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Happy 2013! Here’s to new beginnings!


Well, looks like I’ve gone and left the blog unattended again!  So sorry about that, everyone.  Life has been amazing and busy since my last post.  Between prenatals, the holidays, starting my classes, and two births on the day after Christmas (!), I haven’t had any time to write things down!  I began my classes at the Midwive’s College of Utah yesterday, and am so excited to be learning more every day about pregnancy, birth, and babies.

On December 26, 2012, I woke up in Tucson to a phone call from Diane down in Bisbee telling me to get my tush back down there because both Alyssa and Teresa were in labor!  What a welcome and surprising Christmas present, since Teresa wasn’t due for another couple days and Alyssa a couple weeks!  Alyssa was the first to have her baby, at around 3:00 pm.  A little girl named Talia, born at home in the water.  Alyssa was in such a great labor daze, completely oblivious to everything but her baby and her birth.  Right after little Talia was out, I rushed over to the Birth Center to check on Teresa, who was about 5 cm dilated at the time, and spent the afternoon and evening with her as she worked to bring a little boy, Rafael, into the world.  She was such a fabulous pusher, bearing down effectively with every push.  Awesome to see.

Teresa and little Rafael enjoy some bonding time after the birth.

Teresa and little Rafael enjoy some bonding time after the birth.

It was so enlightening to see two births in one day.  It really allowed me to see how different two labors can be.  Where Alyssa just squeezed our hands, Teresa used her husband and myself to pull herself up and engage her entire body with each contraction.  Where Teresa didn’t particularly care for being in the water, Alyssa reveled in it.

Now we are waiting on another three moms who are due this month and could go into labor at any moment!  I’m gaining so much knowledge and experience with every birth, and love this profession more and more every day.  My New Year’s Resolution?  Help as many moms as I can to have happy, healthy, informed births in the coming year.  Cheers!

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2013 in Births, My Story

 

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The Birth of Stephanie Michelle


Tonight, Gentle Birth Services was blessed with another healthy baby!  Minerva had her last prenatal exam on November 19th at 9:00am, and she was due the next day.  We went ahead and gave her Diane’s homeopathic labor stimulation formula (you can get it here, it is extremely effective!) to get things moving along, and less than twelve hours after her prenatal ended, she was back and having contractions.  Diane encouraged her to get some rest, and Minerva slept through the night and labored gently throughout the morning and early afternoon.  Here’s how the rest of the day progressed:

3:15 pm: I arrived early for the 4:00 prenatal Diane & I had scheduled, and got settled in for the afternoon.  Minerva was walking around and the contractions were starting to become more regular and closer together.  She then tried squatting on the birth stool, which must have felt wonderful because she ended up spending most of the afternoon on it!  Diane arrived soon after, and proceeded to check the progress of the labor.  She found that Minerva was already 6 centimeters dilated!  After this, we had our prenatal with our other expectant mother, then both went home to eat dinner and let Minerva relax.

5:30 pm: I arrive back at the birth center, where Minerva has begun to experience intense back labor.  I show her a few comfort measures, including this great version of a double hip squeeze which uses a scarf.  You stand in front of the laboring mother, wrap the scarf around her hipbones, cross it in front, and pull back and apart.  Check out this great video showing how it’s done.

7:10 pm: Diane arrived back at the birth center just as Minerva was beginning to feel labor intensify, and we checked her again.  Diane found her to be 8 centimeters dilated, and Diane gave Minerva belladonna, a homeopathic remedy which helps make the transition portion of labor easier on mom.  Pretty soon after this, we filled up the tub and let Minerva relax in there for a while.  After 30 minutes or so, we made a ginger tea and added it to the water to help mom be less likely to tear.

8:20 pm: Minerva was still experiencing back labor, and I was trying some other comfort measures.  We got her on her knees leaning her elbows on the side of the tub for a while, a position which helps take that pressure off the back.  Soon after, Minerva commented that she believed her water had broken, and Diane thought it might be true but couldn’t be sure.

