What does “healthy mom/healthy baby” mean at NBBC?

It seems like a no brainer that the desired outcome for birth is a healthy mom and a healthy baby. Of course we want everyone healthy! However, in our conversations with patients, we’ve learned that this phrase has been used to shame and/or guilt mothers about their desires and feelings regarding their birth.

A mom asks a provider for delayed cord clamping at birth and presents information from an online search. The provider isn’t completely comfortable with it and expresses concern about her request, followed by, “I’m just trying to insure we have a healthy mom and healthy baby” as if the request is compromising that plan.

Or maybe a mom is experiencing deep emotions and expresses disappointment in her birth ending in a cesarean. She has a lot of questions about the sequence of events that led to that outcome and wants to discuss them with her care provider in order to help her process the birth and gain some closure. The care provider feels like his/her actions are being criticized and responds with, “At the end of the day, you are healthy and your baby is healthy and that is what really matters,” as if her emotions are unreasonable or overly dramatic.

At NBBC, we see the whole woman. We believe the whole woman is made up of mind, body and spirit and all of those realms need to be nurtured in order to be declared a “healthy woman.” With rates of postpartum depression rising, we believe it is important to address all of the dynamics of the birth that may affect the mom and the baby. These may be physical and emotional in nature. Regardless, they are equally important.

how you experience your birth

A woman’s experience of birth matters. She carries that experience into her first weeks of mothering and those emotions have a profound effect on her well-being. Even when birth doesn’t go as planned, informed decision-making and talking through the options, choices and processes can help a mom feel more at peace with her birth story. Listening to a mom’s story and validating her emotions are crucial to that healing process.

So when we say our desire is for a healthy mom and baby, we are talking about:

  • A mom who feels that she was an active participant in the decisions that were made during her birth.
  • A mom who is showing normal signs of physical recovery including pain management and breastfeeding support if needed.
  • A mom whose emotions and feelings are validated and addressed with referrals given for support if necessary.
  • A baby who is eating, gaining weight, urinating and having regular bowel movements.
  • A baby who after eating is relaxed and content.
  • A mom who feels that she and her baby are coping with the challenges of newborn/postpartum life.

When choosing a care provider, ask them for their definition of a healthy mom and baby and make sure it aligns with your philosophies and beliefs, because how you experience your birth affects your health.  

To get more information about birthing with our midwives at our birth center or in the hospital , call our office at 704-380-3722.

 

 

 

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The Birth of Eloise Camille

My pregnancy with Eloise was really beautiful and there are so many reasons and facets as to why. I’ve always felt so connected to my babies as I was growing them. Carrying the miracle of life within is such a beautiful experience and journey. I love everything about it.

If you haven’t read my previous birth stories you can read Everett’s here: https://amberdenaerhodes.wordpress.com/2014/09/01/everett-benjamin-rhodes-birth-story/ and Teddy’s here: https://amberdenaerhodes.wordpress.com/2017/05/13/teddys-birth-story/

Both of my boy’s births were very long, hard and arduous. Their positionings weren’t ideal and labor just felt so agonizingly long and impossible. I delivered them both naturally with incredible support but I was unable to birth either of them in the water as I had desired to because of the assistance that I needed. I began to wonder if something was wrong with my pelvis or if my body just didn’t labor “well”. Second babies were supposed to come a little quicker and with more ease, after all.

It’s amazing how your birth experiences change you. I don’t feel like the same person after having experienced so many things in my life but there is absolutely nothing like birthing your children. It undoubtedly marks you.

Teddy’s birth changed me. Something happened. I felt a shift. I knew I needed to begin to dig deep around that time in my life. It’s hard to explain. I’ve dealt with fear and anxiety much of my life. Could I perhaps be taking these feelings (even inadvertently) into my births? Am I holding onto something? Is there a reason it’s been so hard for me? As a birth worker, I’ve seen lots of different scenarios and I’ve studied physiological birth. I’ve sat with mamas for days, I’ve missed births because they happened so quickly and I’ve experienced those few hour births that happen so beautifully and quickly that they’re electrifying. I love seeing a mama have that experience. I love the elation. I love the oxytocin rush. I love the empowerment she feels in that moment especially when she gets exactly what she wants, be it a VBAC, natural birth, water birth etc. It’s so redeeming and beautiful to behold.

When I found out we were expecting Eloise, I knew I was going to approach things differently. I was very health conscious and did lots of prep for my boys but I knew I would be doing more inner work this pregnancy. Accepting. Releasing. Feeling. Mindfulness. Relaxing. Being.

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Instead of fearing a long and difficult labor, I began to visualize a redeeming one. Instead of feeling apprehensive about it or starting to dread it, I would embrace it and actually look forward to it. I did yoga, saw a chiropractor and my dear friend who is a massage therapist and specializes in prenatal care helped prepare me throughout my pregnancy, working on my ligaments, sacrum and pelvis and doing myofascial release. I wanted to give myself every chance possible to go into labor entirely natural (no castor oil, no membrane sweep, no pitocin etc), to honor my body and my daughter and let things happen when we were both ready.

My original due date based on my period was March 31 but they changed it to April 8 based on our measurements so I felt really good about timing and not feeling the pressure to “make it happen”.

