It’s time for another Pro Tip!
It’s normal to feel afraid when thinking about what lies ahead of you…..what will labor be like? Can I do it? What if something goes wrong? Will I be a good mom?
These feelings will affect you, your baby, and your birth. But, I have good news! There is a way to keep them under control! Having a provider that you trust is a good start. Taking a quality, independent childbirth education class is another big step in the right direction as is hiring a doula to support you. Having a team around you to support and educate you will help relieve some of your anxieties of what labor and birth will look and feel like. Staying active and eating well is good insurance that you will have a healthy and satisfying birth with a healthy mom and baby at the end. Spending time practicing self care and nourishing and preparing your soul for motherhood is also important. Pray, meditate, talk to friends and family, create art, journal….find whatever it is that works for you and do it regularly.
Oh friends! Don’t keep all this information to yourself! I made a little graphic below for you to share on your social media and let all your friends and family in on these pro tips! And be sure to check out the other tips in this series!
I don’t often get so personal on this blog, but I think this topic very much ties into birth so it’s going here. And I am interrupting my Pro Tips series to get something off my chest that has been weighing me down for a good long while.
I am sick, sick, SICK of being ignored, friends. As I chatted with a couple new doula friends a few weeks back, one brought up this topic and she mentioned a personal experience of her own. She said that when she had moved to Houston and needed to get a Texas driver’s license, she looked up what she needed online and brought everything to the DMV. She waited and waited in a long line only to be told she was missing something once she finally got her turn. She asked if there was some way they could help her so that she didn’t have to go back home and gather what was needed and wait in that awful line again and was told no. Then she cried. And you know what happened next? They helped her. Why did they not just help her in the first place?
And since that conversation, I have been paying attention to my interactions with both my kids and my husband here at home. And you know what? The vast majority of the time, I am ignored the first time I say something. And often even the second and third. It is not until I either get crazy mad or really upset and cry that I am taken seriously. WHY???? I am not into the business of husband-bashing. Truth is, my husband is incredible and I love him dearly. But, he doesn’t often take me serious the first time I tell him something. Actually, he doesn’t often even hear me or register that I have said something to him the first time I say it. And it’s not that he’s insensitive or mean or whatever. It’s a strange phenomenon, really. He truly has no recollection of me telling him many of the things I say until I’ve said them two or three or four times and often not until I make a big fuss about it. And you know what? My three kids do the very same thing to me. Just now, as they were doing their chores in the kitchen after lunch and I was doing some work at the computer in our bedroom, I hear the younger two arguing. I listen for a minute and finally call out “What’s going on out there?” Nothing. So I try again, “What’s the matter, kids?” Again, nothing. This time, I just burst. I am MAD. And I go flying out to the kitchen and shout “EVERYBODY STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING NOW!” They all stop and stare at me and I calmly say “Raise your hand if you heard me calling from the bedroom asking what was going on out here just now.” Friends, all three of my dear children raised their hands. And then they all three confessed that they did in fact hear me call out not just once, but two times. And I. Lost. It. Whatever “it” is, is now spattered and sprayed all over my kitchen as I turned into a screeching and screaming monster exclaiming that I am DONE with everyone ignoring me and will not be ignored any longer. Then I took away their screen time indefinitely. Now I have their attention. They’re all crying. But not because they feel bad for ignoring me all the time. Nope, they feel bad for themselves because they can’t watch their favorite TV show today. But I’m going to talk to them once I cool off and explain the very important lesson that I want them to learn here: Everybody’s thoughts and feelings matter and you need to pay attention to them, especially when it is a loved one.
And this is where I can relate this to birth. How many pregnant moms out there sit in the OB’s office with a birth plan only to be refused some of the things they want for their birth? How many expecting moms out there feel like their provider brushes off their concerns, isn’t really listening to or understanding them, is rushed, disconnected, or just too busy? How many pregnant moms out there feel that their OBs talk down to them and treat them like children when they express their desires or concerns for their birth?How many expecting moms out there feel that their husbands just don't understand why some things are so important to them? I am not a betting woman, but I bet it’s a huge number. And I bet it’s a pretty large number of these expecting mothers that just politely shut up at that point. Why? Why is our culture devaluing what women have to say about an event that is so incredibly important and sacred, an event for which we were given the ability to instinctually know what is best for us? Why does our culture generally encourage women to always be quiet and polite and not make a fuss while simultaneously conditioning everyone else to not take women seriously if they are being nice and quiet and polite?
