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Filtering by Tag: home birth

Tips for a Successful VBAC

Chelsea Gonzales

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There once was a time when mothers were told they would never have a successful vaginal birth after having a cesarean. Fortunately, times have changed, and more and more mothers are making the choice to give it a try. After all, if it can be carried out safely, a vaginal birth is almost always the best option in terms of a mother’s comfort, recovery times, mother/child bonding, and so much more.

If you are considering having a VBAC, you may be wondering what you can do to increase the chances of a successful birth experience. Here are my top tips.

Build a Strong Birth Team

First and foremost, you will need to have a good, strong birth team. This is one of the most important steps you can take, as an unsupportive birth team will be discouraging at best.

Be sure to pick a primary care provider who is willing to attend a VBAC birth. If you are birthing away from home, the hospital or birth center your care provider is associated with must also be okay with your choice. Ensure you trust your midwife or OB completely. If you feel at all uncomfortable or concerned with your care provider, make a switch. Even if your feelings are apparently unwarranted, feeling comfortable during labor and delivery is imperative to a successful VBAC.

In addition to a good doctor or midwife, you will also want to hire a doula. A doula will help ensure you are as comfortable as possible throughout labor, and may even make the process move more quickly. Additionally, a doula can help you work through any fears that may arise.

Go Natural

Inductions, epidurals, and other interventions increase the likelihood of a c-section. Considering this is the very thing you are wanting to avoid, you will also want to avoid intervention as much as possible, letting nature take its course throughout the birthing process.

While this make take more time and patience, and while it might require seeking out natural pain management options, it's so worth the end result.

Educate Yourself

Confidence plays an enormous role in the success of any birth. The more confident you are, the more likely you are to be successful.

This is probably due in part to the fact that the more confident women tend to be the more educated women. Therefore, these individuals have a good understanding of their bodies, leading to less fear. They are also better able to make educated decisions throughout labor, meaning they're less likely to be pushed into doing things they don't want to do.

For this reason, it is highly recommended that all pregnant women—and especially those wishing to experience a VBAC—do everything they can to boost their confidence and educate themselves. The best ways to go about this include attending quality childbirth classes and reading as much as possible. Finding books about VBAC specifically can be especially helpful.

Banish Fears

Another step toward confidence that every potential VBAC mother must take is banishing fears. Traumatizing birth experiences stick with us and tend to fester, growing into paralyzing fears. These fears are strong—so strong in fact that they can stall labor, something that can lead to interventions.

Fortunately, you have the power to banish these fears. Find a therapist to help you work through your unwanted thoughts, hire a doula to help in case these fears surface during labor, and repeat uplifting and inspirational mantras to yourself throughout your pregnancy and your labor.

Many women also find it helpful to hang posters or flags with inspirational messages throughout their home and birth space.

Expect a VBAC, Prepare for a Cesarean

In some cases, it just isn't possible for a mother to have a VBAC safely. Because of this, it is always best to go in expecting the best but prepared for the worst.

What does this mean for you? Here is what I suggest:

  •  Know where to go — If you're delivering at home or in a birth center, know in advance where you'll be transferred should the need arise.Prepare for postpartum — Obviously, you'll want meals planned and help in place no matter how your birth goes. However, having extra assistance lined up in case of a c-section is a smart move.
  • Speak with your care provider — Ask your doctor any questions you have about what will happen should you need a cesarean. Have a midwife? Find out what her typical procedure is in these cases.
  • Create a birth plan — You've probably already thought about your birth plan should you have a vaginal delivery, but have you considered what you'd like in the case of surgery? Think about it, write it down, and make sure your birth team knows your plan.

Following these tips is not a guarantee of anything. They will, however, help you achieve your dream. Why not get started today?

 

How Affirmations Help Laboring Women

Chelsea Gonzales

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In recent years, birth affirmations have become more and more popular. Many people wonder how on earth a woman could expect a simple phrase to help them through the enormously difficult task of giving birth. While this doubt is understandable, those who think this way fail to see just how powerful words can be.

