Planning a Positive Birth Experience

Planning a Positive Birth Experience

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!   

Birth Values

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 kathy@chidlbirthconcierge.com

 

Word is Spreading- “We made the news” Free Virtual Childbirth Classes during Covid-19

Word is Spreading- “We made the news” Free Virtual Childbirth Classes during Covid-19

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!

Click the you tub video to watch the new story.

Thank you to Spectrum News for taking the time to share our contribution.

Click Here for Full Story

If you are interested in Free Childbirth & Breastfeeding Classes or Virtual Labor Support please visit us at https://childbirthconcierge.com

Breastfeeding Class- Virtual

 

FREE Childbirth Class-Planning a Positive Birth Experience during Covid 19 – Virtual Class

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!

Doulas- Why Such a Wide Ranges of Prices?

Doulas- Why Such a Wide Ranges of Prices?

Doulas

I remember being so excited receiving my first check as a doula, known back then as a childbirth assistant. It was 1990 and in the previous years of “doing this work” the word doula wasn’t even in my vocabulary. During my training I was willing to pay someone to let me be by their side. Over the years and as I gained more experience my fees increased. To hear some say that doula services run $2,000.00-$3,000 in New York or California blows my mind. That’s along way from my mere $150.00 from my first official paid client in Florida.

For someone who has spent years training and developing people in this profession, the growth is exciting! And as with growth comes growing pains. Part of the pain is deciding what is a fare price in today’s market. Many factors go into setting a service fee; what one will provide, average time spent with a client in order to gauge an hourly wage, experience and skill level, as well as what the market will bare.

I consider myself old-fashion when it comes to some things, and I still believe in tenure. Not that long ago it was considered noble to spend many years with a company. Loyalty was rewarded with financial gain and title. It was expected that you put your hours in and did the time to earn experience and respect, it wasn’t given over night. Today it seems common for young professionals to jockey around from company to company, and there seems to be a lot of “I don’t really want to work hard but I want a pay check” mentality! I am always internally challenged when I see a new doula charging more than I do with 29 yrs under my belt. I hold the belief, whether right or not, that I would rather be busier and serve more women than price myself so high that I only work every now and then.

So what is the correct fee for a doula to charge? Since we still live in the land of the free and where free commerce is alive and well, the answer is; there is no correct answer. It boils down to this, in my opinion, it is what you are willing to pay is what you WILL pay. One thing to consider is that when you are hiring a doula you in essence are hiring her years experience and her ability to articulate that past experience appropriately during her work with you.

I have seen many new trainees that naturally have “it” and instinctively are supportive, they just simply lack the years experience of working in different settings, with different birth situations, and interacting with medical personal among many things. I always say if you can not afford a certified doula, a student with a good training is still supportive.

Here are some primary things to consider and words of wisdom before hiring a doula service:
1. First and foremost do your homework about this person or company.
2. Do they come highly recommended?
3. Always interview whether in person, phone or virtually.
4. Compare the fees of other doula and their experience.
5. Does this doula have a specialty?

Lastly, trust your gut intuition, it never fails you. If you feel comfortable and relieved to have this doula work with you then go for it after all it is your birth, and you know what you are willing to pay~