9:00 pm: Minerva tired of the tub, and needed to use the restroom.  She was becoming weak, and I helped support her as she walked.  Afterwards, Diane checked her again and found that her water had not broken, as Minerva had thought. Minerva decided to stay in bed and Diane and I went to take a rest in the other room.

11:00 pm: Minerva hadn’t made much progress and her contractions seemed to be weakening and spacing further apart.  Because we were worried that Minerva would lose her strength, Diane suggested she could take some Tylenol PM and try to sleep and regain her strength.  Minerva wanted to continue laboring, though, and right afterwards her water broke!  So at 11:10 pm, she began to push.  Between pushes, I applied washcloths soaked in the ginger tea to her opening to prevent tearing.

November 21st

12:00 am: Pushing didn’t seem to be making things progress the way we expected, and Diane and I could tell that Minerva was losing her strength rapidly.  But thankfully, Minerva’s contractions become more powerful and effective soon after this.  She was experiencing a lot of pain at this point, and grasped my arm very tightly with each push.

12:15 am: Stephanie Michelle is born!  She poops almost immediately, all over poor Minerva’s leg, but is so cute it doesn’t matter.  She weighs 6 pounds, 7 ounces, and has a full head of thick, dark hair.  With the birth, all of Minerva’s water from the bag of waters gushes out – there is a ton of it!  The placenta follows quickly, and we get mom and baby cleaned up and tucked into bed. Everyone, especially Minerva, is exhausted, and Diane and I head home ourselves after checking to make sure her uterus is contracting as it should.

Minerva and Stephanie bond soon after birth.

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2012 in Births

 

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Deaths During Home Births vs. Hospital Births News Coverage: WTF?


This afternoon, I was talking to someone about home birth and midwifery, and they brought up a very interesting point.  They CONSTANTLY hear about home birth deaths, but they’ve never seen a news story about a mother or baby dying in the hospital.  There wasn’t a whole lot I could say about it, because truthfully, I haven’t seen any coverage of maternal or infant mortality in hospitals in the mainstream media, ever.  All I see related to the subject are broad statistics.

Why is it that when I search hospital birth death cases, the first few results are about HOME BIRTH DEATHS?!  Then the rest of the results are just lawyers who want to represent you in cases against hospitals, and one result about a hospital who got sued after mortality resulted from a birth there.  It’s kind of appalling.  It’s not like women and their babies don’t die in the hospital during and after birth.  It’s not like the interventions taken during a hospital birth never result in death of mother or child.  THEY DO!  I don’t want to scare anyone.  Please remember that birth anywhere carries great risk, but with well-educated, trained medical professionals present those risks are much less likely to result in Mom or Baby dying.  And midwives who are trained properly fall under that ‘medical professionals’ category.

I think it is supremely unjust that such high weight is put on home birth deaths.  The top result from that search for hospital deaths earlier?  Check it out here.  She died of cardiac arrest the day after giving birth.  Something that would have happened anyways if she had given birth in a hospital or even a birth center.  And 24 hours after birth, if she had done it naturally in the hospital, there’s a good chance she would have been at home already anyways.  This complication is exceedingly rare in childbirth, and isn’t something that would have been easily caught even if she were in a hospital setting.  And yet the article is titled “Death After Home Birth Raises Questions.”  I feel like it’s pure propaganda.  It makes me sick.  It also makes me fear for my future profession.  With such propaganda flowing freely around otherwise reputable news sources, how in the world am I supposed to find patients who will trust me to do the job I will be extremely well qualified for?!

