What Babies Need

Walking into any baby store or paging through one of the numerous magazines aimed at parents, one is bound to find a list of “must haves” for every baby. These are usually things that are meant to help you parent your baby “best”. While no one can tell you what your individual family’s needs are, what we do know is that at its most basic, babies’ needs are quite simple. The most important things your baby needs are things you already have.

Warmth

Babies are born learning how to maintain a normal body temperature, and immediate skin-to-skin contact with mama is ideal. Studies have shown that a mother’s chest is able to lower or raise an entire degree based on her baby’s temperature needs (and on either side independently if she is mothering twins!).

Getting your baby right to your chest immediately following delivery will also help both of you connect after birth. It helps baby to regulate their breathing as they feel your chest rise and fall and you are bathed in your newborn’s intoxicating smell as you establish your bond as mother and child. This shows them where home is as they take in your mama scent.

Comfort

Your baby has spent three seasons growing in an environment where his needs were immediately met. Baby was kept at the right temperature and could hear your heartbeat and voice at all times. Keeping your baby close after birth helps to maintain and strengthen his sense of security and safety while helping you to learn his cues and respond to his needs quickly.

Wearing your baby is a wonderful way for both mom and partner to help baby recreate that environment and provide this comfort for him. It keeps baby close and secure, providing opportunities for attachment and affection at all times. Babies can sleep, eat and play all while staying connected to you, and you are able to get basic tasks accomplished without having to put them down – a win/win situation!

Food

Humans are well-designed down to the last detail. While pregnant, your breasts begin to produce colostrum which is the first food your baby will get in the few days it takes for your milk volume to increase. Colostrum is packed with energy, vitamins, and antibodies, and it lines babies’ intestines with beneficial bacteria and flora that stay with them for life. It also acts as a natural laxative, helping babies to pass their first stool, known as meconium.

Colostrum and breastmilk provide all the nutrition your baby needs – there is no need to supplement with anything else. Breastmilk is tailored to your baby’s needs at every stage of development; as baby grows and changes, so does your milk. As an added bounus, babies whose mothers eat a varied diet while nursing typically grow up to be more adventurous eaters later in life, enjoying more diverse flavors and tastes.

Parenting a newborn is all about following his cues and responding with what he needs. Your instincts as a parent are strong and if you listen to them and to your baby, you will quickly learn that what your baby needs most is you.

About the Author

Angie Sonrode is a DONA-trained Doula and a Lactation Support Provider serving clients in the Twin Cities Metro area.  She  lives in Minneapolis with her supportive husband and 4 amazing kiddos.

Editor’s Note: A version of this article originally appeared in the Winter 2011 print version of Collective Thoughts.


“Incredibly healing and an absolute gift”: An HBA2C birth story

by Joyce Geving

My first of three sons was born December 21st, 2004.  We labored for hours and I was given an epidural followed by Pitocin. His cord was wrapped around his forehead, so with each contraction his heart rate would fall. So I was rushed into the operating room. I remember feeling so scared and helpless.  I am not sure if a cesarean could have been avoided with his birth. Afterward, I really mourned not being pregnant any longer, and I think it was the safe feeling of my pregnancy that I missed. I no longer had my baby safe and warm in me but had this scary birth story. I also left feeling like my body had been violated in some way. All of these feelings I shared with others and my doctor but were dismissed or hardly acknowledged so I thought I just needed to get over it and move on.

My second, July 6th, 2007, was a scheduled repeat cesarean. The hospital had a no VBAC policy in place and my doctor convinced me that a cesarean would be the safest option, and I went along with it.  It wasn’t until a couple years later, after watching the “Business of Being Born” that I began questioning the necessity of my cesareans and how I and my babies missed out on the natural experience and all the benefits that happen with that.

When I became pregnant with my third I knew I wanted to give birth, to do what my body was meant to do, even with a scar. I was so happy to hear the nearby hospital was doing VBACs again but was told it was not for me because I had had two previous cesareans and the risk was too high…so now what? I felt defeated.

I contacted the ICAN Minneapolis chapter and was informed of hospitals in the metro that would do VBA2C. I began making appointments and looking into a couple that were within reasonable driving distance. After each appointment I left feeling like they were setting me up for another cesarean, and more interested in adding my birth to their statistics – good or bad.  I began questioning what my birth was going to look like at the hospital with all their policies and protocols. 

Mean while, we had hired a doula because we had read the statistics supporting reduced risk of cesarean when doulas are present. I also knew I would need someone to help us make informed decisions in a hospital. Right from the start, we had a connection with our doula, Ashley; she gave us so much support and information that we needed. 

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While doing my research online, home births always came up as an option or in success stories, but my husband and I were both really scared of the idea thinking, “what if something goes wrong” and “what would we do with the dogs and my dad during labor, how are we going to come up with the money?”

