MAYD to Birth: At Your Doorstep

Promoting gentle, empowering mother journies…

"Have it Your Way" – Choosing an Appropriate Care Provider for Your Birth by Rachel Zimmer, CNM

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Rachel Zimmer, DNP, CNM

If you want a hamburger, do not go to a vegan restaurant.  If you do choose to go to a vegan restaurant, arguing with the chef about making you a hamburger will do no good. Therefore, do not be surprised if you choose to stay at the vegan restaurant if you do not get a hamburger. You just set yourself up to be disappointed. Sounds silly right? 

If you are an expectant mom who wants an un-medicated birth, or a birth without interventions, this is exactly what you are doing by staying with your current provider (assuming your current provider is not supportive of your birth preferences).  Let me tell you how it goes. Mom says to her OB: I would really like to have freedom of movement during my labor and deliver in a position other than my back.  OB says: “OK, we’ll see how it goes. We want to have a safe delivery.”   So what is the reality here? The reality is mom has done some reading and knows that changing positions during labor and birth can help promote a good position for baby as well as decrease her discomfort…  This OB does not care one way or another what mom does during labor and believes she will be just like 90 percent of the moms in the practice and end up with an epidural and on her back anyways.  Want to hear a response from a provider supportive of your low intervention birth plan? How about: “That sounds like a great plan, intermittent monitoring is part of my routine practice. Let’s talk about ways to help keep this pregnancy low-risk so that you can avoid an induction and meet your birth goals.” So moms I am here to tell you, if you don’t get the answer that you are looking for……FIND ANOTHER PROVIDER!  So why do women stay? These are some answers I hear…

“I’ve seen my OB since my very first pap smear…” ie loyalty. I guarantee that this means nothing to your provider. They will still check out at the end of the day and let one of their partners catch your baby. I am not saying there is anything wrong with that, no one can work 24/7. The point is, so what? Your provider does not remember any of the pap smears that they have done for you and will not miss doing them in the future. That is assuming they will even notice you are gone, which they probably will not. Most OBs see 150-200 women every week and you are not special to them.

“I need to deliver my baby at such and such hospital because it is closest to my house….or because they have a special postpartum suite that I want to have”. Most first time moms are in labor an average of 18-24 hours. Unless you are planning to deliver in El Paso, you will have time to get there. Your baby will benefit from the decisions you make surrounding your birth and none of this has anything to do with the size of your postpartum room, color of the walls, or if they serve you lobster after your birth.

“My OB delivered my last baby…..or all the babies in my whole family”… This is great, you know what to expect! If you were happy with your previous birth experience then by all means stay right where you are! If you are looking for something different, go elsewhere! Your OB has not changed their practices recently.

“It will be fine, I have a doula this time who will make sure my birth plan is followed”… I LOVE doulas and I think all 1st time moms, if not all moms should have one! BUT most OBs don’t understand the role of the doula and don’t like them let alone respect them. Nor will they pay any attention to them as they advocate for your birth plan. It’s like arguing with the vegan chef to make you a burger… pointless. And, why do you want to fight to get what you want???? Birth should be a time where your birth team is supporting you and working with you, not against you. Doulas are truly amazing BUT your birth experience will be a million times better if you also have an OB or midwife who is ALSO on board with your plan!

“My family is not supportive of me seeing a midwife”… No one said you have to switch to a midwife. There are some great OBs out there who will support your plans for birth. It is absolutely true that midwives are generally less interventional than OBs and more supportive of practices that promote un-medicated birth. But, there is something different for everyone! Ask about interviews, many midwives will offer “meet and greet” visits or interviews that are free and are an opportunity for you and your partner to meet them, see that they’re not crazy witch doctors, and find out if they are right for you. If not, keep moving on!
As OB providers, we attend anywhere from 50-300 births per year…sometimes more! You as an expectant mom, will experience childbirth once, twice, or sometimes more in your whole lifetime. This is YOUR experience. Don’t let any of the above reasons stop you! Choose people to be part of your birth team that want to help support your goals. C’mon moms! YOUR BIRTH MATTERS! Your OB provider MIGHT remember if the baby they put onto your chest (hopefully) was a boy or a girl. You will remember your birth experience for the rest of your life…

Rachel grew up in the Dallas area and is a graduate of The University of Texas at Arlington majoring in nursing. Rachel has a special interest in music, sports, and Spanish. Rachel attended Baylor University Louise Herrington School of Nursing beginning 2008 and graduated in 2011 with her Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree in Nurse-Midwifery. Baylor University was the first school in the United States to offer the DNP/Nurse-Midwifery program. She then received certification through the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB) and is an active member of the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM). During her graduate studies she performed clinical rotations at Parkland Health and Hospital System in Dallas and completed her residency here at MacArthur OB/GYN and Baylor Medical Center at Irving. The focus of her graduate project was utilizing social media to provide childbirth education to women.

Come to the Dark Side, We Have Breast Milk AND Cookies

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So excited about this guest post from Karen Orchard.  In addition to being a great writer, she is a home-birthing, breastfeeding, cloth diapering PHARMACIST!  She also does some cool things with yarn (links can be found at the bottom of her cleverly written post).