Here’s the truth: We are all only human.  Both hospitals and midwives do sometimes make mistakes.  Bearing children carries risks.  Midwives and doctors alike do everything in their power not to miss anything.  We are all trained to recognize symptoms and treat them as quickly as possible.  While a hospital IS a better place to be if you show signs of those risks (which usually can be seen far before labor begins), unforeseen circumstances such as a postpartum heart attack or hemorrhaging can happen long after you would be discharged from the hospital anyways.  Every woman has a different comfort zone when it comes to where they give birth.  And that is perfectly fine.  But I urge EVERY woman to do as much research about alternatives to hospital birth as possible, and try to see past the vast array of propaganda.  Birthing at home (WITH A QUALIFIED MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL ON HAND) isn’t any more dangerous than birthing in a hospital.  Be careful when you look at statistics, and remember that the home birth stats almost always include unattended home births where the mother has not sought any type of medical care, which is reckless and extremely dangerous.  Example of one such study here.

Yeah.  I just went on a full-fledged rant.  Sorry about that!  But it is true.  There is a ton of propaganda out there against home birth that is just not true.  And it makes my heart hurt for women out there who end up going through traumatic births at the hospital because they weren’t properly educated on what home birth and natural birth really mean and what risks they truly carry.  I also feel bad that no one tells them that a hospital birth is just as filled with risk and just as likely to produce infant or maternal mortality.  It’s sad, but ladies please remember: it’s your job to educate yourselves about your options in childbirth.  And it’s a long process.  Don’t be ignorant just because the media is biased.  Use your noggins.  Do the research.  Do what is best for you, whether it’s hospital, home birth, or birth center.  Only you know which environment is best for yourself.

Anyone have personal stories related to this post they’d like to share?  Midwives who weren’t properly trained, doctors who didn’t explain all the risks, etc?  Share below!

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2012 in Rants

 

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Too Posh To Push? Then Don’t Get Pregnant.


Cesarean sections are a hot-button topic for me, and when someone has one electively and plans it months in advance it makes me so angry at them.  I have nothing against C-sections when they are used for the purpose they were designed for – to save a baby who is in distress during labor – but otherwise the practice completely repulses me.  These days, you hear supporters of women’s rights, feminists, celebrities, and plenty of other women going on about how we are strong, and we can do anything.  But I call BS on it.

There are very few women who consider themselves to be strong enough to take the childbearing plunge without the help of drugs or scalpels.  And for some reason, everyone sees it as normal, and safe.  News flash, ladies: a cesarean section is a highly invasive surgery with many possible complications and a long recovery time.  We, as women, are willing to put up with that (and with a cranky newborn in the house no less!), but why?  Every woman has her reasons.  Some are completely justified: if you have an STD that could potentially be passed to your baby, a c-section may be a good option.  Others are not: if you are scared of your hoo-ha being stretched and not returning to it’s previous tightness, a c-section is just selfish.  But women tell themselves it’s for the baby’s health, that they won’t get their heads misshapen by going through the birth canal, that the baby is breech and couldn’t possibly travel through the birth canal safely that way, that it takes less time to have a c-section.

For a list of things women tell themselves (and apparently women’s WEBSITES tell women), check out this horrifying slideshow from iVillage.  Please read the whole thing, then read what I have to say about it.  I had a lot of issues with this article, so I want to address each of the excuses presented in it.  They made a lot of false claims and claims that aren’t supported by good evidence.  So here’s the real story:

1. You’ll Know Exactly When Your Baby Will Arrive.  So having a baby makes your life a little unpredictable for a few months at the end there.  The reason there’s not an EXACT amount of time every baby spends in the womb is that every baby needs a slightly different amount of time to get ready to join the rest of us out here.  Just like they develop at different rates after being born, babies may fluctuate in the amount of time necessary before being born.  Scheduling your c-section may deprive your baby of the extra week he or she needed to develop fully. That can cause all sorts of complications, such as minor social and learning disabilities and difficulty breathing when first born, among many other things.  Is it really worth knowing the exact day and time you’ll meet your child if the consequences last a lifetime?

2. Your Baby Will Be Camera Ready. This is a dumb excuse.  Babies were meant to travel the birth canal.  That’s why their heads are soft, so they can fit.  It’s not bad for them, so the only reason this excuse is valid is cosmetic.  And are you really that shallow?  Also, even if the baby’s head comes out a little squished, it returns to normal adorable roundness after a few days.

