I’ve given birth…NOW WHAT?

As a midwife I feel that my work really only begins with the birth!  Pregnancy is one thing and then postpartum is a whole ‘nother story!

I practice a holistic approach to caring for women which is based on a relationship and involves at least 5 or more postpartum care visits to help you get started on a good foot.  The sad thing is that only about 1% of women in my local area are choosing home birth midwifery care!  I am on a mission to get as many women as I can to realize that individualized care is the better way to go but until more women start actually choosing out of hospital providers we all have to work harder to change things for ALL women!

It is appalling to me that when women deliver in a hospital they are turned loose in 24-48 hours and are not seen again by their care provider for several weeks!  So many things can go wrong during the first couple of weeks after having a baby!  Women are experiencing so much more crammed into a few short weeks then the entire 9 months of pregnancy combined!

ACOG is announcing in their May release that they are recommending a change in the postpartum care schedule from 1 visit over 6 weeks to 3 visits over 12 weeks.  While I am very glad to see this recommendation I hope the Dr’s will begin implementing this, I am not holding my breath!  (ACOG has made many recommendations that have not been embraced by Dr’s.) They are also supporting a full 6 weeks of PAID paternal leave with 100% benefits!  Finally they are hearing the women and responding, now all we need to do is get the Dr’s themselves and the employers on board!

In a typical relationship with a family who has allowed me to serve them for their care I see them at least 5 times in the first 6 weeks after birth.  I will see them more if needed.  The reality is that the transition to motherhood, even if it is not your first time, can be extremely difficult.  Half of all women who die from pregnancy related complications do so in the first few weeks after actually having their baby! So these things are happening at home when you have already been released from the hospital!  This is one reason why midwifery care is better because we come to you whenever you need it during that important postpartum period of at least 6 weeks.  You need a competent and supportive provider who will actually be present to help you with the many different issues:

-Breastfeeding

-Engorgement  -Helping baby latch on

-Evaluating for tongue or lip ties

-Healing after birth

-Mood variances

-Watching for complications that can be life threatening

-Evaluating the health and well being of the baby

-Supporting the emotional variances in each unique woman

-And so much more!

There is so much that needs to be done to support new moms!  This begins during the pregnancy through educating women on what to expect, how to prepare for this difficult yet wonderful time and helping women set up the right support system to help her in those early days.

Mentally prepare yourself to take VERY special care of yourself for an additional full 12 weeks, this is sometimes called the 4th trimester.   This is honestly likely the most important phase of welcoming a new baby. This is the time when you really have the HARD life struggles of caring for a new life, a new body, and all the issues that come along with breastfeeding and an expanding family.

So what does this really look like?

Before the baby even gets here make it clear to your extended family and friends that they are only allowed to come over to see baby if they are willing to:  -bring a meal  -do laundry  -clean a bathroom  -do some dishes  -or anything else you may need done!

They also should not come unannounced! They need to check in first to make sure it is a time when mom and baby are not resting or feeding and only stay a short while.

You need to give yourself a full week of doing nothing but caring for  yourself and your baby!   Do not plan any outings, stay home.  Mom and dad and other siblings need a good several days of bonding without a lot of visitors!  Breastfeeding can be hard those first few days and very few women are comfortable doing so in front of visitors.  Have another adult or older responsible teenager in the home to help with the other children, laundry, meals and basic household duties.  This should be the partner but if there is not a partner or if he must return to work right away then plan for this!  Women should NEVER jump right back into their normal work load! They need at least a week to do nothing, then another week to slowly start doing a few more things then still take it easy for a while longer.

As mothers, sisters and friends we should also support and encourage other women to do the same when they become a new mom, I do not care if you are having your first or your 6th baby, the same rules apply here!

I do what I can with my clients who are having home births. I would like to be able to reach more women with this vital information.  Please share this with as many as you can and be this support when you have a close woman going through the 4th trimester.

 

*Link to the ACOG update 

Are You Giving Away Your Power?

Dear Momma,

You are more powerful than realize!

You are the master of your domain, and the domain is you and your child(ren). You are in 100% control of the decisions you are required to make for your child.

