My friend Jessica was asked to share her perspective in an article that is presently being written in Turkey, about the benefits of water birth. The intention of this article is to arouse interest in Turkey about water birth, as people are just becoming aware of this option in birth. The Turkish woman interviewing Jessica, asks, Why do we choose water birth? What is the superiority of it?
Here is what Jessica has to say:
The reason people usually choose waterbirth has nothing to do with them knowing of the superiority of it. It IS a safer, more comfortable way to give birth, with numerous benefits to both the baby and the mother!!! Mostly, people choose it because humans have an innate, primal connection to water. We love to be in water. So, to give birth in water, intuitively, instinctively sounds like a better idea. Most women, though, do not choose the place to give birth by instinct, or intuition. The media, and the modern world have brought fear to the forefront of their minds, so out of such fear, and false information, they choose a hospital thinking it is the 'safest' option. The hospital is the place to go to give birth if you are looking for trouble, not if you are looking for safety. It is important that articles such as this are published so that awareness of the benefits of waterbirth become known. To give birth in water reduces the stress of the mother, easing the birth for both mother and baby. It also, done correctly (not staying in the water for more than an hour and a half at a time), creates a better flow of the labor, which allows the baby and mother to be birthing with only the pleasurable hormones controlling the birth, as opposed to stress hormones induced by pain, or a fearful environment. When a baby is born from the water of the amniotic sac, into water, and is allowed to emerge of their own accord, certain synapses occur in their brain that would not occur in a land birth. These synapses effect everything from their immune systems, to their physical coordination and musical or mathematical capabilities. There are also the emotional benefits of being born gently. Birth is our first impression of life on earth. If this first impression is one of grace, welcoming, love, comfort, autonomy - the person is imprinted with more trust, kindness, and emotional stability.
The Mei TaiI love this newborn carrier. Why?
This carrier evenly distributes the baby’s weight between your shoulders and hips. This is one of the best things about the mei tai, because many other carriers strain the parent’s shoulders a LOT. The mei tai carrier promotes healthy hip development for babies, keeping them comfortably in the C-position against your chest. The mei tai is also totally versatile, because you are able to position your baby on your front, back or hip and use different methods of tying the straps, according to preference. And, the mei tai can be used from birth to toddlerhood! Amazing. Click here to view the different ways you can use your new mei tai. I highly recommend!
The Sakura Bloom Ring Sling
This is just wonderful for your newbie baby. They are very simple to use, easily adjustable, conform comfortably to babies’ bodies, and can be used from the newborn stage all the way through the toddler years. If your baby falls asleep in a ring sling, you can either let them snuggle with you for a nap or gently put them down without awaking them. You can also nurse in a ring sling, sit down without bothering the baby if napping or nursing, and be hands free to do almost anything!
Here are some great videos for instruction on positioning and nursing in your Sakura sling. http://tiny.cc/yh8jhw
Also another video that is helpful (with maya wrap and sakura explained with newborn's feet out)
And here's the Sakura site itself:
All is well here at the Holistic Matrona program, in Asheville, North Carolina. We're almost at the halfway mark and I'm amazed at the material covered and the depth of our work so far.
One of the biggest things I've gained is the notion: Midwife=with Woman, not Woman=with Midwife. For me, this means really getting where my client is coming from. Throwing my agenda and my opinions out the car window before I pull up. Hearing her story, knowing why she wants what she wants, and helping her to achieve it. Whapio once said, "I care about you. I'll bend over backwards to give you what you want" For me this is the epitome of the midwife's role...to be WITH WOMAN.
More and more these days, women are choosing midwives who do not hear them out and who interfere with their labor process. I keep wondering, Why?
We think we have to give our pregnancy and birth experience over to another person; we think they know better than we do; we think we don't know how to find our way.
I promise you- You know the way, and if you don't, you will surely find it in labor....if given the chance.
In short, make sure you're care provider is not going to tell YOU how to have YOUR baby. Get it? Our role as 'doula' is to ensure that your experience is yours, and your decisions are yours, and that your care providers are hearing you, and standing by you in the most sacred and life-changing day of your life. This birth belongs to you, and your family.
OMG, the day i was born! I am assuming that in the first photo the doctor is helping my mother deliver my placenta; it's hard to know but easy to assume. I love my mom. And look here, my dad, so proud. All looks more calm in this second photo and my mama is looking at me! I look huge :) This labor room looks huge, too. I'm intrigued.
I have never heard about a doula until I went to my breastfeeding class, so I started to do research about them, what was exactly what they did and how will a doula be of help to me. I wanted my baby's birth to be as natural as possible so I thought that a doula may be what I was looking for to help me through labor and delivery...
