A Sensual Experience is Childbirth

How do you envision birth?

While preparing for natural childbirth, you may have already visualized how your birth may go. If you close your eyes and imagine your baby being born, are there bright lights and people you’ve never met before shouting at you to push?

Or do you envision something more private and peaceful?

Ideally, our babies are created through an intimate and sensuous experience. Passion is flowing, there’s touching, caressing and embracing. We feel beautiful and desired when making love to our partners. That same energy that flows through us during lovemaking is what we bring to birth to improve the experience and the outcome.

Birth has been perfected as a private and sensual experience. Labor progresses best in a private space where we feel safe and loved. Low lighting, caressing, and intimacy set the tone for a smoother labor.

Do you desire a birth that is intimate, sensual, and possibly even pleasurable?

When planning for a sacred birth that feels good for your mind, body, and soul, you need to dig deep and explore your feelings about birth. Throughout our lives our views are shaped by the stories we are told, the movies and television shows we have watched, even books we have read. We must work through these negative feelings and any fear that we have about giving birth.

When working towards a sensual birth, you must begin to see birth as a part of your sexual experience. If you think of birth as a sexual experience instead of a medical one, how do you envision it? How do you set the mood? Will the lighting be bright or dim? Will you have certain music? Do you have a scent you like in the bedroom? How can you make the space you give birth in a place that encourages you to open, let go and drop fully into your feminine essence?

Your Birth Vision

When preparing your birth vision, think of it as preparing for an intimate night of lovemaking.

  1. Work through your feelings about being able to express yourself sensually during labor.
  2. Talk to your partner about sensual birth.
  3. Set the mood by choosing scents, lighting, music that make you feel open and relaxed.
  4. Choose support people and caregivers that make you feel safe and respected.
  5. Take a prenatal class that supports your vision of a sacred birth.
  6. Speak with like-minded women who share your belief that birth can be orgasmic.
  7. Explore water birth. It can be very sensuous and has many other benefits.
  8. Hire a doula to help you create the ambiance you’re envisioning.

Renowned midwife Ina May Gaskin is quoted as having said “The energy that gets the baby in, gets the baby out.” and I firmly believe it is so.

Getting Ready for baby: Nesting

Nesting is like spring cleaning on steroids. Organization, cleanliness and preparation are top priorities. Now it’s time to clear some more space for your soon-to-be bundle of joy. If you get hit with the nesting instinct as you’re preparing for birth, make the most of it — now, before life becomes so hectic that when the baby arrives even finding a moment to take a shower can be challenging.

Here’s a bunch of last-minute details that you’ll want to check off your list before going into labor.

Prep Your Essentials: For such little creatures, babies need so much. They go through more clothes, diapers and creams than you can imagine. Stock up on baby soap, cotton pads, a rectal digital thermometer, rubbing alcohol, a nasal syringe, nail clippers, BPA-free bottles, nipples and more. Want to see what some other moms are getting visit Thinkbaby.org for tips and more... And for you, pick up plenty of super-absorbent maxi pads, witch hazel, Tucks medicated pads and ice packs (not the kinds of things you want to run out of in the middle of the night).

Cook in Quantity: If your nesting instinct is accompanied by an obsession with cooking, take advantage and get your meal prep on. Make extra servings of your favorite freezer-friendly foods. Make soups, bake muffins, prep hot cereals and stew, and then store in single-meal containers in the freezer, clearly marked. You’ll be especially grateful to come home to homemade meals and snacks after spending time in the birth center or hospital!

Do Laundry: Wash your towels, duvet cover, pillow shams, throw rugs, guest sheets and anything else that needs a once-over before the baby arrives. Use an alternative to hefty chemical detergents. I like Dapple products because they contain eco-friendly formulas that are safe for your family and the environment. If you live in a place where you don’t have access to laundry, consider hiring a laundry service to take care of your needs for the first six weeks until you get into a rhythm. Stock up on your preferred detergent and cleaning solutions because you will be washing lots and lots of little onesies, pajamas and receiving blankets.

Load Up Your Pantry: Stock up on staples like they are going out of style —because they are. You won’t be doing the shopping once the baby arrives; you won’t have time. It’s all about keeping it healthy and convenient. Think nuts — the perfect nutrient-dense nibbler — trail mix, quinoa and broths for easy soups. Other goods to get as you prepare for birth include whole grain crackers, canned beans, brown rice and healthy sauces.

Order Birth Announcements: You can get these online or at a stationery store so they’re ready to go as soon as you know the final baby stats. And address the envelopes now so they’re ready to be stuffed and mailed. A great and easy way to announce baby’s birth is Pingg.com. They have a variety of designs and you don’t have to bother with postage unless you really want to.

Restock Your Refrigerator: Out with the old, in with the new! Throw away any outdated items and shop for fresh ones. Stock up on foods for breastfeeding that you’ll want to have on hand once the baby has arrived — filtered water, fruits, veggies, hummus, prewashed salad greens and so on. Make it easy on yourself and order your groceries online.

Spring into Clean Mode: You know the spring cleaning that you’re always putting off until next fall? Whatever the season, now’s the time to tackle it while your nesting instinct is in full swing. Wipe down the windowsills and blinds, wash the floors and vacuum under the couch and between the cushions — you may find a nice chunk of change while you’re at it! Be sensible in your quest for cleanliness: call in a team of friends, blast some good dance music and get moving. Use chemical-free cleaning solvents. I love the Mrs. Meyer’s brand and Honest Company. Don’t push yourself if you’re pooped. Instead, push someone else, like your partner. Stay as close to the floor as possible. In fact, hanging out on hands and knees scrubbing the floors Cinderella-style is not a bad idea. The position helps to open up your pelvis and the hip swaying encourages your baby to move down into the pelvic outlet.

