Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world. --John Milton

Monday, December 29, 2014

Who's in Charge?

I do have a choice. In fact, it's my job to make choices for my child from his conception. Even when the right choice is clear, it's still mine to own.

Have you ever heard "If my doctor let's me ..." or "My midwife said I have to ..." ?

Right. Many of us tend to think this way - that the expert is in charge of my pregnancy, of my baby.

Actually, I'm responsible. Why? I didn't get to be a parent because of my skill and knowledge. I'm a parent because God gave me a precious gift, a serious responsibility.

My baby is my charge. Even if a decision about my pregnancy is obvious, it's still mine to make. Requiring guidance and support doesn't diminish my authority. I rely on experts for advice and assistance, without shifting the weight from my shoulders.

After her birth, whom does my baby go home with? The midwife? The nurse? The obstetrician? The doula? My mom? Each of these experts have an important role. But's she's not their kid. She's mine. My charge.

I'm ultimately responsible to make all decisions and live with them.

How have experts respected or not respected you as the parent?

Want more info? Try Gentle Birth Choices by Barbara Harper or

Monday, December 8, 2014

This Little One is a ...

I had lists of boy and girl names before I knew we were having Baby two. I was asking my husband about this or that name. He would nod, waiting until we found out the gender.

My first checkup with my midwife by preference was at eighteen weeks (just had blood drawn before). I had also scheduled the same day the one ultrasound I planned to get.

I always enjoy my checkups with the birth center midwives. This day I was extra excited to also see my baby. I longed to hear the beautiful thump, thump of his or her heart.

With tears on my cheeks, the Cowboy and I glimpsed our precious Wonder stretch and shift. A tiny hand - opened and closed.



Thump, thump - so alive. So amazing.

"Look there," smiled the sweet technician. I took in my breath. "A boy!"

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Cord of Life

As a young girl I recall the fear and relief when my brother was born with the cord around his neck and lived. Recently, I realized that I was still haunted by this fear as the birth of my second nears. So, nervously, I looked up the research. I learned that my fear was unfounded.

Where does such fright come from when baby does not breath through the lungs anyway?

Perhaps it's because for us who take in a breath, something around the neck squeezing the airway is a real danger. Not so for baby, who receives oxygenated blood through the umbilical cord. Additionally the well-designed cord can take the typical amount of pressure and twisting during pregnancy and birth.

Unfortunately, in an understandable desire to provide grieving parents with an answer, a doctor may blame the umbilical cord, when the honest answer would have been, "I don't know." The unintended consequence of this misdiagnoses is irrational fear.

I'm assured by the evidence:
The cord is life-giving.
The cord is well-designed.

I have no reason to fear my baby's amazing umbilical cord - only to marvel at it's life-giving design.

Want more info? Try 9 Surprising Facts About the Cord around the Baby's Neck or Nuchal Cords: the Perfect Scapegoat

Monday, December 1, 2014

When the Law Says No Home Midwives (PART 2)

It had become more than a financial decision. With the combination of an unfavorable law, distance, and finances in contrast to the appeal of home, we improvised.

I called the doula recommended by my friend to provide emotional and spiritual support. I studied like I was going to become a midwife and summarized what I learned for my man. I also asked his unflappable cowgirl-mom to attend the birth in the role of midwife.

The birth center flexibly provided check-ups as if I would be delivering there, even though I made it no secret that I wouldn't being paying for that part of the service. The midwives were common sense and caring, unlike the rest of the dismissive medical community that was interested to offer care only if I committed to their way of doing things.

I called a local obstetrician who is highly skilled in his role to consider providing an ultrasound or being my back up physician. The nurse was politely dismissive of the possibility of being a backup. With persistence I contacted the doctor himself who was willing for me to come in for a consultation. I appreciated his sincere desire to help, but sensed I'd be wasting my money due to the system he feels compelled to operate within. So that left the local emergency room as the backup.