Little did I know how special was Erica Shane when I first contacted her. When I saw her webpage I was very exited to meet her to see if our chemistry work together. But oh my god! SHE WAS PERFECT! She was the best guide I could have only dream about.
She gave us a lot of information through mail and during her prenatal visits as well as some wonderful massage sessions... One day my feet were so swollen before she came and after our session together I could see my ankle again. :)
So, things not always are how you imagine or planned them.. I got induced. My amniotic fluid was low and my baby was big. So my Dr. called and told us to go the hospital that I needed to get induced... 5 hrs later my contractions were so intense, they were 1 to 2 min apart and so painful but I was only 3cm dilated.
We turned off our phones because all our family members kept calling and it was so annoying and my husband left the hospital to feed our cats and he was going to call Erica to let her know how things were going. But as soon as he left the hospital 5 min later Erica arrived out of nowhere as if she new that I needed her at that specific time. (since our phones were off she couldn’t get a hang of us so she went to the hospital)
It was amazing, like an angel!
Erica and my husband were the best team I could have had. They were amazing! They worked together to make me feel as peaceful as possible. I was so relaxed like in another world. It was a rainy day, just as I wanted. So I had it all!
So, from being 5 cm and being in labor for about 15 hrs and everything was so slow.... My Dr. was even mentioning C-Section... suddenly 2 hrs later I was completely dilated. I couldn’t believe it! My state of mind was in another dimension. I have to give all the credit to Erica and my husband. They were the ones that helped me through it.
So long story short, I pushed for 15 min. and my beautiful baby girl Emma Aurora was in my arms.
The best experience I have had in my whole life! It was like a wonderful dream. Not even a dream I don't even know how to describe the feelings that went through me that rainy day.
Thank you Erica for this wonderful experience!!!
Hope that you will be by my side with my next baby.
by Deb Valentin:
I love to support women during pregnancy. There are so many benefits to getting acupuncture treatments during pregnancy and particularly in the later stages, it helps promote labor as well as reduce stress and anxiety before the little one arrives!
Some of the benefits of acupuncture for labor induction:
- Safe and effective
- Does not harm the mother or baby
- Helps to ripen the cervix
- Aids promote labor
- Aids in regulating contractions
- Reduces stress and anxiety
- A great alternative to being medically induced
In western medicine, synthetic pitocin is used to promote labor. The downside of getting medically induced with pitocin is women can be in a labor for a very long period of time and many women that get medically induced wind up in c-sections.
Acupuncture should be one of the first approaches when helping with labor induction. It helps to naturally stimulate cervical ripening as well as aids in promoting contractions. One to two treatments may be needed in order to help a women go into labor and contractions can start anywhere from 24-48 hours after treatment. The beauty of acupuncture treatments is that not only does it help promote labor; it helps to reduce stress and anxiety. My patients often feel calm and balanced after treatment, which is how I want them to feel before their baby is born.
A small study done at the University of North Carolina showed among the pregnant women who received three acupuncture sessions, 70% went into labor naturally and 39% of those who received acupuncture did not have caesarean sections compared to 17% of women who did not have acupuncture.
Marie’s Labor Story
Marie was 40 weeks pregnant when she came into my office. She was terrified of getting medically induced so she was looking for alternative approaches to help promote labor. She had been 1 cm dilated for a week with no changes in her cervix. She suffered a lot of anxiety and stress during this time. I gave Marie two treatments in three days to help ripen the cervix and promote contractions. Marie began going into labor shortly after the second treatment and had delivered the following day. Not only did the acupuncture work to help her birth her son but she said the treatments made her feel less anxious and calmer.
Acupuncture is a great alternative for helping labor induction. It is safe and effective for both mommy and baby. The journey to having a baby is a wonderful experience and helping support women during this time is such a privilege.
If you have questions regarding how acupuncture can help your specific health concerns during pregnancy, email me at email@example.com
and I will be happy to answer any of your questions.
I am writing to you, as your proud birth doula, to share your birth story as I saw it. I stood by your mom as she brought you into the world and helped her to make the right choices as it was happening. It was an honor getting to know your mom during her pregnancy. She was so prepared in so many ways, along with your dad. They practiced relaxation and preparation techniques with Hypnobabies, a series of recordings meant to soothe and center the mother-to-be. Your dad was so supportive and even listened and read these to her.
