I chose to do a home birth for my second birth for several reasons. I knew that to minimize the number of interventions I wanted to labor at home as long as possible before going to the hospital. I started wondering why I didn’t just plan to stay home for the actual birth if I was already planning to do almost all of my laboring at home. I knew with a home birth I could be reasonably sure that the midwife I chose would be the one attending my birth.  This was important to me because during my first birth, the midwife who happened to be on call had a significant negative impact on my birthing experience. And finally, I knew that even if I was with a great midwife practice, I would still be subjected to the non-evidence based hospital policies that I did not agree with. I also felt very secure in the knowledge that I could transfer to a hospital if needed and would be attended by a doctor I trusted.

To prepare for this birth I walked 2-3 miles almost everyday, attended Labor of Love’s Aligned and Ready class, and did the Hypnobabies Home Study.  I attended Labor of Love’s Bold Wisdom for Birth Series for my first birth and wanted to build on the knowledge and skills I gained there.  I chose to do Hypnobabies because I wanted to practice relaxation techniques I could use during labor.  I enjoyed listening to the Hynobabies tracks each day.  It forced me to set aside time each day to practice relaxing my body and focus on what I wanted and envisioned for my birth.  I found that I was looking forward to this birth and was not anxious.

I woke up around 6:30am Friday, September 4, 2015 feeling some mild cramps every few minutes.  I got up and dressed to go on my usual morning walk with my neighbors.  I remember telling Alan what was going on and that it was probably nothing.  I thought this was a good sign that labor would start in the next few days and expected the contractions/cramps to go away. I got Anna up and dressed, we had breakfast and then went on our walk around the neighborhood.  The contractions continued throughout the walk, but I never had to slow down or stop for them.  This was the Friday before Labor Day weekend so Alan had decided to work from home for the day.  He stayed with Anna while I went to the grocery store to get some last minute items (including a cake mix to make a birthday cake for the baby).  At the grocery store the woman bagging the groceries looked at me and asked if was I was going to have the baby that day.  I just laughed and said soon, my due date was the next Tuesday. After lunch I put Anna down for her nap and took a nap myself.  I thought the contractions had stopped but when I laid down I felt them again.  I decided that I was just going to embrace it and listened to my Hypnobabies “Birthing Day Affirmations” track.  You aren’t supposed to listen to this track until you are beginning labor or want labor to begin.  I was able to take a 2 hour nap. After I woke up we all walked down to the neighborhood pool around 3pm.  It was while we were at the pool that I started to pay attention to the contractions a little more and noticed they were coming about every 10 minutes.  I also had a harder time just sitting still during them, I started pacing. Around 5pm I told Alan we needed to go home.  I had a harder time walking home and I started to panic a little as I realized I might be having a baby today! I called my parents who were driving to Atlanta that day and told my Mom she needed to come straight to our house instead of my Aunt’s house because I thought I was in labor and I needed her to take care of Anna.

When we got home from the pool, I took a shower and made myself a sandwich because I knew I needed to eat quickly. My contractions were about 2-5 minutes apart as I rushed around trying to get everything ready. I called my midwife and she told me to lay down and time the contractions for an hour, they were probably so close together because of all the moving around I was doing.  I also called Teresa, my doula.  She was going out to dinner with her family and said to call her when I wanted her to come. I went upstairs to lay in bed and time contractions.  I put on my Hypnobabies Easy First Stage track and relaxed through the contractions.  The contractions were about 7-8 minutes apart.  I really enjoyed listening to the Hypnobabies during this time.  This track really helped me relax and welcome the contractions.  It told me chant “Open” during the contractions and then to smile after each one and I found myself really doing that.  I was able to really embrace labor and get excited about meeting my baby soon.  This was something I struggled with during my first birth.

After a couple hours, around 8pm, I decided to move downstairs to the basement where we were planning to do the birth.  Alan had put Anna to bed and we called Teresa and my midwife, Charlotte so they could come. They arrived by 8:45 and I remember feeling bad that I had called them too early and they would be here for a while. At this point I gave up timing the contractions and told them they could if they wanted to but I didn’t care how long or often they were so don’t tell me.  Charlotte offered to check my progress but I declined.  I was worried I wouldn’t be very far along and would be disappointed and discouraged. I was restless and couldn’t decide what position I wanted to be in. I went back and forth from my hands and knees to sitting on my birth ball to sitting on the toilet. I also stopped really listening to my Hypnobabies tracks. At some point I remarked that I felt like a zombie.  I was in my own world.  I knew people were with me, but I didn’t care to talk to them or listen to their conversations.  Teresa told me I was in Labor Land.

Finally around 10pm I decided to get in the tub.  It was relaxing, but not the “epidural like” pain relief I had read about.  Eventually my body started pushing and Charlotte checked me to make sure I was complete.  I had a little lip of cervix left so Teresa helped me breathe through several contractions before I started pushing again.  I think that was the hardest part of the whole thing. Finally the baby was crowning and Charlotte told me to ease the head out but I pushed as hard as I could and the head came out all at once.  I just couldn’t hold back. Tess Elizabeth was born at 11:12pm on Friday, September 4, 2015.

