To all the beautiful women in my life; my mother whose legacy continues to live on in my heart and children's single-dimpled sneaky grin.
To my aunts and cousins who are constant reminders of her love for me.
To my mother in-lawwho graciously and lovingly tries to love enough for two grandmothers and who has adopted me into her heart as her own.
To my dear friends who are more like sisters and encourage me to be a better mother and wife.
To my clients, who I've had the honor of witnessing become mothers for the first time or who have welcomed their seventh with still the same awe and wonder as their first.
To mothers who held their babies briefly in their wombs or arms, but forever in their hearts.
To the mother who has only seen her baby on the computer screen, adoption binder, or in her dream.
My prayer for you no matter if your baby is still being knitted safely and secretly in your womb, or growing in your heart across the globe, keeping you up at night as an infant or a teenager, through the icky and sticky, the heartaches and disappointments, the terrible twos and the tumultuous teens, the prodigal son (or daughter), or the boomerang kid who can't seem to find his way- is that you will feel encouraged, love, joy, support, hope and peace in your heart and in your mind.
The other night I lay awake thinking about this little one that will be arriving in the next few months and doing so caused my to do list to continue to grow. I'm thinking about the birth, my birth team, vaccinations, breastfeeding, among other concerns and plans that expectant moms often think about.
One thing actual brought a wave of comfort and peace that helped lull me back to sleep. I was reflecting on when my now three year was six-months old. I had taken her to her six month check up and was giving my husband the report that evening over dinner. "Petite little thing, not uncommon for breastfed babies, thriving, overall a healthy happy baby". As this little one sat on my lap my husband's face changed to one of adoration and pure sweetness as if he'd gotten a beautiful revelation.
He looked at me and said, "That's amazing. You've kept her alive just with breastfeeding her. I can see how much of a sacrifice it is for you but you do it with out complaining and our baby is healthy and thriving because you were determined to do it." He went on to remind me of the trials in the beginning, but how I had become a pro and baby and I became a team.
At that time I don't think I really grasped what he was doing or what he said really meant to me. I went on to breastfeed until she was a little over two years old and having a support spouse made all of the difference. As I sit and think about what my life will be like the next few months or years (depending on how long new baby nurses), instead of thinking about what I will be missing out on; freedom of spontaneity, clothing choices, convenience and other things I can't think of now, but will while I'm nursing, I will instead think about how short of a time it really is and the gift I am giving this little one and those kind words of encouragement my husband gave to me.
Do you have anyone who is encouraging your decision to breastfeed? Feeling supported is one component of successful breastfeeding and how you will feel about the experience. Seek out other moms who have had good experiences, have open communication with your spouse or partner about why it's important to you and baby and how they can help. A lot of times they want to help but are unsure of how to. There are also local La Leche League International groups that are available by phone and also meet on a weekly or monthly basis. I found this connection to be invaluable especially when I would hit a breastfeeding obstacle.
I would like to note that if you have decided not to breastfeed or are/were unable to for what ever reason that this article is not meant to be condemning but supportive to those who have chosen to do so. Truth be told, breastfeeding is one of the most beautiful, natural things in the world but it can also be one of the most challenging situations a woman may encounter. For some women knowing that they are not alone and have support is enough to help them go a few more weeks, months or year if she and baby decides.
“Induction of labor is like pushing a parked car up a hill. It requires a lot of help, hands and/or machine (tow truck). ”
There are many reasons a woman may be admitted to the hospital for an induction; past expected due date, pregnancy-induced hypertension, spontaneous rupture of membranes without labor and just because. As you can see most of these reasons are perfectly valid and are most likely for the best interest of the mother and baby. However, there are 2 reasons in particular I have seen take place for convenience or according to the doctors or hospital policy, not necessarily because the mother and baby were in any danger.
The Estimated Due Date Myth
Most women do not know when they ovulated, therefore conceived so the common method is based on your LMP (last menstrual period). The problem with this methodis you may have been told that you ovulate or are most fertile on day 14 of your menstrual cycle, mid-cycle or even 14 days before your period is expected. These are myths. While this may be the case for some women, it may not be true for you, even if your cycles are regular. Your own fertility pattern is unique to you and unless you observe and chart your cycles your estimated due date can be off by as much as 2-3 weeks.
When we are given a due date (even on the basis of it being just an estimate) we hold on to it as if it is in stone. We watch the calendar and check days off and the closer we get to it with no sign of labor starting we panic. Not to mention the annoying phone calls, emails and now texts from well meaning and loving family and friends asking, “Have you had the baby yet?” If you happen to have a doctor who has a vacation coming up or who “doesn’t like to see their patients so uncomfortable”, that’s a lot of pressure for an expectant mother.
