Author: Gloria Hines

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How to Survive Labor – Tips From a Doula (pt2)

How to Survive Labor – Tips From a Doula (pt2)

How to Survive Labor – Tips From a Doula (pt2)

If you read part 1 of my blog, “How to Survive Labor – Tips From a Doula” you’re already going to do so well with those simple and basic preparations! Part 2, the pro tips are for the moms that go the extra mile, and basic info isn’t enough. “Give me every tip you have!”  Momma, you’re going to do so well, you’re going to have a beautiful labor and there is nothing to fear. That’s what this part 2 is about. How to prepare throughout your pregnancy to give yourself the best chance at a great birth. It doesn’t matter what kind of birth you are having, natural, cesarean, induction, etc. Good preparation will make any birth have much better results, even in getting a quicker recovery afterward. Thrive in this labor. Have a great story to tell your friends about how you laughed throughout your whole labor, about how there was no pain only enough pressure to let you know what’s happening. These labors happen all the time, but we only hear the horror stories because it is the traumatized people that are compelled to tell their story again and again. You won’t be one of those. Rock your labor with these pro tips!
1. Nutrition is Key
Nutrition is the building block that everything stands on. If you don’t have good nutrition you can be sure there will be problems. So what does good pregnancy nutrition look like? For a healthy you and a healthy baby you need to be taking a good prenatal supplement to start. I recommend Thorne, Seeking Health, or Zahler Prenatal DHA. As far as what you should be eating, it is recommended that a pregnant woman eats:
at least three servings of protein per day (for Iron)
five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day
three or more servings of healthy dairy products per day (for calcium)
foods with essential fats (Omega 3’s and 6’s)
Bone broth is a staple for pregnancy as it provides minerals like calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus and is rich in gelatin, collagen, glucosamine, chondroitin, and amino acids. It can also help you overcome morning sickness.
There are plenty of things to avoid and limit as well. You should limit white tuna (albacore) to no more than 6 oz a week. Limit your caffeine as well to about 12 oz a day. And while many people disagree about whether alcohol is allowed in pregnancy or not, it has been proven that even small amounts of alcohol have somewhat of an effect on the baby and your pregnancy. So better just not to risk it in my opinion. Avoid all fish that contain high amounts of mercury, anything unpasteurized or raw meat. Eating good nutrition is going to help you feel better and have more energy, which brings me to my next point.
2. Exercise for Labor
Exercise during labor is a little different during pregnancy because you’re focusing on different things. If you work out all the time, you can keep doing that, but there are certain things that help prepare your body for labor. First is Kegels, I recommend at least 10 minutes of Kegels a day. You can split it into two 5 minute segments. Kegels are fun because you can do this anytime, anywhere. In a boring meeting? Kegels! Washing dishes? Kegels!  Try it in all different positions: sitting, standing, squatting, leaning over, laying down legs up, etc. Build up the amount of time they’re held and the pressure with they’re held. In an addition to Kegels Ina May Gaskin recommends 500 squats a day for a quick labor. It may take some time to get to that point. Split it up throughout the day to do as many as you can handle. But you should be up to 500 before the birth of your baby. Walking: many midwives won’t even take on clients unless they agree to walk 5 miles each day, rain or shine. It must be important! And last, is stretching. Some may not consider this an exercise, but it certainly prepares you physically and mentally. Flexibility in labor is very helpful in an of itself, but doing split-like stretches helps open you up and prepares you to release and let go of the tension and muscle gripping in labor. This is especially important if you’re worried about: length of labor, size of the baby, tearing, or the pushing stage in general. Learn more labor exercise HERE.
3. Red Raspberry Leaf Tea and Dates
Red Raspberry Leaf Tea is amazing. It tones the pelvic floor, strengthens the uterus, guards the immune system, and eases morning sickness and more. This is a favorite for doulas, we love the amount of good that comes from drinking a simple delicious tea. You can begin drinking this in your 2nd trimester. Dates are another great way to improve your labor outcome. It is associated with shorter labors, higher bishop scores, going into labor more spontaneously, avoiding Pitocin and many other things. You can begin eating them at 36 weeks, read more about them HERE.
4. Baby Positioning
There are many things you can do to improve the position of your baby. Most of us know that a sunny side up baby (posterior) means a longer harder labor with a ton of pressure on your back. If this is the case you should spend a lot of time on hands and knees every day doing some slight rocking. About 30 minutes to an hour every day can really help encourage your baby to move into optimal positioning. You can find out from your care provider where your baby is sitting, and then do some belly mapping to fill in the missing pieces. From there you can get to work. There is rebozo sifting, yoga, and exercise that can get baby moving. Any movement is said to be good movement because it just gives your baby more opportunity to do what it already knows to do. If your baby is breech at full term it will usually result in a c-section, so it’s best to get to work on that from 30 weeks on. A few things have been shown to help with that. The first thing is frequent deep pool diving, this creates a pressure that has been successful to turn many babies around. Having your partner speak or sing to the baby at your pelvic floor is so great. Your baby is attracted to the familiar sound and will draw near and hopefully engage when this is done regularly. The right kind of massage, acupuncture, and chiropractic care have been shown to help at times as well. If all of these things fail to engage a breech baby head down, then you should turn to Version, a procedure where the doctor will attempt to turn the baby manually. For more information on how to turn a particular position visit spinningbabies.com
5. Perineal Massages
A massage for your perineum can drastically improve your chances of not tearing and avoiding an episiotomy. And not tearing is a big must for surviving labor. It may be hard to do for yourself, you’ll need a mirror and some perseverance… or a partner for this. I recommend using coconut oil or vitamin E for this procedure, and to do it every day from 34 weeks on. Detailed instructions can be found HERE.
6. Stay Loose and Breathe
Now, in labor, there are things to remember and techniques to do. This is why it’s so helpful to have a doula, she knows what these things are and how to help you in those moments. So first thing to remember is that a loose jaw = an open pelvis. There is a direct connection with the tightness in your mouth, and the tension down below. So keeping your sounds low and your jaw slack help keep the looseness needed to avoid fighting your own contractions. Then there are breathing techniques, which there is no ‘right one’ just pick one you like. They are designed to keep you breathing deeply and getting plenty of oxygen to the baby, keeping you calm, and… distracting you. That’s right. Counting those breaths through every contraction really helps to refocus you and distract from any negative feeling.
7. Mental Preparation
I am all about mental preparation. In fact, I include meditation sessions with most of my packages, and will give the instructions on how to do it if they don’t choose that package. I think it single-handedly makes the most difference in the actual labor process. So there are many avenues of mental preparation. There is childbirth classes to educate you, a Bradley or Lamaze class to instruct you, and Hypnobirthing to change your mind. I think they’re all great, but if we are being honest we all have fear during our pregnancy lingering in the back of our minds concerning childbirth. This fear is ingrained in our body and even if we chant positive mantras, our body still reacts to the unknown with fear and negativity. I believe we can have positive labor, a pain free birth, and a glorious experience (even without the medication). Since this is the ‘pro’ tips from a doula I will give you the unconventional wisdom. In addition to meditation and the things mentioned in my last blog, EFT tapping is a way to address your fears and then rid yourself of them. Watch positive labors on Youtube or join BirthTUBE on facebook. Speak out what your birth will be and how you’re creating a pathway for it to be this way. Don’t speak anything that doesn’t feel honest. Speak only the truth. Ground yourself in nature for the meditation and visualize what your birth will be like because of your preparation and incredible birth team.
If you apply all of these things well, then you’re set up for an expert birth. You’re rocking this pregnancy, and you will rock motherhood as well. Just remember to hire your doula; knowing everything does not decrease your need for actual educated support during labor – physically, emotionally, spiritually, or as an advocate.
Let me know if there is anything I missed and how you are preparing for labor!

