During pregnancy a woman's body undergoes many changes, some can even be stressful and uncomfortable. Massage is a perfect way to reduce stress and promote general well-being. When used as a form of adjunctive health care Pregnancy Massage has many benefits. Some of which include:
* Massage helps mom's body to eliminate waste products through the lymphatic and circulatory systems, which combats fatigue and helps the mother feel more energetic.
* By aiding circulation, massage eases the load on mom's heart and helps to keep her blood pressure in check.
* Muscular discomforts, such as cramping, tightening, stiffness, tension, and knots, can all be alleviated.
* Massage helps carry away the lactic acid and other cellular waste products that build up and cause muscle fatigue.
* Massage can help relieve depression or anxiety caused by hormonal changes mom is experiencing.
* Massage relieves many of the normal discomforts during pregnancy, such as backaches, a stiff neck, leg cramps, headaches, edema, and sore, swollen ankles and feet.
* Massage increases local and general blood circulation, which brings more oxygen and nutrients to the cells of both the mother and fetus. This means greater vitality and less fatigue for mom and better nourishment for her baby.
* Massage stimulates glandular secretions, which helps stabilize hormone levels.
* Massage can help relieve depression or anxiety caused by hormonal changes mom is experiencing.
* It relaxes tense muscles and tones loose muscles, and can also increase muscular flexibility. Flexibility will be most helpful during the last trimester and during the birth itself.
* Massage helps to soothe and relax nervous tension, which helps the mother sleep more easily and more deeply. Incidentally, doctors all agree that a relaxed mother will have a happier, healthier pregnancy and possibly an easier childbirth experience, too.
* Massage can be used during the birth to make it easier and more comfortable for mom, and after the birth as well, to help her regain her strength more quickly and ease postpartum stress.
In addition, Pregnancy massage offers the pregnant woman the experience of nurturing touch which in turn encourages loving touch towards her own baby. Prenatal massage can have an enormous effect beyond the physical relief it can offer. To allow the space for a woman to just be with herself and her developing baby, to feel in her body in a pleasurable, relaxing way.
To sum it up....book a prenatal massage today!
Why a Vaginal Birth After Cesarean should be a Viable Option
This is not a story about which experience is "better." It is a story about choice.
My second birth as a student doula was with a woman who was hoping to have a vaginal birth after cesarean. She had spent a great deal of time preparing. Bradley Method classes, a doula, and an obstetrician that was willing to “let her try” to give birth vaginally. 40 weeks came and went-and her doctor started talking about an induction. Wanting to keep things as low-risk as possible my client tried all sorts of natural induction methods, however at around 41 weeks she found herself in triage awaiting induction. They had talked of pitocin but her cervix was not favorable. I remember it so clearly-induction points, clary sage oil, me at her feet, sister at her right hand and partner at her left. We were going to force her cervix by sheer will into submission.
Hours had gone by and almost 40 births later I have yet to see the pitocin dosage reach higher levels. I was so new to it all but I remember thinking they sure were giving a lot of pitocin to a woman attempting a VBAC. It made no sense, if the main fear was uterine rupture why were they pressing that button so often? This woman was in a great deal of pain-the contractions were intense and she tried so hard. Semi-sitting in bed (continuous fetal monitoring), rocking back and forth with our heads together –25 plus hours later her cervix remained at about 8 1/2 -9 cm and she had a repeat cesarean. Her bladder was nicked in surgery and she ended up with a blood transfusion as well.
Flash forward-a few months and a few births later. Second pregnancy-first was a cesarean in London-this time she was going vaginal. Her husband was out of town so the birth team consisted of myself and my doula mentor. Labor started on my way home from another birth. My doula mentor came and picked me up after only a few hours sleep. We arrived at our client’s house and we labored. We stayed at home for as long as possible and left for the hospital in the morning. When we arrived she was in active labor and they skipped the normal admittance procedures and assigned us to our room where we labored some more. It was amazing-the energy, the vibe, the movement, the flow-they left us three women in the room to our own devices where we just let mom and her baby do their thing. Not only was I in the presence of my first VBAC-I was experiencing my very first natural birth. I am still in awe.
