Childbirth Education is for Dads too

8 Things M.Y. Husband Learned From Our Childbirth Classes

I had a long 21 hour labor and home birth. My husband was a great support, and I attribute a lot of his amazingness to us taking a comprehensive childbirth class! Before said class, he wanted to stand in the corner out-of-the-way, with the midwife and I telling him what to do. Even though this was my first pregnancy, I knew that plan was not going to work for me! Here are some things that our childbirth class taught my husband:

IMPORTANCE OF RESTING

It was around 10 o’clock at night. I had contracted for about an hour, and I told my husband that I was having contractions. He was watching TV, grabbed the remote, and said I should go to bed then (We were taught in our class that if labor started at night, then try to go to sleep). So like a good student; he wanted to follow that advice. Instead, I said “yeh, I don’t think that’s gonna happen”.

Hopefully next time we will both try a little harder to heed this advice. We were both exhausted, and I remember waking him a couple of times while he was providing counter-pressure.

COUNTER-PRESSURE

Counter-pressure was amazing! I had a lot of back labor, since my son was in a posterior position. I’m not sure if we would have figured out this comfort measure without our class!

Comfort Measures

My husband applying counter-pressure

SET-UP MY BIRTH SPACE

Our instructor did not teach us specifically how to set up our birth space, but she did talk about creating a great birthing atmosphere, such as dim lights and music. He also knew not to bug me with the details and set-up the space, which was invaluable. This allowed me and baby to focus.

STAGES OF LABOR

My hubby is a Network Engineer (meaning he works with computers). He has no medical background and knew nothing about pregnancy, labor, birth, or postpartum until these classes. Knowing this information decreased his stress and allowed him to support me. Since these classes, he has also educated other men and women during conversations.

CALM

He was calm! Our classes provided us many opportunities to discuss how I deal with discomfort. He is usually a hover-er (You know – standing over you, staring and asking you every couple of seconds different annoying questions about what you need?) Well, that day he was not. He was calm, always touching me, and mostly quiet – He was just what I needed!

IMPORTANCE OF FOOD & DRINKS

He also knew to keep me hydrated. I was nauseous most of the labor, so I wouldn’t eat, but I still very thirsty. When you are in labor, you get so dry! Hydration helps a lot! After every contraction he made sure I sipped something.

IMPORTANCE OF A DOULA

We hemmed and hawed about hiring a doula most of my pregnancy once we learned that they existed. It is hard to anticipate your needs when you have never experienced labor or birth before. We decided not to hire a doula, instead we had my mom there for support. Though her behind the scenes role was helpful to my birth team, I needed more than that. My husband was an amazing support, but he had difficulty getting bathroom, rest, and food breaks because I needed continual support. After all the dust settled from our son’s birth, one of the first things my husband said was “we are hiring a doula next time”. He still reminds me of this when we discuss future pregnancies.

CONFIDENCE

Lastly, when I asked him what he gained from taking a childbirth class, he said “It gave me confidence in the birthing process. Birthing isn’t just go to the hospital, pop a kid out and go home. It is an experience of a lifetime. There is nothing like it!” To read my husband’s birth story click here.

Did you take a childbirth class? How did it help you and your partner? Comment below!

I am a doula, childbirth educator, parenting educator, nurse, and breastfeeding mother. I serve Lafayette, Eunice, Sunset, Opelousas, and surrounding areas. For more information about me and my services, visit www.MYBirthandBaby.com.

Writing a Birth Plan

Why Every Couple Should Write a BIRTH PLAN

So, I’ve heard a lot of controversy on birth plans in the birth world lately. So, I thought I would contribute my 2 cents as well! A birth plan is similar to a 5 year plan – You know, that exercise that teachers make you do, so that you start thinking about your future . . . Yes, that! How so? Well, with a 5 year plan, you list your goals, research, and then plan the steps needed to achieve those goals. This is also true for a birth plan.

WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS?

First – What are your goals? This will guide you. Do you want an unmedicated vaginal birth? Repeat cesarean? Medicated vaginal birth?

HOW TO ACCOMPLISHING YOUR GOALS

Each couple’s goals will be different, and so will the steps to achieving them. For instance, if your goal is a vaginal birth, you may want minimal interventions, such as vaginal exams, inductions (unless medically necessary), breaking water, or even no epidural (or waiting until at least 6 cm until getting one). If you are afraid of tearing, you may decline an epidural, refuse an episiotomy, and specify a pushing position. If you are worried about infection, you may decide to do a home birth and refuse vaginal exams. These will be the bullet points that you include on your birth plan.

There are so many things to consider, and each woman’s birth plan will vary.

Also, keep it simple and try to limit it to a page. Paragraphs are hard to read quickly. Also, if it is more than a page, it will be hard for everyone to remember everything on it.

COMMUNICATION TOOL

The exercise of creating your birth plan should ideally be done with your partner, especially if they are going to be at your birth. This is a great bonding experience. You may discover that you both have different ideas of birth. Talk and listen to each other now, when you are not distracted by contractions!

