Birth Experience, Guest Writers

Just incase you missed the exciting news…

9 Comments 01 July 2011

(via Jessica at Birth Kalamazoo)

Beautiful Lucan Frederick tumbled into his daddy’s hands June 30th at 4:50 a.m. What a wonderful water birth at home, Kaitlin and Eric! Wow, I was filled with awe and love to watch you work together. Lucan’s arrival was every bit as amazing as his big sister Ella’s birth two and a half years ago. I was so blessed to be with you for a second time, what a very special family. Thank you! Enjoy your beautiful boy. -Much love, Jessica

 

Giveaway, Guest Writers

guest post & a mama bird’s nest giveaway

113 Comments 30 June 2011

guest post by melody

so i am currently typing this post with one hand.
my other arm is full holding my chubby 11 month old while he nurses back to sleep. (so i hope you appreciate the hard work my right hand is doing while typing this post, haha!)

let’s just say my evening unfolded slightly busier than i had originally anticipated, but i guess that’s just what life is like with a toddler and a baby right? i love it. my goal was to have a post up before midnight tonight…so even if that means a short, no-capitalization paragraph, i am stubborn and will get it written!

enough about me…as a celebration for the birth of baby Lucan Fredrick (who was born this morning at home, in water! – more details forthcoming), i would like to have a giveaway for a mama bird’s nest necklace from my etsy shop!

you can enter your name up to 4 times:

1) write a note to kaitlin rose on the BBH facebook wall, letting her know how the BBH community has inspired/helped you. let’s just flood her with encouraging notes.

2) become a “google follower” of my blog at “ramblings of a lovesick mommy”

3) “like” the ramblings of a lovesick mommy facebook page

4) tell us how many baby birds are in your nest!

if you want your name entered all 4 times, make sure to leave a separate comment under this posting for each thing you have done (and just because i like to be specific, here’s an example: comment# 1-”i wrote a note on the bbh fb page” comment #2-”i’m a google follower” comment #3 “liked ROALM fb page” comment #4: “i have 2 precious little birds in my nest!”)

contest will end 3 weeks from today, july 21st.

now as you can imagine, my right hand is indeed quite tired, and my baby boy is quite asleep and my left arm is quite ready to lay him down.

good luck to all who enter, and once again…CONGRATULATIONS KAITLIN!!!

we all in the BBH community appreciate and are so happy for you! HAPPY BABYMOON!

enjoy falling in love with your sweet little Lucan tonight.

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Melody blogs at “Ramblings of a Lovesick Mommy,” where she likes to record all of the adventures she has with her little family (which includes her husband and 2 sons, dog, 14 hens, and whatever lizards or frogs her toddler wants to catch that day). Her 2nd son was born at home, and the BBH community played a very encouraging role throughout her pregnancy.


Guest Writers, Home Birth Advocacy, Motherhood

Clearly Communicate About Your Baby Moon

14 Comments 22 May 2011

A babymoon is a period of time that parents spend bonding with a recently-born baby.

The biggest mistake I made when my daughter was born was that I was not excruciatingly clear to my parents about our post-partum needs and wants.

This one mistake has had reverberating effects on my immediate and extended family. It clouded one of the most precious and sacred times in our lives, and emotionally wounded my wife, Madhavi. It is now 15 months later, and we are still struggling with this. Madhavi is still healing from those wounds.

Why We Wanted A “Baby Moon”

Some friends had expressed regret in not keeping visitors at bay in those first few weeks after their baby was born. Our midwives recommended a “baby moon,” and many other books and online resources echoed that sentiment. Madhavi and I really cherished the idea of having private time as new parents, with our new baby.

After all, those first weeks are a pretty upside-down and crazy time.

The new mom has just gone through this intense rite of passage. Mom and dad are both suddenly thrust into taking care of this very tiny, very helpless new creature. Mom is getting the hang of breastfeeding. She is also healing and resting. Mom and dad are suddenly patternless in terms of sleeping and eating.

So, we decided we wanted a baby moon. And though we had not defined a set amount of time for the baby moon, we knew we needed time. Unfortunately, because I did not have a set time in mind, I poorly conveyed this to my parents.

How To Be Unclear and NOT Establish Boundaries

Just prior to the birth, a conversation between me and my parents went something like this:

Me: So…We’re going to have a period of time–a few days at least–where we have no visitors.

Mom: (Seeming a little confused). Okay…But…We’ll get to see the baby, right? It’s okay if we come, right?

