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Preparing for Birth (Middle GA)?

Childbirth education.  Several of you might ask,  “What’s the big deal?  I’ll just take the class that the hospital offers.  It’s cheap and easy.” Or “It will all work out, women have been having babies for centuries.”  I’m a big believer in knowledge is power and the more knowledge, the better.  What I find when preparing for the arrival of your baby is that not all childbirth education is equal and sometimes you get what you pay for.   So, I thought that I would break down some of the differences between some of the classes offered in the Macon, Warner Robins, Perry, Georgia area.  You will probably have different options in your area, so make sure to find the one that is best for you.

Included in Class

First, let’s talk a bit about the hospital class. In this area, we have Navicent and Houston Medical.  This is the class that most of my clients take (if they take one at all).  You will cover most of the basics like, the birth process, some comfort techniques, all the drugs and interventions that the hospital offers, cesareans, and a bit of postpartum.  This class may include a hospital tour.  You should leave feeling like you understand the ABC’s of birth.  What the hospital class won’t do is help you with the natural side of childbirth.  It mostly assumes that every woman will get an epidural.  They may talk a bit about having an unmedicated birth, but they will do very little to help you prepare for it.  This can leave someone feeling less than empowered and lacking confidence in their ability to give birth.

Next, I’d like to take a minute and talk about method based classes.  We don’t really have these in the Middle GA area, but I wanted to over them.  These classes include things like Hypnobabies and the Bradley Method.  These classes are super strong on the natural (or unmedicated)  side of things.   Although they cover interventions, like epidurals and cesareans, they don’t really help you with what to do if birth doesn’t go the way you planned it.  Nor do they help you to plan for the unexpected.  This can leave you feeling like a failure or at a loss if things don’t go as planned.

Now, I’d like to introduce you to Preparing for Birth.  This class is a great mix of both sides.  Not only will you learn the ABC’s of birth, but you will learn the pros and cons of each of them.  We will not only cover what unmedicated birth looks like, but we will also talk about what happens when birth takes an unexpected turn.  There is information for both parents in this class. This is wonderful because it helps the partner get ready and know how to support their loved one in labor and birth.  We also include things like a beautiful Preparing for Birth journal, Prepared Feeding (breastfeeding taught by Amanda Devereaux, doula and IBLC), and postpartum and newborn care.  These subjects are normally taught in a whole different class, if they are offered at all.  This class covers it all, in one class.  You will leave this class feeling prepared and empowered.

I know that I am biased.  After all,  I teach Preparing for Birth.  But, as a doula, I hear from my clients (and many others) what they felt like was missing in the classes they took.  I genuinely feel this class covers all the bases.  It is thoughtful and informative.  It treats birth with the honor and respect it deserves.  It helps couples to see the big picture and make the best decisions for themselves.  I love teaching this class and hope that you will love taking it.  Every birth story matters.

   Next class is Saturday, June 9 & Saturday June 16 from 9 am – 1 pm.  Call me at 910-578-7629 for more information!

Birth of a Doula *Warner Robins, GA*

41 years ago today I was born in the mountains of Washington state.  It has been a long journey to becoming a doula in Middle Georgia.  I asked my mom if she would please write my birth story, so that it could be shared.  She said yes and here it is!

“I was only 19 the night you were born. It was early spring in the Cascade Mountains of Washington. We lived near Baring, a tiny dot of a town. My dog had recently had puppies and my ducks, chickens and geese hatched eggs. New life filled the air with excitement and anticipation. Crocus pushed their purple buds up through the moist earth. I was big and pregnant and eagerly waiting for you to come. Your due date was March 1 , 1977. I had prenatal care 40 miles away with a friendly old doctor. I’d visited the maternity ward at the hospital where he worked  and was rather alarmed that I might deliver there. About half way through pregnancy I’d wished for a home birth. Our dentists wife had a home birth and that planted the seed of possibility for me. My Grandmother had my mom and aunt at home in the 1920’s.She felt it was safer to stay home, and she loved and trusted her midwife.   A public health nurse gave me private child birth classes at my house once a month when she came to the mountains for the WIC program. She said that she didn’t know of any midwives that would come so far out to assist a birth. It never occurred to me to consider delivering in Seattle.