Due date week rolled around and I was feeling amazing. The boys and I stayed active and I was really enjoying spending quality time with them. I had been having contractions for a couple of weeks at this point and sometimes they would rev up at night but then dwindle when I would fall asleep. I tried not to think much of it and just allow my body to do what it was doing. Whereas with my past pregnancies, I would get up and bounce on a ball until I tired myself out and get frustrated that nothing was happening.

I scheduled an in-home massage on April 6 with my friend, Christan. My mom asked to keep the boys that evening and so it seemed like a good time to have it done. Ben and I went out for a bite to eat at Bonefish beforehand since it was just the two of us and unbeknownst to us enjoyed what would be our last spontaneous date night before becoming parents of three!

Our car needed some work and so Ben planned to be in the garage while I was getting my massage. Christan arrived around 8:30 PM and began to set up. She brought me the sweetest gift, a painting she did of a photo of me pregnant with Eloise. The tears flowed and I just felt so much gratitude. She has walked through so much with me and painted some of the most beautiful pieces of art that contain rich symbolism in my life. It was incredibly special to receive this beautiful gift and the timing, more than appropriate. The massage was both healing and releasing. She kept saying things like “you’re releasing so well” and “you’re melting like butter”. Evidently that relaxin hormone was strong and doing its thing 🙂 She was with me for a good two hours and it was heavenly and I felt SO good afterward. My house smelled like clary sage and there was soft music playing and lamps lit. I was so relaxed and just excited to climb into bed and get a good nights sleep 🙂 And I did just that.

I woke up to empty my bladder at around 3 am and realized I was contracting again but it wasn’t anything that I couldn’t sleep through so I just went back to bed.

I awoke around 7 am to contractions. The house was so quiet and peaceful and so I perused downstairs, made myself a cup of herbal tea and sat on my exercise ball. I was loving the alone time as mornings are usually a bit of a chaotic time with an almost 4 yo and an almost 2 yo. Contractions were coming every 6-7 mins and lasting a good minute but nothing too crazy. I tried not to think much of it as I had been experiencing some prodromal labor weeks beforehand. I knew my body was gearing up for the real thing and that these were all happening as preparation and for good reason! But these felt different and I felt different. She felt closer.

Ben woke up around 9am and we chatted about grabbing breakfast. He mentioned going to his parents in Gastonia so his dad could help him install some new parts on the car because he didn’t have all the tools he needed. I looked at him kinda sideways and said, “maybe we should wait because I’ve been having some good contractions this morning and I feel like maybe something is happening.” So he waited to make any concrete plans.

Around 11:30 AM, I went to the bathroom and lo and behold, I had what would be my first ever ‘bloody show’ and sorry if this is TMI but was it ever a SHOW. I actually began to freak out internally a little bit because it wasn’t just a mucous plug and I hadn’t experienced that before. I yelled for Ben and told him to call our midwife, Nicole. Ben called her and she asked us to send her a photo to which she said she was ok with and that my cervix was probably thinning out but for us to be ready to leave if things get stronger quickly as the birth center is a 40 min drive from us.

I texted my birth team to give them a heads up as to what was going on. Meliea was on her way back from the beach. Christan stated that she would come whenever we needed her to. My dear friend, Brandee was doing a Spartan race and didn’t get my text until she finished around 3:30 PM and she ran home to shower so she would be ready to come and our photographer/videographer team was notified and they stated the same- let us know when you want us to come. I felt zero pressure from anyone and just felt love and support 💞

Contractions continued to come consistently but I felt really good and didn’t feel any sense of urgency. Ben began to pack the car and I walked out to the passenger seat covered in towels and a pair of gloves sitting on it. Ben has always had this desire to deliver one of our babies and was kind of secretly hoping for a car birth! Haha! We both had a good laugh. We decided to stop by my mom’s because I really wanted to see the boys. We were greeted with hugs and kisses from them and of course, I had a good little cry snuggling them. My mom really didn’t love the fact that I was in early labor and we were taking our sweet time to get to our place of birth and so she kinda rushed us out (with lots of love 😉 ).

We started toward Statesville and stopped to eat a late lunch at Jimmy Johns in Mooresville. We split a sub and upon going to the bathroom during a contraction, I experienced more bloody show. I knew in my heart that this was happening and that she was getting closer. Contractions were still a good distance apart but they were definitely getting stronger but not unbearable.

“Let’s go walk somewhere” I said to Ben. I had been texting with Nicole throughout the day to let her know where we were at with things and soon discovered that there were two laboring women at the birth center and that a room wasn’t available but that one was getting ready to deliver.

We arrived in Statesville and went to the mall which is completely desolate- we walked around for a little bit and Ben kept making me laugh which actually strengthened my contractions. If you’ve ever been to the Statesville mall, you can probably guess that we didn’t stay very long 😉 Ben suggested going to a TJ Maxx that was close by to get a little gift for the boys for when they meet their baby sister. We did that with Everett when Teddy was born and it was really sweet to have a “big brother” gift for him.

