Delivering Your Peace of Mind!

Delivering Your Peace of Mind!

Can we say MIND BLOWN???? How can it be that as owner of Childbirth Concierge I am still a #birth junkie at heart all these years later?

It was her fault

On March 26 in 1989 I gave birth to my first daughter Kara Ann after 26 hours of a Pitocin induction for pre-eclampsia at 37 weeks gestation. Even though I did it without an epidural and had a forceps delivery, I could not have imagined that her delivery would be responsible for catapulting me into a career of helping women have a positive birth experience. Months after her delivery I kept processing my experience. I was educated, had gone to childbirth classes, had midwives and Obstetricians and yet I was left feeling like what happened to me?

And her fault too

The same year my bestie Beth was pregnant, and her bag of waters ruptured prematurely at 34 weeks. Having only been to one childbirth class, she called me to come help her breath since I had given birth a few months earlier. It was a pretty fast labor, as I stood across from her husband at Cape Canaveral Hospital in Florida encouraging them both. When their daughter, who now has her master’s degree, was born I experienced something I will never forget. I remembered thinking I wanted to do this for the rest of my life. I now know that “feeling” is referred to as the “birth high”!

He thought I was crazy

Doula was not a popular word then and only found in the Greek dictionary. For that fact (don’t tell anyone) the internet wasn’t even a thing. But I had to figure out how to keep doing what I had just experience. When I came home from that birth, I certainly was a chatty Kathy. My now ex-husband said “What is that you want to do? Become a nurse? Midwife? Doctor?” I replied “No, I just want to be beside with the momma and do what I did”!

My first training

A year later I wanted some kind of training for what I wanted to do. I called all over and went to the library to look a micro phish. Some of you will need to google to even become familiar with that word. Go ahead, go Google I will wait for you. Needless to say I found an article that mentioned the word doula but it referred only to the postpartum period. I eventually called the Dept. of Professional Regulation and the lady said she would mail me a copy of a brochure she had just received for a training in Tampa Florida for $150. I remember borrowing the money from my mom and mowing her lawn to work it off. That Childbirth Assistant training took weeks for me to process with so much new information and concepts for my mind.

I will pay you to be at your birth

As I set out to gain my experience needed for certification, it was very foreign for someone extra to be at a birth. I practically had to beg mommas to allow me to be there. In time Beth had a son Asher. I was able to support her and Greg again but this time as a “trained” doula.  Over time I gained more and more experience and became the first certified Childbirth Assistant in Florida with the former National Associated of Childbirth Assistants out of California. Over time I became an instructor for them and served on their Board of Directors.

Starting new things

In 1992 I borrowed 4 grand from my brother (my first business loan) and hired a top attorney to create the former Childbirth Enhancement Foundation (CEF) a non-profit organization. I developed a training and certification program and set up 14 hospital-based Doula and Internship Programs. In Santa Fe, NM I was contracted to help the hospital foundation write a $350,000 grant and then run the Doula Program. CEF trained hundreds of women and provided services to many communities. I am awe struck when I count how many doulas CEF trained that went on to become midwives. Three own local birth centers in the Greater Central Florida Area. I think last count was 14 midwives that began at a CEF training.

Times Change

During these growing years I went on to have 4 more children, 2 of which Jennie Joseph, LM, CPM delivered. I was working part time at a hospital in Orlando teaching childbirth education and had become an IBCLC. As with all things life happens and I went through an unexpected divorce, house fire and found myself questioning how to go on. I had come to a place where I was willing to walk away from it all and find a full-time job in corporate America. I took a year off from “birth work” and recharged and refocused. About that time Jennie and I decided to merge the training and certification work together in to her non-profit Commonsense Childbirth, Inc, and so CEF was put to rest. It was a hard but needed action. And in due time Childbirth Concierge was born.