Having a VBAC is a bit different than having “just “ a vaginal birth. There are some things you should know-for instance, why was a cesarean performed the frist time and what can you do differently. And at the same time there are similarities in terms of how you can prepare -eat healthy, exercise, get a doula, work with and understand your feelings about giving birth-find a way to explore your fears-trust the process and gather a team that can help create a healthy, positive energy around you and your birth.
Repeat cesareans should never be routine - major abdominal surgery takes a great deal of time to recover from and it is not without risk. In addition it is unethical for hospitals or doctors to institute bans against VBACS either formally or informally and goes against the concept of informed consent. Although cesareans can be and are medically necessary at times-the old adage “once a cesarean always a cesarean” no longer applies – a woman has a choice and she should not be bullied in either direction-the choice is hers. I had planned to go into the history of Cesareans and VBACS but that information is easily accessed-this is about the experience itself-the importance of a woman wanting to do things her way-the way that feels natural to her. Asking why would anyone want to attempt a vaginal birth after a surgical birth is the same as asking why a natural birth instead of a medicated birth or why a homebirth instead of a hospital birth. It’s all about choice, personal preference.
All a woman need do is a little research-the evidence is out there-why is the option of a VBAC a vital option? According to Ina May Gaskin in Spiritual Midwifery she “continues to recommend VBAC to most women who have had a previous cesarean” because looking at the risks of elective repeat cesarean, we have the following:
More respiratory distress in babies from iatrogenic prematurity and wet lung syndrome
Accidental laceration of the baby (two to six percent of cesareans in some studies)
Higher infection and injury for mothers
Higher risk if maternal death (two to four times that of vaginal birth)
More complications in future pregnancies, including placenta previa (seven times the risk after just one cesarean), Placental abruption (three times the risk), various degrees of placenta accrete (25 times the risk) and ectopic pregnancy.
In addition research has shown:
Babies born vaginally are usually born when they are ready, rather than prematurely by surgery
Babies born through the birth canal have the benefit of a surge of catecholamines, which are essential for survival
Babies born through the birth canal are more likely to be born with healthy lungs
Babies born vaginally have higher Apgar scores
Babies born through the birth canal enjoy early, frequent contact with their moms
Babies born vaginally are much more likely to be breastfed and to be nursed for a longer period of time
The fact is as evidenced in the first birth story-not everyone who attempts a VBAC will get a VBAC. Some women who do everything “right” will end up with a repeat cesarean and some women like in the second birth story will have a different experience. The key word in the entire discussion surrounding repeat cesareans and VBACs is options. Current research has shown that over 86% of women who have had a previous cesarean can have a subsequent vaginal birth. It is our job as consumers, advocates, mothers, and women to make sure no one is standing in her way.
Some excellent resources:
The VBAC Companion: The Expectant Mother’s Guide to Vaginal Birth After Cesarean
By, Diana Korte
By Simone Snyder
If you are a childbirth educator whether you realize it or not you probably make at least one reference to something you learned in Pam England’s book "Birthing from Within."
For me, it’s the Birth Tigers-I always bring up this section of her book when discussing the effects of fear in labor.
In Pam’s latest book "Labyrinth of Birth"
she explores the power of creating a labyrinth or “laborinth” as part of the birth preparation process. I was honored to review the book for the ICEA blog
and was introduced to many new ideas that I am sure to share with my students. I enjoyed the book so much that I wanted to know more-so I contacted Pam hoping I could ask her a few questions.
As an anthropologist I am always fascinated by myth and story. I had to know where she learned about the meaning and history of the labyrinth. “It began gradually about six or seven years ago…not as research, just curiosity…I am interested in symbols, myth, and old cultures, so I read. I drew a few labyrinths and traced them. Once I experienced the labyrinth, I
understood it-I understood it was the perfect symbol and map for labor and the childbearing year. I kept reading.”
