Will you be my advocate?

I often get asked this at consults.

It’s tough because I know there’s this movement happening that is telling people that is what a doula does.  I know that in a way we are advocates, but the way this happens is different depending on who you talk to.  Doulas included seem to not be in agreement.

The more I do this work, the more I see what a tight rope walk it is.  On one hand, we are there to inform families about what is happening to them.  On the other hand, we are not care providers.  Our role starts to go into grey areas when we begin to speak about Read More >>

Speedy Home Birth

This was the second time I was invited to this family’s birth space. The first was a planned birth center birth that resulted in a transfer due to high blood pressure. When she got pregnant with baby #2 she knew she wanted a home birth, but she would never have guessed the journey that was in store. Here’s her story…

My Birth Story: Hank Warner Chesal 12-15-14

This was going to be my second natural childbirth and first homebirth – I was very excited. With my first child, June, I went into labor the day after my EDD so I didn’t expect my second child to be very far Read More >>

Home Water Birth

Below is the story of how my daughter was born the Sunday before last…

Dana Faye’s Birth Story

On Saturday July 13th, at 40 weeks 2 days, I started having irregular surges.  This was nothing new since I had been having them in increasing intensity for three weeks.  I also had been making frequent trips to the bathroom and had been experiencing lots of Read More >>

Third Trimester Update

As pregnancy #3 winds to an end, I’ve been very busy tying up loose ends and making last minute preparations.  I’ve made a lot of great connections and participated in some amazing trades of products and services. 

I enjoyed my last birth as a doula the end of May.  The birth story is here in case you missed it.  I have to say that I’m so glad I decided to take that last one on.  The couple both happen to be photographers and got some amazing photos of the birth which can be found here Read More >>

YourWaterBirth.com Discount

I now have a doula account with:

If you are interested in purchasing a birth pool or one of their many systems or kits, please contact me for my discount code to get 10% off your order.

I just bought this pool for my own upcoming birth in July:

I got the set that comes with a liner and a cover.  I’m very excited since the fishy pool I used last time left a lot to be desired.  I know I’ll definitely appreciate the handles on this one as well as the narrow shape when it comes time to push.

Yay for water birth!  😀

Every Step Along the Way Teaches Us Something, Even the Mistakes

We are all on a journey.  As we learn new things, our perspective and needs evolve.  This is how I have been coming to terms with things that have happened in my past.  In particular, the home birth of our daughter.  When I set out to have a natural birth, I decided to have the baby in a birthing center.  After I spoke with a local midwife, I learned that birthing at home was an option too.  This was a new idea to me so I was a bit nervous at the thought, but decided to look into it more before I shot the idea down.  The more I looked into it, the more it appealed to me.  Films like the Business of Being Born, and Orgasmic Birth sealed the deal.  My next step was choosing a midwife.  I called the first one I had talked to back, and set up an appointment for a consultation.  It went well.  I especially felt at ease with her experience and low transfer rate.  Still, I knew that I needed to look around more before I decided on anything.  After searching the net, I was able to get a hold of a list of midwives.  Only this list meant very little to me since it was only names on a page.  I had no connection to these women, nor did I know where to start.  I felt lost.  I searched some of the names online with little luck.  My instinct at this point told me to get references from the initial midwife.  I did, and they checked out.  I felt that she was a safe bet so I proceeded forward. The midwife was great at every prenatal visit.  She took extra time after each one to talk with me about my concerns, and also to chat about natural birth.   Then at 28 weeks, she suggested that I get an ultrasound for my 32 week consultation with the back-up OB.  I expressed how I was not comfortable getting one given my prior “big baby” experience.  I didn’t want to open any doors to trouble.  Plus, I knew that my baby was healthy.  Still, she pushed the idea saying that it would help rule out complications that could be present at birth.  Her suggestion planted a seed.  By the next visit I was having doubts.  I started to wonder if I should have one done….especially since I would be having the baby at home.  I called to let her know that I would get one done.   As it turned out, my hunch was right.  My baby was right on track to being a 9 pounder by 40 weeks.  According to the OB, this meant that I would need to have the baby by then, or my home birth was out of the question.  I was furious.  I called the midwife, explaining that this was the exact reason that I didn’t want to get one done.  I was angry at her, but most of all, I was angry at myself for allowing “the professional” to cloud my judgment.  I knew what my body was capable of, and was pissed at what I set myself up for when I knew better. I started to get the feeling that she was no longer the right fit for me.  Given all the difficulties of getting the insurance to cover the home birth as well as the bond I had formed with the midwife, I decided to proceed forward.  Basically, I allowed fear to keep me married up with a provider who I was not compatible with.   At the birth, I found my premonition to be true.  She pressured me to break my water very early on.  I was able to hold her off at that point since my surges were still manageable.  Once I hit transition though that changed.  I no longer had the motivation to push her away since, well, things were intense, and quite frankly, I was looking for a way out (transition is a very vulnerable time where the needs of the woman can be confusing).  She proceeded with breaking my water to speed things along, and then stuck her hands inside of me to move my daughter since she was posterior.  Her reasoning for adjusting my daughter’s position was that I would have had to push a lot longer otherwise. 