There are so many ways that we as mothers give away our power and authority to people and systems as a given, without thought, because we don’t realize there is any other way. We allow our bodies/souls and our children’s bodies/souls get overided by people who we think know better than we do when it comes to our lives and the lives of our children. But they don’t.

As mothers we are constantly being thrown shame about our choices as a parent, no matter what we do. Now, it is important that we talk openly about evidence based practices that are proven to have better outcomes for our children, but many cases, people want us to just go with the status quo. Just do what was done to them, the way their parents did it. Don’t ask questions, don’t be too loud, don’t speak up, don’t question the “experts,” ignore that gut feeling. You know, the one you might get at a doctors appointment or sending your kid off on the first day of school. We are told these feelings are “normal,” and that every mother goes through it. I agree, they are common, but they are not normal.  Stop giving some people’s opinions priority over what we intuitively know. This happens so much so that most of us no longer feel the sense of that  motherly intuition.  We are filling our kids bodies and heads with things that we don’t even have the slightest clue what is it, because we think we have to. That there could be another way, doesn’t even occur to many people.

This isn’t about convincing anyone to do things my way (how boring a world that would be!). But if you don’t know that you have choices beyond the mainstream world, then you aren’t actually making decisions from a place of truth and desire. You are living on autopilot and not considering the impact of living a life in accordance to the status quo, whose only agenda is to keep you relying on it.

So what do I mean by giving away power?

Well, your  power is your deep internal knowing, and then the actions that support it. It is standing up for what you know to be true and not fearing the potential backlash from those who feel confronted by how you live. Actually, you might feel fear, but you do it anyway, because you cannot function living for others and out of alignment with what you know to be best for you and your family.

I see mothers give away their power to others all the time. Sure, there are going to be women who live by the book. They do what they are told, trust the “experts” no matter what, never venture far from their predetermined path as a mother and will insist that they are not run by fear and not giving their power away. That is fine. I am not speaking to them. I am speaking to those who know something feels off. They get that feeling that things aren’t right or they want to change something, but that something goes against everything they are told to be okay and right about raising children. I am here to tell you to listen to that. It is ok, and very empowering to never feel confused or afraid in your choices as a parent. I love how much freedom I have there, and I have that freedom because I don’t listen to other people and have cultivated a deeper trust within myself. I truly believe that if you have that, then it almost doesn’t matter what you do, that faith and confidence will carry you. Even if you do everything totally opposite than what I personally believe to be true, if you feel so good and right doing it, then your family and children will feel that.

Here are 5 places I see mothers giving away their power, where they should not, ever, anymore:

  1. Doctors during pregnancy

This isn’t about how I think you should be pregnant and give birth, but it is true that 99% of women follow a predetermined agenda once they see those two blue lines. From that point on they are under the control of a doctor. They see it as them working for the doctor and not the other way around. Remember, this is your body and your baby.

Your caregiver works for you.

-If you don’t want to drink a nasty glucose drink, you don’t have to!

-If you don’t want to be induced, you don’t have to!

-If you don’t want to labor on your back strapped to a bed, you don’t have to!

-If you don’t want an episiotomy, you don’t have to get one!

-If you don’t want your baby taken out of your sight, she doesn’t have to be!

-If you ever have that “bad” feeling about ANYTHING, listen to it!

I cringe when I hear a woman say, “my doctor won’t let me…”

If that is the case, then I wouldn’t hesitate finding someone who works FOR YOU and honors your wishes. I understand that there are special circumstances where a woman has to do something she didn’t originally desire or plan, but this isn’t what I am talking about.

Women have so much choice and power around how they bring their babies into the world. Excerise that right! Question and research everything!

2. Parenting experts.

The problem with listening to the experts is that they come from all ends of the spectrum. Some will say never ever leave a baby alone to cry, others will suggest you go in the nursery just to clean up the vomit, make no eye contact and get out (ok, that is just cruel, but that line of thinking actually exists). You were given this child, listen to YOUR own intuition on what YOUR child needs.  Ultimately, you know what feels right and what doesn’t.

