Tag Archives: natural birth

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 Home Birth of Jacob Daniel

The Home Birth of Jacob Daniel

Jacob Daniel meets mom Lynise, Dad Dan, and Sister Ashleigh for the first time.

On November 15, I was planning on having a nice, relaxing day, maybe reading a book, watching a movie. But a little baby had another thing in mind. While I was sleeping early that morning, Lynise began having contractions. By 8 am, she knew it was time to get in touch with Diane and I. I arrived at Lynise’s house at 10:30, and she was up and around, having contractions approximately every 3-6 minutes. They were pretty mild, and when checked was only 3 cm dilated. So we knew we had some time. We kept checking the baby’s heart rate every hour (I got to do it a couple times myself!), and at 2:30 she had opened up to 6cm. Things were progressing very nicely.

As the afternoon passed, Lynise’s contractions began getting stronger, and though Diane and I thought she might give birth before nightfall, the sun set and she was still not fully dilated, but getting closer at 8 cm. So we went ahead and filled up the tub and Lynise climbed on in. After relaxing for about an hour, Lynise was pretty much completely dilated, except for a small cervical lip, and her contractions began to get more intense. Her husband, Dan, got involved, employing some massage techniques and being very supportive (way to go Dad!), and after a few more contractions the baby began descending. She really concentrated, and even at the end her contractions were pretty short. At one point, Lynise thought she may have torn, but luckily hadn’t. At 7:38 pm, Jacob was born! He actually did this really interesting turn mid-birth, after his head was already out, flipping from face down to face up.

Jacob was born in the water, and immediately put on mom’s chest to bond and relax. Dad and young sister Ashleigh were enthralled by the new 6 pound, 14 ounce addition to their family, although Ashleigh was a little miffed that everyone was paying attention to Jacob and not her! After that, the placenta was born smoothly and intact and Jacob was introduced to his grandparents, and soon Diane and I were ready to pack up and leave mom and dad with their little ones.

I was in a total state of euphoria at this point. Jacob’s birth was my very first home birth and it was just a beautiful and relaxed as I imagined it would be. Even though I slept poorly the night before, I couldn’t imagine being tired after such an overwhelming and wonderful experience. Apparently baby Jacob felt the same way, because when we went back the next morning for the one day checkup, mom and Jacob hadn’t gotten much rest. It was then that we measured him (19 inches!), administered Vitamin K, and checked to make sure he was fully developed and healthy, which he of course was.

We just went back again today to see mom and Jacob, and I have to say he is so cute! I don’t have pictures yet, but I’ll be getting some from Diane soon! I’m more excited than ever to be pursuing this path, and can’t wait for the next birth! We have another mom due tomorrow, so we could be called at any moment. Here’s hoping it’s sooner rather than later!

UPDATE: Picture has been added to this post!

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Posted by on November 19, 2012 in Births, My Story


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The Journey Officially Begins

First of all, I need to apologize for the spottiness of this blog over the past year.  I should have kept up with it better, but I have to admit, most of the past year I’ve felt like I wasn’t making much progress towards my goals.  It was difficult for me to motivate myself to write when I felt like I was treading water.  Luckily, that time is now over.  I am elated to announce that I have not only found a midwife to apprentice with who is talented and awesome, but I have also officially begun my apprenticeship!  I finally feel like I’m getting somewhere, learning and doing what I need to to realize my dreams.  It’s all very exciting!

I’ve been trying to find a midwife who I would like to apprentice to for months now.  It’s very important when committing to a preceptor that you find someone who you get along with very well, since you will be shadowing them and learning from them for years.  I have been picky.  I was actually ready to move to Los Angeles and try to find someone there because of how disenchanted I was with the midwives in Tucson. Then, fate stepped in and I, by random chance, got in touch with Diane Gregg, the “goddess of Bisbee”, who has been attending births for 35 years!  She began her career in a very different way than I am, as a Labor & Delivery nurse in a hospital.  There, she was involves in around 2000 births, but realized that she would be happier as a midwife in her own practice,  So, she became certified as a midwife in Arizona in 1987, and has since been the primary midwife at about 600 births.  She’s also into homeopathy, which I find to be fascinating, and uses it with her clients every day.

After I found Diane, I commuted between Tucson and Bisbee a lot.  It’s a 2 hour drive, though, and so i began searching for a place to rent down here.  A week and a half ago, I moved into a house in the Warren neighborhood of Bisbee, and adjusting has been difficult.  I love the birth center, and actually got to attend a home birth on the 15th (I’ll be dedicating a post to that later), but it’s kind of lonely here.  I don’t really know anyone, and while I’ve met a bunch of people, it’s weird being away from my parents and my close friends.  I accidentally locked myself out of my house a couple nights ago, and I had a moment of panic when I realized there was no one I could call for help.  Luckily, I had left the window in the kitchen open, and with some maneuvering was able to get back inside.  I hid my spare key right after that.

Not having someone to turn to that night was really scary, but it made me feel so independent to be able to solve the problem on my own.  While the new found feeling of self-sufficiency is great, it doesn’t help with the lonely factor, however.  So I’ve been working hard at making new friends and settling into the Bisbee lifestyle.  There’s this great live music venue here, the Bisbee Royale, and I’ve been able to attend three concerts there already.  There, I met the Bisbee belly dance tribe, which led to me joining them.  I’ve also been turning to dating sites to help me meet people in the area who I can hang out with – who knew dating sites were also a great place to find friends?

I’m so excited to finally be on my path to midwifery, and can’t wait to share more of my experiences here in Bisbee with you all.  Keep an eye out for the post I’ll be doing tomorrow or Tuesday about Lynise’s home birth!  It was perfect and amazing.  Here’s to a new chapter in the story of my life!

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Posted by on November 18, 2012 in My Story


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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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A Very Interesting Article

Journal Article Review – Bipedalism and Parturition: An Evolutionary Imperative for Cesarean Delivery?.

Today, courtesy of The Navelgazing Midwife on Facebook, I found this piece on bipedalism and birth as something that makes birth dangerous to “both the mother and her young”.  As someone who has studied human evolution on a college level, I found this article fascinating.  There were so many things I saw that were untrue, or didn’t account for the pelvis size changing as the birthing mother changes positions.  I think the results of the study reviewed here are complete BS.  As midwives have noticed for many generations, mothers who give birth calmly and peacefully and let their baby go at his or her own pace, so long as he is not in distress, are usually quite successful.  They experience much less pain than a woman who is terrified in a hospital surrounded by OBs who want to slice her open and who make her feel like a bad mother when she doesn’t want interventions.  Hopefully in the coming years more research will be done which is unbiased.  I believe, in an unbiased study, natural, unhurried birth would be found to be the safest, least traumatic way to have a baby.  It’s true that sometimes things do go wrong, and we are lucky that in those cases women can turn to OBs and find the help they need.   Most species of mammals have the same issues we do with birth- stillborns, miscarriages, mutations.  We’re lucky we’re the only species who is able to help in those situations.  Stillbirth can be avoided in certain circumstances via cesarean.  Miscarriages after 20 weeks can be cared for in ICU and can survive.  Mutations can be rectified through plastic surgery, prosthetics, etc.  We are lucky to have these innovations at our fingertips.  But obstetricians need to stop seeing birth as an unnatural process.  Just because sometimes problems are encountered during birth doesn’t mean women who don’t encounter problems should be treated like they will at any moment.  We are powerful, ladies!!  Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

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Posted by on January 5, 2012 in Perspectives, Rants


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