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April is Cesarean Awareness Month

Many bloggers have written incredible posts about the shocking cesarean rate, VBAC support, and resources for healing.

I’m not going to try to repeat what they have already so eloquently written.

I want to talk about the idea of family-centered cesarean birth.

I don’t attend many cesareans.  The ones I’ve attended lately are so vastly different from the ones 5 or 6 years ago.  Those involved babies sent to nurseries while mom was in recovery–sometimes alone.  Waiting family members snapped pictures of this new life while mom caught only a quick glimpse in the operating room.

Now, I witness something astoundingly different.  It is much more common to witness births in the operating room involving skin-to-skin contact, sometimes delayed cord clamping, moms with arms unstrapped, and recovery together as a family.  Baby is often held skin-to-skin with dad when not on mom’s chest.  Doulas are more frequently allowed to accompany the family for the cesarean.

Recently, one of my couples experienced a cesarean birth.  After pushing for hours in every position imaginable, their posterior baby (with a 15 inch head, mind you!) was born by cesarean.  Their medical team gave us all the time we needed to try every trick I knew.  The couple was disappointed but they remained empowered throughout their birth experience.

They won’t be showing up for the 18 month cry.

I want to share a few of the pictures from their cesarean birth.  The obstetrician called in to perform the cesarean was Dr. Danielle Harris.  She immediately agreed to their wishes for delayed cord clamping and skin-to-skin.  The family physician who had supported them through the birth was Dr. Keith Stafford.  You know him on this blog as Dr. Polo Shirt.

Dr. Harris hands baby to Dr. Stafford who places him directly onto mom’s chest.  He doesn’t dry the baby first or take a detour to the warmer first.

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Dad steps in to help mom hold their son.  Mom’s arm is free to touch her baby.

Here’s hoping that more babies who must be born by cesarean will experience a gentle welcome like this one.

Huge thanks to my clients for permitting me to share a little of their birth experience.

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

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!)

Poses

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!

Good Thing She Wore Her Nike’s (Brady’s Story)

[shared with permission]

Crain’s Birth Story is one that needs to be shared. I feel that our family and friends need to hear why Crain was born at home and hear how amazing that Saturday Morning was for us. Tyler and I had to make so many decisions with Crain’s birth; decisions that are not accepted by many, but in the end were the right ones for us and Crain.

There are two subjects that I do not share my opinion on with many people and those two subjects are religion and birth. If you are close to me you know how I feel about these two, but even so, I feel that people have the right to worship how they desire and women should be able to birth how they desire (medicated, un medicated, hospital or home).

In this birth story I am going to open up about my views, some will learn from the words that I write and the natural tendency of others will be to pass judgment, but either way you will hear the story of Crain’s birth and hopefully gain an understanding of our beliefs on birth.

Tyler and I enrolled in hypno-birthing classes for Crain’s birth. Julie was once again our guide during this pregnancy, and we learned so much in our classes.  I did my Hypnobabies homework religiously and I feel that Crain’s birth benefited greatly from my hypno studies.  I had been in the care of Dr. Stafford for this pregnancy.  Dr. Stafford delivered Preston and I truly admire Dr. Stafford and I am very grateful to be in the care of such a hands on, awesome physician.  But with all that said, Dr. Stafford cannot control hospital procedures and there was something in me that really did not want to fight to have the birth I wanted.  I knew in the hospital, I would have to battle to have a true hypno birth, and so after going back and forth on the “homebirth idea” We connected with our midwife from the beginning and I felt calm and at peace about the homebirth idea after meeting with her. She was extremely knowledgeable about birth.  So it was decided a Homebirth for Crain!  We were excited and at peace with the idea, however; kept it a secret because I did not want to hear all the negative comments.

