This is the first in a series of blogs that will help you prepare for and navigate through early pregnancy.
First, let’s look at what could influences our ideas about pregnancy, labor, and childbirth. Are we influenced by the stories that are told to us by the women of our family? Are our thoughts moulded by what we see in movies and read in books? Or, are our opinions formed when we hear from our friends about what they have experienced when they have their children? Is this how we learn about common maternity care practices in the area of the country where we live? I’m sure that the answer is a combination of all of these factors.
The mind-body connection is very strong. Ingrained into our subconscious is the information that we’ve gathered about maternity care throughout our life. These stories can influence how we approach our own childbirth experience. Are we making our childbirth choices and decisions out of an emotional reaction instead of on solid evidence based facts?
Let’s say that our grandmother, mother, or aunts report that they had difficulty giving birth. This information may contribute to our feeling like we inherited being in a high-risk category for our pregnancy. This state of mind may influence the belief that birth is a disorder or an illness that sometimes goes well.
If we hear stories that birth went smoothly and that the moment was treated with reverence and celebration, we may come away with the correct notion that birth is an intense but joyful experience that sometimes require help from a care provider to return the process to the path of normal.
We may understand that childbirth is an experience worthy of being exciting about, looking forward to, and celebrating.
My family’s birth story is that Grandma delivered all of her 6 children, including a set of twin girls, on the kitchen table. I understand that this information my ruin dinner for some but in the 1920’s, in rural North Carolina, having your babies at home was the normal practice. The local family doctor attended to Grandma Nettie Mae. I am sure that preparing the space that had the best lighting and because the table was at a comfortable height for the doctor was why the kitchen was chosen as the “delivery room.” Grandma may have preferred to be in her own bed.
Jump to the time span of 1940 – 1950’s, Washington DC, at the Washington Hospital Center. My Mother labored by herself and was administered a medicated gas to inhale by facemask at the end of the 2nd stage of labor. The second stage is when she had pushed her baby down low into her pelvis and right before my head was born. The medication put her to sleep. Mom reports that she remembers and felt all of the intensity of labor while alone in a maternity ward lined up in single beds with other laboring women. She doesn’t remember the blissful feeling of relief at the moment that I was born. She remembers being scared and alone. When Mom woke up a nurse handed her daughter to her. I had been born many hours before, had been given a bath and cleaned of all natural scents, dressed and wrapped in a blanket, with a belly full of formula.
Because I heard my mother tell her story over and over, I would play house with my sisters and I would pretend to wake up, after giving birth, and ask, “Where is my baby? Did I have a girl or a boy?”
The birth of my first child was more like my Mother’s experience than my Grandmothers. I would say that my birth was a much kinder experience than my Mother had. My first daughter was born in 1974. After her birth I contemplated the experience and I knew that there must be a better way to bring my kids into the world.
I did find a way that worked for me. My personal goal was to have the least amount of intervention necessary for each delivery while staying open to whatever my baby or me needed medically.
When we research and examine our belief system about childbirth we can determine what we automatically view as normal. Understanding what we perceive as normal allows us to compare our pre-programmed views to what current research and experience now knows about the true nature of birth. We can then move forward and make informed decisions when choosing our maternity care providers and for creating the type of birth that is right for us.
I suggest that you watch the documentary The Business of Being Born and research where to receive preconception counseling and early pregnancy care in your area.
Sending my best to you,
The start to the new year was busy for Heart of Texas Midwives. We had three births in a 56 hour period that took us all over Austin from rural, to the lake, and then back to the city. By the 13th all of our January Moms had their babies safely in arms.
Each family had experienced beautiful home births. Both first and 2nd time Moms.
In my home life we were working on my Sons applications to different magnet programs for high school, which felt more like college applications. Oh, and I can’t forget the annual science fair project that was due shortly after the Christmas break.
By the end of January I realized that my whole family needed some R&R time. A few days later we were off to Port Aransas. My phone was on silent and I only used it for taking lots of pictures. I was able to completely let go of my work responsibilities and unplug simply because of our practice group model of care. Our clients have 2 midwives caring for them on a regular basis with Lynne Loeffler, CNM stepping in as a 3rd provider when needed. In addition to me getting a few days off, our clients are confident knowing they will have trusted support at all times. Our Mothers can be sure that they will be well taken care of if they go into labor or have a problem.
A few short days spent at the ocean refueled me. My trip let me spend quality time with my family. The water was cold but my kids were so happy to be back at the ocean and they swam in the freezing gulf anyway! Maybe they love the water so much because I labored in water during their home births. We did several hikes through nature preserves. We saw an alligator!
I have been doing birth work for 17 years and going strong. As a German I have ingrained the notion of taking time to break away from the demands of work. One of the important parts of being a home birth midwife in Austin is to take care of myself. Being part of a small midwifery group practice allows my partner Debra Day and myself to do so. We support each other during a long births by giving each other the gift of sleep, or a quick weekend get away, to longer vacation periods for refueling and replenishing. The group midwifery model of care ensures that you are well supported through pregnancy, birth and post-partum by midwives who are not burned out, exhausted, and are fully available to you.
