Birth work; empowering more than birthing women

Birth work comes in many forms. Midwives, doulas, childbirth educators, placenta specialists, body workers and healers.

We all perform a great service for our communities, and for ourselves and our families, through sustainable businesses.

But what about the deeper and more profound effects this 'genre' of vocation has, on society, our children, and women.

When a midwife supports a woman's autonomy, and her birth is better than previously, this is obvious. A beautiful, much needed change for the woman.

But what about the glorious effects Midwifery as a profession, has for women's futures?

Would you believe Midwifery changes entire neighborhoods and entire generations?

Doulas - I cant say enough about- invaluable, unwaivering, stronger and softer than you can imagine (like hugging a lion)

Preventing first time cesareans and showing women the strength and autonomy we've forgotten.

But would you believe that doula work changes lives far beyond the labor unit or the birthtub?

I'm talking about important, vital changes for your grandchildren and mine. Lifting people out of poverty, offering women and minorities, people without means and access, a chance at long term success.

I'm talking about maternity care deserts, and long waiting lists- being a thing of the past, and lactation support for people in inaccessible places.

I'm not going to sugar coat, or share pipe dreams.

But this is the reality and the potential.

Midwifery for me, started with my first homebirth. I knew I wanted to do this work- but with so many kids and a modest income, how could I ever begin, let alone- FINISH.

I started with doula training. And here is where doula work literally changed my life.

Doula trainings are accessable to most people. The cost of training and starting a business can be less than $500!
What does this mean for someone who cant afford college? Or someone who has young children but needs to create more income for her family?

All doula trainings are different, which is a good thing! Different costs, different requirements, different beliefs. Women can come from every angle, every personality, with every goal, and find a training that fits them.

This opens doors for women who cant afford, in time, or finances, to begin a career with immense possibilities for growth.

Doulas can make great money if they need to. Or simply offer themselves as community doulas, serving underprivileged families, families who need doula care the most!

One community doula, can help one woman -who may not have otherwise- change her entire life. Starting with breastfeeding support.
(For mother and baby, we know this nursing relationship creates better connections, more emotional security, better long term health)

Imagine a single woman, or a family with modest income, living in a city neighborhood that has one accessable hospital. State insurance, and clinic care, leaves mom with bottom of the ladder resources, a mix of providers, and statistics, all working against her, it is clear that she might end up with an unnecessary cesarean- or worse if shes a woman of color.

After her baby is born, and she is sent home, nursing becomes difficult. This is common. Normal even.

Without resources and support, we know most short term breastfeeding relationships will end here.
Fortunately, she sees a business card on the board at the grocery store.

"Doula- labor, birth, and breastfeeding support"

One text changes everything.

The doula who places her card here is from the neighborhood. She is happy to visit this woman for a free consult, and help her find ways to make breastfeeding work!

Here is where things become legacy.

She might offer this same woman, information on the training program she used herself, which offers partial scholarships to women who need it most.

This woman can go on to create a business, and serve women in her community, serve her family's financial needs, and create a better birth future, economic future, for her own kids through example.

(And yes, you can make good money serving low income families)

Because one community doula was able to come to her side, and help her to nurse her new baby, this women was set on a road to succeed, her baby on the path to better health, and potentially a brighter future.

Today, college is obscenely expensive. And technical schools are not giving much hope when graduates come out making a few dollars more than minimum wage.

Seems as though, to afford living comfortably, you need to accumulate 100k in debt.

Birth work is changing that.
People have access to knowledge and training that doesnt cost your life or soul or 60k. But with the potential to make comfortable income.
This is huge!

Imagine an education model- where we can teach people to make money without it costing everything.

A system in which we can get paid for services with the knowledge we carry. And have enough, (enough freedom, energy, money, and space) to give back to our communities. 

 This is almost a guarantee to increase overall productivity for future generations.

But the next revolution is another subject.

Midwifery is even more badass.

Homebirth midwives can change a family's entire life path, simply through continuity and good healthcare. Women make better birth choices, have more breastfeeding success, more long term support, creating better bonds, better parenting experiences, better long term deep rooted success, and a path that their own children might follow, extending the ramifications far beyond one generation.
Did you ever hear an elder Midwife describe her journey? Or a homebirth mom say 'my parents and their parents had home births
Generations. Or a community of homebirth women come to the aide of another?
This is epic!

Midwives can change entire neighborhoods simply by opening the doors to a monthly free prenatal clinic or childbirth classes, parenting classes and family planning resources.
Imagine if more women in high risk areas, knew about their bodies, their babies, and their births.
Do you think we'd see lower intervention and cesarean rates?
Or women in these areas, with a place to reach out to when the postpartum period is overwhelming- would we see less postpartum depression, and hereby, better overall mental health for mother, baby, and family?

Women who are afraid to recieve care, or women waiting on long lists simply for prenatal appts, can be seen by a provider.

Underserved or underprivileged?
Some women with no insurance or crappy insurance, wait until 20+ weeks before the only office in the area can see them.
Midwifery clinics can change that.
And they are happening!

And one midwife can teach another woman without access or means, to do the same, through apprenticeship.
We can come up and out of poverty by being offered an affordable education, that in itself, will change the future.

How is that for a legacy?

Please, support your local birth workers by sharing their events, or their advertisements. Meet your midwives. Consider taking a training course.
Join a mothers group.

The echo is going to be heard so far into the future.

#midwiveschangelives








Epidural, cesarean, and doula care

Doula care for medically managed birth...is this really necessary?

 

Everybody knows you hire a doula if you want a natural birth. The two almost go hand in hand.

But what if you might choose to have an epidural, or know you want or need one?

What if you are planning an elective cesarean, or know you may need one?

The role of a doula extends beyond the natural birth process. Women who need medical intervention of any kind, will benefit from doula care, as equally as the woman who is delivering without medication.

Here are a few ways doula care can make a difference in a medically managed labor & birth.

  • Birth planning & preparation.
    This might sound unnecessary if you have a planned and medically managed pregnancy and labor. However, in any hospital you walk into, you will be seen by many different people, nurses & doctors, who do not know you. They know your chart. Having a birth plan that highlights your needs and your desires, will help them know you, and give you better care.

 Do you have an underlying condition that might effect your care? You might be surprised at how often conditions that aren't usually effecting a pregnancy, can effect your care or your labor and birth. An example might be, the woman who has chronic pelvic pain, she may know she needs special treatments or physical therapy methods during her labor. This is not something your doctors will tell everyone to be aware of.

Perhaps a history of trauma. Your care provider may be very sympathetic and kind during your prenatals, but when you enter the hospital, you're met by many people who don't know you, and an on call staff of doctors and nurses you may never have met.

Does your partner have issues that might effect your care? (Fainting, fear, etc)

If you are having a cesarean, do you want your baby with you in recovery, or to have skin to skin in the OR?


Having a birth plan that highlight both your needs and your desires, will help you receive more personal care.


You can tell your provider 300 times throughout your pregnancy, what your plans and desires are. Once you walk into that hospital, its a very different, very impersonal atmosphere.

  • Childbirth, breastfeeding, newborn, and postpartum mother care education.
    This might also sound unnecessary, especially if you are planning, or know you may need a cesarean.
    There are always things to know. Routines, evidence, procedures, newborn care, that you may not have considered.
    Having a doula to offer comprehensive & personalized education, can highlight things you didn't know, new information or protocols, & even insider and behind the scenes information.
    Your doula can also help your family members, or your birth team members, feel more confident and comfortable, able to support you and help you advocate better.
    Your doula can also help you and your family learn and prepare for the postprtum period.
     

  • Epidural labor and birth
    While many doulas feel they really shine during natural labors, I personally feel some of my best service is done for clients who choose or need epidural support.

Not only can your doula support you through the decision to have an epidural, we support your choice. Epidurals are amazing tools, and have saved many women from a cesarean during long or difficult labors.