So May 7th  (Crain’s guess Date) came and no baby Crain, and boy oh boy how it  made people mad that he was not here.  I was determined to let Crain choose when and how he came into this world.  But it was hard to be out of control and it taught me the first lesson of being a good parent, PATIENCE, and most of all it made me closer to my faith.  I knew God was watching over us and I knew I was doing the right thing.  I read quotes and scriptures every day and had faith I was making the right choice.  Our birth team walked us through this wait and made me feel that it was normal when most everyone around us were asking when we were going to be induced, and when were “they” taking the baby, and don’t forget the people sharing with us why you should not carry your baby past it’s guess date.  It was a long 14 days for many reasons, but looking back I am so proud of us for having faith and waiting on Crain.  If I would have delivered in the hospital, I would have had to been induced and I am so happy I did not do that.  Thank you to Tyler, my Mom, and my sister Laura for really talking me through those 14 days and being so supportive of me.

On Friday, May 20th, I started feeling some Pressure waves, that’s hypno talk for contractions.  I went to acupuncture and had a nice relaxing session.  I texted my birth team and told them that I was having some pressure waves.  In the meantime, my parents came up (I had not told them I was having pressure waves because I did not know if it was truly labor).  That evening, the pressure waves still came and went; I listened to a Hypnobabies script before bed and decided to get some sleep.  At midnight, I got up and walked around, got some water, and tried to go back to bed.  Once again I listened to my easy first stage Hypnobabies script.  At 2:00 am, I got up and was definitely feeling more intense pressure waves.  I woke Tyler up and told him that they were getting a little intense.  I got into the tub as Tyler timed the waves.  Oh yeah, they were close together and getting stronger.  Tyler stood by my side and he does not even have to say anything to me during birth, he looks at me and I regain focus, and I instantly feel calm.  Tyler is my strength when I run out of it in labor.

We called Julie, but told her that she did not need to come yet and that we would call her back in an hour.  Tyler woke my parents and they took Preston to Tyler’s parent’s house.  My Mom knew of the homebirth, but I had just informed my Dad that evening when I thought I was in labor.  I knew he would worry, but once again my Dad surprised me and handled it beautifully.  I guess he trusts his “little Miss Magic”.  At 3:00 am Tyler called Julie back and told Julie to call the midwife.  Julie had already gotten her gear together and was on her way.  My Pressure waves were strong and very close.  I hummed during waves, yes I sounded like a dwarf from Snow White [note from Julie:  the “hi-ho, hi-ho, its off to work we go” song], but you know that is what I love about a natural birth, if you let yourself go and let your body lead you, it does things to get you through birth.  And my body apparently wanted me to hum, and so hum I did.  I told Tyler to get my “Birthing Outfit”.  Yes I like to look cute when I deliver!  My birthing attire was a knit skirt and tank and most important my Nike’s.

[note:  notice the wall behind her is covered with birthing affirmations]

Julie came in a little after 4:00 am. She just saw I had my Nike’s on and I remember she said “Oh you are ready!”  I wore my Nike’s during my labor with Preston and would have delivered in them if the hospital would have let me!  So with my outfit on and Nike’s laced, I was ready to go.  [note from Julie:  When things got intense with Preston’s birth, Brady ritualistically put on her Nike’s.  I knew when I saw them on her feet, we would meet a baby soon.  I got on the phone with the midwife and told her to hurry!]

I had had the urge to push a little right before Julie arrived.  Now the urge was uncontrollable.  Crain’s birth took over my body and of course my body knew just what to do.  I remember feeling like I was just watching myself birth.  You go to this whole entire different realm, or at least I did.  It one of those experiences in life where you are not the driver, but the passenger and you let your body drive and have faith that it knows what to do.

I think my water broke at 4:45am or so and I remember saying “that felt great.”  Crain’s birth was moving really fast and the midwife was not there, but I was not scared, I actually felt very calm.  I had Tyler and Julie there, and it was really calm and peaceful.  My pressure during pushes became really intense, so intense, and so difficult.  The only position I was comfortable in was standing up.  When I pushed it took over me and literally lifted me onto my tip toes (good thing I had that extra support from my Nike’s).  I felt burning, and knew that Crain was coming, but it was happening so fast.  I remember telling Tyler and Julie that I felt burning.  I reached down and felt Crain’s head, and saw Tyler place his hands below.  I pushed again, and my beautiful Crain was caught by his father’s hands, and my world stopped.