Honestly, I was never much of a Star Wars fan.  Star Trek was where it's at for me.  The entire pursuing knowledge for the sake of discovery is more my style.  Ideas and learning motivate me.

I want to share with you how someone as unlikely as myself would turn into a home-birthing, extended breast feeding, and cloth diapering mama.

Berry Patch Mama – The Pharmacist 
Actually, I think me becoming a pharmacist is stranger than me becoming everything else I am.  Yes, you read that right, I am a pharmacist.  Honestly, I know perhaps one other pharmacist who gave birth without an epidural and insisted on taking breaks at work for an entire year to pump.  I am a strange bird in my habitat.  Most other pharmacists I know gave up on pumping after a week.  Not me!  I viewed it as my right, my baby's right.  Don't mess with Mama Bear!  I didn't back down, even when ten years ago my district manager wouldn't arrange a private place for me to pump.  My solution?  I sat in the corner out of view of customers, facing the wall.  It was a terrifying thought at first, but it became a routine and my coworkers got used to it.  Luckily they were all female.

Honestly, I'd never really wanted children. I'd never thought much about it, which might have been a good thing. My head wasn't filled with all sorts of cliched and romantic notions or dramatic portrayals from movies and TV. Our families shape many of our ideas about things, especially child rearing. Perhaps it was something of a blessing I was an only child for 7 years. I had not a single cousin until I was 6! I was never around other babies or children. I hadn't all that much to 'go off of'. As far as medications, I came from a family where aspirin was the strongest analgesic in the house. You didn't go to the doctor unless it was serious. My father routinely believed he could think himself out of a cold. The man never missed a day of work. I didn't know any pharmacists and my parents weren't in the medical professions.

My mother was a woman ahead of her time. She claims it was all the Phil Donahue she watched. She was determined to have a natural birth and breastfeed in the early 70s, when people weren't doing any of those things, including having children. You know, the whole Population Bomb thing and all had just come out. Mom remembers there were no maternity clothes to be found in the department stores. Modern women were liberated, you didn't need to breastfeed. Be a modern woman, use formula! Working 9 to 5 and all that.

So, why the heck would I even become a pharmacist? Poor guidance counseling for one. I didn't know any pharmacists and my parents weren't in the medical professions. It was ultimately my love of science and my practicality of wanting a steady, secure pay check. Originally, I intended to go into pharmaceutical research and development, but I sure am glad I don't work for a pharmaceutical company now. Maybe that's what makes me different. I entered into pharmacy under the naive notion that science and concrete facts were what lies behind the pharmaceutical industry. I think we all know what drives the pharmaceutical industry and health care these days, but 25 years ago in high school I wasn't so enlightened. As you can imagine I am a tiny bit disillusioned now by it.

When I became pregnant 11 years ago I embarked on my usual strategy to deal with everything. Research! I love investigation, research,the thrill of the hunt. I visited message boards (we were pre-blog and Facebook back in those days). I found one for Attachment Parenting. A term I had never, ever heard in my life. I found it very fascinating and very reasonable. It made sense! That's what I like. You see, I question everything. I'll never accept anything without knowing the "why". Then I found the Mother of all Attachment Parenting communities, (pun intended). I was hooked! I studied. I read books. Not cream puff books, like "What to Expect When You're Expecting". I read Sheila Kitzinger, Laura Shanley, and Ina May Gaskin. Unassisted Childbirth really made an impression on me. I never did have an unassisted birth, but the book is just amazing!

The world would be a much better place if truth and fact were the highest of our pursuits. If exploring strange new worlds and boldly going where no one has gone befo-.... oh I did mention I am a little bit of a Star Trek TNG fan. That's the sort of scientific pursuits and world I'd have liked to live in. I thought someday I'd be Dr. Beverly Crusher. However, this isn't the 23rd century.

Really, we aren't that far removed from bleeding people, drilling holes in people's skulls, and the invention of antiseptic. 200 years ago doctors warned not to bathe too often, or else you may let the 'bad airs' in through your pores! Ridiculous, isn't it? Yet today, we aren't that much more sophisticated. There is a plethora of standard protocols in hospitals based on little to no scientific evidence or good reason. Most hospital procedures are based on mitigating liability, not science or medicine. True story. In light of that, I think you, as a lay person, should keep in mind that the medical profession doesn't have the best track record on sound, reasonable advice based on scientific fact. If it doesn't make sense to you, ask "why?". If you don't get a answer that makes sense, do some investigative work and find out the truth.

Above all things, I think the truth about things is the most important thing for me. I won't hide behind ideology, or political correctness, or popular opinion, or "because that's the way we've always done it. That's why I believe in natural birthing and all the other things I believe in. Because they are reasonable, rational, and logical. Live long and prosper and have a great birth!

Oh hey, PS, I just discovered a woman pharmacist I work with is due this weekend and it's her second birth at the local Midwife Birthing Center! When she told me I believe I did a fist pump and exclaimed "Oh yeah!"