A doula can support you before you receive your epidural, helping you to manage your pain.
During your epidural, depending on your hospital protocol, your doula may be your support person during the procedure if you are alone, or your partner is unable. (Its a tough procedure to watch)
Once you have your epidural placed, your doula is your liaison, your servant, and your runner. We want to make you sure you and your partner or birth team, have everything they need, so the only focus is you, your baby, and your support.
We will run for food & drinks, be your doorman so everyone can sleep, call your nurse in for you if you have questions, issues or needs, we will keep your room cleaned up, & your atmosphere birth friendly (lights, sounds, interruptions..we will do our best to keep those at bay)
We will help you tweak your birth plan if necessary, & help remind the staff that you have this plan & needs. (its easy for a birth plan to fall to the wayside when you have an epidural. )
We can help you change positions to keep your labor progressing well, & baby & mom in a labor friendly & comfortable position. We'll fetch blankets, pillows, towels, ice.. & do our best to make sure you & your partner dont need to lift a finger.
When its time to push, we will help hold your legs, wipe your brow, & help the nurses help you.
Once your baby is here, we are on point, making sure your newborn care plans are honored with gentle & professional etiquette, & you get what you wanted for you and your baby, as much as medically permitted.


Your doula is your liaison, your runner, & your servant. We want to do everything we can, so you & your partner or birth team, can support you. We dont want you to lift a finger.

  • Cesarean
    Doula care for an elective, planned, or unplanned cesarean, can look different for everyone.
    Your doula can help your partner prep, getting their coveralls & masks in place, discussing what to expect, & preparing your room & belongings for the move to recovery & the postpartum wing.
    Some hospitals will allow the woman to have 2 support persons in the OR, one to take photos, & one to support. If this is something you want to pursue, your doula can help you talk to the right people beforehand, & help you ask the right questions should this be unexpected.
    Some women prefer their doula be their main support person in the OR, if their partner is unavailable, or unable.
    Should your doula attend you during your surgery, she can offer emotional support, remind you of what to expect & what is coming next, she can provide acupressure & encouragement, & help you stay calm & focused. She can take photos, & be your liaison for you & your baby, reminding staff of your preferences, & staying with you or baby, should baby go to NICU, depending on where you want her. Often times one person (doula) stays with mom, & partner can go with baby to the NICU.
    In recovery, your doula can help you advocate for skin to skin or immediate nursing, & help you get your first latches should you want to breastfeed.
    Should your baby be in intensive care, your doula can help you begin to pump as soon as you are ready.
    Your doula usually hangs around afte your birth, until you feel settled in your postpartum room, baby has been returned to mom if they have been separated, & feeding has started. 
    If baby is not with mom, your doula can help you create a list of questions and goals, to better communicate with the staff, & help you understand what is happening, helping everyone to best accommodate you and your baby's needs. This helps everyone stay on the same page, estimate and work towards a timeline for baby's release from NICU, and can help you visualize & achieve your goals to leave the hospital with a healthy baby.

Cesarean, epidural, or natural labor, a doula might be just right for you.
Comprehensive, personalized care, is what doulas do. 

Did you have a doula present for your birth under any of these circumstances?
Wish you did?
Id love to hear your feedback, comments or thoughts :)
 

Doula do's and don'ts part 1

This is for everyone.

The new doulas

The old doulas

And anyone in between who might attend a birth


 

Remember who this is about.

The births are never about you. Don't try to impress, don't make it about money or numbers, and don't override, over talk, or undermine- the partner, the care provider, or the laboring woman. This is about her, her baby, and her family.

You are not the hero, so humble yourself and remove any inkling of your own desires, experiences, and needs, from your head and heart, before entering the laboring woman's space.

 

Keep your experience with another's birth, private.

Be aware of your social media posts and when talking to other people about a birth/client. It's easy to identify a woman due to have a baby, simply through social media clues, so be aware of your posting.

Permission is an absolute before sharing photos, stories or experiences. Remember it is not about YOUR experience.

 

Labor should be quiet time for all the parties involved, besides the laboring woman of course.

Avoid discussions in general. The atmosphere and energy should be focused on either paying attention to mom, or intentionally giving her space. Discussions should happen outside of mothers earshot, whispering and quiet. Discussions, laughter, outside noise -

These can cause the laboring woman to lose her focus, become distracted or upset, or to feel unimportant.

 

Do not invite outside parties.

This is not your birth. This is a private event, and the laboring woman should INVITE anyone and everyone who attends.

*For doulas who have students shadowing, or an assistant shadowing, this should be covered in your contract and your clients can decide if they are comfortable with a second attendee. In the home birth community, it's best to confirm with the midwife if this is reasonable, as per the care being provided, and the midwife's recommendation.

(If a woman is sensitive or has a history of stalled labors, the midwife may decide this isn't in her client's best interest)


 

Ask for permission every time you touch the laboring woman

Do not assume everyone wants hands on contact. Ask before touching, every time. Continue to quietly ask for feedback if you are using hands on techniques.

Watch for cues on her comfort level with your touch (a light cringe or pulling away, or a shot glance, might mean that she isn't comfortable, but might not say so)

 

Know when to stop and start relief techniques

Besides feedback, knowing when to release counter pressure and when to apply is important. Rebozo, counter pressure, and other techniques are often best used DURING contractions, slowly releasing as the contraction fades. Then as the contraction builds again, ask if the technique was working, and if she'd like you to use it again.

 

Professionalism is vital

You build a name for yourself, and for doulas as a whole, when you are professional. This means dress, language, and maintaining your role and scope of practice.

*This means you don't offer clinical advice to your clients or their care provider.  You don't discuss other clients, gossip about other birth workers, and you keep any words or thoughts that are not 100% focused on the laboring woman, to yourself. 



Stay tuned or subscribe for more like this and dos and donts part two! The list gets better I promise!

Birth Preferences (sample)

 

BIRTH PREFERENCES (sample)

My birth team will consist of:

Self

Partner

Doula/other

It is mutually understood that the safety of baby and mother, will determine which preferences may or may not be honored. I am willing to discuss and consider all necessary care for the health and safety of myself and my child.

Thank you

  1. I will be laboring at home as long as possible

  2. I would like intermittent fetal monitoring   

  3. I would like a saline or hep lock.

  4. I would like limited vaginal exams.

  5. I would like limited staff involved, no students or observers

  6. I will be laboring naturally, please do not ask me if I want medication during my labor.  I will ask if necessary.

  7. NO AROM (artificial rupture of membranes)

  8. No Labor augmentation (no pitocin)

  9. I would like to move as much as possible through my labor.

  10. I plan to utilize labor tools and facilities provided by the hospital (tub, bar, peanut ball..)

  11. I would like a calm setting, with dim lights, low monitor tones, and limited interruptions during my labor.

  12. Please keep my partner and I informed of all medical concerns and updates, with information discussed immediately and thoroughly. Please allow me time to privately discuss any information and options with my birth team during my labor.

  13. I would prefer to eat and drink at my desire during labor.

  14. I would like to push spontaneously, please no "coached pushing".

  15. I would like to push in positions I feel comfortable.

  16. I would like a slow gentle delivery/ a hands off delivery/ to catch and lift my baby/ for my partner to catch my baby

  17. I would like NO forceps or vacuum used on my baby.

  18. No EPISIOTOMY, I would prefer to tear and heal naturally.

  19. I would like immediate skin to skin, with baby placed on my bare chest, with a blanket over us both.

  20. Please NO HAT, I would like to smell and touch my baby, which will signal my body, and my heat will regulate body temperature.  

  21. I would like to delay cord clamping, so my baby can receive the much needed oxygen, iron, clotting and immunity factors, and stem cells, from the cord blood. I would like it delayed for 3 minutes/ until it stops pulsing/ until the placenta delivers

  22. I would like a physiological third stage, allowing my placenta to deliver naturally.

  23. I would Not like pitocin after delivery.

  24. I WOULD LIKE TO KEEP MY PLACENTA

  25. I would like a Quiet hour for me and my newborn immediately after birth, postponing unnecessary procedures and exams. This is a critical bonding period and important to maintain.

  26. Please no baby warmer. I would like my infant on my chest.

  27. Please wait to weigh my baby

  28. No antibiotic eye ointment

  29. NO Vitamin K/Oral Vitamin K/Yes Vitamin K

  30. No vaccinations in the immediate newborn period, I will follow up with my pediatrician.

  31. NO BATH. The covering will protect and nourish the skin. I do not need my newborn cleaned or wiped.

  32. I will be rooming in with my baby.

  33. If my baby is in the nursery and begins to cry, please return to me immediately.

  34. I will be breastfeeding, please no bottles or binkies unless I ask.

Advocating and communicating in a hospital setting

ADVOCACY & COMMUNICATION TIPS

 

Try not to over think your plan or your providers. Focus on laboring and supporting the laboring mother.