Our doula encouraged me to just meet with homebirth midwives to rule it out, if nothing else, and at 30 weeks my husband and I made an appointment to do so. After our first meeting, we knew this was our path and had a sigh of relief. We left feeling excited again and validated, instead of stressed about the birth and our plans. We could really enjoy the pregnancy and the preparing for our birth. 

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My prenatal appointments were always at least 45 minutes long, usually longer. We talked about the importance of eating well and drinking water and my tea.  The care I experienced during our appointments was amazing, they always made me feel comfortable and that I could do this.  Nothing like what I experienced in any of my clinic visits.

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On January 21st, my contractions began at 10:40 at night. I was so excited, we were up timing contractions all night and called our doula so excited at 4am. She convinced us to get some rest. I slept a couple hours and my water broke at 7:35the next morning. Then I called everyone, because I felt like now’s the real deal, but contractions were still steady and not increasing or getting stronger. I was in constant contact with our doula and midwives. One of the midwives came to check on our progress and things were moving so slow we were urged to get some rest that evening and labor would hopefully pick up after some sleep. Just as soon as I laid down, contractions really began – and we had just told our doula to take her time and come that night when she wanted. One of the midwives came and hurriedly called the other to come now after she said she could see his head and then reassured me that my body was doing what it was supposed to be doing.

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That night, in our family room, I gave birth to our third son.  He came out and cried “momma” (sounded like that to me) and nursed like champ all while his cord was still attached to me. My husband was so comforting and amazing while supporting me. It was so calm, comfortable, and full of love and encouragement…it was a beautiful setting for our little guy to enter the world. 

My home birth experience was incredibly healing and an absolute gift.
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Why should I bring my baby to a Chiropractor?

by Dr. Kelly Silvi

This is often a question that I get from patients, or just parents in general when they learn that I am a Pediatric Chiropractor. It is a great question! I see it as an opportunity to teach parents about the human body and how that translates to their new baby. 

In order to understand why you should bring your baby to a Chiropractor, you need to have an understanding of what they do. Chiropractors focus on treating the joints in your spine. This is a concept that is generally known, but what people may not know is that the focus is on the spine due to its intimate relationship with the nervous system. Treatments bring increased function and movement to the joints and muscles, which in turn decrease the irritation to the nerves. An optimally functioning nervous system is key to your body sending and receiving the appropriate messages at the appropriate times. 

So why should you bring your baby to a Chiropractor? The simple answer is because babies have spines too! The same concepts apply to babies as they do to adults. A chiropractor will check baby’s spine and remove restrictions in their joints so that the nervous system can function optimally. Their little bodies are growing quickly and it is important that the appropriate messages are being sent at the appropriate times!

New babies go through a lot of transition phases in a short amount of time, starting with birth. Whether it is traveling through the birth canal, or being born through the uterine wall, it is a significant physical stress to their little bodies. I frequently treat babies in their first day of life to assist their bodies in finding balance after the hard work of being born. Babies are developing and adapting at an incredible rate in their first 5 years of life. A chiropractor that is trained in Pediatric care will have great knowledge to treat their little bodies through all stages of their development. Chiropractors can correct restrictions in the cranium (skull) and spine before they manifest as symptoms. 

When a baby is treated or adjusted by a Chiropractor it looks significantly different than an adult adjustment. This is a very important distinction to make for parents. There are no quick movements or firm pressure when working with babies. The treatments are gentle and progress slowly, going at a speed that is dictated by the baby’s comfort. It is common for babies to sleep or nurse during treatments, which is fun for the parents to see.

I mentioned that treatments can often make corrections to the body before symptoms appear. Symptoms in babies often look very different compared to adults. Babies can’t verbalize that they have a headache, are constipated, or have pain when they turn their head to the right. Instead, they might not sleep well, cry and grunt a lot, or have feeding difficulties. As a Chiropractor it is our job to piece together their symptoms and determine what will help them feel better. In addition to balancing their bodies, we are also trained to provide nutritional and lifestyle advice for you and your newborn. 

I believe every baby should be checked by a Chiropractor after birth. If they do have restrictions in their joints, getting them adjusted and balanced will help your baby start off with a good foundation for growth and development. 

For more information, the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association is a great resource for families. Their website provides research on Chiropractic care and a variety of other wellness topics. 

www.icpa4kids.org

 

Dr. Kelly Silvi practices in South Minneapolis. Her fascination with health and the human body grew into a passion for supporting and educating her patients, while providing safe and comfortable Chiropractic care. She is certified by the Academy of Chiropractic Family Practice and the Council on Chiropractic Pediatrics in pregnancy and pediatric care. 


Ease the Ride with Thai Yoga Bodywork for Pregnancy

by Cori Levin

 

Along with a yoga practice, eating healthy and sleeping often; it is helpful for pregnant women to incorporate monthly bodywork.  Bodywork can include Thai massage, traditional massage, Reiki, acupuncture, chiropractic care, and many others. With all the shifts happening in a woman’s body while growing her baby, a feeling of imbalance may arise as her style of life changes. Our culture lacks in teaching us how to slow down and take time for self-care: we are do-ers and achievers.  Challenge yourself to be mindful of your breath and teach your baby a calm rhythmic breath by incorporating bodywork sessions in your busy life! 

