Beautiful is the only word that comes to my mind!


Click here for a great birth story.  I love the stranger that gave her encouragement.  What a contrast to her family and friends who were skeptical.  Honestly though, I’ve been there! I’ve been that person that doubted a mom’s ability to have a natural childbirth.  Well, I know better now!  I believe you can do anything you put your mind to, and prepare well for.

Anyways, enjoy the birth story, and have a Happy Easter!

on epidurals


I was talking about my new doula career path with a friend of mine the other day.  She said, “it’s sounds like you want to go all natural.  I want pain medication as soon as I walk in the door.”  She’s obviously not alone.  About 70% of laboring women choose to get an epidural.

The biggest benefit of the epidural is that it takes the pain away.  However, epidurals don’t work in 5% of women.  Another 15% only experience partial pain relief.

The biggest downside is that getting an epidural starts the cascade of interventions in labor.

You may not be able to pass urine so you will have to have a catheter inserted.  Also, you will need an IV inserted if you didn’t have one before.  You are much less likely to be mobile after an epidural.  In most cases, you will have to spend the rest of your labor in bed!  Getting an epidural slows labor down, so you will be given pitocin.  If you have an epidural, you may not be able to push effectively, so you may need the aid of a vacuum extractor during the pushing stage.  I’m sure there are many more that I’m forgetting!

I believe that epidurals are better used as a last resort, i.e. when mom has truly had a long and exhausting labor.  Take  Leila Ali’s childbirth experience as an example.  I’ve heard many birth stories where the epidural truly helped mom to get rest so that she would be able to enjoy the moment of birth and first few hours, when she may have been too tired otherwise.  It is also an option available to a mom when labor stalls.  If a mom “going natural” stalls, an epidural is one of the options available to her.  If a mom who got the “epidural upon arrival” stalls in labor, she’s running out of options.

At doula training, we learned that we do not make decisions for our clients and we do not judge our clients.  And we need to support our clients in whatever decisions they make.  There are many ways to support a laboring mother who has had an epidural, including:

  • comforting touch
  • emotional support
  • validation that mom made the right choice
  • encouraging mom to speak up if needed
  • discussing and alleviating any fears

How can you get through labor without an epidural?!  Take a childbirth education class.  Labor at home as long as you are allowed.  Move around.  Change positions.  Learn breathing and relaxation techniques.  Get a birth doula! 🙂

Most importantly, remember that the epidural decision is up to you.

My husband’s grandmother shared with me all about how she became a pioneer of natural childbirth.  She had her first son the way everyone birthed in the 1950’s.  She was given a spinal (a precursor of today’s spinals and epidurals) and had a terrible headache for a week after the birth.  She wasn’t really given an option.  With her next, she specifically requested to have no drugs or medications until they were needed.  Someone put a gas mask on her right after that, so obviously her request was ignored.

Then came Dr. Grantly Dick Read’s Childbirth Without Fear.  My grandmother read this book, and knew that there was a better way.  She started up childbirth education classes in her area, which taught exercises, relaxation, and breathing techniques to prepare your body for birthing.  She found another doctor who would allow her to birth without taking any medication.  She said that after her third birth, she could have “flown out of the delivery room”, that’s how incredible she felt!  She went on to have 3 more medication free birth experiences.  For the last one, my grandfather was allowed to be there!

In order to be certified as a doula with DONA, one of the requirements is to observe a childbirth education class series.  I have been observing a Bradley Method class on Friday nights.  I was telling my grandmother about this Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth class that I’m taking.  She said, “Dr. Bradley, from Colorado? Oh, we had him fly out to speak at one of our childbirth education classes.”

How incredible is that?!

I’m so proud of the work she did to educate others about childbirth! I’m also glad that today we have options available to us that women did not have 50 years ago.

… and I love it!  I’ll share juicy tidbits when I return!

Also, I’m thinking about going to the Le Leche League meeting Monday night (Hollywood Birth Center, 7:00-8:30 PM).  Would anyone like to join me?

If you are having a baby in a Florida hospital, bookmark this website:

When you get to the site, in the search window, type “Cesarean”.

The first result is a spreadsheet of all Florida hospitals and their Cesarean birth rates.  This is excellent information to know!  However, it lumps all Cesarean births together.  These numbers include primary and repeat Cesarean births.