Your mom chose to birth with Lisa Johnson's practice at Mt. Sinai hospital in NYC. She was happy with them, although when it came down to the middle of the 41st week, they wanted to get your labor rolling with a medicated induction. When I talked to your mom on the phone about it that week, she didn't seem so excited about the idea. She didn't agree that she should be induced if you were healthy and she was healthy too. So she postponed it, and was given another evening that worked for the doctor that week. Again, she wasn't comfortable that they weren't giving her as many days as possible to keep you inside of her, growing and playing and enjoying your first home. It just didn't feel right to her, to have you out so soon, when she knew you would come on your own when you were ready.
It was a Wednesday and she was told she would need to go in that night for the induction, but she called the doctor and politely told them she wouldn't be after all. I remember speaking to your mother over the phone various times that day, reminding her to stay nourished, hydrated, calm, and to walk a lot. She had already felt like she was in early labor that day anyway.
By 2pm, her contractions were 15 minutes apart and it was manageable to be on her own, going around town. Actually when I talked to her, she seemed like it was nothing, and just noting them. At 4pm, she went into the doctor for an ultrasound to check on you, as that was the only way the doctors would let her go another day pregnant. All was well and she was so happy. By 5pm, contractions were 5-11 minutes apart. Your mom was home baking cookies to bring to the nurses by then. She was also drinking her iced Red Raspberry tea and walking around, and breaking during each contraction with her breath and focus. By 7:30pm, contractions were 7 minutes apart. By 9:30pm, they were 6 minutes apart. They hadn't quit reached a minute in length yet, so I wasn't sure if it was time for me to come support your mom yet. Besides numbers and such, she also just sounded really okay and I knew I was only a cab ride away. At 10pm, contractions were 5 minutes apart lasting a minute. I recommended at this point that your mom get in the bath to relax and get some relief from the intense sensations she was feeling. She finally ran the tub and it seemed by her reaction that she did feel lots of relief there. It did shorten the length of her contractions to 35-45 seconds, and they did space out a bit during that hour. I waited to hear how she was feeling.
It was a bit before midnight that we agreed that it would be time for me to come over. I heard from your mom that she was ready, and that is what I like to hear! I was so proud of her thus far. I had so much faith in her. I knew she needed the opposite energy than that of the hospital which was to control and to manage. So I was aware of that as I was supporting them throughout the day. I reminded her that labor is normal and to take it as it comes, to not be afraid, to not try to change it. I look back and am so happy for your mom for having the labor that she wanted at home.
I was getting my things together, talking to your mom and dad, and getting down to the street. It was the only night ever that it took me 10 minutes to get a taxi! By 12:45am your mom's water had broke, just moments before I stepped into the apartment. I came him, I heard her in the bathroom, and I told her we were ready to go. She asked if she could stay in there a little longer, but I just opened the door, helped her get up and told her we would be okay in the car ride. She took one look at me and said, 'Do you think I'm going to have my baby?' I basically answered, yes, that's what's happening! We got to the elevator with your dad and a car was waiting outside.
We got in the car, with the cookies, and we told the driver to go fast. He was pretty mellow though. He stopped at every red light but your mom told him that that wouldn't be necessary. She rolled down the window, she breathed in the way you do when you don't want to push, and she just kept saying out loud, 'I'm going to have my baby in the hospital'. It was fabulous. Your dad and I were impressed, in awe, and right there with you two. Who would have wanted to be anywhere else? So we pulled up, and your dad stayed by the car for a moment to pay and get our things, while I walked with your mom to the elevator going straight up to the L&D floor. We went right up to the desk and told them she was having a baby, now. There was no need for triage. She was ready to push you out. I'm glad they believed us. It might have been obvious by the way she was walking. And wanting to push.
Can you even imagine how it must have felt for her? She was in full-on active labor, and just staying so calm, focused on her breath, her power, her intention, the whole time! At home, she was exactly where she wanted to be, and how she wanted to be. Everything was smooth and happened just in time and with just enough faith and trust. At the hospital, he monitor was on for a half hour, the IV was placed just in case, and you were born into the world maybe 30-40 minutes after we arrived. Pushing was quick and smooth. Your mom asked at a certain moment, how she should do it, and I gently reminded her to do what she felt. She had done what she felt and intuited the whole time until then, so it seemed fitting that she continue.
Zoe, you were born at 1:53am on Thursday, March 31, 2011. You weighed 7.8 pounds. You were a perfect little newborn with a perfect birth. And you are so so lucky to have your mom and dad to hold you and raise you in this world. It was an honor to witness your mother that day giving birth to you, and to learn from one more woman, how babies are meant to be born. Thank you all.
