Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Great Post on Post-Cesarean Health Effects for Baby

Nursing Birth has posted an awesome article reporting on research showing the detrimental later-in-life effects that cesarean birth has on babies. Check it out - it is AMAZING!!!

New Study Shows C-Section Births May Increase Odds For Developing Diseases Later In Life

I have always thought it an amazingly conceited and arrogant presumption which states that cesarean birth is equal in longterm health and safety (for mom and baby) to vaginal birth. Babies are born vaginally for a REASON - or rather, for multiple reasons! Regardless of your worldview, this is true. Either God created babies to be born vaginally for a reason, or we evolved to give birth vaginally for a reason. Either way, bypassing the normal physiology of birth cannot be healthy. For example, cesarean birth does not allow the baby to be colonized by the beneficial bacteria present in the mother's vaginal tract (the same is true of births in which the mother's vagina has been sterilized by antibiotics given for GBS), leaving baby open to colonization and infection by opportunistic environmental bacteria - not a good situation. This article opens even more issues posed by cesarean birth.

A great article!

Monday, June 29, 2009

A New VBAC Story!

Click here to read VBAC Warrior's recent successful hospital VBAC! Congratulations!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Introducing.... A New & Exciting Arizona Birth Blog!

A new birth-community friend of mine has just started her own birth blog, and it looks like it's going to be terrific! Check it out!

Talk Birth

Heather had a great and empowering first-baby homebirth last year with one of our local midwives and has been active in the birth community ever since - and is now in the process of becoming a doula! I know she will be awesome in that role, and I think she has great things ahead of her!

30 weeks, 2 days: Checking In, Again

Hi, everyone!

I'm afraid that my blogging life has really gone on the backburner (for both blogs) over the past month or so. I really apologize for that, as I wanted these blogs to contain a good record of my pregnancy. However, not only is our schedule quite busy right now (MOMS club, finishing up loose ends at work, church, family visits, etc.), but I am still working maniacally to try to get our life "in order" before baby comes - i.e. house projects, unpacking (this goal seems further and further away all the time), getting organized, getting my mostly-post-morning-sickness self back to my normal routines, etc. - all while pregnant and chasing a preschooler! And that doesn't even go into our rebelling septic tank issue, our scorpion infestation problem (and now their eggs are hatching so we're getting baby scorpions), and in-process car repairs. So computer time has really been scaled back.

All seems to be well with baby; she is very active and getting bigger all the time. Her position is terrific - a nice LOA (left occiput anterior) which is optimum for birth, and a great heartbeat. My one grief is that I am so busy that I often forget that I am pregnant! I want to find a balance between getting things done and taking time to slow down and enjoy this pregnancy, so hopefully that can happen in the next month or so. But I don't want to leave things undone any more than possible - I know that they simply won't happen after the birth!

One lovely thing is that I can BREATHE during this pregnancy! Last time I had horrible breathlessness issues from about week 15 on. This time I feel great! Baby is carrying lower, and I'm showing a TON more (that's what happens when you've already stretched out your tummy with baby #1!!), so I guess that leaves more room for my lungs. Hurray!!!

In another month I'll have to start seriously preparing for the birth as well, in terms of gathering supplies, etc., so that will be something else to throw into the mix.

I forgot to say a few weeks ago that I had a simply lovely church baby shower in the beginning of June - it was terrific! Wonderful food, fellowship, games, gifts, and a lovely bead ceremony. It made my month - thank you, Jen!!

In HG (hyperemesis) news:

This week I had an interesting exchange on a birth group. A woman wrote in trying to get advice for her sister, who is in the middle of severe hyperemesis. I wrote back talking PICC lines, IV hydration, Zofran, etc. Other advice was given talking about herbal teas and high protein snacks and taking brisk walks (!!!!), and the like. I have to admit, I was so upset about the whole thing that it nearly brought me to tears.

I guess two points come to mind: (1) As always, there is the belief that what works for morning sickness will work for hyperemesis. IT WON'T. For most hyperemesis mamas, herbal teas or solid food will cause uncontrollable vomiting. Trying to force these things (which may work just fine for normal morning sickness) will just make the situation worse. (2) I guess that the one downside of being part of the natural living community is that sometimes intensive allopathic medicine is rejected when it is actually needed. I know that interventive practices in pregnancy and birth are harmful when overused - but they are sometimes very much needed. A PICC line can be a godsend to an HG mama, as can hard-core pharmaceuticals. Let's use them when they're needed.

The moral of the story: If you know a hyperemesis mama (that is, a pregnant mother who is experiencing severe, out-of-control nausea and vomiting), PLEASE observe the following:

(1) Do not urge her to eat and drink if she says she can't. If she can, she will. If she can't, she can't, and trying to do so will only make it worse. At that point, it's time to go for IV hydration or PICC nutrition.

(2) Please know that most morning sickness remedies do NOT work for hyperemesis. In fact, they usually make things much worse.

(3) Don't reject intensive pharmaceutical treatment when it is needed. It can be the difference between a hellish nightmare of hyperemesis misery and a tolerable pregnancy. Sometimes it can mean the difference between life or death (for mom or baby).

Enough said. I'd love to get comments on the above in case I am off-track in any way.

Well, as usual, I'm procrastinating on something I should be doing while I blog! And so farewell for now! I'll do my best to check in as often as I can.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

My Blog Has an Almost-Birthday... And Wins Its First Award!

From looking back, I see that I began this blog last July.... However, with the frantic way that this summer is going (here in Phoenix, it's been summer for 3 months, whatever the calendar may say), I know I'll forget about it at the right time. So... Happy Birthday, little blog!

I have had such a wonderful time with this blog - it has been an amazing, beyond amazing, year. I have learned so much in my reading and research and writing for my blog. I have found great websites, organizations, and people... been able to connect with other birth bloggers... gotten plugged into the Phoenix birth community.... been able to work through my own birth experiences.... learned about the online birth community.... researched and learned about so many birth topics.... and much more! I never knew how much personal growth could come from passionate blogging! I love it.

And... My little blog has won its first award - from Kayce's Doula Journey! Very exciting stuff. Thank you, Kayce!

Well, as usual, I am supposed to be doing something else - in this case, preparing sermon notes and folding bulletins! So I'd better get back to work. I'll check in sometime next week!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Wow! Wow! Wow!!

Folks, it's time for a rousing rendition of the Canadian national anthem! (I knew there was a reason why it had always been one of my favorites!)

The reason? (Drumroll, please......)

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada (SOGC) has decided to support vaginal breech birth! Yes! Seriously! What a wonderful, marvelous surprise!

Now let's see if ACOG follows suit (*concealed snickering*)...

Here in the valley, my midwife says that she knows of only one OB who will attend vaginal breech birth if the mum refuses a cesarean. This is a sad situation that really needs changing, especially as automatic cesarean for breech babies means that OBs are now sadly lacking in the clinical skills needed to safely catch vaginal breeches.

