Tuesday, March 30, 2010
I am excited to be sharing a birth story today from a friend of mine from when my hubby was in Chiropractic college.
I love her story because it shows that a woman can have a natural birth even if she does not follow the textbook idea of laboring for 15 hours and pushing for two with her first baby. It also shows how important the birth place we choose is and the support of a good care provider who will go the distance with you.
A Marathon Birth
Most of Tuesday was spent going through the early stages of labor consisting of contractions every 5 to 10 minutes.
Around 8 PM we finally decided with our midwife, D, to come to the birthing center. Once we got there we found out I was only dilated to a 2 1/2. The midwife sent us home to hopefully get some rest through the night.
After being home for a few hours, my contractions started to intensify; so we made the 25 minute drive back to the birthing center. At around 12:30 AM we discovered that I was dilated to a 3. We were somewhat discouraged with the lack of progress.
We spent the night at the birthing center. I spent most of that time laboring in a tub. It was during this time that I understood why so many women decide to go the epidural route. I somehow made it to the morning with the help of my husband.
Around 7:30 AM, D let us know that I actually made progress and was dilated to a 7. It was at that moment, I knew I could make it through the rest of labor. It was a relief to know I was progressing.
I continued through the day dancing to Bob Marley, taking a couple of relaxing showers, drinking lots of water, and moving through contractions.
Close to 3 PM I started the pushing phase.
Around 6 PM, our midwives, D and G, informed us that we may need to transfer to the hospital because I was not making much progress. Thankfully, mine and the baby's vitals were great so that was not a concern. While D worked on contacting her backup doctor, I worked on pushing.
A little after 7 PM, I had actually made enough progress that it would not be possible to transfer and D said we were staying!
After pushing for 5 hours in almost every position possible our little baby emerged. D handed me our baby and Husband announced that we had a sweet boy.
At 8:15 PM, Baby Boy entered our world weighing 7 lbs 2 oz. and 21 in. long. As I held our boy in our arms, all I could say and think was "We did it!" Birth is truly a miraculous event. I felt so empowered by this marathon birth.
Monday, March 29, 2010
Positive Birth StoriesI have been thinking a lot lately about the power of good birth stories. Every time a woman reads a positive uplifting birth story we create a little bit of change in the world. I don't know about you but as a stay at home mom I want to do something positive in the world every day.
So- this is where you come in! Send me your positive birth story and I will try to post it. I don't care where you had your baby- just as long as the story is a positive one. We want to give women the confidence and power to birth in peace.
If you want me to link to your own website I will happily do it.
Looking forward to learning more about you and sharing your stories!
You can e-mail it to me at email@example.com
If I get enough stories coming in I will use Wednesday as birth story day.
Create the change you want to see!!!
If I could teach my students one thing it would be to trust their bodies. If you have that- you can do it. On the other hand- if you are fearful of the entire process all of your book knowledge about birth will do you little good. One of the most difficult things for me when I am teaching is sharing with people the info they will need to navigate today's birth system without making them so afraid of the entire process that they are unable to relax and just give birth.
In Bradley (TM) we call this the fear- tension- pain cycle. When we are afraid our bodies react by tensing up, increased tension (especially when trying to relax through labor contractions) will greatly increase pain during labor. This cycle is vicious and feeds itself, the more fear, the more pain, the more pain, the more fear, and around and round we go until we are begging for the savior epidural.
Becoming Fearful of Birth
How did we get so scared to death of birth? Right now, most modern American women grow up being scared to death of birth. We rarely hear a good birth story. Women almost joking refer to how awful birth is, the need for their c-section, their induction, their bottle feeding, their pain in breastfeeding, hemorrhage, length of labor, every thing that went wrong at every turn and on and on- with all this, it is no wonder that most of us have a hard time relaxing through birth. We have been taught that we could literally explode at any moment.