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I attended a home birth today where the mom was only a few days postdates. She was due on Saturday and she had the baby on Wednesday. She was nine days postdates with her previous two. I was headed to bed last night and decided to text her to touch base. I said, ” Let’s have a baby tonight!” She has always envisioned her labor being at night. She replied, “I am game! What should I do…no contractions or anything.”  We chatted back and forth a bit more. I encouraged her to be patient. We then chatted about the midwife she most connected to was leaving town tomorrow and how if she wanted her she would have to wait for another 11 days- that was not happening! So if she wanted this particular midwife, she needed to have a baby tonight!

At 2:30am, 4 hours later she called. Although she did not sound like she was in active labor, these contractions had awakened her and she said she felt we needed to be headed her way. The midwife arrived only minutes before me. I arrived at 3:30am. This mom had a baby in her arms at 4:55am, not quite two hours from my arrival. We joked that if what she had needed , was me suggesting she have the baby, we could have done it a few days earlier!

I believe there is a huge mind body connection. What do you think?

Jordon weighed in at 10 punds 6.2 ounces and came after only a 3 hour labor!
Jordon weighed in at 10 punds 6.2 ounces and came after only a 3 hour labor!

I have a client who has hired me three times. That is not that unusual since I have been a doula for a quarter of a century! In fact I suspect before I retire I doula for some of my babies as they are having their babies! But this mom is a bit unique.  I missed her first birth. A colleague attended in my stead as I was out of town at my sister’s funeral. But I feel like I was her doula at that birth none the less. I had been her guide on her first journey to motherhood. I was delighted when she invited me back for her second birth.

Her second birth was a home birth. She went postdates and resisted any interventions. She likes to labor mostly alone. At some point she has her husband as her silent support. As she progresses, he calls the midwife and myself to come. She labors without any assistance. She moves and moans as she needs and then she begins to push her baby out gently. And she gives birth to BIG babies… over 10 pounds.

When she became pregnant with her third baby, she asked me to be a part of this journey again. My heart swelled. She and her husband who had taken my classes the first pregnancy, attended another class this time for a refresher. It was fun to hear her husband do their introductions and introduce his wife as a woman who births big babies and does it easily. She then stated she did not want to be known as a warrior woman. She instead sees the way she gives birth as NORMAL. She feels using the term warrior woman makes it seem like she is doing something extraordinary and outside the realm of a normal woman. She feels she does what most every woman can do- birth normally!

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Well she went past her due date again. But this time she wanted to avoid the biophysicals and ultrasounds that become the norm once you go past 40 or 41 weeks. She was determined to go earlier. She felt like things were moving toward labor earlier in the week but when she spoke to her midwife, she told them she had been up all night at a birth, so she willed herself to wait a day or so. Then I contacted her a few days later to tell her it looked like one of my clients was headed for a medically needed induction. She paused the idea of getting things going although she was irregularly contracting and had signs that labor would be starting soon.

I spoke with her to let me know I was still at home, awaiting my client having a gentle and slow induction to need me. She then decided to tell her body to get going. An hour later she called to let me know her water had released. Her mom told me it was as if she found out I was available and allowed her body to go into labor. Talk about a mind body connection! I showered and was out the door. I arrived at 10:20 and her daughter was born gently in the birthing pool within two hours. She has truly undisturbed births. I had plenty of time to brew up her postnatal peri herbs and back the birthday cake.

Less than a half hour later, the mom being induced called and asked me to be on my way. I scooted out quietly leaving the mom in the capable hands of two great midwives while the family bonded. I told her I would return later that day to check in. I met up with my other client and within two hours of my arrival, a second baby girl was born gently at St Mary’s in Athens.

A few hours later I returned to the first client to check in and visit with the family. The mom was in her bed with her daughter laying next to her sleeping. A short while later she moved downstairs to eat lunch with her family while I held her daughter. Soon she was nursing her baby girl and acting like all was going smooth and normal. I view her as a wonderful warrior woman none the less. I see birth as normal. But I feel women in our society have to fight to get to the place in their minds where they embrace birth being normal. This is the battle.

Me getting to hold Clara when she was 15 hours old.
Me getting to hold Clara when she was 15 hours old.

As I made my way out to my car, her mom came running from the house. She embraced me and thanked me for helping her daughter years ago learn to trust the process of birth. We both realize this will most likely be the last baby for this mom. But I was moved by the grandmother’s words. She went on to tell me that my influence on her daughter helped to shape these three births. I kinda drove home on a cloud of sorts, floating. I love what I do. I love my clients- I am fully invested in them.

Being at all three of her births makes this family extra special. I probably have a dozen families that have invited me back for three or more births. It is one of the greatest compliments you can receive. These are the births that keep you loving your job!

The mom read this and just sent me a text message. I have to quote her,  

…Mind over body has so much power that we all have, we just have to tap into it. I am just a normal woman who can call on the warrior when needed just like every other birthing woman.

One of our previous doulas moved away toward the end of her pregnancy and gave birth soon after. She shares her fabulous story with us.

jessica with little blue

We had just moved to Costa Rica. Everything still wasn’t settled in our home yet. I was originally given a due date of October 12, 2014. Three weeks after our move on a Monday, I began feeling random leaks of fluid throughout the day. I had no idea what this even was, so I just dismissed it. Toward the end of the day, we decided to call our midwife, Meka, whom we planned on flying from the states to our home to deliver the baby. She highly recommended that we find a local doctor and have him verify if that indeed was my water that had broken. I couldn’t even believe we were having the “breaking of waters” conversation so early. After all, I wasn’t due for another couple of weeks! In my mind, we weren’t ready to have our baby this soon.