The reason why these interventions bother me so much now is that there was no good reason to do either of them.  My labor had been progressing very quickly, and I feel like I endured unnecessary pain all in the name of “routine procedures” she had come to adopt from prior births.  There is no telling what my body would have done had she left it alone.

The reason I am sharing all this is I feel that others may be able to take something from my experience.  There may be people who look at my story confused as to why I didn’t make a change when I sensed our differences.  Well, I believe there may be something for those people to learn too as empathy seems to be lost at times when we are reading a birth story.  As birth professionals, we should strive to understand and respect each and every woman’s journey.   I feel that at the beginning of my journey to home birth, I did mesh with my midwife.  I felt at ease with her knowledge of pathology, and her logical nature.  As I learned more, and became more confident with my body and the process that all started to change.  I evolved into an entirely different client.  It was me who had changed, not her.  I was not prepared at 32 weeks to search for and connect with a brand new midwife.  I honestly didn’t know where to even start.  So I settled.  Now that time has gone by, I can see that what I went through was not in vain.   In a way, I feel that she was a stepping stone to where I am today.  Without going through that experience, I might have remained blind to the fact that even home birth midwives intervene with the birth process in the absence of medical necessity.  Because of her, I now understand why some women make the decision to give birth unassisted.   These are lessons I will use as I support other laboring women as well as if we decide to have more children. 

More than meets the eye

I came across a post in a pregnancy forum where a woman was blaming a tragic GBS newborn death on the mother’s decision to have her baby at home.  Some in the forum pointed out that pertinent information surrounding the GBS test and treatment was omitted.  Even so, this woman continued to use the unfortunate event to convince people that home births are dangerous.  At one point she begged for advocates of home birth to admit the risks and move on.  That by having a home birth the mother is putting her experience over the health of the baby.  The truth is there are risks to childbirth regardless of the place.  It just so happens that a lot of people have an easier time accepting tragedy when it happens in the hospital.  My aim is not to convince you of the safety of home birth as there are plenty of studies out there that confirm that.  My goal is to show there is more to this issue than meets the eye.     When deciding where to give birth, we usually start out by measuring the risks in tangible ways such as complications and death.  It is hard for us to evaluate the intangible consequences with a clear mind when such strong emotions are at play.  Many mothers have to go through a crappy experience to realize the importance of playing an active role in the decisions that take place during childbirth.  It is no coincidence that mothers who are dissatisfied with their experience often go on to struggle with postpartum depression.  How a mother feels during the birth of her baby will follow her for the rest of her life.  It plays a huge role in how she interacts with the newborn, how she feels about herself and how she interacts with others.  There are many studies that have been done that document this.  When we dismiss how a mother feels about her experience, it only serves to delay the healing process and ignores the problem at hand.  Surely this is an area we should be paying more attention to since all of us come from mothers. One only has to learn about the history of birth, to realize how much we don’t know.  From the prevalence of x-rays, gassing unwilling moms, doing away with midwives to routine episiotomies -it is clear to see the dangers in not exercising caution.  I am sure the people 50 years ago had a hard time accepting that their “new and improved” way could actually be causing more harm than good.  Something we should all consider when we are deciding what tests and procedures to have done.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that all forms of intervention are bad.  I am very thankful that modern technology allows us to save babies and moms who would have otherwise not made it.  The problem is this life saving technology is being used in excess.  We have hit a point where it is creating problems for low risk women, who likely would have been fine had they been left alone.   Every woman has a different set of beliefs surrounding the process, her body and what she is comfortable with.  There are physical limitations as well.  Given these differences, every birth should be approached and treated as a unique event.  We need to concern ourselves more with what level of intervention is acceptable for low risk pregnancies and births, and ensuring informed consent takes place for those who want or need to go a different route.   That is far from where we currently stand.  Births are scheduled for convenience and managed for efficiency.  A number of machines are used to monitor mom and baby for the sake of malpractice risks.  Procedures are often carried out without informed consent.  This disturbing trend is exactly why more and more women are choosing to bring their babies into the world outside of the hospital.  It isn’t so much “the experience”, as it is about avoiding unnecessary risks that the management of birth brings.  There are hospitals that are trying their best to be sensitive to the unique needs of women, yet so many continue to do what is best for business.  This should be cause for concern for all who value the autonomy of women.