Having sat in on a few Birthing From Within classes I wondered how the “laborinth” would weave its way into the curriculum and wondered if those of us who have not gone through the BFW training would be equipped to use the exercises with our own clients.“When I developed and wrote BFW I did not even know what a labyrinth was. Now it’s a cornerstone of our classes and consciousness. As a symbol the labyrinth is thousands of years old and I am certain it has been used as we are using it, as a metaphor, as a symbol, as a “map” to alter consciousness, to aid relaxation and healing. I wanted to share the ancient and universal symbol with everyone so it could become part of our birth consciousness. I hope many childbirth teachers, midwives, doulas, and parents will take it up…The labyrinth is an ambiguous, ancient symbol; not a tool to demonize the medical model. At times the message is sent that normal labor is straightforward, and it may be on a graph but not in the mind of a laboring woman.”
I mentioned to Pam that before attending the class some of the couples have not had experience with meditation or even with breathing exercises. I wondered if that would be an issue. “Tracing the labyrinth repeatedly is the process. It is suggested that tracing the labyrinth seven times will change brain wave activity. Tracing or walking a labyrinth is meditation. When preparing expectant parents I often join the pain-coping practices with the tracing of the labyrinth to further deepen their focus.”
I was so grateful to be given the opportunity to hear from Pam England about what the process was like for her as the author and in a sense mediator between this ancient practice and us. She did mention there was one “unfulfilled part” of her dream and that is to see Labyrinths in every birth room. She has a vision of laboring women walking the labyrinth on labor wards instead of walking up and down the public halls. I mentioned in the review that I have had that same thought come up when walking the hospital corridors with laboring couples and it’s not just me who fantasizes about such things. Many, many families have voiced the same dream. A peaceful, meditative spot to walk while in labor. If anyone deserves a little serenity its us mothers and mothers-to-be. Let’s make it happen. Thank you Pam!
“The first path a human being ever travels is the path that leads out of the maternal womb. Every human being’s first labyrinth is that of a woman.”-Jacues Attali, "The Labyrinth in Culture and Society."
by Carolyn Flynn Vasquez
When we first meet with couples, we usually explain how women are hard-wired to birth in the presence of other women. We bring it back to the time when we lived in tribal groups, and the females would gather in the birthing hut to support a woman as she labored. Birth in community with women is faster, less complicated, more enjoyable. But it doesn’t stop there. And that is where our story begins.
After my twin boys were born, I would sometimes call my best friend to just feel her on the other end, to hear her tell me that I would survive, that my babies would survive, and that I was not a bad mother. I’d reply, “There is not a shred of folded laundry in this house,” “Liam (my oldest) has been watching TV for the past 6 hours” or “There is always someone (often me) crying.” That first year was hard on my sanity. It was then that I really felt this truth deep in my bones: We are not meant to do this alone. Yes, we are hard-wired to birth our babies with other women. And to cook with other women, weave with other women, bleed with other women, and raise our babies with other women.
I have found that by working in partnership, the work slice of my pie satisfies my craving for living and working in community with other women. When we first meet with couples, we usually explain that we work as a team. It goes way beyond working as a team. We work in sisterhood.
We are a two-person matriarchal society. That is, decisions are made based on what is best for all affected, not an individual’s interests. So when we get a call that a woman is in labor, and she is ready for her doula, it is sometimes clear who is best fit to serve this particular family. Other times, motherhood calls one of us to be present for an important event in our child’s life, or to stay home with a sick child. On these days, there is peace in knowing that my sister-doula is attending this family that we have both grown close to, instead of an unknown backup.
So when I send an instant message to Simone while I am cooking dinner, regarding an insight into a particular client’s situation, it might not be quite the same as literally stirring the soup together, but it comes close. When we gather in a client’s living room- Simone with her pre-midwifery and massage skills, and I leading birth art and meditation, we make a superdoula- providing deeper service than either of us could do alone. When we work together to encapsulate a placenta the energy that flows into those capsules is love and support. This work feeds my soul, and to share it in sisterhood not only makes the experience richer for the women we serve, it truly makes it women’s work.