No Time to Slow Down

So here I find myself pinching myself after all these years I still get to support families and now on a larger scale, than just myself. I have been blessed with an incredible team who upholds integrity and the spirit of service that are so important to me. Thank you Kara Ann for your birth that left me feeling empowered that I did it naturally, but yet wondering how I could have been more educated and empowered. Thank you Beth, Greg, and Laura for calling me in to my first experience of being beside with a family. Blessings to all the women who have allowed me to impart knowledge and wisdom and to the families who have trusted Childbirth Concierge to deliver their peace of mind!

Rethinking Childbirth Education

Rethinking Childbirth Education

Why is change so hard?

It is a question I often ask myself, but I guess if I were to answer my own question I would have to say it is because we like the familiar. The things we are used to, things that we have become comfortable with. To make a change requires use to enter into the uncomfortable ZONE. It requires us to step out and do something different then what we have done before.
I entered the birth arena as a Certified Childbirth Assistant, the year before DONA became an entity. After a year or two of working with laboring patients I decided to become a Certified Childbirth Educator. I embarked on teaching basic female anatomy, stages and phases of labor, showing the “birth” video that made some partners cringe, and much more over a 12 week period. I was the pregnant couple’s lighthouse into understanding and learning about birth. The internet didn’t even exist.
Most educators that have been teaching 10 or more years can say they have seen a decline in attendance to childbirth classes. Today’s pregnant mamas are years ahead in technology then where I was when I was pregnant (1989) and a good number spend a lot of time educating themselves during their ten month growing period .
Some professionals feel that the decline in traditional class attendance is due to the vast amount of information that can be found by other modes. I taught for 14 years at a major hospital and I can still hear my manager’s voice. “What can we teach them that they can’t read in a book or get off the internet?” My answer always was “We may not be able to teach anything new, but as the experts we can make sure they have accurate information and that their personal questions are answered.”
I believe we always will have some form of classes but feel we are moving into a time that demands a more personalized form of childbirth education. Ponder the thought of merging the profession of childbirth educator with the doula. Many of us have been doing this for some time. It really goes hand in hand. I call this “merge” the Childbirth Consultant. Our world is always changing, but the process of giving birth never changes. How we educated and impart information may change, but what they need to know never changes.

Kathy Bradley has been involved with perinatal education and health care since 1989. Her focus over the years has been providing education and support to women of all income levels. As the founder and executive director of the former Childbirth Enhancement Foundation, she developed partnerships and training programs for community based doula programs with 14 hospitals. She managed a $350,000 grant to provide low-income women childbirth education, doula and lactation support services in Santa Fe, NM. She is owner of Childbirth Concierge and holds a degree in Communication and Public Relations.

Should I go to a Childbirth Class?

Should I go to a Childbirth Class?

Childbirth Classes

Often times I hear pregnant moms say “I don’t need to go to childbirth class I am going to use an epidural” and it is probably one of the biggest misconceptions about childbirth class that exist. Before the electronic era and wide spread use of pain medication for pain control, the common way expectant parents could learn about what was going to happen to them during birth was to attend a childbirth class. Over the years the childbirth education classes have seen a decline in attendance, yet a lot of people spend more time and resources researching how to remodel a bathroom or kitchen than learning about bringing a baby into the world.
Today offers a lot more options. With YouTube and the internet, one doesn’t even need to leave their home or put down their hand held device to get advice and information on giving birth. And it is true that babies will come into this world without their parents taking a class on “childbirth”, after all childbirth classes didn’t exist 100 plus years ago as we know them and babies still arrived. Fast forward to a very busy society where 80% to 90% of laboring patients use epidural and c-section rates are the highest they have ever been across the United States.
Learning from a childbirth expert what you can do to increase your chances of a positive birth experience is worth your time and money. Most hospitals offer some type of class, but it is also very popular to see other classes offered in the community. For those with busy schedules, private classes are the perfect option and are not as expensive as you might think. Most classes whether group or private should cover basic items like when to go to the hospital or birth center, stages and phases of labor, basic terminology, comfort measures, partner tips, interventions. Some classes include newborn care and breastfeeding. The hot topics usually are pain medications. In my 24 years of experience there are generally three types of thinking when approaching pain control;
1. I definitely want an epidural.
2. I will wait and see if I need one.
3. No thank you, I do not want one.
There is no right or wrong answer, only you can decide, but I also encourage you to stay open about options. For example if you are planning on an epidural learning about when the ideal time is  to get an epidural can help you to decrease your chances of a C-section. Most moms don’t realize that the number one way to decrease their chances of a C-section is to wait until active labor to come to the hospital. We call this the 511 rule – contractions at least 5 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute long, for at least 1 hour. Also using a peanut ball decreases chances of surgery as well.
If you are planning on not having an epidural, have you thought about what it takes? Do you have good labor support? Have you thought about hiring a doula? Key to laboring without an epidural is movement, use of hydro therapy, access to many comfort measures, and understanding all the ins and outs of labor. Do you understand when an epidural can be beneficial? Yes, even for those “natural” mamas, sometimes interventions can be helpful in unique situations. Being prepared and not afraid makes a world of difference.
Birth planning and birth itself is not 100% black and white. The more you are educated and understand the value in good communication with your nurses, midwives and doctors the more satisfied you will be even if the need arises for a C-section.
Your childbirth educator is the expert that you can ask all kinds of questions to and bounce things off that you have read or heard.
It’s is your birth, and education is key!