This link contains information up through 2004, but it separates out primary cesareans (first timers), repeat cesareans, and includes numbers of VBACs at each hospital!
For other states, start your search here.  If your state isn’t listed, google it!

It all started with a blog called Dooce. She’s a blogger who struggled with postpartum depression after the birth of her first daughter.   She normally whines blogs about everyday things like stubbing her toe, and breaking bones while skiing.  So when she had her second daughter, and had a natural childbirth, I was intrigued! How was she able to manage that?! Her birth story is in three parts. Click here for part one, here for part two, and here for part three.  (FYI: she uses foul language at times, but it’s a great read.)

Once the stitching was done and they moved the bed so that I was sitting up, I guess the hormones kicked in, or maybe it was the sharp contrast of going from that amount of pain to none at all, but I was totally high. Like, ten lines of cocaine high.HIGH. And that feeling was so strong and lasted so long that for two days straight all I did was stare at that baby and fall madly, deeply, ferociously in love.

That was probably the first time I had ever heard of a doula.  At first, I was curious for my own future childbirth experiences.  But this quickly turned into a passion.  Ever since then, I’ve been yearning for more info about childbirth! Now, my joy is in sharing everything that I learn with others. 🙂

Remember when I suggest bringing goodies for the nurses? Well may I suggest making these.   Apparently it worked for Deb.  She made them ahead of time, and froze them, and then brought them to the hospital!  The nurses loved it.

The best part is… they are delicioso!

Check out this excellent post by Ob/Gyn Kenobi, an OBGYN doctor and blogger.

It’s true that many in the natural childbirth community routinely bash doctors.  Is all of this bashing justified? While I know moms who have had bad childbirth experiences with their OB, I also know of moms that had wonderful experiences with their OB.  The most important thing is that YOU are getting the service that YOU want.  Here are a few questions to ask yourself about your caregiver (OBGYN, family practice doctor, or midwife) to make sure that you are satisfied:

  • Does your caregiver listen to your concerns?
  • Is the caregiver impatient and defensive with you, or open and comfortable with your questions?
  • Does your caregiver encourage you to educate yourself?
  • Does this person inspire your confidence and trust?

(Some of these questions are from Penny Simkin’s book “Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn“.  Highly recommended!)

Not all doctors are evil, and not all midwives are saints.  Make sure your health care provider is a good one.

Everyone knows someone who knows someone who works in a labor and delivery unit at a hospital.  Unfortunately, these people may not be as knowledgeable about childbirth as you would think they should be!

I remember when I decided I wanted to do something in the field of childbirth.  I mentioned this to a nurse friend of mine.  I told her that I would like to become a childbirth educator or a doula one day.  She casually replied that at her hospital, all the childbirth educators are nurses.  I left feeling so discouraged!  She had no idea of the world of independent childbirth education classes available to expecting parents!

While observing a Bradley childbirth class, one of the students had a cousin who works at the hospital where she would be delivering.  She was working out the details of her birth plan, and called her cousin for advice on if her requests would be honored by the nursing staff.  Her cousin began to doubt this woman’s plan for a natural childbirth! She said she’s never even seen a mom deliver a baby without medication before.

These nurses don’t mean any harm.  They are just relating what they know- which is what they were taught in school, and at the hospital.  The procedures they abide by every day are ingrained into them.  They don’t realize that what they know of as birth doesn’t have to be the only way a birth can happen!

On the other hand, maybe things are changing.  A friend of mine just finished nursing school, and her favorite rotation was OB.  We were discussing childbirth, and she seemed confident that when she gave birth she was going to have a great experience.  She said, “It’s all about your birth plan!  The hospital staff should know to do everything according to what’s on your birth plan!”  It’s good to know that student nurses are taught that!

One important aspect of having a good hospital experience is to make sure the nurses are on your side.  Many moms and dads actually bring goodies such as brownies or bagels & coffee for the nursing staff.  One of my favorite blogs At Your Cervix (a labor and delivery nurse) says that the nurses at her hospital really root for moms “going natural”.  And if you find yourself with a nurse that you don’t get along with, speak with the nurse in charge, and ask for a new nurse.  After all, it is your birthing time!