Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A VBAC victory!

The emotion of the moment.. when a mom who has been told her "pelvis is just too small to birth her babies," finally proves them wrong.. well there is simply no more empowering moment than victory! Great doctor and amazing nurses completed the "dream team" all knowing what this momma was capable of. Abby, you ARE strong. And your hips are beautifully made! :-)  Congratulations on your unmedicated VBAC and on your precious baby girl, Anne Francise.  She is a doll! 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Childbirth Class Outline

Here is an outline of my six week childbirth education class. It meets for six weeks, one day a week for two hours. Please email me at if you are interested in signing up for an upcoming class. You can also find my facebook page here: Sweet Birth Doula Services.

Class 1:
*Lamaze approach to birth
*Anatomy/Physiology of pregnancy
*Emotional changes during pregnancy
*Nutrition during/after pregnancy, Comfort during pregnancy

Class 2:
*The importance of birth memories and satisfaction
*Addressing fears
*Confidence in your body, support, place of birth and care providors.

Class 3:
*Anatomy of labor: physical and emotional response.
*Six ways to progress in labor
*Hormonal orchestration during labor/postpartum and it’s importance.
*Pre-term labor

Class 4:
*1st stage of labor
*2nd stage of labor (pushing and birth)
*Physiological 3rd stage (anatomy and emotions)/ Delivery of Placenta
*First hour after birth and it’s critical role for mom and baby.

Class 5:
*Fear, tension, pain cycle.
*Medical pain management of labor
*The role of pain
*comfort measures to decrease pain

Class 6:

*Unexpected outcomes
*Birth plan: do I need/want one?
*Breastfeeding 101
*Postpartum: support and planning
*Newborn behavior and expectations

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Blogging. What's that?

It's been a while since I've posted to either my personal blog or my birth blog. What started out as a personal sabbatical turned into life, and lots of it.

It wasn't until I was at a birth two days ago and one of the sweet nurses passed me in the hall and said, "Hey. I just subscribed to your blog," that really made me say, "wow. Someone is actually reading it still?" Then I felt sad. Because I really do enjoy blogging. I just hadn't put it at the top of the list of priorities. But now that my sabbatical has helped me learn some balancing in my life.. I feel as though I may be able to pick it up again.

As you have seen, there hasn't been a birth story in a while on here. Although, I can assure you that I have been so several births since the last birth story post.

I got very overwhelmed with three births back to back that I was unable to catch up. It would have put me in the grave (or much worse, neglect my duties with homeschooling and home) to be able to whip those out. So in the future.. you may not see as many birth stories. Or at least not in the way they were written in the past. I know, bummer.

Well, I hope everyone is well!

Happy Birthing!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Birth Story: Ashely and Brian, 2nd baby, 1st Natural

Brian and Ashley called me about the upcoming birth of their second daughter. Their firstborn, Naomi, is two years old (and adorable, btw) and they were expecting baby girl #2 on 11/11/11.

I remember the first night I met with them. Ashley was telling me that she really would like a different experience than her first birth, but she was concerned that she wasn’t exactly sure she would be able to handle a long labor with strong contractions. I assured her that not only did she have “what it takes” but also I am sure that she would do wonderfully!

Fast forward to November 7th,. At 4:30 a.m. Ashley woke up and realized that there was some leaking of something. She called me at 6:30 and told me what she experienced. Based on the amount she described, I thought it could be the fore bag or urine. Yes, at the later stages of pregnancy you can pee on yourself because of all the pressure of the baby. I recommended she keep and eye on it, if she had any more leaking to let me know. She called again at 1 p.m and said that she had some liquid trickling down her leg. At that point I was sure it was amniotic fluid, but just not sure, again, if it was a fore bag or a slow leak of her bag of waters.