3. Operating Rooms Have Gotten Cozier. There is nothing cozy about an operating room.  People die in operating rooms, and yes, that is a risk of cesarean section.  And yeah, your partner can stay with you now!  They can stay during vaginal birth, too.  Many doctors skim over the risks of a cesarean section, which is totally unfair to the woman going through the procedure.  Here’s a link to check out the risks yourself.  It’s not a pretty picture.

4. You Get A Little More Privacy.  Yeah, you don’t have 6 people staring at your hoo-ha. You do have someone’s hands buried inside your internal organs, though!  It’s silly to be self-concious about people seeing your intimate parts during labor – they’re all professionals, unless you’re at a teaching hospital where they let students watch, and even then you can tell those students to get out.  That’s your right as a patient.  If privacy is what you seek, though, think about looking into a birth center or even a home birth – us midwives try to be very discreet during birth, and are more open to having less people in the room if it makes you uncomfortable.

5. Extra Hospital Time Has It’s Perks. Really, who likes being in a hospital?  The food is horrible, your partner can’t stay the night with you (unless he’s willing to take on a very uncomfortable couch and/or chair), and you are in recovery from major surgery, meaning you will probably be on pain meds and have a more difficult time bonding with your baby and breastfeeding.  The reason you’re required to stay longer for a c-section is because you literally would not be able to care for yourself or your newborn in the first couple days without a support staff.  Vaginal births get to go home faster because they are already feeling like they can get up and do things, not to mention take care of their own baby.  And if you have a vaginal birth and don’t feel 100% after you go home, that’s what your PERSONAL support team is there for.  You just had a baby!!  You are the queen.  Ask your husband to take on a few extra things like cooking and cleaning while you’re recovering.  Ask some good friends and family if they want to come see the baby, and when they ask if there’s anything they can do to make your life easier when they come to check out the little ball of joy, don’t lie!  Let them know you’re too tired to stand at the sink and do dishes.  Tell them you’re craving a home-cooked meal but baby starts crying as soon as you set him down.  I guarantee that they will be all too happy to help – if they can hold the baby for a few minutes! 😉

6. You Get Treated Like A Queen. This should be a given whether you get sliced open or not.  After a c-section, you will almost definitely be unable to perform simple daily tasks.  After vaginal delivery, you can do what you’re comfortable with, and see my response to number 5 for the things you don’t want to do.

7. Everyone Will Take Your Pain Seriously.  You really do need painkillers after surgery.  If you have a c-section, take them.  However, you aren’t prescribed prescription painkillers after natural birth because you don’t need them, and they can interfere with the care of your newborn.  Are you really going to pick up your baby while you’re on Vicodin?  Some people would call that irresponsible.  Yes, you can have pain after natural birth.  It’s a given.  But those remedies that doctors recommend, such as warm compresses and sitz baths, are usually plenty to ease the discomfort.  And when they’re not, you can always call your doctor and ask what else you can do, or consult a naturopath who may have natural remedies that will eliminate your pain.

8. You’ll Get Extra Help With Breastfeeding. Whether or not you have a c-section, there are always options for getting help with breastfeeding.  Most cities have lots of support groups, if the problems you’re experiencing aren’t serious, and lactation consultants you can hire by the hour for more difficult cases.  They’re probably less expensive than the thousands you’re going to spend if you stay extra time in the hospital.  Also, the claim about the drugs here is wrong.  If you are given Percocet, Morphine, Oxycodone, or Vicodin, these can certainly be transmitted to your breast milk and do harm to your baby.  Most doctors will tell you it’s ok to take them, but there haven’t been many studies on the actual long term effects of these drugs on newborn children. There are theories that they can effect their ability to learn later in life, that they can make babies more susceptible to drug and/or alcohol addiction later in life, and even that it could cause minor social and learning disabilities.  None of these have been proven, yet, but correlations have been noted.