More contractions and more walking. Brandee called me and stated that she was on her way and that we should meet at Starbucks and maybe I could get a hot tea and relax some which seemed like a great idea. I kept telling Ben that I felt “too good” to be in labor. I texted the same to my midwife to which she replied “we’ve all been praying for you to have a smooth, quick labor!” Those words brought my heart so much peace.

As we were leaving TJ Maxx, Nicole texted me that they had delivered in one of the rooms and that we could come in whenever we wanted to!

We met up with Brandee at Starbucks, I got a hot tea and we spent a good hour talking while I was still contracting every 5-6 mins. But still, felt too good to be “in labor”.

We arrived at the birth center around 5pm and Nicole checked me. I was 4 1/2 cm and 60% effaced. Contractions continued consistently. I was actually in labor but still feeling just SO good. We chatted and shared laughs with the midwives and took our place in the waiting room until a room was made available. I sat on an exercise ball and rolled my hips through contractions.

Christan arrived shortly after and began doing some acupressure and massage in the waiting room of the birth center. I started my birth playlist and the song “Hold onto Hope” by Amy Stroup started playing. I looked up at Ben and he had tears in his eyes and said “oh why did you choose this song”. So then we both started crying and it was such a tender and sweet moment that I will never forget. So many emotions releasing. We were about to meet our first daughter. The anticipation was palpable.

We were settled into our birth room at around 7:00 PM. The same room we welcomed our Teddy in. Our amazing birth team was present. Essential oils were diffusing and our playlist was playing softly. It was such a peaceful environment and I was getting so eager to meet our sweet girl. Christan continued to do acupressure and some massage on me. It was tremendously helpful. My contractions were starting to intensify and get closer together.

I had my midwife check me again later in the evening and I was 5 cm but handling contractions well and still felt “too good” to be in labor. I actually began questioning if I was really in labor because I wasn’t in agony at this point. I laid down for a little while to rest in between contractions and used the peanut ball.

Soon after, I wanted to get in the water and so Meliea began to fill up the birth pool. I was really wanting to experience a water birth this time but didn’t want to get my hopes up too high. I actually waited for a little while to get in the water because I wanted to experience more pressure and intensity before I got in. I labored in the water for a little bit and then Nicole suggested I move to the toilet to have a few contractions at around 12:30 AM, I had her check me and I was 7cm! I remember having a few contractions in the bathroom that felt really intense and hard. I went from the toilet to hanging off of Ben’s shoulders and rocking my hips through the pressure.

I got back in the birth pool. My amazing birth team was making sure I stayed hydrated, fed and they seriously kept my spirits lifted. I honestly have so many fond memories of the moments we all shared in those last couple of hours. I didn’t want silence at all. I loved the conversations and laughter that ensued in between contractions. It helped me relax and focus. I also remember wanting to talk about my boys a lot. Ben and I were sharing stories about them and it really helped me to feel relaxed and at ease. The intensity really started to pick up and the pressure was starting to feel even more intense. I was talking myself through them by saying things like “this is good” and “open up. relax. breathe”. Basically repeating what Meliea and Nicole were saying to me. And intentionally believing it. I felt so present. I even wanted to feel how low her head was at one point and I did. It was amazing. I was so aware of what was happening and I felt safe, loved and cared for.

This was transition. It was hard and I knew pushing was close. It was coming and there was no way around it. Pushing has always been so hard for me. Historically (and unlike many others), pushing has not been my favorite. The ring of fire is real and I don’t like it. I could feel myself getting tense just thinking about it. I began to release the fear and accept that this was part of the process. I knew she was close. I could feel it.

But how long would it take for her to descend? How many times would I have to push?

Would she be born in the water?

Could I do it without assistance?

Was I capable?

A battle in my mind.

Release fear. Embrace peace.

A few more really hard contractions, more breaths, more relaxation, more self doubt, more releasing and more embracing.

An urge. I felt the pressure. I felt the urge to bear down. Fear. Doubt. Excitement. Peace.

“Can I push?”

“Yes, if you feel like you need to push, you can push!”

I leaned forward onto my hands and knees. I gave ONE push. I felt her head. Her head was OUT. In ONE push!

“Is that her head?” I leaned back. One more push.

1:41 AM

“Reach down and grab your baby”

Words I will never forget. Words that will never not make me cry.

I reached down and I pulled her precious tiny body up out of the water.

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Photo by Impressions Birth and Lifestyle Stories – Emily Quezada

“No way!”

“YOU DID IT!”

The most beautiful baby girl. She was earth-side. It was over. She was here. It wasn’t agonizing. It was beautiful. It was perfect. SHE WAS PERFECT.

“I did it! We did it, babe! She’s here! I had her in the water! You are a girl- OHHH you’re our girl! Oh Eloise!”

I couldn’t stop kissing her and smelling her. It seriously was electrifying. I looked up to see Ben wiping his precious tears as he met his first baby girl. I am always so moved at my husband’s reactions when he meets our babies. They’re burned into my memory forever. My heart has fallen more in love with him through each birth as he never leaves my side and loves me so well through it all.