All my love,
Giving birth and being a mother has changed my life in so many ways I don't even know where to begin. Going through labor and delivery showed me how much I am capable of and made me realize I can do anything! It was an incredibly empowering experience. Being a mother has been the best lesson in being in the moment. In those first few weeks and months when the days and nights blur and you are in survival mode, you simply cannot exist any way else. I was definitely pushed to my limits with my little guy and there have been (and still are) plenty of maddening, frustrating and scary moments, but the LOVE! Oh my gosh, it is like nothing I could have imagined. Amber
A few nights before going into labor I asked my husband, "If I run, will you chase me?" He knew what I meant and looked at me like I had 15 million heads and just calmly said, "Let's cross that bridge if we should get to it, how does that sound?" I was terrified and just kept over analyzing everything. A couple of days later and a lot of breathing, pushing and a bit of moaning, we were blessed with the birth of our daughter. They immediately put her in my arms and there we sat, skin to skin and she looked up to me as if to say, "I know who you are and I love you so much already." We attempted our first try at breast feeding and I just let the calm of the moment wash over me. There was this overwhelming feeling of love and a need to protect my little girl. It was at that moment that I looked to my husband and said quietly, "If I run, it's WITH her, NOT from her." My life hasn't been the same since. Being a momma is the best thing I've done with my life. Kristin
It's true what they say, that after you have children, you worry less about yourself. Instead of the promotion at work, you worry about whether your child will have nice friends. Instead of the your tan or your wrinkles, you worry about their booboos and their life lessons. So, I still worry a lot. But being a mother also means I get to be surprised by how funny, clever, and brave my kids are. And I can't think of anything more worthwhile than helping them when they're sick or sad, or when we help each other figure out how this crazy world works. Jackie
It has made the miracle of birth so real for me. As I hold my baby and nurse her, I sometimes cannot believe that she is the baby that grew inside my body - and here she is! Wow! Valerie
All of our experiences are life changing and form who we are. Birth and motherhood enable you to learn to endure pain, work hard, care for another life while making room in your heart and soul to love more, protect more, teach more and ultimately let go. You look back at your accomplishments, your children's accomplishments and you then experience feelings of pride, appreciation, and success. Life changing experiences... changing and forming lives. That is powerful. My mom, Gail
All of my mama's births deserve a written account, and this is the first time I'll actually write publicly about one. Most births are emotional, yet this one particularly hit my heart, even while labor was moving. It was my first VBAC client who was actually "allowed" to go into labor. Last Sunday she called me with news that her water had broken at 230am. I listened and realized she hadn't felt labor actually begin so I talked her back to sleep and checked in every few hours. By 9am she was feeling quite nervous and I reminded her of the option of homeopathy to ignite contractions. She checked in with herself and began treatment immediately.
When I arrived to her home at noon to see what was going on, I found her at the table chatting with her sister, timing contractions. I asked if we could go to her bedroom alone and do some massage. She lay down and I began to use pressure points and took her through some deep relaxing breaths to get her focused and calm. Her contractions got regular immediately and were 3-6min apart, 60sec in length for a couple hrs while we spent time there. Her husband joined us occasionally, brought her some chamomile tea, and was in awe of the peace she was in, compared to the first labor where they rushed to the hospital with the first early irregular contraction patterns.
This mama let go with each contraction with her tears, sounds and breath. I reminded her that that was so good, to keep letting go, to continue tapping into her baby and this unique labor. I wasn't sure if stuff was coming up from the past labor or if she was nervous about this one or what. All I knew was that I was her friend, sitting beside her and helping her body open and her labor to move. It was beautiful. It felt good to be there after phone support all night.
We stayed at home laboring until we decided to go the hospital at 3pm. She started touching her lower pelvic area during contractions which made me think the baby could be close; it was her second child and in birth #1 she did labor to 9cm. So we left and all were comfortable with that.
We arrived and parked and she decided she wanted to labor outside for a while, so it was until 5pm that we labored in the sunshine outside Cornell's hospital doors. Her water seriously broke on her exit from the car so it was hard for me to believe her water had broken the night before too! Contractions were already 2-3 min apart and 60-90sec in length while we were laboring outside. She was so strong and willing. She danced. She swayed. We ate lentil soup. She loved being out there and free.
When we arrived upstairs to triage she was surprised to be checked at 2cm. She was feeling so much pelvic pressure and just didn't think it could be right. I've found that telling women where they are cervix-wise or anything numerically-speaking just doesn't work for them most of the time. It puts them in a rut. It takes them out of their center. It makes them believe someone else knows more about their labor than they do. It takes their power away.