One example is parent’s confusion over sleep and letting babies cry alone. Many feel if they pick up their baby or sleep near their baby then they are somehow spoiling their baby. On the other hand, they feel terrible letting and listening to their baby’s screams. This is a perfect example of listening to our intuition and how it often goes in the exact opposite direction of what the “experts” tell us (not all experts, of course).  It is rather sad that we believe a vulnerable baby can have too much love and care, or be made to feel too secure. Or to think a baby’s needs go away at night. Understanding child development and listening to our intuition will make examples like these pretty clear.

3. Your mother-in-law, or your own mother.

This might sound a little harsh, but it needs to be said.

I often see mothers posting in mom groups about how to deal with a mother-in-law or their own parent strongly disagreeing about how they do something as a parent. They complain about their beliefs and ask for advice on how to get them to “see their point of view.”

Honestly, the problem isn’t your MIL, the problem is lack of boundaries on your (the mother’s) part. I get that some women deal with really nasty MILs and mothers. It still comes down to boundaries and confidence. If you know your deepest truth and you are confident in carrying it out as a parent then there is no need to convince anyone or make them see it your way (unless they ask or are curious, of course!). If anyone in my family (or friends) wanted to give me a hard time on a regular basis about how I do something then I have no problem setting a boundary, whatever that would need to look like. I think my own mother knows this about me, which is probably why she doesn’t give me a hard time, despite the fact she might not agree with everything I do. Seeing her grandchild and having a relationship with him is more important to her than questioning my choices. That said, I love having open, respectful conversations about it when she wants to.

I do believe some people just like the drama and want to appear right (been there!), but if you just honestly want to be left alone about your decsions then I promise, you can make that happen.

You also don’t need to give away your power by doing something that you feel uncomfortable/unsure about  just because that is how your mom raised you and you don’t want to upset her or make her feel guilty. I know some women are very aware that if they did something opposite of what their mothers did, then that is indirectly telling them that we are not okay with how it was done to us, and that could feel offensive to our own mothers, and we don’t want to hurt them, of course. It is actually more unkind to go along to get along with your mother and protect her from feeling the truth of who you are and what you believe. It prevents potential growth for the both of you.

4. Pediatricians

This goes back to my number one point, but I see mothers putting up with pediatrician bullying so much more. I see women dreading going to check-ups because they don’t want to feel bullied into giving an injection or medication that they feel uncomfortable with or still have very little knowledge on. It is horrible how much we shame women for questioning substances that they must choose to put or not put in their child’s body. No matter what you choose, I think we can all agree that it is totally legitimate to know what you are consenting to give your child and possible side effects. To not ask about any of these things feels totally irresponsible, but we treat women who question as the irresponsible ones.  Only you knows what is really best for your child. Do not let any Dr shame you for demanding information or standing your ground.

Mothers remember, you are not obligated to keep a care provider who makes you feel horrible. You are also not required to attend check-ups until and unless you feel good about going. These experiences can and should be mostly care free and without stress and dread. If you find yourself feeling that way every time you go to the doctor, I would start to consider another game plan. I can weigh and measure my children myself and I don’t need to be told that my clearly healthy and happy child is, well…happy and healthy.

5. Schools

Somewhere down the line we fell for the belief that once our child turns five then we give them away to a system who can supposedly better raise and educate them than we (or the world) can.  We turn them in to a life of much less freedom for the safe bet that when they come out, they will be “educated,” because they can’t possibly learn outside of the starkness that is the school walls. We fall for the lie that learning can only be done one way, at one place, for everyone.

Once again, we are told to abandon our power as mothers and hand our children’s lives and education over to strangers, but we are told these strangers are “experts” so we feel justified in this decision. We tell ourselves they must be educated, even though in reality there are far more experiences and resources available in the rest of the world than are within the confines and limits of schooling. We tell ourselves that our children must be socialized, even though that is all we ever got in trouble for as kids in school. We know very well how much socializing is discouraged in the traditional schooling environment.

