Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Spring Into Action

My latest client may be the most patient person I've ever met.  Approaching 42 weeks, she tried every natural method to jump-start labor, but never complained when none of them worked.  She was somewhat disappointed when the time came to transfer to the hospital for a medical induction, but she kept her chin and spirits up.  She checked in on Monday morning at 7:00 am, 15 days after her official "due date".  Pitocin was started around 9:00, and we kept in touch over text throughout the day.  Every time I heard from her she said things were easy, which isn't what you want in labor because things have to get hard to get babies here!  After upping the pitocin all day, she and her midwife decided to break the bag of waters at 7:00 pm to see if that would kick things up a notch.  

Things changed almost immediately and by 9:00 pm I was on my way to the hospital to provide labor support.  When I arrived I found mom and dad walking and swaying, and listening to Michael Jackson.  Their playlist was awesome and we enjoyed listening to some great tunes while labor continued to pick up.  Mom was all smiles when I arrived, but I could see that things were steadily intensifying.

Before things got too intense, I encouraged mom to read through my birth affirmations cards and choose a few to focus on throughout her labor.  Dad provided counter pressure on her back and hips.

By midnight things were really going and mom was totally in the zone.  She got in the tub at 1:00 am and was really happy to be in the water.  I reminded her of her breathing techniques, but overall she was totally in the zone and required very little outside support from any of us.  

The nurse checked her cervix at 3:10 am and she was dilated 8 cm and baby was at +1!  Awesome progress!  The urge to push came as she was sitting on the toilet, so the nurse quickly alerted the midwife.  We all felt like baby was coming fast!  (We were wrong, ha!)

Mom rested in bed and we realized that it was now the first day of spring.  Mom really liked the idea of her baby coming on the first day of spring, and dad cracked a joke about labor lasting another day.  She flipped him off and it was hilarious.  All jokes aside, these two were an amazing team.

At 4:15 mom was pushing and baby was at +3 station.  She started out in a hands-and-knees position, and then went to side lying.  We changed positions often to help encourage the baby to descend.  It took a while to figure out pushing (as it often does, especially for first time moms), but the biggest obstacle was how infrequently her contractions were coming.  There was usually a 5-6 minute wait in between contractions.  Mom would sleep in between, but it made it hard to make much progress.  At 5:15 the midwife decided to start turning up the pitocin again.  (It had been turned down a couple hours earlier since mom was progressing so well.)

At 6:40 we got out the squat bar and tied a sheet around it so mom could do a "tug-of-war" with it.  This helps focus the energy of the push.  It worked and after a few pushes we could start to see some crowning during the push.  But progress was still slow and at 7:15 the midwife said she might perform and episiotomy if things didn't start to progress quicker.  I don't know if that's what made the difference or not, but after that conversation we finally saw the progress we had been waiting hours for!

Pushing is an interesting thing because unlike other techniques like relaxation and imagery, you can't really practice it beforehand.  Also, some women won't really need to push at all, while others will push with all their might for hours.  This mama had to PUSH!

Once the head was out, the rest of the body slid out very quickly and baby started crying instantly.

I am so obsessed with this photo!  Mom's smile says it all.  Can you believe that just minutes after giving birth mom exclaimed "I would do it a billion times".  That my friends, is the power of natural childbirth.  The endorphin high.  The rush of oxytocin.  The moment that doesn't just make it all feel worth it, but makes it feel like nothing else could ever compare.

Welcome baby girl, Margot!
Born on the first day of Spring
Tuesday, March 20th, 2018 at 7:50 am
16 days AFTER her due date
Weighing in at an impressive 10 pounds 6 ounces

I'll spare you the photo, but this "little" girl had the biggest placenta I have ever seen!  
She is so loved by her parents, and took to nursing within minutes.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Unplanned Home Birth

I received a text around 7:30 am this morning informing me that my client’s water had just broken.  I responded like I usually do.  I told her to be patient, as it often takes hours, even days, before active labor kicks in.  Her midwife lived close-by, so she stopped by the house to listen to baby’s heartrate since there was meconium in the water.  The heartrate sounded good and mom was having mild contractions.  Off to a good start!

Things quickly progressed.  By 8:30 contractions were strong and mom was even throwing up.  At 9:00, her husband called to give me the update and asked me to head over to their home.  As luck would have it, I was literally loading up my son to head to play group, so I dropped him off quickly and headed over.  I received a text on my drive saying that mom was already feeling the urge to push, so they weren’t going to go to the birth center after all, but that the midwives were heading to their home for a home birth! 

I drove as fast as I could, and pulled up to their home at 9:40.  There was an ambulance and firetruck in the driveway.  It was also trash and recycle day, so I quickly moved some cans around so I could find a place to park and then I tiptoed into the house.  I walked through the crowd of EMTs and firemen to find mom on her hands and knees on the bed, with her husband rubbing her back. 