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Kathy Bradley, CD, ICCE, IBCLC has been in the Maternal Health field for 29 years and has taught countess families.  She taught for 14 years as the 2nd largest volume hospital in the US, located in Orlando.

Myth; Childbirth is ALWAYS Painful!

Myth; Childbirth is ALWAYS Painful!

Sometimes when people hear that I am a clinical hypnotist specializing in women’s health, they will physically take a step back from me as if the next words out my mouth will render them helpless to my whims. It’s a bit sad to me that many people are frightened of HypnoBirthing and hypnosis. There are numerous misconceptions, myths, and untruths surrounding “it” and birth.And then there is the myth; Childbirth is always painful, is just not true.

Trust me, if that were possible, my children would automatically keep their rooms immaculate, wash the dishes, and clean the toilet. Yet, rarely do I ever find someone having the same reaction to television, which is the biggest hypnotist out there. When your preschooler informs you need to buy a particular brand of razor because it will make your legs smooth, beautiful and free from cuts , that there my friends , is straight up suggestion. Advertisers play on our emotions and tap into our hopes, fears, and dreams in order to sell us cars, convince us we can slow the aging process, and inform us that we are now at that age we should discuss taking a certain medication with our physician. The list goes on and on. Advertisers and the media understand that when something is vividly imagined with a lot of emotion surrounding it ( Will I be accepted? Will I look desirable to the opposite sex? Am I vulnerable to that condition?), that our subconscious mind has the same physiological and hormonal response as if this exact situation is actually happening to us. This is simple to do with powerful images, persuasive scripting or voice over and dramatic music; and we respond accordingly.

Through movies, television shows, social media, and advertising, we are bombarded with messages about how we should look, what we should wear, what we should be eating or not eating, what is acceptable behavior, and how safe the world is around us. Media exposes us to life situations we may have not encountered yet, models how others respond to the world around us, and forces us to constantly compare ourselves to others. These values and beliefs shape and shift through the years, and are colored by the person or entity presenting them. (Simply watching movies and television shows from previous decades illustrates this.) All of this powerfully influences the beliefs about our selves, our capabilities, self image, and worthiness.

Media further shapes our beliefs about our ability to conceive, what pregnancy entails, what giving birth will be like, and what the expectations are for us a mother, as a father. All of the messages are powerful; and some are beneficial, while the majority are down right detrimental. There are the obvious movies and television shows depicting a birthing woman screaming throughout labor and birth as her husband or partner fumbles runs around helpless and feeling inept. The documentary style birth shows typically have dramatic music and a scripted narrative. Such narrative can include:

“Will this normally cool, collected mother be able to keep it together? The story of a painful delivery.”
“The pain is really insane.”
“The pain is really unbearable at this point.”
A beautiful, unmedicated, natural hospital birth is turned into what the narrators would lead you to believe was an act absolute torture. The narrative completely overlooks the fact that after her baby daughter is placed on her belly, the mother exclaims, “I am feeling absolute bliss!”