I know my condemnations of schooling will get a lot of backlash. I am not so much saying what you should and should not do. I am simply suggesting you know the reality of your choices and question why you have chosen (consciously or unconsciously) this path, because that is all it is. *A* path. Not *the* path. It is not in any way a given or required. It is a relatively new created system designed to create 9-5 workers for a capitalistic society. Why have you chosen it? Was it a conscious choice or simply the next step in what you consider of living life? Are we considering how much of our time, attention, energy, and life we give away to the schooling system? We are on their clock all year, and having to constantly make sure we get in assignments, wake up at a certain time, abide by their laws and rules, etc. These things affect the entire family unit, not just children. Did you choose a life and learning path based on the wants and needs of your family? Or are you molding and shaping your life to fit the requirements of the school you send your child to?

Again, if you think you made the best decision and your children love school, then maybe you don’t need this message. My message to you is still that you have more power than you know, and if you ever feel off or that your child isn’t thriving in this environment, then your job isn’t to ignore those feelings or “fix” or medicate your child or put them in a special class with other children who are acutely aware of a broken system. Your job is to change the environment, not change your child.

Sometimes we resist this notion because it would require us to take a good, hard look at our deeply held beliefs. It would require us to realign our priorites and make big (but often very neccessary) changes in our own lives. And oh it is so much easier to try to change our child than it is seeing them as people who are reflecting back at us what we need to see and change about ourselves, but that is why children are so great and magical. We just have to look and listen.

I know these ideas are not always easy to hear, nor are the results always happy readers. Luckily, I am not in the writing business to make people happy. I am in it to tell the truth and express that which I am most passionate about. I am curious your thoughts on empowering ourselves as mothers and taking back our rights to our own lives and bodies. What is available to us when we live our lives fully and truly for ourselves and the needs of our children, rather than assuming what life with kids is supposed to look like? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Am I Cut Out For Natural Birth?

I hear women say all the time,

“I want to be in the hospital in case something happens” or

“I want to have my first baby in the hospital and if it goes well I will maybe try a home birth next time” or

“If I were at home I would have died!” or or or ……….. it goes on and on.

The problem with this thinking is that it is all backwards.

The rate of intervention and c-sections in the hospitals is not conducive to any of these lines of thought.   The reality is you have a much better chance of having a great birth if you do it at home with a skilled attendant!   Women are dying because of all the routine interventions and because they are not getting the individual personal care every single women deserves!

You see the midwife model of care is so vastly different from the medical model of caring for pregnant and laboring women they cannot even begin to be compared!  In the hospital there are so many rules, regulations, restrictions and policies that hinder a healthy women from having an all natural birth.  The environment itself is a huge issue and you have all these people in and out. You have cultivated a relationship with a Dr over your pregnancy and the chances of actually getting that Dr are slim to none, unless you schedule your delivery which leads to a whole host of other huge issues that cause interventions that cause bad outcomes.   It cascades into a mess and then you arrive at home a few days later wondering how your actual experience veered so far off track and how you ended up with so much that you never wanted and you may even have some type of trauma just because so much happened to you and it happened so fast that you were not able to wrap your head around it at the moment.

You see……the deal is most healthy women do not need that!  This does not have to happen to you!  Most healthy women do just fine and have beautiful healthy babies and have an experience they will cherish forever, even first time moms!

You have choices and you can have a beautiful, empowering, respectful home birth with a caring attendant who will include you in every decision made and you will cherish the memory!

As a midwife I have a deep relationship with my birthing clients and am vested in the very best outcome for them and their babies!!  I monitor you very closely and will get you to a medical facility right away if you or your baby need to be there.

What has got me on this topic?………Just in the last week I have come across so many articles where women are being severely overlooked with severe health issues during labor or in the immediate postpartum period and they are dying or coming very close to it.  NPR is doing a huge ongoing investigation to the death rate of women because these things are not being tracked and no one is being held accountable for them.   These things are not happening in homes this is all happening in big respected hospitals.  It is very scary.   Many of those situations that women come out of saying, “I would have died if I were at home” are often brought on because of unnecessary interventions that never should have happened to begin with that actually put them in danger.  Those things will not happen at home, at least with me as your midwife!!