Style Baby: Don’t overbuy while you prepare for birth, but make sure you’re well-stocked on those newborn essentials (T-shirts, onesies, sweaters, receiving blankets and booties). Prewash baby’s outfits so there are plenty of things for her to wear. If you haven’t had a baby shower, put together a registry online to get all the basics and beyond.

Style Mama: Get fitted for the big day and postpartum. Buy nursing bras as well as nursing pads and easy-open (nursing) shirts. And stock up on soft, cotton, full-back underwear. Your thong days are over for a bit my friend. You’ll need big bloomer action for the first few weeks after the birth. Don’t go for the expensive undies here, as they may become stained with blood and discharge that will likely not wash away. Plan on tossing the granny panties about eight weeks postpartum. For pushing, you might try Pretty Pushers, a stylish affordable gown designed for labor and delivery.

Make a Who-to-Call List: Set up the list now, so your birth coach and partner know whom to inform of your new arrival. You can use it later to e-mail your birth announcement to your whole list. You can also set up a call chain, where you enlist five people who call five people who call another five people, and the information gets disseminated quickly and effectively.

Midwives vs OB

There are important differences between an obstetrician-gynecologist (OB-GYN) and midwives, the distinction is not as stark as it once was. Throughout history, midwives have helped women through pregnancy and birthing. Today, five types of midwives provide varying levels of care to women and newborn babies:

  • Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM)
  • Certified Midwife (CM)
  • Certified Professional Midwife (CPM)
  • Direct-Entry Midwife
  • Lay Midwife

There are CNMs that deliver babies in hospital settings CNMs and CMs are qualified to provide the same level of care.

CPMs are committed to providing the Midwives Model of Care:

  • Monitoring a woman’s complete (not just physical) well-being from pre-natal through post-natal
  • Identifying women who need to see an obstetrician and giving them appropriate referrals
  • Giving each mother individualized education, counseling, and prenatal care, assisting during labor and delivery, and supporting the mother and newborn after the birth
  • Using as few technological interventions as possible

Direct-entry midwives specialize in births at home and in free-standing birth centers. A Certified Professional Midwife, Certified Midwife, or Certified Nurse-Midwife can be a direct-entry midwife, Lay midwife refers to an uncertified or unlicensed midwife who often has an informal education, such as apprenticeship or self-study, rather than a formal education.

Some OB-GYNs are adopting a more holistic approach to preventive care. Knowing the basics about these practitioners can smooth the way to a happier, healthier pregnancy and birth.

Choosing between an OB-GYN and a Midwife is easier if you first pinpoint what is essential to you in a provider. This may be their credentials, their views about pain medication, whether they will be at your side throughout your labor and delivery, or the location of their office as it relates to your home. Write down your priorities, keeping in mind that you may have to make some concessions along the way.

When Should I Begin Looking?

The optimal time to locate a prenatal provider is before you conceive. There are a number of advantages to getting an early start. You can take your time finding someone you really like without the added pressure of needing immediate prenatal care. You will also avoid putting your future developing embryo at risk by adopting the health and wellness information covered in preconception visits. These include eating right, getting enough exercise, taking folic acid and prenatal vitamins, and abstaining from alcohol, tobacco, and drugs. Both OB-GYNs and Midwives see clients for preconception visits. If possible, make the appointment at a time when both you and your partner can attend.

If you are already pregnant and do not have a provider (or if you have one but feel it’s not a good match), begin your search as soon as possible. When you call, let them know you are pregnant. They may bring you in immediately or ask you some questions over the phone and schedule an appointment in a few weeks’ time.

Medical Training

Obstetrician-gynecologists are physicians who have completed four years of medical school and an additional four-year obstetric residency program. They take a written and oral exam to become board certified by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Some OB-GYNs undergo additional years of training specializing in areas such as reproductive maternal-fetal medicine, endocrinology (infertility), and gynecologic-oncology (cancer of female reproductive organs).

CNMs are nurses who have completed a graduate-level nurse-midwife program and passed a certification exam from the American Midwifery Certification Board, while CMs are non-nurses who have completed a graduate-level midwifery degree program and passed a certification exam from the American Midwifery Certification Board.

Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) has met the certification requirements of the  North American Registry of Midwives (NARM). Applicants can qualify to take the NARM exam by either apprenticing with a qualified midwife and completing an Entry-Level Portfolio Evaluation Process or graduating from a midwifery program or school. If the program or school isn’t accredited by the Midwifery Education Accreditation Council, applicants must complete the Entry-Level Portfolio Evaluation Program. Direct-entry midwives (DEM) have met the same requirements as CPM but there are no national certification or licensing is available for direct-entry midwives and each state has its own legal requirements for education and licensing (if any).

 

What Exactly Is a Midwife?

A midwife is a health care professional who provides an array of health care services for women including gynecological examinations, contraceptive counseling, prescriptions, and labor and delivery care. Providing expert care during labor and delivery, and after birth is a specialty that makes midwives unique. Midwives regard birth as a natural, albeit challenging, experience rather than a medical condition in need of a cure.

