God’s redeeming work

I gave up on this petunia a couple weeks ago. I confessed to my poor little Olivia (who bought it with her own money) and to my mother-n-law, that I had officially killed it. I don’t remember what made me think that it was finished and no longer able to flower but I was convinced that it was over. To be fair I’m not a gardener by any stretch of imagination but still, the point remains the same.

This morning I went outside and to my surprise these three flowers were alive and full of color amidst some dry and brittle soil. I had given up on it so I totally forgot it was even out there. Inevitably I had also forgotten to water it. I bent down and began to pull out all the built up dead leaves and prune out the dead flowers. I ran inside to get it some water and I moved it from the shade into the sunlight. I thought to myself “why did I give up on this plant so early? I should have tried harder and longer!” Luckily for the plant, I am not the one that gives life. Then it got me thinking about how good God is and how He is the one who gives life not only to plants and animals but to us and the people we love.
How often do we give up on dreams that we have or even on other people because for one reason or another we have determined that they are “dead”, “over”, or that there is “no more hope”. I know I am guilty. Thank God that he never does that to us! He is always pursuing us and giving us more chances. He can sustain us even in the midst of our dry and brittle life! He can sustain those dreams and people we have given up on even after we have determined that they won’t make it.

A perfect example of this in the birth world is a “rainbow baby” or a baby that is born after the loss of a previous baby. Or a “VBAC”, a vaginal birth after a cesarean. Or any mother who is able to have her ideal birth experience after a previous disappointing one. It is a constant reminder to me that God is in the business of healing and bringing things back to life! The last birth I attended was of a good friend of mine whose first birth experience was not what she wanted. She expressed to me that for this birth she really wanted things to be different. I was able to be there right next to her to help her have that experience. I am so glad that I get to participate in Gods redeeming work in a tangible way!

Back in action!

Many of you may not have known or even noticed but my doula certification journey was put on hold for just over a year. To make a very long story short (because I am sure I will touch on some of these changes in future post), I really felt that God placed this passion on my heart but after the first couple months of beginning my certification I didn’t feel at peace with how I had been handling things. I had gotten the why’s and the how’s of this doula thing all wrong. In hindsight there were still a lot of things God needed to do in me to get my heart to a place where I was truly ready to fulfill his purpose for my life. I had been feeling really conflicted about it but I knew that putting it on hold was the right thing to do when I called my husband and he too had felt the same way.

So here we are a year later! Since then I have changed doula programs to one that feels much better and fits better into my busy lifestyle as a stay-at-home mom of now 3 babies! I have grown tremendously in some areas of my life that was really causing me a lot of heartache and strife (from me just not getting what God was trying to show me). I am so grateful for this year I’ve had off as its shown me so much about myself and about what God wants to do in me and through me!

Originally I wasn’t quite sure when I’d start back up. I honestly didn’t think it would be for another few years from now. But through a series of events God made it very clear to me that it was time to get back to it. It helped that hubby was feeling it too, he’s  always such great encouragement to me.

I’ve updated the “about me” section to reflect the changes God has made in my heart AND I’ve also got a new birth story up thanks to my amazing friend Anna!

 

So what does a doula actually do? 5 ways a doula can help a woman in labor

I get this question a lot now so it prompted me to write about it!

According to DONA International which is the largest, oldest, and most respected doula association in the world, a doula is a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional, and informational support to a mother before, during, and just after birth. Some are even trained in providing support during the postpartum period.

But what does this actually look like and why is it important anyway?

Well there are multiple studies that show that women who have doulas have shorter, less complicated labors, have healthier babies and have an easier time breastfeeding. Who doesn’t want that!

To show you what it actually looks like to have a doula I have gotten permission from a very good friend of mine to share with you the experience that I had at her birth. Here are 5 things that doulas do that I personally did for my friend.

  • Doulas aren’t afraid to get touchy feely

A lot women in labor want physical comfort. My friend really enjoyed low back massage, hand squeezing, foot massage, and sometimes just a long embrace to get through a contraction. Doulas aren’t afraid to get close to their clients when they need it most!

  • Doula’s remind mom of what’s going on

Whether it be something her baby is doing or something that’s being administered to her by hospital staff, reminding mom of what’s happening to her body  is extremely important. Doulas are very knowledgeable of the birth process and remind mom that everything is fine and normal. I constantly told my friend “that’s it, she’s (her baby) coming down, she’s moving down and out” when she was experiencing a contraction. I noticed that this always seemed to give her more strength and it definitely helped her to relax more. Not only does it help moms not to panic but hearing that the pain you’re feeling is actually accomplishing something can sometimes be enough to get you through!

  • Doula’s verbally encourage and affirm moms

My friend was one tough momma and I made sure to tell her so! When she was breathing particularly good during a tough contraction I made sure to tell her “good, yes, that’s good!”. I acknowledged that her contractions were hard and painful but that she was really working hard and doing awesome. In between contractions I kept encouraging her that she was doing a wonderful job working with her body and that her baby was coming soon. That little bit of encouragement means the world to women in labor!