To add to the sheer volume of negative cultural ideas about birth, far too many women have bad experiences through the life cycle that make the whole process of letting go difficult. What can cause us to be afraid and stop relaxing? I regret that it is a pretty long list: sexual abuse, rape, infertility, previous negative birth(s), mothers' horrible birth stories, and the list goes on.
Sometimes I wish I was a therapist because I feel so inadequate when it comes to helping women deal with these issues in relation to childbirth. Inevitably, any issue that causes fear of birth or a deep distrust of our bodies needs to be dealt with prior to birth as much as possible. Here are some things that might be helpful- (and PLEASE- if you have more resources to add, please comment and let me know):
-Read positive birth stories-
+Mothering Magazine, Ina May Gaskin's Guide to Childbirth and Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin are all good resources for positive birth stories. I also love my midwife Claudette and she has some great stories on her website
-Visualize your birth-
+Take some time to visualize your "perfect birth." It won't turn out this way- birth is beyond our control- but taking the time to imagine everything going well helps in two ways. First, it gives you your own good birth story in your head, and second, it will help you make choices about care providers and birth places, that will help you accomplish what you want. For example, if you imagine your birth quiet, uninterrupted, and just you and your husband, then maybe a busy teaching hospital isn't your ideal birth place.
+This might just be key to a good birth. But you do need to practice it. Take a good out of hospital birth class that focuses on relaxation and then do it every night. Mind Over Labor and 25 Ways to Awaken Your Birth Power are good books (and the last link also links to birth stories.)
-Face your fears, and let them go-
+This might be easier said than done, but do your best. Talk about things with your partner, and work out what you can. Know that you can do this but there might be some moments in labor where you have to face your fears.
Your Body is Perfect
I know we hear over and over again in the media and in our own heads about the imperfections of the female body. But our bodies are perfect for what they are meant to do- give birth and feed our babies. Tell yourself this over and over again. My mantra while pregnant with my first was "I am not afraid, I am not afraid" and the birth was virtually painless. You were designed to do this. Your body is perfect for birth and mothering.
Friday, March 26, 2010
Sometimes I come across a woman contemplating a home birth but still unsure of the decision. I always want to express to them the joy that this can bring without being pushy and pushing my values onto them. These are simply the reasons why I loved my home birth.
I have been lucky enough to have had three wonderful natural births in three different places. My first was born in a hospital, my second in a free standing birth center, and most recently, my third at home.
All were wonderful experiences, which sadly is more than most women can say. I do feel like I could have a natural birth in a hospital pretty easily. Many women can if they have enough knowledge, speak up for themselves, are dedicated, and arrive at the hospital very close to delivery. I felt like I could birth in a hospital again, but knew that I definitely did not want to.
Choose Your Friends-
I think that the scariest thing about a hospital birth for many women attempting to go all natural is the fear of things that will be done to you. You can choose a natural friendly hospital and care provider and all of that, but unfortunatly, almost every OB or midwife in a hospital works shift work. Your care provider will only be there if it is their shift. Essentially you don't know who you are going to end up with.
Step back from our culture and think about that for a minute.
You are going to go have a baby- something that is intensely private, sacred, incredible, and rare, and you are going to do it with whoever is on call. Maybe somebody you have never met. Maybe somebody you don't even like. Or - I will go ahead and sound sexist and say it- maybe even a man. (I personally have never really understood the desire to birth with a male attendant).
With a home birth you choose your midwife, and she (baring some act of fate like vacation or another birth) shows up! Not somebody you have never met, not her partner with weird breath, your midwife. The one you have a relationship with, a person you trust to be a lifeguard at one of life's most soul changing experiences. Small detail- but important.
Choose YOUR Power
I don't quite know how to put this in words but when you have a baby in your home- there is a subtle (or enormous) power difference than in having a baby in the hospital. Anybody who comes knocks on your door. You choose to let them in. You are on your turf. You are the expert and you are in charge. Obviously, a trained midwife will make choices that may need to be made sometimes that a mother can not- but things are very different.