I admired huge smiles on so many beautiful faces. I glanced around the room and felt immense love and gratitude for the ones in this sacred space. Christan and Brandee were hugging each other tightly through tears. My precious friends who have walked through so much with me. Christan has used her gifted hands to help me through all of my pregnancies and two of my labors. Her heart is so beautiful. Brandee has been such a cherished friend for what feels like forever. I’ve witnessed two of her beautiful births and it was such an honor to have her by my side. Nicole and Meliea were caring for Eloise and I so lovingly while sharing in our joy and jubilation. They truly believed for a beautiful experience with us from the beginning of this pregnancy. Nicole has been our midwife through all three births, has become a dear friend and is so very precious and loved by our family. Meliea was present for Teddy and Eloise’s birth and has become such a wonderful and trusted friend the past couple of years. She also happens to be my

yoga instructor and helped get my booty (literally 🤣) in the best shape throughout my pregnancy. And Emily and Christa were capturing all of it through their lenses and with so much love for us. Emily and I met through doula training and she, Christa and I have all been in each other’s birth spaces. So special. It was perfect. It was everything I wanted it to be and more.

It was redemptive. Truly so redemptive. It was peaceful and gentle.

Our baby girl was here. And every bit as perfect and beautiful as we could have imagined and more. We spent the next few hours admiring her. She latched beautifully. We soaked up the sweetest skin-to-skin newborn snuggles. I’m convinced that those first few hours with your newborn and spouse are about as close to heaven on earth as it gets. We were overjoyed. Elated. In love. Beaming with pride.

7 lbs 11 oz. and 20 1/2 inches long of pure perfection.

I had no tearing and was up and feeling really well just a couple of hours after she was born. I felt really good. Understandably tired and a little sore but SO different than I felt after my previous births.

It’s been a month since this sweet girl has joined our family and truly we couldn’t adore her more. Her brothers have welcomed her with open arms and endless amounts of love and affection. She has brought so much love and light into our home and our hearts and we just can’t imagine life without her.

Birth is such a powerful experience. Each and every experience I have had has marked me in different ways. Beautiful and empowering ways. I am grateful for each experience.

This beautiful poem was written by my friend, Meliea before Eloise was born. It so accurately depicts her birth and is something I will cherish forever.

Ascend

And still higher

This is our exhortation

Our aspiration

Except

When we are being born

When we are birthing

Labor

She must descend

I must descend with her

Into my depths

Into her depths

Into the realm where breath meets pain

Where agony meets ecstasy

Where darkness meets light and night

This realm of descent

Waves of surrender

I must bathe in this madness

So that she can dive into her greatness

So that she can descend through holy water into holy hands that respect and revere her journey.

Time

It stands still and flies by

It implodes

She knows no time

She moves to my rhythm

Squeezing, pressing, contracting

She moves on the vibrato of my hum, my growl, my guttural groans.

She dances to my song

And descends lower

The Birth

Opening and releasing

The way has been cleared

She accepts the firm embrace of this path

Molding, shifting, turning

I propel her through it

On wings of love and spoken prayers both holy and profane

That final descent

Then Emergence

I feel the fire for her

She feels the fire in her

Lungs open and cries go up all around

Arms reach out and lift up and

Finally

She gets to ascend

We ascend

Together

amber

Photo by Impressions Birth and Lifestyle Stories – Emily Quezada

Pregnant through the holidays? How to stay happy and healthy!

The holidays are here and with this season comes a lot of stress and overscheduling. Here are our tips for a happy, healthy holiday while you are expecting:

blog holiday pregnancy

  1. Stay hydrated!  It’s easy to skimp on your water intake while running all the holiday errands or while traveling to visit family.  It can be tempting to drink less water to avoid frequent bathroom trips, but this can catch up to you and cause uterine irritability.  Map out the bathrooms along your planned path of holiday travel and drink up! You will feel so much better when you are hydrating adequately!
  2. Cut yourself some slack! So maybe your decorations don’t have to be Pinterest worthy this year.  Maybe someone can help with the holiday cooking.  Summon the zen of online ordering or buying gift cards for everyone in lieu of going to 17 different stores.  Call in the troops to help with holiday commitments or just say no!  Surges of stress hormones can lead to headaches and compromise your immunity making you more susceptible to the cold that your Uncle Ed came to dinner with.  Make things easy on yourself for the sake of your health!
  3. Find time to exercise! Get out and go for a nice walk.  Have a dance party in your living room.  Find ways to MOVE that get your heart rate up and keep your hips and pelvis mobile.  Finding time to exercise, especially if you are indulging in holiday treats, will help to keep your blood sugar stable.  Spikes and drops in blood sugar will have you feeling like the GRINCH, so find ways to incorporate healthy movement into your holiday plans.
  4. Prop your feet up! Traveling by car or plane, or even just a long day of shopping can cause your feet and hands to swell more than usual.  Along with drinking plenty of water, take a moment to sit and elevate your feet.  This is a great reason to call in that foot massage!  If you are traveling, try to make several stops where you can get out and stretch your legs so you aren’t sitting in one position for prolonged periods of time.  If you are drinking your water, you will need to stop for the bathroom anyway.  If swelling persists or is accompanied by headache and/or visual disturbances, be sure to call and let us know.
  5. Pace yourself with holiday treats. Overeating is a reigning theme for the holidays, but to avoid being up all night with miserable nausea or heartburn, be mindful of what you are eating.  Foods that are fried or that contain a lot of sugar can leave your digestive system feeling stressed out.  Too many treats can also lead to miserable constipation so volunteer to bring the salad to your holiday party in order to be sure there will be something there to fuel your body with healthy nutrients and fiber!
  6. Nap.  It’s as simple as that.  Take naps when you need them.  Allow your body to completely rest and recuperate from extra activity.  Resting also restores your mental energy and focus.
  7. Take time to ENJOY the moment. Make lots of great memories to share with your child when he/she is older. Take pictures with family and friends that are near and dear to you. Don’t obsess about the shape of your face or your pregnant body.  You are BEAUTIFUL.

