November 20, 2009

The other night I attended a seminar with the purpose of introducing the community to the new Certified Nurse Midwife that will be working at the Clarian Arnett Hospital. This will be the first CNM to work at a hospital in our area. What an amazing breakthrough! Welcome, Sharon Smith, CNM! My hope is that the demand for care from a Midwife will rise, and the hospital will hire more. Our community is in dire need of some change and improvement upon prenatal and childbirth care. Like I have said before, our choices until now have been fairly black and white.

The evening started with a dinner. I sat at a table with a friend, and a few very nice women I had just met. One was a NICU nurse, another a Lactation Consultant, and the other a Doula. The conversation was great! Following the dinner, Sharon began her talk, starting with a brief history of Midwifery. One thing she pointed out was the meaning of Midwife: ‘with woman’. She went over her credentials and where she got her education. She received her Masters of Science in nursing in Nurse-Midwifery at the Frontier School of Midwifery and Family Nursing. She has over 10 years experience working with women during pregnancy and childbirth and other life transitions.

The next portion of her talk was focused on what services she will offer to the community. They are as follows:

Routine Obstetrics
Support for Natural Childbirth
Health Education and Preventative Care
Preconception Care
Family Planning
Routine Gynecology

With these services the patient will be introduced to a more individualized and higher level of care. A Midwife’s philosophy is to focus on prevention and education. This would mean more of a collaborative relationship between her and the patient. She will offer advice for staying healthy by paying attention to nutrition and exercise. Concerning pregnancy and childbirth, the woman is encouraged to participate more in decision making. The Midwife will work with the mother to keep her pregnancy low-risk and give her the opportunity to decide how she would like to bring her child into the world. A Midwife’s view of pregnancy and birth is that it is a normal process. All of this means more time spent with mom. I love this. The small amount of time I spent with my previous OB always seemed oddly short. After my experience with a Midwife, I was immediately drawn to her model of care.

So, if you choose to use a Midwife for your child’s birth, and your goal is for a natural birth, she will work with you to try and avoid any unnecessary interventions while laboring. A Midwife is quick to try all other options before it comes down to using an intervention such as an epidural, an episiotomy, or a vacuum. This does not mean if you decide to use some sort of labor augmentation that she won’t support you. The choices you make for your birth are still in your hands, and the Midwife will stick with you throughout the course of labor and birth. She will also remain with you for postpartum care. She will stay to assure you and baby are doing well and breastfeeding (if that is the plan) has been initiated.

Overall, I feel the that the support you get when using a Midwife is tremendous. You get the education and preparation you need to fulfill your plans for pregnancy and birth. And you get a care provider that listens and supports you in your decisions for your family.


Free Standing Birth Center

November 12, 2009

On one of the blogs I follow, the question was asked by a local nurse if we want a freestanding birth center in our area. Her words:

Would folks who want a homebirth because of the restrictive nature of the hospital, come to a freestanding birth center? Is there a demand for Birth Centers? Especially a Birth center across the street from the hospital that has a large staff and 24 hour Ob and anesthesia folks so they can handle anything you throw at them. And a Nicu would be good too. I was thinking, if we did start up a birth center across the street from the hospital I worked at, would it be used? If we build it, will they come?

So for any home birth folks out there, could you please leave me a comment on your thoughts. What would you need in a birth center to make it attractive to birth at?

My answers is YES we need a birth center here! I personally wouldn’t use it, although, the idea of big fancy birth tubs does strike a chord in my heart. After having an amazing homebirth once, I don’t think I would have it any other way. But, I think our community is definitely in need of a birth center. Right now, our birth choices are so black and white. You either birth at home or go to the hospital. Introducing a birth center would be great, because it would appeal to those wanting a safe and natural birth, but don’t feel comfortable staying home. The facility even being available might encourage more women to consider natural birth, as well.

Women in our community also (mostly) have not had the experience of having a Midwife for either Well Woman visits or Prenatal Care. I think that once they were introduced to the care of a Midwife, women would be highly impressed. I know I can’t say enough good things about my Midwife.

So, again I say YES, please! A birth center for Lafayette would be wonderful. Let me know your thoughts. And check out the comments others have left here.