“The focus is on prevention, on emotional support, and on health and wellness,” says Lisa Summers, CNM, DrPH, senior technical advisor at the American College of Nurse-Midwives in Washington, D.C. “If you want someone to support you in making your own decisions about your birth, then midwifery care might be a good match for you.”

Midwives offer women the same nonsurgical, gynecological, and obstetrical services as an OB-GYN. These include annual gynecological exams, full-spectrum prenatal care with all tests and screenings, birthing privileges at hospitals and birth centers, and postpartum follow-ups. While not averse to the use of pain medication, most midwives favor other relaxation and pain management techniques such as deep breathing, massage, visualization, varying a woman’s position during birth, and laboring in a warm bath.

Midwives are always paired with a physician during a woman’s pregnancy and delivery. Depending on where she works, a midwife may or may not be able to accommodate higher risk cases. Those partnering with a perinatologist at a large hospital are more likely to take on women expecting multiples or those attempting a vaginal birth after Cesarean (VBAC). Midwives at smaller centers or those partnering with a family practice physician will probably refer high-risk pregnancies to an OB-GYN. During your preconception visit with a midwife, ask them which situations they and their staff are equipped to handle.

What midwives cannot do is surgery, including Cesarean deliveries (C-sections). Should you need a C-section while laboring with a midwife, you'll be transferred to the nearest hospital or the partnering physician would perform it. 

 

Special Health Issues

Do diabetics have to see an OB-GYN?

Not necessarily. Under specific conditions, women with metabolic disorders, cardiac irregularities, and unusual obstetrical histories can use midwives for their prenatal care and delivery.

If you are a person with a medical problem, you may well find a medical center or a practice where the midwives are collaborating with perinatologists, That way, you can have the best of both worlds.

If you feel more comfortable seeing an OB-GYN, make sure to ask about his or her experience with cases such as yours.

Pain Management

Is it true that I can’t get pain medication or an epidural if I deliver with a midwife?

Many women are surprised to learn that CNMs can provide them with an epidural during labor. Certified nurse midwives delivering on the labor and delivery floor of a hospital have the same authority as OB-GYNs to order epidurals for their patients. (Neither CNMs nor OB-GYNs actually administers the epidural; an obstetric anesthesiologist does it.)

Midwives performing home births or delivering at a freestanding birth center cannot supply women with an epidural. All CNMs can, however, provide patients with pain relievers such as Nubain, Stadol, and Demerol. At your preconception visit, find out which pain medications the midwife can offer and her feelings about their use. The last thing you want while in labor is to discover that your CNM cannot (or will not) supply you with the pain medication you need.

Prenatal Visits

Assuming you are experiencing an uncomplicated pregnancy, your prenatal visits with an OB-GYN and a midwife will be very much the same. Both will schedule your appointments at similar intervals (roughly once a month until the 28th week, once every two to three weeks until week 36, and then once a week until you deliver). They will weigh you, listen to your baby’s heartbeat with a fetal monitor, measure your belly, and test your urine for proteins and sugar.

Midwives, like OB-GYNs, can order blood tests and lab work, refer you to specialists, and arrange for all necessary screenings and diagnostic tests. Both OB-GYNs and Midwives should inform you of both the benefits and the risks associated with some of these screenings and procedures.

Appointments with a Midwife are generally longer than those with an OB-GYN. Midwives have traditionally put great emphasis on answering women’s questions and providing them with comprehensive health and wellness information. That said, there are some OB-GYNs who are wonderfully thorough and spend quality time with their patients.

Insurance Questions

Most large insurance companies cover the costs associated with prenatal visits to an OB-GYN or Midwife, and birth.

It is always a good idea to contact your insurance company directly and verify the details of your plan. If an insurance employee tells you that midwifery care is not covered, confirm the information by speaking with a manager.

If you are pregnant and uninsured, you may qualify for Medicaid. If not, call the obstetrical practice or birth center you are interested in and ask if they have a sliding fee scale. If the answer is no, ask that they refer you to another practice or nonprofit women’s health organization that has one.

What Should I Look for in a Provider?

Finding a qualified provider whom you trust and feel comfortable with is of utmost importance. Whether it is an OB-GYN or a Midwife, he or she should be happy to answer your questions and encourage your input.

You can increase your chances of a great partnership with the provider by letting him or her know, early on, what is important to you. For many women, pain medication is a pivotal point. If you hope to labor without pain medication, make sure your provider is supportive. Ask about familiarity with other, nonmedical forms of pain management. Alternatively, if you are planning on an epidural, avoid the practitioner who tries to talk you out of it.

Here are some other things to consider:

  • Credentials/References: He or she should have reputable and current credentials. Find out how long he has been in practice. Does she come recommended by friends, family, or other professionals?
  • Birth Philosophy: What are her views on pain medication during delivery? How about breastfeeding? Does she encourage you to trust your instincts and your body’s natural birthing ability? Are you comfortable with her use of medical technology and intervention?
  • Procedures: A great way to get many procedural questions answered is to ask your obstetric provider to describe a typical birth. Ask her to begin with the first phone call from a laboring woman, through the birth and subsequent hospital stay.

Find out when the provider meets patients at the hospital or birth center, whether he will be present during the majority of the birth, and his use of Pitocin (a synthetic form of Oxytocin used to induce or quicken labor), forceps, or vacuum extractions. Are episiotomies (an incision to increase the vaginal opening for birth), enemas, fetal monitoring, and IVs mandatory or elective? When can you expect to see the OB-GYN or CNM after delivery?