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Three days after your due date a friend came skipping into my house declaring “the midwifes here, the midwifes here”! Following behind her was a small woman with tight curly hair and a strong but kind manner. Gloria had traveled to Washington to assist her best friends birth on the Olympic Peninsula and afterwards traveled to the Cascades to visit friends. Friends that were also my friends and convinced her to come meet me. We talked about my prenatal course and my diet and lifestyle. We hugged and she said she could stay one week until having  to return to Oregon. The next night she and her partner Dan went and heard Willie Nelson at the Paramount in Seattle. I’ll always remember that! She checked on me before leaving and all was quiet. I was surrounded with women friends and had lots of support. I was inspired by the book “Birth Without Violence” and anticipated my baby entering the world greeted with low lights and gentleness.
The night of March 6th I had lots of preparatory contractions and finally fell asleep after midnight. It all started back up the 7th. I was happy and going with the flow. My water released at 4 pm and Gloria said I was 4 cm and ready to go! This is when the contractions increased intensity. My childhood friend  held my hand and others gave me water and touch and encouraged me with kind words. Gloria kept track of your heartbeat and my vitals and well being. There were two twelve year olds present that brought sweetness and faith. Your dad was there offering strength. I allowed the river of contractions to sweep me along. I was naked and primal, sweating and cold and hot and opening. It was marvelous to push and do something with the contractions other than cope. I was being cheered on by my midwife and supporters. One of the young girls joyfully said that she could see your hair! When your head was out you gave a lively cry before your body was born. Amazing! When you fully arrived Gloria placed you on my chest over my heart and I whispered in your ear ‘I love you, I love you, I love you’. Thus began our mother daughter journey. You are my heart.”
My mom is one of my very best friends.  She is also a midwife and one of the reasons I became a doula.  Every day I am grateful for her.  I love you, mom!

Thank You for Everything

I cannot believe that 2017 is over.  It was such an amazing year.  I was honored to work with lots of inspiring families.  I took a leap and started this business, hoping that it would be everything I thought it could be.  It is so much more.

 

When I started doing this, I knew that I could help families.  I knew that I could help my clients have great birth stories, even if they didn’t happen the way they thought they would.  What I didn’t know was just how much my clients would change and bless me.  Each time I was at a birth, I was awed that I was able to be part of their story.  Each story was special and unique.  Each one made me a better woman and a better doula.

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Each birth story taught me something new.  Whether about birth, life, joy, strength, or pain; I always came away with something.  I learned how to completely trust my clients.  They know their bodies better than anyone.  I learned when to be hands on and when to be still.  I learned that it’s ok to cry with your clients, whether in celebration or in sorrow.  I learned that there is nothing I love more than being with a family and supporting their journey into parenthood.

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I cannot tell you how grateful I am that my clients allowed me into this time of their lives.  I am humbled and honored. I will never forget the gifts you have given me. Thank you so much! I look forward to 2018 and all the stories it holds.  I look forward to helping more families have wonderful birth stories.  Because every birth story matters.

My Physical Therapist is a Doula

Five years ago I injured my right shoulder.  I spent four years and three surgeries getting it fixed.  So, when my left shoulder starting hurting almost a year ago, I was afraid.  Afraid that I was starting down the same path.  It was for that very reason that I didn’t go to the Dr. for more than six months.

Fast forward….I have now been in physical therapy for about 3 months.  I had to change therapy practices and now I am very happy with my therapist, Greg.  He pushes me and is trying his hardest to get my shoulder into the best shape it can be.

On Friday I was having an especially hard day.  Pain is hard and my fear of the pain was making it so much worse.  It all came to a head when he was moving my arm and I started to cry.  It hurt so bad.  He believed me.  He knew it hurt, but he also knew that my head was getting in the way of my progress.  He knew that my fear from what had happened to my right shoulder was paralyzing me.  He told me that he understood how afraid I was.  I was crying the whole time.  Then he said the words that would make it all make sense to me.

“You are doing great, Erin.  I believe that you will get better. I just need you to believe it, too.”

How many times have I said that during someone’s labor?  How many times have I looked someone in the eye and said that I believed in them? They could do this.  I just needed them to believe it!

There have been so many times that I’ve been with a client that had a traumatic birth experience and they have fear about what will happen during their next birth.  We spend time talking about those fears.  I tell them that every birth is different.  I tell them that I believe in them.  I will be right by their side the whole time.  But they need to be the one that believes it!

Honestly, I was reminded last week how hard it is to get rid of our fears.  It takes hard work and letting our bodies heal.  Each story matters and each story is different.  Little did I know that it would take a PT appointment to remind me of that.  And I’m pretty sure that Greg has no idea that he is actually a doula.

When Your Birth Story is Not What You Planned

We all have a picture in our minds about what our birth story will be.  Who will be there.  Whether or not to get an epidural.    Labor at home or the hospital.  Where to give birth.  There are tons of different things that make up our “perfect birth”. In reality, birth is unpredictable.  Many things happen that can change our story.  And sometimes our expectations are not met and we can end up feeling disappointed.

 

So often we hear people say something like “At least you and baby are healthy” or “You can always have a different birth next time”.  I’ve been guilty of saying these things myself.  Sometimes we just don’t know what to say.  But the truth of it is that every birth story is important.  Each journey is unique and our feelings about that journey matter.

 

If this has happened to you, then I would like to tell you what you should be hearing.

“Your story is important.  I am so sorry that it didn’t go the way you wanted it to.  I know that your heart hurts.  It’s ok to love your new baby and still struggle with the way that you welcomed that baby.  You did the absolute best that you could do and it is no way your fault.  You are amazing for growing your baby and bringing this wonderful new person into the world.  HEAR ME…You are enough.  And you are a great mom.”