Baby wasn’t crowning yet, but mom was definitely pushing.  Her voice was high and tense, so I reminded her to bring her vocals lower and focus her energy down to her baby.  

She was working SO hard.  I stepped away to see if I could find a washcloth to put cold water on and cool her off.  But as I stepped away I could see the baby’s head was almost out!  So I changed my plans and grabbed my camera so I could capture the birth!  (I do have photos of the actual birth but did not include them here, but will get them to you.)

At 10:06 her baby was born! 
After a little maneuvering, mom was able to hold her baby for the first time.

Dad got to cut the cord!  He also said he “wasn’t going to look”, but I did see him look one time when the baby’s head was out.  J

Welcome baby girl!
Born Friday, March 2nd, 2018 at 10:06 am
9 days after her due date
Weighing 8 pounds 1 ounce, and 22 inches long

Dad got a few snuggles while mom got cleaned up and ready to breastfeed.

By 10:40, baby was nursing perfectly!  About 3 hours from start to finish!  

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Are You in Labor?

 My latest client was surprised to find herself at 41 weeks since her first baby came right before her due date.  She opted to have her membranes stripped at her midwife appointment yesterday, and was surprised again to discover she was already dilated 4 cm and 50% effaced!  I checked in with her at bedtime, and not much was happening, so we both went to bed.  

She woke up around 4:00 am with some cramping, and by dawn she was in a consistent, early labor pattern.  We kept in touch over text all morning, and met at the birth center at 1:15 pm.  Mom asked to be checked, and she was 7-8 cm, and 80% effaced!  But the weird thing was, she wasn't acting like she was in labor!  Not even breathing heavily through her contractions.  Most of the time, I couldn't even tell if she was having a contraction or not!  But she kept reassuring us, saying she was having them, lol!

Mom was getting lots of snuggles from her firstborn, until grandma came to take over.  Snuggling is a great way to get those labor hormones going!

To help mom focus and get into her "labor brain", I had her read some birth affirmations, and pick a few that she wanted to focus on throughout her birth.

 Around 3:00 pm, mom started telling me how she had enjoyed reading my book, and we discussed some of the perspectives she appreciated while reading it.  Of course, it was fun to talk (especially about my book, ha!), but I kept wondering when things were going to get intense for this mama!  After another cervical check, the midwife recommended doing some lunges to help the baby get into a better position.  I rubbed her back during contractions, but for the most part, mom was acting like she wasn't in labor!

Mom was ready to get into the tub at 4:00.  She was still really chatty, and honestly, we were having a great afternoon talking.  But I could feel in my bones that change was on the horizon, so I suggested 15 minutes of silence to help mom get into the zone.  We made it to 4:20, when her husband starting snoring and we started giggling.  :)  

At 4:40 her sister-in-law arrived, and so did the intensity!
Mom kept saying things like "this is not pleasant", and "I am not enjoying this".
I offered encouragement, cool clothes, and fanning to help keep mom reassured and as comfortable as possible.

At 4:53 mom started feeling the urge to push.  She didn't push for long, but she had to push hard!

 And at 4:59 pm, her second daughter was born!

Welcome Lily!
Born Wednesday, January 17th, at 4:59 pm
Weighing in at 8 pounds, 9 ounces
8 days after her due date

Dad got to cut the cord and sneak in a few snuggles. 

 By 5:35, this sweet family was tucked into bed, and baby was nursing like a pro!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

A Birthday of Her Own

It took 14 years of working as a doula to finally get called to a birth on Christmas day!  My client's water broke at 5:40 am Christmas morning, so much to my sons' excitement, I allowed them to wake up early and get our family festivities going!  Around 10:00 am my client checked in with me because they was meconium (baby's first bowel movement) in the water, so she went to the birth center for some monitoring.  Baby was doing great, so mom was sent home to rest and enjoy her day.  We kept in touch over text, and her contractions were mild and infrequent for the majority of the day, giving her a chance to catch a final nap.

She asked me to meet her at the birth center at 8:15 pm.  When she arrived she was feeling emotional, as many moms do once labor gets going.  She was also sad to be leaving her firstborn for the first time over night.  Her labor pattern was still somewhat sporadic, so I pulled out my affirmation cards so she could go over them and choose a few that stood out to her.  We hung them on the bed frame so she could refer back to them as needed.

At 9:15 contractions started coming more frequently and they were more intense.  Mom was resting in the bed in between contractions, and her husband provided back massage during.  At 9:30 the midwife offered to check her cervix and see where we were.  Mom was 5 cm, 50% effaced, and baby was a minus 2 station.  