  • Doulas and dads actually go well together

Ask the husband of any woman who’s had a doula and I guarantee most of them will say that they absolutely loved it. I think it’s safe to say that most men are pretty uncomfortable around birth and are especially nervous seeing the one they love in so much pain when they can’t do anything to help. Doulas are a confident and experienced constant in the room for Dad’s to draw strength from. My friends husband had a particularly hard day at work that day and I could tell he was so grateful to have me there to comfort his wife. I made sure to check on him to make sure he had eaten and that he was taken care of as well. Because of this he was much more relaxed and able to give his wife the emotional comfort she needed.

  • Doulas help in practical ways

There are a lot of practical ways doulas can help during labor. I made sure to visit the hospital once or twice before my friend went into delivery so I knew exactly where she needed to go once we got there. This made for an easy transition to the hospital. I brought an incense diffuser from their house to make the hospital room feel more like home. I got my iPad out to put on a nice “labor and delivery” music playlist. I was able to update our mutual friends of the labor process through Facebook. I timed contractions. I grabbed a baby outfit out of the bag for extra encouragement as my friend got her epidural (which helped a TON). There are so many ways moms and dads need to be served during labor and doulas are happy to do it!

These are just some of the ways a doula can help a woman in labor but there are so much more! Hope this gives everyone a better idea of what a doula is and does!

5 things that can help with the fear of birth

 

I think we can all agree that every single expectant mother has or has had the fear of complications arising before, during, or after birth. Birth is a scary and unpredictable process! I think its extremely important that moms make a point of tackling this fear and addressing it head on. Fear and stress can dramatically affect how you labor, and more importantly how you experience pain during labor.

Our bodies secrete beta-endorphin which is a natural opiate. It is literally as powerful as a large dose of morphine. If tapped into, this allows mothers to successfully bear through contractions. Adrenaline however, is secreted when the mother is uneasy, worried or experiences fear. It is the classic “fight or flight” hormone. Adrenaline can slow labor down and cuts out the powerful affect of the beta-endorphin.

So the less you are afraid of during birth, the better for you! How can you be less afraid of birth? Knowledge! The old saying “knowledge is power” is really true. I have learned that the fear of the unknown is powerful especially when it comes to birth. The more you know, the less things can take you by surprise, the less afraid you are. I experienced this personally with the birth of my first child. I read EVERYTHING there is to read about birth, the process of birth and the possible complications. What I didn’t read about (because not much people write about it) is what happened AFTER birth. Let me tell you, contractions, crowning and pushing did not take me by surprise nearly as much as my midwife massaging my uterus and stitching my tear did. Because I had not read anything about that! I remember that pain being much more dramatic than everything else, because it took me completely off guard.

Here are 5 things you can do to gain more knowledge! These have personally helped me!

1.Read, Read, Read! There is so much information out there to help you learn more about the process of birth and all its intricate and gory details (yes gory). I’m not talking about a regular birthing class I’m talking about books, peer reviewed journals, meta-analysis (big words I know but pretty much articles you can only gain access to through a college library account), movies, etc.

2. Don’t take anyone’s word for itI went to a training by a local doula friend of mine recently and I love that she kept saying “Don’t take my word for it, go look it up yourself!”. In no way am I saying to completely disregard a health professionals opinion but it is always wise to take what they are saying and make sure it is correct and accurate. I have known health professionals to straight up lie to a patient in order to get them to do a certain thing. You may need to dive deeper than just a Wikipedia search but I assure you it is completely worth it! I have personally found many flaws in what health professionals say and what the actual evidence says. If you can debunk these myths and lies yourself you can save yourself a lot of undue stress and fear.

3.Ask peoplethere is nothing better than a good old personal experience! This is something that helped me to choose natural birth. All the people I knew that had actually done it all had great things to say about it. But I encourage you to ask people from all different types of experiences. Ask people about their hospital birth, their birth center birth, and their home-birth. Don’t limit yourself. Get a wide variety of experiences! From all these types of experiences you should be able to make better more informed decisions and you’ll learn a lot I’m sure of it!

4. Know your optionsIf a woman is particularity afraid of something and feels like that is the ONLY way it has to be then it feel hopeless. Hopelessness breeds fear. But what if there is another way? What if it doesn’t HAVE to be that way? Knowing your options can help with fear! A simple question to your doctor about alternative ways of doing things can help with this. Many doctors have no problem accommodating to your needs, you just have to know your options, and ask! And if your doctor doesn’t seem to want to honor your wishes in a particular area then you have the right to switch to a doctor who will! You need to be able to trust your doctor. If you don’t trust him or her then you better believe you’re going to be scared out of your mind (not actively but subconsciously you’ll feel uneasy around them).

5. Make informed decisions/have a doula! When a decision is made for you, you feel out of control. The more out of control you feel, the more fear can creep in. The more you know, the more informed decisions you can make! It is essential that you KNOW what you are signing your name to. You must KNOW what your doctor stands for and KNOW what the nurses are administering to you. There is nothing wrong with asking. This is why a doula is great because when you’re in labor the last thing you (or your husband) will want is to be asking doctors and nurses questions. A doula can advocate for you and remind you of your birth plan and what it was that you wanted. Doulas help women regain control of their own birth and when a woman feels in control, she feels less fear! 