Anyhow, I'd love to blog longer about this and give you quotes from the reporting articles, but I'm really supposed to be doing something else right now - and so will stand on the backs of my birth-junkie comrades and give you the links to read about it: Stand and Deliver and The Unnecessarean and Woman to Woman Childbirth Education. Check it out!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Daddy-Doula Dynamic

A commenter left the following comment on a birth story a week or two ago, and it was such a great question (and one that I've wanted to address for some time) that I wanted to devote a blog entry to it. Thank you, Michelle! I'm sorry this has taken so long! Let me know if you read this so I won't feel so guilty for procrastinating!


"I was just wondering....what is the relationship dynamic in the room if there is a partner present? The entire time I was reading this, I was wondering about either the father of the baby, or J's partner. Is there none? And how does that change the doula dynamic? My husband would be with me when I delivered, so what roles can he play that the doula played here, etc. "


I'm going to insert a quick note here, in case anyone does not know what a birth doula is. A birth doula, according to DONA (Doula of North America), is "a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth." A doula is almost always a woman (I've never heard of a male doula).

Here are the functions of a doula, according to DONA:

"A Birth Doula:

- Recognizes birth as a key experience the mother will remember all her life

- Understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman in labor

- Assists the woman in preparing for and carrying out her plans for birth

- Stays with the woman throughout the labor

- Provides emotional support, physical comfort measures and an objective viewpoint, as well as helping the woman get the information she needs to make informed decision

- Facilitates communication between the laboring woman, her partner and her clinical care providers

- Perceives her role as nurturing and protecting the woman's memory of the birth experience

- Allows the woman's partner to participate at his/her comfort level"


Honestly, one reason I've waited so long to answer this question is simply that there is so much to say on this subject that I don't know where to start. (Anyone who has input, please chime in.)

The question, restated: Yes, doulas are wonderful for single women, but why have a doula if a woman's husband is going to be with her?

It's a question that needs to be addressed, because oftentimes a husband is the objecting party to having a doula. I participate in a monthly birth circle meeting, and time after time I have heard the following: "I really want to hire a doula, but my husband doesn't want one."

Why would a husband not want a doula? Well, the reason is quite obvious when we consider it. What is the function of a good husband? He protects his wife; he provides for his wife; he meets his wife's needs; he supports his wife. When a wife says, "I want a doula," it can often feel, to a man, like a threat to his masculinity and a statement of his insufficiency. "I'm not good enough for her; she thinks I can't meet her needs." Many husbands quite understandably react negatively to the unspoken (and unintended) message.

And after all, why would a couple need a doula? If a couple has taken decent childbirth classes, the husband knows enough to support his wife during childbirth, right?

While doing my best to conceal my maniacal giggling over that question, let me just say the following: Unless a couple is very unusual, neither husband nor wife has been present at a birth. They may have watched birth videos, but being present for a labor and/or experiencing labor (as the mother or the father) is a COMPLETELY different story. Labor, especially first-time labor, can be very frightening for the mother, because she is unfamiliar with what her body is doing and doesn't know what's going to happen next, and to the father because he is seeing his wife in pain. (And thinking that one is prepared for real-life contractions because one has practiced in childbirth ed classes.... is like thinking that because one has seen a breeze, one is prepared for a hurricane. Don't kid yourself.) To top that off, neither is experienced with the hospital system and able to deal with it efficiently while in active labor.

So why have a doula when one has an attending husband? Here are the reasons, listed in no particular order:

(1) A doula can reassure a husband about the normalcy of labor and birth.

Husbands tend to freak out when they see their wives in pain. In fact, they are often the motivating factor in urging their wives to accept pain medication, which may be counterproductive for a woman who wants a natural birth. Doulas have "been there, done that" with birth, often many times, and their calm acceptance of the birth process can help husbands to calm down and focus on support rather than "rescue."

(2) Doulas help the husband to support the mother.

Oftentimes a husband will want to support his wife but will not know which comfort measure would be most effective. A doula knows many, many comfort measures (counterpressure, movement, posture changes, heat/cold, massage, etc.), and can say, "Maybe she'd like it if you did this."

(3) Doulas can give husbands a break during labor.

Even the most devoted husband needs to use the bathroom, make an occasional phone call, eat a snack, take a quick walk, or even grab some sleep during a long labor. Doulas make that possible, rather than having a husband sacrifice real needs to stay with his wife or leave her stranded while he takes care of them.

(4) Doulas can protect the couple's privacy by dealing with hospital staff for them.

When interactions with hospital staff are necessary, a doula can answer questions, give directions, and watch out for the mother's welfare, allowing the husband to give undivided attention to his wife (rather than having him distracted between the two).

(5) Doulas make sure the mother's wishes are honored.

In the current system, it is often a fight to make sure a mother's wishes and/or birth plan are honored. That is not a fight that a husband or wife should have to fight in the middle of labor. Doulas can (hopefully peacefully) bring caregivers' attention to a mother's wishes and make sure that they are honored.

(6) Doulas provide trained "labor sitting."

Traditionally, a doctor or midwife would stay with a mother during her entire labor and provide trained information to the laboring mother. That is extremely rare today. And unless your husband has a hobby of studying midwifery and/or obstetrical textbooks in his spare time, he won't be able to do that either. A doula can (within limits) give the mother information and support from a knowledgable background, which can be reassuring to the couple.

(7) Doulas have a wide variety of comfort measures to suggest

No matter how hard your hubbie studies, he will not know all the comfort measures out there. A doula will have a vastly wider knowledge-base and will be able to offer a greater variety of comfort measures and see what is working for the mother.

(8) Doulas have an amazing track record for providing better birth experiences and fewer harmful interventions for mother and baby.

Just look at the following:

The presence of a doula at birth results in:

• Reduced cesarean birth rates by 50%
• Reduced length of labor by 25%
• Reduced use of Oxytocin by 40%
• Reduced requests for pain medication by 30%
• Reduced the rate of Epidural usage by 60%
• Babies had fewer health problems at six weeks than the infants of women who had not had a doula present during labor.
• Babies had fewer neonatal complications
• Babies had fewer workups for sepsis

The data speaks for itself.

(9) A doula allows the husband to be involved at his own personal comfort level.

Some husbands (like mine) are the super-involved kind who want to be there every moment, catch the baby, and cut the cord. Some husbands feel more reluctant to be that deeply involved. A doula can show the super-involved-type husband how to be involved, so that he doesn't feel left out, and can also pick up the slack for a husband who doesn't feel overly comfortable being deeply involved. That way a husband doesn't have to be more or less involved than he would like, and the wife is still completely supported throughout labor either way.


To add what DONA has to say on the subject, here is DONA's "Daddies and Doulas" sheet (emphasis mine), which you can view online here:

Dads and Doulas: Key Players on Mother's Labor Support Team

"There was a time when expectant fathers were portrayed as anxious, floor-pacing, cigarsmoking men who were tolerated in hospital corridors until the long-awaited moment when a nurse or doctor would announce they were the proud father of a daughter or a son. Today's expectant fathers are different.

"When it comes to pregnancy, birth, and parenting, today's father may want to share everything with his partner. He may want to be actively involved; ease his partner’s labor pain, welcome his baby at the moment of birth and help care for his newborn at home. A birth doula can help a father experience this special time with confidence.