We heeded Meka’s instructions and on Tuesday, we found Dr. Freddy Perez who conducted an exam with a specimen, and indeed concluded that my water broke. He said it was a high leak, and I could continue to wait until labor initiated on its own as long as I drank a ton of water. We had to make sure the baby had enough fluid surrounding him at all times.  That evening, we stayed in a hotel near Dr. Perez’s office just in case labor was to pick up at powerful speed. We knew we wouldn’t have a care provider that could make it to our home due to the intense roads leading up to it, so we wanted to be close by. During this time, Blue began to make all the plans to fly our midwife out to us the following day. He even went to our home to pack a bag of several things we thought we might need in case I went into labor and had the baby. We wanted to be somewhat prepared.

My mind and body kept telling me that I wasn’t ready to have my baby just yet. I continued to envision giving birth with my husband and my midwife by my side in the comfort of our home. There was absolutely no activity that night. We slept it off and went home Wednesday morning. We went about our day as normal as we patiently waited for our midwife to arrive at our home. Our landlord’s daughter was so gracious to pick her up from the airport and bring her to us. As soon as she made it in, we immediately began a couple of natural induction methods to see if we could get things going. I took a couple drops of blue/black cohosh, a natural herb that helps initiate labor. I also sat and did a few exercises on my birth ball and did some inversions on the couch. I only had a few sporadic contractions that evening, and then it all ceased. In addition to trying to get some contractions going, we wanted to encourage the baby to be in an optimal position for birth.

Thursday came and there was still no activity. We kept track of my water intake, blood pressure, temperature, listened to the baby on the Doppler, and continued the same activities from the day before. I also did a prenatal cardio video that I was consistent with during my pregnancy. I would again have very irregular contractions; nothing we could even take note of, really. Early Friday morning, Meka and I walked a little over a mile on our very rocky pathway to the main road and back. We had to stop a few times because it seemed that I was having more contractions! It was a good sign. We all then got ready to go into the city to have lunch and visit Dr. Perez again so that he could check my fluid levels and make sure the baby had enough cushion around him. I continued to show great levels, and we were given the go again to go home and wait on my body to do its thing. After we got home, I sat on my ball for a little while watching a movie. I began to feel tired and proceeded to take a nap.

Around 5:30pm, a very strong contraction woke me up from my sleep. I called Meka into the room, and we worked through the following few contractions together. I tried to position myself on all four’s on the bed, but it was very uncomfortable. I then performed a series of positions to see what could work for me to bear through the pressure waves I was experiencing. I labored on my left side in the bed for a bit, labored standing on the wall, and labored on our toilet and in the shower until I was ready to get out and try something else. At this time, we all felt it was time to begin filling up the tub to prepare for the birth of my baby. Since the water had cooled down significantly, Blue had to boil water on the stove and pour it into the tub several times. When I walked into our guest bathroom, there were candles lit all around and music playing. He did such a great job with the ambiance! I labored for about 25-35 minutes in the tub, but it was becoming too intense. It felt like I didn’t have any breaks in between contractions like I did earlier on. It was painful. I then began to feel pushy and would do just that when a contraction would come about. I got frustrated when I would push in the tub because I didn’t feel like I was making any progress, and I was beginning to feel a lot of pressure in my bottom. Meka soon suggested that I try sitting on the toilet so that gravity could be an active participate in the process at this point. Although the pain was still intense, I finally felt like things were actually progressing. I grunted, yelled, and pulled on Blue for support with every contraction. I felt the baby’s head right there at the opening. I knew there was no going back now. I pushed and pushed until his head came out. Meka then hurriedly told Blue to pick me up from the toilet so that I could deliver the rest of his body. She said I needed to slow my pushing down at this point before I pushed the body out. I did just that and remember her turning his body inside of me as she guided him out with my last push. The pushing process lasted for about 15-20 minutes, although it felt much longer!

Meka handed my baby to me, and I was in so much shock. Kenzo Blue Hamilton was born at 11:40pm on September 26, 2014. I couldn’t believe I actually did it and he was here with us!! We proceeded to walk to our bedroom and we did skin to skin for about an hour. Blue was able to cut the chewy cord, and then breastfeeding began. He latched on right away!

I couldn’t’ have made it through this process without my awesome hubby and midwife. I didn’t have the water birth like I wanted, but it was still a non-complication home birth nonetheless with a strong and healthy baby as a result and I couldn’t have been happier!!

June 17, 2013

Kassidy Jule Mullis

8.0lbs – 20 ½” long

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On Sunday night, June 16, Father’s Day, I started to feel the first contractions.  They were minor enough that I didn’t realize they were signs of early labor.  We timed a few and decided to give Brenda, our midwife, and Teresa, our doula, a heads up.  They both texted back and let me know to call them overnight if I needed them.  Brenda said to let her know if they got under 5 minutes apart and more than 45 seconds long.  Teresa said to go have a glass of wine and try to get some rest.  (I *love* her!)  I tried to go to sleep, but it just wasn’t working.  Contractions were increasing in strength and were 10-15 minutes apart.

Around 1am, we got up and went out into the den.  They boys had just gotten back from a movie and watched us walk out of the bedroom.  They knew something was up.  I tried sitting on the birth ball and worked through each contraction while Mike timed them.  He had downloaded a labor app.