  • C-Section Rate: If you are seeing an OB-GYN, find out his or her C-section rate. According to Dr. Phelan, between 15 and 30 percent is about average (keeping in mind that doctors handling higher risk cases may have higher percentages). Ask under what conditions a doctor would opt to do a C-section.
  • Cross Coverage: There is a chance that the OB-GYN or CNM you are seeing for your prenatal visits will not be the one delivering your baby. Find out as much as you can about the people providing cross coverage. In a group practice, you may be given the option to cycle through the providers during your prenatal appointments to meet everyone. If your provider is a sole practitioner, get the name and contact information for her back-up physician.
  • Emergency Availability: How easy is it to reach your OB-GYN or CNM in an emergency, on weekends, and holidays? To whom can you direct questions between visits? Find out how to contact the doctor or midwife on call and ask how quickly you can expect him to get back to you. If you are anticipating a summer delivery, find out if your provider is likely to be on vacation.
  • Support Staff: You do not have to love everyone in the office but you shouldn’t feel intimidated or routinely rushed, either. Ideally, the nurses, physician’s assistants, and office staff work as a team to facilitate your visits.
  • Administrative Issues: Does the office have evening or weekend appointments? Do they take your insurance? Do they offer a sliding fee scale? Will they schedule prenatal appointments two or three months in advance? How long will you be sitting in the waiting room before each visit? Instead of directing these questions to your OB-GYN or CNM, ask the nurse or front office staff.
  • Delivery Site: If you are not planning a home birth, find out how far the hospital or birth center is from your home. Knowing as much as possible about the hospital or birth center can greatly minimize confusion on the big day. Remember, just because your OB-GYN is comfortable with some of your requests does not guarantee that the hospital will be. Take a tour, meet with the nursing staff, and familiarize yourself with their procedures and policies. If you cannot visit, call and ask to speak to someone about the facility. (In a hospital, ask to speak with the charge nurse in labor and delivery.)
  • Coming Home: It may seem like a million miles away, but the day you and your baby will be home (and on your own) is closer than you think. Find out what postpartum resources your CNM or OB-GYN can provide. These might include contact information for local breastfeeding mothers’ groups and lactation counselors, as well as resources for coping with postpartum depression. At the very least, your provider should schedule a follow-up appointment three to six weeks after you deliver and encourage you to call with questions or concerns.

It may take some time to find a great obstetric provider, but it is well worth the effort. Whether you choose an OB-GYN or Midwife, remember to be proactive and to work collaboratively with him or her. Ultimately, you and your baby will be glad you did.

Doula v.s Midwife

What is the difference?

Midwifes and  Doulas may seem similar, since they’re both commonly chosen by moms-to-be who go drug-free during their delivery. Their roles in the childbirth process are actually quite different.

 A midwife is a health care provider, while a doula is more of a childbirth coach. You might choose to have a midwife instead of an OB for prenatal care and to deliver your baby—midwives can deliver babies in hospitals, birthing centers or even in your home. Certified nurse-midwives can do many of the same things as doctors, meaning they can perform gynecological exams, provide prenatal care, administer pain medications, give labor-inducing drugs, monitor the fetus using electronic equipment, give an epidural, and perform an episiotomy and stitch tears.Midwife care centers focus on promoting natural birth, detecting complications, and using emergency measures when needed. 

A doula, on the other hand, doesn’t replace your healthcare practitioner but rather can add extra services, such as helping you with techniques to manage pain during labor and even providing support and help during baby’s early days. Think of a doula as an expecting family’s BFF, Your bond develops long before the due date, as you both plan how you’d like the birthing process to go, and learn the answers to the many questions you likely have. 

There are many types of doulas: but the most common are birth and postpartum. The main job of the labor doula (or birth doula) is to be by your side offering nonmedical techniques during labor, such as breathing, massage, and helping you move into different body positions. They can also provide emotional support. No matter what type of birth you have, a doula will be there to help you feel safe and empowered. A doula will support you in your decision to use medications or have a natural birth. In the event of an unplanned cesarean, a doula can help comfort you and give you extra attention to help alleviate fears and anxieties. A doula can be a helpful part of your birthing team.

After birth, postpartum doulas help a new mother as she recovers from the birthing process. This includes caring for the infant and guiding a mother through the breast-feeding process.

 

You get a Doula, You get a Doula, You get a Doula!!

Birth is a monumental, incredible, life-changing experience, whether you think of it that way or not. And who wouldn’t want some degree of support while going through a monumental, life-changing experience?  But – believe it or not – some people don’t hire a doula. Which is absolutely okay. There are many mothers, sisters, friends, even partners out in the world who are up for the challenge and make incredible birth companions.

Doulas are for everyone. I believe everyone could benefit from some intensive support, no matter what your preference, plan, or non-plan is. But pregnancy and birth is not always a straight line. It (sometimes) has it’s twists and turns, and  (sometimes) that’s when having a trained professional- someone who has been down this well worn path many, many times before, and has seen an endless number of variations of this dance- is invaluable.

But whether you hire a doula or not, my nervous, excited, ever-so-hopeful and determined mama…..there are a few things I really want to share with you.