"Studies show that when doulas are present at birth, women have shorter labors, fewer medical interventions, fewer cesareans and healthier babies. Recent evidence also suggests that when a doula provides labor support, women are more satisfied with their experience and the mother-infant interaction is enhanced as long as two months after the birth. With doula support, fathers tend to stay more involved with their partner rather than pull away in times of stress.

"Today, a father's participation in birth preparation classes or his presence at prenatal visits and in the birth suite is a familiar occurrence. Yet, we sometimes forget that the expectations of his role as a labor coach may be difficult to fulfill. Sometimes it is also culturally inappropriate for an expectant father to be so intimately involved in the process of labor and birth.

"The father-to-be is expected, among other things, to become familiar with the process and language of birth, to understand medical procedures and hospital protocols and to advocate for his partner in an environment and culture he may be unfamiliar with. A doula can provide the information to help parents make appropriate decisions and facilitate communication between the birthing woman, her partner and medical care providers.

"At times a father may not understand a woman’s instinctive behavior during birth and may react anxiously to what a doula knows to be the normal process of birth. He may witness his partner in pain and understandably become distressed. The doula can be reassuring and skillfully help the mother to cope with labor pain in her unique way. The father-to-be may be asked to accompany his partner during surgery should a cesarean become necessary. Not all fathers can realistically be expected to coach at this intense level.

"Many fathers are eager to be involved during labor and birth. Others, no less loving or committed to their partners' well being, find it difficult to navigate in uncharted waters. With a doula, a father can share in the birth at level at which he feels most comfortable. The doula’s skills and knowledge can help him to feel more relaxed. If the father wants to provide physical comfort, such as back massage and change of positions, and help his partner to stay focused during contractions, the doula can provide that guidance and make suggestions for what may work best.

"Physicians, midwives and nurses are responsible for monitoring labor, assessing the medical condition of the mother and baby and treating complications when they arise; but birth is also an emotional and spiritual experience with long-term impact on a woman's personal well being. A doula is constantly aware that the mother and her partner will remember this experience throughout their lives. By mothering the mother during birth, the doula supports the parents in having a positive and memorable birth experience.

"The benefits of doula care have been recognized worldwide. The Medical Leadership Council of Washington, D.C, the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada and the World Health Organization are among the many healthcare organizations that value the benefits that doulas provide to women in labor.

"The father's presence and loving support in birth is comforting and reassuring. The love he shares with the mother and his child and his need to nurture and protect his family are priceless gifts that only he can provide. With her partner and a doula at birth, a mother can have the best of both worlds - her partner’s loving care and attention and the doula's expertise and guidance in birth."


Here is my own story:

My hubbie and I signed up for Hypnobirthing classes, and I was a complete flop in them. I couldn't successfully complete the simplest exercise. (DH, on the other hand, was wildly successful - but that wasn't much help to me!). While bewailing these circumstances to our long-suffering midwife, she said, "Why don't you try a doula?" And so we were off!

(Some may wonder why homebirthers would need doulas... The answer is that most homebirth midwives don't stay for the entire labor. Our own midwife was there for the last five or six hours of our labor - plus two hours postpartum - but not for the whole thing. For labor-sitting, homebirthers still need a doula.)

In retrospect, we should have done things differently. We went with the first doula she suggested, rather than "shopping around," and we only met her one brief time the Saturday before our birth (yes, we put things off till the last minute). But other than those snafus, having a doula was wonderful. She calmed down DH when he was getting scared at seeing me in pain (and vocalizing loudly about it!), she stayed with me while he ran out to get food, she made suggestions, and provided calm support the entire time. We wouldn't have a birth without one.

For our upcoming birth, we have engaged two doulas who I know from our local birth circle, and I cannot wait to have their help!


Doulas can range from the super-experienced and thus rather-expensive (though if you're having a hospital birth, they're worth it!) to the student-doula who is usually free. There is a doula out there for everyone!

If anyone has any more questions about doulas, or about how daddies and doulas can work together, please let me know!

The summary: Doulas ROCK! Don't be without one!

Monday, June 15, 2009

28 weeks, 4 days: Time is Moving Too Quickly!

Hello, everyone! I just wanted to do the quickest of check-ins to say hi. My parents are coming in town tomorrow, so I will most likely be maintaining radio silence for the next week (my blogging life is something in which I do NOT want my parents involved - nothing against them, just a personal thing). We are gearing up for a housewarming party this weekend (all locals, consider yourselves invited) which will probably take up most of the week (trying to make the house look presentable, that is!).

We are keeping very busy... A summer class for DS, fixing our irrigation system, normal social/church engagements, and on my part, working madly to unpack/organize the house before baby arrives. For some reason I seem to work most days without any visible improvement (a small but over-energized three-year-old tearing around the house might have something to do with it), but I have hopes that my goal of unpacked-before-baby might be reached sometime this summer. As far as decorating, that can wait - for years, if necessary - I don't have time to dust pictures and knick-knacks anyway! (Last time we moved I was too sick with HG-remnants to decorate, and the luxury of halved-dusting time was so lovely that I never put them up! A bit bare, perhaps, but what a relief to be relieved from the chore of dusting china.)

We are now well into the 3rd trimester, and our visits with our midwives are down to 2-week intervals. Hurray! But rather nerve-wracking! I can't say that the thought of another natural birth doesn't frighten me - it's not the easiest thing in the world. I need to get busy practicing!

I notice that with this baby I have more time to actually think about the baby. Last time it was "Sick-sick-sick-sick, oh wow, here's a baby!" This time, not being so ill, I have had more time to fall in love and look forward to meeting her. A nice switch!

We're still vacillating on names. The problem is that all of our favorite girl names, planned since childhood, are (oh, curses!) on the list of top-ten baby names. In fact, our favorite name had to be jettisoned since it is currently the number one baby name - and we didn't want to do that to our little one. Several others have bitten the dust for the same reason. Thankfully, our current first-choice boy name is something like #694 on the list, so we don't have to worry about that one!!! (That'll leave you guessing!)

By the by, we have decided to keep our name a secret this time (not that we've settled for sure with either gender). This is not because we object to friends knowing, but simply because last time we had "the name wars" within our family - and we're going to avoid that by not announcing the name till it's on the birth certificate (and the birth certificate is signed and mailed, LOL!!!). But we will post as soon as that happens.

Well, I'd better get to doing something productive! Love to all!!

P.S. Both of my blogs have been neglected of late (probably because the sound of the keyboard wakes DS up from his naps, something to be avoided at all costs), but I hope to remedy that soon (not this week, though!). However, a commenter (Michelle, right?) left a great question on my birth blog about the daddy-doula dynamic, and I wanted to let her know that I am going to post on that very soon! (Or as soon as I can.) It's a great question, and I've been wanting to address it for some time. I am not ignoring you!!!!

Have a great week!!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Great Inspirational VBAMC Video

I saw this at "The Wonder of Birth," and it was so inspiring that I had to post it here too!! This is a video by ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) showing the possibilities and the triumphs of VBAMC (vaginal birth after multiple cesareans). I know two women who have in recent months had VBA3C births, so they are definitely possible! Don't give up hope for your VBAC!