 

DURING PREGNANCY

• Prepare a birth preferences list or Birth Plan

◦ Based on your preferences & the evidence you choose to use

◦ keep it short

◦ bullet points

◦ by subject (labor, birth, postpartum, baby, contingency/emergency)

• Share your birth plan with ALL of the providers in your practice, repeatedly

◦ Be willing to share your own evidence and reasoning with your care providers

◦ Share at each visit, so each doctor or midwife will know you, and your desires, and be familiar with your plan & your needs.

• Talk about your birth preferences at every visit

◦ The more frequently you engage your care providers, the better you can work with them. Use their responses and their info to determine how to move forward, how to achieve your desires, and what they are willing to work with. You can also use this time to gauge how your provider feels & practices personally as an individual.

◦ If met with hesitation, ask open questions like : “How can I achieve this?” Or “How can we work together to bring me as close as possible to these preferences?”

• Ask your doctor to pair you with a nurse who is in line with your desires. For example, a nurse experienced in natural birth. You can also do this in labor.

• Learn the hospital AND the doctors in your practice

◦ Ask around to learn firsthand how doctors and nurses worked, their bedside manner, and get feedback from friends and acquaintances

◦ Ask nurses & doctors at the office of your care provider to find out how the doctor feels about certain standards of care, such as constant monitoring, natural birth, or eating during labor

◦ Ask at your childbirth education class or the hospital tour, or call the hospital, to find out the hospital's standard procedures, protocol on things like support in the OR, telemetry monitoring, or using the tub or shower, food & drink, etc.


DURING LABOR

• You can decide when to call in to your provider or hospital, to alert them to your labor or water breaking

◦ You don't have to call in right away unless something is wrong (waters that are not clear, bright red bleeding blood that is not associated with mucus plug, baby not moving)

◦ If you call, you may choose NOT to go to the hospital until you feel ready

◦ The staff may say “come in just to be checked” - use discretion to avoid either being sent home or admitted too early

• Have your birth plan handy, with your hospital bags (at least 2 copies)

• If you go to triage, or an admission exam, you may be monitored for 20 minutes & possibly checked for cervical dilation, to determine if you are in active labor**

. • When you are in your room, have a copy of your birth plan for your nurse, and one for your table.

• Take note of your doctor & nurses names on your board in your room

• Be prepared for a little bombardment

◦ removing your clothes

◦ obtaining electronic blood pressure readings**

◦ urine sample/blood draw

◦ being strapped to electronic monitors around your belly**

◦ being recommended an IV for fluids or antibiotics**

 

**These may not be based on evidence.

 

You do not have to consent to any of these, for various reasons. Please refer to evidencebasedbirth.com for up to date evidence on some of these subjects

 

• Once you are admitted to your room, have you birth plan ready for your nurse, and one for your table.


MOST COMMON PROTOCOLS OR PROCEDURES THAT REQUIRE SOME ADVOCACY IN LABOR

 

1. IV FLUIDS/how much**

2. EATING/DRINKING**

3. ANTIBIOTICS FOR UNKNOWN STREP B RESULTS**

4. ELECTRONIC FETAL MONITORING**

5. ARTIFICIAL RUPTURE OF MEMBRANES**(breaking water)

6. ELECTRONIC BLOOD PRESSURE MONITORING**

7. MOVING

8. TOUCHING WHILE MOM IS IN PAIN/CONTRACTING

9. PUSHING POSITIONS**

10.PUSHING TIME

11. TIME**

12.LABOR ASSESSMENTS

1. CONTRACTION PATTERN

2. RATE OF DILATION

13. BABY & MOM'S WELL BEING

14. FETAL HEART TONES

15. MOMS CARE -MEDICATIONS & PROCEDURES
EXAMPLE: MAGNESIUM FOR BLOOD PRESSURE, OR EPISIOTOMY TO PREVENT TEARING

 

** may not be based on evidence.

 

*RESOURCES

◦ evidencebasedbirth.com → topics

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed

www.cochrane.org

*Disclaimer*

If you are a high risk patient, be sure to confirm with your doctor, any choices you determine are best for you, are also best for your specific condition, considering baby's safety and your own.

For Jess

We are here today
To celebrate
To mourn together
& To remember
Our beloved Jesse 

I want to say first, 
To those suffering the guilt of  absence,  
Time, 
or distance­   

And to those who didn't get to say goodbye
And for words never spoken 

Please, 
Let go of this guilt and sorrow tonight

She knows 

And tonight we're here to celebrate
How much we love her!   

I know how hard this is
We look upon death with such dread and sadness
With fear­- of the unfamiliar  
And the heartache­- is unbearable    

We are all deeply suffering here
Our hearts are so broken
This loss, 
Of a beautiful life
Of something truly Majesstic
Is devastating.   

But those that go before us know
What we cannot see through our grief and despair today
That this temporary emancipation we call death
Is actually a wondrous experience of peace and freedom from our broken bodies
A pension for this life.         

Relieved of the weight of her body,  
The necessity to breathe
And of any pain 

Her soul is free  
To drift into the deepest sleep
Safe and whole
Or
To return to something greater.   

Like the wave  
That comes to the shore  
And goes back out to the sea
It is not lost
It becomes one with the ocean
Or returns again
Another wave 

This eternal consciousness
Indestructible as matter and energy
Passes THROUGH death
And awakens in a space
Of peace
Warmth
Comfort 

Resting or returning
But never gone    

This is where we'll find her.   

Where we will recognize and embrace
Again and again
A million times
After a million journeys    

Journeys  
On which we take only one thing
The love we make             

So tonight as we say
Farewell for today 

Please,  
Live, love, & laugh like Jess.   

And find comfort in knowing this:    ­

That morning
While clothed in a joyfully warm summer light
Love held her space
And guided by eternal friendships
She smiled as she left this place.  

 RIP Jessica Lynn Iovine  3/9/84 - 6/9/16

RIP Jessica Lynn Iovine

3/9/84 - 6/9/16

A hoagie and a homebirth

With a force only the heavens could heave into me, she moved like thunder rolling through my bones.
Our moments as one were numbered. Today was your day.
My sweet Violet.

Midwives Matter

Its January 4th, and the midwives are coming to see me.
38 weeks pregnant, baby #7.
Im so glad we made it this far.
Two back to back miscarriages killed me, and I feel like I fought everday to keep and grow you until I could bring you here.
A complex mix of emotions swirled through me, today -
and every.single.moment of this bumpier than usual pregnancy.

But the midwives get me.

They both go above and beyond for me - to ensure my safety, my peace of mind, and to give me the best care.


Before you call a cervix for what it is
 

The plan was to check my cervix. Ive been checking myself, but it's hard to gauge when you've only felt one cervix (your own).
The midwife asks me how dilated I think I might be -

"Probably like 3cm?" 

I mean I thought I had a pretty good idea, but feeling is way different than learning from a book, or the internet.
I am a self studying, direct entry student of midwifery - I think I retain information efficiently and effectively.. but you definitely needs hands on practice, before you call a cervix for what it is.

I was feeling a little silly for guessing, a little unsure of myself like most starry-eyed aspiring midwives do, when they are 'tested' among the big league sage women of birth.
She wasn't testing me of course, she was supporting my choice to do self exams.
When she said "..almost 7" I could just laugh.


Hanging out at 7
 

I wasn't totally shocked I was almost 7 cm.
7th baby, and I did almost the same thing last time. But not quite to 7.

Trying to hide my excitement at the possibility of a short labor, I grinned and giggled at my midwife
"jeeze I was way off."

We began discussing the options at this point. I was very ready to meet my baby. My team lived an hour away, and I was just hanging out at 7. I could drop a baby in a moments notice.

Not that this is a bad thing. Accidental unassisted births are just births most of the time.

 & I love when a woman chooses an unassisted birth for herself.


But being a grand-multipara, having so many babies- I know to my core I am not an ideal candidate for an unassisted birth. Accidental or intentional.

The risks are much higher after so many babies, and I didn't want to end up trying to catch my own baby & manage a hemorrhage. I couldn't possibly.

My midwives arriving on time was imperative.

I considered a stimulant, like herbs or castor oil, to get labor started.
But I was already so dilated.
The contractions from stimulants suck, and I didn't need to get through most of the dilating process at this point.
My water was bulging in a nice tight little bubble the last time I felt it, I think breaking my water would be a good choice.
My hormones would kick in right away, and I would probably labor fast at that point.