blog pregnant woman

 

Being pregnant around the holidays can be really special and fun when you practice a little planning and a lot of self-care.  Prioritizing your mental and physical health will make the season truly joyful rather than stressful. 

Love, 

Your Natural Beginnings Midwives 

Marcia, Nicole, and Tiffany

 

 

Tips for Staying Sane in Prodromal Labor

Prodromal labor by definition is labor that starts and stops before fully active labor begins. Sometimes it is referred to as “false labor” but this isn’t really accurate because prodromal labor can produce a small amount of cervical change, however, it isn’t active labor.  The medical community hasn’t been able to determine the cause of prodromal labor.  It is believed that it is the body’s way of “warming up” but in truth, active labor could be days…even weeks away.
Expecting moms who experience prodromal labor many times see it as an annoying, emotionally exhausting, seemingly cruel joke that your body plays on you.  The contractions are frequent (usually every 3-5 minutes lasting almost a minute) and don’t stop.  They are uncomfortable.  You can’t sleep or rest comfortably during them.  They are just strong enough to make you believe you are going to see your baby soon so you get out your trusty contraction app and start excitedly timing…but then they don’t progress.  They also go on for hours and hours, particularly in the evening.  Emotionally, prodromal labor can make a mom question everything about herself and her body and wonder if she will know when she is in active labor.

prodromal labor

 

If you do a Google search for prodromal labor you will find forum after forum of frustrated moms who are having painful, frequent contractions that are not progressing to the next phase of labor.  They are begging for a solution that will either put them into active labor, or relax their uterus.  Many a mom has found herself at the brink of insanity trying to get her prodromal labor contractions to kick over to active.  When you have been pregnant FOREVER and are ready to meet your baby, prodromal labor can feel the proverbial carrot on a stick.

Prodromal labor is not an indication of an abnormality and it does not mean that your body isn’t working for you.  It is a variation of the “normal” labor pattern and the name of the game for prodromal labor is to REST and SAVE YOUR SANITY.  Here are some of our practical tips for surviving prodromal labor:

  1. Hydration and Hydrotherapy:  We know mamas get tired of hearing us tell them to drink a big glass of water as if it is answer to all that ails you, but hydration is crucial to “homeostasis” and keeping the body operating as it should. Also, getting into a tub of warm water with some Epsom salt and soaking while listening to some relaxing music can help.  Being in the water will often “wash away” a lot of the confusing sensations and help contractions to decrease or completely stop.
  2. Get INACTIVE: Try lying down in the EXAGERATED SIMS position and resting.  Many women go for long, exhausting walks or exercise sessions trying to “get things going” but find it makes little change and increases fatigue.  If a nice, 20-minute brisk walk doesn’t take contractions to the next level, then REST.  If contractions are keeping you awake at night, call the office for some options to help you rest in the evening.
  3. Try the MILES CIRCUIT:  You can find full instruction for the Miles Circuit HERE.  If the issue is baby’s position, then these poses might help convince your little one to line up and your uterus to settle down.  This VIDEO from Spinning Babies also offers some practical advice.
  4. Nourish your body: Make sure you are eating!  Hunger makes your mind and your body irritable.
  5. Get a massage: Find a massage therapist who has experience working with pregnant moms and get a good massage.  Use deep breathing techniques during your massage to get the full benefit of a relaxed body and mind.
  6. Unplug: Consider taking some time away from communication and social media to focus on self-care.  Be careful of crowd sourcing for information as it can be overwhelming and impractical.
  7. Meditation and Relaxation: Sometimes you do all the right things physically but the contractions keep coming.  Tapping into the power of your mind is very effective.  Get in a quiet place and listen to some relaxing music or use an app like INSIGHT TIMER to find a guided meditation.  Remind yourself as you relax that your body is working for you and that your baby will come at just the right time.
  8. Consider journaling your emotions: Use this time to clear any fears and anxieties that you are experiencing.  You would be surprised how strong the connection between your body and your emotions is.  Write it all out.
  9. Spend time with your partner or a friend: Go out to dinner or coffee.  Choose somewhere where you can occasionally stand and walk if needed for comfort.  But enjoy some good connection time with someone you care about who will listen to your frustrations without judgement.  NOTE:  Sex can increase the intensity of prodromal labor but usually only for a couple of hours.  Get in a nice warm tub or shower afterwards if that happens!
  10. Binge watch a new show: If all else fails, occupy your mind with several episodes of that show you’ve been meaning to watch for a while now!  If you have a cheesy reality show series that you’ve been saving for a guilty pleasure moment, this is it!