So, you and your partner have envisioned and planned for your ideal birth. Now what? Communicate it! This is the most important part. Talk to your care provider. If their birth philosophy is not in alignment with yours, you may need to find a new care provider. Or, maybe your care provider may have some other suggestions. Labor is not the ideal time to have this discussion.

So, you and your care provider agree on your birth plan. Great! Now, share it with everyone else that will be a part of your birth – Doula, nurses, family, friends . . . If any of these people are not supportive of your plan, you may need to rethink their involvement. Negative energy can really mess up the birthing atmosphere.

A BIRTH PLAN IS NOT . . .

A birth plan is NOT a contract; it is more of a guide. You are not guaranteed this birth plan. Most medical professionals will try to respect the plan as much as possible.

However, it is important to know what your birth place’s policies are. If your birth place does not allow things on your plan, they likely will not be honored. Tour your birth place, and find these things out ahead of time. If they cannot meet your needs, is there another place that will?

Also, like life, things may change. Every woman’s birth follows its own path, and things may happen that you didn’t plan for.

FACTORS THAT CAN AFFECT YOUR BIRTH EXPERIENCE

EDUCATION

Education is the most valuable tool you have when planning for a birth, and also when dealing with whatever may come your way. A comprehensive childbirth class is invaluable. Birth isn’t going the way you planned? That’s okay. With a comprehensive education, you will know what questions to ask, and be able to make an educated decision. YOU are in charge of YOUR birth!

CARE PROVIDER

Find a care provider that is respectful and supportive of your birthing goals. One care provider that was amazing for your best friend, may not be amazing for you. Every woman has different desires and goals, so not every care provider will be a good match for YOU. It is okay to switch care providers to find one that meets YOUR needs!

BIRTH PLACE

Each birth place will have different policies. Find one that fits your needs.

DOULA

An independent doula can help with and support any birth plan. Birth can be an emotional, intense, and wonderful time, especially with extra support. Like care providers and birth places, find a doula that matches your personality and needs.

Happy planning!

Did you write a birth plan? Did it help? Any tips for other couples? Leave your comments below!

I am a nurse, certified Birth Boot Camp Doula and Childbirth Educator, as well as a Positive Discipline Parenting Educator. I provide services in Acadiana area, including Lafayette & Eunice, LA. For more information about me and my services, visit M.Y. Birth & Baby. Let’s start planning for an AMAZING birth!

What to do when your water breaks to start labor.

Your Water Broke! Now what?

Due to media and movies, many people envision labor starting with a gush of water and then a hectic ride to the hospital. For the majority of women, this isn’t the case. 8-10% of women’s membranes will rupture before labor starts, but for most it usually happens in active labor or when pushing.

WHAT DOES RUPTURE OF MEMBRANES MEAN?

Inside the uterus, your baby is surrounded by the amniotic sac, which contains amniotic fluid. This provides the baby cushioning and protection from bacteria. Like a balloon, the sac, or membranes, surrounding the fluid can tear. If it is a small tear, you may notice some leaking. The membrane may even self heal. If there is a large tear, there may be a more noticeable gush of “water”. Your water breaking may not be obvious; some women question whether they peed on themselves before they realize that it is amniotic fluid.

If this happens before you are full-term (full-term is considered 39-41 weeks gestation by The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynocologists (ACOG)), call your doctor and ask what they recommend.

The focus of this blog is a full-term, low-risk mother and her “water breaking” to start labor.

SO, NOW WHAT?

Take a breath.

Smile. You are in labor!

Put on a heavy pad or a Depends (adult diaper). You will continue to leak as you hydrate yourself.

Follow your labor plan. Is it in the middle of the night? Try to go back to sleep. Early labor can take a while and rest is important.

Are you well rested and want to get moving? Go for a walk.

THINGS TO CONSIDER

What color is the fluid? It should be clear, maybe with white specks in it. It should also be odorless, or with a slightly sweet smell. If this is not the case, call your care provider and notify them.

What does your care provider recommend if your water breaks? This is a great question to ask your care provider during a prenatal appointment. If you forget to ask beforehand, you can also call the office. The answer to this question will vary among providers.

CONCERN WHEN MEMBRANES RUPTURE

The biggest concern is infection. The amniotic sac creates a barrier, protecting the baby from infection. Once the water breaks, this protection is gone.

Evidence Based Birth has a great article that discusses Term Premature Rupture of Membranes that discusses the fears of care providers and the current research.

HOW TO MINIMIZE RISK

So how can you protect the baby after this barrier is gone?

Drink tons of water! Think gallons. This may be easier than you think. During labor women often get very thirsty, so keep the fluids coming! Coconut water and laborade (water, raw honey, and sea salt) are also great alternatives to water. The amniotic fluid will replenish itself. If you have a small leak, the amniotic sac may fill again if the tear repairs itself. If it is a large tear, the fluid might just drain back out – that’s okay. If the head is engaged in the pelvis, it will also block some of the amniotic fluid from exiting.

Take your temperature. If you decide to labor at home for a while, take your temperature regularly. 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit is considered a fever. Call your care provider. Usually if the increased temperature is due to infection, there will also be other signs such as increased heart rate of mom and/or baby, and smelly amniotic fluid.