“One of the biggest obstacles to natural birth is misunderstanding your "due date." A due date does not mean there is only one safe day for your baby to be born. It is meant to establish a range of time that your baby is mature and safe to be born. Because modern obstetrics narrows this to a specific day, unnecessary interventions, like inducing labor, come into practice.” Mothers Naturally
“Is this baby ever going to come?”
These words and thoughts may start to be uttered days before the estimated due date. But we have forgotten one thing, it’s an estimation.
Sometime we are literally evicting the baby before he/she is ready. There are many things that need to come together for true labor to begin. It is not just about jump starting contractions. When we begin to play with nature and its timing there is no wonder the snowball effect of interventions begin. It’s almost like our bodies are saying, “I wasn’t ready but since you are trying to make it happen you are going to have to finish it”. That is exactly what happens.
Oxytocin, your body's natural hormone, is secreted in bursts. However, when you are given pitocin you are placed on a regulated intravenous pump, to regulate the amount of pitocin to a steady flow. Therefore, pitocin induced contractions are different from your body's natural contractions, in strength and effect. (For more detailed information on Pitocin FAQ )
This domino effect, I have unfortunately seen more than once, has a higher chance of ending with a c-section. The mother wonders; how did I get to this point, what went wrong, did my body fail me? I have been in these moments; it can break your heart to witness.
Are there times when inductions are needed? Absolutely, and when they are done during those times can give a mother and child the best outcome. However, similar to c-sections, it can be a matter of convenience and control and less about a woman’s ability to labor successfully on her own. “In a well-nourished, low risk pregnancy it is normal for your baby to be born between 37 and 42 weeks gestation*. Many natural events take place within your body during the last weeks of pregnancy to prepare you for labor. Allow time for the natural process to occur.”
I would like to encourage mothers to-be and their providers to 1) allow nature to take its course which will require some patience, 2) if assistance is needed to consider all the options, pros and cons of induction, 3) consider alternatives to start and augment labor.
Ask questions about what is being suggested. Ask why, are there any alternatives and what are the pros and cons. When we want someone to do something we tend to glorify the benefits and downplay the risks. This is a time you want to know (equally) both sides of the coin. If your doctor seems impatient or acts as if your questions are stupid or annoying (I’ve seen it) in the middle of labor (especially an induced one) is not the best time to address your concerns. You may feel vulnerable, afraid and as if you do not have any choices, or that you can’t make the right one.
There are also times when when induction may be safer than waiting for labor to start on its own. Watch this informative video so that you can determine what is best for you and your baby. I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Last week my husband and I learned that the baby whose fall arrival we had so anxiously anticipated will not be. The process was all too familiar as we had just experienced it for the first time earlier this year. It was hard to be optimistic as we noticed the same pattern as our first loss. You notice some spotting, or maybe bleeding with or withoutcramping and make the alarmed call to the doctor (or nurse) who tries to reassure you that it is not uncommon in the first trimester to have some bleeding. Their advice; try to relax, put your feet up, get some rest and try not to worry. Something doesn’t feel right, not just with your body but in your spirit. By the time you see your doctor you already know in your heart but it stings all the same to hear that what you are experiencing is most likely the end of your pregnancy. They run tests to be sure and tell you not to give up. Your symptoms are fading along with all of your hopes and dreams. All optimism is lost as you learn that the “pregnancy wasn’t progressing” or has ended.
“Miscarriage is the most common type of pregnancy loss, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Studies reveal that anywhere from 10-25% of all clinically recognized pregnancies will end in miscarriage…Most miscarriages occur during the first 13 weeks of pregnancy. Pregnancy can be such an exciting time, but with the great number of recognized miscarriages that occur, it is beneficial to be informed about miscarriage, in the unfortunate event that you find yourself or someone you know faced with one.”American Pregnancy Association
This is a loss, a real loss. Whether you had just conceived (chemical pregnancy), in your first trimester (miscarriage) or were in a later stage in your pregnancy (stillborn) the loss is as real as having had a newborn baby in your arms and to later lose them.
With every loss there is a grieving period. The length of the grieving doesn’t necessary depend on how far along a woman may have been and every woman will grieve in different ways as well. One thing that they will all share is the different stages of grief.
Stages of Grief:
“A miscarriage takes away the pure innocence of pregnancy”. I read this comment on a pregnancy loss website the other night. The young lady who wrote it pretty much summed up how other women (including myself) may describe the emotional aftershock of a pregnancy loss.This short sentence says so much and I didn’t understand it until I experienced it myself.
Instead of the heart racing excitement that once was, future pregnancies will be held frigidly in the heart. The “I won’t get excited until after the safe zone (first trimester)” technique will be applied for self protection. Every twinge, spot or loss of symptoms will be cause for anxiety. Fear lingers and every ultrasound appointment ends with a sigh of relief. Between each doctors visit it feels as if you have been holding your breath since the last. Some may (try) to with hold any love toward the new babe as to lessen the impact of a potential loss. As if we can really do that. Yes, it is true that a mother and a baby are two individuals but as soon as we see the little “+” sign or “pregnant”, or the doctor confirms what your womanly intuition told you, you are hooked. From that moment the heart strings become entangled to this little one.