Ibu Robin Lim & The Documentary Film-Guerrilla Midwife
My home smells of citronella essential oil – the smell is reminiscent of a local anti-mosquito oil I was given by Wayang, a friend whom I met while on vacation in Bali, Indonesia. One inhale and I am sent back, one deep breath and my spirit is filled with the essence of all that is Bali. It was explained to me that the land, the culture, and the people of Bali would always remain a part of me. I never truly understood that sentiment until I left the island.
While on our five-week family vacation my husband and I jumped on a motor-bike (it was my first time) and made our way to Nyuh Kuning village to visit Yayasan Bumi Sehat. I was overwhelmed and inspired by what we encountered. Overwhelmed by the courageous goals of this non-profit organization: “to reduce the maternal and child morbidity rate and to support the health and wise development of communities.” Inspired by the passion and commitment of all the individuals involved. I had envisioned visiting the clinic, dropping off my donations, and leaving fulfilled. Over five years later and halfway across the world I am still doing what I can to support Bumi Sehat.
I had been introduced to the film “Guerrilla Midwife” by one of the volunteers at the clinic that day and though I was enchanted by the title I never got around to watching it until a few nights ago.
I cried-alot…tears of utter sadness and tears of hope. Tears of disbelief and tears of wonder. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since and have decided that I must share what I have seen.
The film is about midwife Ibu Robin Lim the founder of Yayasan Bumi Sehat-which by the way means Healthy Mother Earth foundation. We are given a glimpse into the life and work of Ibu Robin as she attends births in Bali where the center was first established. We then journey to Aceh, Indonesia where Ibu Robin and her team offer aid after the 2004 Tsunami devastated the area. We also learn about the foundations latest efforts in Haiti. Did I mention the director is the daughter of the Guerrilla Midwife?
What was so insanely powerful about this film and the work of Robin Lim is the bigger picture. It is not just about the people of Indonesia, it is not just about disaster relief-it is about birth, its about women, it is about our children, it is about our mother earth and it is about a connection.
Ibu Robin Lim’s message that gentle births can heal mother earth is so beyond a fancy slogan. It is a message that is profound and significant. One need not read the research though its there if you want it-Google Michel Odent’s work, look up Marshall & Phyllis Klaus to name a few. This declaration is something we mothers know deep down to our core.
I would like to leave you with an excerpt from the film’s synopsis-a message that I am confident will remain with you as you continue on your day-a message that I hope will inspire you to click on the links below to learn more, donate, and/or get involved.
“In every country on this planet, there is a WAR being fought to gain an asset more precious than gold or oil. The battlefield is a woman’s body when she is most vulnerable and in need of protection… when she is giving BIRTH. In this war we stand to loose our humanity. At this pivotal moment of life individuals develop either an intact or impaired capacity to love. Protecting our capacity to love is essential to saving our planet. The inappropriate use of technology during birth has disempowered women, harmed the bonding process between mother and child, and has sabotaged breast-feeding and our essential human right to peace. At the heart of this war, perpetuated by the agendas of big business and by our misunderstanding of the physiology of birth, we find the guardian of natural childbirth – the midwife.” *Side note-Last year Ibu Robin Lim won the CNN Hero of the Year Award! http://www.bumisehatbali.org www.skwattacamp.com http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKi65IOaXco
By Simone Snyder
Trust your instincts-as a doula and childbirth educator I find myself advising my clients to listen to their gut often. In fact, had I not heeded that advice myself 4 years ago my son may have been born without our midwife present. Laboring women however are not always “allowed” to follow their instincts especially when it comes to eating and drinking in labor. Its funny-you wouldn’t dream of advising an athlete against hydration or obtaining a little extra energy through food (it has been said that giving birth is like running a marathon). But in hospitals worldwide women are told they cannot eat or drink once they are admitted. Some hospitals allow a clear, liquid diet and others don’t allow laboring women anything other than ice chips-no matter how long their labor!