She decided to head to the doctor’s office at about 3 p.m. just to check because she didn’t want to second guess herself that it was actually amniotic fluid. He said it was in fact amniotic fluid, which meant that, because she was Group B+ she would need to go on in to the hospital to get her antibiotics, even though she was about 2-3 cm’s/80/-1 with minimal and sporadic contractions. She decided to head home first and get things settled there before she would head to the hospital. Most of the day she had no major gushes of fluid, just occasional streams.

She called me at 6:30 and said she would like for me to come over. Her contractions were still sporadic at about 8-15 minutes apart lasting anywhere form 30-60 seconds. I arrived at her house at 7 p.m and after a call to the doctor and lots of discussion, they decided to head to the hospital to start the antibiotics.

Upon arrival, she was found to be 2-3/80/-1, same as earlier. Her contractions were coming about every 6-8 minutes but were “just uncomfortable” as she described it. At 10:30 I recommended that they try to get some sleep and that I would head back to my house and that she should call if the intensity changed at all.

At 3:15 a.m. Brian texted me to say that Ashley’s contractions were 3-6 minutes apart lasting about a minute and she was on the birth ball beside the bed and he was applying counter pressure, and that she would like for me to head their way.

When I arrived at 3:45 a.m. they were still beside the bed just as Brian had described. Ashley was in great spirits, and quite honestly it was hard to believe that she was actually in labor. She was ready to get things moving along and wanted to walk the halls. She had the option to have a vaginal check to see her progress, but given that she didn’t think the contractions were that painful, she was afraid to find no progress. So she declined the check and to the halls we went. The contractions picked up their frequency and she would do the “prom dance” with Brian while I applied counter pressure. We walked for about 35 minutes and then she said she would like to head back to the room to get in the shower. At this point, (strictly from the doula perspective) she seemed to be in a steady pattern, but wow, either it didn’t hurt as much as I thought it should have or this woman is a rock. Or both.

After about 10 minutes in the shower her demeanor changed. She became very internal, less talking in between contractions and then she had two contractions back to back. Yep, evidence of transition (7-10 cm’s). She had six contractions (in the patter of two back to back) and on the last set of two, she started to moan. She said she felt a burning in her lower abdomen but no mention of pressure. At that point I thought to myself, “After this next contraction I think I should get her to empty her bladder and then head to the bed to rest on her side, if she is willing, since she walked and has been standing in the shower….. “ No sooner did I have that thought, did she start the next contraction, and where I thought she was standing up to position herself against the birth ball (that I propped in a chair next to the shower) she grabbed herself and with full conviction and a bit of panic said, “THE BABY IS COMING!!”

I laugh at the next words that came out of my mouth. Please hear me out on this. When it’s your first time to experience a natural birth, it is so very common to be surprised by all the new feelings, especially the amount of pressure or the intensity of it, as baby descends down your pelvis. So I said, thinking that she was likely feeling that pressure, “Oh Ashley that’s GREAT! Is that pressure you are feeling?” to which she looks at me and says again, “NO, the BABY IS COMING RIGHT NOW.” And then she sprints right past me (yes, sprints) and onto the bed, leans back and I dare to look down to find the baby’s head crowning, nearly out.

NUUUUURSE!!! I had to page the nurse and yelled, “Ya’ll need to come now, the baby’s head is out!” (At least that is what one of the nurses told me later, that I said). And yes, she said I did sound panicked. Her doctor wasn’t in there immediately but a doc from another practice was at the nurses’ station when I called out so he came. He was very nice and then after one more contraction, the main doc arrived.

Ashley was laughing and smiling in between contractions and after about three contractions and at 4:55 a.m (one hour from when I arrived back to the hospital) she delivered her baby girl, Cora! She was 8 lbs 12 oz and 21 inches long on November 8th!

I still just get so tickled when I think about that moment in the shower. The three of us just couldn’t stop talking about it. It all happened so quickly. And because ol’ strong momma was, as her husband affectionately called her, “a beast” she was able to internalize her process and made the rest of us think we had hours to go.