I've only had my water break spontaneously once before labor, out of all 6 previous births.
The rest of the babies either had their water broken,
or it broke at the very end while pushing.

 

 

The midwives left to keep another appointment, planning to return in a bit to get things started.


 


Today is the day

I like the control of that choice.
I decided today was the day.
I felt an instant weight lifted.
Not because I was fearing the possibility of a bad outcome, or an accidental unassisted birth,
but because I made the informed choice, that this is the day I was going to meet my baby.

I know some people might cringe reading this, but every pregnancy is so different.
I am a doula, an aspiring home birth midwife, and intervention isn't exactly something the natural birth community applauds.
It's not something I intended through most of my pregnancy.
But I found us here,
& I had my reasons, just like the women I support.

I was teetering on being "risked out"- when a midwife decides you are safer delivered with an OB in a hospital setting.
My blood pressure & urine were good at this point,
this was not always the case
(I made 3 trips to the ER & Labor&Delivery in my third trimester)

I felt safest, ending my pregnancy here at 38 weeks.

I sent the text to my hubby, my parents, and a couple select friends.

"Today's the day."

I could feel the weight of those word in my finger as I swiped at my phone screen.

Today I will meet the tiny person we created, I already love her so deeply. I grew and nurtured her inside my belly for what felt like an eternity - yet now feels like it ended too soon.
The sweet human I knew so intimately, and held and rocked and touched everyday.

I held my belly, and let the feelings wash over me - brief but heavy with despair for the coming transition, for leaving the pregnancy and the security of carrying my baby, and I snapped a few photos for the sake of the moment. 
We were ready.


AROM in my bedroom

The midwives returned later in the afternoon.
It was time to do the deed.
AROM (artificial rupture of membranes) in my bedroom.

The apprentice went first.
She is one of my closest friends, and finishing her apprenticeship.
I wanted her to have a go at my bag of waters.

Only true friends can say that to each other..

"Go ahead, have a go at my bag of waters buddy"

She tried. Wasn't happening.

Midwife tried. Wasn't happening.

That baby was double, triple bagged
 

To ease the tension I'm sure only I was feeling - I cracked jokes, and waited.
The midwife finally got it with a forceful push and pull, and a massive hot GUSH followed.
I remember commenting on her bravery for standing in front of me in her nice sweater.

This is it. No turning back.

The midwives leave to eat, and I waited for the big kids & my hubby to come home.


The hoagie that carried me through

My parents ordered the kids pizza, and a hoagie for me, which arrived about an hour and a half after breaking my water, coinciding perfectly with the start of real contractions. 
I was communicating with the midwives, and they returned about an hour or so after they left, as my contractions were starting to feel hot, deep, and painful.

I was standing in my living room, eating this amazing labor hoagie.
I don't know who made it, but they must've felt what was coming, and poured good intention into this hoagie. Leaning hard over the furniture when the contractions would come, I would steal bites and crack jokes in between, while my kids ate at the table.

I decided before it got any worse- I would haul ass up to the shower, hopefully before the next contraction.

"Bring my hoagie"

That hoagie was something else.
Enough to muster up the order to bring it wherever labor would take us.

I took off my dress & monster pads, soaked with fluid- and climbed into the tub.
Leaning over the edge of the tub on my hands & knees, my hubby positioned the shower head on my lower back, moving it into the right spot.
This was HEAVEN.

I knew I never wanted a birth tub. Too much hassle for me. And I love scalding hot water.

But the shower felt AMAZING.
I wish I had done this every other time.

"Can you get my hoagie?"

The midwives laugh from the bedroom.
He hands me the pink plastic plate, with the half eaten hoagie- with this mustard that must've been made of crack.
I really cant get enough of this hoagie.
I'm on my knees in the tub, the top half of me hanging out over the edge, and the hoagie becomes one with my labor.

I need this hoagie. 


I'm quick to bite chew and swallow before my next contractions rolls in, and I hand him the plate.
I can easily get through these contractions like this.. I'm deep in my zone during the waves, and I come out on top & feeling good.
Not too much noise, just some deep grunty moans & then enough time to eat more hoagie, giggle with my hubby, and be ready for the next wave.

This is way different from last time.

"Do you WANT to have your baby in the tub?"
 

I know the midwife is being serious, but I kinda just laugh and say something silly like

"Nah, Im not that close yet."

This exchange happened several times.

Now if I were WORKING at this birth, those sounds coming from the bathroom would signal the imminent birth of a baby.
Everybody who knows birth, knows what those sounds mean.
Denial felt so good from the shower.
Labor was fine right here in my space.


I feel how low and deep the baby is, and I reach down to see if shes low enough to feel.

She is not, and I'm totally ok with that. Which is odd.
Im actually loving this labor so far.
It's only been couple hours, and I know I'm super dilated, & this water feels so good.

 

& In the moments when my husband would step out of the bathroom,
I would hold my belly and whisper to my baby
"I'm ready to meet you. I love you sweet baby. I'm here."

 


At some point the midwife entered the bathroom.

"Are you ready to come out and have a baby?"
 

I told her no.

"I cant be that close. I feel good. Look at me Im happy!"
(Big shit eating grin. Still eating my hoagie.)

I really wasn't ready to face the reality of contractions once I moved from this place.
And I really hoped the baby would just slide out if I did nothing... But I didn't tell anyone that.

The three of them (the midwives and my beloved) convinced me to stand and leave the tub.

In a towel & a starry bikini top, I begrudgingly climbed out of the tub, between contractions, and ended up in the bedroom, standing and leaning over my bed.

I'm so sure they made me get out of the tub.


The experience of time sort of melted away at this point.
I was between my bedroom, and the bathroom, standing at the end of the bed, or sitting on the toilet.

The actual amount of time from here to babe in arms was very short.
Possibly only half an hour.
Most of it I remember as moments without any order or place in the timeline

I remember not wanting to leave the toilet. Sitting there felt so much better than standing.
Standing released the force, deeper and harder than I was willing to accept.
As I sat there hot & spacey, leaning as far back against the toilet & wall as I could, I would leave my self for a few moments while the storm in my belly was calm.
As the contraction would start to rumble and pull, I would sit up& reach out for his hands,
and he followed my lead, offering the strength of his arms & all his focus.
I would pull with all my might, but press my heels into the floor to keep myself sitting.
Any kind of counter-force was a relief against the charlie horse climbing through my body, creating a mass of tight swirling energy at my center. 
I would blow out hard - like candles - and breathe in deep, over and over until I crossed the plateau & came down- the contraction loosening it's vise on my belly.
That unwinding & climb down felt so good.

At some point, someone mentions having the baby on the toilet


Fine.

Into the bedroom.
Noting the hoagie on the table in the hall,
I was so relieved he didn't throw it out.


At this point I remember much less

My kids were being so good, hanging out in their bedrooms. Only knocking every so often to see if mom was ok.

I needed to be hunched over a stack of pillows one minute, and the next I was laying on the floor on my back (probably after a trip to the bathroom and back)

I remember feeling like baby was really low in my bottom. I wasn't trying to push - I really didn't want to.

I felt the contractions much worse, obviously - but they weren't destroying me.
PUSHING will destroy me. I absolutely did not want to push.

In past labors, It was suggested or told, that it was time to push. Pushing was so painful, and this baby- I wanted to come on its own- for my own sake.

Here is where I think I really start to loose it.

I start to feel her at the lowest point, I could feel her hard bony head and shoulders and bottom rolling through me.
She was so close to crowning- I started to push a little- crying "no no no I dont want to..
and she kept going.
My body forced her lower and lower, and I pushed along with it.
There was so much energy exploding from my body, my legs pushed as hard as they could against my bed, my arms and hands pulling on my husband's -

I couldn't hold back, and screamed as she started crowning.
I pushed with all my might and intention and love,
(BECAUSE IT WAS EXCRUCIATING AND I NEEDED IT TO BE OVER)

there was a smooth pop, (her head was out)
and a deeper harder pop & gush (her body was out)

my baby is here


  peace love midwifery

peace love midwifery


"OH MY GOD IT HURTS SO BAD"

She was here.

My husband didn't catch this time, instead he took pictures and tried to wake me up to the reality of our baby.
"honey look your baby!"

I was in so much pain, clutching my crotch as if it was torn to shreds (it was not)

I remember asking what it was (I knew the whole time it was a girl)
and when he said "its a girl" I tried to focus

I was not yet completely coherent - but I knew she was just as shaken from this journey as I was

"oh my sweet girl, hello baby!"