My Transition

November 10, 2009

To expand upon my last post, I’ll give you some insight on how my transition in my labor with Archer went. What I want to emphasize is that sometimes, during transition, a laboring woman needs some encouragement. What she also needs is the knowledge of what is happening with her body. I had a pretty good grasp on how labor progresses and was prepared if things got tough. My husband and I took a Bradley Method birth class that was wonderful. It broke down the stages of labor, explained exactly what is happening for baby and mother throughout the course of labor, and helped you and your partner prepare for your labor with relaxation techniques, massage, and positioning. I HIGHLY recommend taking this class if you are planning for a natural birth–whether it be in the hospital or at home, this class is outstanding preparation.

So, number one, I had education that helped me through my labor. Next, was John. He was amazing support for me. He knew what transition meant and knew what to do to help me through it. At one point, I was ready to give up, go to the hospital, and get an epidural so I could rest. This was after the birth team had left our house to let me get some rest as my labor seemed to be stalling out. To try to relax, I got in our bath tub, with John by my side. With my belly being so huge and the tub so small, I wasn’t able to fully relax enough to “sleep”, so we moved to the bed. Here is where labor got going! John was laying beside me rubbing my head and trying to soothe me enough so I could get the bit of rest I needed to continue with labor. Well, rest is not what I did. My contractions became more intense than ever at this point, and I was unsure if I could handle this extreme pain. Here I became worried about exhaustion and my only thought was, “I need to get to the hospital, get an epidural, and SLEEP!” John worked hard to calm me down, and reason with me. We both knew this was NOT what we wanted for Archer’s birth. Had I not had John there to talk me out of that, who knows what would have happened. Through learning about labor, he was ready for me to get to this point, and knew how to help me through it. The next step was to get into the birthing tub. Labor was still going in full swing, so I had John call everyone back. I needed them! Thirdly, on me list of help, was my Midwife and Birth Attendants. One of the ladies on the birth team, who I have mentioned before, was tremendous. I think she only wiped my forehead with a cold rag and here and there said some words of encouragement, but MAN was she lovely! My transition was hard, but it really didn’t last that long. All I could do during this time was lay against John in the water. Changing positions or walking around was not an option for me at this point. I was under the impression that my labor would have last forever due to having an Occiput Posterior (OP) baby. Luckily, labor didn’t seem to last much longer. I was blessed with a baby that wanted to come out quickly!
I remember towards the end of labor when it seemed that the whole world was quiet, I was looking up at the paintings on my mantle. One painting, a gift from my mother, is a scene in Guatemala of women walking to and from the fountain to get water. The painting next to this was tropical landscape watercolor painted by my Aunt. What gave me encouragement was knowing that these woman have all gone through natural birth. The painting from Guatemala reminded me that there are women all over the world that birth naturally, and they get through it. My Aunt has given birth naturally three times, so that was a huge comfort to me. So, after this, I prayed to God to help me deliver my baby, and next thing I knew he was here!

This is my take on transition: you need to be prepared for it. However you need to do it–with a Doula, a partner, family, friends, education, solitude, whatever. Transition can be rough, but it’s possible to get through. I think that more women need to know about this part of labor, so they and their birth team can be ready for it.

Natural Birth

November 10, 2009

Over the weekend a new mother had the birth of her child live streaming on the internet. I didn’t hear about her plan to do this prior to the event; I caught on to it through other Twittering moms I follow while she was laboring. I don’t know the details, but what I gather is that her plan was to have a natural birth. With her were both a Doula and Midwife in the hospital. Sounds like a great support team for a natural birth. But, as this mother’s labor progressed and became painful, she asked for the epidural and it was administered.

Whether she got the epidural or not, I don’t care. Birth how you want to birth. But, I thought there would have been a bit more encouragement from the Midwife and Doula to keep going naturally, if that was the goal. When a woman is in transition, usually that is when drugs will be requested. This is when doubt arises–doubt that you can get through the labor. But, transition means that pushing stage is just around the corner, and that’s why I was surprised at the lack of support from the Doula and Midwife. I know they are well aware of this time, and this is the common cry from a laboring woman at this point. But regardless, this woman was given the epidural and proceeded with the birth. Thankfully, things went smoothly and she was able to deliver her baby soon after vaginally.