You see, birth affirmations give a woman power. They do this by changing her mindset and giving her a new, positive outlook. With that positive outlook, she can do amazing things. This is because her new mindset allows her to do three things.

 #1: Find Confidence

All too often women are told that they cannot accomplish things on their own. This message is beaten into us again and again, sometimes leaving women feeling incapable of doing anything on their own.

This lack of confidence makes it difficult for a new mama to trust her body to do what it was built to do. Because of this, she will make decisions based on the idea that she can’t birth her baby on her own, and may even subconsciously prevent her body from laboring freely due to her lack of confidence that it will do what it is meant to do.

Birth affirmations that are read and internalized before and during labor help restore a woman’s confidence in her body and in herself. This makes it much easier for the mother to let go and allow her body to do the work it was made to do.

 #2: Push Negativity Aside

Those women who have made the decision to trust their bodies to birth their babies will often run into negativity from others. These people will say things to make the mama second guess her decision and will often associate negative feelings with birth.

Mothers must be prepared for these comments and able to push them aside knowing they are only a result of what society and negative experiences with the mainstream birthing experience have taught these individuals. A confident woman is usually able to do this without issue. However, positive affirmations that have been instilled in her throughout pregnancy will also help her keep her mind on positive thoughts and push the negativity away.

 #3: Gain Focus

Finally, positive affirmations can help a laboring mother gain focus during particularly difficult parts of her labor experience. If a mama finds that her mind is wandering or that negative thoughts are distracting her, she can use the affirmations that are deeply ingrained in her mind to gain focus once again.

Some women even find it helpful to chant their affirmations in order to remain focused on positive thoughts as they bring their babies into the world.

Find Your Affirmations

If you are pregnant currently, I highly recommend you find a few positive affirmations that speak to you personally and begin incorporating them into your daily life.

Hang copies of your affirmations on the bathroom mirror, make a bookmark that displays a favorite affirmation, and/or say your affirmations to yourself each and every day. By finding the words that inspire and encourage you, you will be more likely to successfully reach your child birth goals.

Below are a few of my favorite affirmations:

 “I trust in my ability to birth my baby”

“I have complete confidence that my body is working perfectly.”

“I am relaxed and calm.”

“She believed she could, so she did.”

If you are looking for someone to help you have your ideal birth experience, I would love to chat with you. As a birth doula, giving new mamas a positive birth is what I do best, and I would be honored to help you bring your little one into this world.

Preparing for the Athletic Event of Giving Birth

Chelsea Gonzales

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Giving birth is hard work. In fact, many people compare the task to taking part in a huge athletic event. Therefore, it only makes sense to prepare for giving birth in the same way you might prepare for a marathon or something equally physically challenging.

Unfortunately, many women fail to realize this fact and end up with a body that is ill prepared for this difficult task. Of course, they are generally able to power through, and these women truly aren’t doing anything wrong. After all, it isn’t their fault nobody communicated this fact to them.

However, when you know better you do better. I hope after reading this article you know better, and I hope you feel more knowledgeable about the best way to prepare your body for the hard work it is about to do.

Hydrate

All athletes make a conscious effort to stay hydrated both before and during events they choose to attend. It is one of the most important things a person can do when using large amounts of energy.

Considering the fact that birth requires enormous amounts of energy, you will want to be sure you stay well hydrated throughout your pregnancy and during labor. Dehydration is a serious threat during the birthing process, and one you definitely don't want to contend with. 

Eat Well

You’ve probably heard plenty of people claim that pregnant women can eat whatever they like due to their pregnancy. “They’re eating for two” is a common excuse, and cravings frequently take the blame. While it is okay to treat yourself sometimes, the truth of the matter is that eating right during pregnancy is far more important than curbing cravings.