I kissed her head and tried to maintain some composure as the midwives delivered my placenta and checked for tears - the feeling of complete destruction in my lady parts would stick with me for a few hours.

I knew my kids could hear the screaming, then a crying baby, and I remember feeling really awful that they weren't meeting their new sister fast enough. They were probably worried.
I asked someone to please let the kids in, and as soon as I could get covered up a little, we let them in to quietly meet her. 

Our family became 9, and Ruby Joy became a big sister.

 new sisters

new sisters


After finally showering, climbing into bed, and embracing my new little human, I finished my hoagie.
It was the perfect end, to a perfect day.


And here we are today, the 4th trimester coming to a close.

My sweet flower is laughing & cooing, finding her hair and her feet, and cluster nursing like a boss.
Our family is so perfect, and so complete.

It flew by & we cant wait to see what the future brings.

Thanks for reading!

 

~one very happy mom of 7!
 


*Violet Jane Iovine*

Named after my mother, and for her love of violets.

 

 

 

 

Go ahead girl, you stay a hot mess.

Yo. As real as it gets. Im a hot mess.

& I really don't want to change.

As I type this with one hand, baby in a chest carrier, milk leaking into a Kiinde bag Im holding with my other hand- I speak to you in true form.

It is reality. That most of us are a hot mess, much of the time.

I wore my yoga pants to bed, black tank- and threw a jammie top on. Woke up- changed out the pajama for a thermal & added legwarmers. done. for. today.

 

Its all good. My shit was tight yesterday. And one day last week...

I realize I don't need to have it together everyday. Its killing me trying to achieve this unattainable thing I call perfect.

Some days you got a super clean house, some days you have sauce on your stove at noon from last night.

That's mom life. We all got it. Its all good.

Today I dont sweat it. Some days you are on point, some days - not so much.

Embrace that hot mess thing you got going. Its real.

& It looks good on ya

 

 

 

 

Transition makes me crazy.

Transition. How do you remember it?

"I was so out of control"

"I said things I don't even remember!"

"I was so mean I'm sorry..."

"I didn't expect her to be so upset"

"I couldn't tell if she really needed help- or how to help her"

"Oh my god that was so bad.."

 


Transition is this magical phase in your labor...

(7-10 cm)

It's really not magical. It's a little nuts...

We remember it as a haze of behavior that made no sense.. as though we were asleep or watching from somewhere else...

AND IT HURTS.

HOLY COW IT HURTS..

At this point, you've already been laboring hard for awhile now- the pain seems relentless, you're exhausted, thinking of sleep, frustrated...and of course at this point

COMFORT MEASURES AREN'T WORKING!

(That's what I remember most)

And in these moments- most of us think

or say,

or hope......

WE ONLY HAVE 3 MORE CENTIMETERS TO GO!

IT MUST BE OVER SOON.....

(I chuckled writing that)


Transition is usually defined as a turning point, a change in energy or focus, or a passage or change from one condition to another.

(That describes transition as we know it, doesn't it?)

During the transition phase of labor, your body is finishing the dilation process, usually starting around 7cm, to the complete 10cm.

 

Your contractions are LOOOONG -maybe as long as 90 seconds or more

NOW THAT'S A FUCKING MOUNTAIN TO CLIMB. (I have a thing about mountains and contractions)

They are so close together -there is no break. maybe a minute in between. But there is no "break"..what I would have given to feel a BREAK of some kind.  Even your "climb down the mountain" (as your contraction winds down) feels more like a fall..painful, out of control, out of your mind..

Your baby is about to slam through your pelvis and your bones are crushing beneath the enormity of your child & the force of the contractions. 

JUST KIDDING> that's my definition.

But I'm dead serious..

Transition is insane.


Women in transition are having an experience that each one will tell differently. Feel differently. But it's hard for almost everyone.

As a doula, I see so many different ways women labor through transition. I'm never totally surprised

Some women I can admit, I'm a little taken aback at the way transition affected them specifically-

but never really surprised....though your partner might be.

The nicest women become unintentionally mean

The most composed women are screaming and clawing at their beds, blankets, pillows

The most hardcore women are begging for help

The screaming, the words, the chanting, the crazy personality changes -they seem totally possessed-

AND THESE ARE NORMAL. CRAZY. BUT NORMAL.

*remind your partner & family of this please, over and over. Imagine what this looks like to the partners and in-laws, the soon to be grandparents-anyone who hasn't seen it...

Your comfort measures wont work

You can't pee

Your pacing

then crying

tensing your whole body

begging for help

gagging

touch feels horrible

you're hot and sweaty

*And the pain feels nothing like earlier in your labor...

That SHIFT that happened a few centimeters ago- active labor- has nothing on the throws of transition.

You are literally out of control. And there isn't anything you can do.

*DISCLAIMER some women don't seem to experience these levels of pain- or behave out of control. (I am not one of them) But I've seen them. And I'm floored by it.


So what CAN you do?

  • Surrender. Fighting contractions doesn't help. Loosen your muscles, your jaw, use deep breaths and deep tones, and let them come. One at a time.
  • Move. Move everywhere, all over the place, as much as you need. You will totally feel crazy, and nothing and nowhere is comfortable, but move anyway.
  • Let go. No inhibitions here. Let everything go, don't worry about the people around you, what you look or sound like, or what you SHOULD or SHOULDN'T be doing.

WHAT ABOUT YOUR PARTNER?

  • Cold rags. Are just awesome. For hot **extremely hot** faces, shoulders, necks, foreheads.....    & for cleaning up as well..
  • Basin. Gagging and puking is totally normal. Be ready to catch & clean it up quick so there isn't any more unnecessary discomfort for her.
  • Pay attention. If she's cringing at a touch from you or someone else, or shaking her head no, stop doing it, and THEN say something like "I won't do that if you don't want me to" If it helped, she'll let you know. Maybe.
  • REMEMBER WHAT IS NORMAL! Most of this is normal. The behavior, the pain, crying or screaming, vomiting, bits of bloody or slimy things coming out... NORMAL. When things are not normal, your care providers will tell you. And you can always ask them.
  • Don't expect answers or conversation. We can't think straight, and the moments we can- ARE THE ONLY TINY BREAKS WE MIGHT GET. If she doesn't answer, let it be. Talking and answering questions, can feel like TORTURE during transition. Don't make her do it if she doesn't need to.
  • ENCOURAGE. OVER AND OVER. Not cheering, joking, or slaps on the butt. You might get knocked out. I will totally laugh at you if you get clocked. Try "You're doing great" "I've got you" "You can do this"
  • Continue to offer her drinks & fluids. Not drinking in labor can make you dehydrated. Quickly. Mouth dryness is so hard to deal with when you're breathing heavily and working on merely surviving at this point. Give her water and fruit juice, both options if you can. WITH A BENDY STRAW~

See the evidence for eating and drinking during labor HERE


What else is there to know?

Labor is different for every woman, and every birth. Don't expect...just go with the flow.

Have a good support team. This can make all the difference in the world.

Don't watch the damn clock. COVER IT IF YOU HAVE TO-
Transition is simply (and not so simply) the point at which your body is ALMOST READY TO PUSH> and by almost I don't mean almost in time. Time doesn't exist here. Don't pay attention to it.
ALMOST as in> The final phase of the 1st stage of labor.

After this you will be pushing your baby earthside.

~

And don't apologize to your doula.

If you need to flip out, throw up on my shirt, hate every comfort measure, act insane, or have no idea what you want- don't sweat it.

This what we're here for. Support.

 

 

*Check out Evidencebasedbirth.com for more information on eating and drinking during labor, and to find more information on giving birth based on the best evidence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE SHIFT. WHEN IT ALL HITS THE FAN.

There is a moment in labor we don't talk about often enough.

I call it THE SHIFT.

Let me explain~


I've been a doula for a few years now, but I've also given birth 6 times.

As a service provider who strives to understand her clients needs as deeply as I can-

I've always tried to incorporate what I've learned, needed, and witnessed, not as a doula, but as a laboring woman.

I have a good handful or more of personal birth experience.

One thing that I've witnessed and felt- was this moment in labor.

I felt it with my first - a 48 hour labor - and with my 6th - a 3 hour labor.

It was a shift.
A massive change in every bit of my body and my labor- but mostly my pain.

You're contracting along, acknowledging your pain- moving and breathing and feeling really confident in yourself-

THEN

BAM!

