it to be a smooth transfer that does not alter where you are mentally.)
  8. Do your kegels! Kegels are an exercise that work your pelvic floor muscles, also known as your Kegel muscles. The best part is, you can do them anywhere, anytime and no one will even know you are doing them. Just google Kegel exercises to find lots of information about them and how to do them.
  9.  Have a support system (For me, this consisted of my husband, my doula and a physician that I knew, 100%, understood my desires for birth and was going to do everything he could to make those happen. For others, they may choose family members or midwife. But whoever you choose to have with you during your birthing time, it’s essential that they understand your desires for your birthing time and are willing to do whatever it takes to make those come true.)
  10. Visualize what you want: good things! (It is super easy for me to sit and think about how things can go wrong in any situation. For my birthing time, it wasn’t any different. If I let myself start worrying about having a c-section or Emma Jean turning the wrong way, all of the sudden I was visualizing it happening with crazy detail. So I really had to take time to practice visualizing good things happening. I visualized giving birth in different positions, I visualized breathing/relaxing into pain, and ultimately I visualized things going well. This visualization practice was part of Hypnobabies, but I will say that whether I had done Hypnobabies or not, I would have used visualization to reinforce having a wonderful birthing time. I’ve been an athlete my whole life and used visualization many times in order to practice being successful. And when I look at my birthing time from an athletic perspective, it just makes sense that I would practice positive visualization. After all, I would never practice visualizing striking out so why would I visualize something bad happening during my birthing time? I think it’s often easier for us to expect things to go badly, that way, we won’t be surprised or letdown if they do. But it’s like my doula said, “What if everything goes great? What if everything is wonderful?” So don’t dwell on the negative “What if(s)…” but instead choose to see your birthing time happen in a wonderful way even before it ever does!)

Fear in Birth continued

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My post on Fear during Birth received some insightful comments.  They deserve their own post.

Hypnosis:  I’ve only attended one birth, the birth of one of my Hypnobabies students and fears. She held on to some fear during her birth. Finally she decided on her own to take some time, listen to the fear clearing track, read a self-written affirmations sheet and then she really got into her active birthing time. Baby came super fast once she was able to release those fears. Pretty amazing.

Processing previous experience to prepare for VBAC:  I had feelings of failure following my first birth. I’ve worked through my fears through talking about it, processing and reprocessing my first birth w/ my son many MANY times. I’ve cried. I’ve prayed. I’ve talked w/ people (you included) and allowed myself to experience the feelings that came after that first birth. Being pregnant again I don’t feel fearful. I have worked through my fear and KNOW that I CAN have a VBAC, natural birth. When I think about it, I am excited. Excited for what I know I can do, excited to have this opportunity again. Excited to be past my fear.

Preparing through education:  I prepared myself by reading a lot. For me, if I know what to expect, it isn’t scary anymore. So I learned all I could about the birthing process and what to expect, what was normal. Also, reading and listening to lots of birth stories of all kinds. I wasn’t afraid at all during birth and loved my experience. This time around most of my fears center on others and their involvement after the birth which was a big issue with my last birth. I’m trying to work through it by preparing them and also lining up my own support.

Talking about it:  I spoke about my fears with my husband, my doula, and the psychologist who did my hypnobirthing sessions. Talking through them and having a plan to deal with the possibility, made me more calm.

Expecting birth to be natural and normal:  I really didn’t have any fears. Part of that was ignorance of course, the first time, but I’d been raised to believe it was all very natural and normal. Not easy, but nothing to fear. I’m grateful for that since Mom went through nearly every scenario over the course of five births, including one that was painless, and a very traumatic emergency c/s (that was actually medically necessary!) and so much in between – she could have passed on very negative views of birth, but she didn’t. I read everything I could find, I was determined to go natural, but hadn’t even considered homebirth at that point. And by God’s grace, Mom was right about birth for me. My first daughter’s birth was amazing! Faster and easier than I thought it could be – but more painful than I expected, as well. Back labor caught me off-guard, but counter-pressure made a huge difference. I was checked all too early and all too often, but I had progressed each time, so that helped me stay positive. It was after my daughter was born that the fear showed up! I think I focused so much on the birth that actually having a child to raise was something of a shock.