Karen Orchard  
BerryPatchMama on Facebook
BerryPatchMama blog

Letter to a Baby Not Yet Conceived – Anonymous Post

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The following piece was submitted anonymously as my family and friends do not know that my husband and I would like to try for another child. More controversially, they do not know that we intend to deliver said baby in our home with a midwife. I’m not sure how this will go over with my family and do not want to find out just yet. 

Dear Baby #4:

Last night, Daddy and I watched “The Business of Being Born and our minds were blown away. We had heard of people having homebirths or water births or using midwives instead of OBs but honestly, it all seemed like hippy stuff to us.

I’m almost ashamed to admit it but I often looked at women who did these things as crazy for risking their baby’s life. For all I could tell it was just for a power trip. But last night it clicked. The realization of just how broken our maternity system is was shocking to me. I sat nearly in tears as I thought over my births in a new light. Our experiences would have been exponentially different if we would have been one of these freaks.

#4, I never thought we’d have you. With three big sisters, (and really only planning on two of them) you’d think we were done. And we thought we were. We really did. But you are in our hearts so deeply right now, no matter how crazy it would be. You are the hope we still hang on to. We have to make sure life works out to fit you into it. Finances and space are two big factors. Your sisters are still too young for us to even think of expanding yet. But this gives us time; important time to research everything we want for you.

I’m sorry I didn’t know more when I was pregnant with #1. I took a few basic classes. I wanted to try delivering naturally but it wasn’t an overwhelming passion. I had no idea what the body was capable of and I didn’t give mine a chance. I made it to 7 cm (which was further than I really thought I’d make on my own but I progressed quickly and reached this point after only a couple hours of labor.) For whatever reason, I gave up; thinking I still had hours to go. The epidural was placed but within minutes your sister was ready to come out. The nurse insisted I hold her in as the doctor wasn’t near. I hadn’t even seen a doctor yet. Heck, I was just getting settled. A few minutes later, an on-call doctor rushed into the room and out came your sister. She was delivered by the hands of a stranger. I tore even though there was no real reason for it. Looking back, I see it was resisting pushing that caused the extra strain.

I had an epiphany this morning as I dreamed of you becoming a real part of our lives. The doctors treated #1 as preterm. I had an early ultrasound with your sister that dated her as being younger than we thought. I had regular cycles and knew when the exact date of conception. The due date shouldn’t have really been negotiable by that much. But for whatever reason, the ultrasound tech moved the due date back by five days. It was no surprise that I measured ahead the entire pregnancy. And when your sister arrived late in the 36th week, she was treated as a preemie even though she very much came on her own time.

She was healthy but the doctors were scared. I should have stuck up for her but I didn’t know I could. I didn’t know that as a mom, her rights were up to me before she was even born. I wasn’t given the chance to nurse her right away nor do kangaroo care. Her apgars were in healthy range. She had good color though and was breathing just fine. But that’s not how they treated us. With no nourishment, they stripped her down and took her from me for several hours. It was no wonder that she then showed low glucose levels and colder than average temps. Without even giving me a chance to help her, she was whisked away to the NICU.

The experience wasn’t what we planned but we got home a few days later and settled into a very comfortable routine. I was lucky that after the separation, she still learned to nurse like a champ. I wore her often. The natural side of me came through and I soon forgot about the emotional pain and what if’s from her delivery. The time came a few years later that we decided to try again. The second time around, I knew I wanted things differently. I had it all planned out. 

And then the egg split.

I know now that this shouldn’t have ruined my plans. I had more options but I didn’t take them. I didn’t know then that I even could take them. Instead I laid in a hospital bed for months on bedrest, was cut open without so much as a try for a vaginal birth. I was ripped away from my family and faced with a threat of endangering my babies at my weakest moment. I was limited in my interactions with my tiny newborns born too early.

In those moments I failed your sisters. Yes, they were born early and I am grateful to the NICU for giving them the extra assistance they needed. Yes, I needed to be off my feet and resting to keep my uterus calm but the constant monitoring just lead to more scares, more internal checks, more irritability, more contractions; it was a vicious and stressful cycle. The c-section was possibly preventable. I know this now. Sister #2 was head down and ready to go. My body could have done it. My doctor didn’t trust my body. Since Sister #3 was breech, there’s no way to know what would have happened. I’d like to think she would have happily changed positions and come out head first like nature intended but I know maybe that wouldn’t have been the case. 

I wish I would have thought ahead and consulted a doctor who was willing to do a breech extraction. Mine was not. I think I have a good doctor but she likes to play it safe. And while I always leaned towards safe equaling better now I realize there’s a wide variety of “safe.” I was afraid of the idea of having a split delivery with my twins but I never considered the emotional aspect of what would happen after the c-section and after not getting a chance to try.

So baby #4, if there is a you at all, I’m going to do it right this time. I want to know all my options and face all my fears. It won’t be easy. Daddy supports me as well as a wide community of online supporters but the ones closest to us don’t seem to understand. They see you as a risk they don’t think I should take. They think the things I want are kooky. I wish they could read my mind, feel my pain and my emotions, and understand the excitement that you bring to Daddy and I even as just a plan or a thought and not even as a conceived baby yet. 