You can't move.

The pain is suddenly UNBEARABLE -

It feels like a brick was dropped down into your uterus from a mile above the earth.

It isn't really unmanageable - but unless you are prepared for the shift -

Who am I kidding. No amount of preparation can STOP your body from experiencing the shift.

But if you know it's coming, & understand what it means - you may be able to regain your rhythm, and find what works for you to manage your labor.

 


The 3 phases of the first stage of labor

Sounds confusing? It isnt. Labor comes in 3 stages.

1. contractions and dilation

2. pushing

3. placenta

That first stage is where you hang out in all that pain.

Some as little as 3 hours -  some.....much longer

You dilate from 0-10, and your baby drops deep into to your pelvis.

THIS first STAGE OF LABOR HAS 3 PHASES for most women.

EARLY


>>>>>here is the shift<<<<<
ACTIVE

TRANSITION


*Disclaimer: Not every woman labors the same. Some women will have little early labor and move right into serious contractions. Other women seem like they experience no pain at all, moving through active labor and transition as though it were EASY.


This shift is exactly what it looks like.

A shift into active labor.

Somewhere between 4 and 6 centimeters dilation. The beginning of the real work.

Your next contraction feels different then the earlier ones, your bones ache, you feel it in your legs and deep inside your pelvis.

You can't talk through your contractions, you feel strange in between. This is it.

You have hit active labor! HOORAY!

Just kidding.

As a doula I'm like
YAY BABY IS COMING!!

As a laboring woman I'm like

OH FUCK NO PLEASE OUCH OUCH OUCH


This is the point in labor where you need to find your rhythm (again). This shift from early to active labor is hard, and it's intense. But there are several GOOD reasons to understand that this shift comes, and be ready for it.

  • If you are aiming for a natural birth- understanding the shift is coming will help you PREPARE to cope and refocus. Your partner or doula can remind you that this is normal. You can use keywords or specific triggers to remind yourself, that this is normal - and you can find your rhythm again. The shift can be frightening!
  • If you don't want pain medication- this shift is a point in your labor that feels so different, it can be disheartening. Many women at this point decide they would like pain medication, when they initially intended on having a medication free birth. ((I am not against pain medication)) If you can PREPARE coping and focus techniques for the shift, it will still hurt like crazy, but you will be able to move through your contractions one at a time and find your rhythm. This is a good point in labor to start using COMFORT MEASURES you may have learned or practiced.
  • If you want to wait as long as possible before considering pain medication - Many women would like to consider pain meds ONLY after labor has been well established, and the risks of slowing or stalling labor are minimal. If you understand that this shift is coming, and prepare to refocus and cope you may save yourself from a labor that slows down from the epidural medication. Often this shift happens when you are between 4 and 6 centimeters dilated. With support and encouragement, you may be able to move through the contractions one at a time, and you may be able to wait just a little longer!
  • Trying to stay home as long as possible before going to the hospital or birth center? - Knowing this shift is coming can help you stay home longer! Some women prefer to labor at home as long as possible. This shift can be so intense, that some women feel immediately that this means IT'S TIME TO GO. It doesn't have to. You have a good journey ahead- if you have goals of staying home to avoid interventions or discouragement, prepare to be hit by the shift. Prepare you PARTNER AND FAMILY for the shift. They can help encourage and support you, one contraction at a time.
  • The shift is scary, intense, and causes a massive surge of adrenaline. What does adrenaline do to us in labor? It's INCREDIBLY counterproductive to your labor.
    • Adrenaline can cause labor to stall, (this was important in our evolution, and allows mothering mammals in danger to move to a safe place before delivering)
    • Adrenaline works against oxytocin (the hormone that keeps contractions coming)  and endorphines (these block pain receptors).
    • Adrenaline can cause your brain to jump into overdrive, and you experience the flight or fight feelings and thoughts that come with surges of adrenaline. (In labor, you really have to shut down the thinking part of your brain - the neocortex -  to find your labor rhythm, and allow these hormones to flow freely. This is the trance that women seem to experience once the throws of labor are upon us) Adrenaline turns your brain up to HIGH POWER~

It's important to bring it back down, quiet your thoughts, and find your focus and rhythm.

If you understand the shift is coming, you can prepare yourself, and you can ready your partner for one of the MOST difficult support roles they may play in your life.


What can we do?

Be ready for it.

Have cues and keywords for yourself and your birth team, to get you back on track.

Practice comfort measures ahead of time. Some will work great, some will suck.

Surrender.

It's coming, and you can't fight it. Surrender to each one as a singular mountain to climb up and then down. And breathe in between.

You can do it!

 

 

Lookout for the next exciting blog post - Transition makes me crazy-
 

Why I ask my hardworking husband to clean

I really do ask him to clean for me

Can you guess his response?

 

Why do I ask him to clean?

He busted his ass all day working, and I was home- Why isn't the vacuuming done already?

BECAUSE BEING HOME IS FUCKING HARD!

(Not just because I have 7 kids- I dont care how many kids you have- 1 or 11, its hard. Exhausting- hair pulling- cursing -hard.)

I know that my husband works hard, and I know he deserves to relax. But sometimes he fails to see the difficulty in staying home with our kids. He's not here like I am, how could he?

So I TRY not to hold it against him when he says things like:

"Isn't that your job if you were here all day?"

"Make the kids do the dishes I worked all day."

"This isn't how I want to spend my time off."

I get it. And that sounds either legit, or like an asshole. It depends who you are.

It took time for me to accept those words (and I dont mean I just let them go and do all the work)

But I try not to hate on his attitude.

I get it. He works with his body, his muscles are sore, and he was outside half the day building a house. I get it.

But he has no gauge on what home life looks like with kids- being here on weekends and nights isnt the same as feeding, changing, watering, cleaning up after, and trying to be a loving parent while all this normal childhood is happening-

He doesnt ever seem to see the worst moments, when 4 kids are fighting in the pile of once folded clean clothes, and the other two are throwing popcorn at the event while I'm trying to do 8 people's dishes from one meal- and the dog comes in and knocks over the trash.

(It always comes in groups. Be warned. If the shit hits the fan, EXPECT MORE SHIT)

So he doesnt know what it's like to try and stay calm, hands wet with dishwater, holding back a scream...

(you know fighting kids can't hear you right? and neither can the popcorn throwers- its just too loud)

so you have no choice - but to either shout, or physically stop them, either the brawlers or the popcorn throwers.

Pick which kid, cause if you yell at the wrong one, you have 3 hours worth of "it wasnt my fault" arguing, between you and them, and them and themselves.

(THE PILES OF SHIT JUST KEEP GETTING BIGGER- HOLD ON TIGHT TO YOUR SANITY)

and if you touch the wrong one with the dishwater on your hands, you have 30 MINUTES of "YOUR RUINED MY ONLY FAVORITE SHIRT" 

So you make a call, separate them all and send them upstairs to play

And you slink back into the kitchen to finish the dishes.

Until you realize the trash is still spilled and the dog is eating it.


FAST FORWARD TO THE EVENING


My beloved comes home, and is greeting with hugs and "DAADDYYY" from his girls, and "hey dad" from the boys. Everybody is always so happy to see him.

He greets us all, and drops to the couch.

I'm ok with this really. I get it. He's probably exhausted, and I personally dropped to the couch like 30 times today

Then we eat

Im sure I dont have to tell you what kind of chore preparing, feeding, and eating can be with kids

and when it's time to clean up- I usually ask one thing...

"honey can you please help me clean up and get them ready for bed?"


Now I could tell you how it used to go, it wasn't supportive, and it was met with a lot of comments, like I mentioned above.

But let me just say:

It's ok that he felt that way. He isnt here everyday, to fully grasp the dynamics of stay at home parenting. He doesnt experience the difficulties, and I swear the worst only happens when hes away. And he really does work really hard. I get it. He doesnt get it.

Or at least he didnt..


It works better now, and he grumbles up and he helps me, and he encourages the kids to help me.

I believe that both work ethic, and supporting others, is learned through observation. We have to show our kids by living it.

Im not sure why, or what exactly I've said over the years, but its clicking. Sometimes it takes awhile, or sometimes they have to experience it. Im not sure what works for each person, but for us, he just wasn't able to empathize or even witness the reality of being home all day with kids. I felt like he was missing the big picture-

It's very easy to assume being home all day = plenty of time to do everything.

