Tag Archives: labor

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.


Posted by on November 21, 2012 in Births


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The Lion Effect

Extremely insightful look at the effects of fear and other emotions on active labor.

Mumanu: the new way to sleep

Humans, like any other animal who is preyed on, are sensitive to certain stimuli getting their adrenalin levels rising ready to fight or run and sometimes to freeze. I call this ‘The Lion Effect’; when in times of stress or perceived stress a person will get themselves ready for danger to protect themselves or their young for survival.

Not that long ago, in terms of natural history, us westerners were living in caves as tribes. There are many human populations who still live this way where medical care is scarce and the danger of being killed by wild animals or people from other tribes is a reality. The ability to respond to perceived danger is vital and we have, along with other animals, developed a way to respond that means we don’t have to think too much about it; it’s automatic.

Our modern day, western society hasn’t actually changed this…

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Posted by on November 21, 2012 in Interesting tidbits, Perspectives


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40 Weeks? Still No Labor? 5 Natural Methods To Get Things Going!

My cousin, who is on the very last leg of her fourth pregnancy – a few days shy of her due date! – sent me a message today asking about how to encourage labor naturally.  So I thought I would write a post about it so everyone who is curious on this subject can check it out.  As a precaution, don’t try any of these recommendations unless you are at your due date, unless you’ve consulted your doctor/midwife first!

1. Sex!  I know this is the very last thing on your minds as you approach 40 weeks, but this is a tried and true method amongst midwives.  When you have an orgasm, those contractions can lead to your body starting labor.  Also, semen contains prostaglandins. which work to help ripen and soften the cervix, thus preparing it to dilate.  It also helps stimulate contractions.  Studies have also shown that ingesting semen orally may be even more effective, as it is absorbed much better by the gut than vaginally.  Please note: don’t insert anything into your vaginal canal after your water has broken!  This can increase risk of infection!  Don’t do it!  Also, applying warm compresses to your breasts and stimulating your nipples may also be effective in getting labor going, by releasing oxytocin into your bloodstream.

2. Cook up (or order in) some spicy food! Hot, spicy foods such as vindaloo curry, hot wings, etc. can help stimulate contractions as well!  This works by causing spasms in your intestines, which are very close to your uterus at the end of pregnancy, and can trick your uterus into also contracting. 

3. Visualize and Relax. Get comfy somewhere- like in bed or in a nice warm bath- and visualize our cervix opening.  This is truly the key to induction, because the more tense and anxious you are, the more time your body may take to prepare itself.  I’ve also heard that watching birth videos helps with the visualization process.  Try to choose one that is calm and relaxed, though, as opposed to a long, painful labor. 

4. Take a nice, brisk walk.  I’m sure many of you have heard this tip from your doctors/midwives.  That’s because it works, and helps your baby get into optimal position for delivery.  Other movement is great, too!  Try putting on some nice relaxing music and dancing slowly with your partner.  The more you sway your hips, the better!  You’ll loosen them up for labor.  Really, any gentle movement is helpful.

5. Drink some cumin tea.  This technique is traditional amongst the Latino midwife community.  Mix 1Tablespoon of cumin seed into 1 cup of boiling water, and drop in a 1/2 inch raw potato cube (this helps with the bitterness).  Feel free to also add sugar or honey to taste.   Allow to steep five minutes before drinking, and do not drink more than 1 cup per day. 


Now, I’m not going to guarantee that any of these will work.  Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is that your baby will come when he or she damn well pleases!  These solutions have been known to work in some women, but it may just be a psychological effect of the whole process.  Either way, I’ve only listed the things that are not going to be harmful to you or your baby.  There are some other techniques, which I will list below, which can be uncomfortable and possibly dangerous.  I do NOT recommend them.

Blue Cohosh: Supposed to be very effective, but studies have linked it to infant heart attack.  Yikes!

Castor Oil: Also very effective, but also works as a strong laxative, causing diarrhea, cramping, and dehydration in many people.  None of those three things are desirable during labor!

Evening Primrose Oil: Taken orally, this one is fine.  But many people insert the gel capsule into the vaginal canal, which can cause infection.  Use caution.

DO NOT use any of the above three induction techniques without speaking to your doctor/midwife first!!  If they say it is OK, and you are comfortable with the negative side effects, then go ahead.  otherwise, don’t risk it!

Well, I hope these techniques are fruitful for all you impatient mommas out there!  If you have any other techniques you would like to add to this list, comment below and tell us how it worked/is working for you!  Happy laboring!

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Posted by on March 8, 2012 in How To


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Maternidad La Luz!!

