journaling the maternal experience

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at a recent appointment with our midwives i discussed trying to find the balance between being connected to this birth and being controlling. with darla’s birth i believed that everything would be ok and all would be well, as nature intended. well, that’s actually a pretty good way to head into your first birth since things did end up pretty well. but i don’t feel like i really connected to my pregnancy with her ahead of time. i feel much more spiritually involved with this little one. however, i’m also feeling more aware of the possibilities of things that *could* go wrong and i’m having a harder time disconnecting from those thoughts. that ignorant bliss goes right out the window with naiveté once you’ve been doing birthwork for a while. it’s given me a lot of empathy for medical professionals given the fact that the majority of the births i’ve seen have been peaceful and natural.

so i decided journaling the rest of this pregnancy would be a good thing for me. i feel i’ve been involved with this pregnancy at a more heightened level and i need to make sure that continues to come from a good place and not a place of fear. because i do believe this natural act my body, baby and self are to perform in a few months will be lovely and healthy. i might just need a place to write that down daily as a reminder. and i believe that when actions are motivated by fear then they secondarily become motivated by control. i don’t need to control this life event. i need to experience it. i need to cling firmly to the faith that all will be normal, healthy and safe, as intended.

i have a few other things i’ve been practicing and/or plan on incorporating into birth prep that i’ll share here in time.  because having faith in the process doesn’t absolve me from doing work on my end to nourish my body, mind and baby. please stay tuned for future pregnancy work updates!

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the doula spotlight

hello good peoples,

this post is part of an ongoing series called the doula spotlight. my goal is to interview doulas around the country to highlight some of the good things birth workers are doing for our birthing mothers. each week we’ll be answering 3 different questions about doula life. i’m really excited to start this series and share the wisdom of these women with you.

i’d like to introduce my first west coast doula. Katie Hamilton has the distinction of being the first doula to buy one of my birth work t-shirts, other than myself! we connected through a mutual friend and now I’m honored to host her as my first left coast interviewee. Katie offers her support as Mama Nurture Birth Services in Los Angeles and the South Bay area. I present the doula wisdom of Katie Hamilton:

katiebabybellyKatie & her own beautiful baby belly

1. how long have you been a doula and what made you pursue doulahood?

At the age of 15, I finally got the news that I would have a sibling. I was involved right from the get go. From helping with the baby registry, to attending the Lamaze classes…I was there. I remember falling asleep on the vinyl couch in the hospital waiting room while doing my algebra homework. I was called in the room during pushing and got to experience the miracle of birth. Upon arriving home, I walked around the house reading the infamous “What to expect…” book to my mom. I was probably the rare teen that knew what meconium was, clipped my sisters fingernails, and knew what developmental stage we would be approaching next. To this day I sometimes refer to her as my “first baby”. I remember announcing then that I wanted to be a midwife. I didn’t end up becoming one but always looked forward to becoming a mother myself. I had my first daughter at the hospital with the midwives. Despite a good outcome and the normal, unmedicated birth that I wanted…I wasn’t completely satisfied with my experience. I begged the nurse to get in the shower, and was refused. In fact I was one of those unusual cases where I dilated from 2 to 10 in 2 hours and had they had sent me home like they wanted to I would have ended up having the baby out of the hospital. I had to be my own advocate when really I just wanted the staff to be my side, honor my instincts that told me exactly what I needed to birth my baby. I was a square peg in a round hole because I didn’t get the epidural that would make my labor more predictable and manageable. At last my midwife appeared (it was 3am), and insisted they open a room for me and allow me to use the shower. Well, within an hour and a half I was nursing my baby.

After that medicalized birth experience, I did my research, and decided that home birth would be the best option for me. I was the most incredible experience I could have ever hoped for. My home was my sanctuary. I had my favorite foods, my favorite flowers, positive affirmations to pause and look at on my walls, a warm tub, my little girl eagerly awaiting her sister, a supportive husband, and trusted midwives. My daughter was born peacefully in the water with her big sister by her side.

As a La Leche League leader leading mother to mother breastfeeding support groups in our area, I am always hearing birth stories and connecting with other new moms. I found myself loving to support them and at the same time feeling like I wanted to do and know more. I learned about the wonderful Ana Paula Markel and Bini Birth, and decided to take the DONA doula training course. Sitting in class, with all those women who cared just as much about the sacredness of birth and empowering families in making informed choices- I knew I had found my calling. I began my business fall of 2012 and haven’t stopped celebrating birth since!