Me: (In a sort of hesitant tone) Well…No. I mean, we’re not having any visitors. We really need some time alone with the baby…To get used to everything.

Mom: (Seeming a bit upset) How long will it be until we get to see the baby?

Me: At least a couple of days. I don’t know at this point. But we’ll let you know.

That, right there, was the problem. I didn’t let them know!

Had I simply said to them, “We need one week,” or “At least one week, and probably two,” everything would have been clear. My parents would have been upset, but the repercussions would have been localized to a short period of time, rather than blowing up into an ongoing monkey wrench in our relationship.

What Ensued Was This…

Shortly after Anjali was born, it was clear that my parent’s excitement and desire to see Anjali would to take precedence over our previously stated wants and needs.

My parents kept calling to check in. This is understandable, and I know it came from a place of love. I, was so thrilled about the birth, and was glad to share with them. However, after a couple of days, they were asking when they could come. And they kept asking.

We were not ready.

Madhavi was healing. She was pretty exhausted. And, although she was fortunate enough to have an intense-but-not-really-painful-birth (hooray for hypnosis and affirmations recordings!) the post-partum healing was painful for her. There was no comfortable position to be in. Add to that the challenges of nursing for a new mom. It’s a lot to deal with. The last thing she needed was her in-laws to be beating down the door, asking to see the baby.

Here’s My Mistake Number Two:

If my parents were understandably excited and overly persistent, I was being vague.

When my parents asked when they could come, I said things like, “Let’s talk tomorrow and we’ll see.” I should have said, “We will let you know when we are ready.” That may not have been what they wanted to hear; they may have been put off by it. However, it would have been very clear.

Rather than setting clear boundaries, I kept stringing them along.

This put a lot of undue pressure on Madhavi. She felt like she was being pushed to heal faster, or just deal with it because it’s family. That kind of pressure probably undermines the healing process. At the least, putting that kind of pressure on a new mom who has just birthed a baby is totally unfair and insensitive.

What was really hurtful was that my parents were making this about them seeing Anjali. It seemed their only concern was to see the baby. They weren’t saying, “What can we do to help Madhavi and you? Can we bring a meal or something?” They weren’t offering to help.

Think of how that made Madhavi feel.

All that she went through, growing and birthing Anjali. And now, in one of the most precious and important times for a mother and baby to bond, Madhavi was made to feel like she was just some woman who birthed their granddaughter.

Things Came To A Head

We finally made plans for my parents to come over, a week after Anjali was born.

On that day, Madhavi was really not feeling well, and we decided to postpone their visit. My parents were really upset with us, and said some extremely hurtful things. They didn’t express understanding at all. Instead, my mom over-dramatically said, “Oh…I’m so upset,” and got off of the phone. Then my dad said, among other things, “This doesn’t happen in other families.”

My dad proceeded to question Madhavi’s ability to heal, saying that she should go to a doctor if she is having trouble healing. This was completely insensitive to the fact that Madhavi just gave birth. It also showed that they were oblivious to how great our midwives care was.

I wish they would have said something more supportive.

Like, “Let us know when you are ready,” or, “Is there any way we can help?” Instead, I felt pressured into explaining Madhavi’s personal health details.

We all had a long phone discussion at some point in week two. We worked out some of the miscommunication and misunderstanding. By the end of that second week, we were ready to have visitors, and my parents came to visit.

As I said before, we are still healing from these emotional wounds. It has put a huge strain on our relationship with my parents, and sometimes it’s hard to say if the wounds will ever heal for Madhavi.

I love my parents, and in no way mean to bad mouth them.

They have a different paradigm for the birth experience.

They knew very little about home birth, or midwife care. I know their intentions were not malicious. I think new grandparents are so thrilled about their grandchild that they overlook the parents’ wishes. That’s why it’s so important for the new parents to be clear about their feelings and wishes.

Learn From My Mistakes, Please!

I will never make those mistakes again. I do realize that it’s not entirely my fault. I just wish I could take it back.

Writing this has been therapeutic. Hopefully you can learn from my mistakes. I highly suggest you and your birth partner put some thought into what you want post-partum, and be clear about that with others–even family. Set boundaries before the birth, to save you, your friends and family undue misunderstandings and heartache after the birth.

Those first few weeks are sacred, and you can never get them back.

You are meeting your baby for the first time. You are learning about one another. You are learning your baby’s cues and patterns. Your baby needs to be close to you, physically and emotionally.

