Homebirth Tuesday: My Article

(The issue is incredible, if you are interested in homebirth at all, go HERE and you can order the issue for yourself 🙂 )

(From Midwifery Today issue 93, Homebirth)

What I Wish I Had Seen

In the United States, there is a stigma around homebirth that is hard to ignore if you are part of the birthing community. If you are a newly pregnant woman considering her options, more times than not, you will come across the anger and confusion surrounding birth in general and not just homebirth.

The only thing I knew about birth before I had my daughter was that our bodies are made to do it, but it can be dangerous, so why not give birth in the hospital? Before my own pregnancy a friend of mine was taking Birthing from Within childbirth classes, which I thought was strange to begin with, and was planning to have her baby in a birthing center. I figured it was just another side to her that I didn’t understand and never would.

She had her baby before I got pregnant, and two things stood out to me: She had her son in the water and was home six hours after the birth. I had always been told that birthing in water was extremely dangerous because the baby would try to breathe underwater and drown and that the first 24 hours after a baby is born is the most dangerous time, so babies needed constant supervision to make sure they survive and don’t get sick. I remember wondering for days how she could take her new baby home after six hours when the risk was so great that he could get sick.

When I got pregnant with my daughter, I scheduled appointments with the certified nurse-midwife in town and also the obstetrician at the hospital. The obstetrician couldn’t get me in until I was 12 weeks pregnant, but the nurse-midwife could get me in at eight weeks, so I chose the midwife. My pregnancy was great until the end, when I ended up with some interventions I am not happy about now, but at the time I was so uninformed I let the obstetrician and my CNM take over my care. I had a cesarean at 37 weeks and my daughter was in the NICU for a week.

For about a year I was so jealous of all the vaginal deliveries I heard about. My sister-in-law had a vaginal delivery about six months after my daughter was born, and I was so upset about it, it took me a long time to be excited for her.

A month after my daughter’s first birthday, one of my other friends ended up having a c-section with her daughter because of fetal distress. It wasn’t until I talked to her about her cesarean that the story of my own cesarean began to make sense.

Shortly after this I started looking into becoming a doula so I could help women have the birth they wanted instead of a birth that was forced on them.

I had read a lot on homebirth; and with every book I read, it sounded better and better. My friend who had her son in the birthing center became pregnant again and this time she planned a homebirth from the start. I was becoming more educated about the process, but I was still skeptical about having a baby at home. Everywhere I would go I would hear women tell stories about a person they knew that almost died at home and was lucky enough to live close to the hospital for transport. Everything seemed to be stacked against the idea of homebirth.

The day my friend went into labor, I was a nervous wreck. When I heard that the baby was born, it was as if I had finally breathed for the first time in hours. We went to see the baby and I was able to see the pictures from her birth. This time, it wasn’t that I was scared for her baby and her survival; rather, I was so overcome with emotion at how beautiful the birth looked. Everything looked so incredibly peaceful and calm. She had her family with her, and her son was able to watch his baby sister’s birth.

After I saw these pictures and realized how beautiful the birth was, I started planning my future. I wasn’t going to stop at being a doula anymore. I wanted to help women have their babies at home so they too could have an experience as peaceful as my friend’s birth.

I became obsessed with birth more than I already was. I read everything I could get my hands on, including every birth blog on the Internet. Eventually, I found a midwife who was moving into my area in the near future, and I was able to talk to her about her profession and calling as a traditional midwife.

Shortly after she moved here, she was set up with a client that was due in three weeks. She e-mailed me and asked if I could be her assistant. Never had anything sounded so beautiful!

I met with her and we discussed birth for a few hours. I knew right away this was a woman who knew how to handle birth and could be trusted to be a birth keeper.

A few weeks later, we got the call that the birth was imminent. When we arrived at the house, the mother was in transition and laboring beautifully. She had been in labor for a few days, so she would doze in between contractions, and I had never seen someone so peaceful, even though she was at the hardest part of her labor.

The midwife would sometimes say encouraging words and let her presence be known but, overall, we sat back just watching. It was so incredibly powerful.

When she pushed out her daughter, I was overcome with emotion at the beauty of the entire process. The pictures from my friend’s birth never described how incredible it is seeing a woman give birth among friends and family, in a place where she is comfortable.