Enjoy this sweet video of The Anderson Family’s home birth story. This tender video captures the essence of home birth. The environment allows the immediate family to gently care for each other and share the moment when their son and grandson was born.
Happy Birthday, Asa.
Love from your Midwives, Monika, Debra, and midwife student Christine.
Benefits for baby
Baby may be less groggy and more alert after birth.
Baby may have an easier time latching on and breastfeeding.
Baby will not have narcotics or other medications in his system.
Baby will have a lower risk of fetal distress during delivery.
Baby’s APGAR scores may be higher.
Benefits for mom
Mom can walk around, soak in the tub, go to the bathroom, and change positions during labor.
Pain can be beneficial to mom as it helps her to know what stage of labor she is in, when she may need to shift positions, and when it is time to push.
Mom does not lose sensation in her lower body and should not need a catheter.
Mom will not have to worry about having a post-epidural headache.
Mom can get up and walk around shortly after birth.
There may be less chance of having nausea, vomiting, dizziness or other side effects associated with pain medications.
Mother will be less groggy after birth.
Although there is some debate on this, having a natural childbirth may reduce the chance of needing a csection.
Mom may have a more positive birth experience or feel empowered by having natural childbirth. Some women compare natural childbirth with running a marathon. The sense of accomplishment can be a rewarding event.
Courtesy of http://www.justmommies.com/pregnancy/labor-and-childbirth/benefits-natural-chidlbirth#sthash.XlKvhA30.dpuf
We all know that good food is the cornerstone of good health. Now that you are pregnant or considering having a baby in the near future the time is now to improve your choices of the foods that you eat. For those of us that live in Austin, we have a great selection of fresh food around every corner!
Your food choices should be tailored to your individual body requirements. It is also important when, and in what combination, that you eat your food.
Choose food from each food group, protein, vegetables, fruit, carbohydrates in the form of whole grains, and healthy fats. Choose a high quality prenatal vitamin and mineral supplement. Your supplements should also be tailored to your specific needs.
As a home birth midwife, we are all about prevention. We advocate actions that keep birth normal. The philosophy is fairly simple. Whole foods, that is, food as close to its natural state as possible, fresh air, an active lifestyle, and plenty of fluids to drink like clean pure water. Staying hydrated is very important.
Eating the very best foods that you can is the number “1” action that you can do to improve your overall health, grow a fantastic, healthy baby and keep your childbirth as normal and natural as possible. Talk to your midwife about how to improve your diet and choose a high quality vitamin supplement. She will have the information you want that will help you improve your diet so that you enjoy a healthy, happy, pregnancy, and childbirth.
Source: The Heart of Texas Difference
During the last 38 years of my life, I have been working as a home birth midwife in Austin Texas. I’ve met thousands of families and helped them create a family in a normal, healthy and completely natural way. I believe that normal birth is a process that doesn’t start or end with delivery alone, it’s normal bodily function that begins with the first weeks of the pregnancy, all the way to the several weeks following birth.
As a midwife, I have witnessed and assisted thousands of natural births and the one thing I’ve learned is that this is a completely normal process that usually doesn’t require any medical intervention. Both the mother’s body and the body of the baby have all the natural abilities necessary for a normal, healthy and safe birth.
However, it’s always best to make sure you’re familiar with the characteristics of normal birth. During my practice as a midwife in Austin Texas, I’ve learned what to look for, when it comes to birth. The process of normal birth will usually start the labor and progress it on its own. It’s important for you and your care provider to understand that your body needs to be able to run the show. Instead of using medications, allow your body to do its job and let the natural process guide you through the course of delivery. This is one of the best ways to help the mother feel confident in giving birth the way her ancestors did.
To support the birth process, you can take advantage of some physical and psychological tools such as massage, water birth, heat and movement. The best way to ensure that delivery turns into a normal birth is to create a safe and caring environment. Make a birth plan you can follow. This will make you feel more prepared, when the time comes. As a midwife, I’ve learned that when a pregnant woman surrounds herself with trusted and knowledgeable women she will create an atmosphere of safety and security. Education inspires confidence and having an experienced midwife and doula to rely upon can alleviate your stress and help you relax, so the delivery can progress on its own.
Natural birth continues through out the first hours following birth, it is extremely important for the mother to bond with her baby. Allowing your child to lie skin-to-skin with you is the best way to make them feel safe and secure and this practice has been proven to have many health benefits both to you and your newborn.
Following birth, I always advise on initiating breastfeeding as soon as the baby is interested. Speak to your care provider or your midwife about the specific benefits of breastfeeding. Make sure that you and your provider shares your commitment to feeding your baby with the food made specifically for them.
Trust in your body and your baby. Prepare a birth plan and follow it and also follow your heart.
Have fun and enjoy!