Mom was definitely in labor, but we had a ways to go.  I suggested some positions to help baby descend and encourage more contractions. 

These two were such a great team!  Always fun to see a couple working together and sneaking in some laughs in between contractions.

By 11:00 pm things were much more intense, and at 11:45 she asked to get in the tub.  She began vocalizing and changing positions frequently and instinctively.  

At midnight mom was struggling and wanted some help with visualizations.  We discussed a few options, and to be honest, I don't know what she landed on, but she was able to find her focus and continue coping.  Her vocalizations became much louder around 12:30, and her husband hummed in between her contractions.

At 12:40 mom started telling us she was feeling nervous, which is totally understandable and common.  I reminded her to trust her body, because it had known what to do all day.  Mom was cold, (which isn't common!) so the midwife kept adding boiling water into the tub.  

At 12:50 mom began vomiting, which really adds to the fun of labor.  I always feel so bad when this happens!  At 1:10 mom was struggling to get back into the zone and found herself feeling really emotional again.  Her vocals were getting lower and stronger during her contractions, and I knew she would be pushing soon.  Then at 1:35 something really cool happened.  Mom started talking to her baby.  Saying things like "I got you, and it's going to be ok."  It was such a sweet thing to hear and witness.  Mom (finally) became really hot so I started fanning her off, and dad continued to give physical support in the tub.  

And suddenly her baby was born!  It was like her little chat with her baby magically made the baby appear!  

Welcome Eliza Florence!
Born Tuesday, December 26th, 2017
At 1:41 am, 3 days before her due date
We all thought we might have a Christmas baby, but this sweet girl deserved a day all her own!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017


Yesterday my client had her weekly appointment with her midwife.  I decided to join her since I figured they would start talking induction options now that she was almost 41 weeks.  The midwife suggested a non-stress test.  If only it hadn't been stressful!  Baby's heart rate was not cooperating, and within a couple hours, mom was sent to the hospital for further testing.  

Hoping for an out-of-hospital VBAC, this wasn't the path my client wanted.  But she kept her chin up, and remembered some inspiring words from her friend, reminding her of God's timing, comparing it to how the sunrise always comes when it's time. By early evening, mom was admitted to the hospital for an induction due to low amniotic fluid.

At 8 pm her midwife checked her cervix and she was dilated to 1 cm.  The midwife was able to insert a foley bulb to encourage the cervix to ripen and dilate through the night.  Mom was given a sleep aid, which didn't work, but at least the bulb did!  By 8 am, mom was dilated to 4 cm and pitocin was started shortly after.

Mom and I kept in touch over text all morning.  She spent time walking and watching tv.  I arrived shortly before 1:00 and mom was just about to get in the tub.

I turned on some relaxing music and helped mom breath through her contractions.  We experimented with a couple positions because it was difficult to trace the baby's heart rate.  The nurse was in and out constantly, but mom was able to stay focused and relaxed.  After an hour in the tub, it was too hard to tell if the monitor was picking up mom or baby's heart beat, so we got mom out of the tub to reassess.

At 2:10 the midwife arrived and checked mom's cervix, and she was complete!  Amazing progress!  Baby was at zero station, so we did a modified hands and knees position over the birth ball to encourage descent, and hopefully offer mom some comfort through massage.  

The midwife wondered if the low amniotic fluid was contributing to the heart rate issues, and wanted to give an amnio-infusion to try and give the baby a little more cushion.  To do so she needed to break the bag of water.  She did this at 2:35, and then found that there was meconium in the water.  The baby was starting to have more dramatic heart decels, so instead of breathing the baby down, it was time to start pushing!

Mom was a great pusher, and within 20 minutes, baby went from 0 station to +3.  Pushing is so much work, and I always encourage my clients to rest and relax in between contractions.  

Mom rotated from side to side often during pushing.  This helps baby rotate into a better position, and can also help when the heart rate is dropping.  

It's hard to watch the woman you love struggle through labor, and this dad was definitely emotional.  But he was a great support, holding mom's leg and cheering her on the entire time.

At 3:30, the baby's heart rate finally decided to cooperate, and we could even see the head during contractions.  Mom was starting to get frustrated with the slow progress, but she was making great progress!

Baby was so close, and at 3:52 mom pleaded "Just pull it out!"  Three minutes later, she had a baby!

They didn't know if they were having a boy or a girl, and mom was first to notice!  She only held him for a second before he was taken over to the NICU nurses.  He was pretty quiet, and we all waited anxiously for that first cry.

After a few minutes with the nurses, he was taken back to his mom for some much needed snuggling!

There were tears of joy and relief.

Welcome baby boy Declan
Born Tuesday, December 19th 2017
at 3:55 pm
6 days after his due date
Weighing 7 pounds and 9.9 ounces