It’s not that the mother who hasn’t had a loss doesn’t experience some level of anxiety. On the contraire, when I was pregnant with my two daughters who are 3 and 12 years old now, both times I was so afraid of miscarrying them. I pretty much walked around as if I was holding china that I was afraid would easily break. What I am describing above is different. A previous miscarriage can almost rob the joy expectation of being pregnant from a woman.
Ironically enough after our news I have been contacted by two new potential clients for doula services. My daughter asked me if I was going to be okay with my two deliveries I have coming up in the next few weeks. She’s also observed me still researching and practicing my doula skills in between minor melt downs when the reality of what we are experiencing hits me like a tsunami. It’s a fair question that I didn’t mind her asking. The truth is, I’m not sure how I will feel in the next few weeks, next few months or due dates. When you consider that each month a woman has only a 20% chance of conceiving (who is purposely trying) it is pretty amazing. The fact that there is a about a 24 hour timeframe for a sperm to meet the egg and the uterine environment has to be just right, I still believe that every conception and birth is a miracle. I attended a birth a week after our first loss and it was almost therapeutic to take my mind off of myself and our loss and give someone else 100% to help them to bring forth their miracle.
(Authors note: This post was really written to encourage women out there who have and who will experience a pregnancy loss but also those who aren’t sure how to comfort them.)
The first birth I attended was on my 16th birthday. I was having a party and found out that one of my relatives had gone into labor. She had just recently moved to town and her immediate family wasn't there yet. I left the party without thinking and stayed with her from the beginning to the end. I couldn't pull myself away and have assisted several births since.
Mothering the Mother is another explanation of what doulas do; birth and postpartum. I didn't realize how much of an impact we have until I hired one for myself.
It was 2006, my mother had just passed away from breast cancer the previous November- two days before my birthday. I was right in the throws of grieving when I found out I was pregnant.
I wasn't handling the loss of my mother so well and was very surprised to say the least of our news. I remember crying and praying in my car on the way to work, "God, this is the worst time to be pregnant, I cannot even think straight, my heart aches so much, how can I go through this- it's too much too soon." Please do not misunderstand, there was no doubt that we were having this baby. After my sob fest, I had the radio on and a quote by Carl Sandburg was mentioned , "A baby is God's opinion that life should go on." I wish I could tell you what station it was on or what the topic that was being discussed was, but I can tell you that it was exactly what I needed to hear.
A few months later while I was getting adjusted (the weight of a baby can really do a number on your back and hips), I noticed in the display business cards, one happened to be for doula services. At this time I didn't know what a doula was but based on the description of service I knew I needed her. We met with her (Mary Ann) and her sweet gentle spirit comforted me-we hired her on the spot. She was available for questions anytime, she met with me several times before my labor and brought me reading material and cd's with calming music and meditations about birth.
Three weeks before I went into labor I was experiencing prodromal labor. Prodromal labor can feel very much like active labor, yet is not consistently progressive. It made me very anxious, tired and frustrated. Mary Ann called weekly to check up on me. When she called on the 3rd week of prodromal labor I completely started bawling on the phone. She calmly affirmed how I was feeling and suggested my husband go purchase some bath salts, light some candles and draw me a warm bath. We did this and in about 15 minutes my labor became active.I was in labor from 12-am to about 8:15-pm (I know this because Mary Ann documented everything, which was helpful because the process of birth can become a blur after a while.) During this time Mary Ann encouraged me when I felt like giving up, she administered several comfort measures from her bag of tricks. She didn't replace my husband in fact they were a team. She encouraged my husband when he wasn't sure of what was going on. She grabbed him some food when he was hungry. She let him rest when he looked tired. She had a great relationship with the staff and therefore had access to things on the maternity floor that I wouldn't have thought to ask for. She hugged and swayed with me when I couldn't stand up. She sat quietly in between contractions so that I can grasp a minute of sleep. She suggested a position to turn the baby when she was faced the wrong way causing back labor. I could go on and on, but even recounting all she did takes me back, and regardless if everything didn't go according to my birth plan, I still had a great birth experience. My heart gets full and I will be forever grateful for her presence during what could have been a really difficult time. After I reviewed what she did it dawned on me that I was offering my friends and family the same care during their births and decided to officially become certified to help other women have births that they love to remember.
My heart is to empower women to take more active roles in making decisions about their health care and lifestyle habits.
I am a mother, wife, daughter and best friend who is passionate about women having a safe and memorable birth experience that they desire. As long as I can remember I have been at awe of what we are able to do as woman and hope to help other women tap into their inner strength.
The blog posts on this website will be a combination of my opinion and research. I value your opinion and only ask that any comments be respectful and courteous.