He then poured a glass of wine for both of us.

After a little while, I knew we were going to need our rest, so we went to bed around 3am.  I was able to sleep for about 1 ½ hour.  So about 4:30am, I started timing again.  The app made it so much easier to time and track the contractions.

I decided since Teresa had just done a birth the night before and had been up until 4am that she needed as much sleep as possible.  So I waited until 7am to call her.

When we talked, I was concerned about her getting caught in Monday morning traffic.  She said she would get dressed, eat some breakfast and then head our way.  Brenda said she would stop by in between her morning and afternoon appointments, around lunch time.  (I was ready to go soon after that call, but she then called me back and said maybe it was too early.)

I talked with Teresa a little bit later and told her the contractions were still irregular, 5-7 minutes apart, but lasting 1-1 ½ minutes.  Both she and Brenda had talked to me while I was having contractions and thought I was fine. (She sounded like she was still in very early labor. She was tired from the lack of sleep but was so in control and calm, we had guessed her as in middle to early labor still.)

We all believed, with me being a first time mom, that it was going to take a while.  Brenda said she would stop by after her morning appointments around lunch time.  Throughout the morning, during contractions, Mike would rub my back and I would try to stretch out my muscles and keep moving.  We had some spaghetti for lunch.  I ate between contractions.

Then Brenda showed up.  She checked me and found that I was 8cm dilated and 95% effaced.  She told Mike to get the pool ready. (Brenda called me and I was only a few minutes away. When I heard how far dilated she was, I was delightfully shocked!)  Until that point, he had been very leisurely getting it ready.  Then he and Jesse (Her step son)  kicked it into high gear.  While they were working on the pool, Teresa showed up and started working with me through the contractions.  About the time they filled the pool with water, Jesse went into his room and I stepped into the water.  The warm water felt so good.  Shortly after getting in, it started raining outside.  We were on my mom’s screened in porch.  The rain was beautiful.  It made for a very peaceful surrounding. (The gardenias were in full bloom so we had the fresh smell of rain with the gardenias flooding our senses!)

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The contractions were getting stronger and they had me start to push.  I pushed for nearly an hour.  At some point, Brenda had me push for a count of 6, take a breath and do it again.  That helped me focus.  After doing that my water broke. After almost an hour of pushing, she began to crown.  They could see her, but I couldn’t feel her head yet.  It was the most intense pushing and effort I had ever had to do.  Funny that now, in writing this, I don’t remember the pain.  I do remember feeling like I just didn’t have it in me to push any longer or any harder.  I remember the encouragement.  They told me this is why it is called “labor”, because it is hard work.  That hit me.  I needed to up it a notch to get her out.  Not just a notch but more than I thought I had in me to give.  I also knew that I did not want to go to the hospital because I hadn’t given it everything I had.  (Every woman hits the wall of great doubt. This was when Jamie needed the most encouragement. Mike was beside her being her strength! We used my rebozo to help her get some extra push support.)

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After a few more rounds of intense pushing, her head was out.  They tried to get me to see her in a mirror, but I just wanted to continue. The next contractions allowed me to push her body out.  Next thing I knew, they were putting her on my chest.  I had a baby girl in my arms!!!!

Brenda checked her and said her breathing was a bit irregular, but that if she could nurse, it would regulate.  So that’s what we did.  She started breastfeeding while we were still in the water.  They let the boys know to come out.  It took a while before I was able to get out of the water.  I still had to push out the placenta. I had no idea that I was going to have to push again.  I was so done, but they helped me through that too. (It was so cool to go and find Mike’s sons in other parts of the house- trying to give Jamie her privacy. They came out to the porch and admired their new baby sister!)

They finally helped me into my mom’s tub.  They had made a sitz bath and I got to sit and soak and they brought Kassidy to join me in the water.   Once we soaked a bit, they helped me to the bed to finish all the procedures, measurements, analysis of her and my sutures.  After all that was done, I just remember lying flat on my back, something I hadn’t been able to do for quite some time and then they brought me food, pizza, mango, etc and some coconut water.  For the first time in months, I didn’t have any reflux.

The rest of that time is a blur.  I recall lying in bed that night with her on my chest and Mike next to me.  Then we moved her to his chest and she slept peacefully on him too.

That night was filled with me waking her up every 2 hours to eat.  It was truly amazing that I had this new little life that needed me and that God had given me everything I needed to provide for her.  This little being that was created from one moment in time because of the love that Mike and I had for each other.  Just more evidence of “passion and patience” (Romans 5:3 MSG)

It was incredible being with this warrior mama. She took our BOLD classes and brought that boldness to her birth. It was also so great when as we talked in the last trimester about the type of birth she desired, she stepped out of her planned hospital birth- where her insurance was limiting her as to who she could go to- and she stepped into her heart and met with home birth midwives in the last month of her pregnancy. Home birth is what felt right to her and she trusted her heart.

September 7, 2013 at 8:21am

It’s become tradition to read the children’s birth story to them on their birthday, and I’d like to share it with you all, again! It dawned on me this time around how many of our friends were involved with this experience.