The Maternidad La Luz Birth Center

So this weekend, I had the amazing privilege of joining the students and midwives at MLL for a 24 hour shift.  It was one of the most extraordinary experiences of my life, and has definitely strengthened my resolve and excitement to become a midwife!  So here’s how my day went…

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

7:40am: I arrive at MLL, 20 minutes early.  Most of the girls from the previous shift are still asleep, except for two who were very kind and welcoming.  As the previous shift began waking up, the women who would be on with me began filtering in, and soon the kitchen was bustling with activity. Everyone seemed very excited to have me at the clinic, and couldn’t wait for me to see my first birth.  I also met Anna, who I felt I spent the most time with during the day.

8:00am: Everyone joins hands in circle, and Friday’s shift tells the new shift that there is one woman in labor whose water broke at 9:00 the night before, and the clock is ticking until 3:00pm when, by Texas law, they will have to transport her to the hospital if she hasn’t reached 4cm.  Also, another woman, Nancy, had come for a labor check the night before and is expected to return today.  We finish circle, and the new shift takes over.  Almost immediately, Nancy returns to the clinic in active labor and Anna and I scramble to make sure the Rose Room is all set for labor!

8:30am: Nancy is set up with her birth team in the Rose Room, and I shadow Anna at a “cita”, which is what MLL calls their prenatal, postnatal, and well-woman care appointments.  We are quickly interrupted and informed that Nancy will be giving birth soon, and that Anna is needed and I should definitely watch.  We turn the cita over to another student and join the others in the Rose Room.

9:00am: Nancy welcomes her adorable little boy, Alan Mateo, into the world peacefully and beautifully, and just like that I’ve witnessed my first birth!!  I definitely got a little misty-eyed, because it really was just so wonderful.

10:00am: Now I’m following Rowan, another of the students, as she sees citas.  I learned so much from following her, but I honestly couldn’t even begin to list it all!  She was truly wonderful to me, and to the expectant mamas she saw while I was shadowing her!

12:45pm: I stopped for lunch, and was able to talk to Trisha and Ilana, two of the staff midwives, which was a real treat.  They were very informative, and also were able to tell me more about what it’s truly like to be a midwife.  Trisha also started teasing me because every time she saw me, I was eating!  I tried to eat snacks throughout the day to keep my energy up and my blood pumping.

After this, time gets a little hazy, because I wasn’t looking at the clock much, until we were done for the day.  So I’m just going to talk about everything!

After Lunch: I began shadowing Anna again, and got to see a couple of postnatal citas with her!  There was a beautiful young woman, 16!, who came in with her 1 week old little boy…I swear this girl looked like she had never even given birth, she looked so great!  Amazing what a young body can do.  Anyways, she was just glowing, and so obviously in love with her little boy that I was very surprised when I found out her age.  I would have guessed maybe 19.  I also got to hold the baby, which was magical!  He was crying, and his mama had to go to the restroom, and the second he was in my arms he quieted and fell asleep.  So heartwarming!!  Anyways, she and her baby checked out great, although he had been slow to regain his birth weight, and she went home, to return in the next couple days for her 12-day checkup.  Next, Anna went to go do a pap, and I helped the girls clean the room that the mama who had been in labor all night had been in.  I never actually found out whether she gave birth or was transferred.  I was too busy!

After that, I rejoined Anna for another postnatal, this time with a mama who was one day postpartum, who hadn’t been eating and was worried she didn’t have enough milk for her baby.  She got very dizzy when we first brought her back to the exam room, and we had her cousin go and get something for her to eat.  She seemed a little depressed, but baby looked beautiful!  Mama finally got some food in her belly, and Anna began examining them both.  As she was examining the baby, however, his respiration seemed very fast, and when she checked his temp he ran a 102.7!  She ran and grabbed Ilana and Trisha, and they got the baby out of his clothes (it was unusually warm that day).  After a minute, everything started to come back normal, but it was quite a little scare!  We also observed her latch, and they were connecting beautifully.  No problems there, except that it seemed a bit overwhelming to mama.  She was instructed to return the next day and eat as much healthy food as possible so her milk will be rich and nutritious for her baby.

8:00pm: Things started slowing down around 8.  Everyone was tired from the long day, and trying to finish “listing”, which is their cleaning and restocking routine.  After that, delicious food smells began filling the kitchen as everyone began making themselves dinner.  I snacked more, had some soup, and had some of this amazing squash dish that Adela made (I think Adela made it, at least).  Yum.  After dinner, one of the girls, Emmy, put on her brazilian butt workout tape!  I was too self conscious/exhausted to do it, but everyone else joined in and had fun.  I kind of felt like a debbie downer since I didn’t want to participate, but I really don’t think I would have made it through my long night if I had done it!