Now, what to do if you feel disappointed or traumatized by your birth.

  1. Love on your new baby.  Snuggle that sweet little person and tell them how much you love them.
  2. Find someone that you feel safe with and tell them your birth story.  This should be a person that you know will listen without judgement and hear you with an open heart and open ears. If you don’t have that person in your life, then call me 910-578-7629.  I would love to hear your story.
  3. Feel your feelings.  Like I said, it’s ok to love your baby and still be sad about your birth.  But stuffing those feelings won’t do any good.  Allow yourself to feel those feelings.  Be gentle with yourself.
  4. Do something for yourself each day.  Show yourself some love.
  5. If you start to feel more than just normal baby blues, please know that you are not alone.  Reach out to other moms, or me.  Someone.  PPD happens to all kinds of moms and it’s important to get help.

Your birth story is so important.  And how you feel about it is so important.  I hope that every mom knows that.  And if you don’t, call me and I’ll remind you that every birth story matters.

 

5 Things NOT to Say to A Pregnant Woman

So many of us have been there.  So many of us are still in the journey.  Pregnancy comes with lots of joys and challenges.  One challenge is the people who feel the need to say things we would rather not hear.   This blog is for them.

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  1.  “Are you sure you’re not having twins?”  That is just what every mom needs to hear…NOT.  She already feels fat and uncomfortable.  The last thing she wants is to know that someone else thinks she’s huge too.  What she really needs to hear is that she looks good.  A great thing to say instead is “WOW!  You look amazing!”
  2. “You haven’t had that baby yet?!”  I guarantee that she is very much aware that she is still pregnant.  She is so excited to meet her baby and the day can’t get here fast enough.  You are not the first person to say this to her, and you won’t be the last.  A much better comment would be “I bet you are so excited to meet your new little one!”
  3. “You look like you are ready to pop!”  This is even worse if she is only 6 months pregnant. And it goes along with #1.  Every woman wants to feel beautiful.  That gets harder the bigger she gets.  She would love to hear “You are beautiful.  Growing a baby is hard work.  Good job, mama!”
  4. “Birth is awful!  You’ll never guess what happened to me!”  No one goes to a bridal shower and tells their terrible divorce stories, so why do we hear so many scary birth stories at a baby shower?  Moms are already nervous about childbirth, this can make it so much worse.  Keep it positive. A great thing to say is “I’m sure you’ll have a beautiful birth!”
  5. “You’ll never be able to have your baby without an epidural, it’s just too painful!”  This actually can have several different versions, depending on how the mom is choosing to labor and give birth.  However she has decided to give birth, the best thing that we can do is be supportive of her and her choices.  A good thing for her to hear is “I hope you have the birth you want.  I believe in you!”

Pregnancy can be an overwhelming experience.  Even if you have done it before.  Their body is changing daily.  Their life life will never be the same after this experience.  SO, let’s let them know how amazing they are.  Let’s support them during this time in their life, because their pregnancy (and birth) story matters.

The Journey into Motherhood

The journey into motherhood looks different for every woman.  It even looks different for women with each of their babies.  My journey with Thomas (my 15 year old) was much different than with Sierra (my 13 year old).  Each pregnancy, birth, and postpartum is so special.  Every time a mom grows, births, and mothers her children, it will be unique.  It’s a journey that she should not have to walk by herself.  The people that come along side her are very important.  They will encourage, support, and love her.

Her partner is perhaps the most important.  Together, they will journey into parenthood.  Mom will go through lots of changes and knowing that she is loved and supported is meaningful.  This can look different for each person.  It might be foot rubs in the evening, listening as she is crying over what seems like nothing, helping her get comfortable even though it takes 10 pillows, or driving to the store to get pickles at 11 at night.  But it will always mean loving her, celebrating with her, and enjoying the journey day by day.

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Her family is another important piece of the team.  She will need their support, as well.  This means supporting her choices, even when they differ from the other women in the family.  It means staying positive and telling her that they believe in her.  It means celebrating the life that is growing inside her.

Women often don’t know the importance of a good provider.  Someone that listens to their concerns.  The right provider will have a similar view of birth as the mom.  They will support her decisions and if something happens that changes the plan, they will make sure that she and her partner understand what is happening.  The right provider will make a mom feel safe and she will trust them with herself and her baby.

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The doula is the final piece.  A doula will come along side the woman and her family.  She will be there to offer support in any way that is needed.  Mom will be able to call or text anytime.  She will talk with a woman about her fears, her excitement, and anything else she needs to talk about.  She will help the partner to feel confident in their role.  She is not a replacement, she is an addition.  The doula will “hold space” for the mom, helping her voice to be heard.  The right doula will help a woman feel confident, supported, and understood.

In many situations, one or more of these pieces might be missing.  She might be a single mom, or her partner might have to be gone during labor and delivery (as is often the case with military families).  She might have a rough relationship with her family, or have a provider that doesn’t always agree with what she wants.  One thing she can count on is that her doula will support her.  The right doula will know that every birth story matters.