9. Everything Will Be The Same Down There. If you do your research, you’ll find that there are many ways to return your vagina to awesomeness after natural birth.  First of all, DON’T let the doctors slice open your perineum during birth.  Episiostomies aren’t necessary if you employ perineal massage before and during labor.  That muscle will never heal to the way it was if it’s sliced.  If it tears, it will heal properly but will take time.  I’ve seen two births so far, both pretty large baby boys, delivered naturally.  With massage, there was zero tearing for both women.  I’m not saying you will magically regain your previous vagina.  It takes work.  You have to be willing to do kegels and squats (squats strengthen your pelvic floor), and you have to accept that it will be a little wonky for about six months.  But your vagina is meant to have a baby pass through it, and it does eventually return to normal.  Many mothers actually report better sex after their vagina has fully healed.  This book may be of some help to you if you want that old sex life back after baby!  It’s also good if you’ve been having trouble with “leaking”.

10. You May Actually Like Your Scar.  Really?  Yes, it’s a visual representations of the life you created.  So is the actual baby.  Most women who have c-section scars are self-concious about them.  It can be difficult to come to terms with having a line across your stomach forever.  If you have to have a c-section for health reasons, then yes, the scar is something you can be proud of, because you went to great lengths for the health of your baby.  If you have a c-section because you’re scared of natural birth, it’s just a reminder of your cowardice.  If you have a c-section because a slippery slope of interventions put you there at doctors orders, it can actually be a reminder of a very traumatic, scary experience.  It’s generally hard for women to feel good about their scar, though.

11. You’ll Embrace Your Inner Tough Chick. I can name something harder than caring for a newborn.  Birthing said newborn naturally.  You want to be a tough chick?  Go through 3 – 48 hours of excruciating contractions and pop a bowling ball out of yourself- without painkillers.  Caring for a newborn while recovering from surgery is NOT a good situation.  And it lasts a lot longer than natural birth.  it takes 4-6 weeks to fully recover from c-section if there are no complications, much longer if you get an infection or another complication arises.  4 – 6 weeks of terrible pain while attempting to care for a bawling, screaming, breastfeeding baby sounds like a much more sadistic kind of hell than natural birth, in my opinion.

12. You Can Probably Try For Vaginal Childbirth Next Time. THIS is true.  And should be very much taken to heart!  If you have your heart set on natural childbirth for your next baby after a c-section, but can’t find an obstetrician willing to attend, seek out your city’s birth centers and midwives.  VBAC is possible!!!  Never lose hope in it.

13. You’ll Be Putting Your Baby’s Safety First.  This is total propaganda against vaginal birth.  C-section poses a much higher risk of complications.  The American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology published a study which concludes: “A planned cesarean delivery doubled both the rate of transfer to the neonatal inten- sive care unit and the risk for pulmonary disorders, compared with a planned vaginal delivery.”  How is this safer for the baby?  And the higher c-section rate hasn’t created a drop in infant mortality rates, either.

All in all, this article really struck a nerve for me.  Women should be provided the whole story in articles such as these.  Yes, vaginal birth is difficult!  There’s no argument from me here.  But Cesarean delivery has its own difficulties, and I personally think the risks outweigh the benefits unless there is a good reason behind the choice.  I’ll do a post sometime in the near future about the acceptable medical reasons for cesarean section, but it’s going to require a lot of research so it gets its own post.  For now, remember that you are a woman, and you are strong, and your vagina was built for having babies.  Don’t forget it.  And before you go to the hospital, for vaginal or cesarean birth, do your research on c-section.  Educate yourself about the risks, and good reasons a doctor can give you for a c-section.  Sadly, some doctors will recommend a c-section to a laboring mother simply because they’re going to be late to dinner.  They’ll give you an explanation which sounds reasonable, but if you’ve educated yourself you’ll be able to tell if there really is a problem or not.  I hope this is helpful to women who are on the fence.  It’s a very tough decision, and has a lot of implications.  I hope that I can prevent at least a couple women from making a decision they may regret.

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2012 in Rants

 

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