Visualization:  I realized that my fear of pain, tearing, pooping, swearing was basically mind over matter. During the course of my pregnancy I gained strength from envisioning Mary giving birth to Jesus and how she had no anesthesia, no hospital, etc… It helped me know that I could do it. And I would do it. No. Matter. What. If SHE could do it, I could do it. I told myself this every time fear would creep in.

Redefining it:  I think for me, the scariest thing about the birth was my mother racing me to the hospital like a madwoman–traffic in Cairo never scared me so badly as my mom whipping in and out of traffic like she was! (Really, did the midwife *have* to tell us that an ambulance would take too long, and then tell my mom that she may have to pull over and help me birth somewhere along the interstate? Couldn’t she have just said “Go now, and go quickly”?)  Before the birth, my biggest fear was that my daughter would come early, and my husband wouldn’t have come from Egypt yet. That’s actually how it happened (which is why my mother was driving), but during the birth itself, I felt sadness for that, but no fear about whether or not I could handle it. In retrospect, even the fear of that happening before the birth wasn’t *fear*; it was sorrow for what he’d miss out on, and what we’d miss out on as a family, if that happened.

Choosing NOT to fear:  I ignored fear during my pregnancy. I reveled in my glow and bore my growing belly proudly. When I went into preterm labor at 34 weeks, all of the fears compounded and blossomed. The fears of the unknown, of the inexperience, and questioning whether my body would instinctively know what to do came pouring down right beside the new fears…will my baby be okay? How long will he be confined in NICU? Why is he coming now? What is the problem???
During active labor, I pushed my fears away. I made a conscious decision my baby was not going to be born into a feeling of fear. I would not fight him; tell him it wasn’t time–but in my mind embrace him and love him. I imagined fear during labor washing away like waves on the sand. Breathing, loving, crossing one bridge at a time, focusing not on what lay on the other side but what was happening at the present.
The whole time I wanted to/could have easily given in to fear. Instead, I mindfully decided to trust God and His Purpose. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,” Ps 46:1-2.

Writing down the fears:  With my first pregnancy, I wrote down an entire list of fears probably a couple of weeks before my birthing time. I still have the sheet and it is interesting to read them now.

More hypnosis:  With my second pregnancy, I worried that the birth might not be as great as the first one. I guess I just listened to the fear clearing Hypnobabies c.d. to remove some of that fear. The birth was super awesome, so the fear didn’t come true.

Identifying with other women:  With this pregnancy, I know in the beginning I had worries….1 in 3 women have a c-section, is my luck out? Then just two days ago I was reading Holistic Midwifery, Vol. 1 and I came upon a page that talked about that fear specifically for mom’s going in to their third pregnancy. I made me feel so much better reading that other women feel the same way. I’ve been listening to fear clearing more too.

Any others ways you want to add?

Your Daily Odent

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Because one can never have too much Michel Odent. Especially when he’s talking about love cocktails.



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The saying, in the birth world, goes: If you have two births due two weeks apart, they will go at the same time. If you have two births due on the same day, you’re golden.

I had three births that spanned a month with two weeks between each one. They all birthed in a five day span. And they all began with rupture of membranes. There must have been something in the atmosphere last weekend!  I thought someone was pranking me when two first time moms called on the same day to tell me their water broke.

I’m dying to blog about these amazing births but our birth community is so small, I don’t want to violate anyone’s privacy.

But I can brag on Dr. Polo Shirt and I have permission to share these two pictures. Seriously, how many hospital care providers would strike this pose and wait patiently and hands-off? I offered him the knee pads I keep in my birth bag.

(Check out another great birth position Dr. Polo Shirt attended here.)

This first time mom birthed in an extended child’s pose–very low to the ground.  A first, I think, for me to witness.  With an 8+ lb baby over an intact perineum, I might add.  Also, no needles, no monitors around her waist, no forms to sign.  She walked into the room, went into child’s pose, and had her baby.  Hurray!