2. a doula’s support is informational, emotional and physical. do you have a favorite? what makes it your favorite?

One of my favorite parts of the doula’s role is the informational aspect. I meet a handful of amazing, respectful, personable OB’s. I also meet quite a lot of OB’s that are simply not practicing evidence based medicine. I believe I have helped guide a birth in a healthier direction for both mom and baby by just providing my clients with the current research they need to ask the right questions and sometimes even feel confident saying they want something different. Something as simple as asking, “What’s my Bishop Score” can give a mom an extra few days to go into labor on their own versus being induced and increase their chances for a surgical birth. Asking for intermittent monitoring rather than continuous on their birth plan can make the difference between a manageable labor in which a variety of different comfort techniques can be used, or a labor where finding necessary comfort is more challenging and freedom is very limited.

Seeing a woman reach her limit and push past it, and the elation and pride that comes out of that is like nothing else. There is a new respect for our bodies as being creative, our psyche as one that is strong, and a feeling that one can surmount anything. We carry that satisfaction and sufficiency into our days and weeks postpartum. Every woman deserves to feel safe and protected in labor. The doula is an asset to the emotional experience of both the mother and partner. The experience is treated as sacred, a rite of passage to be honored and enjoyed. Even when things don’t go quite as planned, a doula helps the preserve the memory of the mother being cared for and supported.

3. how do you answer the question “what is a doula”?

A fellow doula sister of mine, Kelsie Packer, described the doula’s role perfectly. “My role is to be an extension of your hands, voice and heart. I support and empower the mother in all women ” -kelsie packer (truladoula)

I’d like to thank Katie for sharing her thoughts and words on the doula spotlight. If you would like to know more about Katie’s services and support work {or take a peek at her pretty family} you can find her at her Mama Nurture website or her facebook page.

HEY YOU! are you a doula? would you like to contribute to the doula spotlight? send an info request to heymomjeanz {at} gmail {dot} com. thanks! Also, would you like a t-shirt? {smile & wink}

birth links

here’s a healthy dose of birthy goodness for your weekend reading since Birth Links was absent last week:

an article about Dr. Michel Odent, a pioneering advocate for natural birth practices. This article highlights information about his new book that examines birth in the technological era. His main question being does how we give birth effect who we become? The questions posed in this article are good ones to ponder for your own birth philosophies.

i attended a birth last week for a baby at 42 weeks, 2 days gestation and babe was sitting pretty. This article is a short but applicable one. should we let babies decide their due dates when stress tests reveal no complications even after 42 weeks?  Just a little fact: The average gestation for first time babies is actually 41 weeks and 2 days. Mommas, if you’re expecting your first please put that 40 week date out of your mind!

a lovely birth story from Birth Without Fear blog about the difference a doula can make.

this article about using 6 cm as the more accurate mark of active labor. Some moms can sit at 3-4 cms for a few days before the show really gets kicked on. by using 6 cm as the accurate marker numerous interventions could be avoided.

i attended a talk last week by the Dellesky family. The family spent a year in the phillipines while Jamie completed Midwifery training at a free maternal health clinic. the family is now on their journey to opening a similar clinic in Tanzania. Follow the link to learn more about their project and information to donate should you be moved to help for this cause.

and lastly, my post about the beautiful transformation i see come over mothers during the pushing phase.

that’s all. enjoy your weekend. and always remember:

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the beauty of pushing

wanna know which part of supporting a birth is the most emotional for me?

you’re going to guess when the baby is born, right? that’s what i would guess for anyone.

but we’re wrong in my case. i always think i’m going to be able to make it all the way until the babe has finally come earthside before my strong emotions come flooding in.

but i’m wrong every time.

i get emotional for my mommas when they’re pushing, especially this last birth. it was a long haul and i was so happy for this incredibly strong mother and her partner. i always get to a surreal, very clear moment of extreme gratitude and empathy and trying to will my own physical strength to the momma so she can perform this ultimate task. i usually manage to keep it in until the child is born because my rule is that i cannot get more emotional than the parents but if i could i’d cry every time during the pushing stage.

and i’ll tell you why:

it’s because i think mothers are so unequivocally beautiful when they are bringing new life into this world.

i’m sure that sounds weird to most people, especially if you are a woman who has gone through what those moments are like. i assume the majority of women go through those moments, in our current society, with the thought somewhere in the back of their mind that it must be the worst they’ve ever looked in their entire lives. we live in a culture that preys on our insecurities about those moments, that puts them in movies and makes you believe that you’re going to just look like a red-faced, sweaty mess.