Sleep and nap with your baby. Build a family cocoon. Enjoy every sacred moment, uninterrupted. The rest of the world, including your parents and closest friends, will have plenty of time to catch up to you.

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Jeremy Dyen is a musician, father and husband who blogs at Stay at Home Papa. He and his wife Madhavi are advocates of hypnosis and affirmations for mindset shifts about birth, and they even created a free hypnosis mp3 download available at Fear Free Birth.

Guest Writers, Home Birth Advocacy

A Physician’s Home Birth Presentation to the Board of Medicine

19 Comments 11 May 2011

a guest post by Madhavi

I had the honor of making a consumer presentation to the Pennsylvanian Board of Medicine on behalf of Certified Professional Midwives for their appeal for licensure in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Currently, there are no laws, therefore no regulation, regarding CPMs in Pennsylvania. Access to a midwife CPM is the right of every woman who desires it. This was my presentation to the Board.

In February of this year, in attendance with my husband, I delivered a beautiful baby girl.

While obtaining care from an obstetrician and preparing to deliver in a hospital, we found that the journey to our baby’s delivery took some unexpected turns.

You see, as a board-certified and fellowship-trained physician, I had only been exposed to birth in a hospital setting. I did not realize that there was any other option. However, after much research, reading, and asking questions, at 34 weeks pregnant, we made the decision to have a home birth.

Of course, the number one goal for us was safety for me and my baby.

I wanted a natural birth, but we discovered that there is a terribly high cesarean rate in the US. The cesarean rate at many of the hospitals in the Philadelphia area alone is higher than 35%, yet the cesarean rate around the world is approximately 10%, partly due to the Midwife Model of Care.

A hospital is a good place to be if you are ill or if you need specialized care.

After all, it is the place where I have worked for over 15 years. But, pregnancy and birth are natural physiological events. All births do not need to be performed in the hospital.

So to my husband and I, the real question about safety was not, “Do we want to have a pleasant birth at home or safe birth in a hospital?” It was “Do we want to birth at home and run the very small risk of an emergency that might, but not necessarily, be handled better in a hospital, or do we wish to give birth in a hospital with its additional stress and the likelihood of an intervention?”

It became clear that birthing at home with certified professional midwives was the best choice for us.

We chose to have a home birth with certified professional midwives for other reasons too.

Among them were the certified professional midwife’s expertise and specialized training in working outside the hospital setting for birth, the thoroughness of care, the continuity of care, and the postpartum support for both me and my baby. As a health care provider, I make a conscious effort to provide exceptional care for my patients. Therefore, I am in a unique place to evaluate other providers as a health care consumer.

I continue to be impressed by the highest professional level of care that I have received from my midwives.

Each visit lasted an hour in face to face time of counseling. In each visit, my physical health was addressed in many facets. We went over nutrition, exercise, my psychological health and our preparedness for our baby’s arrival.

For continuity, I liked that the same health providers that cared for me during my pregnancy were going to be the same health providers that would be present during the delivery of my child -the same two midwives from beginning to end. There were no shift changes. We saw one of our two midwives at every visit.

After the birth of my daughter, the midwives did a home visit every other day and checked in by phone on the other days.

They followed us closely for six weeks, providing breastfeeding support and postpartum physical and psychological support. They did well-child visits for my baby. They were available to us on call at any hour. They answered questions every new parent has about her baby. In short, they provided the framework that is so important for the start of a new family.

Of course, we prepared for the upcoming birth in the visits as much as possible.

We asked what would happen in the event of an emergency. We saw the emergency equipment that the midwives brought to every birth, and were comforted by the knowledge that our midwives were prepared for transfer to the nearest hospital in case of any problem.

In the end, I gave birth in the comfort and safety of my own home, surrounded by people whom I love.

In this regard, our daughter was born in a loving place.

And I WAS much more comfortable at home. I was not flat on my back, feet in stirrups, attached to catheters, IV’s and monitors. I could walk around until it was time for the actual birth.

Lastly, by choosing homebirth, we were immediately part of a larger community.

This community consists of other women who have given birth at home. We are urban, educated women, as are our families. We are lawyers, physicians, teachers, engineers and artists. We want the very best for our babies and our families and in larger numbers each year, we are choosing certified professional midwives in our communities as our care providers for planned homebirths.

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Madhavi Gupta is a mother and a board certified neurologist specializing in Headache Medicine. She and her husband, Jeremy, are advocates of hypnosis and affirmations for mindset shifts about birth, which you can read about at DyenFamily.com They even created a free hypnosis mp3 download available at Fear Free Birth

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Breastfeeding, Guest Writers, Reviews

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding | Book Review

No Comments 03 May 2011

book review by Cindy Lerner

If there was one single book that I wish I had read before having my first child it would be The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.