Take only showers; no baths. Germs have an easier time traveling up the vaginal canal when you are soaking in water. If your water breaks in active labor, it is considered safe to take a bath without increasing risk of infection.

And, finally, the number 1 thing you can do is say NO to vaginal exams, or minimize them. It does not matter how careful medical staff are and that they use sterile gloves. When they do a cervical checks, bacteria is pushed from the vaginal tract up to the cervix (the opening to the uterus). The number of vaginal checks is linked to increased occurrence of infection.

Feel free to share this image on social media (including your own blog!)

SO, WHAT HAPPENS IF AN INFECTION DOES DEVELOP?

Medical personnel monitor you closely, regardless of your birth place. If you show signs of an infection, they usually suggest antibiotics.

They will often give the newborn antibiotics, as well, and observe him/her in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) after birth. If you do receive antibiotics, consider taking a probiotic to replenish your good bacteria.

If baby shows signs of distress during labor, such as the heart rate lowering at atypical times, or staying lower or higher than normal, they will likely suggest a cesarean if a vaginal birth isn’t imminent.

ADDITIONAL SUGGESTIONS

Another factor to consider, is that the cushion is gone. Amniotic fluid provides cushioning for mom and baby. It is, also, easier for baby to get into a good position with the extra fluid to float in.

So, contractions may be intense sooner. Think about the comfort measures you learned in your childbirth class and use them! Also, if you hired a doula, call, and develop a game plan.

Also, if you are pregnant and reading this, start seeing a chiropractor. If possible, get a chiropractic adjustment during labor as well. Chiropractic adjustments have been shown to improve fetal positioning. Ideally, find a chiropractor that has extra training and experience with pregnancy, like a Webster Certified chiropractor. To find a list of providers near you, http://icpa4kids.org is a great place to start. If you are in the Lafayette and Eunice, LA area, you can also contact me for suggestions.

Birth, like life, often does not go according to plan. However, you can still have an AMAZING birth!

Did your labor start with a gush? What did you do? Comment below!

I am a registered nurse, and certified Birth Boot Camp Instructor & Doula in the Lafayette and Eunice, LA areas. For more information about me and my services, visit M.Y. Birth & Baby.

All a Pregnant Woman Wants for Christmas

7 Perfect Gifts for a Pregnant Woman

Looking for that PERFECT gift for your soon-to-be mom friend or family member?

Often we think about getting something cute for the baby, while that is nice and appreciated, moms actually have many more pressing needs during this time; and they are often quite pricey!

So, what do pregnant women want for Christmas? I asked some veteran (been there done that) moms, and here is what they said:

MATERNITY CLOTHES

Maternity clothing was one reason I loved being pregnant. The clothing is so soft and stretchy to accommodate your frequently changing body.

“I was happy to receive gift cards for maternity clothes! They are expensive. And let’s be honest, by the end of the holiday season my clothes start to feel especially snug. New ones are a blessing!” – Hailie Sue Wolfe, Abilene, TX

I also loved belly bands. They can help women transition from pre-pregnancy clothes to maternity clothes. I loved them because they kept my pants up; and I didn’t get that annoying chaffing on my legs from pulling up my pants all day!

ACCESSORIES

How about accessories- because you can still wear them when you gained 40 pounds. Scarfs are your friend.” – Sarah Naomi Clark, Ukiah, CA

Sometimes putting together an outfit can be frustrating when you are pregnant. Accessories are great because you can still fit in them regardless of your size. Some other possibilities are purses, jewelry, and belts.

MASSAGE

I had a relatively comfortable pregnancy, and I contribute much of that to   regular massages and chiropractic care throughout my pregnancy.

Pregnant women spend so much time thinking and caring for their growing little one. Christmas can be a time to help mom pamper herself with a much-needed massage. Her loved ones can either plan a get-away or give her a spa gift card. Either way, she’s going to love it!” – Cameo Sherman, Bowie and Annapolis, MD

For partners, you can also offer to give a massage yourself.

“I’m pretty sure one of my clients would tell you that me teaching her husband a few ways to relieve pregnancy pain on her back was the best Christmas gift she got.” – Brooke Harralson, Fort Worth, TX

PAMPERING

Along with a massage, women enjoy other types of pampering, such as manicures, pedicures (it’s hard to reach your feet late in pregnancy), and relaxing baths.

They may also need tools that help them care for themselves better, such as special pillows for sleeping or birth balls.

“Pregnant women might like a nice yoga ball for Christmas since it makes sitting so much more comfortable. Some Epsom salts for the bath would help ease the aches and pains of pregnancy too!” – Brooke Harralson, Fort Worth, TX

EDUCATION

Even as a nurse, I had much to learn in my short 9 months of pregnancy. Comprehensive childbirth education classes were a game changer for me and my husband. He was so supportive during my labor and birth! It is also a great opportunity for the couple to bond every week. These classes can be a little bit pricey, so this is a great gift to split with a few friends!

Books are also a great gift. My mother gave me the The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding while I was pregnant; I still use it as a reference. Many books from the Dr. Sears Library are also good, such as The Birth Book: Everything You Need to Know to Have a Safe and Satisfying Birth.