I’ve always heard “Ask and you shall receive,” but I now know that God truly has a sense of humor! Our son, Solomon, was due on September 6, 2003. That same day, my partner Kenyatta, Solomon’s father, was celebrating his tattoo studio’s 6 year anniversary. A party would take place that evening, full of music, many friends, family, and clientele, and lots of fun. But before the celebration, I was scheduled to get a massage from a friend of ours [Ragenia] who specializes in all types of therapy. She worked on me for almost two hours, and I believe my contractions started in the midst of the massage. Prior to making the appointment, I had a feeling a massage would “get things moving” on the day our son was due.

Afterwards, we arrived to the studio ready to party! A friend [Asali] that I ran into at the beginning of my pregnancy (who highly suggested that I purchase the book Birthing From Within), attended the party that evening, and also made the suggestion that I just enjoy myself and not get caught up in timing my contractions. Boy, what appropriate advice for me! I danced and danced and danced all night to good music that made me feel fine. When my contractions got stronger, I just closed my eyes and swayed back and forth to the music. At about midnight, September 7th, the contractions began to get stronger to the point that I had to sit down. Three girlfriends [ChiWanda, Amamansa and Meredith], which I called my personal doulas, lovingly cared for me; one rubbed my feet, one massaged my hands and the other placed cold cloths around my neck.

With my son’s godmother [Christy] organizing our departure by lining our car with plastic on my seat, Kenyatta and I were off to go…home. I did not realize I was in active labor, so I just wanted to go home and get some rest. Even with my contractions increasing in strength and discomfort, we, in fact, passed the hospital on the way home. Once we arrived to the house, I asked Kenyatta to run a bath with lavender for me (I was hooked on lavender’s aroma during my pregnancy!). Little did I remember from class that to slow down contractions in early labor, you take a bath. In active labor, taking a bath speeds up the process. Again, unbeknownst to me I was in active labor. So ten minutes out of the tub, after closing my eyes for only 10 seconds, I’m on the bed ready to push.

Kenyatta and I immediately performed our co-chanting, a technique we learned from our Birthing In Awareness class, by saying in unison, “OPEN!” It was time! I told Kenyatta to wake my mother and let her know her third grandson was on his way. When she arrived in the room, she said, “Um Kim, I don’t know if we should do this here.” I replied with, “Just let it flow, Mommy. Just let it flow.” My mother left to call the paramedics, but Solomon and I were in no mood to wait. From lying on my side, I instinctively got on all fours and began to push. Three or four good pushes did the trick. Kenyatta was on the phone with Solomon’s godmother and yelled, “I see the head!” Then, in Kimberly “the coordinator” fashion, I yelled, “Get the camera!” I took hold of Solomon’s head and with one final push guided him out. The paramedics arrived a few minutes later.

Now, from a chronological perspective, Kenyatta and I desired natural birth; to welcome our baby into the world without any outside manipulation. A friend of ours [Mika] informed us of a local doula’s classes [Teresa] called Birthing In Awareness (actually based on the suggested book mentioned above). I am 99.9% certain that this 6 week course prepared us for the amazing birth we were to experience. This class was greatly a reminder that if we “let our bodies give birth,” and truly listen to our intuition, we could have the natural childbirth we desired. I believe one of the class exercises specifically prepared us for this awesome birth. We had to create a living birth plan, as opposed to just a written plan for the hospital file. The living birth plan is a collage on poster board, filled with words and images of the things we desired for our birth. This way, regardless who would be on staff at the hospital, from the doctors and nurses to housekeeping personnel, anyone that walked into my room would be able to see what I did and did not want for the birth. But beyond this objective, I believe that by completing the exercise, we were making a special prayer of what our hearts truly desired. Some of the plan’s items read, “Do Not Speak/Offer Medication!” “The pain is strong, but you are STRONGER!” “Negative energy = Step Outside!” Everything we put on our living birth plan, we got…just in a different kind of way. The music, the people, even the lavender was all a part of the experience. More interesting to note is that the same picture of my grandmother, which was the focal point on the poster board, was on the dresser in the room where Solomon was born. Coincidence, I think not!

Because of my birth experience, I am seriously considering becoming a certified doula (a woman that helps another woman). I would love to encourage and assist women to be confident in giving birth and to reassure them that they have all the “internal tools” they need to have the birth they want. I would give birth at home again in a heartbeat, for what better way to guarantee the personal “comforts of home!”

From Solomon's 1st birthday!

From Solomon’s 1st birthday!

Patience was my lesson for both the pregnancy and birth of R; it was a theme that ran the entire nine months and even related to one of the positive affirmations I had affixed to our refrigerator in the weeks leading up to our planned home birth: “I welcome my coming labor and birth as the perfect one for my baby and me.”

Unlike during my pregnancy with first daughter, F. , when I felt I could have happily stayed pregnant for 10 months or more, I felt ready to bring R. into the world. I often told my husband and friends, “I know this [adding a child to the family] has to and is going to happen, so I feel like I’m just ready to get it on!” As my due date approached, my desire to hold my baby outside my body grew and my struggle with patience came to the forefront.

The day before I went into labor I was 39 weeks pregnant. I was supposed to go to Atlanta to spend the day with friends at a coffee shop while F. was in preschool, but I felt really tired so I decided to cancel and stay home. Instead, I took a brisk walk up and down our driveway in a light rain while listening to music and taking some time to meditate on my connection to the baby inside me. Then I took a morning nap until our patio furniture delivery arrived just before lunch. I then spent two hours outside in the sunshine removing the packaging from the furniture, lifting a heavy umbrella into its hole in the table, and just setting things up. I ate lunch, took a shower, and then did a yoga nidra for pregnancy that was sent to me by my doula.

