Category Archives: childbirth

My first Vbac!

I got called by my client’s husband at 4pm on Sept. 15th letting me know that my client was in labor…and had been for the last 24 hours. She was experiencing contractions that were entirely random in both their timing and length. They had just gotten back from the hospital where she had been labeled as 4-5 cm dilated and received a prescription for 1 Ambien to be taken at 10pm that night.

While I had been expecting their call to come sometime within the next week, I was pretty surprised to learn that she was already so far dilated. I offered my assistance, but they politely declined preferring to continue laboring just the two of them until the contractions came closer together. I could tell in the husband’s voice that my client must be feeling a bit down…the start of this birth was mimicing her previous birth EXACTLY, and she felt that she was going to end up with another 50 hour labor ending in a C-section. I offered tons of emotional support over the phone choosing to focus on the fact that she was nearly halfway through already!

Around 9pm, I called my clients to check-in. They were much happier and felt like she was relaxing really well through her contractions. She had passed her “bloody show”, and was feeling that her contractions, while still coming with no pattern, were doing work in bringing the baby down and opening her cervix. She had decided to take her ambien at 9:30pm, and they were about to bed down for the night.

At midnight, I got a call from my client’s mother (who had been watching their son) letting me know that they had already left for the hospital because my client was feeling the urge to push! Her last words out the door were, “I don’t think I’m going to make it!”

Needless to say, I threw on some clothes grabbed my bag and was at the hospital in 10min. I arrived about 5 min. before the midwife, and the nurses and I worked hard to keep my client from pushing! She arrived to the hospital complete at 10cm dilation, 100% effacement, and +2 station. When the midwife arrived my client gave one practice push and brought the baby’s head down low enough for us to see its hair! After a few more pushes…I’d say no more than 6, she birthed a beautiful baby girl. The whole thing took less than an hour!

This was my first vaginal birth, and I cannot get the image of that sweet little baby first entering this world out of my mind. I was helping to hold back one of my client’s legs, so I was able to witness the turning of the baby’s head and everything! It’s amazing how unearthly babies look when they first emerge from the birth canal–so purple and alien-like. Give them a minute or two, and they’ll pink up and begin to breathe as though they’ve alwasys been earthside!

I stayed for another hour or so to help with breastfeeding and then my job was done! How about that for an easy client? I had my first postnatal appt. with her today, and I’m still beaming over how pleased she is with her vbac! She never actually believed that she could do it, and now here she is 3 days after her birth literally skipping after her older son while her new daughter sleeps in Daddy’s arms. Absolutely wonderful!




Filed under Birth Stories, childbirth, Doula, Uncategorized

Empowered Birth vs. Empowered BY birth

The interesting thing about the natural childbirth movement (of which I strongly support) is that it often fails to differentiate between empowered birthing and the empowerment gained FROM ones birth. We tend to treat the two as the same thing when we discuss natural childbirth, and in our fervor, we fail to mention that it is entirely possible to have one WITHOUT the other. Instead, we refer to natural childbirth as “empowering” the woman and bringing “empowerment” to women everywhere. But, what exactly do we mean?

I’ve thought about this quite a bit lately, and it is my belief that we lump empowered birth and empowerment BY birth into the same phrase of  “empowering women”. I think we choose to use one phrase because in today’s society they ARE the same thing. In the current day where entering a hospital with a normal, healthy pregnancy increases ones risk of unnecessary medical interventions, we hope to educate women so that they might be “empowered” to make the birth choices that are correct for them. In turn, we hope that these women will experience a birth that is fulfilling TO THEM…thereby granting them a feeling of empowerment (increased self-worth, a powerful sense of accomplishment, and a revelry in her role as a woman).

I feel particularly strongly about increasing the education women receive with regards to the variety of birth choices that may impact their birth experience. Too many women simply go along with whatever their doctors dish out without QUESTIONING him or her. So many women end up in uninformed situations where they have no one to trust other than their doctor…their doctor who has been trained to treat emergencies…their doctor who is  a SURGEON first and foremost. A doctor who has no reason OR time to allow them to labor naturally…to provide them with alternative pain relief, and the solemn support of a midwife or doula. For these women, natural birth is a hard achievement…and often impossible. Some of these women go one to have traumatic births and are left with a sense of loss-the loss of their birth experience…and there is no empowerment in this.

For others, they may have what “normal” culture deems a ‘normal’ birth: labor naturally to 4-5 cm, receive an epidural, deliver vaginally with no complications, but they will still feel dissatisfied with their birth. Perhaps they would have felt a stronger sense of entitlement over their birth if they had managed it naturally. Perhaps they did not educate themselves enough to KNOW of these alternatives. Perhaps those they trusted to educate them failed them in their time of need. And, for these women, their is no empowerment in their birth experience.

By increasing the amount and quality of education that women receive prenatally, we empower women to take control of their births. We can inform them so that THEY can choose what happens to their bodies and their babies. If a woman receives unbiased, informative information regarding the epidural and its risks AND chooses it anyway, then SHE has made an empowered decision in her birth. I want this. I work towards THIS.

