In a day and age where there are so many choices, how in the world do new parents begin to navigate pregnancy and birth? Planning a Positive Birth Experience was the name of a class I wrote back in 1993 and later taught at Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies in Orlando Florida to help parents navigate all the choices. Yes, I have been teaching and supporting expectant families for 30 years now! So I am in the process of turning that class into a book.
Are You in the Wrong Class?
I used to open the class by welcoming everyone and then making sure they were in the right class they registered for. “This is Planning a Positive Birth Experience Class, if you signed up for the Horrible Birth Class, that meets on Friday nights at 7pm” I would say. Everyone laughed, but I wanted parents to make a conscience thought about how silly it would be to actually go to a class that helps you learn how to prepare for a horrible or bad experience. In reality people don’t plan for a bad experience they just don’t always do the work towards creating a positive birth experience!
So how do you see yourself in labor? Are you calm and breathing through contractions, or are you scared and praying this baby magically appears? In other words, what is your birth value or philosophy? Some of you may know right away how you see yourself giving birth, and other think “I have no clue”. For those of you who say you have no clue or are not really sure, I invite you to do a little exercise. Make a mental note, or jot down the first three words that come to mind when I say “giving birth at home”. Was the general feel to your words more negative or positive? Now do the same thing with the words “giving birth in a hospital”. Was the general feel of the words you thought positive or negative? I could also use the words natural birth/no pain medication or Epidural. The point being that you instinctively have a thought process around different options around giving birth. Most likely those feeling are running around in your subconscious. It doesn’t mean you must keep these thoughts but pregnancy is a time to evaluate how you really feel and if you want to make any changes in your thought processes. I invite you to begin exploring different options and see how you feel about them.
Care Providers & Birth Location
I do recommend expectant families to think through who they choose to see for care and where the provider practices and delivers. These two choices alone can have a huge impact on your experience and birth outcomes. Ask co-workers or friends about their experiences with providers, not just who did they go to and did they like them. In some areas in the US, because of the ‘culture” of birth, can increase your chances of a surgical birth just by the zip code. Find those providers where you feel respected, listened to and their office staff matches the provider’s care of you. Do your best homework upfront, but also don’t be afraid to change providers if you feel something isn’t right for you. Trust your gut!
The Right Support
Every step that you make toward the birth of your baby is important. Most people wouldn’t plan a trip oversees without researching and educating themselves on the various aspects of the country, lodging, food and activities. The same should go for planning for your baby. Some say birth is as strenuous as running a marathon. Think about who you would want next to you encouraging you. Do they support your decision or would they to talk you out of something that is important to you because of their own bias? Consider what their birth philosophy might be, does it align with yours? Choosing the right doula, a labor support person, is another option for your birth team. Each year more and more families are partnering with doulas for labor support. When hiring a doula you ultimately are hiring her ability to articulate her years of experience into your birth experience. Once again trust your gut when interviewing.
Learning is Foundational
In full transparency, as a childbirth educator my bias is naturally towards education. I do feel strongly about the importance of birth, postpartum, breastfeeding and parenting education. Some choose not go to class and do just fine as the body does know how to birth a baby! But I prefer people to educate themselves and have better birth experiences by feeling empowered and understanding the process that your body and baby will go through. There are all different kinds of books and classes available. By choosing a class that covers relaxation techniques for natural, medicated and c-sections you will be well rounded and prepared. Look for classes that align more with what your are wanting to do in labor.
Is Birth Plan a Four Letter Word?
In truth, I love and hate birth plans! I strongly feel that they are a communication tool of desires that can be quickly communicated to the birth provider team. I love the fact that just the concept and thought of writing one out invites expectant couples to begin to explore options they may have not realized they have. I hate them because they are not meant to be written-in-stone agreements, and can be disastrous if expected to be. Ask your provider how they feel about them and what their experience has been. Their response may give you further insights to how they will work with you during labor.
Weathering Bumps in the Road
As poet Robert Burns wrote ” the best laid plans of mice and men” means no matter how well you plan, things may not always go your way. Often time parents forget that there is a baby, a little tiny human being, that also gets a say in how they arrive earth side. So in all your planning I encourage you to check in often with your baby. It may seem weird to do this, but science has proven babies in the womb can hear and are conscience beings, they sense and feel what mom experiences. I bet some people speak more to their pets than they do the baby in their belly. I invite you to begin having conversations with your baby and what your plans are, you’d be surprised how smart they are.