Please call our office and talk to a midwife before taking any medications or herbal supplements for contractions.

Prodromal labor is a mind game for many women.  The key is to calm the body and mind and occupy yourself in the waiting.  Active labor does eventually come and you will be holding your baby before you know it.

But as always, please call the office if you have any abnormal symptoms, questions or concerns.

 

 

 

 

Tips for Staying Sane in Prodromal Labor

Prodromal labor by definition is labor that starts and stops before fully active labor begins. Sometimes it is referred to as “false labor” but this isn’t really accurate because prodromal labor can produce a small amount of cervical change, however, it isn’t active labor.  The medical community hasn’t been able to determine the cause of prodromal labor.  It is believed that it is the body’s way of “warming up” but in truth, active labor could be days…even weeks away.
Expecting moms who experience prodromal labor many times see it as an annoying, emotionally exhausting, seemingly cruel joke that your body plays on you.  The contractions are frequent (usually every 3-5 minutes lasting almost a minute) and don’t stop.  They are uncomfortable.  You can’t sleep or rest comfortably during them.  They are just strong enough to make you believe you are going to see your baby soon so you get out your trusty contraction app and start excitedly timing…but then they don’t progress.  They also go on for hours and hours, particularly in the evening.  Emotionally, prodromal labor can make a mom question everything about herself and her body and wonder if she will know when she is in active labor.

prodromal labor

 

If you do a Google search for prodromal labor you will find forum after forum of frustrated moms who are having painful, frequent contractions that are not progressing to the next phase of labor.  They are begging for a solution that will either put them into active labor, or relax their uterus.  Many a mom has found herself at the brink of insanity trying to get her prodromal labor contractions to kick over to active.  When you have been pregnant FOREVER and are ready to meet your baby, prodromal labor can feel the proverbial carrot on a stick.

Prodromal labor is not an indication of an abnormality and it does not mean that your body isn’t working for you.  It is a variation of the “normal” labor pattern and the name of the game for prodromal labor is to REST and SAVE YOUR SANITY.  Here are some of our practical tips for surviving prodromal labor:

  1. Hydration and Hydrotherapy:  We know mamas get tired of hearing us tell them to drink a big glass of water as if it is answer to all that ails you, but hydration is crucial to “homeostasis” and keeping the body operating as it should. Also, getting into a tub of warm water with some Epsom salt and soaking while listening to some relaxing music can help.  Being in the water will often “wash away” a lot of the confusing sensations and help contractions to decrease or completely stop.
  2. Get INACTIVE: Try lying down in the EXAGERATED SIMS position and resting.  Many women go for long, exhausting walks or exercise sessions trying to “get things going” but find it makes little change and increases fatigue.  If a nice, 20-minute brisk walk doesn’t take contractions to the next level, then REST.  If contractions are keeping you awake at night, call the office for some options to help you rest in the evening.
  3. Try the MILES CIRCUIT:  You can find full instruction for the Miles Circuit HERE.  If the issue is baby’s position, then these poses might help convince your little one to line up and your uterus to settle down.  This VIDEO from Spinning Babies also offers some practical advice.
  4. Nourish your body: Make sure you are eating!  Hunger makes your mind and your body irritable.
  5. Get a massage: Find a massage therapist who has experience working with pregnant moms and get a good massage.  Use deep breathing techniques during your massage to get the full benefit of a relaxed body and mind.
  6. Unplug: Consider taking some time away from communication and social media to focus on self-care.  Be careful of crowd sourcing for information as it can be overwhelming and impractical.
  7. Meditation and Relaxation: Sometimes you do all the right things physically but the contractions keep coming.  Tapping into the power of your mind is very effective.  Get in a quiet place and listen to some relaxing music or use an app like INSIGHT TIMER to find a guided meditation.  Remind yourself as you relax that your body is working for you and that your baby will come at just the right time.
  8. Consider journaling your emotions: Use this time to clear any fears and anxieties that you are experiencing.  You would be surprised how strong the connection between your body and your emotions is.  Write it all out.
  9. Spend time with your partner or a friend: Go out to dinner or coffee.  Choose somewhere where you can occasionally stand and walk if needed for comfort.  But enjoy some good connection time with someone you care about who will listen to your frustrations without judgement.  NOTE:  Sex can increase the intensity of prodromal labor but usually only for a couple of hours.  Get in a nice warm tub or shower afterwards if that happens!
  10. Binge watch a new show: If all else fails, occupy your mind with several episodes of that show you’ve been meaning to watch for a while now!  If you have a cheesy reality show series that you’ve been saving for a guilty pleasure moment, this is it!

Please call our office and talk to a midwife before taking any medications or herbal supplements for contractions.

Prodromal labor is a mind game for many women.  The key is to calm the body and mind and occupy yourself in the waiting.  Active labor does eventually come and you will be holding your baby before you know it.

But as always, please call the office if you have any abnormal symptoms, questions or concerns.

 

 

 

 

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness – Jodie’s story

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month.  We would like to share a story from one of our patients to honor and bring awareness to this important issue.