I often think of you as a rainbow baby. Rainbow babies are created after a loss and most often referred to as a baby after an infant is loss, a stillborn or a late miscarriage of a little one. I didn’t lose your sisters. I don’t intend for my pain to take away from that type of pain because I do not know it but I lost part of me during their births, part of me that I’ll physically heal from but emotionally will always be with me. So even though we never thought of having another baby, you were put in our minds and hearts as our rainbow baby.
Midwives like to say that homebirths are 90% excitement and 10% fear. So this is me facing that 10%, going outside of the normal.



Mommy is an upper twenty something freelance writer and parenting blogger that stays home with her girls in their Midwest home. Her passions are breastfeeding, babywearing, cloth diapering and holistic medicine. She has three beautiful daughters age 4 years and 18 months x 2.

Extended Breastfeeding – Guest Post by Clarissa Leigh

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When I was asking for guest blog posts, I was excited to share this one on extended breastfeeding.  I’ve nursed my own babies anywhere from 15 months to 28 months.  I have to say, the most rewarding relationships have been the ones that were breastfed the longest.  Maybe that’s a coincidence, but I like to think that breastfeeding was good for us both.  Thank you, Clarissa, for being willing to share your story.

My son has just turned one, (sob, how did it go by so fast??) and I knew from the moment I found out I was pregnant that I was going to nurse him. It wasn’t even a question. I knew many in my family and many friends who had nursed. The one thing I didn’t think about was how long I would nurse for. I don’t think I had a goal in mind.

Our nursing relationship got off to a great start, we had no problems, and he quickly grew attached to his milkies, as did I. My favorite times in life are nursing him to sleep. As he got older, I was asked how long I would nurse for, and I started asking myself that as well. I did research, I prayed about it, and I thought about it often.
The more research I did, the more I realized that nursing past a year, or extended breastfeeding, has so many benefits. Once I determined the benefits, I knew I would be nursing longer than the norm, and average so often seen nowadays. However I found other reasons, besides the health and nutritional benefits that I would continue to nurse.

1.) It is comforting. As Wilbur gets older and starts walking, and getting more teeth, he needs comfort. The easiest way to comfort him is to nurse him. It calms him down and makes the pain less. I do not want to take away his lovey, his comforting technique, it would be unfair to him, and I like having the power to quickly calm him down.
2.) It gets him to sleep so quickly and easily. Wilbur has never been a good sleeper, even as a newborn, he just does not like sleep. When he gets really tired, it is so easy to get him to sleep by nursing him, also when he wakes up in middle of the night, we don’t have to be up for an hour or more.
3.) It helps him maintain his since of normalcy. He is learning and growing so much every day, why would I want to change something else in his life? He needs something that he can come back to when he is overwhelmed by how much he is learning and changing.

4.) It is quick and easy. We have been giving Wilbur a cup since he was 5 months old, sometimes with some expressed breast milk, sometimes water, most often coconut water. He refuses to hold a sippy cup himself, he wants to drink out of a regular cup. If I stopped nursing at a year, he would still need to drink some milk, and in order for him to drink that, I would have to pour the milk in a cup, and sit and hold him for the hour or so it takes him to drink anything out of a cup. With continuing to nurse him, when he tells me he wants milk, it is very easy to let him have it.
5.) I know it is good for him. Everywhere you look, everyone has a different idea or opinion on what kind of milk is best, is it raw cow’s milk, is it whole milk, is it goats milk, is it coconut milk, is it almond milk, is it rice milk? I do not want to be having mommy guilt or second-guessing myself about another topic, and by now, I know he isn’t allergic to anything in my diet, and that my milk is perfect for him.

6.) I have already mentioned this, but the health and nutritional benefits. According an article published by Fitzgerald Health Education Associates, Inc., extended breastfeeding into the second year of life provides 29% of energy requirements,  43% of protein requirements, 36% of calcium requirements, 75% of vitamin A requirements, 76% of folate requirements , 94% of vitamin B12 requirements, 60% of vitamin C requirements – Dewey 2001 (source). That is amazing, there is nothing else I could give him that is that nutritious, that wonderful for him. Breastmilk also contains numerous antibodies. No parent wants to see their child sick, and thankfully, Wilbur has only been sick once, and if I can prevent him being sick, I will, to the utmost of my abilities.
7.) The last reason is a selfish one on my part, and that is I love the snuggles, I love giving him what he needs, I love being the one he wants when he wants milkies, I love seeing him so happy and content while I am nursing him. He is such a big boy, and walking around everywhere, and playing by himself so much, that I don’t get many, so if I am able to do something to insure I get more and more snuggles, I will.
Have you practiced extended breastfeeding? What were the reasons that led you to that decision?  

A Birth Boot Camp® Birth Story – by Karolyn Dicken

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It was just about a year ago when we found out that we were pregnant.  I’d been a little too anxious with the first pregnancy test and despite assuring results up to 5 days sooner; the test still came back negative. A week later when Mother Nature still had not run her course, I tried again.  POSITIVE!