Women in the US are so caught up in the propaganda of birth that they sometimes don’t realize what they are missing. They are strapped to fetal monitors and given epidurals without realizing there is something better out there. Instead of laboring in a strange place, why not labor at home where you know where the bathroom is, or where you are free to roam around and do what you need to do to help your labor along?

Homebirth is not about going against the hospital and the aid it entails. Homebirth is not about being anti-medicine or showing off. Homebirth is about bringing your baby into the world in an atmosphere of love. Homebirth is about letting your body do what is best and birthing your baby the way your body is made to birth. Homebirth is about choice.

Not everyone will be as open to homebirth as others because of the stigma surrounding the birthing climate in the United States. Instead of telling women horror stories about homebirth, we should share the happiness and love that surrounds it. Instead of taking choice away from women, we should embrace homebirth as an option for the women among us who would like another option, for the women who want more out of their birth experience than the hospital can offer.

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Do They Change You Completely?

When someone suffers a pregnancy loss, whether by miscarriage or stillbirth or even termination, do we ourselves change for the next time?

Women are like mother hens.  We cluck and fuss and make sure our children are safe.  I don’t know a single pregnant woman that doesn’t worry when something ‘different’ happens, whether that be ligament pain or slipping on ice.

It is in our nature to worry about outcomes.

From before we are pregnant until we die, we worry about the children we might have or the children we already do.

So, if you suffer from a loss, does it change how you would parent?

I have had two miscarriages.  I have seen the tissue of my babies and I have persevered.  I am forever changed by what I saw.

When I am even one day late, and even though I chart, if my period doesn’t start exactly when I think it should, I get excited.  And then when my period shows up, I dread seeing the heaviness of the first day for fear that I will see those masses that still haunt my dreams.

This last cycle was very rough.  I went to 17 dpo and I was 99% sure I was pregnant.  When my period came, I prayed so hard that I wouldn’t see tissue.  I barely slept that first night for fear I would wake up and see another baby.

What I have seen has terrified me of myself and what my body does naturally.

What happens when women that have suffered losses get pregnant again?

I know besides checking for blood every time they use the bathroom, they are so grateful for their symptoms.  Every wave of nausea, every cramp, every bit of irritability is a blessing.  It isn’t just a pregnancy anymore.  This is the miracle that might not be around tomorrow.  Every day is a blessing.

When you have suffered a loss, what lengths will you go to to protect the precious blessing growing inside of you?

Those that are nonmedical, would that include getting your levels checked, getting early ultrasounds just in case, or testing every day to make sure your levels are rising and not falling?

How far would you go to protect this blessing, and inevitably protect yourself from further trauma?

(I know this will sound incredibly insensitive, but it isn’t meant to be, and since I have been there, I understand this statement to my core).

In the end, what truly can you do?  If there is truly something wrong, you cannot stop it from coming again.  If there truly is a problem that checks and ultrasounds cannot fix, it will inevitably happen.

In some ways, I truly wish I could have another miscarriage just to prove to myself I truly can get pregnant.  I can’t keep the baby, but I know my body functions.

In other ways, I am so glad I haven’t.  Seeing what I have seen again would rip me apart.  The shaky foundation I have created would completely crumble.

In the end, do the precautions and dreams truly help?  Or do we trick ourselves into thinking that we can truly protect our children and ourselves from hurt?

Wordless Wednesday – Definitely My Kid

drinking straight outta the milk carton. That's my girl!!

Winner of Giveaway #3

Alright, I have an awful earrache and can’t concentrate and had to go to bed, so I am ending the giveaway now.

Winner is (and I swear I didn’t cheat): #8, Brenda!!

I’ve let Robin know, and sent an email to you 🙂

Congrats!!

Birth Trauma is Real – For Mom AND Baby

My midwife went to the Trust Birth conference and came back with amazing ideas and said they watched a movie about Birth Trauma.

The movie they watched I can’t afford to buy, but they have one on youtube that is about the same thing.

I only got about 4 minutes in before I was crying and had to turn it off.

I didn’t realize this is how a lot of babies are born. The worst part is I think I knew, but didn’t want to admit I know.