It took a bit for her to get over the news and finally she remembered that her real focus was the work ahead of her. She asked for what she wanted: she got her telemetry room and was able to walk around and labor on her feet. Our nurse all night and into the morning was a graduating midwife from SUNY Downstate. All was well. When residents came in who made her feel uncomfortable she simply told them to leave.
She labored for a long while until 1am with very intense contractions, with her husband's love, my supportive words, massage, and all of our affirmations. We thought her baby might be coming. The midwife even brought in the delivery tool cart. At midnight though, she was checked at 3cm and then decided on an epidural. She needed to sleep; she needed to let go. By 8am, she was checked at 4cm, and feeling a lot of pain still. With top off of medication after top off and hitting her epidural button 3x an hour, she still was in pain. I've never seen a woman in that much pain. It was confusing. I've been with women who get relief from epidurals, not the opposite. The anesthesiologists came in to help but the pressure of the baby was just too much. I wasn't sure what was going on. Moments like these make me want to call Ina May.
When checked at 4/5cm still at 11am, the new doctor on the floor really wanted to go ahead with a cesarean birth. The baby's heart rate was dipping quite a bit, and even though it may look normal to some, it wasn't looking good to the doctor who was taking in mind that she had been in labor for already 24hrs with much regularity. With almost 4hrs of no cervical change, he didn't want the baby to go through another whole day of distress. My client had a really hard time with that proposal though, even though she was having a hard time herself going forward with the labor because of her discomfort.
It was so tricky for her to accept his proposal after a cesarean birth 3 years before where she blames drugs completely for her labor stalling and causing fetal distress. During this whole labor, every time they administered a drug she'd ask if it would affect her labor. The doctors gently told her it wouldn't but she knew so deep down what she believed to be true: the opposite. She knew though that during this labor the drugs were her ally because of this intense discomfort. And so she felt so conflicted with the choice to use them and the belief that using them would "cause" a cesarean birth. Yet even so, I know her feelings before entering the OR spoke as: "I did it, I tried, yes, I've been through so much, something is going on here and I don't know what but I'm going to follow my gut, even though I didn't want this".
I don't know the reasons for everything, but I do know she went through a labor like never before, and that is what she wanted. She was amazing, she was determined, she was so strong. She has something to look back on to make her proud, to remind her of her strength and beauty. When she looked at me before heading into the OR, and said directly to me, "Erica, I could not have done this without you. I would not have been able to do this without you, thank you for all you have done, thank you for everything, ", that just means too much to me. It put me into tears right in front of her own. Moments like that open and transform, all of the people involved at the birth.
Blessings onto this beautiful mama. Blessings onto this child. Blessings onto this family. Blessings onto that which moves us and guides us right. Blessings onto that which we don't understand.
Closing ceremony at last year's conference.
I recently blogged about
my experience attending Naoli Vinaver’s midwifery training in Mexico. What a life-changing experience it was for me! It has truly motivated me to seek out even more midwifery training experiences, and I am pleased to announce that from the 19th to the 23rd of October I will be in Bad Wildbad, Germany attending a special Midwifery Today
conference titled “Preserving Our Traditions, Improving Our Skills.”
I have a feeling this is going to be a very special experience. Several amazing and inspirational leaders from the birth community will be there as presenters. To name just a few:
- Ina May Gaskin: yes, the one and only! Activist, innovator, and author of Spiritual Midwifery and the new book Birth Matters. I can’t tell you how blessed I feel to be able to spend time in the same space as this amazing woman, again! The first time was on The Farm in 2007 for her Midwife Assistant training.
- Stephen Gaskin: that’s right-husband to Ina May and one of the co-founders of The Farm birth center. Stephen is an awesome supporter of women’s rights and midwifery; I can’t wait to see him again!
- Debra Paskali-Bonaro: co-creator of the documentary Orgasmic Birth, the film that truly rocked the birth world. By the way, if you have not yet seen the film make sure to get your hands on it right away! The film is even available through Netflix.
- Elizabeth Davis: The other brilliant mind behind Orgasmic Birth and author of Heart and Hands: A Midwives Guide to Pregnancy and Birth. I remember when a woman gifted me her book a few years ago and now I get to meet her. Yay!
WOW! Is it October yet?
I look forward to soaking in the brilliant wisdom of these amazing teachers and deepening my knowledge of pregnancy, labor, birth and beyond. What a blessing it will be to my doula practice and my clients!
Want to join me in Germany? Act now! There is an early bird discounted special
from now until June 7th!