I had told my doula earlier that week that I was struggling with patience and she suggested the yoga nidra practice to me as a way to connect to this baby and this pregnancy before giving birth. I wasn’t familiar with yoga nidra and was confused about why I felt like I was sleeping during the meditation, especially when I had just woken from a nap a couple hours before. It wasn’t until later that I googled yoga nidra and learned that it is a “nap meditation” or “yoga sleep” that puts your brainwaves into a sleep-like state for meditation. I certainly felt that I entered that state during that meditative time before I picked up F.  from school.

Later that evening after dinner I began to notice what I thought were probably Braxton Hicks contractions, although they were a little more uncomfortable than they had been the last couple months. They also seemed to consistently be about five minutes apart. I told my husband, B.  how I was feeling but didn’t make too much of it; in my mind and in all likelihood they could have abated and I could have easily spent another week or two pregnant. I was afraid to guess and be wrong, but I did think we should inflate the birth tub…just in case. So that evening before bed we inflated the tub. I texted my midwife and doula to let them know how I was feeling and to let them know that we would be going to sleep soon after. The contractions did enter my dreams and mildly wake me up during the night until about 1 or 2 am, but then they stopped and I slept through until we woke up with F. at 7 the next morning.

As soon as we woke up the contractions began again. B. decided to go to work and I didn’t encourage him otherwise. I had plans for a good friend of mine to visit with her daughter (who is F.’s  age) and newborn son. I told her I was having uncomfortable Braxton Hicks that I wanted to distract myself from and that I would welcome her company. In the hour it took her to drive up to our home in rural northwest Atlanta, however, the contractions began to change. They were just a little more intense, and a little closer together. Again, I began communicating with my doula and midwife to let them know how things were going. I also gave my mom a heads up that she might have to come pick up F. that day.

My friend arrived at around 10 that morning, and soon after she arrived I was starting to have to breathe and focus through my contractions. At 10:30 I texted again with my doula and midwife to let them know the contractions were lasting about 45 seconds and were about 3.5 minutes apart, and that I was starting to have to cope through them. They began to head my way. I also called my mom to pick up F.  and texted my husband to let him know he should come home. By that point I was fairly certain we were going to have a baby that day!

B. and our wonderful midwife arrived at about 11. My friend and her children left, and soon after the midwife’s apprentice arrived and then my parents arrived and scooped up F  to spend the day with them. The midwife suggested to B. just before F. left that she felt things would probably progress quickly once F. was out of the house. She also suggested he bring the tub upstairs (we set it up in our living room) and begin to fill it. I was open to a water birth, and at least desired to labor in the tub for this birth.

Stephanie Madson birth

Just before noon my doula arrived. I was feeling just a touch “pushy” – but none of the uncontrollable urges to push I felt with F.  The contractions so far had felt intense to some degree but not overwhelming at all; I felt much more mentally present than I had at my first birth. I began to feel like I might cry, and my midwife suggested I was going through transition, but it was hard for me to believe that the mild feelings I felt could be transition. Although my first birth had felt fairly mild until the pushing phase I also felt much more “out of body” that time than I did this. At that point I requested to be checked and my midwife found my cervix to be about 9+ centimeters. A little after 1:30, I began to feel the urge to push, but it still wasn’t that uncontrollable urge I felt with F.  For about an hour and a half I worked on pushing little R. out into the world.

I pushed some in the tub, but then became hot and decided to walk around. I tried different squatting positions around the house and eventually made my way into the tub again. A couple times I felt with my hand to see if I could feel her head but it wasn’t in or really even near the birth canal at all. I began to feel really discouraged. With F., the pushing phase took 30 minutes. At one point, my doula reminded me that it was time to let go of my birth of F. and focus on this birth in all its uniqueness. I began to focus my energy and mind on the new baby inside me and on our experience. Every time my mind began to wander back to my first birth or to flare with impatience, I acknowledged the feeling but then tried to refocus it back to the present. Still, I was discouraged at times. Part of me felt like she would never come and that I just wanted to give up. I was so thankful for the encouragement and support of everyone there.

I loved my midwives’ hands off approach. They were encouraging and always present, but for the most part just allowed the labor and birth process to unfold. But at this point it felt like being in the tub wasn’t working anymore; I felt I needed another suggestion to help bring the baby down, and I asked the midwife for something I could try. She suggested taking some time to push while sitting on the toilet, as that’s often a place that a woman’s body can help a baby come down since we are all so accustomed to opening up and pushing on a toilet already. I went with B.  into the bathroom and the midwives and doula were close by. I pushed through several contractions there and while she still wasn’t in the birth canal I could sense that things were changing. I think I wanted to make sure she wasn’t born on the toilet, so I told B. I wanted to do one more contraction there and then move. As soon as the next contraction ended, I decided I wanted to kneel on the floor at the foot of our bed. Our doula followed us in there, and as my pushing sounds began to change my midwife quickly joined her; she knew the baby was coming soon.