well guess what, you are going to look like that. but you don’t have to hire someone to come in and do your hair and make-up afterward before pictures can be taken. {yes, some people actually do this. they are rich and i don’t know them.}  i want to tell you right now that you look beautiful, absolutely beautiful during that moment of your life.

there is a raw beauty that comes with life and death, when we have to step outside of our thoughts and operate in the realm of our instincts. when you can’t veil it and can’t think your way through it. no one gets much control in the moments that bring us into the world and those that take us out and it’s mind-blowingly gorgeous if you let it in.

if you are lucky enough to have the privilege of witnessing life coming or going then i hope you might pause to let this raw beauty in. it’s there lingering on the edges, waiting for you to pull it into focus. once you get it in your sights it will draw on you and leave you with a deep impression that will last all your days. it will open you up and make you a little more at peace with being human.

i beg of you: revel in the beauty of pushing.

birth links

here is some birthy goodness for your weekend reading:

I did some postpartum care for a family that had this feeding system. i had no personal experience with it before but after helping feed their son with this system {except taped to my finger} i kept thinking “why can’t they send one of these home with every family from the hospital instead of cans of formula? it would promote and help breastfeeding mothers so much more.” Please read this article and learn more about these supplemental feeding systems especially if you are expecting. A system like this one requires more work on the baby’s part so he/she is less likely to become dependent on the ease of the bottle in those first few days of life when the breastfeeding relationship is so delicate. In addition this article highlights that there are a myriad of medical reasons why a mother may not be physiologically able to lactate. A feeding system like this gives the opportunity to physically perform the action and the option for donor milk is even on the table. ladies! you have options!!!

my next link is for a series on the blog the resting roost called birth place. she’s interviewing moms in three different birth settings: home, birth center and hospital to gain perspective on each setting. i’m in love with the idea of this series. here’s the first installment. and since i’m already up in mary catherine’s grill these days, i’m going to go ahead and share a link to the wonderful project she and her partners are working on called the barefoot bus. i’m also in love with the idea for this bus.

and a really good article on VBACFacts. I haven’t shared much from this site because I’ve only been a handful of times. This website is and excellent source of information for any woman looking into her VBAC options.

that’s all. happy weekend. happy solstice. happy reading!

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birth links

i’ve been absent on the friday birth links for a while and i’m attempting a comeback. watch out!

first up is the Midwives Archive from Gentlebirth.org. This is a no frills compilation of A LOT of information. It’s really worth a browse as it is a wealth of information but be prepared for the sheer volume. it’s well-organized despite the large amount.

Evidence Based Birth tackled the Evidence for Induction or C-Section for a Big Baby. I always love the posts and evidence EBB provides for readers. What do you think about inductions and c-sections for suspected big babies after that article?

and lastly i wanted to tip you off to the birth without fear blog. the stories on this blog are always inspiring, and real and even though they deal with the hard issues of birth and life coming earthside they are done so without the tone of fear so often forced upon us. this space truly shows how strong birthing women are.

i hope you find something that helps and inspires. Good Luck. Wishing you a calm + confident birth.

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waiting on a baby; birth doula style

i’ve been waiting patiently for that phone call. my client has been having her warm-up contractions for several days now. she’s well within her due month so, yes, it’s just a fun waiting game for baby and momma’s body to know what time is the right time.

i rightly declined a trip to indiana for an important family event and have been waiting to spring into action these past few days. i tried going to bed early in anticipation of getting up in the middle of the night. no call. i tried going to bed late thinking that it’s because i was going to bed too early and the universe wanted to catch me off guard. because clearly this is all about me here, right?

no call.

since neither of those tactics have worked so i’m just taking the time to mediate on my gratefulness that the momma is being a champ and patiently waiting through each of these warm-up episodes, trusting in her body and baby.

this is what i signed up for. i wouldn’t have it any other way, except that i’m really hoping my life path takes me closer to my family so i could be there for both my family and my clients. yes, i said it indiana folks. i put it out into the universe. i’m hoping someday i will be a HOOSIER again and help you all birth your babies. HOOSIER DOULA? {seriously indiana friends – who’s your doula?}

well, i haven’t tried going to bed in the afternoon yet so i think i’ll do that and see if that works. g’night!

ps. it’s fun watching me figure all this “doula stuff” out, isn’t it?