5 things that can help with breastfeeding

Breastfeeding can be EXTREMELY difficult. I personally know many women who have wanted to breastfeed but just couldn’t. I nursed my oldest until she was 18 months but my son weaned at 9 months and it was the hardest thing for me. I had gone back to work for a few short months and pumped for him to eat with daddy and that was enough to mess with my milk supply.

I get this fear. This is a legitimate fear! What’s great about this though is there are plenty lactation consultants and breastfeeding support groups all over the place. If you look, I am sure there is one right in your area. And at the end of the day remember that if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again….and at least there is formula. Your baby won’t have to go hungry. Don’t get me wrong, I am very pro breastfeeding. I think we can all agree that it’s best for baby’s health. But there is only so much you can do, and reality is you don’t have long to do it. So put your best foot forward and then if you can’t get it, try again on the next kid! (Or maybe if you’re done having kids help some other desperate young mom nurse her kid).

On a more serious note there are a lot of things you can do to help with breastfeeding. Some you may have heard of and some you may not have known. Either way its great information to be reminded of. These are some that I have learned from various lactation consultants

1.CIRCUMCISION- For boys, it may help to delay circumcision until 3 weeks of age. A new baby having to get used to the world, his mom, his surroundings, AND the pain of circumcision can have a more difficult time nursing. If you wait it gives time to strengthen the breastfeeding relationship.

2. SKIN TO SKIN- Skin to skin contact with your new baby helps encourage “the breast crawl” which is a babies natural ability to find the breast and initiate breastfeeding all on its own. If a cesarean is performed you can request a “gentle c-section” where you are still allowed to have skin-to-skin contact after delivery. Dad’s can perform skin-to-skin too! I passed out right after having my oldest and my husband jumped right in to hold my daughter.

3. NO DISTURBANCES- Try to have unlimited undisturbed breastfeeding immediately after birth. Nothing is more important than the baby feeding. Weighing, test, and anything else that requires the baby leaving the mom really can wait. The first few hours after birth are crucial for the breastfeeding relationship.

4. PACIFIERS- I’ve always heard to not use pacifiers but recently I attended a class where the teacher recommended delaying using a pacifier at least 21 days. I can live with that because my babies LOVED pacifiers which means I love pacifiers. She said some midwives recommend waiting 6 weeks. Either way nipple confusion can hurt the breastfeeding relationship and some babies are more sensitive than others.

5. GET HELP!- The reality is a first time mom doesn’t know how to breastfeed. You’re gonna need some help! The birth center I had my daughter at scheduled me to come in a week after she was born to see their in house lactation consultant. They checked to make sure she was latching right, that I was holding her correctly, that I had remedies for my sore and cracked nipples. Help is readily available you just have to seek it out. You don’t have to do it on your own!

I hope this helps any soon to be first time mom out there! Also don’t just believe what I say, make sure to look it up on your own!

Here are some great resources

http://www.breastcrawl.org/

http://www.llli.org/

Lactation consultants in the DFW area

http://www.forbabiessake.com/

-Kathy Obrien (a personal friend of mine who is AMAZING)- 817-924-1773 doulakathy@sbcglobal.net

Why Your Dilation Doesn’t Matter

doulacollective:

Labour progress is almost always measured by how dilated someone is. A ready to birth Mama is 10cm dilated…but this number only tells us exactly where she is at in that moment. Dilation can change very quickly or very slowly. A 10cm dilation doesn’t necessarily mean the birth is near – pushing at times, can take another 3 or so hours. Alternatively, someone can be 4cm dilated and within the hour have her baby out. The thought that the higher the dilation number is equivalent to less remaining time in labour is not always true. In fact, it’s often false!

So as you prepare for your labour and birth process, do you want to know the numbers? Would you feel disappointed after labouring for hours and hearing a small number? Might the idea of knowing distract you from your focus? It might help you to know that dilation is checked vaginally. As in, during your labour, your doctor or midwife will insert their fingers and feel around to guess how many centimetres your cervix has opened. Might this take you out of your coping techniques? 

Know that you can always say no! Also know that you can ask your caregiver to teach you how to check your own dilation. And if you don’t want to know the numbers and aren’t okay with vaginal checks, see this brilliant post for other techniques.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don’t get so caught up on dilation and due dates (and so much more in regards to labor progress) unless its a medical necessity. A medical necessity means you or your babys life is at stake. Your body knows when and how to do what it does. Trust your body and don’t rush it! Rushing your labor when your body is fine otherwise can only make things worse.

letstalkmidwifery:

This is why pregnant women are advised not to lay on their backs (‘supine’) as in this position the uterus squashes the aorta and vena cava. When we look at the picture on the right we can see a huge difference in how much more open these veins are when the woman lays on her side.

I’ve always heard it said, never seen it illustrated. Very interesting!