  • Please, take a great deal of care and time when choosing your birth provider. Your provider is one of the most important decisions you will make in this process. He or she has a significant impact on the outcome of your birth. Please, talk to them open and honestly early on. Listen to what they say, and how they say it. Listen to the tone of voice they use, look at their facial expressions. Then listen for what they don’t say. Don’t be afraid to share everything you are concerned or curious about, or to ask anything, even the hard questions. Then notice how you feel when you are talking with them. Do you feel calm and at ease? Supported? Dismissed? Like they are truly listening? If you don’t get a good feeling and it doesn’t feel like a good match look into meeting another provider. You have the ability and the power to do so! It needs to be a good fit for you both! You need to feel completely comfortable in this relationship. There are all types out there. Just because this person was incredible with your good friend, or cousin, or cousin’s sister, doesn’t mean it’s the right fit for you!!! Go with your gut.
  • Providers are human beings too. They have similar clinical training across the board, but all have their unique personalities. They bring to the table (and to your birth) with them their own “baggage”. They have opinions and history and past experiences that are going to impact they way they practice today. That doesn’t make them good or bad, only human! Again, find one that makes you feel comfortable! For example, if you are seeking a  VBAC and they seem on the fence about it early on, they are not going to suddenly change their mind halfway through YOUR pregnancy and become a huge advocate and push for it! You might wish that, but it’s not going to happen. So again, find the right fit, early on, or move on and keep looking. It’s a lot easier to find a compatible provider at week 15 than it is at week 36. Or, be prepared to constantly advocate for yourself every step of the way.
  • Remember to think outside the box. There are other places to give birth. Such as at home, with a skilled midwife, or at a Birth Center. Look into these options if you are low risk and seeking a natural birth. They are not so outside the box anymore. More and more women are seeking out these locations for their births because the return of a more a natural birth experience is becoming more and more mainstream. Many women are realizing that most hospitals treat birth as a medical event, a business, not a natural, normal process.
  • If you choose to use an OB as a provider, and there are many supportive, attentive, empathetic OB’s out there, find out how many other OB’s (and Certified Nurse Midwives who also may deliver there) are in the practice. It is not uncommon for a practice to have easily anywhere from 2 to 4 other providers, not counting CNM’s in the practice. So if you painstakingly do all your research and find YOUR PERFECT PROVIDER….please remember the chances of them being the actual person on call the day you go into labor are…well, you do the math. They rotate. So the chances are slim it will happen that way. So it’s best to wrap your head around that concept early on, and make sure all the providers are like-minded. Or find a smaller practice with a different doctor.
  • Education goes a long way. The more educated you are about pregnancy and birth, the more comfortable you will be when and if a deviation from your original plan happens. Take a childbirth class, a breastfeeding class, a newborn care class or all 3. Knowledge is power!
  • I can’t take the pain away…as a Doula I wish I could. But then I’d rob you of the experience of knowing you can and will do this. This experience will push you to the brink of your capabilities. It’s a rite of passage, no matter which way it happens. And the experience belongs to you. As a doula, I can be there by your side, helping you navigate the twists and turns, helping you stay as comfortable as possible, reminding you that you can do this, you’ve got what it takes to get through. Unwavering in my faith in you, and in the process.

You can do this….you will do this.

Remember you have so many choices along the way….

You can choose where to give birth.

You can choose to do it all natural.

You can choose a scheduled c-section.

You can choose an epidural.

You can choose to change your mind midway and go from all natural to an epidural.

You can choose to decline any or all medications for you or your baby.

You can choose not to consent to a procedure that is being recommended if you’ve carefully weighed the pros and cons and don’t believe it’s in your and your baby’s best interest.

But the beauty of this whole experience is you have a lot of power, and you have choices.

Don’t forget that!

Natural Remedies for Morning Sickness

The term “morning sickness” had to be created by someone with a twisted sense of humor.

Although pregnancy-induced nausea and vomiting are common in the morning, both can occur at any time of day and even last all day long. Morning sickness usually begins at about 5 weeks of pregnancy and for most, ends at the beginning of the second trimester, although it can last all through your pregnancy.

No one knows for sure what causes morning sickness. It is thought that morning sickness is triggered by a combination of physical, hormonal, and emotional factors.

There are many theories about the purpose of morning sickness. Some believe morning sickness is designed to encourage expectant mothers to slow down or help them to eliminate unhealthy things from their lifestyles such as coffee and smoking. Still, others hold to the theory that morning sickness is relative to psychosocial variables such as high levels of stress, lack of support, or strong emotions regarding the pregnancy.

If you’re suffering from ongoing nausea and vomiting related to pregnancy you probably don’t care why you just want it to stop.

There’s no magic pill to cure morning sickness although some doctors will prescribe Diclectin for morning sickness that is long-lasting or disruptive.

There are a number of tricks that are commonly offered and sometimes sworn by. Depending on the time of day nausea strikes, you might want to try different remedies. You may find something works for a period of time and then stops working and you need to try something else.

Dry, Bland Food

For morning sickness that actually strikes in the morning, it can be helpful to keep something dry and bland to munch on at your bedside along with water. 

Citrus

When morning sickness occurs in the middle of the day you can find relief by eating citrus fruit, having a tart candy like a lemon drop, or sipping something sour like lemonade. Candied ginger might also be helpful.