Keep in mind that your body is growing another human. Not only that, but it is going to give birth in a few short months. Therefore, it is crucial that you give your body the right kind of fuel in order to ensure it is in top-notch condition for the task. A marathon runner wouldn’t have ice cream for dinner, and neither should you.

Stretch

Every big athletic event begins with stretching. Stretching helps improve your range of motion and avoid injury. It is a wonderful way to wake your body up before the big event and make sure you are as flexible as necessary for the impending task.

Just as the athlete makes a point of stretching regularly, so should you. Attending a pregnancy yoga class is a great way to go about this, but stretching at home can be just as effective. Just be sure you know what’s safe and what’s not when it comes to the various stretches out there.

Exercise

We all know that a professional tennis player doesn’t head to a big match without first practicing for countless hours. They prepare for months beforehand by practicing their game and using various cross-training methods.

This is a great example of what a pregnant woman should be doing in the months leading up to her baby’s arrival. Of course, her exercise and training can’t and won’t be as intense as that of a professional tennis player, but she should definitely be focused on getting in plenty of exercise through walking, swimming, or anything else her care provider approves. Additionally, exercises such a kegels should be practiced regularly in preparation for the event.

Rest

Last, but certainly not least, is rest. In order for a person’s body to perform well, it has to be given plenty of rest. In fact, a number of professional athletes claim that their 8–10 hours of sleep each night contribute greatly to their successes.

Why should the body of a pregnant woman require any less sleep? Be sure you get plenty of rest during your pregnancy in order to allow your body a good amount of energy during the birthing process.

By paying attention to diet, exercise, and the amount of rest you are getting, you can ensure your body is in tip-top shape for the upcoming athletic event it is about to experience. This will help ensure you have the experience you desire and make the whole process a bit easier on your entire body.

5 Reasons to Hire a Birth Photographer

Chelsea Gonzales

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Every new mama wants to have a wonderful birth experience. For this reason, many modern women put a lot of work into preparing for what they picture to be an ideal birth: They type up birth plans, carefully select a primary caregiver, and even hire doulas.

That said, photography is one aspect of birth preparation overlooked by many women. This is unfortunate because the birth of a new baby is such a special time, and certainly deserves to be captured in photographs.

Still, an enormous number of mothers neglect to hire a professional photographer to be present during labor and delivery. For some women this is because they simply don’t think of taking pictures, and for others it’s because they believe the photographer will make them feel uncomfortable or because they plan to have their partner take some pictures. Either way, these women are missing out on something incredibly special.

Here are my the top five reasons I believe all mothers should hire a birth photographer.

#1: Capture Memories

Many memorable things will likely happen during your labor and delivery. From peals of laughter and tears of pain during your labor to the first seconds after your child’s birth, there are bound to be magical things to look back on. However, thanks to hormones and just plain sleepiness, many of these happenings will be barely remembered or even forgotten when all is said and done.

Therefore, it is important to have a photographer standing by to capture those memories on film—and/or in digital form—and ensure they will not be lost to time.

#2: See a Different Point of View

Nobody can be everywhere. This means that everyone will have a slightly different way of remembering your child’s birth. By having a professional photograph the event, you will have the rare opportunity to see this amazing experience from a variety of viewpoints, giving you a peek at what was going on in the minds of your birth team and loved ones as you brought your precious little one into the world.

#3: Free Up the Family

Many women skip the photographer because they believe they can simply hand a camera to a nearby family member and ask them to snap some photos. However, this really isn’t fair to the family member in question, who would likely prefer watching the event happen rather than worry about fumbling with a camera. Additionally, a bystander is likely to become wrapped up in the events of the day and forget to photograph altogether, leaving you with an empty photo album after baby comes home. 

#4: Sit Back and Relax

Laboring women have enough on their minds without adding any worries about who is taking pictures and what they are taking pictures of. Because a professional birth photographer is so skilled at what they do, you can relax knowing they have it all taken care of. This frees up your mind to focus on what you should be thinking about: giving birth.