  • I dont get time off, the shift doesnt end, there is no clocking out.
  • It might not be hard labor, but its hard and includes a lot of manual labor!
  • I don't get bathroom time alone, I dont get to eat without sharing or giving up all my food. I don't get the solace in my own self. It doesnt matter if its driving alone, taking his smoke breaks or his lunch, there is solace in being with yourself and your thoughts. It helps you function, and I dont get that. I have to be ON all the time.
  • The emotional strain, and mental anguish that comes with fighting kids, babies that wont sleep, and the endless chores, is immeasurable.
  • I dont sit all day. I get up 100 times when I do try to sit, and if i sit down, I know im sacrificing precious time to finish the unending.
  • This mess you see now, is either because I took them outside, or because I was trying desperately to get the baby to nap, or I was cleaning something else. I am not a machine, and no matter how hard I try (and destroy myself doing it) I cant catch up. There is always a floor to be vacuumed, a load of wash to be done, or a disgusting mess somewhere. One thing at a time, just like building a house.

But the hardest part is the fact that I'm raising little people.

I cant just flip out or quit if I hate my jobs.

I cant expect the kids to be reasonable, or know when Im overwhelmed.

I have to do this right.

These are little people that I am growing and introducing to the world.

We have to show them as partners, that we support each other,

that we dont expect one person to be responsible for everything and everyone's mess,

that even when it's hard and we're annoyed, we do these out of love.

And he gets that. And he tries.

And it makes all the difference in the world

That my busy hardworking husband will come home and vacuum for me.

~

 

I have to add, I commend those parents who can do what I cant. I have a lot of kids, but I know parents who really work very hard to maintain in ways I fail. A cleaner house, a more organized routine, You guys rock!

 

Does your stay at home life look as crazy as mine?

Please comment!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When your work, isn't work

How do you measure success?

Your bank account?     
Family?       
Career path?       
Happiness?

I think it's a flexible combination of all of these..

But when pieces don't fit, or you haven't found your niche, you can feel unaccomplished, unfinished, and unhappy..even if you have a paycheck, a home, a loving partner and kids.

I had a rough beginning. The first 21 yrs of my life were tumultuous to say the least.

While my young adult peers were working and making lives, I couldn't decide what I was, who I was, or where I was supposed to be.

Maybe not everybody feels this way, but this affected me. I reached for life's blessings in every wrong way, and it took a long time to settle down, let go, and focus on real life.
To find my Niche.

Becoming a doula changed my whole person.

They say when your work is your calling, it isnt work.

That is so true.

I couldn't be happier serving women, and I'm proud of my educational accomplishments and my experiences. But it's so much more than this.

I began studying midwifery first, then decided to work as a doula as well. Serving Women.

Birth work exposed me to true service,
reality,
the fragility of life,
the intimacy of human existence,

and gave me sense of the infinite connectedness, that is Love. Unbiased, Unjudging, Unconditional Love.

Holy goodness my work can have meaning? Leave me fulfilled? AND Make me money?

I already had kids (many kids) I already had my life-partner, I've always had my God, and then I found this last piece. My path.

It slowed me.

I'm glad it took this long

I love where I am today.

What do you do that you LOVE?

 

 

 

Watch Your Mouth

There is a language we speak and hear about birth, that is so devastatingly oppressive, yet so subtly woven into our vocabulary.
Words and phrases, used by professionals and parents and everyone involved, that hinder us both subconsciously, and outright,
in our daily lives, and through the generations.

I see these words every day, in so many conversations, & they need to change.
Phrases  like "my doctor let me" or words like "delivered".

Human language has a way of molding how we experience life.
The language of birth should be uplifting, joyous, and strong.

The words we use should promote the mother's ability and inherent rights.
Not convince us we cannot birth without intervention, permission, or deliverance.


The fact is, that all language, from all cultures, has many words rooted in negativity, or fear.
Famed Obstetrician, Michel Odent, speaks in an issue of The Primal Health Newsletter, of the language that young medical students are exposed to in their studies of anatomy.

For example, the term for external genital organs, is Pudenda.
What is the root of this word? The Latin verb, pudere, which means 'to be ashamed'.

Another example is the word obstetrics. The Latin root of this word is obstetrix, which means midwife.
And the literal interpretation of this is... a woman standing in front of.
There are numerous examples of this throughout medical terminology, and through many cultures.


It would seriously suggest that through cultural conditioning that,  not only do we view in all proper terms, the genitals as shameful,  but that we are "brainwashed" into believing that women cannot give birth without someone standing in front of them.

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Dr. Odent makes an interesting point in this article, comparing the language used by two different cultures, and their cesarean rates.

In Chinese, the term for a woman having a baby, is often jie Sheng
. This means "delivery carried out by others".
On the contrast, in the Russian language, the commonly used terms is rodila which means "I gave birth".

The difference here is not too noticeable, or is it?
It is marked by implying an active participation in the birth, as opposed to a birth that must be managed by another person.

Here's the kicker to that comparison.

WHO reported that in 2008, the Chinese cesarean rate was at 25.9, and the unnecessary cesarean rate was at 31.8.
Russia's cesarean rate was 18.0, with an unnecessary cesarean rate of 0.7.

The question Dr Odent asks is, could it be possible, that cultural language conditioning has this much of an effect on birth outcomes?
Not only the cesarean rates are markedly different, but the number of unnecessary cesareans are so far apart, that it's not unreasonable to assume there is an effect on outcomes, based on how we view and teach and speak of birth.


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Words like
DELIVERED
COACH
CARE
 influence us subconsciously, into feeling that women cannot labor without management.



Even the terms
Natural Birth Method
and
Childbirth education

leave a woman subconsciously assuming that birth is NOT natural or normal and must be taught and managed.


As a birth worker, I support women obtaining knowledge about their pregnancy, birth, & their babies.
In our culture, most childbirth education is completely appropriate and necessary. Especially considering the maze of policies and procedures to weed through, since most women have babies in hospitals.

The focus of birth and pregnancy education should serve to un-teach, the generations of negative beliefs and anecdotes that has been engrained within them.
And as birth workers, we need to watch what we say. We have the power in the words we choose to use, to help women rediscover the truth.

What is that truth?
That we are mammals. We need to remember that physiologically, we are made to give birth, without observation and management. Just give birth.
Because most of the time, birth is normal.




Now I know that we cannot rewrite history, change medical textbooks, or flip a magic switch here. But there are things we can do to change the atmosphere of birth language.

We can start by utilizing language that is positive and honest.

Midwife Ina May Gaskin is known for calling contractions "rushes" - to literally bring a better sense and feeling to the word.
Does this (among other things) contribute to The Farm Midwifery Center's amazing birth outcomes?

A ZERO percent maternal mortality rate, or a 1.7 percent cesarean rate? I think it really might. Especially considering many of the almost 3,000 births have been what we refer to as "high risk" - twins, breech, & mothers with more than 5 children.
Is "High risk" possibly a negative term that's being overused and is influencing?

It certainly is.

In the same sense, many homebirth midwives refer to themselves as "catching" babies, as opposed to the ever popular term, "deliver babies' - used by obstetricians and hospital professionals.

-If we all formed a habit, of calling things by positive names,
(such as contraction being named "rushes")
-If we started referring to birth without fear based language
(words like high risk or trial of labor)
-If we denied scare tactics,
(women being told they are not safe birthing at home)

-If we talk to our peers and children about birth in a positive & normal fashion
(no more scary stories or comparisons)

we may be able to change some of the stigma around birth as a whole

Because that's what it is, stigma.
Negative references or a mark of disgrace.


-From the earliest of time, men believed women could not birth alone,
doctors believe all birth is a medical event,
that women are patients,
babies must be
hurried out,
taught to breastfeed,
separated as soon as possible...

These are all working against us.
And it started with how someone viewed, and spoke, of birth.



Today I want to see women & professionals choose their words carefully.

After all, your daughters will be mothers, and your sons, fathers.

So watch your mouth.





http://www.who.int/healthsystems/topics/financing/healthreport/30C-sectioncosts.pdf

http://www2.cfpc.ca/local/user/files/%7B23013556-3CFB-408F-9B5C-D7A7D61CD629%7D/vol15no4.pdf

http://www.thefarmmidwives.org/preliminary_statistics.html



I would like to add on a personal note, that doula work and midwifery care, can fall into this category of negative birth language.