I do not want you to read this and be afraid of birth.  I want you to read this and realize that you are not necessarily safer if you choose to birth in the hospital.  It is just a different place with many more restrictions on you that make a natural birth more difficult.  Yes, if something really bad were to happen you are where needed interventions can take place but those real emergencies are literally only about a 1% occurrence in normal birth.

You are POWERFUL.

You are STRONGER THAN YOU REALIZE.

You have the POWER to birth your baby safely at home!

I would love to answer specific questions if you are wondering if home birth can be an option for you!

I am not sure I can do a natural birth!

So many women do not believe they can have a natural birth…. It really saddens me.

I was one who thought the same thing years ago.

The truth is that if you are willing to expose yourself to information, or in other words educate yourself, you can have a natural childbirth!

I was talking with my daughter the other day who is expecting her first child any day now. She is so torn for her friends who are either new moms or also expecting. They did not and are not learning about pregnancy, birth, labor, breastfeeding or even parenting on their own by reading to understand. They are terrified of natural birth and it really does not have to be the case.

As my daughter said, “I feel so confident in my ability to birth my baby naturally because I understand what is going on inside all because I have read this book!” She has actually read several books, books I did not even know about until after I had my 4th child. However, that day we were discussing what she had read recently and she was just starting to see why her friends were and are so terrified of labor.  It is because they do not know what is actually happening inside of them.  They are not educated on what to expect.  they have not been taught about the emotions that come at certain points.  So when they experience all of this they are terrified because they were not properly prepared.  They have never heard an empowering birth story!

If we women can share our natural birth stories with the younger generation they will feel more empowered to achieve the same on their own.   The sad reality is that so few of these younger women have heard true natural birth stories.   Many of them have heard the stories of others who ended up having a natural birth not because they consciously planned and prepared for them but because it all happened too fast and they had not time for drugs.  They also hear the stories from the women who had the epidural and how it was so great no worries.

The reality is that a drugged birth is not ideal for mom or baby.

I know that is not politically correct to say but the research does prove that those inductions that end up with epidurals or even if labor starts on it’s own but then an epidural is used, the bond is not what it could have been without the drugs.  The rates of postpartum depression are much higher with the drugged births.

I am a great example and also firmly believe that if we are properly educated about the very complex process of birth we are then aware of what is actually happening in our bodies so we can have an experience that does not compare at all to what most women have experienced.

For me this is totally true!  Oh sure I went thru the hospital childbirth classes but they did not teach me about the process of labor, all the intricate things that must occur to ignite labor, all the emotional signposts that happen at various points in labor and why the process is so long and difficult.  This is the real empowering information!!  This is the information that help women to realize that they are not crazy but that what they are feeling is normal.

We also need to expose women to the things, ideas and techniques, that help them cope with the intensity of birth.

It is hard work IT IS CALLED LABOR!  It is not pleasant but let me ask you this……..what have you gone thru in life that was easy did you appreciate like you did something that was hard?  It is a fact of life that the things that are more difficult for us GROW us, they MATURE us, they CHANGE US FOR THE BETTER.

I promise you PARENTING WILL BE THE HARDEST THING YOU EVER DO!  Birth is just your first realization that you are on a long a tough road.

It is all worth it!!  I so wish I could go back and teach my younger self the things I learned later on. Unfortunately we all make choices and learn from them and then grow into  better people!

If you would like to know more about how to have a drug free birth please reach out to me.  I have had every type of birth and speak from first hand experience.   My goal is not to shame anyone but to EMPOWER women to realize what they may think is impossible actually is possible!

Is it going to come easily with no work or effort?  I doubt it!  Are there specific things you can do to make the whole process better?  ABSOLUTELY!!!

LADIES!  YOU ARE MUSH STRONGER THAN YOU THINK YOU ARE!

 

Reference:

Kroll‐Desrosiers, A. R., Nephew, B. C., Babb, J. A., Guilarte‐Walker, Y., A., M. S., & Deligiannidis, K. M. (2017, January 30). Association of peripartum synthetic oxytocin administration and depressive and anxiety disorders within the first postpartum year. Retrieved March 08, 2017, from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/da.22599/full