Ashley, I am so super proud of you. You did such an amazing job, even in the face of unknowns and a possible change in your birth plan. But ultimately it all worked just the way we had prayed and I am sure that you believe me that you always had what it took. Congratulations on your beautiful baby girl!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Who's in charge here? Why a doula is not going to save your birth.

I've received several emails from moms, seen birth stories go awry and known people, who are completely unaware of one simple fact: a doula is not in control of your birth.

You are.

With that said, just as finding the right doctor is important, the right birth place (hospital, birthing center or home) and having the right birth team are all crucial to a great birth: nothing holds the "power" over your birth like you do.

Let me explain.

Moms are growing more aware that they may meet some resistance with their birth plan/vision therefore they enlist the help of a doula. The intentions are different for everyone, but I have seen many a couple shocked to hear that the doula's role should NOT include making decisions "on your behalf." Meaning, you've written a birth plan and now it is up to the doula to make sure it happens.

1. Mom is the only one that can consent to anything. The opposite is true as well. If you have on your birth plan that you want skin to skin with the baby immediately and any procedures that need to happen can happen while baby is on your chest, and the nurse has the baby and is trying to get all her "stuff" done as quickly as possible, the doula can say, "Can we get baby to mom for skin to skin now?" If the nurse shows any resistance, as a doula I can only repeat my sentence. But if mom, who wants her baby, looks over and says, "I'd like to hold my baby now." Guess what? They do it. And even if they say, "oh but i was just going to do this one last thing and be done." If that is not what you want.. YOU (alone) are the one to say "No thank you. I want to have my baby."

This is true with anything on your birth plan. If you are being asked to do something that you don't want to do, the doula is not in the place to answer for you. You have to speak up. Because even if your doula does say "she doesn't want to do that," everyone else in that room (including the doula) knows that it holds no water if the momma doesn't say it. You see, you are the patient. Informed consent only applies to you. Not to your husband and not to your doula.

What the doula does: the doula can remind the doctor/nurse of your birth plan, and advocate for those items, but they can not "make" anyone do anything. Especially if it means an argument would ensue between her and the staff. That is NOT the role of a doula.

2. A doula does not give medical advice. On your last prenatal visit your doctor recommends that you get an induction. You immediately call your doula to ask what she thinks. Instead of opening up a long discussion about how insane your doctor is, your doula should respond in a different way.

What the doula does: The doula should help get information to you that would help YOU make a decision. The doula's role is to help you realize that YOU have what it takes to make the best decision for you and your baby. Not based on what the doctor thinks OR what the doula thinks. **everyone has an opinion, the doctor as well as the doula, but the ultimate decision is yours and both (doctor and doula) are to support you in whatever you decide.**

3. A doula does not guarantee birth plan success. However, it does increase it. Yes, there are studies showing the continuous support of a doula does increase your chance of having the birth you planned for. However, there are times where changes are necessary. Medically necessary.

What a doula does: A doula's role in the face of a change in the birth plan is to buy you time for the opportunity to discuss it with your partner. If the doctor comes in and says that he thinks it's time to consider pitocin, the doula may say, "Jason and Samantha, would the two of you like some time by yourselves to discuss what you want to do?" The goal there is not to say, "umm, I think ________" because doula's don't give medical advice. We can guard your space and allow you the time to make the decision for yourself. **I am aware there are times where time is of urgency, in those times it is different. But in most cases there is time for you to have a discussion to determine if there are other options.**

So you may be left asking yourself, "why do I need a doula then?" A doula knows the process of birth, is a huge resource for physical support, suggestions for comfort as well as tips to get labor to progress naturally. A doula helps you from start to finish and never leaves your side. A doula is there to support you and what you decide, and to offer information (covering all sides of a decision) to help you know your options. Just like you don't want your health care provider making decisions for you, same goes for the doula.

It's best if that part is left up to you.