 

Thai Yoga Bodywork (TYB) is a healing art that combines holding yoga poses, breath work and ancient healing wisdom. The practitioner begins with a breathing exercise and assessing the client’s energy body with a pendulum. It is similar to a massage however a client (pregnant or not) is on the floor with clothes on, lying on a mat with pillows supporting her while being stretched and pressed on.  In this tradition, it is believed that by stimulating the acupressure points, the body aligns itself and heals ailments.  TYB is thought to help balance the body energetically and emotionally. It feels uplifting and calming.

 

Tremendous physical changes happen to the female body during pregnancy, birth and beyond.  The hormonal shifts affect a woman’s state of mind while her nervous system goes for a ride. Thai Yoga bodywork can help minimize pregnancy ailments including nausea, sleep issues, fear of birth, restless legs, and back issues.  It also has many benefits for the postpartum stage and into motherhood assisting in helping women tap into their intuition allowing women to feel strong in making decisions throughout their journey as parents.

 

 

Cori Levin is the mother of two girls; a Thai Yoga Bodywork practitioner at Enlightened Mama, Reiki-master trained , creator of “Heal Fast” postpartum bath herbs, Birth Doula and Registered Yoga teacher. She can be reached at levincori@gmail.com and https://www.facebook.com/PachaMamaDoula

Website coming soon www.pachamamacori.com


Childbirth Collective named “Best Prenatal Resource” by Minnesota Monthly Magazine!

We at the Childbirth Collective are THRILLED to have been named “Best Prenatal Resource” in the Twin Cities by Minnesota Monthly Magazine. What an honor, especially in an area so rich with amazing prenatal resources!

 

Here’s what they had to say about us:

BEST PRENATAL RESOURCE

The Childbirth Collective

The non-profit group of midwives, doulas, bodyworkers, and other birth professionals known as the Childbirth Collective is one of the best birthing resources in the Twin Cities. Their free, incredibly informative Parent Topic Nights—which help addled parents-to-be navigate the heretofore uncharted health-care and emotional waters of the childbirth year—separate information from rumor and dispel many pregnancy myths. The collective’s website hosts a wealth of information, including recommended books and DVDs, a comparison of local hospital birthing programs, and profiles of its members. Bonus: the husbands we know enjoyed the classes as much as the expectant mothers. • childbirthcollective.org


Somatic Bodywork for Pregnancy

Editor’s Note: Today we have a post from Collective member Mandy Herrick, who explains how a somatic bodyworker approaches working with a pregnant mama. 

by Mandy Herrick, RSMT, GSP

We all know pregnancy is a time in a woman’s life that is full of new awareness, whether it be aches and pains or breath and bliss. Either way, it’s a time to relish in the self. To nurture, to savor, to behold. And to get some bodywork.

Not many of us remember our own self being born. But here at our very own birth we start a relationship with ourselves that continues through our life. How we relate to our body. How we relate to others and our environment. And through our hectic, adventurous lives we develop patterns – not just lifestyle patterns – but physical movement patterns that can intertwine with energy levels, emotional well-being, and musculoskeletal discomfort. The way we sit, stand, lie down and move around can all impact the balance of our tensegrity, the natural 3-dimensional tension system our bones and fascia create within our body.   There are several ways to approach these symptoms from a Somatic Therapy standpoint. And in the context of pregnancy and postpartum, these approaches can be very helpful in understanding your body – the main tool you will need to birth and nurture your baby.

Hands-on Healing

The body is a marvelous dynamic system full of muscles, bones, organs, fascia, fluids, ligaments, nerves, hormones, and energy that all communicate together in an interwoven network. My goal for clients is to find healing by attuning to the interdependence of all these systems. I combine Craniosacral Therapy, energy healing (Reiki and Vibrational Aspects™), gentle massage, and breath to find relief and restoration from sore and tight areas, stress and anxiety, and just feeling “off.” In pregnancy, the ligaments and fascia in the pelvis and sacrum are stretching and re-adjusting as the bones move to make room for baby. Here, energy work and “embodied massage” can be very relieving. Embodied massage is a term I use for hands-on palpation of a certain area that integrates the bone, the nearby joint, the ligaments and the fascia to allow the muscle to not only restore balance and fluidity, but for the tissue to have an inner awareness, or a mind, that can communicate what it needs. This is where the body/mind connection comes in – that to trust the body is in fact to trust the intelligence of our muscles, bones and organs. For pregnancy, birth and postpartum, it is essential to be reminded of our body’s wisdom and the wisdom of our baby, who swims in utero and spirals out into the world.