#5: Enjoy Amazing Quality

Let’s face it, the quality offered by a smartphone camera pales in comparison to the quality a professional camera will give you. Additionally, a professionally shot photo is almost always superior to a picture that was framed and shot by an amateur. By hiring a professional photographer, you can count on well-framed, well-shot photos that were made using the best equipment. This results in high-quality images that you will treasure for years to come.

Considering these five benefits of hiring a photographer to be at your birth, I’d say it’s pretty clear that a birth photographer is an excellent addition to any birth team. Along with your primary care provider, your doula, and your closest family and friends, your photographer can help ensure you have a wonderful birth experience you will remember forever.

The differences between a Birth Doula and a Midwife Assistant

Megan Jennings

Every expectant mother must assemble a birth team. Building a strong birth team with professionals who respect your birthing wishes is a very important part of ensuring you have a satisfactory birth experience. Unfortunately, many mamas-to-be don’t fully understand the role of each member on a birth team, and this makes choosing the right team members difficult, to say the least. 

One of the biggest sources of confusion is the difference between a doula and a midwife’s assistant. Lacking the definition of each can lead to a confusing situation for new mothers as they try to navigate the world of care providers and birth plans. 

In this article we are going to explore the role of each respective care provider in order to give you a strong foundation of knowledge when choosing your team. 

Doula

In short, a doula attends a birth in order to support the laboring mama. She is excellent at anticipating the personal needs of a birthing woman, and does her best to tend to those needs. This might involve making sure the new mother is eating or drinking throughout labor, or offering her support in whatever position makes her comfortable. It could also entail using oils or massages in order to help her client relax. 

While a doula will have a large amount of knowledge about the female anatomy and the birthing process, she will never administer medical care of any kind. Instead, she remains by the laboring mother’s side as much as possible and makes her as content as possible. 

Another part of a doula’s job includes helping the new mother and father to advocate for themselves throughout the labor and delivery of their child. This is especially important if the labor is to take place in a hospital setting or if complications should arise. 

Most doulas are on call 24/7, and will arrive to offer labor support as soon as a woman feels she needs it. A doula generally brings a collection of supplies with her, which may include a birth ball, a rebozo (a scarf used for a variety of purposes during labor), essential oils, massage oil, and a variety of other tools for keeping mama comfortable and happy. 

Midwife’s Assistant

On the other hand, a midwife’s assistant attends a birth in order to help the midwife do her job. While she may offer the new mother some support and words of encouragement, this is not her number one priority. Instead, she is present to help the midwife with anything and everything she might need an extra set of hands for. 

Unlike a doula, a midwife’s assistant does administer some basic medical care. Therefore, she must have a very good understanding of the female anatomy and the labor and delivery process. 

A midwife’s assistant might perform such tasks as watching the mother’s vital signs and monitoring fetal heart tones. She is also given the tasks of assisting with any medical management (if needed), assisting with charting, providing immediate postpartum care to mom and baby, and performing a variety of other jobs that arise throughout the labor and delivery process. 

Because her job is so varied, a midwife’s assistant must be very in-tune with her surroundings and anticipate the midwife’s needs as often as possible. This will help the midwife stay on task throughout the delivery, as everything she needs will be prepared for her. 

The majority of midwife’s assistants are on call 24/7, but many will not arrive until later in the laboring process. The supplies found in a midwife’s assistant’s bag might include a fetal Doppler, a stethoscope, an infant scale, and record-taking supplies. 

Overlap

While doulas and midwife’s assistants do offer two different kinds of services, there is occasionally some overlap in their job descriptions. For instance, many doulas offer breastfeeding support after baby is born. Likewise, many midwife’s assistants offer support in this area as well.

Other areas of overlap could include:

Offering the laboring mother support.

Helping with post-birth cleanup.

Assisting with skin-to-skin.

Conclusion

Although there is a bit of overlap between the roles of these two types of caregivers, they do both offer their own unique services.