Pushing, once again, was the hardest part of labor for me, this time both because of my lesson with patience and also because it’s such an intense feeling for me. Some women describe pushing as a relief and the best part of labor for them; I am in the opposite camp. As she entered the birth canal I could again feel so vividly that feeling that I can only describe as something akin to bone against bone; although her head is designed to mold its way through the birth canal the intensity of it is almost unbelievable to me. I screamed that she was coming, and I began to scream, “Help.” I’m not sure what I thought anyone could do! In fact, B (who was my constant, loving supporter and companion through this entire process) asked me how he could help and I think I shrieked back, “I don’t know! Just touch me!” So he pressed his hand against me as she came down through me, and then he positioned his hands below my body and prepared to catch his baby girl as she came into the world.

“Her head is RIGHT here, sweetie!” he said. Those words were so encouraging to me. “I have her head!”

Another push, two, and she was out, into his hands, covered in vernix. Her cord was looped loosely around her shoulders, which probably had something to do with her slow descent. Everyone helped me sit down so I was sitting back against Bill’s legs and I pulled her up against my chest. A towel was laid over us. Little R. started rooting and sucking on her hand right away, so I nursed her even before the placenta was delivered. After the placenta came out, the midwife helped us into a beautiful “celebration bath” full of flowers. She and B took pictures as I sat floating the baby atop the warm water. Then B held the baby while I showered, and we all crawled into bed.

Stephanie Madson birth2

The midwives did a thorough exam on me and on the baby. She was 7 pounds, 10 ounces, 19.5 inches long, and perfectly healthy. A couple hours after she was born, the midwives left us to settle in with our new daughter. They came back for another exam the next day, did a phone check-up three days later, and another exam at one week postpartum. We weren’t without the postpartum support we needed, and our daughter’s birth was treated as the safe, joyous event that it was.

B and I marveled at how calm we felt about our home birth. I was considered a very low risk patient and we were aware of the risks of both hospital and home birth. For us, choosing a home birth was what we believed was the safest option for us and our baby, and now we see what a low-anxiety, spiritual, joyous experience it can truly be. I would never suggest home birth for every woman, but for many women it is a safe option for birth. For us, it was the option that made the most sense and is one we would choose again. Regardless of the location – hospital for F or home for R – I believe my soul mate and I enter the birth experience as if it is a spiritual practice we share with each other, and I believe that’s an experience you can achieve no matter where your story unfolds, if you seek it.

This is something we hear all the time! It is amazing how many women have no idea how many options for birth are out there. Often they sit with me or attend our Meet and Greet and tell me they had no idea that they could choose things like a water birth, a breech birth, twins unmedicated and vaginal, a non induced birth if they go past 40 weeks, VBACs and more. It is amazing to me that we have tried to get the word out but somehow have missed getting it fully out there.

I love that Dr. Brad Bootstaylor, one of the founders for Atlanta Birth Center, says that a good provider will offer you options that are available even if they are not options that are offered where that provider services. Often times women will tell me that they will ask their care provider about things like water birth and midwifery care and the reply is that they do not offer that. And that ends the conversation for many.

Women must educate themselves about their options. We can not rely on our main stream doctors to provide non main stream services. Women must do their own searches for what they want- the internet- their friends- books and magazines.

Here is a great blog radio link to Marsden Wagner speaks on Genna Kirby’s radio station on informed consent. He discussed induction as being one of the most invasive and dangerous things that happen to pregnant women. 40% induction and over 30% cesaerans are way too high and carry huge risks. marsden wagner md

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/progressive…

Dr.Marsden Wagner will be our very special guest on Progressive Parenting. We will be discussing the safety of home birth, and informed choice. He spent 15 years Director, Womens and Childrens Health, World Health Organization

Take responsibility- read- research- listen- watch videos like the Business of Being Born and Orgasmic Birth. Have the birth you desire by taking back your birth! Hire a midwife! Hire a doula! Take non hospital provided classes!

 

Did you know that each state government sets up the regulations for that state’s birth centers? If you do not like something a birth center can or cannot offer, take it up with the state with whom they are regulated. Every state is different. Let’s see what the State of Georgia has to say about the regulation of our soon to be Atlanta Birth Center. So realizing that these regulations are what dictates certain things at the birth center and not the actual birth center deciding these things will help us in knowing what needs changing- the law of the state. Now special certificates and considerations can be submitted to the state to change the regulations- and I am sure that the Atlanta Birth Center will do all they can do to include as many women as possible. But I wanted to share what the law states now in Georgia. Here is the link- I have only commented on a few of the regulations:

http://rules.sos.state.ga.us/cgi-bin/page.cgi?g=DEPARTMENT_OF_HUMAN_SERVICES%2FPUBLIC_HEALTH%2FBIRTH_CENTERS%2Findex.html&d=1

290-5-41-.01 Definitions.

It must have an administrator:   “Administrator” means the individual who is responsible for the day to day management of the center.

It is not a hospital:   “Birth Center”, “Birthing Center” or “Center” means a facility, other than the laboring woman’s legal residence, which admits persons for the purpose of childbearing and which facility has not been classified and licensed by the Department as a hospital.

It has birth rooms:   “Birth Room” means any room within a center which is provided as an area where births take place.

And it has to have CNMs not lay midwives or CPM- certified professional midwives but actual nurse midwives that are registered and licensed by the state and ACNM:   “Certified Nurse Midwife” means an individual who is a Registered Nurse currently licensed in the State of Georgia and who is also certified by the American College of Nurse Midwives.