I devoured books such as Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin, Special Delivery by Rahima Baldwin, Preparing for Birth with Yoga by Janet Balaskas, and Gentle Birth Choices by Barbara Harper. I organized a notebook for use by myself and my support team with records, a birth plan, and emergency scenarios. I put together a thorough birth kit from And I prepared emotionally and spiritually.

Most of all, I enjoyed the process.

How have you been innovative? 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Delayed Cord Clamping Objections and Answers

Fascinating! Here's an article answering objections to delayed cord clamping written by Mark Sloan M.D. I was especially informed by numbers 10 and 11. 

Many maternity care providers continue to clamp the umbilical cord immediately after an uncomplicated vaginal birth, even though the significant neonatal benefits of delayed cord clamping (usually defined as 2 to 3 minutes after birth) are now well known. 
In some cases this continued practice is due to a misunderstanding of placental physiology in the first few minutes after birth. In others, human nature plays a role: We are often reluctant to change the way we were taught to do things, even in the face of clear evidence that contradicts that teaching. 
Though there is no strong scientific support for immediate cord clamping (ICC), entrenched medical habits can be glacially slow in changing. Here are some often-heard objections to delayed cord clamping (DCC), and how an advocate for delayed clamping might respond to them:
 10) You can’t have both the benefits of DCC and immediate skin-to-skin contact. If you place a newborn on his mother’s abdomen (i.e., above the level of the placenta), gravity will reduce the flow of blood from placenta to baby.Gravity does matter, but mainly in terms of the speed of the placental transfusion. A baby held below the level of the placenta will receive a full transfusion in about 3 minutes; one held above the placenta (e.g., a baby in immediate skin-to-skin contact) will also receive a full transfusion—it just takes a little longer (about 5 minutes). (1,13) 
 11) But what if the baby needs resuscitation? Isn’t it best to hand her over to the pediatrician immediately?One of the first things a truly sick baby in the NICU is going to receive is fluid support—often as a 20 to 40 ml/kg bolus of normal saline or blood. Yet that is exactly what’s left behind in the placenta with ICC—about 30 ml/kg of whole blood. There is considerable evidence that sick babies, both term and preterm, have better outcomes with DCC. It’s better to let nature do its own transfusing. (14-16)

Please join the discussion, sharing your comments below.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

When Labor Slows: A Home Waterbirth Story

Often active labor starts and then stops for a while. Did you know that a cervix having opened can even close back again in the middle of labor? Here's a wonderful story that explains why.

I've included an excerpt of the post from Birth Without Fear.

 We were just waiting for the Braxton Hicks contractions to turn into the real deal so we could get our daughter here.  Sunday morning was spent with the church family and then the afternoon was spent with Greg’s family celebrating his mom’s 55th birthday. 
I was feeling pretty good and honestly didn’t feel like I’d see my daughter anytime in the next few days.  I was nervous that when it was finally time that Greg would be late getting home and I’d labor alone, that the midwife would barely get there in time, and that everything would happen so fast, I wouldn’t hardly remember the experience!  Needless to say, that was not what occurred. ...
Did you enjoy this story? Was there any part where you felt uneasy? why?

For more info on the Sphincter Law or even an un-dialating cervix: Try the blog post "The Sphincter Law and Childbirth" on Prenatal Yoga Center or America's foremost midwife Ina May Gaskin on YouTube

Monday, November 24, 2014

When the Law Says No Home Midwives (PART 1)

I prefer to have a midwife, but our situation doesn't reasonably allow for it. That's not stopping us from exploring what we can do towards a gentle birth experience.

I knew there was a little one inside before the test confirmed it. Let's see ... a Christmas baby. This one would be two years younger than our first child.

I was set on using the same birth center where I had already enjoyed a good experience. Months before we had chosen to save up, rather than pay into an insurance plan, partly because many plans don't cover birth center costs well.

My husband and I sat down with costs and budget laid out and reevaluated. Were there any other options, perhaps less than the $6,000 birth center package? What about a midwife at home?