Please be aware that this blog post is a story of pregnancy loss and may be triggering for some.

 

Jodie is known and loved by many at NBBC as the “placenta lady” with Tree of Life Placenta Services.  Jodie has experienced two losses and she shared her stories with us.

In October of 2014, after getting sick in the shower, Jodie took a pregnancy test thinking it would probably be negative but it was positive!  Overwhelm turned to shock which then turned into excitement.

At a 12 week ultrasound everything looked fine with the baby and Jodie fell in love with this new baby immediately.  She began to make a plan to find out the gender of the baby.  They scheduled a 3D/4D ultrasound at 16 weeks and brought the whole family to experience this special moment.  As soon as the ultrasound started, Jodie knew that something wasn’t right by the look on the technician’s face.   She asked about the accuracy of her due date and mentioned that the baby looked small.  She said she would call her care provider and that Jodie could expect a call from the midwife later.

From there Jodie and her family went to dinner and while waiting for their food, she got the call from the midwife that confirmed that her baby was not expected to make it to term.  Jodie was speechless, shocked and angry.

“I just started crying uncontrollably. My husband came out and grabbed the phone out of my hand. He was silent. The look on his face was one I had never seen. It was pure devastation and sadness.”

So many emotions.

“I couldn’t accept that there wasn’t anything to do to help my baby. My midwife met us at the birth center for another ultrasound. She did the ultrasound for over twenty minutes and there was no heartbeat and no movement. My baby was already lifeless. This was officially the worst day of my life.”

Jodie and her husband made a decision to deliver their baby at home so that they could say goodbye in a way that felt right to them.  She delivered him in the water with the help of her husband and was able to see that it was a boy who they named Kasey James.

“Being able to say goodbye to our precious Kasey James helped me heal more than anything. I was blessed to have a great network of loving and supportive family and friends.”

There are some things that Jodie would like for people who are reading this to know.

“I was surprised how people reacted when I walked into a room. They would either stare or put their heads down. All I wanted was a hug. No words were needed, just compassion. I found most people saying things like, “Your’re young, there’s still time” or, “At least you have your other girls.” Honestly, I wanted to smack people for saying those things. That hurt me more than they knew. I knew that the pain would never end. I would just have to find a way to deal with it. I’m still dealing with it.”

In May of 2015, Jodie found out she was expecting again.  Having experienced loss, she was hesitant to get too excited.  She felt a lot of fear.

At the first ultrasound, once again, things did not look normal.  The past came flooding back.  She had lost another baby. She felt like her body had failed her.  She wondered if she was being punished by God.

These are all very normal emotions to feel when experiencing loss and it is important to allow moms to express these emotions.  For those of us who are close to those families who experience loss, being empathetic is the best thing we can offer emotionally.  It’s important for us to recognize that we don’t have to say something to make people feel better.  Nothing will make them feel better in moments like these.  They just need to know that we see them and that we are there witnessing their emotions without judgement.

For Jodie, turning to her faith helped her walk through the waves of grief and pain which still come.

“After having two wonderful, healthy pregnancies, how could I lose TWO babies? How could I move on? These are questions I’m still asking myself. Some days it’s hard to breathe because the pain is so strong. But I truly BELIEVE GOD has a plan for my life. My FAITH has been a huge part of dealing with the pain and hurt. I get strength from my family and friends. I find comfort in knowing that I will see my babies again. I hope my story helps break the silence on miscarriage and infant loss. I hope someone finds courage to tell their story. Together we can and will BREAK THE SILENCE.”

Jodie has this advice for families who experience loss:

  • Don’t let people dictate your grief. Deal with it the best you can and don’t worry about what others think
  • Don’t forget that partners suffer too! Many times they are forgotten by others.  They need love and empathy also.  Many times partners are the ones who feel obligated to remain strong and not express their feelings.  They need support too!

 

Jodie gave birth to her rainbow baby just a few weeks ago!  They are over the moon in love with baby Riley James!  And we are so happy for them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kay’s birth story – the power of having options…

When Kay tells her birth story the word that stands out is “redemptive.”   Her first two experiences were difficult and had left some wounds that had not quite healed.  She came to Natural Beginnings despite the 45 minute drive in order to be heard and to hopefully have a very different experience.

Baby M’s oldest sibling had been born at 38 weeks via induction with Pitocin for pre-eclampsia.  Due to severe itching, a reaction to the epidural, she was given an antihistamine during labor which made her extremely sleepy.  Her labor and even the birth were very much a blur for her.   Immediately postpartum after her baby was taken to the warmer for examination, she began vomiting and was given more medication which caused her to fall asleep.  She awoke later with little memory of the experience and her family members were holding her baby.  She felt very disconnected from the experience.

For her next baby, Kay made an intention to do things differently.  She wanted an unmedicated delivery.   She took classes and did tours at the hospital she had chosen.  She made a birth plan and discussed it with her provider.  She remained healthy during the pregnancy and was very happy that pre-eclampsia was not an issue and she would be able to go into labor on her own.  At 38 weeks, her water broke spontaneously at home.  Within a few hours, good contractions had begun so she made her way to the hospital.  However, a different provider was on call that evening who wasn’t as agreeable to her birth preferences.  Despite making good progress to 6cm dilation in only 5 hours of laboring, the provider made a decision to start her on Pitocin.  Under the impression she was just receiving IV fluids, her labor began to take a painful turn.  She then realized the Pitocin had been started and when she requested it be turned off, she was told that was not an option.  She kept trying to discuss the issue but in between painful contractions she felt she just wasn’t being heard or respected.  Despite not wanting it, she got an epidural.