For reasons I don’t even completely know, I’ve always desired to have an unmedicated childbirth. Granted, that wasn’t a conversation that really came up in our dating days, so when I told my husband this after we received the pregnancy news, he was a little unsupportive. Okay, he might have even scoffed and said, ‘yeah, we’ll see how you feel when the time comes.’ Thankfully, I was with my mother-in-law at the time and she does a wonderful job trying to help me understand my husband. She explained that his only up-front experience with childbirth had not been a very positive experience. My husband has an adorable 6 year-old son (whom I love with my whole heart) from a previous relationship. They were young and unprepared. The mom is tiny and my (step) son’s head is rather large. All of that resulted in a lot of pain and eventually a c-section. This is what my husband had in his mind.

After explaining my desires a little bit more and reading a book that got us both on the same page, my husband jumped on the un-medicated band wagon with me! We enrolled in a local Birth Boot Camp class (instructed by none other than Donna herself!) so that we could both be educated. Friday evenings were one of our favorite times. It was great having time to be so intentional about understanding the birthing process. What we both found most useful was the emphasis on the husband’s active role throughout the pregnancy, labor, delivery, and beyond.

What my husband found most uncomfortable was the birthing videos. Seriously, he’d turn away, cover his face, catch glimpses of the video and be totally disgusted. Uh….he was supposed to be my #1 support during the delivery; how were we going to make sure this happened?! As classes went on, the whole birthing process became a little less…disgusting…to him. However, to this day, he still will say he found the videos revolting. Bless his heart. However, having been exposed to un-medicated births via those videos let him know a little bit more about what to expect on D-Day (Delivery day).

When the day arrived (I would say finally but she came a few days early despite me being convinced she would come late – so perhaps unexpectedly arrived would be more accurate), we were as ready as we were going to be. My husband had his affirmations written down for me, lots of lyrics and scripture saved, and an entire playlist put together for during labor. I think we got through a few songs before she came much quicker than anticipated! My husband was my #1 support that day as I had hoped he would be. He was calm, encouraging, supportive and calm. Did I mention calm? When meeting my husband, calm probably wouldn’t be one of the words used to describe him. Yet, thanks to a lot of prayer, the classes and conversation (and, yes, even the videos), he knew what I needed that day to have a positive birthing experience. It was an incredible day all together.

I had a friend there with us taking pictures of the whole experience. When talking to her a few days later, she told me the first thing she told her husband after watching our daughter’s birth was that she was super impressed (and even a little shocked) with how well my husband responded throughout the process. Even my midwife commended him for his support. While he might not have been the one to catch our daughter, he did manage to peak and even caught a glimpse of Kadence coming into the world – with her arm raised high by her head. Really, Kadence?! But to think he might have missed that if not for everything we had learned ahead of time. I’m so incredibly thankful for our experience and how prepared we felt going into all of it. My husband was so enthralled with how alert our daughter was immediately upon entering the world. Really, he’s just enthralled with her in general. I’m so thankful for Donna, Birth Boot Camp, our fellow Birth Boot Campers and the healthy arrival of our tiny newest addition. We couldn’t have asked for anything more; we are incredibly blessed.

Guest Post by Elizabeth McKeown – Author of "In Search of the Perfect Birth"

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So many women end up reeling from their births, with something empty inside or a “why me” attitude. It’s not always easy to explain or define. Some cover it up and go along with life anyway, convinced that the problem is themselves. They chastise themselves and don’t question the way things are. Afraid to be ungrateful, some are ashamed to confide their feelings and they keep it inside. And then for those, like me, for whom that is not good enough… we go searching for more.
What was I “in search of”? Answers. Answers why my body didn't work like I thought it would. Why wasn't I a pain warrior in the hospital? Why didn't my baby latch well or take to breastfeeding? Why did I feel so void of raw emotion the instant I became a mother? Why wasn't that the happiest moment in my life? Logically I knew it should be. In my heart, I was like a conductor with no orchestra. Cue the teardrops, I urged. All I felt was hungry (not eating for almost 24 hours) and tired. Some natural birth goddess I turned out to be.
Years later I had still not given up on myself. I believed in myself so much that I decided that if only I weren't strapped down to that hospital bed I could have handled everything well. I was older and wiser, and maybe even tougher than that 21 year old girl I used to be. Homebirth midwives were going to help me have the birth I needed. Only it didn't work out that way. I was overdue. Pressure was on. I experienced a non-consensual membrane sweep. The following day I would give birth. Intense, increased pain in their presence, meconium, and an ambulance ride to the hospital created for me what was my most horrifying life experience yet. My baby and I were alive, but I was shaken. I knew I was not made for this. 
My disappointment and disillusionment surfaced. Bitterness in “natural birth” took the place where confidence in myself once was. I knew I could never give birth again. I wanted no one to give birth again, ever. When I thought of birth, I thought of tsunamis wiping out populations, and tigers tearing animals apart in the jungle. Nature was harsh and cruel and did not care about any of us. I felt like some lonely star wandering the cold, desolate universe. I was on God’s torture table subject only to his whims, suffering comedy and tragedy at random and completely out of my control. 
I was not content to let it end there. Not like that.
My epiphany came and hit me during my third pregnancy. Something was always getting in my way in the other births. What would happen if nothing was standing in my way? There were things I had no say in, people who didn't honor my requests or needs, with the feeling of being vulnerable magnifying every pain. Yes, I do like to be in control of everything. Yes, I do like the idea of going with the flow. There is some balance, or harmony to be stricken, between the randomness of nature and the power in my own hand. I was going to find that balance. My epiphany was that I needed to birth unassisted.
I began researching my needs and found, shockingly, that everything I felt was so specific to me was supported in science. Scientific observation of mammals, the primal birth space, the nature of birth physiology… these were all in tune with what I suspected were my own “preferences“. I flung myself deeper and deeper into research and gave birth undisturbed and unassisted in 2011. Shortly thereafter my book In Search of the Perfect Birth was published. It describes all my birth experiences in detail, the “errors” in each, and the triumph of learning how to trust yourself again after life’s hard lessons. 
I am so glad I never gave up on myself, never subscribed permanently to my own bitterness, and never stopped asking questions. The obsessive pursuit of truth will lead you to scientific and spiritual revelations about yourself of proportions you could never imagine. It is “perfect”. I tell my story so others can find their way out of the suffering, too. 
The Facebook page In Search of the Perfect Birth is dedicated to discussing these topics. The book of the same name is available (among other places) at Amazon and for Kindle.