This gives me big ideas to do something. The natural course of labor needs to be common knowledge, but the fact is, it’s far from that. I feel, that if more women knew how labor progresses, we would have less intervention. Less intervention leads to less complications, which leads to lower Cesarean rate, episiotomy rate, etc. All this applies to a woman with the desire for a natural birth, of course. From what I can see–from the mothers that even have a thought of natural birth in mind–there is either the well educated woman who knows how labor will generally go or the woman who hopes for a natural birth if things don’t get too rough, but are fine with getting pain relief if needed. I wish there were more available information for pregnant women about labor. Maybe ‘available’ isn’t the word. I wish that a woman’s care provider would offer the information about natural labor, or even encourage trying for a natural birth. That might be asking a little too much, though. Maybe the woman that has thought a natural birth would be nice, but hasn’t done the homework, would learn what she needs to know about what her body can do when giving birth to her baby. She would learn about things like transition and what it means. It means you are so close to seeing your child. Labor is hard at this point, but it is a short time that you can get through. Once you get through transition, you are on to pushing, and baby is here!

I know these are just big ideas, but it is just so upsetting to me that we as women are letting the inner wisdom that our minds and bodies possess fade away into the hands of these unnecessary medical procedures just to deliver our babies. Birth has become so complicated, and really, it’s pretty simple. We just need to be more prepared to allow our bodies to do the work that it so perfectly already knows how to do without ANY help.

If We Did It Again

October 28, 2009

Recently, I was given the news from a good friend that she is pregnant. (!) I am so thrilled for her. She is a wonderful mother, a great friend, and I am glad that I get to be around for this pregnancy.

So, from this news, the birth blogs I read, and of course, the people everywhere I look having babies, I am thinking about pregnancy and birth. I have been fantasizing of the things I would do if we happened to get pregnant again. And, I know this sounds like the beginnings of a decision to have more babies; I assure you that is not where this is going!

Anyway! If a new baby were to come along, I would want to document the pregnancy much more than I did the previous ones. I would take the weekly belly photo, and probably post it on my blog. Exercise! I would exercise! During my first pregnancy, I exercised much more than the second. I took walks and kept fairly active the whole time. For the second, I got lazy. I had no desire to get off of the couch, chair, bed, whatever. Towards the middle, I did do a bit of exercise that was required for The Bradley Method class. Squats and pelvic rocks don’t compare to walking a mile, though.

As for prenatal care, we would most definitely go with our Midwife, again. She was absolutely wonderful. It would be nice to go through all of the prenatal care with her. Last time, we were with an OB up until about week 30 and then made the switch to our Midwife. The quality of care you get from an OB doesn’t even compare to that of a Midwife. You actually spend time talking with a Midwife; you learn things. With an OB, you are in and out of the room within five minutes. You get to hear the heartbeat and are sent home.

With the choice to have a Midwife, this means we would be planning a home birth. I wouldn’t have it any other way after our experience with Archer’s birth. The only thing I would want to change would be more pictures and possibly a video of the birth. I would also like to have close friends and family there.

So, there you go. This is just something that’s been on my mind, so I had to get it out. Now, back to enjoying my 2 boys, and no more of this crazy talk about more babies!

Blessing Way

April 13, 2009

I was recently invited to my midwife’s Blessing Way. I had never heard of this, so I looked it up. It’s an alternative to a baby shower that was originally a Navajo ceremony for women’s rite of passage into motherhood. The modern version is a celebration of the the upcoming birth, a new mother, and/or a mother having another child. I am so excited to be a part of this. At this particular Blessing Way, there will be a belly dancer teaching about the long time tradition of using belly dancing during labor. How cool! Another activity that you might see at a Blessing Way is this:

Prayer Flags: Inspired by Tibetan prayer flags, these are strips of cloth that are cut about 3″ X 18″ (or any other size you choose). They are handed to each guest to write a birth blessing or positive message on it. When the guests are through the mother is given the flags to read and take with her to her place of birth. Messages can be anything. Some examples include: “You are a strong woman.” “You can do all things through God.” “Your baby will be born at the right time.”

I love it!

An aside:

When John and I were talking about this, we could not resist referring to it as ‘A blessing, wey!’ As if we were Mexicans casually discussing a blessing. We are silly.

Happy 8 Weeks!

April 8, 2009

Archer is now 8 weeks or 2 months old today! He is smiling like a champ these days. He has made it to the 10 pound mark and is getting cuter every time I look at him. Check this guy out!

I woke up earlier and perkier than normal on Wednesday February 10, 2009. I was having contractions much lower than normal, and it seemed that they were coming regularly. So, I lay in bed for the next hour waiting to see if they would subside. They didn’t, so I got out of bed to watch the news, check my e-mail, and clean up the kitchen. Still, the contractions were regular! I was so excited. I assumed that I would be way overdue as I was with my first baby. This time I was early! I also never had the chance to experience normal natural labor with my first. I was induced with Pitocin. Yuck. Anyway, I took a shower, ate some breakfast, and called my husband. The contractions were strong enough that I really didn’t want to stay at home alone with my 3 year old all day. I was afraid I wouldn’t be as available to get him what he needed, so John agreed to come home. I also wanted John to be with me during the whole thing.