They cannot offer anything other than local anesthesia- so no epidurals or general anesthetic can be used:    “Local Anesthesia” means any drug which, when administered, provides localized temporary loss of sensation, but not accompanied by a state of unconsciousness.

And you must be a low risk patient. So the state then goes on to state what a low risk patient actually is:   “Low Risk Patient” means an individual who:

  1. is in general good health with uncomplicated prenatal course;
  2.  is participating in an ongoing prenatal care and education program;
  3. has no major medical problems;
  4. has no significant signs or symptoms of hypertension, toxemia, hydramnios, abruptio placenta, chorioamnionitis, malformed fetus, multiple gestation, intrauterine growth  retardation, fetal meconium, fetal distress, alcoholism, or drug addiction, Rh or other blood group antigen sensitization;
  5.  has no history of fetal wastage or premature delivery;
  6.  has no previous significant obstetrical complications likely to recur, nor previous
  7. uterine wall surgery or Cesarean section; (you read that right- no VBACs can be done here)
  8.  has parity under six unless a justification for a variation is documented by clinical staff;
  9.  is not a nullipara of greater than thirty six years of age; (That means if it is your first baby you have to be 36 years old or younger!)
  10.  is not less than sixteen years of age at onset of pregnancy;
  11.  is appropriate for a setting where anesthesia is limited to local infiltration of the perineum, or a pudendal block, and analgesia is limited;
  12.  while in active labor:(i) demonstrates no significant signs, or symptoms, or evidence of anemia, significant hypertension, placenta previa, malpositioned fetus or breech; (so no breech babies can be born here) (ii) is progressing normally; (iii) is without prolonged ruptured membranes; and (iv) is not in premature labor. (so it is up to the midwives I am guessing as to when a labor is no longer progressing normally or what is considered prolonged rupture of membranes)
  13.  is not postmature.( again- is this after 42 weeks?)

290-5-41-.07 Transfer and Transport Capability.

So, they must have an agreement with a hospital and lab:   Each birth center shall have a written agreement with a hospital(s) which is licensed to provide obstetrical services, for emergency care. Each physician practicing in the birth center shall have admitting privileges at the back-up hospital.   Each birth center shall have a written agreement with the emergency back-up hospital for acceptance and examination of laboratory specimens to expedite treatment, prior to formal admission procedures.

And they cannot be more than 30 minutes away from that hospital:   The center shall have the capability to transfer and transport the adult and/or newborn patients to the contract hospital within thirty (30) minutes of initiation of transfer procedure to the arrival on the obstetric/newborn service of the hospital. Documentation of each transfer shall be maintained by the center to substantiate to the Department that it has met this requirement.

And they will be contracted with a local ambulance service:   The center shall have a written contract with a licensed ambulance service which will assure timely response.

290-5-41-.06 Organization and Administration

Here’s that administrator’s role again:   The center shall be at all times under the personal and daily supervision and control of the administrator (or a designated representative) whose authority, duties and responsibilities shall be defined in writing. This information shall be available to the Department on request.

OPEN 24/7:  The center shall be available for occupancy 24 hours per day, with professional staff on call at all times.

Low risk women of any diversity will be welcomed:   Criteria for admission to the center shall be clearly identified in the center’s policies. The admission policy shall be submitted with the application for licensure. At a minimum, admission criteria shall include a provision that only low-risk patients will be admitted and that there will be no discrimination according to race.

You must have had prenatal care based on their policies:   Admissions to the center shall be restricted to low-risk patients who have received antepartum care in accordance with the facility’s policies. The center’s policies and procedures regarding management of complications shall be explained by a staff physician or certified nurse midwife.

You must only stay 24 hours:    The mother and newborn shall be discharged within twenty-four (24) hours after delivery, in a condition which will not endanger the well-being of either the mother or newborn, or shall be transferred to a licensed hospital. The mother and newborn will be discharged in the care of another responsible adult who will assist in their transport from the birth center.

The medical director must be an MD or DO- got to be a doctor!:   The center shall have a medical director who is a physician, designated by the governing body, who shall be responsible for the direction and coordination of all professional aspects of the center’s program.

290 5-41-.08 Professional Services.

You care will be a midwife, doctor and other professional staff member: All intrapartal services shall be under the direct supervision of a physician or a certified nurse midwife. At least one other member of the professional staff shall also be present at each delivery.

So the PKU, erythromycin, etc will be offered there and these policies will have a pediatrician involved: The center shall have written policies and procedures to ensure (a) metabolic screening of all newborns within one week of age, (b) assessment of newborn status, including Apgar score at one and five minutes, (c) prevention of eye infection, (d) umbilical cord care, and (e) periodic observation and assessment after birth until the infant’s condition is stable. These policies shall be developed in consultation with a pediatrician.

Rhogam will be available: Policies, procedures and facilities shall be provided for proper collection, storage and laboratory testing of cord blood for necessary studies on Rh Negative and O Positive mothers and a supply of Rhogam or other appropriate treatment material shall be readily available for use when needed.

A doctor will examine your baby before you go home: Prior to discharge, each newborn shall be examined by a physician.

290-5-41-.14 Anesthesia.

If you decide you need an epidural then you are transported to a hospital: General or regional anesthesia shall not be utilized in a birth center. Local or pudendal anesthesia is permitted.