Not only does this book cover
breastfeeding, it will guide expecting moms in how to prepare for breastfeeding, how to…

get the proper support, what role birth plays in your breastfeeding relationship, what to expect in each stage of the baby’s development, sleeping, weaning, solid foods, solutions for working moms, pumping, and special situations (multiples, preemies, etc).

Overall, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding can be described as:

a comprehensive guide to being a mother while supporting each mother’s individual choices and encouraging her to continue with breastfeeding in all circumstances.

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (La Leche League International Book) is so much more than a book about how, when or why one should breastfeed.

It holds the encouraging words that every mother needs to read over and over again.

Whether you get ideas and information from our book, from research, or from talking to other mothers, you know yourself, your baby and your family better than anyone else. Just as mothers always have.

Guest Writers

Is Your Birth Partner Supportive?

12 Comments 22 April 2011

a guest post by Jeremy Dyen

Where I’m Coming From

My wife, Madhavi, planned on a hospital birth.

She had it in her head that she would get an epidural to deal with what she assumed would be the most painful thing in her life. She also worked in a hospital as a physician for years, so this was a familiar setting for her. I’m pretty sure most of her friends and colleagues had hospital births. Hospital birth is what she new. She didn’t even realize birthing at home was an option.

As a pusher of things natural, I asked her what she thought about a natural birth. She wasn’t into it. Her paradigm was a hospital birth with an epidural, and whatever typical interventions were “necessary” for a safe and least painful birth. I was supportive of that.

The coolest thing happened.

In her last trimester, she decided to switch to a home birth. Of course, that decision didn’t come over night. There was a lot of learning, talking to home birth friends, a doula, midwives, and mindset changes that occurred, though it really happened in a short amount of time. When she told me she wanted a home birth, I was totally supportive of that.

I think that if my wife said she wanted to give birth on the moon, I would have been supportive (though I don’t know if gravity would have worked as well there!).

After all, it’s her birth and her body. She is the one growing and carrying the baby. She is the one going through plenty of physical, hormonal and psychological changes. She is the one physically going through this intense rite of passage.

Men Have A Voice, But It’s Ultimately A Woman’s Decision

Yes, of course it’s my baby too, and I do have plenty of things to say. I have plenty of opinions and suggestions–both educated and intuitive. But, ultimately, it is her decisions. I am there to give support to her in the most positive and beneficial ways I can.

I had to trust Madhavi’s decision, as an intuitive mother, a critical thinker, as my wife and as a doctor. I also had to trust our midwives as experienced, knowledgeable, supportive and loving. As we read more, as we talked more with our friends, and as we met with our midwives, the more I realized how amazing the experience would be.

With Education Comes Peace Of Mind

In fact, I was really happy and really into the home birth. I’ll admit I was a bit anxious about it, but that’s mainly because I didn’t know much about it. Fear often comes from lack of knowledge. In my case, as supportive as I was, there was still plenty I didn’t know, so I was secretly freaked out on occasion–wondering if everything would be okay.

I remember getting butterflies sometimes, when I would think about my wife’s birthing day. I had questions. Would the baby be healthy? Would it be too painful for Madhavi? Will I be calm and confident? What if we need to go to the hospital? What if something goes wrong? But these thoughts didn’t shake my unwavering support for Madhavi’s choice, and my strong belief that homebirth was the best choice.

Watching “The Business Of Being Born,” was a real eye-opener. Among other things, that movie gives a fantastic history of birth, and how it got usurped by the medical establishment. That movie opened up a lot of things for us, in terms of learning about childbirth, and realizing how deep the medical mindset was for us. From there, we read books, searched online, and talked to close friends about their homebirth experience. The more I learned, the more comfortable I felt, and even looked forward to the experience.

More Mindset Shifts

I was totally down with the guided hypnosis CDs my wife was listening to. I listened too. I was totally into the whole mindset shift–the positive thinking, blocking out of negative thoughts and images, the birth tub, prenatal yoga, nesting and preparing the house…All of it! Honestly, it gave me a better sense of connection, both to my wife and to my daughter. It gave me a better connection to myself, to the process of life and to our ancestors who went through this process.