Choose Your Fear
I will get slammed for this but I will say it- there is some inherent risk in birth. Occasionally even with sanitation and modern medicine sometimes mothers or babies die. I truly believe that this is rare when birth is handled as little as possible and a mother takes good care of herself- but it does happen.
Could you die having a baby at home? Yes- you could. Could you die having a baby in a hospital. Most certainly. Statistically the likelyhood of this happening is about the same no matter where a healthy mother gives birth.
I choose the possibility of something going wrong in my home over the one in three chance of a c- section in a hospital (and all the risks associated with that). I choose a midwife who encourages me to make educated choices about vaccinating, circumcision, and cord clamping- and then (shocker!) respects my wishes. I choose this over threats that child protective services will be called because I refused eye ointment in the hospital.
I choose a midwife who is comfortable sitting in the corner and checking the babies heartbeat intermittently and then allowing me to labor how or where I would like over being strapped to a monitor and having an unfamiliar nurse look at my printout every time she comes in the room.
I choose to deliver in whatever position feels good to me without having to worry if that is against policy.
I choose to deliver a baby naturally- and I mean allowing the baby to come out of my body without being yanked or pulled on.
I choose to hold my baby for two hours after birth before checks are done in the room with me by two loving women over a baby that is taken to a seperate room and poked at so I can "get some rest honey".
I choose home birth because it is beautiful and it is worth it.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
My baby is now seven months old and I had the question the other day- "Are you still nursing?"
Well of course I am! I have been committed to the one year mark with all of my kids (two years with the first, 15 months with the second, and still going with number three).
After overcoming the obstacles in the beginning with my first I did not understand why somebody would quit nursing before a year- all problems solved if you get past the first month or so, right?
I was to find out that there can be problems later on that can make continued breastfeeding a challenge. This is not a judgment of any mother who is not able to make it to that magical one year mark- just some things I have found that help me and other mothers if you still wish to continue your nursing relationship.
Pay Attention Baby!
Often around 6 to 8 months babies start to get more interested in the world around them. All of a sudden, mom is not everything! It is not uncommon for women to quit around this time because they think that the baby is no longer interested.
First- all babies go through this- even bottle fed babies. They start to notice the world and start to participate in it. A bottle fed baby will throw or drop a new bottle, the breastfed baby will start to nurse, then turn away, bite or fuss.
This does not mean they want to wean- it just means they are learning about their world. If you are there when they are ready they will come back to you.
Pay Attention Mom!
Sometimes baby is just trying to tell you to pay attention to them. Yes- they need attention just like you do!
I found this to be the case with my second. Every time I sat down to nurse she would bite me (yes bite) if I wasn't staring right at her. No more watching TV, no reading, no talking, just looking at my little baby. This can seem like an annoyance for a busy multi-tasking mother, but spending a few minutes each day just focusing on baby is more of a blessing than a burden.
I think of labor, birth and mothering as a dance with your baby. Everything is a give and take. Everything you do and feel communicates back and forth with each other. Our babies talk to us and communicate their needs. When they want more attention- they tell us but not with words. Everything we do with them is an opportunity not just to teach but to learn from them also.
Every step in motherhood is an opportunity to learn (usually a hard lesson for me) and be humbled by our children. That is why I call this mama birth- because we become mothers through the journey.
A yeast infection in the breast can be incredibly painful for the mother and can cause her to quit breastfeeding. These links have some great info.
Also- some mom's find that the supplement Fungal Defense from Garden of Life supplements will help to kill the yeast so that your body can come to a healthy equilibrium again.
Many mom's also find that removing yeast products (bread) and sugar and white flour from your diet is also helpful. In addition, many sources recommend probiotics, but some have found that the probiotics should be started only AFTER the yeast is under control with a product like the one mentioned above. (From my sweet and knowledgeable hubby- thanks babe!)
An old friend also recommended using Motherlove Nipple Cream which is organic and safe.
Info for treatment from Kellymom
Info from LLL International
My beloved Texas La Leche League leader had this to add also- a shout out to Louanne and LLL leaders everywhere who know so much, help so many and do it all for free!