John came home and we decided to go out to eat and to the park. The weather was abnormally warm for February. And also there had been a full moon. Anyway, we went to Route 66 and I ordered a Double Steak with Cheese and fried potatoes. Yum. After this, we went to Happy Hollow Park. I had to stop every 6 minutes or so for a contraction. We met a couple friends there, and had a nice time. I was tired, so we went home so I could try to get a nap in. After getting home I took another shower to try to calm down for a nap. After trying to nap for an hour, I decided it wasn’t going to happen. So, I gathered John and Jackson to go on a walk with me. By this time the contractions were pretty painful. We only made it for about 15 minutes on the walk and then came home.

After being home for only an hour, I decided that my 3 year old needed to go. I was having a hard time getting through a contraction with him running around yelling. So, Grandpa came to pick him up. After he was gone, John went around the house lighting candles and turning down the lights. At this point I called our Midwife. When I got on the phone with her I started crying because I wasn’t sure how far I was into the labor, and I wasn’t sure if maybe it would be possible to stall out the labor with a bath so I could get some rest. Our plan prior to my going into labor was to stop the labor (if possible) if I labored all day. We wanted to avoid exhaustion. When the Midwife arrived we started filling the birth pool. It was taking much longer than I preferred to get that thing filled! Our hot water heater is miniscule, so we had to boil tons of water to get warm water in the pool. The warm water was supposed to either stall out the labor, or speed it up. After getting in, my labor slowed down.

When my contractions stayed at the slower pace for a while, my Midwife and the attendants decided to go out for some dinner. They thought that maybe I would get some rest while they were gone, or speed labor up due to not being the center of 5 people’s attention. When they left things definitely got going. I was yelling for HELP and telling John that I needed to go to the hospital so I could get an epidural and go to sleep. He stayed strong and told me no. He knew that wasn’t really what I wanted. I would have been very disappointed if we would have gone to the hospital. After yelling so loud that the neighbors were probably wondering, ‘who the hell is being tortured next door?’, I told John to call our Midwife. I was definitely in hard labor. I got back in the birth pool and stayed there until Archer arrived. John laid behind me to support me while I moaned and yelled some more. I was very attached to one of the attendants. Later I found out she has been a doula and has been attending home births since I was born. She just gave me a lot of comfort and encouragement. Every time she would leave the room I would yell HELP!

By this point there was no conversation and the only thing you heard was me moaning. This lasted for only an hour and a half and all of the sudden I felt a snap, and I assumed it was just my water breaking. Then came the urge to push. So, I yelled, ‘I gotta push’! And I did. I pushed maybe 2 times through that one contraction and Archer was out! He came out in the water sac with it perfectly intact. He surprised everyone with how quickly he came. We all were in a bit of shock. He went right on my chest and it was all over! He was beautiful! He cried shortly after laying with me and stayed with me for the next few hours. He was born at 1:09 am on February 11, 2009, also my birthday! He is by far the best gift I have ever gotten on my birthday!

Our experience with having a home birth was wonderful. It was better than we expected, and even though it was rough for a little while, I am so glad we did it. This was much more of a natural way to welcome our new baby to our family. It seems that at the hospital the doctors and nurses take control of the labor and birth. For us, we were in charge, and we made the experience what it was—absolutely wonderful.

I’m in labor

February 10, 2009

I’ve been in labor all day, and now it’s starting to pick up on intensity, and it sucks..

Ready for Labor!

February 2, 2009

If you were wondering what a 38 weeks and 3 days pregnant girl does at home while her family is at a super bowl party down the road at her in-laws house, you’ve come to the right place for that answer. She is probably spending a good amount of time on her laptop surfing the internet. When surfing gets old, she’ll resort to watching an episode of Arrested Development for the first time. While watching the show she decides that the time could be better spent if she were actively trying to go into labor. So, she places the laptop at the end of her bed to watch the show while marching around her room, doing squats, and swaying her hips. After this workout she goes to the kitchen to make a delicious strawberry, banana, blueberry smoothie. And while she is enjoying this wonderful snack, she decides to post a blog about her evening. Let the laboring begin!!