Small Frequent Meals

If you are finding your morning sickness comes in waves throughout the day be sure to eat many small meals or snacks, stay hydrated, and get proper rest when needed. Even though it’s counter-intuitive to eat when you are feeling nauseous, it’s very helpful! 

Bone Broth

It can be hard to stomach rich, nourishing food when you’re feeling nauseous most of the time. Enter: bone broth. Bone broth made from the bones of free range, organic chicken is deeply nourishing and can help the nausea due to its gut-healing properties. A good pinch of sea salt and a squeeze of lemon will help you get a few sips down when you’re feeling sick.  Here is a good recipe from Wellness Mama. Even though it’s time consuming initially, once you make a big batch you can freeze and have bone broth for weeks or months to come during pregnancy. (It’s great for postpartum recovery too!)

Ginger & Peppermint

Evening sickness can be remedied with ginger tea. Peppermint tea can also be helpful but is known to cause heartburn, so use with caution. Let someone else do the cooking if the smells from the kitchen are a trigger or avoid cooking smells altogether by choosing fresh fruits and vegetables, salads, and other cold foods.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is thought to be helpful for nausea and vomiting related to pregnancy.  Acupuncture can be used to treat most common discomforts related to pregnancy with no risk to your health. Choose a practitioner that is knowledgeable about pregnancy. You can also try some acupressure at home by pressing the PC 6 acupressure point located above the wrist on the inner side of the arm. (see picture below)

 

Magnesium

Low Magnesium levels may potentially play a part in nausea during pregnancy. Boosting your magnesium levels before pregnancy is ideal for preventing nausea, but you may find a lot of relief during pregnancy by upping your magnesium. I recently discovered a lovely new product that is a magnesium supplement that mixes into a fizzy drink with a slight lemon and ginger flavor that can help nausea and vomiting. It’s called Sparkling Mama.

Fermented Foods & Probiotics 

I learned in a fascinating podcast that imbalances in the gut may be making women sick during pregnancy. Including fermented foods may be a key to keeping morning sickness (or all day sickness!) at bay. Try to have a morning smoothie everyday with yogurt or kefir (make sure there are live cultures in the yogurt!) You can add whatever fruits sound appetizing to you and also this can be an opportunity to throw some superfoods in the blender.

Kristen from naturalbirthandbabycare.com recommends putting a little bit of potato starch in your smoothie as well. This may sound odd, but this kind of starch helps you to actually absorb the healthy probiotics that are present in the yogurt or kefir. Listen to the full podcast here.

Aromatherapy

Essential oils can help tremendously with nausea! Keep a bottle of lemon oil and peppermint oil in your purse at all times and simply open the top and breathe them in. (These are also great to have during labor in case you get nauseous during or in between contractions.)  You can also blend peppermint and lemon in a diffuser and have it by your bedside table, and if you experience morning sickness, just start the diffuser upon waking. You can also dilute these oils in a carrier oil, such as fractionated coconut oil, and rub on the soles of your feet.

**Do not take essential oils internally during pregnancy without consulting a specialist.

Keep your stress levels low

If you suspect that your stress levels and anxiety are playing a role in your morning sickness, you can sort through your feeling to find relief. A doula or other support person can help you navigate your fears and create a plan to ensure you have the support you need throughout pregnancy, birth, and parenting. It is incredible how strongly our inner feelings can impact our physical well-being. 

Working through the Birth Like a Goddess course will help you feel prepared for your journey. As you build confidence in yourself and learn to embrace your body’s inner wisdom, you may find that any physical expressions of your inner turmoil fade away. Preparing for birth not just physically, but spiritually and emotionally can put you at ease with your experience.

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16522418/ (Acupressure)

Tips to have a Positive Birth Experience

 

1. Do not surround yourself with too many people – even if they do support you. Birth is not a spectator sport so limit those welcomed into your labor space.  I recommend your partner, your birth team (i.e. your doula and care providers) and visits from other friends/relatives that want to show their support and excitement. I’ve heard it said that every extra person in the room beyond the birth team and your partner adds an hour to labor. That is not a scientific fact of course.

 

2. Surround yourself with people who are supportive and are comfortable with your choices. It is vital to have support during labor and those people that are providing this support should be 100% comfortable with your choices. One way to insure this is to hire a doula. The research shows that having the professional support of a doula increases satisfaction with the birth experience, not to mention brings several other benefits. If you are blessed with positive friends or family members then you may choose to welcome them as well. However, do not invite people who are not 100% comfortable with your plans. Just don’t.

 

3. Keep your body and your attitude loose and laid back. Your voice, your thoughts, your muscles; they all should be loose and relaxed. Babies come out best when a woman is not feeling fear or tension and when she feels comfortable moving and making the sounds she needs to during contractions. Being laid back helps a laboring woman to go with the flow of labor as labor can be unpredictable and often looks different than imagined.

 

4. Stay active. Use gravity to your advantage. Moving not only helps bring a baby down and out, it also helps pass the time and makes women feel more in control of their labor.

 

5. Focus. Labor is not just any ol’ day. Focus on welcoming your child and what you need to do to make that happen.


6. Ignore the clock. Labor can be long, especially for women experiencing labor for the first time. Looking at the clock and doing labor math (“It took me 4 hours to change 1cm thus using that formula it will take me approximately 40 hours to have my baby…”) doesn’t work since labor does not work mathematically. Thinking about the time can create tension which then slows labor further. Try to not think about the time.