BIRTH PROFESSIONAL FUND

 

There are many professionals that can make a huge impact on a woman’s pregnancy and birth experience, but the cost can really add up.

“I always wished people would donate to my home birth fund. I.e. Pay my midwife fund. Also doula, prenatal massage, chiropractor, postpartum massage and chiropractic adjustment.” – Kristi Keen, Sugar Land, TX

A doula is a birth professional, not a medical professional, that helps couples navigate pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. A doula works with the partner in supporting the mother continuously during labor.

POSTPARTUM

The postpartum period can be an intense time for new parents. The good news is there are many ways to help.

“I wish I could have gotten a gift card for a maid service. I also wished for an ergobaby carrier and one of those woven wraps with the music notes.” – Kristi Keen, Sugar Land, TX

Babywearing is a great way to recreate the womb, comfort baby, promote bonding, and give back mom the use of her hands. Other gifts that can help postpartum are gift certificates for massage, chiropractors, and restaurants.

So, put down that cute onesie, and consider one of these gifts instead. Her, her family, and their budget will thank you! Merry Christmas!

Have other gift suggestions? Comment below!

I teach childbirth and parenting classes, and provide doula services, in Lafayette and Eunice, Louisiana and the surrounding areas. For more information about me and my services, visit M.Y. Birth & Baby.

 

 

7 Disadvantages to Pregnancy

7 Cons of Pregnancy

Some women like being pregnant, and others not so much. Earlier this week, I wrote about how much I loved being pregnant. However, I can also understand why some women don’t love pregnancy. Here are some common pregnancy annoyances:

MORNING SICKNESS

The first 16 weeks of my pregnancy were pretty miserable due to morning sickness. My worst pregnancy fear came to life. I do not tolerate nausea very well, so the first trimester was rough. If you did not experience morning sickness (or sick-all-the-time sickness), you are awesome and please share your secrets! It did go away though, and once the happy hormones kicked in it was smooth sailing!

LACK OF BOUNDARIES

People see a pregnant belly and all social boundaries go out the window. Random strangers will put their hands on your belly, sometimes without even asking. I didn’t mind friends and family touching my belly, but someone I didn’t know, and without asking?! Would you do this to anyone else? BOUNDARIES PEOPLE! Some people love their bellies touched; you can read that blog here.

TALKING ABOUT BELLY

At a certain point, it’s obvious that you are pregnant. And people LOVE to talk about it! A lot! For some women, especially if their bump pops out early in their pregnancy, they will hear this discussion often. At first many don’t mind, because they are so excited about the baby. However, after months and months of talking about their growing body, the topic starts to wear on them. OK, I’m HUGE; I get it!

BIRTH HORROR STORIES

Tell someone that you are planning a natural birth, and everyone and their mother will come out of the woodwork to share their or their aunt’s first-cousin’s co-worker’s horrible birth. Hearing these stories are not helpful to a pregnant mother, especially a first-time mom! Instead, tell her how awesome she is doing and ask how to support her.

BODY DISCOMFORTS

For the most part, after the first trimester, I was relatively comfortable. My biggest complaint was heartburn. For some women though, they can experience a variety of nuisances, such as general aches and pains, sciatica, heartburn, constipation, and gas . . . lovely right!? Chiropractic care, exercise, and massage can greatly help with these discomforts.

PREGNANCY BRAIN

Pregnancy brain is real! I didn’t believe in it until I experienced it first-hand. Some say that it goes away after a while, others say it just turns into mommy-brain. I’m 17 months postpartum, and I’m still waiting for it to go away. . .

EXPENSIVE

Like many major life events, pregnancy can be expensive. You SPEND a lot of MONEY in a short period of time – A care provider, childbirth education, birth place, doula, nursery, and baby gear can all add up quickly. Tip – focus more on the birth preparations than the nursery. Newborns don’t need much in the beginning.

What drove you nuts while pregnant? Comment below!

I am a certified doula, childbirth and parenting educator. I am also a nurse, breastfeeding and cloth diapering mom. For more information about me and my services visit M.Y. Birth & Baby.

8 Benefits to Being Pregnant

8 Reasons I Loved Being Pregnant

The more I teach about pregnancy and childbirth, the more I think about how much I loved pregnancy (minus the nausea for the first 16 weeks). Pregnancy can be a love it or hate it time in a woman’s life. It is a time of many changes – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Here are some reasons I loved being pregnant:

BELLY

There is something so beautiful about a pregnant woman’s belly. So much so, that complete strangers feel compelled to comment on it; and many pregnant women don’t even mind (at least in the beginning, it can get old after a while). I loved having a pregnant belly. Plus, you don’t have to worry about sucking in your stomach after you eat!

BABY KICKS

 I was almost 22 weeks pregnant before I felt my son’s first kicks – It felt like popcorn popping. It’s a pretty amazing experience. As the mother, I got this introduction and connection to my child before anyone else. Every now and then I still touch my belly and reminisce the belly days.

MATERNITY UNDERWEAR

I avoided maternity underwear for quite a while; I didn’t understand the need. Eventually, though, relaxin kicked in, my pelvis and hips widened, and regular panties were just uncomfortable. Maternity underwear are great; they are soft, cute, and actually cover your butt – So much more comfortable!