Other hands-on modalities I practice include Reiki, Vibrational Aspects and Craniosacral Therapy. Reiki and Vibrational Aspects work together to access the body’s delicate energy system, finding healing by channeling energy or vibration into tissues, organs, or a more global area of the body that calls for equilibrium. Craniosacral Therapy is a modality that uses very light pressure to work with the craniosacral system – brain, spinal cord, dural tube, cerebralspinal fluid, and sacrum. Relief is found by navigating the nervous system and allowing the natural healing process to unfold. Pregnancy is a wonderful time to receive both of these modalities as they seek to support body, mind and spirit.

Alignment Techniques

I recently participated in a webinar called “Finding your Root: Balancing Your Foundational Core and the Pelvic Floor Muscles” by Yoga Practitioner, Leslie Howard who stated that “sitting is the new smoking.” It turns out our bodies are not a bunch of bones stacked atop one another with muscles fixed to them.  The way we align ourselves in basic positions and movements throughout the day can affect our musculoskeletal integrity.  Sitting, for example, is an action that, these days, if practiced for long periods of time in inefficient postures (i.e. slumped over) can impact not only our low back and pelvic floor, but also our energy level, mental clarity, and general well being. And the epic proportion of people that follow the rhythm of Sit Sit Sit Sit all day (sit in the car to work, sit at work, sit in the car back home, sit on the couch) is growing exponentially in our country.

A pregnant woman’s body is in constant counterbalance. As the belly widens and reaches out into the open, the tissues and muscles living on the back of the body are contracting and pulling to regain balance as the mother walks, sits, reaches down, stands up, or even rests upright in meditation. We are subject to gravity, there’s no way around it. As a Somatic Therapist, I am interested in a base level how my clients:

  • Use their Breath

  • Relate to their Spine

  • Relate to their Pelvis

  • Integrate their whole body

Together we find landmarks of the spine or landmarks of the pelvis that help the client find anatomical neutral – where the body is aligned most efficiently. Landmarks such as our ‘sitz bones,’ pubic bone, kidneys (to support the back of the spine), heart (to support the front of the spine and opens the chest) all help in gaining more awareness to our body. And with more awareness, comes self re-aligning and re-patterning and ultimately healing.  

I also integrate the surrounding organs, not only as physiologic systems, but as complementary support structures for the bones. And we notice how the fascia, a weblike system of tissue with innervating nerves, moves and envelops around the bones, organs, and areas of imbalance. With nerves weaving in and around our every structure, there is no way we cannot attribute a ‘mind’ to our tissue. So we trust the body.

Movement Re-patterning

With every motion, there is an attention the body takes with itself and its environment. We learned this in our earliest movement explorations inside our mother’s womb. From playing with our earliest toy, the umbilical cord, to mouthing our tiny hands, to pushing against the strong intrauterine walls (sometimes into our mother’s rib) thereby understanding our boundaries, we have experienced the crucial developmental stages of becoming a human. Post-birth, we enter the world of gravity, and our strong and supple newborn bodies continue to repeat all the movement we learned in our comfy amniotic ocean. We then learn more advanced developmental movements that eventually lead us to crawling, standing, walking.  And although these small movements started early (we were moving even as embryos), they can contribute to the functionality of our brain, our emotional capacity, and the optimal capability of our movement potential.

In a nutshell, if baby is allowed free movement of limbs, these out-of-womb reflexive stages look like this:

  • Breath

  • Yielding with gravity into the earth (aka the floor)

  • Exploring core to extremities relationship

  • Exploring head to tail relationship

  • Exploring upper/lower body connection

  • Exploring body half differentiation (symmetrical)

  • Full integration of all the above

As we grow older, we may learn that some of these reflexes need more integration within our bodies. It may not be obvious because as adults we are operating with our cerebral cortex, our high brain, as we “successfully” live our fast-paced life. Practicing and re-integrating these developmental movement patterns can reawaken the low, reptilian brain and can potentially restore the needed physiologic experience into what is most essential for our complex body/mind connection: consciousness within ourselves tied with a gentle awareness to our outer environment.

I can’t think of a better time to get back into our reptilian brain other than pregnancy. It’s the brain that will lead us in to birth, that will guide us to our instincts.

So as you imagine yourself being born, coming into the world fresh and new, tap into that tiny newborn self. The part of you that might need skin to skin touch, swaddling, holding, or affirmation that you are you. In pregnancy and birth, consciously experiencing your own body can be a transformative endeavor. And you may not like it.  But it’s here where we open ourselves to the unknown.