9:00pm: Everyone starts turning in.  I opt to stay on the couch downstairs with Adela (sooo glad I did now, even though I was reluctant at first), and she and I finish her listing and lay down around 10:30.  It’s hard to fall asleep, since we’re in charge of answering the phone and the door for the night!  We manage to drift off sometime after that.

12:30am-ish: Adela and I don’t hear the doorbell!!!  We fail to wake up, but thankfully it was another of the student midwives, and not a client who was in labor.  We don’t sleep very well after that.

2:00am: The doorbell rings again, and this time we hear it!  It’s a mama in labor!!  Adela and I do the labor check together (which is where we check how quickly labor is progressing, and how active labor is).  Yesenia is doing wonderfully, and have contractions which are moderately strong, lasting 30-55 seconds each, and are a couple minutes apart.  We wake Ilana to have her do the internal check (mama is 4cm!), and we keep her for two-hour observation and set her up in the Purple Room.  Adela and I provide labor support through back massage and encouraging words (this is where I really found out my spanish is actually pretty good).  We teach her husband how to do the back technique, and Yesenia labors on. It’s a pretty strong labor, and she’s in quite a bit of pain, but can still hold conversation between contractions and walk around.  I’m kind of dazed at this point, and kind of hesitant since I’ve never done something like this before.  Adela said I did great, but I think the only one who deserves credit is Yesenia!

4:35am: We do our hourly FHR (fetal heart rate) check, and the little guy is doing great.  Now that the two-hour observation is up, we wake Ilana again and have her do another check.  Mama is at six centimeters!   At this point, we wake up Nily, whose birth team will be overseeing Yesenia’s birth, so Adela can go back to sleep in case we get another mama in before 8 am!  Nily teaches me some more amazing labor support, and she and I help Yesenia try out different positions to ease her pain.  We believe the cause is that her cervical lip is more pronounced in the front than the back, and positions where mama is bent over at the waist tend to ease that, and help the cervix open up more.  So we help her lean over the birthing ball, and Nily teaches Daddy some more techniques to help Yesenia relax.  We start breathing with her to try to help her remember how important it is, and gently remind her to “Sopla, sopla” every few minutes.  Yesenia is a total champ.

6:15am: Mama says she is ready to push!  We wake Ilana, again, for the go ahead, and she reassures mama that if she’s feeling the urge to push, she is welcome to.  Yesenia seems to be gathering her strength, and drinks gatorade and becomes quieter.

7:00am: Yesenia’s contractions are becoming quite strong, and Trisha wakes up and comes in to do another internal check.  Mama is at 10cm, and so is given the all clear to get that baby out!  The birth team is woken up and come down to help.  Side note:  At this point, Yesenia’s water still hasn’t broken!  We can see it every time she pushes, and it kind of seems to freak her husband out a little.

7:30am: Yesenia’s water finally breaks (and almost douses Ilana, it goes so far!), and soon after her baby boy is born!!  During the last few moments, her eyes kept locking with mine, and it was so incredible to be part of her experience.  I definitely cried with this one, although there was also a huge smile on my face!!  I think it was fate that she came in when she did, because I was so lucky to participate in her labor from beginning to end.  Truly a remarkable experience.  Alexander Fabian was born healthy and happy, although his umbilical cord was a tad short and wouldn’t let mama hold him to her breast until the placenta passed and it was cut.  Mama didn’t suffer any tears to her perineum, and she and her hubby were so happy.  I left the room shortly after to let them all bond together.

8:00am: shift ends the way it started, with circle.  I thanked everyone for allowing me to be a part of such an amazing day, and for sharing their knowledge and experiences with me.  Afterwards, I individually thanked Anna, Rowan, Adela, Trisha, Ilana, and all the other women who were part of my day there.  I was so incredibly touched by them in those 24 hours.  My last memory before I leave is walking past the purple room, and the door is cracked, and Yesenia is holding Alexander and her husband is on the bed with them.  They look up and smile at me and wave as I walk past.

So again, to everyone who was there for the shift I was a part of, thank you so much for your warmth, kindness, and awesomeness during my stay with you!!  I can not WAIT to return and become your sisters.  To those of you who will graduate before I can come back, I hope I will see you from time to time, as well.  I know for sure, without a trace of doubt, now that this is exactly how I want to spend my life.  I’m sure the things I experienced this weekend, especially Yesenia’s magical labor and birth, will stay with me for the rest of my life.  I can’t wait for September!!!

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Posted by on January 9, 2012 in Births, My Story


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