MATERNITY CLOTHING

Like maternity panties, maternity clothes are just comfortable! Everything is so soft and stretchy. It was over a year postpartum before I was willing to give them up! There are also so many cute options!

Baby Shower with Some of the Women in My Family

Me at my family baby shower.

PEOPLE HONOR YOU

People, in general, are just nicer and more concerned about your well-being when you are pregnant. Being a nurse is a physically demanding job. I had people offering to push beds, giving me their chair, and trying to protect me from getting kicked by patients (part of the territory for pediatric nurses). People tend to not make these offers when you are just your normal self without child. Most of the time I did not take them up on these offers, but it felt great that they cared.

Your friends and family also throw you parties! Granted most of the presents were for my little one, but I still felt special. I was honored with three baby showers from family, co-workers, and church members.

Once the baby is born, this changes pretty fast.

HAPPY HORMONES

I was a happy pregnant woman. The pregnancy hormones gave me patience, compassion, and a love for everyone. Luckily, I’m still breastfeeding, so I still have some of these calming hormones left, just not as intense.

FOCUSED ON MYSELF

Because I was growing another human, I felt like I was allowed to listen to my body, slow down, and focus on my needs more than normal. I took a childbirth class, Dancing for Birth, massages, acupressure treatments, chiropractic adjustments, and also napped when I felt tired.

FOUND COMMUNITY

As I was preparing for my birth, I also met positive and supportive women that I still keep in contact with today. It’s important to find support in your community. Birth, and then caring for a newborn, was a huge transition. Being around others with similar experiences helped normalize what I was going through and keep my sanity, which can be hard when you are sleep deprived! Having a support system can also decrease feelings of isolation.

These are just some of the reasons I loved being pregnant; what are yours? Comment below!

I am a doula and teach childbirth classes in the Lafayette, LA area. For more information about me and my services visit M.Y. Birth & Baby, or contact me today!

4 Tips on Being an Active Participant in Childbirth

4 Tips on Navigating Healthcare While Pregnant

My grandmother recently had a stroke. It was relatively mild, and she is now at a temporary rehab facility. Overall, she was treated respectfully, but most of the time she did not understand what was going on. She did not understand the medications that were given to her, the procedures done to her, the reason for the G-tube (a tube surgically placed into the stomach to feed her, since she was unable to swallow) that was placed, or why they were not giving her any food (My grandmother LOVES food; she can out eat anyone! So no food is a big deal!).

At one point, my grandmother said, “I’m lucky I have you and your mother because this is all so confusing!” She’s right, the medical world can be very confusing. My mother and I are nurses, and were there to speak to the doctors, nurses, therapists, social workers, and anyone else that was involved with her care. We were able to ask what “pill” they were giving her, or which lab the “little bit of blood” was for, or the risks and benefits of the feeding tube. Then explain this to her. But really, she was not an active participant in this process.

I felt so guilty, knowing that she did not fully understand what was being done to her, and why. It reminded me of how women often say they feel during labor and childbirth. How scary and confusing that must be for them. Medical professionals go to school for many years to have the training, experience, and knowledge that they have to practice medicine. However, you do not need a degree to be an active participant in your healthcare. Here are some tips:

WRITE THINGS DOWN

Pen and paper can be great tools for keeping track of appointments, questions, or your to-do-list. There are many things to consider when planning for your birth; write them down. Write down questions for your OB/Midwife appointments, important advice, words that you don’t understand or topics you need to research. When I was pregnant, I used a binder to keep it all organized.

ASK QUESTIONS

Ask your doctor/midwife questions. If your care provider never has time to answer your questions, this may be a “red flag”. Part of their job is to answer your questions. However, sometimes they are simply overbooked, so tell the clerk you need extra time when scheduling your next appointment; and they will give you a longer block of time.  If you don’t like your care provider’s answer, you can always get a second opinion.

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS

Hopefully, before you are in labor, you asked a lot of questions and found the birth place and care provider that is right for you. Ideally, you and your care provider will have a mutually respectful relationship. Regardless of your relationship though, it is important to understand the risks and benefits of any procedure that they suggest during your pregnancy and labor. It is equally important to know that you have the right to DECLINE, as well as CONSENT, to procedures.  It is YOUR body and they need YOUR permission!

BRING SUPPORT

Bring support! Many athletes have support personnel to assist them on game day, you should too! In addition to their partner, women often invite close friends, family, or doulas to their birth. Ideally, it should be with someone you are comfortable with (after all, there is a good chance you will be naked and poop in front of them), who is supportive of your birth plan, and who can help facilitate communication (not speak for you) between you and medical staff. It is also helpful if this person is knowledgeable about birth (either from personal experiences, training, or education).

Navigating the medical world can be confusing, but it is possible! You’ve got this!

Have any other suggestions? I would love to read them! Please comment below.

I am a childbirth and parenting educator, as well as a doula. I am also a registered nurse, breastfeeding mom, and active in my local birth community. For more information on me, my comprehensive childbirth classes, and services please visit MY – Birth & Baby.