When ever you are experiencing a bump in the road, you can do a very simple, and fast technique to called Heart Focused Breathing (click here for a 2 min video). Close your eyes and focus your attention to your heart. Imagine that you are breathing in and out of that region of your chest or heart. As your breathing slows and goes deeper, imagine something that is calming, peaceful or that represents safety and peace. Keep your focus there for a few minutes, this will help your body, mind and emotions come into coherence. Did you know that your heart send more messages to your brain than your brain to your heart? Sit a minute with that. Are you making decisions from your heart or head?
No Judgement Zone
No matter how you choose to birth or the outcome of your birth, I want you to be able to look in the mirror and be proud and satisfied with your birth experience and how you navigated decisions that needed to be made. Our society shames so many women for so many things. There is no right or wrong way to give birth. Create your own NO JUDGEMENT ZONE! This comes from a deep knowing and belief in your ability to make the decision you need to for you and your baby! Healthy boundaries are part of delivering your own peace of mind!
Kathy Bradley, IBCLC, CD, CCE is available for “Planning” appointments/consulting. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Childbirth Concierge is offering certain free virtual childbirth and breastfeeding classes as well as virtual doula support during the Covid-19 aka Corona virus. While Serving the greater Orlando area, our virtual classes and support has no location restrictions..
Anyone anywhere can benefit from our education and support. Our company motto is Delivering your peace of mind!! Please reach out , we are here to support you!
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Thank you to Spectrum News for taking the time to share our contribution.
If you are interested in Free Childbirth & Breastfeeding Classes or Virtual Labor Support please visit us at https://childbirthconcierge.com
No doubt you did not plan to give birth during the corona virus pandemic! We are in chaotic and very stressful times as our country navigates through this global pandemic. Childbirth Concierge has always dedicated our work to Delivering your peace of mind! We spoke with Dr. April Merritt of Delany Park OB/GYN located in Orlando Florida to hear what patients were concerned about birth and corona virus and to gain guidance from what she is sharing with her patients.
If you need support and classes we are here for you. During the month of April our classes and virtual doula support is complimentary!
Reach out at https://childbirthconcierge.com/contact/
https://womenscarefl.com/provider-pro… Dr. April A. Merritt is board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology. She is a member of the American Institute of Minimally Invasive Surgery. She is a Fellow in the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Merritt practices general obstetrics and gynecology. She also practices high-risk obstetrics and handles minimally invasive laparoscopies and same-day surgeries and performs vaginal prolapse surgery such as anterior and posterior repairs. She is a wife and mother of two handsome boys.
Dr. Merritt is located in Central Florida and practices at Winnie Palmer for Women & Babies https://winniepalmerhospital.com
If you are interested in free Childbirth & Breastfeeding Classes or virtual labor support please visit us at https://childbirthconcierge.com
Free Virtual Planning a Positive Birth Class
I found out I was pregnant about three months after suffering the loss of my first pregnancy. I was anxious and scared but welcomed the morning sickness. Everyone told me that morning sickness was a good sign that my pregnancy was progressing along. According to that sign, it was progressing but the further along we got, the worse I became. The realization came when I drank about 2 ounces of blue gatorade and close to 20 mins later I was begging for the car to be pulled over so that I could vomit at the gas station. It got to where even water wouldn’t stay down. This prompted a visit to my midwife, who kindly explained that some women suffer from Hyperemesis Gravidarum and some to the extreme of needing to be hospitalized.
What is HG
Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) is a rare disorder characterized by severe and persistent nausea and vomiting during pregnancy that may necessitate hospitalization, as described by the National Organization for Rare Disorders. According to the HER Foundation, HG is the leading cause of hospitalization in early pregnancy, and is second only to preterm labor as the most common overall cause of hospitalization during pregnancy. I was excited to have a diagnoses because in my mind at that point, it could be treated. I could not have been more wrong. HG is rare and there is not enough research to know or understand where it comes from or why it happens. The way it affects each woman and each pregnancy varies.
Not Your Typical Morning Sickness
HG is not the typical morning sickness that you often hear about associated with pregnancy. HG is much more severe, at times causing hospitalization and even loss of pregnancy. As a two-time HG survivor, I would describe it as morning sickness on steroids. I, fortunately, never experienced being hospitalized for a period of time during either of my pregnancies. But did end up in the emergency room countless times needing IV fluids due to dehydration. The nausea and vomiting were so bad that it caused petechia around my eyes and often my throat would bleed. Weight loss to the tune of 40 pounds average during both pregnancies was overwhelming, especially when I should have been gaining weight.