While I strongly believe that having an empowered birth (where the woman is educated in her choices and affirmatively controls what happens to her) will lead to a lasting feeling of empowerment BY her birth, I also believe that there are other ways to gain empowerment from birth. For some women, knowing that they have created life is enough. For them, there is nothing to be gained from a vaginal birth over a cesearean. Others only desire to birth vaginally…whatever happens past that point is meaningless as long as their baby is healthy. And, lastly, there are the women who are quite content to leave their birth and the health of their child in the hands of the qualified doctor they have chosen. While these births may happen in a variety of manners that I might not personally advocate, they all empower the women who choose them. These women are empowerd BY their birth.

So, have I made a mess of this distinction? Are we right to use one phrase/word to refer to such an ecompassing meaning? Have we alienated some women by our fervor? Or am I wrong to believe that we are actually referring to TWO separate ideas.

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Filed under Birth Preferences, C-section, childbirth, Homebirth, pregnancy, prenatal care, Uncategorized

The Birth Spectrum

Births occur on a hugely ‘unknown’ basis. I think this is what can utterly terrify some people into opting for the controlled atmosphere of a hospital. There is no danger in a hospital of something going terribly out of control…and if by some mad chance it DID, well, then there are doctors who are trained to react in just such occasions within easy reach.

For other people, the unkown of birth can mean a triumph where one could never have been foreseen.

A friend of mine was relaying the story of  her sister who had an unneccessary C-section with her first child. This same woman switched caretakers, adopted the Bradley Method of childbirth, and vaginally birthed her 2nd and 3rd children. Despite her proven ability to birth, this woman was talked into birthing her 2nd and 3rd children in the local hospital where she was forced to undergo all the medical interventions deemed ‘necessary’ by her attending doctors. For her 4th and final child, she chose to homebirth. Despite all their best preparations, her 4th child came too quickly and was delivered by his father in the family’s living room. The midwife arrived to the cries of wonderfully healthy baby boy who had been welcomed into this world in the most natural way possible. This woman feels like a warrior and thanks to the huge ‘unknown’ of birth has reclaimed her birthing rights. She no longer doubts her ability as a woman to bring a child into this life…and that is wonderful.


Filed under Birth Preferences, Birth Stories, C-section, childbirth, Homebirth

Free Book of Birth Stories!

Sheri Menelli is offering the digital (pdf) copy of her book Journey into Motherhood for free! The book is a collection of 48 inspirational birth stories that are meant to empower women to take charge of their own birth experiences. She is also offering the hard copy version of her book for only $5 in the hopes that this collection will become as popular as the ‘DREADED’ What to Expect series. You can read more about it as well as download the pdf here.

I just found this today, and I can’t wait to start reading! I’ve heard that it’s an exciting read!

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Filed under Birth Preferences, Birth Stories, childbirth, Homebirth, pregnancy, prenatal care

Red Rasberry Leaf Tea

Red Rasberry Leaf tea was introduced to me during my pregnancy with Kaius as a sure way of “exercising” my uterus from the 2nd trimester on. The idea (as I understood it at the time) was that my uterus would then be toned and prepared for the physical trials of childbirth thereby shortening the length of my labor. Obviously I couldn’t pass up a labor shortening trick as easy as drinking a cup or two of tea a day, so I PROMISE you that I faithfully drank…and drank. I ended up with a 46 hour labor that was augmented with pitocin…not the “shortened” labor I had imagined.

Now, I’d like to revisit Red Rasberry Leaf tea and it’s supposed affect upon the length of a woman’s labor. I’ve found two studies conducted by a group of midwives at Syndney’s Westmead Hospital, Australia.

1. The first study was done retrospectively over a 6 month time period and basically involved a comparison of the prenatal, birth, and postnatal histories of 108 women during that time span. The women were self-selected with 57 (52.8%) admitting to taking Red Rasberry Leaf supplements in the form of a pill or tea. Most of the women began supplementing with Red Rasberry Leaf between 28-34 weeks, but a few began as early as 8 weeks. The study concluded that their were no side affects from the Leaf and suggested that it may help to prevent miscarriage and post-dates deliveries. It also found that the women who consumed Red Rasberry Leaf tea were less likely to require a C-section, forceps, vacuum extraction, and/or artificial rupture of membranes.

2. This second study was conducted much more scientifically and had more surprising (and believable [to me]) results. The study was a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, trial of 192 first time mothers with an average age of 28.5 yrs. One group of women took Rasberry Leaf supplement in the form of pill (1200 mg/day) from 32 weeks until labor started. The control group took a placebo.

The study found that their were no side effects attributed to Red Rasberry Leaf and that it DID NOT significantly shorten the first stage of labor as had been indicated in earlier studies (and was what I was led to believe).  The study did find that the second stage of labor was shortened by about 10 minutes. It also led to a lower rate of forceps usage (19.3% vs 30.4%) and less chance of a C-section (62.4% vs. 50.6%).

(Both studies taken from:

Overall, it seems that Red Rasberry Leaf tea will not HARM you although it may not be as helpful to your labor and delivery as you may hope!


Filed under childbirth, Herbs, pregnancy, prenatal care, Scientific Studies, Uncategorized