How to Survive Labor – Tips From a Doula (pt 1)

 

How to Survive Labor – Tips From a Doula (pt 1)

Labor and delivery can be extremely daunting. We are counting down the days from the beginning, dreading the labor, but excited to meet our little one. But the thing is, it doesn’t have to be. Honestly, you can rock your birth so well that the word survival doesn’t resonate with you anymore. As a doula, I have the amazing opportunity to guide women through pregnancy and labor and find out what works, and what doesn’t. And I have found unsurprisingly that those who prepare the most, handle their labors the best. I have some basic tips for you if you’re a first-time mom, or a mom that wants a better labor experience than before – oh that’s all of you? Okay, let’s delve into this topic and learn how to not just survive but have an incredible experience in your birth.
1. Get a Doula, or at Least a Childbirth Class.
We all knew I had to say it. It’s my highest recommendation I believe in them more than words can tell you. It makes a massive difference in your birth. And I haven’t met anyone that regretted getting a doula (maybe the wrong doula, but not a doula in general) if there are none in your area or in your budget, take a class. It will give you understanding, ease your mind, and make you more confident about your upcoming birth. Find a doula in your area HERE
2. Make a Detailed Birth Plan
Now, I have to give you the disclaimer that you probably won’t get it to happen exactly according to plan. But it goes along the lines of “Shoot for the moon, even if you fall short you’ll land among the stars.” Which may be incorrect astronomy, but you understand. Making a detailed birth plan increases your chances of having the birth you want. You’re not going to remember everything you want in those intense moments, but having someone remind you to change positions, or turning down the lights for you, adding some relaxing music, these little things make a big difference in your labor. In your birth plan also you should have procedure protocol ready for you and your baby as well. A good place online to make a birth plan (if you’re not hiring a doula) is HERE.
3. Release Your Fears
Since we know you don’t progress well unless you’re relaxed, and fear fights your natural hormones from releasing, it becomes extremely important to ward off fear. How? First, through education, learn all you can about birth, WARD AWAY FROM THE HORROR STORIES. Secondly, through prayer/meditation, take time every day to focus on the birth you want and remind yourself that you will get it. Pain-free, easy births are possible and they happen all the time. Remind yourself of all the measures that can be easily taken if something were to go wrong. Contractions are just flexing muscles and like a wave to embrace and ride. Think of pushing your baby out is like pooping out a stick of butter, easy because your body has already opened like it’s designed to and made way for your baby.
4. Relieve the Pain
The #1 pain relief option that people go for is an epidural. Epidurals have some pros and cons like everything, but after studying if you feel this is your best option, read this. There is also Nitrous Oxide which wouldn’t be my first choice as it has some seriously dangerous side effects. Then there is natural pain relief: water birth has been called ‘the natural epidural’ for good reason, the temperature and weightlessness contribute to major relief. If you’re not able to do water birth you can use similar techniques with a hot water bottle, warm cloths, or your partner holding you up to relieve you of any muscle usage (the weightlessness factor). There are instinctive position changes, massage, distraction, focus, oils, counter pressure, rebozo sifting, kissing, and many other natural ways to decrease or eliminate your pain. Your brain only has so many sensory receptors and if you combine as many of these things as you can, chances are you won’t have the space to feel pain.
5. Beat Exhaustion
Many moms confess that although they did all the right things and had a great labor in many regards they were just totally exhausted. Early labor is anywhere from a few hours to a few days or even weeks in some cases! Active labor can last up to 20+ hours, but from 6cm it’s usually between 4-8 hours. When you have to focus intensely through every contraction, those hours get very long. So first thing is preventative care. When you are in early labor many moms get excited about impending labor and find it hard to sleep. Don’t be that mom. Pretend it’s not happening and take a nap. Even if you can’t actually sleep, lying there is better than walking around trying to provoke labor to get rolling. If you were going to run a marathon in the evening would you exercise all day? No. Exercise should have happened in preparation for this day, but delivery day requires all the rest you can get. Also if you’re able to nap between contractions early on it’s a very good way to get you through the finish line. Secondly, you need fuel. Unless you’re planning on a C-Section (or believe you may need one) you have every right and responsibility to eat something. I recommend a smoothie as it is easily digestible and is good healthy energy to burn without the crash (try these yummy recipes!).