(Hopefully women in Arizona will soon gain the legal right to midwife-attended homebirth VBAC, something that is currently denied to us.)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Great Post on the Cesarean Epidemic

I just read this post on an awesome new-ish blog, "Nursing Birth," which focuses on the stats and the reasons behind our current deplorable cesarean epidemic (31.8% and climbing). Mosey on over and check it out - right now! And if you haven't been reading this series of hers (the "Don't Let This Happen To You" series), make sure to read the back issues!

"Don't Let This Happen To You #22: Gina and Tony's "Elective" Primary Cesarean Section, Part I"

Thanks to Nursing Birth for the great article! Can't wait for Part II.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Upcoming Film: "Reducing Infant Mortality"

My midwife just posted this on Facebook, and it looks great! Fun stuff! Check out the film's website; release date is June 19th of this year. It looks like it will be short but well-done.

Reducing Infant Mortality

I've been so encouraged by the spate of great birth films that have been released over the past few years! Even my hospital-birthing friends have seen "The Business of Being Born" and rave about it - and it has gotten lots of people thinking. Bring on the honest birth films!

Article: "The Lie of the EDD: Why Your Due Date Isn't When You Think"

This is a great article revealing the flaws in the current system of due-date estimation, which are legion. Check it out!

"The Lie of the EDD: Why Your Due Date Isn't When You Think It Is"

Why are due dates usually so off? Many reasons, including the following:

(1) The current "length of pregnancy" allowed is generally too short, especially for first-time moms
(2) EDDs assume a 28-day cycle, which is not accurate for many (or most) women
(3) EDDs assume ovulation on day 14 (a 14-day luteal phase), which is not accurate for many women

For example, my own case... I have cycle lengths in the low-to-mid 30's (33-35 days) and a short luteal phase (10-11 days). This means that even using the modern system of due date estimation, my due date could be off by up to a week using LMP (last menstrual period) dating.

This issue is extremely important in modern obstetrical care. A dear friend of mine had a most-likely-needless cesarean because her doctor only "allowed" her patients to go to 41 weeks before induction. What followed was the usual package: induction, epidural from pitocin-induced contractions, failed induction and fetal distress, leading to an unnecessary cesarean. For her second, she quite understandably opted out of the whole mess and chose an elective repeat cesarean. Had her doctor understood the truth about due dates, the entire thing might never have happened, and my friend could have had two vaginal births.

Important stuff!

Why Have a Doula? Here's Why!

On the heels of the great hospital birth story I posted a few days ago, here is one that is not-so-great... And this has already been posted on a ton of birth blogs, so please forgive me for following in the footsteps of y'all!

Birth Story: Coerced Pain Meds

This is the story of a mama who wants a natural birth but is forcibly persuaded into accepting unwanted pain medication through the coercion of her mother and her attending nurse. While both (or at least her mom) were trying to do what was best for her... well, they kind of blew it.

This kind of thing (which is far from uncommon, it seems) is why I ALWAYS recommend a doula! A doula can protect a laboring mama from unwanted coercion, can play go-between, can reassure the mom and dad of the normalcy of labor (dads can get pretty freaked out), and make sure the mama's wants are honored. Don't birth without one! In fact, I love them so much that I'm going to have two - and at a homebirth, at that!

If I had birthed in a hospital without a doula, I too would have ended up with unwanted pain meds. Labor is scary, especially for first-time moms and first-time dads. The mama doesn't know what to expect, and the dad is freaked out by seeing his wife in pain. Doulas are invaluable assets at any birth!

Birth Story in Photos

This is a lovely birth story told in pictures - amazing pictures!!! Check it out! Thanks to Navelgazing Midwife for these:

Ink Birth

Please be forewarned that these are very graphic photos, so if you're not a birth aficionado, you might be taken off-guard. :)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Great Home Birth Video!

This is the birth video of a wonderful valley mama who attends the same birth circle chapter as I do, and has graciously allowed me to share her birth video!

The midwife (who you will only see in fleeting glances on the right side) is an awesome midwife who also attended my birth as my primary midwife's backup, and she is awesome!!

The video is in two parts because the girl who was filming it thought that there would be a long period between video part #1 and the birth - and there were only a few seconds! So she turned the camera on again just in time to shoot the birth.

There is also a picture montage.

The video takes a long time to load on my computer (probably just my computer), so if you experience the same thing, just click on it and go do something else while you wait for it to load.


Password: Home

Valley Homebirth

Thursday, June 4, 2009

27 weeks, 0 days: Inching Closer All the TIme!

This week I decided that it was time to face some demons from my past. That's right; you guessed it.... I opened my fridge's vegetable drawer and looked inside. Yikes!

Actually, it wasn't too bad, considering that I haven't really opened it since Christmas. This time I sensibly stopped buying vegetables when I got a positive pregnancy test, unlike last time, when I kept doggedly at it, thinking that "any day I'm going to feel well enough to eat this!" So the sum total wasn't nearly as bad as last time. Some celery gone over to the dark side, a bag of carrots covered in roots, something that used to be an orange, and a bag (thankfully Ziploc) of something (???) that was now entirely liquified. Not bad for a five-month sabbatical!

I'm still not buying any vegetables (except for premade salad mix), but hopefully that will come too in the next month or two.

My diet has taken exactly the same path with each pregnancy (just not as severely this time).... Degeneration into total junk food and/or prepared food (due to my inability to cook), followed by a gradual climb back out of the pit to my usual crazy health-food experiments, which seem like a far-off dream at this point (I can hardly believe that six months ago I was eating kale and making homemade yogurt!). Right now our diet is at the "Standard American Diet" level (a.k.a. "SAD"!!!), but I hope that it will continue to move upwards as the months progress.

I can hardly believe that I only have three months of pregnancy left! It is going by WAY too quickly!! I wish it could last another two years! (Now that I'm feeling better, that is! LOL!!)

I have noticed that I am having to fight a distinct tendency toward what I will term "second-time mom conceit," i.e. "I've done this whole labor thing before, so I don't need to practice relaxing/do labor exercises/etc." What a laugh! Several moms have told me about this phenomenon before, and how it actually made their second birth harder because they were then caught off-guard. And the truth is that not only did I not handle labor particularly well last time, but I am probably one of the biggest wimps around with regard to pain. I can't even have a mildly uncomfortable Braxton-Hicks contraction without thinking, "Ack! Epidural, now!" So I really do have a long way to go.

However, I do have two lovely doulas signed up to help us out, so hopefully that will make a difference.

We have a busy month ahead of us! My baby shower on Saturday (hurray!!!), DH's dad's birthday, my birthday, DS's birthday, our anniversary, a visit from my family and hopefully a housewarming party, and then a trip in early July to go camping and visit DH's family up north. Whew!! And we may or may not be going to California for a wedding (if it's in July, yes, if August, no - I'm not going to be that far away from our midwife once week 36 hits!).