I soon found that most midwives had been chased out of state or out of practice by a restrictive law. The two I located were about as far away as the birth center. They spoke at length about our needing to consider possible ways to work around the midwife law in order to employ services. Finally, I determined that having a possibly stressed midwife who may not make it to the birth in time wasn't worth hiring an experienced attendant. Besides, the cost would still be about $4,000.

I was still thinking that the birth center was our best option, though I was intrigued by a local friend's home birth without a midwife. She had creatively compensated for not having a midwife's support, and maybe I could too.

I began to explore possibilities and research extensively. The more I envisioned home birth, the more I wished to deliver in the comfort of my home. As welcoming as it had been when we got to the birth center, I relished the idea of skipping the awful hour-long car ride.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Homebirth Statistics

Interested in well-documented statistics about home birth verses hospital birth? Bethany shares three studies. She provides a helpful summery for those of us who would rather not take the time to read entire research papers.

Is home birth safe? 
Most doctors in the US will say no, absolutely not. But is that really true? Here are a couple studies so that you may decide for yourself. 
1. 2009 study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ)Conclusion: “Planned homebirth attended by a registered midwife was associated with very low and comparable rates of perinatal death and reduced rates of obstetric intervention and other adverse perinatal outcomes compared with planned hospital birth attended by a midwife or physician.” 
 Details: This is a very good study because it looked at only women who were low-risk; even the women who gave birth in the hospital would have qualified for a home birth if they had desired. Therefore, the study is not biased in favor of homebirth, but is as fair as humanly possible. For a planned home birth, rates of perinatal (baby) death per 1000 births was 0.35. For the planned hospital births with a midwife, rates of perinatal death per 1000 births was 0.57. For planned hospital births with a physician, rates of perinatal death were 0.64. Notably, the study finds that women who had planned home births were significantly less likely to have bad maternal (mother) outcomes, such as severe tearing or hemorrhage. ...

Let's be as informed as we can and understand our decisions about birth. Read the rest of the blog post here. What do you think of the research?

Monday, November 17, 2014

My Husband Won't Get in the Birth Pool

Good for the man who will get in the birth pool with his laboring wife. My husband is not that guy.

He's fully supportive of my natural approach, but he'd rather be smoking his pipe in the other room during the birth then be in the middle of it. So it's tremendous of him to hold my hands and let me scream in his face.

I'm still learning to let him be who he is, supporting me in the way he does. To not assume of him. And to ask him what he thinks and then really listen.

Any other wives know what I'm talking about?

When I read someone else's birth experience that I admire, I can think her story must be mine. Then I remember: every birth is unique. I'm a mama like no other. And the Cowboy - well, that's why I fell in love - he's him and no other.

I do make suggestions, like that he might cut the cord. Or I ask him to help support me while I practice laboring positions.

But when I push too hard, we both feel stressed. When I let go, we both relax and enjoy our unique experience.

Want more info? Try Special Delivery: The Complete Guide to Informed Birth by Rahima Baldwin.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Mama Who Has the Courage to Question

Some have a wonderful experience with an OB/GYN and other hospital staff. If that's you, please share. It varies place to place, person to person, doesn't it? I'm convinced there are unfortunate tendencies in the emergency-minded hospital setting for the majority of births that aren't an emergency, but good things can be said too.

I share this gals story, because it reminds me a little of my own interaction with some (not all) hospital personnel.

She has a lot of courage and love for her baby. Here's part of what she shares:
We've been through a lot these past few weeks. My OB practice and I parted ways on bad terms. Technically, they kicked me out, but at the same time as I was already looking for a new provider. They refused to explain the reasons behind their recommendations and became shockingly belligerent, aggressive, and threatening towards me when I wouldn't just follow blindly and stop asking questions.
So I tried transferring to a midwife practice, assuming I would be accepted as the healthy, low risk, attentive mom-to-be that I am. All it took was a call to my previous provider and before I knew it, I had been declined from their practice. It was "too risky" to accept a patient who was kicked out of another practice for non-compliance and high results from a 1-hr glucose test (that I later found out hadn't even been administered properly). I couldn't retake the test correctly. I couldn't provide my 2 weeks of glucose monitoring results showing I'm below diabetic levels after every meal. I couldn't explain my side of the story of why I was kicked out. I'm just a risk. ...
Please read the whole to story to find out the happy ending.