These are the basic tips to survive labor. If you don’t prepare you can expect to run into problems and pain. Every woman needs to be well prepared before undertaking this amazing feat. My next blog (part 2) is the expert tips for surviving labor and delivery. This has more to do with preparation in your body and is for someone who is very dedicated to having a great labor and delivery, and a healthier body and baby. You can expect better results when you put in the time and effort. Let me know what you did to prepare for labor!

How to Survive Labor – Tips From a Doula (pt 1)
Hannah’s Glorious Birth

Hannah’s Glorious Birth

I recently asked Hannah who is a mom, a doula, a holistic coach, and much more to tell me her favorite and most glorious birth story. She had the most incredible water birth pictures that spoke volumes about her experience. Here it is in her own words.

   

I love sharing Eden’s birth story because it truly was such a peaceful, blessed birth. Thank you so much, Gloria, for hosting me here. I will try to share my story and some helpful tips here!

Eden is my third baby, my only girl and my only Australian born so it was pretty special. We gave birth to the two boys in London where I lived and ran a Doula & Nanny consultancy.  I really enjoyed water for use in pain in labour and I had invested in a birthing pool for my 2nd born at home (I had had a water birth in a birthing suite in London for my first) so in many ways, I was looking forward to the labour and birth because the warm water so alleviated my pain and discomfort in my hip and backs.  Being my third baby born, I was prepared for what my body would be doing but in each pregnancy (including two that I miscarried many years before) the fear and worry can creep in and rob us of our peace and joy. I knew that I was low risk for the actual birth but every time I had a cramp, or Braxton Hicks, or a small show, the doubt would come.

So I prepared in several ways to ensure I had a peaceful birth.

I read books like:

“Guide to Childbirth” by Ina May Gaskin, which helped confirm my body was made for giving birth and I was more than capable of a natural birth, and what to ask for in my “support crew”

“Stand and Deliver” full of practical, easy to understand birthing tips by Janet Balaskas

“Your Baby, Your Way” by Sheila Kitzinger

I listened to guided meditations and hypnobirthing CDs, and I am working on my own now because I loved this SO much!

I diffused essential oils during the pregnancy and birth such as:

  • Lavender – Oh, I love this one. This scent truly calms the nerves and reduces anxiety
  • Frankincense – Calming, especially towards the end of labor or when transitioning.
  • Clary sage – Minimising tearing and relieving muscle tension (especially from emotional stress) and again towards the end of labor. (Note: this oil can induce as well so you wouldn’t use until well into labor and under guidance of Doula/midwife/support partner such as husband)
  • Peppermint – helps when feeling exhausted in labor. A true pick me up.

In pregnancy, I loved nothing more than a bath, candles, a chamomile tea, and a citrus oil or lavender blend in the bath, or sometimes bergamot or ylang-ylang.

NB: With oils, they are volatile. Always read the instructions, always get a premium oil and take care of how and when you use them. They can, however, be VERY effective.

Eden was born within 1 hour and 15 minutes from when I realized things were kicking off. I didn’t have a lot of time to process (clearly). I had hubby on hand with specially made herbal teas, I rocked a lot and made low sounds, I asked the lights to be down low and voices low. We had 2 midwives, my husband, my mum, a birth photographer at her first birth and at any point, my boys could have woken! I believe birth is intrinsically primal and that quiet, dark spaces help retain a sense of control and peace so it was important everyone knew to sort of “leave me alone”

It was a relief to hop into that birthing pool and really concentrate. Breathing deeply, sipping tea and staying in the zone in between strong contractions.

At one point towards the end, contractions were coming in hard and fast and I was feeling overwhelmed and started to lose my peace. I asked my mum to pray with me. She just confessed that we were not alone and things were going ok and I was immediately at peace. 2 more pushes, maybe 3 and my precious little girl was out. I gently brought her to the surface where we watched her take her first breath earthside. What a powerful, glorious, sacred moment!