My incision is super tiny (MAYBE 4 inches across) and I think this is how Glade was born. Which just makes me so sick.

Did you watch how your child was delivered? If they did this to your baby, you need to switch doctors. Not only is it traumatic, it can cause spinal and brain and cranial damage which may or may not be diagnosed that day or in their life.

***This movie is graphic, so if you don’t want to see a baby being pulled by the head and other things, please don’t watch***

Qualified vs Educated

Now, even though this picture is adorable, it does have a point, which I will get back to in a minute.

I have had a lot of time to think this week about qualifications and certifications and education.  What is the difference?  Is one truly better than all the others?

I didn’t graduate with my Associate’s degree.  I am one class away, and I will never go back and take the class to attain said degree.  A lot of people think I am crazy, but with my field of work, an Associate’s won’t get me anything but it will take up space in my closet.  Which I need for all the books I can’t fit on my 3 bookshelves haha.

Graduation gives you a sense of accomplishment.  But what does that truly mean?  You were able to write papers that your teachers agreed with, learned some math and science, and were able to pass higher education.  If you are lucky, you have a job right out of college that pertains to your degree.  If you aren’t, you are stuck with a degree you can’t use and debt that is stacking up.

So, here is my question.  What does it truly matter?

In our society, college is looked at with the highest respect.  Some colleges more than others, but that’s a different subject.  They are the source of learning and they help kids become the adults they desire to be.

This doesn’t appeal to me AT ALL.  But, I also have a career goal where college isn’t an option.  I truly don’t need it, because I am learning hands on.

Anyway, back to topic.

When you graduate, you get a great diploma, and a degree which you can put on resumes or hang on your wall to show your friends.  This one piece of paper help employers have more respect for you, and also lets them know that you were able to commit to school for however long you were there.

But what does it mean if you didn’t go to college, or you didn’t get the diploma?

In our society it means a lot.  Quite a few jobs will hire someone that went and graduated from college before they will hire someone that didn’t.  It is seen as something better employees do and things like this.

The one problem: People that graduate college have ZERO skills or experience.

This is where the fine line of qualified vs educated comes into play.

When someone says they are educated, a lot of people think that that is automatically the best way to go.  They rarely care about what experience that person has or what they did in college.  All that matters is that they were educated.

And when someone is qualified but not as educated as the afore mentioned person, they are looked down on.  Like they couldn’t figure out how to go to school so they had to work to get where they are.  Like work is truly a bad thing.

In my Certification post, I had a lot of interesting comments.  A lot were on the post, some were on cafemom and some on facebook and twitter.  It seems that the overall consensus was certification is truly the way to go so people know you truly know what you are doing and aren’t just a bum that learned how to help women.

And this is why I truly hate certification.

When people see you have a degree, it automatically raises you a bar in their mine.  And without that degree, you are shot down a little more.

Doulas are trained by either doing a distance learning course or going to a 3 day workshop where they learn for about 24 hours.

Now, I might be crazy, but why would that make someone qualified to be a doula?  Why would paying for a course and then coming home more “educated” truly help you be a better doula?

A piece of paper does not a good doula make.

In our society, we are so hung up on education, we forget to ask ourselves how qualified the person is for the job or position.  When we hear that education didn’t happen, or they didn’t go through with a certification course, we automatically assume that it would be bad form to hire them and also assume that they cannot do the job better than someone that is certified or educated.

In the birth field, the first thing I hear from a lot of women is the question, “So what training have you had and are you certified?”

Which both seem like ridiculous questions when put together in one sentence.  Someone can be certified but truly have no training, and another person could be trained better than anyone else but not be certified.

Why do we automatically cross out people just because of some silly certification that any Tom, Dick, or Harry can attain by paying $350 and driving somewhere for three days?

When you look at this picture, what do you see?

Four chicks and then a loner?  The one that didn’t make the cut?

I see four chicks that were educated and graduated with the system, and one that decided they didn’t need to.  One that decided to go its own way, and learn firsthand how to live and work.  One that trusted the skills they had, and went with them.

I work with a Traditional Midwife.  She trained with two midwives during her apprenticeship and then spent two and a half weeks in the Philippines helping moms have babies so she could see first hand problems that rarely occur in America.  And she is the most knowledgeable and able bodied midwife I have ever met.