Mandy Herrick is a Registered Somatic Movement Therapist specializing in pregnancy and birth. She is also a Global Somatics™ Practitioner, Prenatal Yoga Practitioner, dance artist and mother. For more information visit www.mandyherrick.com


Using Traditional Chinese Medicine in Pregnancy, Birth, and Postpartum

by Julie Colby

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is an ancient healing system that has been extremely effective in treating women on their journey through pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum phase.  Three commonly implemented modalities in modern day practice are:  acupuncture, herbal medicine, and dietary therapy.  The underlying premise of TCM is that energy (Qi) is a life force that everyone and everything  are made from.  We all require Qi to survive and maintain.  When disharmony manifests, whether physically emotionally, or spiritually, we practitioners of TCM say that there is a disturbance in the flow of Qi.  Pregnant mamas throughout the ages know that pregnancy, birth, and postpartum cause our Qi to travel far off the beaten path. As TCM postulates that we are all unique, dynamic beings, the roads down which the childbearing years take us depend on many factors (age of conception, underlying disposition, lifestyle choices, just to name a few).  The point of departure, as well as the paths we veer off on our healing journey, are known as our pattern according to to TCM.   That is a rudimentary synapsis of TCM theory.  Let’s get to some of the juicy specifics of what TCM can address:

 

Pregnancy is when the Palace of The Child (the uterus) is growing and nurturing a sweet babe.  As sacred and miraculous as this critical life event is, TCM views pregnancy as Qi blockage for women’s bodies to function optimally. Let’s face it, week-by-week, the growing uterus expands and pushes the internal organs upward, where space is less than abundant.  Conditions such as: heartburn, nausea and vomiting, round ligament pain, urinary tract infections, itching, back and sciatic pain, and carpal tunnel are quite common.  Other common issues that arise in pregnancy are:  positional concerns (breech and occiput posterior are  the most common), postdates (babies gestating beyond the traditional forty weeks), and anxiety.

 

Acupuncture, herbal medicine, and dietary therapy are all helpful in reducing the severity of these conditions and have almost no side effects.  In contemporary clinical practice, disposable surgical steel needles are placed in various acupoints along pathways (also known as meridians or channels) of the body and retained for 20-40 minutes.  The intent of acupuncture is to access and manipulate Qi that needs to be redirected.  Some describe the sensation as tingling, itchy, heavy, relaxing, or warming.  Herbs and foods also can be prescribed according to one’s individual pattern.  TCM employs an amazing model called the Five Element System (Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, and Wood).  Each herb and food belongs to a particular Element and possesses a particular thermal (Hot, Warm, Neutral, Cool, and Cold) property.  Knowing which ones work for you and why is helpful in making practical decisions when going to the grocery store and considering what’s cooking for dinner.

 

Most TCM practitioners, particularly those that focus on pregnant women, know that regular acupuncture treatments throughout pregnancy and especially in the last month keep Qi flowing throughout the body.  Harmonious Qi flow often has powerful outcomes for labor encouragement and we see better outcomes in birth.  In fact, acupuncture can be a remarkable tool during labor itself for:  relaxation, fatigue, positioning, and progression.  In the immediate postpartum, acupuncture can be used to:  promote urination, reduce bleeding, encourage birth of the placenta, and to strengthen a woman’s overall Qi.

 

TCM has a gorgeous protocol for postpartum women known as The Golden Month.  During these forty days, women stay home (preferably skin-to-skin) and bond with their precious newborn babe.  Cold foods and beverages are forbidden and warm, nourishing foods are served.  Visitors are kept at bay, family (often a mother, grandmother, aunt, or sister) attends to all household chores, and mama’s activity and attention is focused on recovery and breastfeeding (if this is her wish). Women given this incredible gift of healing in the postpartum phase have amazing outcomes in:  establishing a successful breastfeeding relationship, nurturing emotional health, healing tears or lacerations related to birth, and overall, navigating life with a new member of the tribe.  Another powerful tool that TCM suggests is placenta encapsulation.  The placenta contains nutrient rich medicine that reharmonizes the overall Qi of the body.

 

Above all else, making intentional decisions regarding our own health is empowering.  To pause, reflect, and make informed decisions about how we birth, how we live, and what goes into our body and our healing is a very normal thing that should be rooted in personal preference and evidence-based research.  Being a TCM practitioner, mother of three, and embracing these principles throughout my own birth journeys has propelled me to commit my life calling to trusting in women’s wisdom and particularly in knowing a little can go a long way.  A little insight into The Five Elements and thermal properties can make some revolutionary changes for many.

 

Julie Colby is a Licensed Acupuncturist, a Birth and Postpartum Doula, and an Aspiring Midwife.  She owns Lady Slipper Wellness Center in NE Minneapolis and loves fielding inquiries regarding health.  From time to time she teaches classes or holds workshops on TCM and Women’s Wisdom.  She can be reached at ladyslipperwellness@hotmail.com.


Why Choose Home Birth? Part 5

Editor’s Note: This is Part 5 in a multi-part series asking families why they chose home birth. Please check out the other posts in the series!