I am telling you that I have had enough. And I’m asking you to join me in that. That doesn’t mean we have to get mean or lose “it” all over the kitchen every day. But, be firm. Don’t just shut up when you’re ignored or talked down to or brushed off. Especially when it’s about your birth. Who cares if everyone around you thinks you’re crazy and doesn’t understand why you want what you want? If it’s important to you, get it! And if you need help in that, or need to have someone totally on your team, who will support you in what you want even if everyone else thinks you’re crazy….hire a doula. That’s what we do. I will support you giving birth hanging from the chandelier if that’s something that’s important to you. You are worthy of being listened to. Your thoughts and feelings are important.
Make yourselves be heard, mamas.
Many women will at some point in their lives, find themselves staring at two pink lines on a pregnancy test. Positive. Pregnant. This can come with many emotions….excitement, fear, anxiousness, joy. And for many, there are a lot of questions. How do I tell everyone? When do I tell everyone? What do I eat now? Is it safe to exercise? How do I choose a care provider?
I’d like to address that last question. How do you choose a provider to care for you during your pregnancy and upcoming birth?
You start by setting up interviews/meet-and-greets with several providers. You will want to ask lots of questions and take into consideration the type of care you desire and in the end choose the provider you feel is the best fit for you. Remember, that no provider can be perfect for everyone so if your BFF or co-worker loves a certain provider, you may not and that’s OK. Also, remember that you are hiring this provider to provide a service for you, so give this decision a lot of thought and don’t be afraid to switch providers at any point if you feel that the provider you had chosen is not/may not work for you after all.
Here is a list of questions I’ve come up with to help you get started on your search for the right provider.
♥ How long have you been in practice?
♥ What hospital(s) do you have privileges at?
♥ What does a typical prenatal appointment with you look like?
♥ What prenatal tests/procedures do you require and/or recommend?
♥ What books and childbirth classes do you recommend for your patients?
♥ Is your practice a group or solo? What percentage of your patients’ births do you attend? Do all of the partners share the same philosophy/practice style?
♥ Do you have any time off planned around my due date?
♥ Please tell me about the “average” birth you attend. Are you usually at the hospital with patients as they labor?
♥ What percentage of your patients have their labor induced?
♥ What is your most common reason for inducing labor?
♥ What percentage of your patients have their labor augmented with either medication or procedures like breaking the water?
♥ What is your standard practice for women who go past their due date?
♥ What percentage of your patients birth with an intact perineum?
♥ What percentage of your patients give birth by cesarean?
♥ What percentage of your patients receive assistance from vacuum or forceps?
♥ What percentage of your patients receive an epidural during labor?
♥ How do you feel about other labor support people such as friends or family? How do you feel about doulas?
♥ What do you recommend for breech babies?
♥ What positions do most of your patients birth in?
♥ What are your and the hospital’s policies and thoughts about fetal monitoring? IV access? Eating and drinking in labor? Delayed cord clamping? Immediate skin-to-skin? Delayed newborn procedures and assessments?
♥ How do you help mothers that want to breastfeed?
♥ What if my baby is born early or has special problems?
If you have already chosen a provider, but feel that you didn't ask enough questions, ask them now! Take these questions in and have a conversation with your provider at your next appointment. If you don't like the responses, go shopping for a new provider. Trust your instincts and remember, you are paying your maternity care provider to provide you with a service. Only give your money and your business to a provider that will give you the kind of service that you desire. As long as your baby is still on the inside, it is not too late to change providers if you have hesitations or second thoughts about the provider you have chosen.
This decision is the first of many you will make as a parent and it is a hugely important one. Shop around, ask questions, trust your instincts. You know what (and who) is right for your family.
For me, the story begins on Monday, January 20th around 5:00pm, when I would normally be getting off of work and heading home. However, I was in an extended meeting with my manager. I received a text from my wife asking if I was coming home soon. I replied, “No, why? What’s up?” She simply said, “Oh nothing. I just think I might be labor. No big deal.”
NO BIG DEAL?! I quickly wrapped things up with my manager and left work as soon as I could and called Megan. She assured me she was okay, and that it was still early on.
When I arrived at home, Megan was packing her “go bag” with clothes, snacks, baby gear, etc. The contractions were pretty far apart still, and not too strong. We both realized that we didn’t quite have everything we needed, so...we took a trip to our favorite place: Target :) We walked around for a while, stopping while mild contractions too place every five minutes or so. Eventually heading back home.