Our bond 2.5 years later is still so strong, she is still cuddly, still rests her hand right here on my chest and still breastfeeds which has been helpful in keeping asthma and associated colds at bay.

(5 days old first snuggly photo shoot with talented Carrie from www.bugglebee.com.au)

 

I think what is so evident throughout her story is that Hannah had to fight to get the birth she wanted. She could have easily succumbed to the fear of past tragedies and the worry of future pain, but she chose to educate herself enough to feel confident, and when confidence falls –  to surround herself with those that would encourage her and give her peace.

Prepare the best you can, learn to tune in and trust your instincts, and only have people around you who will support your birth

 

Hannah is a nurse, birth and postnatal doula, holistic life coach and busy mum of 3. She homeschools, enjoys playing piano and listening to music, the beach, meeting new friends and catching up with old friends and honoring & supporting women in finding work/life balance so that the family unit is peaceful!

 

She is currently extensively renovating her website (and not enjoying the process!)

To follow her for encouragement & insights, holistic wellness, coaching and love you can find her here:

www.instagram.com/lovethosepics

www.faceboook.com/thepeacefulmama

www.facebook.com/thepeacefuldoula

Photos by Stephanie with The Capture Project

 

 

 

The Epidural Doula.

The Epidural Doula.

 

“I don’t need a doula, I’m getting an epidural.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that, and I’ve had to bite my tongue.  An epidural is not suddenly going to make this an easy DIY experience.

Let’s get real here for a few minutes. Don’t worry I am not going to talk you out of your epidural, just going to educate you so that you don’t walk into this blindly.  

 

“Pain coping”

Nobody signs up for a natural birth because pain sounds exciting. You can read that again. In a non-medicated birth, hormones flood your body making you capable of withstanding the immense pain. In the case of an epidural, your medication blocks both pain and pleasure hormones. With pain being the stronger of the two, sometimes that’s all you’re left with and you feel the pain without the endorphins to help you cope. You’re typically confined to a bed to be monitored properly, thus reducing many natural pain coping measures.  An epidural doula can help. She knows how to get you through the remaining pain. There are pressure points, massage techniques, essential oils, etc that she is trained to use effectively for pain reduction in such times. And that’s just if you decide to get a ‘parking lot epidural’. Deciding to naturally cope through labor as long as you can, has been shown to help shorten labors. Have an epidural doula by your side to get you through the toughest part, she will help you reach your epidural at the most effective time.

 

“Relaxation”

Many moms report that after getting an epidural even though their pain went WAY down their anxiety went WAY up. Someone close to you can help somewhat with this just by being by your side, but epidural doulas are trained in relaxation techniques and are some of the most naturally compassionate and empathic people (in my humble opinion). They are going to help by calming your fears – they’ve seen this before many many times! They are going to help by reminding you who you are and why you’re doing this (There’s a baby at the end of this tunnel!) And they can even take your mind off of it by creating beautiful imagery with their words. Giving you tasks relevant to you can really help anxiety; for one woman, singing hymns got her through labor beautifully! Once relaxed, most women dilate much faster -if you’re anxious, this is going to be a long labor.

 

“Breastfeeding”

Although there is no known adverse effect on baby with an epidural, there has been evidence that babies born via epidural are less likely to breastfeed than those born in unmedicated labors. The good news is that mom’s with (epidural) doulas are much more likely to succeed in breastfeeding than moms without doulas! If you plan on breastfeeding and getting an epidural, hedge your bets and hire an epidural doula. She knows how to help you and baby get a good latch, and she is there for advice and education on your breastfeeding journey.

 

“Your Birth Plan”

You won’t feel quite yourself in an epidural. Even though you will be awake  (Unless you’re choosing to nap, hooray!) many moms report grogginess, forgetfulness, and feeling ‘out of it’. If you have a birth plan, especially with instructions regarding the baby following birth, it’s important to have an epidural doula there. A dad/partner or friend is emotionally involved and therefore not often the best advocate for your birth plan when the moment arises. The doula will not speak on your behalf but will remind you, or ask you what you want when the doctor is present. The doula will pause the caregiver from performing any actions until they have your consent. That alone makes an epidural doula invaluable.

 

“Prenatal and Postpartum”

Yes, even epidural doulas will be a phone call away during pregnancy or postnatally. Many epidural doulas (like myself) will attend a prenatal doctor’s appointment with you to help facilitate communication, ask the right questions, and receive the truthful answers. An epidural doula will also check up on you postpartum. An epidural is not easy to heal from, and because it interrupts the body’s natural process of carefully cascading hormones, sometimes things go awry afterward. Having someone watching over you that knows what to look for, how to help, and who to recommend, is a tremendous lifesaver.

 

Hey mom, whatever you choose, epidural, un-medicated, or anything in between, arm yourself in education and don’t be ashamed of your choice. This birth is for you and baby, no one else. Make the best decisions for the two of you, but however your birth – I hope you choose a doula. A birth team doesn’t make you weak, it makes you smart. Whenever, however, let’s make this birth glorious.

The Epidural Doula.
Why are people choosing home birth over hospital birth?

Why are people choosing home birth over hospital birth?

Why are people choosing home birth over hospital birth?

In a day and age where we have such incredibly advanced medicine that has prevented and cured countless deaths, diseases and debilitations why in the world would someone choose to deliver their baby at home over a hospital? There are several ranging reasons but here are the top reasons I have found people would rather have a home birth. (and they’re not as crazy as you think.)