Photo Credit: Emily MacLaury

Photo Credit: Emily MacLaury

“I wanted to experience labor in a place where I felt most safe…”

A home birth always seemed like the right choice for me.  Before my son arrived, the only birth I ever attended was that of my little brother which took place in my childhood home, so a home birth seemed perfectly normal to me. I wanted to experience labor in a place where I felt most safe and at ease and with the team I had worked with throughout my pregnancy.  I knew my son would benefit from the feeling of calm my surroundings provided me.  The reality of my home birth closely resembled my dream because I had witnessed the labor of my mother and birth of my brother.

I believe my dream was fairly realistic.  The differences were purely superficial:  I never used the birth tub, I didn’t nap or scream.  I think these differences were a result of my fast labor.  Overall, I look at my home birth as a positive and beautiful experience. For anyone considering a home birth I highly recommend seeing one or two in their entirety video  so as to get a realistic picture of what a home birth can look like.

Jessica Hoffman

“…we were immediately supported and reassured.”

We starting considering a home birth because I had negative feelings about my hospital birth with Weston. Nothing major happened with it, but my memories from the hospital filled me with anxiety and concern. We tried unsuccessfully to find a hospital and hospital midwife team that made us feel like it could be different. By contrast, once we started exploring home births we were immediately supported and reassured. Following the excellent prenatal care I received, I was confident and excited going into my birthing time. The experience of being supported through the birth by experienced women at my home with my family present  exceeded my expectations. My memories of my home birth are filled with family, love, and support.

Kim Berggren

“…felt it was the safest way to bring my daughter and son into this world.”

My mom passed away just  one year before her first grandchild, my daughter, was born. I knew before getting pregnant that my mom supported natural childbirth and as I educated myself, I decided it was the right birth plan for me and my baby girl. I did a natural water birth in the hospital with her and felt very confident when I became pregnant again less than two years later that a water birth at home was what I wanted for my second baby. Birthing both of my children naturally was something that connected me not only with my mom, but all the women in my family who came before me. I also felt it was the safest way to bring my daughter and son into this world and for me, it absolutely was.

When I pictured my home birth before my son was born, I imagined having a very calming and comfortable environment during labor and birth. I felt that this would help both baby and me get through the challenges of childbirth. I also knew that it would be nice to sleep in my own bed the first few nights with my baby, not being woken at odd hours for ‘checkups’. When my son did come into this world, my labor and birth were everything I expected they would be. Things progressed faster than I thought they would, but my Midwives were fast and efficient in keeping pace with my son’s hasty arrival. What I didn’t expect this time around was how much easier it would be to establish breastfeeding. In the hospital with my daughter, she struggled with latching on and never completely got the hang of breastfeeding. Conversely, my son was very quickly able to latch on at home after birth. I truly believe that the environment was one that allowed him to focus on learning how to nurse. I would never change the birth of either of my children as they were both perfect, but doing a home birth the second time around was absolutely the right choice for me and my family.

Andrea Puckett

“There weren’t any reasons not to have the baby at home.” 

I chose home birth because midwives provide the best care during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. Home birth midwives are able to spend time with their clients and get to know their bodies and stories in a way that ObGyns and hospital midwives are not. I wanted to know and feel comfortable with the health care providers who would be with me during the birth of my child. My pregnancy was very healthy and I knew that home would be the safest place for my baby to be born. There weren’t any reasons not to have the baby at home.

In terms of impact on my family, we all had a great experience. Everyone in my family was very supportive of me giving birth at home, even the ones who weren’t familiar with the idea. My mom had her babies at home and I had been to lots of home births before so I never really had to think twice about where I would have the baby.

My home birth was better than I had even hoped and dreamed it would be. It was really great and I felt safe and well attended.

Erin Wilkins

“Our midwifery team developed my confidence, sense of power, and ability as a woman and soon-to-be mother.”

Home birth was a clear, logical choice for me and my family. It offered the highest quality, most personal support throughout my pregnancy, labor, birth, and post-partum care. As a first time parent, I knew from the beginning that I wanted a natural, unmedicated birth. Reaching the end of my pregnancy and preparing for birth, I took stock of the relationship and sense of trust that had developed among myself, my husband, my sister (our doula), and our home birth midwives. Our midwifery team developed my confidence, sense of power, and ability as a woman and soon-to-be mother. They took the time to know me and my family, and provided a personal level of holistic care that left me with faith and trust in their judgment and expertise.

This faith and trust was called upon, as we ultimately transferred to a hospital where my daughter was born. Based on this established trust, I never questioned their decision to transfer. At the hospital, our midwives helped advocate for unmedicated, non-surgical interventions. These options would not have been known or offered to me without their prompting and facilitated my daughter’s natural, unmedicated birth. Seeing my home birth midwives acting within a hospital setting reinforced my belief that we had chosen the best possible care for our family. Home birth care allowed me to embrace this unknown journey from my familiar home, surrounded by familiar, trusted faces.

Sarah Aughenbaugh

Check back tomorrow for MORE! 