This practice is decades old and was implemented to prevent Mendelson’s syndrome which can occur (rare-but fatal) if a patient undergoes general anesthesia. The fear is that if a woman has eaten or drank anything the contents of her stomach could be drawn into her lungs while she is under. The message here is that every woman in labor is at risk for a cesarean section. It’s not just a cesarean that is the driving force (for which an epidural/regional anesthesia would be used) but an emergency cesarean where time is a factor. Instinctually it would seem women are missing out on the benefits of fluids and food in labor for a lot of what ifs!
However, The Cochrane Collaboration published an article entitled “Restricting Oral Fluid and Food Intake During Labor” in which it was found there were “no benefits or harms of restricting foods and fluids during labor in women at low risk of needing anesthesia.” In fact, it even went so far as to suggest a correlation between “poor nutritional balance” and “longer, more painful labors.” Ah ha! Brings us back to those instincts that tell us our body needs energy from healthy food and hydration to function properly-especially when we are involved in the process of bringing forth life into this world!
It seems according to a New York Times article “In Labor, a Snack or a Sip” that some hospitals have lifted the no fluids ban but have yet to give the ok for light snacking (we are not talking burritos and enchiladas here) in response to the ACOG’s new guidelines. But is that enough?
Each hospital, each care-provider, and each woman’s labor is different-we get that. But the bottom line is intravenous fluids just aren’t going to cut it, snacking in the car on the way to the hospital may not be enough depending on the length of labor. Women need nourishment. We are not asking for seven course meals in active labor but a little cheese or peanut butter or even some honey to help reenergize our active bodies. And water! Please-some water-dehydration depletes our energy and can even slow labor-believe me a dehydrated uterus is an unhappy uterus!
In the New York Times article Dr. Richardson an Ob/Gyn at Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates was quoted as saying “My own view of this has always been that you could say one shouldn’t eat or drink anything before getting into a car on the same basis, because you could be in an automobile accident and you might require general anesthesia.” This is it in a nutshell really-how much precaution is necessary, especially when the benefits might out weigh the risk? As is usually the case it boils down to this-do you view labor and childbirth as a normal, natural, and inherently safe process or a medical event plagued with danger at every turn-you know my answer to that.
Cochrane Review - http://www.cochrane.org/reviews/en/ab003930.htm
NY Times article http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/26/health/26child.html?src=twt&twt=nytimeshealth
By Carolyn Flynn Vasquez
VBAC is a safe, empowering, healing experience for women/couples who have had a previous cesarean section. In 2010, ACOG revised its stance on VBAC, stating that "Most women with one previous cesarean delivery with a low transverse incision
are candidates for and should be counseled about vaginal birth after cesarean
delivery (VBAC) and offered a trial of labor after previous cesarean delivery
(TOLAC)." Also, "Women with two previous low transverse cesarean deliveries may be considered candidates for TOLAC. Women with one previous cesarean delivery with a low transverse incision, who are otherwise appropriate candidates for twin vaginal delivery, may be considered candidates for TOLAC. External cephalic version for breech presentation is not contraindicated in women with a prior low transverse uterine incision who are at low risk for adverse maternal or neonatal outcomes from external cephalic version and TOLAC." (source: ACOG Guidelines Practice Bulletin #115)
One of the key factors in having a vaginal birth after cesarean is wisely choosing your care provider. While many physicians and midwives may philosophically support VBAC, their practices and policies (and insurance companies) may limit your chance of a vaginal birth.
I encourage you to shop around for your care provider just as you would a new car, or a wedding venue. Attend a local ICAN Chapter meeting and ask for recommendations, read testimonials from other VBAC women, and most importantly, request a consultation, and ask smart questions. When you interview your potential care provider, take note of the information given, and also be aware of how you feel in this person's presence. Here are some questions to get you started. Remember, you are the customer. Ask proudly and choose wisely!