Your Doula Can’t Do It For You

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One of my favorite things about birth is that every birth is different.  Some are totally awesome and others just suck to get through.  It varies from person to person and from kid to kid.  If you knew exactly how each birth would go, you would just plan for that experience.  That’s the thing though — no one knows how things will go down.  I like to think that it adds to the excitement!

The costs of adding to your family can be significant.  When you are planning an unmedicated birth, making choices that will help you achieve your goals is so important.  A childbirth class and a doula do add to the costs.  Of course, if you spend time with these people, they’ll tell you what you really need with a new baby, which will probably save you money in the long run!

I’ve seen many couples hire a doula and call it good — thinking the doula will be their childbirth class and advocate for them.  The assumption is that she’ll help them every step of the way.  While this is partially true, it puts all the pressure on the doula and none on the parents.

Many doulas give discounts to couples who take a good childbirth class and birth with care providers who are natural birth friendly.  It makes their job not only easier, but more enjoyable.  They see the parents become empowered by making their own choices.  The doula is there for support and encouragement. She provides occasional education or information about something that may have come up in labor.

To not prepare physically, mentally, and emotionally for an unmedicated birth is irresponsible.  Remember my saying – “90% of birth is in your head, 10% is what happens to you.”  I really do believe that.  Not just for moms, but for dads.  He needs to have his head in the game, too!

Are you ready for labor?  Do you know your stuff?  Labor is not the time to be learning or figuring things out.  It is often difficult enough when you are completely prepared!

I am obviously a proponent of hiring a doula, no matter where you are giving birth.  It benefits mom and dad.  I never hear people say that they wish they wouldn’t have hired a doula, but I certainly have heard couples say they wish they had.

Childbirth education is my passion.  For me, education was the turning point, knowing I could do it, and having the tools to make it happen.  I want to see all couples being educated and then hiring a doula to help them maneuver through labor and their individual situation.

Your labor is your experience.  The doula is there to make you more comfortable, help you meet your goals, and enhance the experience.  She can’t get in your head.  She can’t take on the contractions for you.  Isn’t is wonderful that no one can birth your baby but you?

A corny way to end this post?  Who cares!  People are always asking me about a gift to get their doula.  There are so many choices in beautiful jewelry.  I just found this necklace and loved it.  Your doula will too.

Happy birthing — yourself — but with a doula by your side — and, of course, some good childbirth education behind you!

Political Correctness in the Birth Community

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I enjoy expressing my opinion and writing this blog. The whole premise of Banned From Baby Showers is the freedom to say all the things you feel you can’t elsewhere.  Maybe it’s at a baby shower, a playgroup, a church meeting, or lunch with girlfriends.  It’s that moment where you decide to keep your opinion (even if it’s based on fact) to yourself in order to keep your friends.  Here, you don’t have to do that.  Speak freely.

I honestly enjoy hearing what other people think, even when they disagree with me.  No, really.  I’m OK with it.  I’ve always said, as long as it’s kept respectful, free of foul language and hate, speak your mind.  Of course, it’s more fun when people agree with me, but it’s unrealistic.  It would be boring if we all had the same opinion on everything.

My husband and I are of differently political parties.  We don’t really discuss politics at home though.  When we do, our kids hear both sides, so I guess that’s good.  I’ve had so many people tell me that it would make them crazy if their spouse were of a different political party, but I love him much more than I do politics or any opinion either of us might hold.  This week I did tell him that I was slightly disturbed that the push for the “morning after” pill doesn’t bother him.  But it was one of those moments when I thought, I’m not going to change his mind by arguing with him and telling him that he’s wrong.  He’s not wrong for having an opinion that is different than mine.  It was respectful and the discussion was over as quickly as it started.