 

7. Rest. Rest is so important in the early parts of labor as it may be hours and even days until you progress to the active phases of labor. Take these early contractions as a sign to rest and do whatever it takes to sleep. You do not need to move to your place of birth – you need to sleep. You do not need to exhaust yourself trying to get things going (unless there is a medical need to do so) – you need to sleep.  It will happen, and when it does, you still will want to alternate resting positions with active positions throughout your labor.  

 

8. Pay attention to the time, especially in early labor. If it is night time and you are starting to contract, GO TO BED. Do not call your mom and do not start walking the stairs. GO TO BED. If there is any confusion about this pointer, re-read Tip #7. Other times to notice? Try to empty your bladder once an hour (if you are not asleep) throughout your labor. When able, try to drink a cup of water every hour. Hydration makes your body more effective and an empty bladder allows baby to descend and decreases the discomfort of contractions.

 

9. Listen to your body and your baby. So you can’t literally listen to your baby yet, but your baby and your body are working together to make birth happen. At each stage of labor your baby has a job to do and you can help your baby to get that job done just being aware of how you can help. Does your baby need to descend? Use positions that use gravity. Does your baby need to rotate?  Try some positions that open your pelvis and avoid those that reduce it’s size.

 

10. Listen to your support people. Let them help you.  While they cannot do a single contraction for you, they can help you be more comfortable, offer suggestions that may help you stay low and loose, encourage you and keep you focused.  Even more importantly their support will help you feel affirmed and empowered in your choices.

 

Positive Birth Experience with Serenity Birth Services Doula Franceska Willis

No matter where or how you want to give birth, we have found that there are a few key tips that help parents feel confident and supported throughout their experience. You don't need a doula to help you have a birth that you'll feel proud of remembering, but we help by bringing many of the ingredients with us.

Here is how our birth doulas work their doula magic: 

Preparation.

At Serenity Birth Services, we want you to feel confident and ready for birth. Meet with your doulas in pregnancy to talk through your hopes, learn what to expect, and create a birth plan that fits your desires. Feel ready to take on any scenario with your team at your back. 

Reassurance.

Our doulas work with backup doulas that you can meet before birth so that someone you know is always available for you. Your doula will get to know your family-- no need to worry about being unsupported if you go into labor early. All of our doulas are professionally trained to work seamlessly with your care team. 

Comfort.

Move through labor with suggestions and hands-on care from your doula. We'll use touch, massage, hot and cold, positioning, coaching and affirmation and other tricks to help you ride the waves of labor. If you want an epidural we will help you decide when to get it and continue to make labor as comfortable as possible. We also teach your partner some of our tricks so they can support you in the best way, too! 

Expertise.

Those questions that are keeping you up at night, but are not quite big enough to call your doctor about? Reach out to your personal birth experts via phone, email or text throughout your pregnancy. No question is too small or too personal for your team. During labor, having a doula is like having a private childbirth educator at your side so you always understand what is happening.

Respect.

We proudly and confidently support all families including single parents, LGBTQ+ and nontraditional families, plus-sized clients, older parents, younger parents, parents with disabilities or medical conditions, surrogates and many others.

Continuous Support. 

Call your doula when you're in labor and they will be there as soon as you want her. When your partner has to step out to eat, call family members, or care for themselves you'll never be alone. We are 100% at your back and support your choices, not an agenda. 

Is this Labor??

"Am I in labor" is one of the top pregnancy-related searches on Google. You are not alone if you're worried that you won't recognize the signs of labor, even if this isn't your first baby. Early labor has so many variations! Here are some of the ways you'll know that you're in early labor: 

Contractions

 Contractions are probably the most widely known and significant sign of labor. You may begin noticing mild and inconsistent contractions that then become more intense, longer, closer together and more regular. You may even be one of those people who experience intense contractions right from the start. 

Sometimes parents to experience prodromal labor. Prodromal labor is when contractions do not progress into stronger, more frequent, productive contractions. Prodromal labor can be exhausting and frustrating. If you experience prodromal labor, remember that your body is still doing the work it needs to do to birth your baby.


Vaginal Discharge

A mucous-like discharge from your vagina can indicate that labor is imminent, especially if it is streaked with blood. This is commonly called "losing your mucous plug" or "bloody show." The tricky thing about losing your mucous plug is that it can mean your baby is coming soon or you could have several more weeks to go. Regardless of how much longer you have to go, losing your mucus plug or bloody show is a good indicator that your cervix is ripening and preparing to give birth.

If you have a sudden trickle or gush of fluid your membranes may have ruptured. This is a definite sign that your baby will be born soon. You should talk to your doctor about what their protocol is for when your water breaks. Labour begins with the membranes rupturing in less than 15% of labors. 


Loose Stools

 The hormones that help prepare your body for birth can also cause you to have loose stools or mild diarrhea. It is thought by some experts that this is your body’s way of making room for your baby to be born.

Flu-like Symptoms

You may experience flulike symptoms leading up to you baby's birth including diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting, without a fever. Be sure to see your doctor if you develop a fever, or the symptoms persist!

Raw Emotions

You may feel a little more emotional leading up to your baby's birth. It isn't uncommon to feel a heightened sense of emotions. Your hormones are busy and can have an impact on your emotional well-being.

Intuition

Birth can be very instinctual, and you may just have a gut feeling that your baby is coming. Be sure to rest up and nourish your body with healthy foods, so you're ready to go on the big day!