What a Childbirth Class can Do for YOU

5 Ways to Prepare for Birth

I recently met a sweet pregnant woman that was glowing with excitement about her unborn baby. Throughout her pregnancy she has been gathering items to comfort and care for her baby once he/she arrives. During our conversation, she revealed that she did not have any plans regarding her birth besides showing up at the hospital in labor. Internally I cringed. I REALLY hope she has a good birth experience! The thing is, there is more to preparing for the baby than decorating the nursery. Between 25-34% women report birth trauma (that is 1 in 3 to 1 in 4 women!)! Birth trauma can affect bonding, breastfeeding, mood, coping with future pregnancies, and so much more. Babies actually do not need many things, but they do need a healthy mama. Here are some additional ways to prepare for baby:

EDUCATION

Education is SO IMPORTANT! I realize that I am a childbirth educator, and this advice probably seems biased. BUT, how will you know what you want if you don’t know YOUR options? I know of some women that had multiple births before they discovered that they had options. It doesn’t have to be that way. Understanding what is going on can decrease a lot of fear, and hopefully trauma as well.

SUPPORTIVE CARE PROVIDER

Find a supportive care provider that has similar birth philosophies as yourself. How do you know if your care provider is supportive? Ask around. Ask friends. Ask local birth workers or advocacy agencies. Ask your care provider questions! In my Birth Boot Camp childbirth classes we discuss possible “red flags” and the questions to ask your care provider.

SUPPORTIVE BIRTH PLACE

You can choose where to give birth! Common birth places are hospitals, birth centers, and home. Tour your birth place. Ask questions. Find out policies/rules. Doctors and hospitals may have different policies. You need to ask for the rules of BOTH! Which location do you feel the safest? The safer you feel in your birthing environment, ideally the easier you will progress through labor.

SUPPORTIVE FRIENDS

Find people that will support you, not try to scare you. People LOVE to share war stories. Pregnancy might not be the best time for that. When I was pregnant, I found my support through my childbirth classes and the local birth community. Many communities have free or inexpensive groups that you can join. If you are in the Lafayette, LA area, check out Louisiana Constituents for Safe Childbirth (LCSC), Louisiana Natural Birth, La Leche League, and Postpartum groups. These groups have online and person-to-person support. They also often have birth workers that can provide resources, as well as other mothers that can love and support you!

HIRE A DOULA

A doula can also help you prepare for your birth. Doulas provide informational, emotional, and physical support for you and your partner. A doula does not replace a childbirth class, but can help remind you of what you learned. She can also help you navigate through the birth world and recommend other local professionals as needed.

There you have it – 5 ways to prepare for an AMAZING birth! 

I am a childbirth and parenting educator, as well as a doula. I am also a registered nurse, breastfeeding mother, and active in my birth community. For more information on me or my classes please visit MY – Birth & Baby.

Father holding Newborn

A Guy’s Birth Story

Where do I start? My wife asked me to write my birth story. I am thinking in my head “My birth story? I didn’t give birth? What right do I have to say my birth story when my wife gave birth?”

First some background of how I used to think: I am the youngest of seven; we were all born in the hospital. My 3rd oldest and myself are the only ones born natural with no drugs. I actually was born after a cesarean (VBAC baby). I didn’t know that this was a big deal, but now it is apparently.

Home births growing up were not that common. My family was on the poor to middle class side of things. My first hearing of a homebirth was from my cousin, I thought “Why? Isn’t that dangerous? Couldn’t the baby die? I think that’s stupid and careless.” When I heard that the home birth went just fine . . . I thought, “well she’s just lucky, I guess.”

Then I lived in Germany for 8 years. Midwives and homebirths are common there.  Pregnant women are usually taken care of by midwives. Doctors take over only when surgery may happen, or the midwife consults them.

Home birth, Say what?! When we decided to have a baby, my wife said that we would be having a homebirth. I said “Why? What’s wrong with a hospital? It’s safe.” She said “Why not at home? It’s safe to have a homebirth.” She told me that only if she was high risk, then we would go to the hospital, but otherwise we can have it at home on our bed. I thought, “Oh great. On our bed with blood and mess and gore to clean up.”

She bought me some great books for first time/soon to be dads. She also signed us up for Birth Boot Camp. I thought, “I am so not into this . . . Do I have to? Look you’re the pregnant one, you go and I will stay back or I will just get in the way, I won’t know what to do . . .” Up to this point, I didn’t understand birth, my role, or my responsibilities . . .

Birth Boot Camp: We started going to Birth Boot Camp childbirth classes. It was a game changer. I learned the beauty behind birth, our options, and a fountain of birthing knowledge. It let me know that my wife was not going to do this alone and that I had a role. I was going to be there and that I needed to be there. I learned just how powerful women can be. I also gained the reassurance that women have been having babies for thousands of years – and often in their HOMES!

My Birth Story: On the night that it all started, I had worked all day and I was relaxing on the sofa. My wife was taking off to a Dancing for Birth class.  Perfect time to relax. When she came home, it was around 8:30 at night and she said she was having some contractions. So I asked if they were the real ones or the Braxton Hicks contractions. She wasn’t sure, but decided to take a bath to see if they would calm down. It didn’t. She came out of the bath and said she was still having them.