  1. Comfortability.

Hospitals evoke feelings of safety for many people, because they know if something serious happens, they can help. For many though, (and I would venture to say most) if we knew everything would go perfectly regardless, we would feel much more comfortable laboring at home. Under normal circumstances hospitals poking and prodding, weird gowns, rules, and regulations, harsh lights, bustling people everywhere makes us nervous. When you’re trying to deliver a baby, little sensitivities matter a whole lot. 1 in 4 women report being fearful, anxious and overwhelmed due to their unfamiliar hospital environment. Fear actually causes more pain by tensing your body and causing you double the work. Fear increases tears and prolongs birth. I will one day dedicate a massive blog just to the link between fear and pain. But the point is, if you want a fantastic birth, you need to be where you feel the most comfortable and at peace. That could very well be a hospital for you! But if you are wanting a homebirth and are high risk, I would highly recommend you hire a doula to create that environment for you to in the hospital setting – it can be done!

  1. Safety.

Okay, I know. This one sounds backward. We do the hospital for safety right? Yes, sometimes. Other times and in other ways, home births can be safer. The hospital is full of very sick people. That’s what it’s there for. Your home probably isn’t. Many parents fret over exposing their fresh baby to multiple illnesses and diseases on their first day in the world.

Let’s talk about the C word. American hospitals are the best in the entire world for life-saving, high-risk procedures in childbirth, but the very worst (in comparison to other developed nations) for delivering safely in normal low-risk birthing conditions. We have a 23.9% Cesarean rate for low-risk pregnancies! Another study says 31%! That needs to be stopped! Home birth with a certified midwife in the US is at a 5.2%. Whoa. Remarkably better.  Is it understandable now, how some might choose to have their low-risk birth at home with a midwife rather than at a hospital? Parent’s might also choose home birth for safety reasons because it means they won’t have an unnecessary induced labor, and they’ll typically have much fewer interventions. While doctors tend to think cost/benefit ratio and opt for more interventions for the worst case scenario (which some mothers love), most midwives are very good about minimizing any intervention unless necessary.

 

  1. Cost and/or lack of insurance.

For a low-risk birth in the hospital, you’re looking at about $18,000 for a vaginal delivery or $28,000 for a C-section. Whoa, mama. Most of it will be covered by some good insurance if you have it and people are, on average stuck with a bill of $3,400

Prenatal care done by a hospital is around $2,000 without insurance. Insurance might pay all of it, but many times people are left with small bills throughout their pregnancy.

The average midwife at a home birth in the Kansas City area costs around $2,500 including their prenatal care. That’s not all folks! Insurance can cover anywhere between 30%-60% of midwifery costs and midwives are typically more than happy to work out a payment plan with you. You do the math! These crazy home birth people sound a lot less crazy now, huh?

  1. You can (almost) do whatever you want!

As long as everything is going well:  You can use candles, incense, or essential oils. You can have your older kids participate. You can eat whatever, whenever. You can labor the way you want. You can stuff a whole lot of people in there if that’s your thing. You can keep your baby skin to skin as long as you like and not be pressured to do anything you’re uncomfortable with. You won’t have anyone waking you up every hour or half hour to monitor you. You don’t have to get up and get into traffic or bad weather to get to a hospital. Homebirth is what you make it.

    Home birth is definitely not for everyone. I won’t try to pretend it is. It’s for low-risk moms that live close enough to hospitals in case of emergency, it’s for those that feel safest in their home and prefer not to be monitored. A mother’s instinct is a powerful thing, and I would just advise every pregnant woman and her partner to do as much research as possible. Don’t settle for less than your perfect birth.  Meditate and visualize on how you want your labor and delivery to look. Ask a potential midwife how she would handle emergencies. And then trust yourself, you’ve got a little one coming that’s going to need to trust you too.

Essential Oils for Relaxation During Pregnancy

Essential Oils for Relaxation During Pregnancy

One issue that many mothers will face, especially towards the latter stages of their pregnancy is staying relaxed until it is time to give birth. Lowering the stress and anxiety is important when it comes to delivering a healthy child. Mothers who are anxious or overly concerned are not only putting themselves through a considerable amount of stress, they are also subjecting their babies to that as well. In serious cases, this may lead to complications that might have been avoided if the mothers could stay relaxed and calm. One simple and effective method for keeping calm and relaxed is the use of essential oils. For many years, essential oils have been used to help induce a natural state of relaxation. They can be used for women who are pregnant to help them relax as well.

How Essential Oils Work

Inhaling the aroma or scent of certain essential oils that are placed into the air through a diffuser or when used in massage therapy causes the mind and the body to become more relaxed. This is because the sense of smell is the only sense that is directly connected to the brain. In the back of your nasal passages, a small part of the brain is exposed which allows for direct contact to happen with the scent of essential oils.

The result is chemical changes that occur in the brain which promotes relaxation, a lessening of tension, and a reduction of stress which is important for women in their second and third trimesters. Using a diffuser means that the air itself inside the room is filled with the aroma of essential oils. Rubbing it on the skin produces a similar result and some of the essential oil will be absorbed into the body as well.