If you’re wondering about whether or not you are in labor, calling your doula is always a good option. Night or day, your doula is happy to help you talk through what you are experiencing so that you can decide whether or not it’s time to go to the hospital, call your doctor, or just catch up on rest.

Birth Plan or Birth Disappointment

Birth Plan

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I like to go over birth preferences with my clients,  it helps me to better understand their hopes for their birth it gives us an opportunity to have a conversation about what they want and for them to be heard. A birth plan also helps clients discuss with their care providers their birth preferences. Discussing client preferences opens the door to hear what my clients' fears are as well, which gives me an idea of what to go over, for example, their mindset, affirmations, etc. Birth plans are not set in stone hence why I refer to them as preferences or birth vision. Your birth preferences are more so a tool to help you to communicate with your birth team. It's a great outline to help you let your birth team know what your hopes and wishes, should you and your baby doing well medically.

Birth Disappointment

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Labor is unpredictable – A mother may plan to have a natural birth, a water birth, or a birth center birth, but due to unforeseen circumstances, she finds herself with Pitocin, an epidural or even a C-section. There is a real chance of her feeling disappointed with her outcome. This can lead to increased stress, tension in close relationships and an increased risk of postpartum depression. Should mom and baby not be doing well, your preferences, while they are taking into consideration, do change because if something is not going well medically with you or your baby the plan changes in order to keep both mom and baby safe. Plans changing can be discouraging but it is important to be educated on the different possible outcomes of birth. Be it cesarean or an episiotomy or even just getting an epidural if that's not what you wanted it's important to understand why these things have their benefits and also knowing the risk.

 As doulas, we are taught to protect a mother’s memory of her birth. To safeguard it whenever we can. Because we know that a mother’s view of her birth—how she felt she was treated, whether or not she felt listened to, and how much she participated in the decision-making processes during her labor—are nearly always more important than the actual twists and turns that the labor takes. The mothers who struggle the most are the ones who feel like all of their choices were taken away. When things feel out of control, when the mother feels disrespected or forced into a decision, that is when we start to see some of the negative outcomes listed above. If her first plan goes out the window, knowing that she has already thought through other options keeps her from trying to create a plan b in the middle of plan b!

 

Educational Opportunity

In actuality,  a birth plan can be used for educational purposes, for instance,  the act of creating the plan causes the parents to search out and think through all of the options that are available to them with their care provider and at their birthing location. To write a narrowed down list, Parents will need to sort through which choices are the most important for the mom and for their baby. When preparing for birth, there can be an overwhelming amount of options! The exercise of creating your birth preferences causes parents to think through which are the most important choices for their unique family in their unique situation. A doula and medical provider can help with understanding all your options so as parents you can decide which are most important.

Communication is Key

Birth preferences are a communication tool. As the mother and their labor partner/team discuss what she wants to include in her plan, it ensures that everyone is on the same page and hopefully all on board! If not, this can be a good opportunity to talk through any disagreements BEFORE they get into the delivery room! Once written, the birth plan should be taken to a prenatal appointment to look over with the care provider. Your Medical provider can look at each option and let you know whether that is something that is available and/or possible. They can also find out which of the items on the list are already standard practice at the hospital or birth center.

So, why plan?

While a birth plan cannot guarantee a smooth, satisfying birth outcome, it can be one piece of the puzzle that helps parents prepare to make choices and navigate the waters of labor and beyond. By using "birth plans" as a functional tool for education, values clarification and communication, it can help parents set realistic expectations and prepare for the unpredictable with confidence!

My "Natural" C-Section

You're probably wondering " how did she have a natural C-section?"  Well Have you heard the saying beauty is in the eye of the beholder... My C-section with my son was a lot like that for me. My experience during my pregnancy and his birth are what I will use to inspire my client to have their own "natural" births.

As I am sure you can already tell I don't use the word natural too imply drug free, If you or anyone you know has had a c-section they'll tell you there are a lot of drugs involved. So how did I have a natural C-Section? Well I was 17 and I witness a few of my friends have their children and they were left with questions, or felt they just "showed up" meanwhile its could not happen without their presence but they didn't feel involved nor educated about what pregnancy or birth entailed. So when I saw two lines in my pregnancy test I knew I wanted to be prepared, which meant I needed information. I had seen three friends before me hate their experience and I did not want that. I was Five months when I had gotten a doula she was free another program was paying her to be there for me, I asked question I lived in the worst case scenario, I took The Bradley Method® of Natural Childbirth I felt very prepared to have my son, the way my ancestor before me had their sons Naturally Drug free and to let the goddess inside me shine.

Photo by  photo-nic.co.uk nic  on Unsplash

I had all my tools but I wound up losing my doula to a 13 years old having twins (her situation was more emergent). The morning my son was born I  had gone 3 days with contractions but they were mild I was determined to solder through I was not telling anyone until they were on top of each other but then I fell which led to the hospital trip where they announced I was contracting. My baby was still sitting high (mind you he was 2 weeks late) and I did not dilate one bit not one cm. The doctor whom I trusted he was great, decide we would wait but he would break my water, that should get us moving. Well my son had other plans we found Meconium in the water (he'd gone potty) which I had learned before that should that be the case I would definitely be having a C-Section.

So all in all I do not believe there is only one way to have a Natural Birth as with the right information and having an idea of how the dominoes may fall, it encourages a level of preparedness that can make it all seamlessly natural for you.