Once unpacked at home, Megan said I could go ahead and go to bed since it could be a long night if things got more serious. I went ahead and got ready for bed, and was only laying down for a few minutes when Megan yelled my name from the living room. I went to her and she said her water broke while she was shifting on the couch! Wow! Here we go!
We contacted our doula (Amber) to let her know what was going on. She told me to call the midwife to let them know we needed to come in for Megan to get her antibiotic for Group B Strep. We packed up the car and took the 20 minute drive down to the Midwife’s Place. It was around midnight, and a very cold, January night. Luckily no snow!
Once we got to the Midwife’s Place, we brought everything in (thinking we were going to stay there the whole time). Megan got checked out by the midwife and hooked up to the IV. I thought I would be nice a strong and handle that simple thing okay, but I ended up getting pretty queasy and needed to go sit down before I passed out.
Megan’s contractions started getting stronger over the next hour or two. I stayed with her, helping her through contractions, until I was too weak to help out anymore (like I was doing anything near as hard as she was!), and went to grab Amber so she could step in and help for a bit. While I was laying down, I heard Megan throw up (a normal/good thing when in labor), and that normally wouldn’t bother me, but it did...so I followed suit and did the same sadly. Some strong dad I’m gonna be ;)
After a while, the midwife checked Megan’s progress and suggested we go back home to labor there since you’re generally more comfortable and relaxed in your own home and can progress better there. So, despite not wanting to pack back up and go home, we agreed and did so. It’s now just after 2:00am or so.
Once home, Amber ran Megan a bath right away, while I went and laid down on the couch (sad, I know. I still can’t thank Amber enough for helping out. This is exactly what a doula is for!!) I rested while Megan labored in the tub for a while, and eventually they moved to our bed and continued laboring for a couple hours. By about 5:30am, Amber though Megan had progressed enough to the point where we needed to go back to the Midwife’s Place. So we got ahold of the midwife and let her know we were coming back.
Funny story: As Megan and Amber were getting ready to leave, I knew I had to take care of our dog Millie (feed her breakfast, let her out, etc.) since we wouldn’t likely be back home for several hours. Megan didn’t see that as a very critical/important thing to do at that exact point in time, and shared some friendly, laboring words with me to let me know that we needed to go and that I shouldn’t be worrying about the dog :) You can use your imagination to figure out what may have been said.
We get in the car and take the drive back down to the Midwife’s Place - again, still pitch black outside and below zero temperature. Megan was having some back-labor pain, so Amber placed her rebozo in a big knot behind her back to push on the car seat as we drove (so smart!) which helped Megan out.
Once we got there, Megan felt like she was so far and was in enough pain that she wasn’t wanting to get out of the car! I told her, “we’re right here, just get out and have the baby inside.” We made our way in and the midwife checked Megan once more - telling us she was still only at about 6cm.
We knew going in to this that we wanted to attempt to have a water birth. So, we ran a bath right away and got Megan ready. While she was sitting on the toilet, Megan said, “I think I’m ready to push.” Just a few minutes after the midwife told her she was only at about 6cm! Gotta love those maternal instincts :)
So we get her in the tub and Megan starts really pushing and the contractions are strong and very close together - barely giving Megan a chance to rest in-between. I had complete confidence in Megan the whole time. It was so exciting seeing her do this all on her own.
Once Megan sat back I handed the baby to her and just sat there weeping with absolute joy and amazement. I knew my wife was a strong woman, but to go through the whole process from start to finish without any pain medication, drugs, etc. at all makes me respect and appreciate all that she just went through SO much more. An AMAZING accomplishment.
Besides that, our daughter was just the most beautiful, sweet thing! What’s neat about a water birth is that the baby doesn’t really cry too much right away, because she goes straight from amniotic fluid to water, then air. So it’s a gradual thing. Megan just held her skin-to-skin, while I held the baby’s foot.
We waited for the umbilical cord to stop pulsing to ensure all the cord blood got into the baby’s body, and then I cut the cord (another awesome experience). And then I took the baby so that Megan could get cleaned up and out of the tub. This is probably my favorite part of the whole experience, where I was able to hold the baby skin-to-skin with myself. It was such an amazing bonding moment right away. We went and laid down in the bed and waited for Megan to join us. Just such a sweet experience.
Happy 6 month Birthday, Lucy!
Amber Piller - Professional Birth Doula and owner of Agape Birth Services. Serving Northwest Houston including Jersey Village, Cypress, Tomball, Spring, and Katy Texas.