Fear during Birth

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I was reviewing my notes from a birth that happened last year.  I had forgotten something and I’ve been thinking about it all day.

I had been with the couple in their home for 7 hours.  We were getting close to the “go to the hospital” decision.  The mom was getting restless.  My notes say she was prowling the house, experiencing some nausea.  She was feeling a bit of pushy pressure at the peaks of her waves.

Suddenly she sat down and blurted out, “Let’s make a list of all the things I’m afraid of.”

She said it like you might say at a slumber party, “Let’s make a list of the cutest boys in school.”

We sat with her and she dictated her fears:

  • The car ride
  • Hospital people
  • Owning a child
  • Being tired

It was easy for me to forget this part of her birth.  We only spent 10 minutes talking through her fears.  They weren’t paralyzing fears.

Or were they?  And if they were, was naming them all that was needed?  Could it have been that simple?

Seems like it.

She was satisfied to move on after naming her fears to us, taking the brave step of putting them on paper, and hearing our acknowledgement of them.

We left for the hospital 45 minutes later.

She never mentioned fear again during her birth although she did ask for a pep talk once in that same “slumber party” tone.

Undoubtedly, fear impacts birth.  There are several studies that correlate the mom’s level of fear with outcomes.

In some cases, the presence of someone else who is afraid can affect the labor.

Birth is a process driven by hormones.  Fear should remain a wallflower in this delicate dance.

What are some ways you worked through your fears before or during labor?  If you’re a birth worker, what works for your clients/students?

And I really want to hear from some of you!  My stats counter tells me I’ve got readers.  Share your wisdom, if you please.

August Expected

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When I was pregnant with Cedar, I thought it would be miserable to be 9 months in August.  But I loved it.  Relished it.  And admittedly, lazed in it.

  • Swimming in cold rivers
  • Long, highwaisted sundresses
  • Henna on my feet
  • Blackberries
  • And afterwards, not worrying that my newborn would be cold
  • Sitting on the porch swing with a naked baby
  • Easy-to-nurse-in clothes

Ah, such sweet memories.  And then, one of my favorite August births was my sister’s homebirth.  Oh, and there was Jenni’s surprise homebirth–another favorite!  And roller-derby Coral, who tripped over her giant newfoundland and began a fast and furious birthing.  Lara’s first birth, 0-10 in a few hours.  I love August births.

Guess what?

I have no doula clients for August this year!  Where are they?  I’m looking at that empty calendar and wondering what the month will bring.

Will they be homebirths?

First time parents?

Planned cesarean?

Super-speedy or slow as molasses?

Start-and-stop or get down to business?


Will they need me much or will I simply witness?

Will I make some blunders?

It is so personal, the matching of family to doula.  But once paired, I put great faith in our shared purpose.

I wonder who will teach me and whom will I serve in the powerful month of August.

August rushes by like desert rainfall,
A flood of frenzied upheaval,
But still catching me unprepared.

      –Elizabeth Maua Taylor

New Birth Story

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I’ve added a new birth story.  Check out Rachel’s waterbirth at Covenant Birth Center.  Rachel is a first time mom who used Hypnobabies.

Here is a sneak peak:

The pressure waves were now seemingly right on top of each other and much, much stronger. As weird as it sounds, my heart felt gratitude towards them. I think this is one of the main principles of Hypnobabies that really became engrained in my mind and heart and helped me through labor. These powerful sensations were taking over my entire being in order to help our baby come to us safely, and soon! My “aah”ing became more intense, but again, as strange as it may sound, I can honestly say that pain was still not the sensation that I was feeling. 

Enjoy!  And congratulations Rachel and Colin!

P.S. I have only two spaces remaining in my June/July class.

My Amazing Childbirth Students

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I added a gallery of pics from my childbirth students.  So thankful they were willing to share these pictures!

New Birth Story

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I love this story from one of the Hypno-Doulas in our community.

She went from being told “You’re just not good at being pregnant” to having a beautiful homebirth.

She went from listening to the “Baby Stay In” hypnosis script to the “Baby Come Out!” script.

She went from previous preterm births to full term.She went from feeling fear to empowerment.