With that little bit of history, I had an experience this week that I found indicative of the direction society — including the birth community —  is heading and it really bugged me.  On my BFBS Facebook page, I expressed what I thought of a picture that was floating around in my newsfeed.  It had nothing to do with the photographer, but that’s how things got all twisted around.  I should mention that I never look at who takes a picture because I honestly don’t care.  If I were a photographer, I might care, but I’m not.  I don’t even really know what makes one picture artistically better than another.  I am clueless.  When one photographer critiques another, I don’t get it.  They all look the same to me.  Full disclosure about just how clueless I really am.  But I sometimes think that pictures are interesting, sad, angry, or intensely happy.  In this case, I thought it was weird.  I jumped over to my BFBS Facebook page and said so.  I was kind of laughing and kind of shivering all at once!  Then I moved on with my day, shuttling kids around to their various activities.

I started getting texts telling me I started a riot.  Don’t try to go read it – I deleted it.  It brought all the crazies out.  Here’s where my problem is.  I was told my opinion was WRONG and that I was being mean.  Before that, there were a handful of comments that disagreed with me, which I was fine with. I am not going to have my words twisted around by someone who wants to take me down.  Nothing I said had come from a mean place.  That is not who I am.

This is what I see that is happening in the natural birth community:  It’s offensive to say “you can have an amazing birth” because you might offend the people who struggle with infertility.  It’s offensive to say “husband” because so many people aren’t married or you might alienate the gay community.  To tell people that you loved your birth is a slap in the face to those that required a c-section.  The list goes on and on.  No one can share their experience because they might offend someone else.  Give me a break.

We’ve got one blogger who has taken it upon herself to police the other bloggers and make sure they are all politically correct and not making anyone else “feel bad”.  She is telling people their opinion is WRONG.  The birth community has been brainwashed to think we have to stroke everyone’s ego so their feelings aren’t hurt.  Are we that fragile as women? Are we so self-centered to think everything is about us?  Honestly, no one can express an opinion EVER because you might hurt someone’s feelings and said blogger will come after you.  Said blogger has bullied me and others – telling us who to “like” and not “like” on Facebook, what’s “appropriate” to say and not say, and actively trying to turn others against us.  I hate bullies.  I wrote a post last year with said blogger in mind.  It’s called Bullying on the Playground of Life.  For the record, I have never posted to someone else’s page and told them they are wrong for having their opinions or supporting things that I do not.  It’s not my place.  Banned From Baby Showers is my page.  I will not be treated this way on my own page.

Before you express your OPINION, please stop and think “Am I telling this person her opinion is wrong?  Am I respecting her right to her opinion, even if it’s not politically correct or my opinion?”

The joke is that I should just write “vanilla” — plain-Jane, non-offensive posts — so that my words are not twisted.  Quite honestly, I’m not sure I know which those are.  I didn’t think my comments this week were particularly offensive, just my simple observation and opinion.  It was in true Banned From Baby Showers form.

I am not a mean person.  I generally like people.  I would never post something malicious to pick a fight.  I just have an opinion.   I think I’m amusing.  I like a good discussion, but not so much a fight. Like you, I am very busy.  I don’t have time for a pointless fight and neither do you! Facebook is the biggest time-suck on the planet. We all have children who want us to get off Facebook.  Go have a good day, and remember, everyone is entitled to an opinion, even if you don’t agree.  Just because you disagree, it doesn’t mean they are wrong.

I would like to keep writing this blog, but if this trend of walking on eggshells continues, writing is not fun.  I’d rather not write than have to worry who might get offended at my words that are not written with hatred.  Like I said this week, I really hate “vanilla”.  Forgive me if I keep writing with a little spice.  If you hate me or what I write, you are invited to either politely disagree or step away.

Midwife: Providing a natural, personal birth experience

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This is a great article explaining what a midwife does and doesn’t do…

What they do: Catch babies, of course. But then, you knew that. What you may not know, however, is that midwives can also prescribe medicine (yes, even epidurals), order sonograms and genetic studies and can manage your regular gynecological care. Even better: Now many health insurance plans cover midwifery. What midwives can’t do is perform surgery — no C-sections — or fly solo caring for high-risk pregnancies. But even then you may have the option of using a midwife, so long as he or she collaborates with an obstetrician.

Read full article here.

Breastfeeding Advocacy in Texas

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A couple of weeks ago I blogged about a nurse-in that took place at Ft. Worth Magaizne after an advice columnist called breastfeeding in public “ick”.   One of the women following the nurse-in contacted me about some Texas bills on the table. Rather than me tell you about them, I asked if she would write us a post, keeping us all in the loop.

I mentioned in my post that I feel that nursing in public is harder now than it was when I was breastfeeding just a few years ago.  It is important that we all do what we can to promote the normalization of breastfeeding so new mothers don’t have to fight to feed their babies in public.  

Thank you Krisdee Donmoyer for writing this post to help us understand the laws and our real rights.  