What Essential Oils Promote Relaxation

Of course, you will need to select the proper essential oils that promote relaxation so you can stay calm and relaxed in preparation for the eventual birth of your baby. The recommended essential oils are as follows:

  • Frankincense
  • Ginger
  • Lavender
  • Lemon Grass
  • Mandarin
  • Roman Chamomile
  • Ylang Ylang

All these essential oils promote relaxation in one form or another. Lavender is the most common arguably because it is the most well-known. However, the other essential oils also provide ample relaxation which helps women in their second and third trimesters feel relaxed, sleep better, and have more energy during the day.

In addition, many essential oils have antiseptic qualities which mean that they help destroy germs or bacteria. When applied to the skin, they can help prevent infections along with slowing down or even stopping potential colds and viruses which can be most uncomfortable and annoying during pregnancy.

It is important to remember that while some essential oils induce relaxation, others may induce labor to begin unexpectedly. So, you will need to avoid the essential oils of clary sage, clove, cinnamon, and rosemary. Make sure that you are not exposed to these essential oils or you might face unwanted contractions.

Essential Oils for Relaxation During Pregnancy
10 Special Baby Shower Gift Ideas

10 Special Baby Shower Gift Ideas

10 Special Baby Shower Gift Ideas For The Most Deserving People In Your Life.

We all know to get diapers, binkies, little onesies, etc. But when the shower is for your best friend that’s supported you through everything? Or your partner/ wife just got pregnant? What about when your sister is finally pregnant after trying for years? We all have those times when diapers just don’t cut it for the closest people in our lives. We have to get them something amazing. Something that is unique, over the top, and perfect for them or their baby. Here is a list I made of 10 special baby shower gifts that will make a lasting impression.

1. Give Her a Doula.

Well as a doula, I may be a little biased (Maybe not). But I believe the best gift you can give a new mama is peace of mind and a beautiful labor. Buy her a doula for a baby shower gift. You and some of her friends or family may want to chip in together to afford such a quality gift. I would highly recommend NOT picking the doula out, but rather presenting her with money for the average cost of a doula, and some top suggestions (maybe even call in a few interviews for her! The less work for mama, the better) But she has to feel that connection with the doula before the hire. I promise you, she will be thanking you for your baby shower gift for months (or years!) to come.

2. A Book That Will Speak to Her Motherhood

This is a book written by my husband about my mom, his mother in law. My husband lost his own mother to cancer at a young age. He went through hell and back many times over, searching for someone to replace his mother. That person who he found was my mother. This book speaks volumes without saying many words but will have you in tears by the end of it. It is a book every mama of a boy needs.  Check it out at Chris & Glow.

 3. Unique Gift For the Baby

Want to buy the cutest thing in the world for the baby that no one else will be getting? These little booties are handmade from Nepal where the profits go to help provide clean water to the people of Nepal. Made from yak wool, they are worth going gaga over. You can buy them HERE. You won’t regret this buy after you see that cute newborn rocking a pair of them.

4.  Baby Throw Pillow

A thoughtful custom gift for a new mom would be THIS but you could only buy it after the baby is born. But it’s beautiful and holds the moment. How fun would it be to have one of these pillows in every child’s room?

5. A Clay Handprint/Footprint Keepsake

This adorable kit allows the moment to be commemorated well. This is a totally safe, non-toxic, and easy to use clay kit.  This is a peaceful activity mom will love doing while in recovery mode. What a perfect way to capture forever how tiny and sweet the newborn is. A perfectly classy gift – get it HERE

 

6. Lumberjack Baby Beard Beanie

For a baby boy, these hats are to die for! Handmade and sold on Etsy, they are perfect for a baby born in the cold winter months and needs a hat for his whole face! (Hey, can I have one my own size please?) Get a bearded baby HERE.

7.  Blessingway

Nope, not the same thing as a baby shower. A Blessingway is a Native American traditional ceremony to bless and empower a woman before her birth. People may write down prayers or words of affirmation and make something beautiful out of it. They may draw henna on mom’s belly and make crowns of flowers. It can be as serene or as light-hearted as you want. Many different things can be done to make each Blessingway unique and special. Doulas can sometimes plan and host these anywhere from $100-$500. Either pay a doula or plan a Blessingway ceremony yourself!

8.  Prenatal Massage

So, this can go two ways. If you’re on a budget and a great massager… go for it! Every pregnant woman is secretly just waiting around for someone to offer them a massage – like at all times. I’d look up prenatal massage video’s on youtube to get some more specific tips and tricks and also to know what to avoid so that you don’t send her into early labor! If you are going to buy her one, make sure it’s for a place that specializes in prenatal massage and has good reviews. You don’t want her to always remember your gift as the one that gave her gas pains or something worse! Here is a good place in KC.

 

9. Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care is the unglamorous gift from someone who knows what’s up. Those who have been through a tough pregnancy understand the need for alignment and adjustment. The body completely changes in pregnancy and everything feels out of place. Putting it into alignment has some great health benefits along with the natural relaxation. The benefits are: maintaining a healthier pregnancy, controlling symptoms of nausea, reducing the time of labor and delivery, relieving back, neck or joint pain, and possibly preventing a potential cesarean delivery.

10. Prenatal Yoga or Birth Workshop Classes

Being happy and healthy is essential to a good pregnancy, quick delivery, and a healthy baby. Help your mama friend prepare, relax, and embrace motherhood with prenatal yoga or a birthing class.

For a great birth workshop in Overland Park, KS, I recommend Birthing Beyond.