And to clean and prevent:
Good luck- another post to follow soon!
(This is of course something that some mom's find helpful and is not intended to be medical advise.)
Friday, March 19, 2010
When I teach the most important lesson I want any of the students to learn is to trust their bodies. If you can do this one thing you can have a wonderful labor and birth. This trust in yourself and your abilities to mother will transfer over to breastfeeding once your baby is born.
There are a thousand things that can possibly go wrong with breastfeeding- many of them peculiar to our culture surely. I am by no means a lactation specialist so I won't talk about any of them. But one thing I notice constantly with new mothers is that they simply don't believe that they can breastfeed their baby.
This is really not surprising considering that the entire birth practice in this country from inception to birth is often tearing down mothers and telling them that an expert needs to help them with everything from fertility to getting their baby out for them and then breastfeeding and parenting.
Feed your baby on demand
First- feed your baby when it is hungry! This is so simple but can be so hard for many reasons. One reason is that there are so many baby training programs out there telling you how and when to feed your baby.
OK ladies- I have had three kids in the last 5 years- I rarely get a full nights uninterrupted sleep and haven't in a long time. I know this is hard and I have had many night time breakdowns. That being said- babies need to nurse very frequently for only a short time. Usually these frequent feedings are simply your baby telling you something-
Just like labor talks to you and tells you to move, sway, relax etc, your baby talks to you by crying or fussing or rooting. Listen to them. This seems like a long time when you are in the middle of it- but it does not last forever.
You have enough milk!
Now- if you are feeding your baby when it is hungry (this might be every 30 minutes or every 3 hours- they are all different and they change from day to day) then you should be making enough milk.
RELAX! Just because your baby wants to eat again does not mean you are not making enough milk. You are most likely doing fine your baby just needs you again or is trying to increase your supply by nursing. This is OK. This is natural and it does not mean you are not producing enough. Frequent nursing is your babies way of increasing your milk supply. Just like the baby participates in birth by moving and turning, it also participates in eating. He is not just a passive onlooker. He will help you make more milk.
Take Care of You
Those first few weeks after the birth will probably leave you tired and maybe a little sore. This is not a bad thing. This is natures way of telling you (or shouting) that you need to slow down, relax and just focus on feeding a new baby. Listen. The more you rest the first couple of weeks the better you will feel in six.
Sleep with the baby when you can, let people help you, have lots of healthy snacks around and drink lots of water. Taking care of yourself will help you make enough milk. And staying home a little bit will save you the trouble and challenge that going out in public and nursing in public can bring in the early days.
I vividly remember taking my 3 day old baby to the Dr for his well baby check up. Of course I couldn't even fit into a bra, and in the waiting room my milk let down. I was absolutely soaked. And to top it all off- very new to breastfeeding and just couldn't get him to nurse- especially in public and especially under a blanket. (And a little plug for home-birth and the midwife visit! YEA!)
We have all been there- it can be hard. Relax, believe in yourself, trust your body and your baby. Count those wet diapers, drink your water and find supportive women to surround yourself with. Remember- it takes two weeks to become good at nursing so give yourself a break and just do your best.
LLL International has wonderful info regarding La Leche League groups in your area and problems with breastfeeding.
Dr Sears Books and Harvey Karp's Happiest Baby on the Block video have great ways to calm and love your baby when they need you but don't necessarily want to eat.
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Here are some scripts for relaxation during labor. It is most effective if you practice these or something similar with your partner daily leading up to the birth. If this is done, you will be able to automatically relax at the sound of their voice and words.
Please, if you have any more to share- post them!
Here is a quote that somebody reminded me of today too- this helped greatly with my first birth in just helping me not be afraid of the upcoming somewhat mysterious event:
I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
...And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.
~Frank Herbert, Dune
Meditation for Relaxation During Labor - Childbirth Resources at StorkNet's Childbirth Cubby
Relaxation poem- covers the birth process, long but good-
Birth meditation, this is a classic rainbow visualization-