It’s Not in Your Head
So many times I was told, “Try some ginger.” “Use SeaBands, they worked for me!” “Eat some saltines.” I wanted to scream in response. I was already being treated with anti-nausea meds that they use to treat cancer patients, and it only slightly helped. The comments became unrelenting. “Oh I have morning sickness too.” “I had it so bad for a couple weeks. Yours will go away soon.” Mine did not go away, either time, until I gave birth. I can remember thinking at one time, “Why am I even pregnant? This is utter hell.” Immediately guilt set in. This is when I began to search for more information on HG. The HER Foundation also says that nearly 20% of HG pregnancies are lost to therapeutic terminations, citing “no hope for relief.” This is heartbreaking and yet dare I say, I understand where these mommas come from. HG is relentless. It is 24/7 nausea so bad that it is difficult to move from the bed. Walking to the bathroom feels like a marathon, imagine caring for a family or working a job.
Even Royalty Can Suffer
Over the years, more awareness has come regarding HG. Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton suffered HG with both pregnancies. Today is HG Awareness day and in honor of all the women and babies that have survived, I will leave you with this. If you know someone suffering with HG the best thing you can do is be there. Whatever you do, do not tell her;
1.“It must be in your head.” – I can promise you it is not. The suffering would be over if it was as simple as changing a thought.
2.“It will be over soon” – Delivery might be two days away but it will still feel like I lifetime.
3. “Eat some ginger.” – Ginger most likely will do nothing to stop the vomiting.
What a mommy who has HG needs more than anything is support. Send encouraging notes, donate towards research, offer to clean her home, watch her kids, cook her family dinner, and most of all love on her. When she finally makes it full term and gives birth, celebrate! Bring her the food that she has missed out on for the last 9 months. And remember that post traumatic stress after HG is a real thing. BE kind and most of all, simply walk alongside her and support her.
Sleep. Everyone loves sleep. Especially parents of a newborn baby! Just ask any mom or dad that has brought home a baby within the last couple months how important sleep is to them. As adults, our bodies have adjusted to sleep patterns. It takes an infant’s body much longer to be able to sleep through the night! And by the way what does “sleep through the night” really mean anyway? Immense exhaustion and fatigue leads to frustration and life can become overwhelming in a matter of sleepless nights. Some families try to “train” their newborn to sleep though the night without understanding normal sleep patterns. Additionally there are a sleep training methods out there that may not always best support the breastfeeding infant and can actually contribute to shortened duration of breast-feeding times.
Some methods and tips that work well and are more healthy for parents and babies! Consider the following tips to help take back your sleep. Heidi Brooks PhD, a Certified Lactation Counselor and Certified Child Sleep Consultant shares her top tips for parents of newborns.
Brooks says, “Remember this is all new for baby. Baby has been in a safe space up til a few days ago! It was not dead silent! There were heartbeats and the sound of whooshing blood. Get a white noise machine and run it when baby is asleep so that they fully relax and outside noise is blocked out.”
“When baby slept in the womb, there was hardly any light. So let’s replicate that in the fourth trimester. Make sure the room baby is sleeping in is dark when baby is sleeping. It allows for them to get super restorative sleep!”
TIMING, TIMING, TIMING!
“Timing is everything. I can’t stress this enough. Newborn Babies can’t be awake for hours. They need to be put down to sleep every 45/60 mins in the first few months. I know this sounds unreasonable however, that’s how it was in the womb! They slept on and off all day. Why? Because their circadian rhythms haven’t developed and won’t til about 16 weeks. An over tired newborn will not know why they are tired just that they are and THEY HATE THIS FEELING and will cry themselves til exhausted and fall asleep. An overtire baby is one of the hardest things to deal with as a new parent and one of the easiest things to avoid. “
DON’T FORGET YOU!
“Take time for yourself. When baby is asleep take a shower, eat something, have a coffee or a nap! I know everyone says this but take the help when you need it. That plus the above newborn sleep tips will have you rocking through the newborn phase.”
If you would like additional support to get more sleep, reach out here.. Heidi is ready to work with you to get your little one sleeping better and Deliver YOUR PEACE OF MIND, no matter where you are located!. Also consider a postpartum doula to support you as you transition with your little one to better sleep.