When we as doulas or midwives assume, teach, or simply say, that women cannot birth without this support, we are contributing.

Of course some circumstances require birth attendants to save a life, or a labor support person to love and work for the mother and her family.

This DOES NOT mean the doula needs to bring her own energy to the birth.
This does NOT mean that EVERY woman SHOULD hire a doula.

And it does NOT mean that women cannot birth alone.


When we as the "professionals" stop telling women they *need* someone else to control and manage, we give the power back to them.

This is our job. To give it back to them.

More good reasons to hire a doula

Do you wonder why so many women are hiring doulas?

There are many important reasons to hire a professional doula during your pregnancy.

 THE EXPERTS recommend doula support as a preventative measure against primary cesarean!

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and The Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine has recently stated that doulas are an UNDERUTILIZED asset to the birthing woman's care-

SAFE PREVENTION OF PRIMARY CESAREAN
Continuous Labor and Delivery Support
"Published data indicate that one of the most effective tools to improve labor and delivery outcomes is the continuous presence of support personnel, such as a doula. A Cochrane meta-analysis of 12 trials and more than 15,000 women demonstrated that the presence of continuous one-on-one support during labor and delivery was associated with improved patient satisfaction and a statistically significant reduction in the rate of cesarean delivery. Given that there are no associated measurable harms, this resource is probably underutilized."

A doula is like having BACK DOOR ACCESS to things that are not simple to "GOOGLE"
and all the things you dont feel like googling
questions like:
-which care providers or hospitals as are truly vbac friendly
-which hospitals are the most mother-baby friendly
-which hospitals have birth tubs or amenities (and actually let you use them)
-which care providers are .....(insert personal preferences here)
-how to increase my iron
-can I breastfeed while Im pregnant
-is it illegal to refuse certain procedures

You can ask your doula all the gross questions you need to. Or the ones you forgot to ask your care provider. You can probably even ask on a sunday afternoon through casual text message.
-Most doulas are quite friendly, and encourage you to reach out with those uncomfortable questions.

Doulas have tricks.
-Weird pains? Try this remedy or exercise.
-Breech baby? Let's get you properly resting, moving,  and exercising to promote turning.
-Baby's not engaged? Or perhaps a little tilted? How about we try a special position and some hands on rebozo work to encourage your baby to re-position
-Can't pee while youre in labor? I got a trick for that too.

Aren't sure it's labor? 
-Run your late night labor questions by your doula, and save trips to the hospital. (After all, she's ON CALL for you!)

Undivided attention in labor.
-The doula doesn't have to make phone calls, leave, or take many breaks
(well sometimes we do cause we're human)
-The doula's job is to provide continuous emotional and physical and informational support.
She'll bring you water,
call your nurse,
move your tables,
carry bags,
remind your partner to eat,
charge your phone,
get your slippers,
tie your hair,
hold your hand,
answer questions,
help you focus,
fetch cold or hot compresses,
help you walk to the bathroom (and remind you to pee)
help you manage your pain
apply counter pressure (and other fun doula tricks)
massage your legs and feet
help you focus or let go, (depending on which you need) through each individual contraction
encourage the heck out of you
-Your doula can allow your partner to take a nap, eat, or leave to attend things at home.

Your doula can make the birth more fulfilling for everyone
-Imagine if your partner didn't have to worry about remembering your birth plan, or didn't have to leave you alone to grab a meal.
-Your partner and family would have someone to answer spontaneous or random questions without holding up, or waiting for, your nurse or doctor.
-Studies have shown us that women with continuous support have much more fulfilling births

Your doula can remind your partner that some things that seem so intense, are in fact normal.
-Because, and I'm not even kidding, sometimes there are aspects of labor and childbirth, that just dont  seem normal.

 Your doula can help you stay calm
-Labor is intense. Your doula is your reminder that you are safe, or supported. She can help you refocus, and help you stay focused.

Your doula can outlast almost anyone.
-Partners, you'll thank us later. While you get some much needed rest, so you can better support the laboring mom, we'll be with mom. Attentive, loving, supportive...even long into the night, day, night....

Your doula is trained and experienced. She is a professional.
-She is trained how to support laboring women, and knows the ins and outs of normal (and sometimes not so normal) birth.
-She is taught how to provide a quiet haven for birth, to be present and yet invisible when she needs to be. She is taught how to touch, speak, and work with moms and their partners in this most intense life moment.
-Your doula is taught how to work productively for the laboring woman in the hospital, or at home. She is taught how to avoid conflict with hospital staff and still provide the continuous care the laboring woman needs.

Your doula likely knows many things about protocol, procedures, and what to expect clinically.
Things you may not anticipate.


Your doula can pickup on your cues!
Having seen and lived birth, doulas have been trained to use their intuition as often as their skills. Your doula will often know before you ask, what you need. She can sense moments, & respond to subtle cues

(Not always. We aren't magic. Or maybe we are. Who knows.)

Your doula can teach you how to use the hospital breast pump.
Yes, that is important. It's confusing. And sometimes you can't remember, or you've been given medication making you sleepy. Your doula can help you as many times as you need. Until you get it right.

Your doula can help you ask the right questions and find the right resources.
Sometimes things don't go according to plan. Your baby may end up in the NICU, your labor may be very long, you may be asked to wait before breastfeeding, you may be suggested a cesarean, pitocin, or other interventions. Your doula can help you ask the right questions, to get complete answers.
Often, the messenger (nurse or doctor) doesn't fully explain the details of the situation. They may say things like "we have to wait" or "you need to go now" or "we believe this is the safest option for your baby" or "What we like to do at this point"
With any of these decisions, it's important to weight the evidence, and make a decision for yourself.
Your doula can review evidence with you.
(often times she is an open book with so much knowledge, and with access to the right resources, often right at her fingertips)
She can help you explore your options by discussing and reviewing what she knows with  you or your partner.

In serious situations, having a good doula can be such a necessary support.
-Sometimes bad things happen. Moms, babes, partners, parents, can be traumatized or separated. This is such a heart wrenching time, no matter the level of trauma.
Your doula can be the continuous support, tending to the needs of mom, baby, partner, or family. She can answer some questions for the parents, help relay information to waiting family, or tend to the mother.


Your doula is your witness, she can help you process your birth.
- Your doula can provide some missing pieces to your birth, offering the timeline of events from her perspective. She can also answer questions you may have later, after your birth, in your postpartum period.



*NOTE -
We won't speak for you
We won't bring OUR personal birth beliefs into your space
We won't push our ideals, or expect you to give birth any way except your own

 

Did you have doula? Did she bring anything you didn't expect to your birth?

 

 

     

    Anti-pain medication doula

    I AM NOT ANTI-PAIN MEDICATION.
    That's how this short and sweet blog starts.

    I am an outspoken, advocate for evidence based birth. Sometimes that means, I speak outright, about the abuses in the medical system, the downsides to interventions and medication, and the misguiding information on pregnancy, labor, and birth.
    I AM NOT ANTI-PAIN MEDICATION.

    I can see through the eyes of the women who know me by name, that I may appear too "anti-allopathic" or "anti-institution" - that I may hinder their birth experience with my rants, forced beliefs, or smother them with too much information.

    I can feel in the words they carefully choose, as if they are afraid I'll shake my head in disgust, or shame them in my conversations with other doulas.

    This is so far, my beloved friends, so insanely far from the truth, it pains me to have to acknowledge it.

    I am NOT the outspoken advocate, the ranting hippy, the overly crunchy mama, when I'm in your space.
    Your pregnancy is not about attaining a goal of natural birth, or NOT having any interventions.
    Its about your BABY. It's about bringing a new soul into your family. Growing a new person.

    WE DONT GET PREGNANT TO HAVE A NATURAL BIRTH. WE GET PREGNANT TO HAVE A BABY.

    When I am called upon to SERVE, the opinions are left at the door. Any thought I've had about how birth SHOULD be, has been cleared from my thoughts, and my only focus is on what you want, and need, to have a fulfilling experience. The outcome of your birth matters to me, but not in any way that was guided by my own thoughts or bias.

    I am there for you.

    Please remember this when you speak to me about your birth, or your pregnancy, and tell me your story.
    Please dont think I'll curse your decisions behind your back,
    or make cold, hurtful "well you shoulda.." comments..
    I wont.
    I love pregnancy, and birth, and babies, and mothers..

    And the outspoken, sharp tongued birth advocate, is NOT who will be present in your space.

    PROMISE