We are going to see our midwife next week, which should be a blast, and we get to see her new office as well! She has just taken up residence in the same set of offices (which are actually an old farmhouse) as our CPA, so that is a fun coincidence and we're looking forward to checking it out. Her last office was actually where our pastor had his first office (before the church had a building), and that was a fun coincidence to find out too! We're looking forward to that, and also to the fact that our appointments will go to every two weeks at that point (hurray!). I've also badgered her into bringing along her model pelvis so that she can show us the cardinal movements, so that should be a lot of fun (I just can't figure them out from a book.... too dense, I guess).

So life is good! Busy, but good. Every week I get more and more back to normal, so hopefully life will be up and running again in another few months - just in time for the baby to bring it crashing back down again for the next year, LOL!!!! But it will be fun.

Love to all! Have a great weekend!!!

Birth Story from a Doula's Perspective

This birth story was posted by a local valley doula on the Arizona Birth Network, and it was so wonderful that I just had to post it! This is what hospital birth SHOULD be and CAN be! This is reposted with her permission. It's long, but well-worth the read!

Interested in what you hear? The doula's name is Katie, and you can reach her at
(they used to staff the Bethany Birth Center, now unfortunately closed).

Bottom line? Doulas rock!!!! Don't birth without one! (Especially in-hospital!)


"I don't think I've seen a doula post a birth story, but I just couldn't resist sharing this with everyone. I have permission to post this, but am just using initials instead of full names....How J and I met is kind of an interesting story, so I'll start with that. I randomly went on freecycle one morning and saw that someone was getting rid of a boppy breastfeeding pillow. I thought it would be great to have one as a doula to demonstrate with or just have to loan out. So I responded 12 minutes after the ad was posted. I emailed back and forth with her mom, T, and then we ended up talking on the phone. T said her daughter (J) was pregnant and looking into natural birth and was so excited to hear I was a doula. I said I'd be happy to talk with her when I came to pick up the boppy. A few days later I went over there and J and I immediately connected. She was just so excited about natural birth and so curious and had so many questions - a doula's dream! She was so receptive and open to everything I was telling her and we ended up talking for several hours. Our conversation went beyond birth and I felt so comfortable with her - I knew I had to attend her birth. We stayed in contact the next few weeks and went to the Phoenix birth circle together and to a La Leche League meeting. After watching the Business of Being Born and attending the birth circle, she was getting more and more excited and confident about having a natural birth. She was getting more and more uncomfortable with her OB and decided to interview the midwives at Bethany Women's Healthcare. She switched on the spot after talking with a couple of the midwives and being there for several hours. I was thrilled! She met Lylaine and Lisa that day and was set to meet Lynette at her next appointment. She loved Lynette too and I was so happy to hear the excitement in her voice. I think it was so freeing and empowering to her to feel that things that she wanted were totally doable. A whole world had been opened up for her.

"On Thursday, May 28th J used some evening primrose oil as a way to possibly naturally stimulate labor. J called me at 8am the next morning to say that she had been having regular contractions since 5am. She had been able to sleep, but they had started waking her up. She didn't feel like she needed me to come just yet, but definitely felt like "today was the day." We talked again around lunch time and she said that this was for sure happening and they were getting a bit more intense and closer together. This was around noon. She called me again a couple of hours later to say that she wanted me to come. Heather came home shortly after and wished me good luck. I went home and packed my bag and then headed over to J's.

"I arrived around 3:30, walked in and gave her mom a big hug. J's younger children were quietly watching a movie and J's two "nieces" had been keeping track of her contractions. J walked out and looked so adorable! She had on a leopard print bra, black shorts and had a Breathe-Right strip on her nose. It was just the cutest thing. I gave her a big hug and she told me how she was feeling. Then she had a contraction and put her arms around me and sort of hung on me until it was over. I just immediately had a feeling of calm and peace about the whole birth. I had no anxiety, I was just excited to be there. She started getting ready and was putting on different pants and shirts until she found the right one. That cracked me up. It was a little crazy at her house though and the environment wasn't the most relaxing so when J said she was ready to go to the hospital a few minutes later I thought that was a good idea. Her mom and nieces were going to come a little while later, after the baby sitter for the two younger children arrived. So it was just J and I. She made it down the stairs and had a contraction on the walk to the parking lot. We just stopped and she held on to me and moaned. We made it to the car and were on our way. She was still joking and laughing and calling friends and family to let them know what was going on. Her contractions had definitely slowed down, but I knew that was to be expected. In my mind though I was still thinking "This is too early...." and as we got closer to the hospital I asked if she was sure she was ready to go in - we could go walk the mall for a while or something. But she insisted on going in, which was fine with me. We pulled in and parked and she had a contraction just outside the car.

"We walked into the building and went up to registration. There was a woman and a man up there. The man said "Are you here cuz yer in labor?" We both just kind of looked at him and sarcastically said "No." The woman pointed us up to the third floor and then J had another contraction. She leaned on me and then the man starts asking her questions... I was so irritated with him! Clearly she is contracting, and clearly it is difficult or she wouldn't be leaning on me, closing her eyes, trying to focus. I wanted to punch him. We got in the elevator and J immediately said, "What was up with that guy?!" We had already decided no boys allowed and this guy just reinforced that. I pointed out that the woman hadn't asked her anything. :) We made our way up to the third floor and stepped into a small office and she got registered. This was about 4:30pm. She had one or two contractions in the office. Then we were walking to triage and she had another contraction in the hall. Everyone was completely respectful, no one was trying to rush her and the nurse just patiently held the door and waited.

"We went into triage and the nurse hooked J up to a monitor so she could record a couple of contractions. J said that could not imagine labor in this position (on her back, semi reclined) and no wonder so many women scream for epidurals. Contracting while sitting up was torture for her, but she knew it was only for a short time and dealt with it soooo well. The nurse asked her all the intake questions and her contractions had majorly slowed down. Then the nurse checked her and she was 4 centimeters, 100% effaced and +2. J was psyched and I was so glad because I've had other clients who, when they hear they are at 4cm, completely freak out and say "Oh my gosh, I'm not even half way there! Ahhhh!" I think 4 centimeters is amazing and I was so glad J did too. Then the nurse suggested that we walk for an hour, come back and if J had made "progress" she would be admitted. On the one hand I liked this because I was glad they weren't anxious to admit her and get things going and start the domino effect that leads to a cesarean - this is my doula brain totally overreacting. But on the other hand I hate the idea of relying on machines and measurements and "progress". There is so much more going on in a woman's body that can't be measured. J seemed a little disappointed that she wasn't going right away to a room, but I reminded her that this was great - very supportive of an overall natural birth.