1. What is your overall cesarean rate? How does that break down into primary c/s and repeat c/setions?
2. What is your VBAC success rate?
3. About how many VBACs do you attend each year?
4. Do you use intermittent electronic fetal monitoring? If not, will telemetry or wireless monitors be available to me?
5. Do you recommend routine use of IV fluids?
6. How far past my "due date" are you comfortable with my pregnancy progressing before recommending an induction?
7. Under what, if any, conditions do you use pitocin to augment labor?
8. Will you use a foley bulb/foley balloon if labor needs help progressing?
9. Which positions do you feel are best for the second stage of labor?
10. Can I labor in a tub? Can I birth my baby in a tub?
11. Are you comfortable with me laboring at home and coming to the hospital after active labor is well established?
12. If my water breaks early in labor, how much time are you comfortable letting the labor go before considering augmentation or cesarean section?
13. Should I require a cesarean birth, could I have a "family centered cesarean" with immediate skin-to-skin contact and non-separation from my baby?
You deserve to fall in love with your care provider. Remember, the person you choose may be the first touch your baby feels as she or he emerges into this world. You, not your doctor or midwife is the authority int he room, and the center of your birth. Birth is sacred, and choosing the right person to care for you is an important part of creating a healing, soul-nourishing experience.
A Tribute to Dr. Judy Banks
It is a joy to work with a client who is in
harmony with her primary care provider.
Whether she chooses a Midwife or an OBGYN, when the relationship is
created intentionally and thoughtfully, a wonderful childbirth experience
This weekend, I was present at a beautiful VBAC (Vaginal Birth
After Cesarean) with Dr. Judy Banks in the role of care provider.
Dr. Banks brings patience and humor, along with deep respect for the
laboring woman to the bedside (or, the birth-ballside).
In the 30ish hours that my client labored, Dr Banks stayed at the
hospital. She checked in frequently, looking at my client for cues to her wellbeing, not the fetal monitor screen. It was a blend of my client’s deep faith in herself and Dr.Bank’s skill and expertise that created a beautiful VBAC experience. I sit
in gratitude and joy that my client had the birth experience she wanted. But even if unwanted interventions became necessary, they would have been suggested from a place of compassion and performed with loving hands. And so, an empowered birthing experience would have been co-created regardless of whether the baby was pushed out or lifted out. Gratitude to you, Dr. Judy Banks and to all who love women and support their healthy journey into Motherhood.
When I found out, 21 weeks into my pregnancy, that there were two, not one, people growing inside me, I collapsed into tears. Visions of not missing a beat in my professional life disappeared. Dreams of popping my baby into a sling and cruising forward in my life as a birth professional went down the tube with my intentions to birth my babies at home. No candle lit living room, no tub of warm water, no big brother witnessing the birth of his siblings.
I crawled out of bed after a day or two of bearing my soul to my midwife and soul sisters and started to dream a new dream.
With fervor I came to understand the obstacles that I would need to overcome in order to experience a low-intervention birth and began to eat, eat, eat and eat some more. Despite constant nausea, I rallied my body to accept 100+ grams of protein a day. When I woke in the middle of the night to pee, I drank 600 calorie, 30g protein shakes and ate macadamia nuts. As the days passed, I began to move from overwhelmed to empowered and felt occasional glints of excitement for what lay ahead. By the time my 36th week of pregnancy rolled around, I was enjoying the constant chivalry of strangers and wide eyes gawking at my watermelon belly. And, by the time all names were chosen: Eliana and Rosa if they would be girls, and Mateo and Sebastian if they were boys, I was in love with these two mysterious beings within me. Scared, but in love.
On a trip to Cape May, I walked the beach, asking the Ocean to provide me a shell that would come with me to my birth place and infuse me with the wisdom of the ocean: resist the waves and be knocked over- flow with them and enjoy the wild ride. After a few laps up and down the beach, I gave up the search and looked up to see my husband Jose waving his arms in the surf. He dunked under again and came back with his hands full. On the beach he showed me the treasures he had found: The core of three conch shells, displaying the spiral that has always been my strongest image of birth- spiral in, spiral out.