“My impression was that the nurses just wanted me to get the epidural and be quiet.”

While she was being repaired from a second episiotomy, her baby was taken to the NICU without explanation. She assumed it was just for some routine exams, but over an hour later having already gotten out of bed and showered, she found herself pacing her hospital room waiting for her baby.  Her husband went to try to find answers.  Finally someone came in and explained that her baby had aspirated some amniotic fluid.  By the time she saw her baby the first time it was amidst a sea of IV lines and other things that made it difficult to hold the baby.

At NBBC, one of Kay’s first and foremost desires after an unmedicated birth was not to be separated from her baby unless absolutely necessary and have the benefit of skin to skin contact.  Another was to avoid Pitocin.  The plan was to deliver at the birth center, however that option did not work out.  Kay was very thankful that with Natural Beginnings she had OPTIONS!

With this pregnancy, Kay had some new experiences.  The first was going to 40 weeks of pregnancy.  In the past, both of her babies had been born in the 38th week.  The other  very different experience for her was prodromal labor.    The stop and start contractions that were not dilating the cervix had begun to cause fatigue and discouragement over the span of days.  Midwife Nicole encouraged her through a hard night of painful contractions on a Saturday night and had prescribed an OTC medication to help with sleep.  She was finally able to get a little bit of rest but she was feeling worn down and physically uncomfortable.  Christmas was just a few days away and the thought of possibly still being pregnant and having prodromal labor was causing a lot of emotional stress.  Nicole explained to Kay that she had the option to be induced if she wanted.  And after much thought, she decided to show up at the hospital Monday morning to be induced.  The risks and benefits were explained to her so that she could make an informed decision.  She felt confident that this time she would be heard and respected and that made all the difference.  She was very thankful to be able to choose the hospital option and still keep her same care providers.

She arrived for her induction at  Davis Regional Medical Center on Monday morning where she was given a cervical ripening medication.  She was able to eat breakfast and shortly thereafter contractions began, but they weren’t terribly painful or unbearable.

Around noon she was able to enjoy some lunch and Midwife Marcia came to check her progress.  She was 4cm and ready for the next step.  After discussing the options, Marcia performed AROM(artificial rupture of membranes) because she wanted to respect Kay’s desire to avoid Pitocin.  After this, contractions began to intensify almost immediately.

Around 1:15pm Kay began to experience back pain and she was able to get into the tub while being monitored with waterproof, wireless fetal heart rate monitors.  Kay always thought she would love the water but it just didn’t feel right.  She could tell that her body was making significant and fast progress because of the intensity that she was feeling.  She was also feeling some pressure like she needed to have a bowel movement so she got out of the tub and sat on the toilet.  She found that this position relieved her back pain. The ability  to move and get into a comfortable position during labor was crucial to her achieving her desire to avoid the epidural.

Around 2:30pm Marcia checked her and she was 8cm.  At this point she stayed and helped move Kay into more naturally comfortable positions for the transition phase of labor.  Very soon after that she began pushing and baby M arrived.  Kay spoke about that moment:

It was the most amazing experience of my life.  They went by everything I had on my birth plan.  I didn’t want her taken from me after she was born unless there was something wrong.  And they didn’t touch her.  The nurses didn’t touch her -nobody touched her-and it was the most amazing experience to look down and have her with me after carrying her for nine months”

NBBC acknowledges the benefits of immediate contact for mom and baby at birth and unless complications prevent it, the midwives encourage mother/baby bonding especially in the first hour.

“It was so amazing to have those first moments with her because I missed out on that with my other two.”

Kay feels that this experience was very redemptive.  Even with making the change in her birth plan from birth center to hospital, having providers who she knew would listen to her made that transition much easier and significantly less stressful.  Kay also spoke about her recovery:

“It went so good.  I didn’t tear.  I didn’t have to have an episiotomy.  They[prior care provider] cut me with both of my other babies.  They cut me.  My son was 7lbs 11oz and my other daughter was 8lbs 5oz.  This baby was 9lbs 2oz and I didn’t tear and they didn’t have to cut me because they let me labor the way that I felt I needed to and I feel like that made all the difference.  So my recovery was nothing compared to the other two.”

The ability to easily get up and shower and move around made for a much easier beginning for her and Baby M.  She was able to be present to her baby instead of focusing on her pain or recovering from medications.  This was exactly what she had hoped for.  She hadn’t been starved.  She was allowed to eat during labor and then had the baby just in time for dinner so she felt nourished and had good energy.   All of these factors made for a blissful postpartum experience and set her up for breastfeeding success.

Kay shared her experience with the midwives and the hospital:

“They are extremely great advocates for their mothers.  To have these amazing women around you – you get your power back.  Davis Regional is a very different hospital. They were on board.  That was important.”