Monday, November 10, 2014

My Baby Swims (Part 2)

"Touch the top of your baby's head."

I'm scared. I eye her doubtfully, but the midwife nods. I touch his slimy head. He's so real. This is actually happening.

And then he swims.

"Reach down, and pick up your baby."

For real? I scoop him close. A slight cry, a cord loosened from his neck. Those eyes - so alert.

I slump, spent. Relief. I'm simply relieved. I hold, just hold him.

Then a new Dad holds his son while I totter out of the pool, shivering. My purple son warms on my chest under freshly heated towels. This tiny, beautiful person - so tiny. I tuck my arms around him while he contentedly nurses. Moments before connected by cord, now connected at breast.

After a few minutes, I think I'm ready to wash up. I pass out. Someone's putting the most annoying smell up my nose! It pulls me from a deep dream. I'm out again. Why won't that sharp smell leave me alone!

I'm helped back to the bed and sleep.

How was your water birth different?

Want more info on water birth? Try Gentle Birth Choices by Barbara Harper. Or a thorough, beautiful, real story of a water birth on

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Story of a Beautiful Breech Birth

Many of us were nervous about birth and particularly breech until we understood it better. Here's a video giving us a glimpse of a precious welcome. 

This is a third baby, her second natural (vaginal) birth and first home birth for this family. The baby was small and full term. Apgar Scores were 10 and 10. You also see the first 30 seconds after the birth. 
The t-shirt was worn to make Robin Guy and the women of Coalition for Breech Birth smile --they made these t-shirts for the CBB conference in 2009. It says, "Whose afraid of a little bum?" and on the back, "Not me." I almost didn't wear it because of magical thinking, but choose faith instead of fear, community instead of isolation. Thanks, CBB community!Thanks especially much to the brilliant Jane Evans, UK Midwife and the full-hearted Drs. Anke Rietter and Frank Louwen of Germany for their Day at the Breech training in Ottawa which improved the way I attend breech births. I'm no expert, but simply responded to this woman's clear determination.
She had a cesarean for breech with her first, and had a homebirth for breech with her second. 
If she'd have been able to have a hospital breech birth she wouldn't have gone looking for a homebirth midwife. That being said, I do believe we gave her excellent care. This birth is probably safer than what would have happened in a typical US hospital right now. Being hands-off allowed her baby to do the cardinal movements. ...
What's your breech story?

Want more info? Check out breech birth on

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

My Baby Swims (Part 1)

I arrive at the birth center. I'm eight centimeters dilated - oh good! Apparently I'm moving along quickly for a first timer. That thought doesn't make the next contraction any easier. I'm swept away. So much for being in control! I wail.

The water. Oh the warm water is instant comfort. But then another contraction - wasn't there something about water being less painful than with an epidural? How could pain get worse? Then it does. I scream. I don't know the full capability of my lungs until I scream. Now so does my husband - ten inches from my panic.

This baby's not going to fit. I can't do this. I suddenly decide I don't want to give birth. It's too terrifying, too real. (So this is me in transition.) "Is he going to fit?" I implore my unflappable midwife. She assures me, yes.

I collapse again over the side of the birth tub til the next one. Then she says it: "Instead of screaming, push down." And I remember the words of a long-time mom, "When it's too much, and no one else can go there with you - God will." I think, the only way, is through this.

I close my mouth. And push.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Bethany on Transition

I can relate to this gal as she talks about Transition! When it hit me, I had no idea what was happening. Now I can laugh at how irrational I got. It really wasn't funny then.

Read her full post The Hardest Part of Labor. Here's an excerpt.

I sat on the toilet in our bathroom, holding onto my husband and drowning in sheer misery. This labor was too hard. I felt like I was about to die from pressure and pain. Or scream in frustration.