She trusts the body knows best more than any midwife I have met in this entire state.  When she is at a birth, she only helps as much as she is needed so she doesn’t hinder the process she is trying to help.

And yet, people would automatically assume she doesn’t know as much as another midwife that had the CPM after their name.

This needs to change.

There truly is a difference between qualified and educated.  Sometimes these go hand in hand.  Other times, they are very far apart.

Certified does not make you a good worker.  This does not make you care more about women.  This does not help the situation.  All this does is keep everything going in a loop so that education beats qualifications every time.

And it truly makes me sad that even with my friends, certification beats out qualification every day.

Next time, instead of asking for qualification or education, get to know the person.  Find out how they feel about the subject.  See how much experience they have had and try to feel a connection with this person.

How comfortable you feel with someone carries a lot more weight than a name on a piece of paper no one truly cares about.

Giveaway #3: The Complete Illustrated Pregnancy Companion

Alright, to start off the post, here are the winners of the Be Nice Prenatal giveaway!!

Winner #1: Comment #7: Brenda!!

Winner #2: Comment #31: @reesemcg!

Congrats! I’ve let the company know you won, and an email is incoming to you 🙂

——————————————————————————

And now onto my third and final giveaway!  This one I am actually so excited about!!!

If you follow @RobinPregnancy, you have probably been to her website or heard of her book!  Both of which are incredible resources for pregnant women! I just love both :).

First, her website.  If you go here, you can find out all the good stuff for yourself, but I want to break it down.  She is one of the writers for About.com, and writes all about pregnancy and does a week by week section, similar to pregnancy week by week (but not as medicalized in my opinion).

She has written about everything you could possibly think to ask.  She writes in an easy to understand way, and puts all the information you might need out there for you to understand and make your own informed decision.

Her book is along the same lines.  The one thing I love about it is that it is an illustrated companion for pregnancy.  I love looking at pictures, and I think they help show size of the baby and many other things during pregnancy that women might have questions about.  And sometimes, baby center isn’t specific enough :).

This fully illustrated pregnancy guide gives an expectant mothers week-by-week information on their body and the child’s physical development; and then explains what they should do at each week of pregnancy for an optimally healthy pregnancy, delivery, and baby. A chapter is devoted to each week of pregnancy and covers everything readers need to know including, baby’s size, mother’s size, what’s normal in terms of physical symptoms and development, and what could indicate a potentially serious problem.  This chapter by chapter makes it easy to jump to where you are in your pregnancy, plus it makes it so you only have to read a little at a time and aren’t inundated with information.  Nutritional, exercise, and lifestyle advice, tips on treating common pregnancy discomforts like morning sickness and sciatica, and pregnancy do’s and don’ts, ensure a happy and healthy mother and baby.

Another really great feature is it has a checklist at the beginning of each week to say what should be done and to remind you things you might forget.  It has what things you should specifically look for that week to indicate if things are ok or if there are problems, and I know being a newly pregnant woman going through it for the first time can be scary.

This book truly does help keep things in perspective without scaring you like What To Expect books.  It has all the key points of each week, and in a very easy layout.

So, for this giveaway, I am giving away a free autographed copy of this book.  And as a bonus, you get to pick the inscription you would like her to write and then sign!

Now, each entry is a separate comment and if I don’t know who you are, please leave either your twitter account or email in one of your comments.

So, to enter:

  • Comment saying what you *might* have her write as an inscription

For extra entries:

  • Blog about this giveaway for 3 extra entries (link to your post in one of the three comments)
  • Tweet about this – Simply use “I am trying to win a copy of @RobinPregnancy’s book at @heartsandhandss blog, check it out here! http://wp.me/pKhmh-7w ” (2x per day)
  • Become a fan of Hearts And Hands Services on Facebook (if you already are, it still counts here)
  • Follow me on twitter @heartsandhandss
  • Become a follower of @RobinPregnancy on twitter
  • Comment on another post of mine (not giveaway related and one extra entry per comment)
  • Recommend a post topic for me to write about
  • Visit her site and say one thing you really liked about it

This giveaway will end on March 16th at 11:59 pm MST and I will post the winner on March 17th.

Winner will be chosen via Random.org!

Good luck!!