So, I thought of what I learned in class – GO TO SLEEP AS SOON AS IT BEGINS! So I say ok so we should try to get some quick sleep; notify the midwife. She said to forget the sleep; yes, call the midwife; and my back is hurting. So now I am calling the midwife and setting up the birth bath (remember to put in the liner, I totally forgot). She was having back labor (It turned out the baby’s back of head was facing her spine, instead of her stomach, but we didn’t know since the baby was always in the right position before). Around 11:00 PM we called the midwife again thinking that she was getting close to delivery and so she should come over.

My wife was in and out of the birth pool, forehead to the wall, laboring on the toilet, and the bed trying to relieve some of the back pain. I was pushing on her lower back non-stop; and when I had to pee, I would run to the toilet and before I could start she was calling for me to come and put pressure on her back. Her favorite word that night was “JEFF!” The night was a blur, morning came, and still she was not getting any closer to giving birth. She was 6 centimeters around 6 AM. I was thinking, “How is this possible? My muscles are throbbing, and my mind is dead.”

The midwife and her assistant took turns taking naps; and when I would accidentally fall asleep, they poked me while I was in the birth pool when my face was about to hit the water. My wife would also lovingly tap (AKA slap) me when she felt me falling asleep and the counter-pressure would stop.

The midwife and her assistant kept trying to get us to eat, but my wife was having none of that. She was nauseous. My wife finally got some IV fluids and we both laid on the floor and got maybe an hour of sleep before it kicked back into full labor again. Back to the pool, then to the bed, the wall, the pool . . . and it kept like this for I don’t know how long. My wife’s mother was there, laying down towels and washing the wet ones. She must have done at least 20 loads of towels.   I continued to push on her lower back, knowing that was what was needed.

Around 1:00 PM, the power went out. We assumed that it would come back on shortly. At 3:00 PM the midwife called the power company and told the worker on the phone that she was in the middle of a birth. Power came back on like 5 mins later.

Finally, my wife was fully dilated!! Then, the pushing started. I think she pushed for about 3 hours. At one point, the midwife attempted to break her water to help with pushing. This didn’t really work. At some time around 4:00 PM, I think, my wife started saying “I can’t do this. I am done.” I stayed with her saying “yes, you can.” (This was the reason for me to be there; to be her support).

In the end, it was on the toilet that the most progress was gained. We saw my son’s hair just barely sticking out. The midwife told my wife that we needed to move her to the birth chair and that she couldn’t have the baby on the toilet. My wife simply said “Watch me.” The midwife, her assistant and I all grabbed her, lifted, and moved her quickly to the chair. I think the midwife told her to slow down, but I don’t remember. My wife was done and wanted the baby out, so slowing down was not an option. She powered through the contraction and out came my son at 6:02 PM. I didn’t know what to do when he was coming out or how to catch him, but the midwife was on spot. The cord was wrapped around him 3 times. He was fine though. He was bloody from my wife tearing, but he was so amazing. I had tears coming down my face. So happy to see him, and so happy that the marathon was over. My wife tore fairly badly due to my son being “sunny-side up”, or occiput posterior. The birth was over 21 hours; time well spent.

Afterbirth: I know now that birthing in the hospital is not the only way, and neither is being at home. Your birth location should be wherever you are comfortable. For us, it was home. I would never recommend doing a homebirth without taking an actual comprehensive birth class. I will also never do another birth without a doula. A doula could have told us better positions to try, to make my wife more comfortable, and maybe even speed up the labor! She could have also given me a BATHROOM break!

It has been 15 months since the birth. I still feel and see the birth when I think about it. It was a challenge that we accomplished together. To me, birth is both man and woman, together in unison, working to bring a new life into the world. As men, and soon-to-be fathers, we need to learn our part. Being that guy in the waiting room is like missing out on your wedding kiss. I know I will never be that guy. I will be there and I will be involved (with the help of my doula)!

Husband giving labor support.

Pregnancy, Labor, Birth, Postpartum – Oh MY!

I am exactly 1 year 8 weeks postpartum from my first, and so far only, birth of my son. I was advised, even before my birth, to write my birth story as soon as possible, so that I did not forget. However, I’ve continued to procrastinate. I’ve asked myself why. I’ve concluded that it is because I have had conflicting feelings. How do you write about something that you are still processing and don’t know how you feel?

I had a natural, un-medicated, home birth (I know I don’t win any medals). It was a life changing event. It was traumatic, empowering, challenging, and what was best for me. I think this is why it has been hard for me to process; how can it be all these things at once?

Pregnancy – Nauseating (literally) and joyful. From 7.5 weeks to around 16 weeks I had severe morning sickness. I tried ginger chews and tea, lemon, protein, carbs, vitamin B, and large quantities of honeydew and cantaloupes. I woke up an extra hour earlier every morning and my husband would bring me half a honeydew or cantaloupe in bed. I would then slowly walk to the bathroom to get ready for work where I would suck on ginger chews. That is how I started every work day. I would then go to work in a busy PICU where co-workers and patients would urgently tell me everything they needed as I tried not to vomit in their face. Around 20 weeks the nausea was gone, and the happy hormones kicked in! I felt this natural high and deep connection to my baby. From then on, I loved being pregnant!