"Soon after J's mom and nieces arrived. I was nervous that this would start the whole "So how far is she dilated?", "How much longer do you think it will be?" hoopla, but they all remained pretty calm and unintrusive. J's mom was concerned with us walking around and why they wanted us to do that and why they weren't checking J in, but we explained it to her and then she went to get a Starbucks with the nieces. And we started walking the halls at 5:15pm. J's mouth was dry and she said she felt like her breath stunk. I grabbed a hand full of candy - I had some butterscotch, some cinnamon suckers and a lemon lime sucker. She snatched up the lemon lime and it was so cute how much she enjoyed it, it was like one of those simple pleasures in life. The labor and delivery floor goes in a circle so we just started walking. Everyone was so sweet on the floor. Every nurse we passed gave a sweet smile or some encouraging words. Then we passed a dinner cart with a ton of food on it and J about barfed. Then we passed another cart. Then the women delivering the food walked by us with a tray of food and noticed J's face and apologized because she knew how J felt. It was so funny. She passed a couple more times and each time you could tell she felt so bad.

"J started trying to walk through her contractions - I couldn't believe she could do that. But it seemed to be working for her. I was holding her hand and with the other hand she was leaning on the guard rail during contractions. She then said she had to use the bathroom (me again in my overreacting brain was like..."Oh god, is this one of those moments where she thinks she has to poop, but then pushes a baby out?" LOL). By the time we got to the bathroom she didn't have to go anymore, but went in anyway to splash some cold water on her face. She was getting hot flashes and getting uncomfortable. We continued walking and at one point she threw off her back gown - she had been wearing a gown on the front and the back so that she was covered. We were walking and passed our triage nurse who said "Oh honey your back side is hanging out!" I said that she was hot and didn't care, and I was a little irritated that she had said that. Obviously J knew her ass was hanging out - she had underwear on though, there's no need to make her feel uncomfortable. I was feeling very protective of her space. She asked what time it was and I said "5:38" and she was upset! She thought we only been walking for 8 minutes. I reminded her that we had started walking at 5:15, not 5:30. That was better. Then she started getting extremely tired and was having a hard time standing up. She needed to lay down so we went back to our space in triage. She got comfortable on her side with a bunch of pillows in between her legs and was able to somewhat doze between contractions. I stood by her bedside because each time she would contract she would fling her arm up and out grabbing for me. Then she asked for a cold rag so I ran and grabbed a hand towel and dipped it in a pitcher of ice water. She loved it and kept it on her head for a while. Then she was rubbing it on her face and chest. She dozed again and then when her next contraction started she began smacking her forehead. I took this as her wanting the cold rag back. Then she would hold her hand out and make a fist when she wanted water. She would smack her lips when she wanted chap stick. I laughed to myself a couple of times because it was like a comedy routine - J doing these physical gestures and me quickly figuring out what they are and delivering. I always had water nearby and I had on stretchy pants so I kept the chap stick tucked under the waist of my pants. This was all she ended up needing the whole labor - my hand/arm, chap stick and water. It was so funny. You never know what you're actually going to use out of your doula bag!

"After a few minutes of laying down she sat up and vomited - thankfully we had a bucket right there. She had told me I could leave if I wanted, but vomiting is nothing I haven't seen or smelled before so I stayed. I stood behind her with my hand on her back. After a few minutes she got up to freshen up in the bathroom. The triage nurse came back in. She hooked J back up to record a few more contractions and said she'd be back in a minute to check her again. J's mom and nieces came back and J's mom was getting very anxious and wondering why the nurse hadn't checked her again and she was asking all of these questions. I tried to calmly answer her questions and just focus on J, I was hoping her mom would follow suit. She did and she was rubbing J's feet and telling her how great she was doing. It was very sweet. Then the nurse came back in, checked her and said "5cm, you're a keeper!" Again, I just hate the idea of a nurse having to validate that you are in fact in labor, but oh well. That's just how the system works I suppose. Then she said "Now I know you don't want an epidural, but do you want to order stadol or something? Because if you say no and then decide you want it later it's going to take a very long time. But I can just order it for you now and have it on standby". J can hardly think straight at this point and sort of just mumbled yes. I didn't like the nurse's approach at all and again in my negative overreacting brain I'm thinking that is where it starts to snowball - she orders the stadol to have ready just in case...at the first sign of J wavering the stadol is offered...it makes her feel like crap and doesn't last long....she then orders the epidural, etc., etc. I'm so wary of every little thing.

"J sat up in bed to get ready to walk to her room. She had declined a wheel chair and wanted to walk herself. She had a contraction sitting up and then had several more in the hall way walking over. Her mom and I were at her side and the nurse was in front of us. Then she felt like she needed to vomit so the nurse ran and got a bucket. She held it up for J and she vomited again. The nurse was very patient and didn't react at all. She just held the bucket until J was finished. Then we made our way to the room. It was a big beautiful private room with a great view, a rocking chair, a birth ball, a bed for the partner to sleep on and a giant shower. J was very much still in a daze, in "the zone", checked out, whatever you want to call it. She was so deep into her labor - it was one of the most incredible things I had ever seen. She just completely surrendered to it and let go. But this is what needs to happen - the logical part of your brain needs to shut down so that you don't care if you're moaning too loud, if you're making people uncomfortable, etc., etc. She crawled into bed and again got comfortable on her side. We turned down the lights and I just sat by her bed, ready and waiting with my chap stick and water bottle. She took to grabbing my forearm whenever she would have a contraction. A woman walked in with a big cart full of stuff and I thought "Oh crap, here comes the fight about not wanting an I.V." But no - she just quickly took a blood sample. The woman asked J if this was her good arm and J said, "Well, yes because this is the available arm." I liked that she wasn't going to move for the woman. And she shouldn't! She's in labor and everyone should accommodate her.

"Our nurse, Rian, came in and instantly she brought an incredibly calm and soothing energy to the room. I was so grateful to have her. She was young and sweet with long beautiful thick blond hair. Then Tiffany, the CNM on call, came in as well. Tiffany and Rian both just had such gentle touches and were completely respectful the entire time. Tiffany was the one midwife that J hadn't met at Bethany Women's so it was kind of funny. But she turned out to be absolutely perfect. They both asked if J had a birth plan and I grabbed several copies out of my bag and they both stood there and they actually read it! Tiffany said that a room with a large tub instead of just a shower was available across the hall and we could go ahead and move if J wanted to. J was in no position to make decisions at this point so we kind of decided for her. Tiffany thought the tub was a great idea so we moved. The nieces carried J's bags across the hall and I held onto her as she walked in a trance to the next room. She again crawled up onto the bed and got on her side. Tiffany started running a bath.

"Rian came back in with a bunch of release forms. I loved this though because at other births I've attended they just assume you want to whole standard lot of crap and if you don't want something, or you want them to do something different it's almost a fight for the damn release forms. And most certainly a guilt trip. But Rian brought in everything up front and just asked J yes or no questions to a bunch of stuff and J had to signs a bunch of things. This was difficult and I felt bad for Rian, but she had to do it. Then Rian said she was just going to monitor J for a minute before she got in the tub. That was so refreshing - she actually stood there and monitored her! She didn't make her lay on her back, get hooked up and then leave. I really hate when that happens because then as soon as the woman moves the nurse runs back in to reposition the monitor. Then the woman moves again and the nurse has to run back in. It seems like such a waste of time and the nurse inevitably gets irritated at the situation and the monitors and how is the woman supposed to relax and assume any position that is comfortable if she's constantly being messed with? One can only take so much. So Rian stood there for about 10 minutes and got a reading of the baby's heartbeat before, during and after a couple of contractions. Everything looked perfect. Tiffany came back over and asked who I was. I'm always hesitant to say I'm a doula because a lot of times people don't like that and it makes them get defensive. Especially if they've never worked with a doula before, or had a bad experience with a doula. But Tiffany thought that it was so awesome I was a doula and she called me by my name the whole night. It was very sweet. J was having trouble answering questions so Tiffany asked me instead since I knew everything anyway.