Why Choose Home Birth? Part 3

Editor’s Note: This is the third in a multi-part series asking families to tell us in their own words why they chose home birth. (Read Part 1 and Part 2)

Photo credit: Megan Crown Photography

Photo credit: Megan Crown Photography

“So peaceful. So calm.”

We chose to have a home birth with our second daughter after birthing our first born in the hospital. In our hospital birth with our oldest we were still able to have her naturally, as we had hoped.  However, the hours after her birth and the following days led us to desire something different.  She was quite healthy and was doing just fine but they continued to do unnecessary evaluations that would wake us all up and disrupt our nursing pattern.

When we found out we were expecting again we decided to look into other options.  That is when we found our home-birth midwives and were thrilled with the possibility of doing this differently.  Our second baby came rather quickly on a cold December morning and by mid-afternoon, when all was said and done, we were tucked into our cozy bed snuggling with our new baby girl. I will never forget that first day. So peaceful. So calm.

Our dreams of a perfect birth were far surpassed with Audrey’s arrival and we couldn’t possibly imagine having a baby any other way.  Our son is due any day and we can’t wait to enjoy this experience again.  We feel this decision has been incredibly impactful not only for our immediate family but also for the people closest to us.  Their ideas of home births are changing now and we feel so glad to get to share it with others!

Emily and Dan

 

“My midwives brought care and tenderness to one of the peak events of my life. “

I had two top reasons for desiring a home birth. One, I didn’t want anyone I didn’t know at my birth. Birth is much more than a medical event. It’s personal, sacred, emotional, and powerful. I wanted my birth to be by invitation only!

Two, no unnecessary interventions–or at least greatly minimized. Can’t get out of unnecessary interventions at the hospital. Even in best cases where they’re minimal, they’re still there. I knew that with Trillium, I would trust that any interventions that took place were necessary. For example, the Pitocin shot after the placenta came. I trusted that the medicine was in my best interest. If I was given a Pit shot in the hospital, I would question its necessity just because of being in the hospital.

I chose home birth for the birth I hoped for, but ended up valuing the prenatals greatly. It was always a joy to spend time with our midwives Emme and Clare. Another amazing benefit that came to light was how this pregnancy and birth was a whole family affair. That wouldn’t have happened within other models of care. My boys were present for prenatals and the birth, and I believe their involvement helped them welcome Louisa with joy and love. They are so sweet with her.

I am blessed that the reality of my home birth was everything I hoped for. I was struck by how normal it all seemed– of course birth IS normal. But generally in our culture families who choose home birth are viewed as reckless or extraordinarily brave, and the birth itself rather wild or unfathomable. Well, I don’t view myself as reckless or brave. I’m just a woman who had a baby, and it was so normal and comfortable (not always physically comfortable, ha ha).

My midwives brought care and tenderness to one of the peak events of my life.

Lindsay

 

“…supposed to be about love and tranquility and family.”

In February 2009, just months after getting married, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. As I sat in the neurologist’s office and listened to him tell me to get used to the idea of living in a wheelchair and that I could continue drinking alcohol in mass quantity without any negative effects beyond what anyone who drinks too much would experience, something changed in me. I knew he had to be wrong. There had to be SOMETHING I could do besides daily injections, steroids, and frequent doctor visits. I left his office feeling unsettled and distrustful of his advice. I changed my life completely within 3 days – I read countless books on natural healing, scoured the internet for success stories, and became raw vegan and a non-drinker. I essentially healed my MS.

After my diagnosis but before a lot of my healing, I read horror stories of women with MS and how childbirth often triggers an attack. I told my mom that maybe I’d never be able to have kids. I cried a lot. About a year later, feeling great, healthy, and in the best physical shape of my life, I told my husband I wanted a baby. So we made one!

I had read about home birth on a raw vegan blog. It was a new idea for me, but it triggered a, “yes, yes, yes!” reaction in me as much as my neurologist’s advice has triggered a, “no, no, no!” one. It just made sense. Birth wasn’t supposed to be about fear and surgery and intervention – it was supposed to be about love and tranquility and family! And those are things that are at HOME. Luckily, I married a man who had always been suspicious of the American medical model and who was on board with a home birth.

We prepared ourselves as best we could with a Bradley class and discussions with other parents, always holding in the back of our minds that I might have an exacerbation of my MS symptoms postpartum. In October 2010, we had our first baby, at home, in our bed. In the best way possible, it was fairly uneventful. My sweet girl, Violet, came out forehead-first, a “star-gazer.” Only now, looking back and after many discussions with my wonderful midwives, is it really clear to me that had I been in a hospital I very possibly would’ve ended up with a c-section.

Although I have had some MS symptoms since Violet’s birth, they have been minor and few and far between. I know they will disappear once I can concentrate a lot of time on myself. I am so thankful, every day, for my dis-ease and the path down which it has lead me. I never would’ve known about home birth without it.

We welcomed our second daughter this past December, in a tub in our living room, on the birthday of one of our beloved midwives, with her older sister watching.