On the morning of the beginning of my 36th week, I woke with contractions. I took a bath to see if they would fade, but they stayed with me and I knew that the last leg of my quest lay before me. I hopped into the car with my son and returned home 9 hours later after a day of errands: chiropractor, shopping, and tying up loose ends. My husband returned home around 6 and between increasingly intense contractions, I submitted our quarterly sales tax report right before the deadline. Thinking that we might need to leave in the middle of the night we called my parents to pick up our son Liam. I cried and cried when my little love walked out the door and I knew that our twosome would be forever changed. Over the next hours, I called my doula and dear friend Amy and told her not now but maybe tonight and called Dr. Banks and said the same.
Bath, ball, I should eat but I can’t, rocking, don’t talk to me, okay fine I’ll go to the hospital though I am certain it is too early.
We arrived to Morristown Memorial Hospital and my water broke. Amy, who arrived just 5 minutes after we did though she drove from Reading, PA, ran downstairs to move the car out of the ambulance zone and was back in a flash. I got checked and I was 8, no…9cm.
The flurry of activity set in: doc called, a million questions, and needing to be on the monitor. Before all the questions were answered I was feeling pushy. We rolled into the OR and within a few minutes, my body was pushing those boys out on its own. The nurse shouted “push!!” She kept on directing me to lay on my back and grab my legs and “PUSH!!!” but I new that within minutes it would all be done whether or not I put forth any effort. My dear doula had one hand and whispered in my ear “stay on top of it” and “remember your perineum.” My husband had the other and I lay on my side staring at the floor and bedrails saying bad words. Amy’s voice carried through those overwhelming waves. It was all I had to do- stay on top of it. Only stay on top of it and nothing else. For all the times I have whispered words of love and encouragement into the ears of laboring women, I never knew how much they mean. I clung to her words like a life raft that helped me not be knocked over by those waves. I can’t way I enjoyed the wild ride, but I made it through to the other side.
Mateo was born after I gave into the urge and pushed along with the contraction one or two times. Sebastian’s feet popped out and one push later he joined us. Amy, remembering that I really wanted to experience the birth of my breech baby said “Flynnie, I think you really want to see this.”
And that was it. All the fear, all the fighting for the birth I wanted and like Christmas morning it was over in a breath. I saw my boys for only a moment and away they went although they were healthy, loud, pink and healthy weights. Jose went with the boys and Amy and I went back to the room where I downed a piece of my placenta (totally freaked out Dr. Banks) and rode the wave of elation until Amy reminded me that time was passing and the staff would soon come to suggest formula feeding. Perhaps my only regret is that I was wrapped up in my accomplishment and didn’t get into mama tiger mode when I could have. By the time the hour had passed so quickly, their blood sugar was dangerously low and their first meal was not of my body but of a plastic bottle. I still shed tears when I remember our first hour apart. Their first moments are unknown to me and are forever lost.
Looking back on my labor, it seems more something that happened to me than something I did. I had prepared for the fire of birth to burn from my soul the things that no longer served me. I intended to hold in my heart the patters I wanted to be stripped of and ask birth to do with them as she may.
Though I did not hold anything to the flames of birth’s fire that night,id emerge from the experience prepared to mother my three boys. Although my babies were not born in my home, they were birthed consciously and with respect and love.
A fork has appeared in my road. I keep on looking at it from every which angle... climbing up a tree to look at the big picture, then crouching down to the gravel and inspecting every detail. Standing off to the side to try to peer around the corner, and asking my trailmates if they see anything that I am missing.
Thing is, on either path, I will do the work I love which is to serve families as they birth their babies. Both paths will have both spots where the sunlight filters beautifully through the trees as well as tough climbs up steep hills.
I tell women: "Trust your body." "Listen to what your body is telling you to do."
And so I will take some of my own advice. My body and my soul are singing out, and I can not ignore its song.
As a doula I help help families make informed choices. Choices that honor their personal truth. Choices that come from a place of calm and inner knowing. I provide information and step back to let families choose. And then I honor and support those choices, doing all I can to help each family experience the fullness of birth. And so, I trust that the Universe will treat me in-kind. I have made a choice that honors my work, my motherhood, and myself. And I know that the universe will support my choice.