Labor – I went on maternity leave 5 days before my labor started. I was antsy – I kept busy with organizing the nursery, installing the car seat, cleaning the car, going shopping, going to the movies, walking the streets, cleaning . . . and by also going to physical therapy, chiropractor, massage therapist, Dancing for Birth, and acupressure. After I returned home, from my Dancing for Birth class, I felt really crampy, and soon after felt my first contraction! I asked my mom to give me an acupressure treatment and had contractions 10 minutes apart that first hour. Afterward, I took a bath with contractions 5-7 minutes apart. They soon progressed to 3-5 minutes apart, and then I stopped keeping track. They were always at least a minute in length. I told my husband I was having contractions, he shut off the TV, and said “I should go to sleep then” (we were taught to do this in our Birth Boot Camp class), and I said “yeh, that’s not happening.” My midwife and her assistant came shortly after. I labored for 21 hours. I still feel cheated because I never experienced the early happy labor (you know when you’re excited, watch TV, go on walks, and spend quiet time with your husband . . .). I planned a water birth, so I labored in the birth pool for a large amount of my labor (which in hind-sight I really shouldn’t have done). I was nauseous most of my labor, so I refused food, and instead drank water and Kefir yogurt. Half-way through labor I received a liter of fluids to help with hydration. I received oxygen periodically (which I would quickly pull off because it was annoying). I screamed my husband’s name at least a hundred times because he HAD to apply almost continual counter-pressure to my back (yes, he too, was very sore the next day). The electric company decided to perform a scheduled power outage during labor, so after a couple of hours my midwife called to tell them she was doing a homebirth and the power needed to be turned on immediately, which it was shortly afterward. My mother did at least 6 loads of towels during labor because they gave me a new dry towel every hour when I went from the birth pool to the bathroom.

First time holding my son after his birth.

My first time holding my son after his birth.

Birth – The pushing phase, though long, was my favorite phase. I felt this surge of energy (though still exhausted), nausea gone (and very hungry), and the ability to do something. It was intense, but productive. At one point my midwife asked me what I was afraid of and I thought “nothing, this just freaking hurts!” However, soon after I feel that things turned around for me psychologically and I was able to push through the pain. I finally labored on the toilet, which was the most productive for me. When birth was eminent, my midwife told me that I needed to move off the toilet, and I said “no”. She said I could not birth my baby in the toilet and I said “Watch me!” The midwife, midwife assistant, and my husband all lifted me and put me on a birth stool (This is one of my favorite humorous memories). The “ring of fire” sensation occurred soon after. I thought, “ok, ring of fire, I’m almost there, ok, slow down, let it stretch, nope, I’m too tired, if I don’t do this now, I won’t do it!” – So I powered through (which I later regretted), my baby was born, and I felt intense relief! He exited “sunny-side up”, hence the back labor. After the midwife unwrapped the cord from my baby’s body, I scooped him up and exclaimed “He’s so cute!” (Though, I really hadn’t even processed him yet). I looked over to my husband, who was beside me, and locked eyes with his teary eyes (when I think of this moment I get teary eyed myself). I then walked to and laid in my bed. Shortly after, I coughed my placenta out.

Newborn Skin-to-skin with Dad after birth

Our family relaxing in our bed together after the birth.

Postpartum – I had many second degree tears, and I was sutured at home. I also had swelling for many weeks after. I was not ready for the level of healing my body would have to do, while pregnant I only thought of the baby. Almost 5 months after my son’s birth, I still had not healed, and had to have reconstructive surgery. By 7 months, I finally healed. I also had issues breastfeeding initially, resulting in using a nipple shield for 2 months. I saw a lactation consultant around 10 days postpartum, and it was a game changer! My church members brought food for the first week and my family helped with cleaning and caring for me. My midwife also came to me for visits, which was also nice.

Some things that I would do differently next time would be refusing vaginal checks (once I said yes, they kept happening), labor more on the toilet and upright, avoid using water early in labor, hire a doula (that was one of the first things my husband also said he was doing next time), work on building up my abdominal muscles more in pregnancy, see a lactation consultant sooner if needed, have a freezer full of meals for postpartum, and have my husband take off more time from work.

I didn’t have the romantic water birth that I envisioned, but if I had, I might not have had that eye-connecting moment with my husband and they wouldn’t have had to lift me off the toilet (two of my favorite memories). My body took longer to heal than I could ever have imagined, but it also forced me to slow down. I had my natural un-medicated birth, but I can appreciate why some women choose a different route (and I even asked for it at one point during my labor). I thought I would return to work when my maternity leave ended, instead I stayed home with my son. Even though my son’s birth was hard, I would do it again. I am now at a place in my processing, that I see it as a challenge, and think about how I can do it better next time. My birth did not go as planned, as many life events often do not, but I remained an active participant, trusted my body, birthed my baby, and I am proud of that!

To learn more about me and my services, check out MY – Birth & Baby website.