 For Prenatal Yoga in KC , I  recommend Home Holistic.

Whatever you decide to get her or the baby, put some thought into it, put some heart into it, and splurge a little (she deserves it right?). Be her right hand, help her rock this pregnancy, labor, and early motherhood!

Let me know what you chose for the soon-to-be-mommy in your life!

What To Know When Giving Birth At A Hospital

What To Know When Giving Birth At A Hospital

First of all, you have more rights in a hospital while giving birth than you probably know. Most women have no idea what is allowed, what to ask, or what to assume. That’s ok though because I am going to lay it ALL out for you so that you are so prepared, and so in control.

So here is what you should know legally: it is your body, it is your baby’s body. You really are in control. You have the right to refuse any treatment and walk out of the hospital or birthing center at any time.

Consent papers

From the beginning, when you get those consent papers they want you to just glance over and sign? Don’t. Actually look carefully through them and cross out the things you don’t want to sign for, (Yes, you can do that) and add in things that are a must (you can do that too)…Then sign. They will have the right to refuse you service if something is just absolutely against their policy, but for the most part, they will comply with your wishes or work with you to facilitate them.

Informed Consent

Doctors many times will just assume that if you’re not asking questions it’s because you already know, and because they have to be efficient with their time, they won’t explain things they don’t have to. So don’t be afraid to ask too many questions. Ask about the risks and side effects of IV drugs, an epidural, or a C-section. Ask about the complications and benefits of breastfeeding or formula feeding. Ask about their specific hospital’s C-section or forceps rate. Whatever is important to you.  Ask about their policy for premature babies or complicated labors. And then you get to decide whether or not you give consent. If you don’t consent they can’t legally force you into any care regime. You might have to leave or get a new provider. But most doctors are very reasonable, and I think you are too. There is a reason you want your birth at the hospital, so trust their knowledge and experience, chances are they want to help you achieve your birth plan as well. They must give you the full information without holding back anything they think might scare you. This increases mother satisfaction greatly; knowing what you’re signing up for when you decide on something, is extremely important.

*Emergency disclaimer

If your life or the child’s life is in immediate danger, your care provider does not have to go into a full analysis of what they are doing, with the risks/complications/side effects etc. This is a good reason to speak to them beforehand about all of their policies and procedures. (and do a little googling at home)

 

After Birth

After birth, you can refuse anything you want to refuse. That goes for vaccinations, circumcision, washing, eye ointment, vitamin K shot, etc. I strongly suggest you don’t just tell them not to do something because it sounds scary, but do your research and speak in depth about anything that sounds bothersome to you with your doctor before your birth. Typically, the hospital will give you between a few minutes to an hour before they whisk the baby away to be washed and observed for complications. You can let them know if you want the baby to stay with you and get that important ‘skin-to-skin’. They will let you know if that is dangerous or not for your child’s specific physical state. The hospital may have you release them from liability if you choose this. You may also decide you want to feed the baby as it shows signs of hunger, and not on the feeding schedule of the hospital. If you know the newborn’s early signs of hunger* then this is fine with hospitals as well.

All in all, as much as you can, communicate with your provider beforehand or bring your doula to your appointments with you to make sure that you are fully heard, understood, and advocated for. It definitely helps to have your unbiased, focused doula at your birth for this as well. She can make sure you are understanding everything and that you are giving your full consent before moving forward in procedures. Have a plan, but be flexible because it will probably change a little. Birth is a little crazy like that.

*Waiting until a baby screams to feed it can lead to a constantly screaming baby, which is very tough on a new mother. Catching the earlier signs helps the baby understand it doesn’t have to always scream to be fed and it won’t until it gets very hungry – like in the middle of the night. It will make the distinction instead of crying as a first resort. This is a very small thing you can do, that can make a world of difference.

Note: This article is intended as general information only and is not intended to serve as legal advice or as a substitute for legal counsel.

What To Know When Giving Birth At A Hospital
Rebozo For Pregnancy and Labor

Rebozo For Pregnancy and Labor

How is a Mexican shawl (rebozo) helpful for pregnancy and labor?

A rebozo is one of the more underutilized birth items that doulas rave about. This thing single-handedly has changed many people’s birth so drastically that they won’t even try going into birth without one. You’re going to want to bookmark this on your computer for later.

A rebozo traditionally is a beautiful Mexican shawl, but more recently has been used for pregnant women everywhere. You can easily use a folded sheet or long scarf as a replacement, just know that the rebozo should be about 8 feet long.

REBOZO SIFTING IN PREGNANCY

 

    If you have been told you have a breech baby, or just that the baby is not in optimal position for that point in your pregnancy, you can begin doing what is called rebozo sifting.

You can do this is many positions. An easy position would be to get on all fours or to rest on a birthing ball and have your partner wrap the rebozo around your waist (make sure you go the full width of the waist from below breasts to the hips). Once you are wrapped and feel comfortable, your partner would grab both ends, taking the weight of your belly off of you and GENTLY shifting back and forth. Once you get the hang of it, try it in different positions and see which one feels the best for you.

You can’t rebozo too often. Twice a day is ideal if you’re in a hurry to get that baby in position, but you can do as little as once a week if you’re still several months out.

What is great about this is you can only move the baby into a better position. You can’t rebozo the baby into a bad spot.