While many people may think that is just the media wanting to sell their programs through drama and fear, that fact isn’t typically foremost in a pregnant woman’s mind as she watches these shows looking for guidance and education. Most importantly, we are in a relaxed state of everyday hypnosis while engrossed in a television show. All of the sounds, images, and opinions manipulated by negative, fearful narratives are embedded directly into the subconscious mind.

The advertising media even influences our doctors and caregivers regarding the safety and efficacy medications and products. Smoking cigarettes was once touted to women as a way to stay slim. Smoking was recommended during pregnancy to stay relaxed and calm, and ensure a smaller baby and a smooth delivery. (My own mother was told by her physician to start smoking again during her pregnancy with me because she was gaining too much weight in her pregnancy. She gained 21 pounds total.) Ads further sold the calming and relaxing benefits of smoking cigarettes to mothers as a way to prevent losing your patience or snapping at your child. In the 1950s, marketers sold the wonders of DES (diethylstilbestrol), a drug used from 1938 to 1971 that claimed to prevent abortion, miscarriage, and premature labor. The ads featured photos of alleged chubby, healthy DES babies. Pharmaceutical sales representatives urged doctors to use DES for irregular periods, painful periods, morning sickness, and high risk pregnancies. It became common to use it in all pregnancies and was even placed in some prenatal vitamins. Even though DES was banned from use in poultry in 1959 and solid evidence proved that the drug was not effective, it continued to be given to pregnant women for years after. Tragically, DES is linked to a rare and deadly form of vaginal cancer, malformed female reproductive organs, and infertility in the daughters and sons whose mothers were given the medication. Around this same time formula was touted as superior to breastmilk, and it has taken a lot of strong campaigning to once again normalize breastfeeding. Formula reps are still heavily pressured to get their brand of formula into the hospitals, doctor’s offices and, ultimately, into a new mother’s hands. Reps are often told to encourage the hospital staff to help the poor, exhausted mothers rest by giving the baby a bottle feeding.

Just like formula feeding, epidurals are now a cultural norm. Both have their place and can be a godsend for the mother that needs them. However, the issue is that instead of what is physiologically normal being our cultural norm, what is common becomes the norm at the expense of mothers and babies. Women are now often shamed and ridiculed for wanting an unmedicated birth. Sadly, when women share with their physician that they would like to give birth naturally, she is often told, “Well, you can try to give birth without an epidural, but I don’t think you will be able to do it.” This is known as a prestige suggestion in hypnosis, and it can completely undermine a woman’s belief in herself.

The subconscious mind is our protector. Its role is to keep us safe, to help us feel loved and accepted. When a woman’s subconscious is programmed with negative beliefs about pregnancy and childbirth, it causes her to doubt herself, her body, and her ability to give birth to and mother her child. If it is her first pregnancy, her subconscious does not have any previous personal experience to refer to so it references what she has been told by others or watched on television or in movies. If everything her subconscious is programmed with is scary and disempowering, she will go into fright or flight in order to protect herself and her baby. This makes for stressful pregnancy and more painful, frightening birth experience for them both. The beauty of HypnoBirthing is the ability to ‘de-hypnotize’ these negative messages and beliefs that are constantly coming at pregnant mothers in all different directions from the media, caregivers, friends, family, and even strangers. We help mothers to discover her own inner wisdom and define her own beliefs about pregnancy, birth, and motherhood.

Michelle Smith, CHt has been a pioneer in bringing HypnoBirthing® and HypnoBirthing® Fertility to the Orlando and Kissimmee-St.Cloud Florida area, and has been facilitating classes since early 2003. She was one of the first in the nation to certify as a Hypnobabies Instructor (number 012) and has studied multiple birth/fertility hypnosis programs. Michelle has maintained a practice in the field of hypnosis and regression therapy for over a decade, and she provides you the confidence of working with a seasoned practitioner who has facilitated hundreds of classes and hypnosis sessions, as well as the experience inherent in attending over 500 births as a midwifery birth assistant and doula. You can reach Michelle at