My Experience Has Blinded Me A Bit To The Mainstream Birth Partner

I think the small community that has been created by and around our midwife and our home birth friends, has blinded me a bit to how a lot of husbands can be. My wife was telling me about our friends who are having a home birth with their second baby. In the first meeting with their midwife, her husband was being very directive and overly critical–telling the her that she need to do this and that.

Worse still, I read and hear about dads that are completely unsupportive of a home birth, or pretty much deny their wives the right to make the decision. They feel it’s unsafe. Like so many women that have deep fears about birth, these husbands hold that belief that the hospital is the safest, and perhaps only, place a woman should give birth.

I think it’s natural for husbands to be protective. It’s just unfortunate when our protective nature gets in the way, thus undermining the very protection we’re trying to provide.

In a society that has overly medicalized birth, it’s no wonder expectant fathers have fears about birth. In other words, birth is thought of as a medical procedure, so doctors must know best. Most women don’t really know much about birth, so it’s no wonder men know even less. There’s a lot of stuff out there about women grappling with fears about birth, but not nearly as much about helping men cope with it. There aren’t a lot of websites, groups or forums for men to share their experiences about birth.

Fear is thus perpetuated through lack of education, and lack of community. That’s why I needed to write this post. Then again, maybe I’m preaching to the choir a bit. Maybe I find a way to reach those that are on the opposite end of the spectrum.

How you might gain more support from an otherwise an un-supportive husband:

Although your emotional and intuitive reasons for wanting a home birth should be good enough, men often need well-thought-out and logical reasons. So, that being said…

  • Find studies showing the benefits and safety of home birth. Men like proof and facts. Just present these things in a digestible way, rather than pointing to 50 links with long articles or studies. Here is a good place to start: http://www.homebirth.org.uk/
  • Quote any reputable physicians or OBs that support home birth. Stuff like this: “The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (RCOG) support home birth for women with uncomplicated pregnancies. There is no reason why home birth should not be offered to women at low risk of complications and it may confer considerable benefits for them and their families. There is ample evidence showing that laboring at home increases a woman’s likelihood of a birth that is both satisfying and safe, with implications for her health and that of her baby.”
  • Help your husband understand that this is your body and your pregnancy, and that what he can do to ensure your baby’s and your health and safety is to support you wholly in the decision to home birth. At the same time, don’t shut him out. Listen to his point of view and take things into consideration. Open Communication is the key to finding common ground and resolution.
  • Work on a thorough birth plan with him that accounts for what will happen in the event that you need a hospital transfer. Including him in the plan will give him a better sense of control.
  • Explain how much more relaxed and comfortable you will be at home, and that birthing in a stressful environment like the hospital puts you more at risk. Explain how much more relaxed and comfortable he will be at home as well.
  • Watch The Business Of Being Born with him.
  • Remind him that hospitals are festering with germs and bacteria, which is the last place you actually want a newborn baby who has a yet-developed immune system.
  • Get him the Home birth Dads DVD and/or The Father’s Home Birth Handbook. I didn’t see the DVD, but the Father’s Home Birth Handbook was great. Reading actual stories from a dad’s perspective is helpful and inspiring. Your husband likely isn’t surrounded by a community of home birth-experienced dads, so opening him up to that world may be really helpful in building his confidence.
  • Find a birth education class that is supportive of natural childbirth. The more your husband is exposed to the process, the better he will be able to support and understand you. He will also gain that community interaction with other natural and/or home birth parents.
  • If you have friends that have home birthed, or are planning a home birth, talk with them. Talking to one of my good friends about homebirth is something I value so much. The conversations we had made it all real, and in the most positive way. Now we share a lot of the same parenting ideas too: AP, cloth diapering, EC, baby-led eating, etc.

By the way, I’m not trying to brag about my being a supportive husband.

I’m just curious to know more about the mentality of the unsupportive husbands, or the husbands that are supportive, but are maybe outspoken about certain things they don’t like about a homebirth. Is it that they just hold onto their beliefs, without learning the facts about it? Is it that many men just have this overly-protective nature.

I’m really curious about what the readers and contributors at Bring Birth Home have experienced with their birth partners.

Were/Are they totally supportive and involved? Were they against certain choices you made? Were there things you wanted that you had to battle for? Were there things you had to give up because your birth partner just wasn’t down with them? I’d love to hear from you!

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Jeremy Dyen is a musician, father and husband who blogs at Stay at Home Papa. He and his wife Madhavi are advocates of hypnosis and affirmations for mindset shifts about birth, and they even created a free hypnosis mp3 download available at Fear Free Birth.

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