It wasn't this difficult last time, was it? I’m sure it wasn’t. Nothing could be as horrible as what I was going through at that moment. Nothing.

I looked up countless times to tell my husband that we were having no more kids. No more! I’d say. I am finished doing this! But the words never made it past my lips. Instead I thought it to myself, drowning in pain and an overwhelming feeling of helplessness. This was one experience I couldn't escape. The baby was coming, whether I wanted her to or not.

Anyone else relating?

Monday, October 27, 2014

Birth is All of Me

Birth is whole. Body, mind, heart, and spirit.

Even if I pretend that giving birth is spiritually about the same as digesting dinner, my spirit and mind and heart will be affected.

So a wise approach is to prepare for birth not only physically by eating well and exercising, but also to prepare mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

This may include intentionally forgiving after a vivid dream opens deep wounds. Or it can mean readying my mind by being knowledgeable about all birthing options.

During my first pregnancy I was strict with my diet, but understood little of emotional preparedness. This time I've slacked a little on eating, yet intentionally addressed some fears and unforgiveness.

Not only is this holistic awareness healthy, it's amazing. As a simple analogy - I can live though a beautiful spring day, or I can live a beautiful spring day.

My baby's coming one way or another. But the more alert I am along the journey, the more I experience - the more all of me experiences. I get to live not only pain, but also pleasure; not only fear, but also love; not only disappointment, but also joy.

I get to live wholly in the moment. The more I do, the more all of me benefits - the more my baby wholly benefits.

What helps you prepare for birth?

Want more info? Try Preparing for Birth with Yoga by Janet Balaskas or from a holistic doula. This post made me laugh and cry.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Jada's Story

Here are empowering words from a young mom. I've included the first few lines of her story. Please enjoy the full telling posted on Birth Without Fear.
A Mother Will Overcome {I Am Strong}by HEATHER CRESCIMANNO on OCTOBER 16, 2014
I am strong because I found out I was pregnant at 17, two months into a relationship, and decided then to keep the baby.
I am strong because I decided to end the relationship, because I wasn’t happy anymore.
I am strong because during my pregnancy, I went through the worst depression in my life a month before my son was born.

How did birth teach you that you're strong?

Monday, October 20, 2014

A Natural View of Birth

Natural is not just a way to do birth - it is birth.

Birth is natural first. Thankfully, technology and skilled surgeons save lives, and they do it in unnatural ways. Even then, medical experts interact with something marvelously natural.

So whatever surprises labor brings, I can have a solid understanding of birth. I can keep a natural view, even during a c-section. A drug-free, vaginal delivery is rewarding, but a natural perspective is key to a satisfying experience.

Here's what a natural perspective gets:
1. My body instinctively grows, delivers, and nurtures my baby.
2. My baby instinctively participates in birth.
3. Birth involves interaction of body, mind, heart, and spirit - for mother and baby.

A natural method of delivery is not guaranteed. What I can do for sure is see my body and my baby as natural marvels. What amazes you about birth?

Want more info? Try Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin or from a delightful mom. 

I Find Natural Birth

I live in America. For birth, that pretty much means obstetrics - you know, check-ups with brisk nurses, check lists of procedures, and check-ins to sterile birthing rooms.

I understand this has been the norm, at least for our moms and grandmoms. So for about a century, birth has been the hospital's expertise.

A few brave souls haven't nodded numbly to the one-size-fits-all system. But now more than a few of us find empowering information at our fingertips.

A Google search connects me to a dozen resources to consider - not just one hurried obstetrician's answer.

For my first, I instinctively took full responsibility for my pregnancy. I wanted to know what I was doing and why. During initial check-ups with a hospital practice, some were courteous and some were rude.

Thanks to the internet and supportive friends, I learned enough to decline a litany of undesired ultrasounds and tests and to eventually seek out a birth center. There, a natural view of birth fully opened to me.

And I've been studying a natural perspective ever since. What about you? What resources have been helpful?

Want more info? Try Gentle Birth Choices by Barbara Harper R. N. or which includes various birth stories.