"Then we got J up and into the tub. She was sitting up and kind of leaning over to the side. She was holding onto the hand rail with one hand and holding onto my hand with the other. Her mom was in there too for a moment. I could hear her mom whispering to the nieces and could tell she was getting uncomfortable watching J labor. I just kept my focus on J and pretended like there was no one else in the bathroom with us. Then J said "Chap stick, chap stick" and her mom started calling for someone to get chap stick! I just quietly pulled it out of my waist line and rubbed it on her lips for her. I was really trying to model behavior for everyone and I'd like to think it was helping. Even if it's something not so easy like running to the closet for a towel and rushing around for ice water to dip it in - I don't want the mom to pick up on that. I want everything to seem like it's a piece of cake. Eventually everyone left, even Tiffany, and we just sat there together. I thought about suggesting she lean back more or get on her hands and knees, sort of in child's pose and lean over the side, but for some reason that didn't feel right and I didn't want to disturb her. Then she said she wanted to get out. J wasn't saying much, in fact, we really hadn't spoken any words to each other. So when she did speak it was simple and to the point. So we got right out. I pulled her up and then her mom came over with a towel. J stepped out of the tub and had a contraction. She was leaning on her mom and I was at her side holding her up. Her mom was looking at me so desperately and was on the verge of tears. I whispered that it was ok. I know it must be so hard to watch your daughter go through something like that. It's obviously easier for me because I'm not emotionally attached to J in the same way and also because it's easy for me to see her as a laboring woman just working with her labor. It's not like she's in horrifying pain being tortured and I must do something to stop it. Although that's one of the hardest things about going through labor with someone - there is nothing you can do besides just be there and offer support if needed. You have to have so much patience and be able to remain calm, even if things do not go as planned. After the contraction J's mom dried her off a bit and then we walked her back to the bed. Again she crawled back in and got comfortable on her side.

"Tiffany came back in a minute later and whispered to me "She didn't like the tub, huh?" Then J opened her eyes and saw Tiffany and asked to be checked. Tiffany said that wasn't necessary, but if J wanted her to she would. J did want to know where she was at. So Tiffany sat on the edge of the bed and waited for J to let her know when was a good time for her. J went to turn on her back, but Tiffany told her not to move and to just stay right where she was. Tiffany just maneuvered a bit and checked her while she was lying on her side. She was so sweet about it telling J when she was going to feel her hand and apologizing because she knew it was uncomfortable. She was 7 centimeters! I was so excited about that. She had gone from 4 to 5 in less than an hour and from 5 to 7 quickly too. At this point I think it was about 8pm. I wasn't keeping great track of the time, but that is my best guess.

"J continued laboring on her side and was moaning with her contractions and it was just so beautiful to watch. Everything was just unfolding perfectly. It was magical. There were a couple of times when Rian and Tiffany were discussing things and they just did it in such a whisper - it was so great. It allowed J to stay perfectly in her zone. That is another one of my pet peeves - when doctors and nurses are talking so loudly, either about personal stuff that is unnecessary to discuss in a laboring woman's space, or about scary medical jargon that only upsets the mother and others in the room. I was straining to hear their conversation at one point and they were concerned about the baby's heart rate going down. Again, I could only hear this because I was really straining hard. Rian monitored the heart rate through a couple of contractions and everything turned out fine. I just thought how great that was and how they avoided unnecessary anxiety on J's part. Not being hooked up to EFM is such a beautiful thing because it keeps every one's focus on the mother and not on the machine.

"Tiffany came back into the room a minute later and I realized I had never seen her leave. Out of the corner of my eye I saw her sitting in an arm chair just watching J. It took me a minute to figure out what she was doing, but then I realized she was just monitoring her. I thought how cool it was because I think you can tell so much more by looking at the woman - you can tell when she's in between contractions, you can tell when one is coming up, you can tell when one peaks and when it's over just by observing the mother's body language. I was so impressed and inspired by Tiffany's style. Although for a moment I did feel self-conscious and I thought "Gosh...should I be doing something else?" I felt like I should be offering up great suggestions or positions or speaking more encouraging words. But that only lasted for a moment and then I realized I was right where I needed to be doing exactly what I needed to be doing and I resolved to following my instincts just like J was doing.

"At one point Rian had come into the room and J sat up and started moaning and said "No, no, no I need something for the pain," and I got nervous for a second, because this is the point typically where the nurse would jump all over that and call in the anesthesiologist. But instead Rian said "Ok honey, you need something for the pain? Why don't we try getting you on the ball? Or on your hands and knees?" I about fell over. It was like a dream. That is the kind of thing I have fantasized about hearing. And what a testament to having a supportive birth team because in moments like this your team can make or break you. If you have people who are not on board or comfortable with natural birth this is when everything could shift. But instead everyone stayed strong and kept J on track. In fact I think that was the only time I spoke to J. I said "J you are doing this. You are having the birth you've always wanted. I know you can do this." I don't know if she even heard me or not, but she didn't ask for anything again. Although that didn't stop me from being anxious through the next few contractions waiting for her to start screaming for an epidural or something. But she never did. I couldn't believe how amazing and in control she stayed. You could tell that all her breathing, all her movements, all her moaning was completely involuntary. It was incredible. I am getting emotional writing this just thinking about witnessing her strength through the whole thing.

"We got her up on the ball and she had a couple of contractions on it and then said "I don't like this!!" so she crawled back up on the bed. She was shivering and getting hot flashes so we got some warm blankets that we were throwing on and off of her as needed. Then Rian raised the head of the bed up and we helped J getting on her hands and knees, but in a resting position. She didn't like that either. She sat up on her knees and I sat in front of her so she could lean on me. Then she went back on her side. And she stayed there the rest of the labor.

"A little while later J was moaning through a contraction and kind of whispering "Ow, ow, ow this hurts" and Rian said "Honey you are doing so great, this is hard work" And J sat bolt upright and said "Fuck yeah it is! This is the most exhausting thing I've ever done in my entire life! It's more exhausting than raising children!" And she collapsed back down on her side. It was hilarious! I just love her. Rian said something else later, something like "You're doing so great" and J shouted "I know I am! I am doing this!" It was just so amazing. That's how I wish every woman felt! Such confidence and pride. I loved it.