Crain laid in my arms and talked, instead of crying he talked and talked (you know baby cooing).  He apparently had a story to tell me about where he had been for the past 40 weeks and 14 days.  The midwife arrived within seconds.  Our birth team took great care of me and Crain in the hours to come.

So why did we have a home birth?  On May 21st, 2011 at 4:53 am, Tyler caught our 9lb 6oz son with his strong hands in the comfort of our home.  I had no nurse chasing me around trying to check me.  I was free of wires and IV’s.  I was able to have a true, calm Hypnobabies birth.  I was not met with paperwork to fill out nor did I have a nurse counting for me while I pushed.  I was able to place Crain directly on me after birth.  Tyler and I did not have to fight for anything we desired for Crain’s birth.  It was a calm, beautiful, safe birth. We have been asked if we worried or why we would take a “risk” of having Crain at home. To answer those questions yes, of course I worry.  I worry about both my children, constantly.  Did I worry about birthing him at home?  No!  I was in safe hands and I knew our birth team would never put me or Crain in an “unsafe” situation.  As far as risk, you take a risk whether you are at a hospital or at home.  Ironically, if you do some research and listen to other birth stories, sometimes hospitals and their many interventions put you and your baby at more risks.  Tyler and I weighed the benefits and risks and in this situation; and the benefits outweighed the risks.  Tyler and I educated ourselves and surrounded ourselves with birthing professionals.  It saddens me that instead of excitement after Crain’s birth, most everyone’s first reaction was that of worry and judgment.  I understand that this is not the “norm”, but to those I say open your minds to a new yet old way of birth, do some research on natural hospital births in the US, and have faith that people make decisions for all the right reasons, and be okay with women who choose to not be the “norm” when they birth their children.  I certainly do not judge other woman on how they choose to have their child.

The coolest part of Crain’s birth is that I felt so connected to my faith.  They say that God is present with every birth and by having Crain at home, and being surrounded by calm, supportive people, I felt the presence of God.  It was truly the most incredible experience. I am so happy that I trusted my gut and stayed true to who I am, and had Crain the way Tyler and I wanted to.  I look at Tyler and feel closer to him than I ever have; he truly is a great birth partner, and even a better husband and father.  I know that I am a stronger wife and mother.  I am proud of Crain’s birth, and do not look at his birth in any negative light.  I look at his birth as a gift.  Both of my boys gave me the gift of birth and I discovered if you open your body and mind to birth it is truly life changing.  On May 21st, 2011 at 4:53 am as Crain entered this world something in me changed, just as it did when Preston was born.  I cannot describe the change; it is just the most amazing feeling, and I know it was because of how we brought both Preston and Crain into this world.  I will never forget either one of their births, but especially Crain’s birth.  I grew that day, and I am so glad that I experienced the gift of birth.  Thank you to our birth team for supporting us, and helping us through this pregnancy.  Without you guys I would not have had the experience I had, and for that I am forever grateful to all of you.

Crain still “talking” to his mama an hour after his birth:

 [Note:  Brady and Tyler made the challenging choice to change care providers and birth location at around 36 weeks.  If your intuition is telling you to explore other options, it is never too late.]

Icing on the cake

I got an email from Dr. Polo Shirt. It was too beautiful not to share. Why don’t we have more Dr. Polo Shirts? He gets it.

“I had a really neat delivery this AM of a really sweet couple. Mom’s 3rd baby and was laboring on her side. (I have delivered all of her babies.) When it came time to push, she stayed on her side. Baby was OP [occiput posterior–facing toward the ceiling], so it took some work for her to push it out. Dad was sitting on a chair next to bed on the side mom was facing doing very supportive, support person stuff. I was sitting on the bed, behind the mother. Because of mom’s position, as the baby was coming into view the father was as close to her perineum as I was, so he got to see his child’s birth in detail, rather than peak from up above. The really cool thing was that since the baby was OP, as it was born, it had its eyes wide open and was looking right at his father, so his father was the first person he saw instead of me. Then this baby took a big breath and began audibly crying while the head was still the only part delivered. I do not remember ever seeing that before.