Another reason to use this in pregnancy is to prepare for the labor, so even if your baby is in a great spot, you might just get comfortable with this practice so you both can jump into the routine on delivery day!

And mom, you’re going to love doing this if your pregnancy has been rough on your back. It’s going to feel like your dessert at the end of the day to get some of that weight pulled off of you.

 REBOZO SIFTING IN LABOR

Rebozo sifting in labor is used for the same main purpose of positioning the baby ever so slightly to the least painful, most optimal location. Many times women go through the excruciating pain that is unnecessary; the baby was not quite at the right angle and hitting at the cervix. This doesn’t have to be a part of your labor. Rebozo sifting can definitely help, but also it’s not a cure-all for the pain in labor. Labor is still usually painful regardless.

The other use of a rebozo in labor is just to relieve the mom of back pain. If you really take the time to learn about all the positions you can do with a rebozo, it can help alleviate many different areas of pain throughout labor.

Now, if you’re having a homebirth this will be a really easy transition, as you’ve had all the practice and the locations for positioning yourself. A hospital birth can still be done! I would advise you to bring your birthing ball and don’t expect them to have unlimited pillows for your knees. If you don’t have access to a birthing ball, just lean in on the edge of the bed using whatever you brought or whatever is around for your knee cushioning. You can cradle it under your armpits as you crouch to the ground and your doula or partner would stand above you in front carrying all of your weight (don’t worry partner, it sounds harder than it is). You can also try it on all fours in the hospital bed with your partner or doula standing above you sifting. You will probably get weird looks from the nurses and doctors. That’s ok!

The situations you would NOT use a rebozo in.

  • High-risk pregnancy. If you are having complications or you are in danger of having a high-risk pregnancy, you absolutely need to speak with your care provider first and foremost and make sure that the rebozo will be not a problem.
  • If you have seen any signs of the possibility of a miscarriage, you should not be using the rebozo.
  • If you do not think you can be very gentle, don’t use it or try it. Being rough with the rebozo could jerk around the baby and/or the placenta or cause other problems. But when used gently it is considered safe.

If you’re still unsure of positions or what exactly to do, there are a ton of youtube videos that can help walk you through. Remember practice, practice, practice! Good luck on your rebozo journey, I hope it works amazingly for you!  

How To Choose Your Perfect Doula

Choosing The Perfect Doula For Your Particular Birth Is Important

For every would-be parent, bringing a new life into the world is a crazy but very special experience. To make the pregnancy and labor leading up to the birth great, it is so important to find the right birth doula to fit your needs and desires.

Here’s what you should and shouldn’t do when interviewing for a doula for your birth team!

DO make sure the doula is supportive of your choices from the get go. Go over your desires for your birth and how important each thing is to you. Most doulas are very supportive, but some have their own agenda. So if you have a doula that keeps trying to get you to change your mind on something you’re fully committed on – drop her! That will not play out well in the delivery room.

DO make sure the doula you are interviewing is inclusive and doesn’t ignore your husband or children in the interview. This day is about you becoming a mom, but also he’s becoming a dad, and other children get to be ‘big brother’ or ‘big sister’ If she isn’t paying attention to them now, she won’t in the birth room later. The spouse is often too shy or sometimes lacks the understanding to ask for things in that intense delivery room, but a good doula is going to make sure he is included to the extent he wants to be. When it’s time for the children to meet their newest sibling, the doula should create the right environment for that to happen.

DO ask about pricing. Why are they the cheapest you found? Why are they more expensive than most? What is included or not included? What kind of experience are they bringing? Is it worth more to you for a doula that has been doing it longer?

DO ask about discounts and insurance. Has this doula ever successfully gotten insurance to cover part of her services? Does she offer discounts if you book her in your first trimester or if you’re due next month? Or if you pay her off by a certain time? Or if you’re a family needing assistance due to unfortunate circumstances?

DO have the doula provide some massaging on you in the interview! I know it sounds crazy, but you want to make sure that her touch isn’t annoying/too rough/too soft/etc. While you’re at it, make sure she has essential oils to massage you with, if essential oil benefits are something you’re looking forward to! I will be writing a blog here soon on the benefits of essential oils in birth.

DO find someone that’s warm, open, and makes you feel very comfortable. Just because she is knowledgeable and nice doesn’t mean she is right for you. The delivery room is a very vulnerable place and you shouldn’t have someone who’s presence in the room makes you feel uncomfortable, that goes for your entire birth team!


DON’T do all the talking. This is a common thing doulas do to make it seem like they’re a perfect fit for you. They just have you do all the talking, they nod their head and agree with everything you might say. You think she is perfect until the day of, which by then is too late. Find out what is important to you in a birth doula and ask her who she is and what she does. What are her beliefs in birthing and why should you hire her.

DON’T wait until the last minute to hire your doula. The earlier the better, you will usually get a lot more benefits from her. If you are not sure what to ask your doctor or midwife, your doula can help you by either making a list of questions with you or attending your appointments with you. She can help you make a birth plan. Sometimes it’s free, and sometimes it is included in her birth classes. She can also give you or recommend great prenatal sessions. She should also be able to answer all kinds of questions about your birth and what to expect and how to treat your body and prepare it for labor.

 

I am a Christian Kansas City Doula advocating for a powerful mama. Wherever she wants to birth, however, she wants to birth. Let’s make it glorious.

How To Choose Your Perfect Doula