Therefore, if your birth will be attended by a midwife, it is generally a good idea to consider having both a doula and a midwife’s assistant attend your birth as well. However, if you are planning a hospital birth with an OB, a midwife’s assistant is not necessary, but a doula is a definite must.

10 questions you should ask when writing your birth plan.

Megan Jennings

 

Your birth plan is a great way to communicate your wishes to your birth team, but it can be hard to decide what your wishes are. Here’s a check list of a few questions you need to ask yourself while making your birth plan and a few sources for finding answers

___ Will you have a labor coach? Will your main support be your husband? Will you have a doula?

___ Who do you want or don't you want in the delivery room? 

___ Will you have a birth photographer? Does the hospital allow you to take photos?

___ Do you want anything special in the room, like a labor playlist on your iPod, oil diffuser, led candles, your own pillow and blanket?

___ Would you like to get out of bed during labor?

___ Do you want a drug-free birth? Why? Make sure you and your care provider are on the same page.

___ At what point or under what circumstances would your Doctor perform a C-section? Are you at a higher risk of needing a C-section, and is there anything you can do to avoid having one?

___ How often and in what situations does your Doctor do episiotomies? If you feel strongly about avoiding one, ask how you can prevent tearing when pushing.

___ Do you want Dad to cut the umbilical cord? Will you bank the cord blood or allow the cord to finish pulsing before cutting it? Would you prefer a cord burning ceremony if you’re birthing at home?

___ If it's a boy, will you have him circumcised? Why?

Here is a couple of great sources to help you find answers to these questions and more: 

Evidence Based Birth, their mission is in their name. They want you to have research you can rely on to make important decisions regarding your birth and child.

American Pregnancy Association has a great article on epidurals and the pros and cons of getting one, along with a plethora of other topics.

Sometimes this process can be a bit overwhelming and you may feel like you need a bit of guidance. This is why I offer prenatal birth plan consulting. For more information click here

5 Reasons why you need to write a birth plan!

Megan Jennings

A birth plan is a good way to find out what your wishes are for your birth. The most important thing about making a list of your preferences is it forces you to do some research about what you might want and possible outcomes based on those choices. When you base your preferences on solid evidence, your preferences will be more likely to be respected by your care provider. Here’s 5 reasons why a birth plan is a good idea.

1. It is a clear and concise way to communicate your wishes to your birth staff. Your nurse will appreciate a easy to read one page document listing out what you expect.

2. Making a birth plan requires self education and research. Knowledge is power. You have a lot of decisions to make as a parent starting as soon as you find out you're pregnant, it’s important to make those decisions based on evidence based information, when its available.

3. While researching for your birth plan, you can get a good idea of what to expect in labor.

4. Your birthing staff will know what you want in the event that things don’t go according to plan. If you end up with an unplanned c-section, what does that look like for you? Would you like skin to skin in the OR? If you are under general anesthesia who do you want to care for your baby until you wake up? 

5. Writing your birth plan is a good way to get your partner involved and open communication between you to make joint decisions about your birth. This is your parters birth too and he needs to feel safe and heard and a lot of times dads don't know what to expect or how many decisions need to be made. It’s also important for you to show him why something may be so important to you so he can fully support you when the time comes. Writing your birth plan together is a great way to get the conversation started.

 

Having a birth plan doesn't guarantee that you will have “the perfect birth”, but having a birth plan can help you when you need to make important decisions. You have already done some self education about possible outcomes, opened communication between you and your partner and your care providers. 

What is a Doula and why do you need one?

Megan Jennings

Welcome to the first ever Birthy Stuff podcast! In todays podcast Lauren, of Sparrow Song Birth Services, and I discuss the what a doula actually does and why you might consider hiring a doula for your birth. Lauren is a fellow Oklahoma Doula. When she is not busy with birth work she is busy homeschooling her three children and being an awesome wife and friend.