In many ways, my dream of my home births IS my reality – they were warm, happy, exciting events shrouded in a hormone-induced haze of forgetfulness. And, I have to admit, I love that my beautiful, incredibly healthy children are a walking “fuck you,” to everyone who told me that I was going to kill myself and/or my baby by choosing to have them at home.

Jess McNab

Check back tomorrow for part 4 in our series!


Why choose home birth? Part 2

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a multi-part series asking families why they chose home birth. Today, we start with voices of the birthing mothers. Part 1 can be found here. 

Photo Credit: Megan Crown Photography

“Life was happening all around me…”

Why did we choose home birth?  The impetus for me was my OB telling me that she’d grudgingly allow me a trial of labor with my 2nd child, but didn’t feel that I’d be able to deliver since I couldn’t birth a 6 lb 6 oz baby vaginally.  After that I searched for a different way, I wanted a VBAC.  Hospital  just wasn’t an option in Nevada, and no hospital midwife could take me.  That left a clinic or home birth.  I started researching and ended up meeting with a midwife for an interview.  She allayed much of my fears.  I wanted to have a more natural birth for my child and for myself – one without doctors forcing drugs, inductions, interventions, monitors, c-sections.  I wanted it to be peaceful, I wanted my first child there.  I wanted to hold my baby right away, nurse her, not have her taken from me to be weighed and goop stuck in her eyes.  I wanted the option of what would happen with my placenta and the cord blood, the doctor cheated me of that in the hospital opting not to take cord blood even though we had made it clear we wanted it.  So many reasons to choose home birth, many more that I haven’t written.

My dream for my home births…..well, I didn’t have it all planned out in my head.  I didn’t want to. My plan was healthy baby delivered at home safely.  That was it really except that I did want a water birth, which never did happen!  I’d say that plan succeeded, all 3 times.  It was immensely better for us as a family – to be home, lower stress, be together, have the new baby fold gently into our lives, our children being right there the process not hidden from them.  I remember very distinctly during my first home birth, my oldest running around playing near me as I laid draped over the birth ball inching toward transition.  She ran giggling past me once and the soft breeze of her movement fanned my cheek and tousled my hair.  I don’t know why that moment sticks with me so much, but it does.  I was beautiful.  Life was happening all around me…our normal family life and our new baby’s birth folded in.

Kim

“…both positive and negative for my family.” 

I chose a home birth because I thought I would have more control over the circumstances of my son’s birth and the situation than if I were in a hospital.  I discovered that although I had more ability to make my own choices I couldn’t really control my labor and how it unfolded – it still turned out different than I envisioned.  In choosing to take more responsibility for the birthing process I found that it was a lot scarier than I thought when I was actually beginning labor.  I was deciding how I wanted to proceed rather than having someone tell me “you’ve been having contractions for days you need to go to the hospital,”or “you need to have a cesarean.”  While it was scary when I was in that in-between time between pregnancy and full labor, I also experienced the opposite end of the spectrum.  I felt all throughout my pregnancy that everything was as it should be, pregnancy and birth was a natural process that doesn’t need a lot of intervention (in most circumstances), and that I could have a relaxed experience as a pregnant woman.  I really enjoyed my pregnancy for the most part because of meeting with my midwives out of a clinic setting and developing a relationship with my caregivers.

The decision to have a home birth was both positive and negative for my family.  It was positive for my older son because he was able to be a little more involved in the pregnancy and also was not disrupted in his routine after the baby was born because we were all at home.  My husband was supportive about my decision to have a home birth but would have preferred a hospital birth.  Our home birth experience ended up having a few unexpected and not necessarily pleasant surprises and really caused my husband to wish we hadn’t had a home birth after the fact.  It all turned out fine though and in my mind I would have had the same issues in a hospital but I would have felt forced to take actions that I did not necessarily want to take.  It’s like anything in life that has an unexpected twist, you never know if you had made a different choice how different the outcome or process would have been.

Maureen

“I knew there was another way”

We chose a home birth because we researched it thoroughly and decided that it would be a safer option for us.  I visualized my birth experience to be fast, private and calm and in the middle of the night and that’s exactly how it happened!  We had candles lit during a dark February night.  I was in the warm birthing tub and it felt so cavelike and private which I felt really helped to keep me “open”. I attribute that to my very fast labor and birth.  My husband was my birth coach.  We felt like we welcomed our little one into our family as a team which is a great way to begin!

The support that the midwifery team gave us was exactly what we were looking for – they were genuinely warm, encouraging and caring which was the exact opposite of the experience I had for the first few months of my prenatal care at a big practice in downtown Minneapolis.  When I was with the large OB practice, I realized quickly that they lacked optimism and confidence in me and I began to internalize their frenzied doubt.  I knew there was another way so I stopped going and transitioned my care to home birth midwifery care – it was a great decision for me and my family!

Steph and Jon

Check back tomorrow for part 3!