“I am a stay-at-home mom with three sons, ages 10 months to 7.5 years.  I’ve felt strongly about breastfeeding since before my first son was born, but when I was told to move to a private room 8 months ago while discreetly nursing my baby in the empty lobby of our school, advocacy became my calling.  I went through proper channels at my school district (Austin Independent School District) for two months, asking for a mother & baby-friendly breastfeeding policy, & when they put the opposite in writing, I went public, asking for letters to the district through the Facebook page & blog I started, Keep Austin Nursing in Public.  I’m now the Outreach Coordinator for Central Texas Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition, as well, and I have been very involved in a grassroots effort to garner support for the breastfeeding bills in the House this session.

There are laws that aim to help mothers meet their breastfeeding goals, but existing laws leave room for improvement.  Currently there are two bills in the Texas House Calendars Committee which would strengthen breastfeeding legislation.  And Texans can help make this happen, in as much or as little time as they have to spend supporting them.  

Passed in 1995, Texas Health & Safety Code 165.002 states that a woman has the right to breastfeed her baby anywhere she is authorized to be.  Most women who breastfeed can do so in public without ever being harassed.  But it does happen, and that knowledge and the fear of it happening serves as a barrier to breastfeeding for many women.  In fact, 40% of women cite worrying about nursing in public as their greatest barrier to breastfeeding.   2012 Lansinoh Breastfeeding Study for more on this study.   House Bill 1706  would go a long way to abate the fear of nursing in public.

In its present form, the law can be circumvented by revoking a mother’s authority to be in a place of public accommodation.  Moms may think that it’s already illegal to infringe on their rights, but as terrific as it is, 165.002 simply states that we have a right.  HB 1706 closes that loophole, making it illegal to toss a mother out, or even to interfere with or restrict breastfeeding.

It also provides for education that the law exists, via the Comptroller’s office.  If you’re a breastfeeding advocate, it may be hard to imagine that not everyone knows there is a law about nursing in public, but many people have no idea.  So this aspect of HB 1706 is huge.

Still, knowing a law is on the books doesn’t mean all people will follow it.  Moms who have faced discrimination since 1995 have told their harassers that they’re protected by law, but that hasn’t always stopped the discrimination.  In large part, that’s because they’re not truly protected.  HB 1706 will change that by giving our right-to-breastfeed law an enforcement provision – a consequence for flouting the law.  If a mother’s right is violated, she will have the right to sue for damages not to exceed $500 plus reasonable attorney fees.  Realizing that they could have a lawsuit on their hands if they ignore the law, business owners are more likely not only to follow it, but to train their employees so that they will follow it as well.  Far from resulting in rampant lawsuits (which are likely to be cost prohibitive for families, and may not interest the majority of lawyers), the mere possibility of a lawsuit will decrease harassment incidents, paving the way for increased breastfeeding rates.

The other bill, HB 741, supports mothers in the work place.  Though about 80% of Texas mothers initiate breastfeeding, by six months, only 13.7% are still breastfeeding exclusively, despite the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization to breastfeed exclusively for the full first six months.  Breastfeeding rates begin to drop off around the time that mothers return to work, and are trying to balance the demands of their job with the need to express milk with a breast pump on the same supply and demand schedule as their baby.  The need for time and a place to pump led to the Fair Labor Standards Act requiring reasonable accommodations for hourly employees. However, salaried employees are exempt.  HB 741 extends those accommodations to salaried public employees, including teachers.  

Both of these bills are vital to changing the culture in our state to one that is more supportive of breastfeeding.  A more supportive culture will lead to improved breastfeeding rates, which will significantly improve the economy as well as public health.  So we are all stakeholders in this.

At the moment, the bills are in the Calendars Committee.  If they are set for a date on the House floor as soon as possible, there will be time for them to be voted on by the 150 House Representatives, and if they pass them, they’ll go to the 31 Texas Senators for another vote.

It’s easy to support the bills, to be a part of this historic legislation.  You can spend just five minutes sending a sample email you personalize a bit to legislators whose email addresses are all in one place for you at  It doesn’t take long at all to call legislators, and a phone call also makes a great impact.

Have more than five minutes?  Want to do more?  There’s plenty to be done. Contact and join the grassroots movement to support legislation that will support breastfeeding moms and babies.”

This is Donna again.  Side note I wanted to add about contacting your legislators.  There is also things going on at the state level with our Texas birth centers.  I was recently asked to go to Austin to meet with my state rep about this bill.  There were about 25 of us that went to this initial meeting. Before heading to the capital building, it was made very clear — if you have to breastfeed your baby during your meeting, LEAVE the room.  Do you think these breastfeeding and birth advocates and professionals liked hearing that?  Of course not.  I understood it though.  We do not want to be seen as hippy radicals who are in-your-face, not if we are to make real impact.  Make no mistake, I wore my cowboy boots to the capital building and my hair was extra big that day.  :-)

So, when you contact your state rep, whether by phone or email, be respectful and professional.  That will be heard — and listened to — more than the anger that we sometimes feel over this issue.  Good luck!  I do believe that we have the power to make positive change for this next generation of breastfeeding mothers.