It felt so right to me, because with me behind mom and dad being so close and involved, I felt like I was not even integral to this delivery, It was just something that this family was doing together. Then the icing on the cake was that instantaneous eye to eye contact between father and son as the head emerged. I so wish I had it on video.”

Most of the time, birth doesn’t need any help. A good care provider knows when to step away and let it happen. Let the couple experience their amazing moment. 

Let’s not rush in to save the day when it doesn’t need saving.

Blazing Trails

Recently, my repeat client had a repeat breech.  I blogged once before about this amazing woman.

As you know, in the US, it is impossible challenging to find an OB willing to manage a vaginal breech birth.  Heading into a repeat cesarean, this mama did her research and opened a dialogue with her OB about her choices.

I’m delighted to report that Dr. Cowart with Greer OB supported her choice to wait 1 minute before clamping the cord and to have baby placed skin-to-skin.  She enjoyed skin-to-skin contact for over an hour after her baby’s birth. 

I hesitate in posting this because I’m afraid Greer OB will be overrun with families who want choices in their births!  Soon, they might become like Dr. Polo Shirt who is so busy he’s turning expectant families away. 

Thank you to this mama who maybe blazed a trail for other women to have this conversation!  And congratulations on your beautiful baby!

Non-Chemical Inductions at the Hospital

I attended two hospital inductions last week that did not involve pitocin or pain medication.  In fact, they did not involve any medications at all. 

First, a disclaimer:  this post is not meant to be a full exploration of risks/benefits of inducton methods.  Please seek full informed consent before choosing any induction method–whether at home or at your birthplace. 

Second, I do not fancy inductions at all.  I am, however, quite happy when my clients do not need pitocin or an epidural during the dreaded induction.

Induction #1:  This mom was 41 weeks and having her 2nd baby.  Dr. Polo Shirt inserted a foley catheter at 9pm.  Mom began feeling contractions almost immediately.  She used gravity for a few hours to help the cath work and then went to bed.  Around 4:30am, she had to concentrate on her contractions.  Nurse offered pitocin at 6am and client declined.  At 8am, Dr. Polo Shirt removed the cath.  Her membranes ruptured on their own at 10:10am.  Baby was born at 10:45am. 

What is the deal with the foley?  This is a urinary catheter.  But in this case, it is inserted vaginally.  The cervix needs to be dilated enough to admit the cath.  Once it is above the cervix, the bulb is inflated.  My understanding of the way this process works:  the bulb mimics the pressure of the baby’s head.  Typically, it falls out when the mom dilates to 4 or 5cm.  It is not painful but may feel distracting since there is tubing coming out of the vagina.  It is usually taped to the inside of the mom’s thigh.  There is a risk that the doctor/midwife will rupture the mom’s membranes.  However, for someone who wants to avoid medicine, this might be an alternative to explore.  Having seen this work beautifully and gently several times, I’ve become a fan of this method over other induction choices.

Induction #2:  This mom was 37 weeks and also having her 2nd baby.  She had a medical condition that required her baby come early.  Knowing this, she prepared her body through acupuncture, massage, hypnosis, and other easy induction tricks.  She was 3cm when admitted in the late afternoon.  Her doctor offered pitocin or artificial rupture of membranes.  My client chose rupture of membranes.  This procedure is painless though contractions may feel stronger without the “cushion” of an intact bag.  There are several risks.  The most significant is a chance of cord prolapse which would result in an immediate cesarean.  After her water was broken, it took some time for labor to kick in.  We climbed many, many flights of stairs and I used several doula tricks.  She dilated ever so slowly and she was offered pitocin 15 million times.  Just before midnight, things became intense.  Baby was born around sometime after 3am.

The typical induction is cervadil or cytotec followed by artificial rupture of membranes followed by pitocin (followed by epidural).  These non-chemical options don’t always work but can offer other options.