"Tiffany and Rian were getting things set up for the birth. Tiffany pulled out her cart and asked Rian to get some oil and some warm compresses ready for her. Then Tiffany was quietly explaining how you should always use natural oils like olive oil or safflower oil (versus like massage oil) because that way if that baby aspirates any, it's ok. That made sense. I had never thought of that before. I loved Tiffany's approach when explaining things. She never made anyone feel dumb or inferior and she was so happy to share her knowledge. I just couldn't get over how sweet she was to me too. I had been either squatting by the bed or on my knees by the bed next to J and Tiffany quietly rolled over a ball for me to sit on. So sweet! It's funny though because I never thought "Oh my gosh, I'm so uncomfortable or hungry or I have to pee" or anything like that. I peed once, I never ate, I had a few sips of water. I just didn't need much of anything. I was so consumed with J that I couldn't think about anything else.

"J stayed completely focused inward, hardly even opening her eyes. She would moan and move her head around, her eyes would open slightly and you could see her eyes rolled back. She held onto my arm and there was no talking, no questions, nothing. But J did lift her head up when she heard the door open. I guess she sensed that Tiffany was leaving or something. J said "Don't go far because I might want to push soon." Tiffany said "Well I'm not leaving if you tell me something like that!" It was really funny. J asked to be checked and again Tiffany said that wasn't necessary, but she'd do it if J wanted. She did. Tiffany said she was 9 and a half and could push whenever she felt the urge. J's water still had not broken and there was no talk of breaking it. It was just so amazing because in a typical hospital with a typical OB, her water would have been broken long ago and if an OB checked and a woman was 9 and half it would have been "Ok, time to push!" and then the big production would have started, people would have been rushing around, lights would have been turned up, instruments would have been pulled out and it would have been "Ok, now hold your breath, count to ten, push, push, push!" Not to say that aren't amazing OBs who would give this same level of care, but you definitely have to search around for them. Tiffany knew that J had a pretty bad tear with one of her previous births and also knew that J had epidurals. So Tiffany said, "J, when you start pushing you may feel a burning sensation - this is completely normal and does not mean that you are tearing." I thought that was a wonderful thing to say because I could totally imagine feeling that burning and thinking you are splitting in two and then freaking out. So I'm sure that made J feel a lot better.

"Tiffany and Rian stayed beside J and then J just started pushing. It was very calm and very peaceful. There was no drama, no anxiety, no voices raised, no instruction. It was perfect. After one or two pushes her bag of waters popped. It was very loud and it gushed out everywhere - we all laughed. It got all over Tiffany and got on my arm a bit. I think it may have gotten on J's mom's head too, but I'm not sure. She pushed amazingly well and after only a few pushes the baby's head was right there. Tiffany and Rian were taking turns holding warm compresses against J's perineum. The only thing Tiffany even said to J was asking her to slow down and take a breath. J said "I can't stop, I can't stop!" and Tiffany said "That's ok honey, just do whatever you need to do". It was so awesome. Tiffany was also saying how great she was doing, her pushes were just perfect, she was amazing. It was so sweet.

"She only pushed 6 or 7 times and the baby's head was out. Then Tiffany was telling her to just rest and let the baby's head stretch her a bit before the shoulders came out. Then she gave one or two more pushes and she was out! A beautiful baby girl was born at 9:52pm on May 29th, 2009. The baby was place immediately on J's belly. The cord pulsed for a few minutes and then Tiffany clamped it and J's mom cut it. It was amazing to witness. J just laid her head back and said "I did it, I did it, I can't believe I did it". She looked at me and asked if I could believe it and I said I knew she could do it from the beginning and I never doubted her. It was so sweet. She looked at me and said "I couldn't have done it without you, I couldn't have done it without you" over and over. At that point I had tears streaming down my face. It was such a powerful feeling. J moved the baby farther up on her chest and started nursing her. She latched on incredibly well and started nursing like a champ. J started having some intense cramping and Tiffany said to just give a little push. She did and then Tiffany said if it was ok with J that she would just do some gentle and very light cord traction to help the placenta out. So J pushed and Tiffany barely pulled on the cord and the placenta plopped out. Tiffany put it into a basin and put it on her cart. She then held it up for us all to see - the nieces were fascinated by this. Tiffany said if they wanted to put on gloves and feel it she had no problem with that. The nieces didn't want to, but I thought that was cool of Tiffany to offer. J kept saying how she couldn't believe how amazing she felt and how with it she was immediately after. J's mom couldn't believe it either - especially compared to her other two births. Then J sighed and said, "my vagina hurts!" and she started laughing. It was hilarious.

"Tiffany checked her and she just had a tiny little skid mark, not even a tear and Tiffany said it would heal on its own, but might hurt a bit when she peed for a few days. J was passing some pretty large clots so Rian unfortunately had to push on J's stomach and massage a bit to help her uterus shrink back down. This was painful for J, but again was done in such a respectful way. It could have been much worse. And J was constantly reassured the whole time. There was never any fear instilled in her. The baby kept nursing and J's bleeding eventually stopped, although Rian did have to massage her a few more times. Rian cleaned up the bed as best she could and brought J an ice pack. That seemed to help her a bit.

"Tiffany was leaving the room and I followed her out and thanked her and told her that was the best birth ever and it was one of the births that you read about in books and hear about and look forward to one day witnessing. She thanked me and said she was really impressed with me and said I was so calm and so there for J the entire time. She also thanked me so much for referring J to her practice and that she would definitely refer people to me in the future. I thought that was really sweet too.

"Rian came in a few minutes later and weighed her and measured her. She was 7 pounds, 8 ounces and 19 inches long. Then J's mom decided to take the nieces back home and go relieve the baby sitter that was with J's younger two children. So that left J and I. It was nice to have that time to reflect on the birth with her. She kept saying how she couldn't believe how great she felt and how after the birth of her first baby she was completely wiped out and wanted the baby taken right to the nursery and she just passed out. The baby still hadn't left her chest and she couldn't imagine her being taken away. She said she couldn't believe how everything had gone so perfectly and I pointed out that it was because of her - this doesn't just happen out of nowhere. It happened because J researched and educated herself, she switched providers and switched birthing places that she was in a more supportive environment. She made her birth plan, she had an excellent birth team. She allowed herself to be completely consumed by her labor and stayed inward the entire time. That is why everything happened so perfectly. And it should happen that way - this is how birth is supposed to be. I told J that this was by far the most wonderful birth I had ever attended and one that I will certainly never forget. I told her it was one where I left feeling completely "full" and not depleted at all. I told her how special it was to have been there with her. I am already looking forward to having my own babies, but seeing J birth just gave me all the more inspiration that I too will be able to do it someday.

"Rian came back in and took the baby to the warmer and did the eye drops and vitamin K and all of that. This had all obviously been delayed at J's request and it was not a problem. The baby went back to J to nurse for a bit and then Rian gave her a sponge bath and dressed her in a cute little outfit J had brought. Then Rian got J up to go to the bathroom. J came back out in those lovely giant panties made of netting with the worlds biggest maxi pad tucked inside. She got back into bed and just looked so great though. Then we moved to her postpartum room. I carried her things and made sure she was settled and had everything she needed and then I went home a little after 1am on the best birth high ever."

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Cesarean Birth: The Other Side

This is a great post by a nurse regarding a cesarean-mama who nearly dies from post-operative complications. Check it out! A must-read.

"Nearly Bleeding To Death from a Cesarean Section"