Friday, December 16, 2011

Follow up Friday: Exercising with Baby

Your baby is finally here, but he may have left you with some extra weight.  Here are a few exercises you can do while still getting in some quality time with your baby.

Car Seat Lifts-
1. Take the car seat in one hand
2. With your arm completely extended, lift the car seat straight up to the side of your body
3. Slowly lower the car seat straight back down to your side
4.  Repeat this several times on each side
This can also be done to the front. Follow the same steps as above, only this time lift the car seat straight out in front of your body.
This is most easily done with a carrier car seat with a handle. It can be done with or without the baby in the car seats (it has been months since I have been able to do this with my baby in the seat, he's 9 months now)

Peek-A-Boo Crunches-
1. Lay on the ground in a basic crunch position.
2. Have baby sit back or recline on your lap
3. Lift up into a crunch, making eye contact with our baby.  Be sure to smile and interact with your baby each time your sit up so it can become a fun game for baby.
4. Lay back down in starting position
5. Repeat this several times

Baby Carrier Squats-
1. Place baby in a carrier (this is easiest with a front carrier, but can be done with any style)
2. Stand straight with legs shoulder width apart
3. Go into a full squat by sitting back as if you are going to sit in a chair and be sure to never allow your knees to pass your toes, this helps to reduce the strain on the knees
4. Stand back up straight
5. Repeat this four times
6. Go back down into a full squat and stay there
7. Pulse here doing a mini squat four times
8 Repeat this several times

Push up Kisses-
1. Get into a basic push up position (can be full or modified on your knees)
2. Lay baby down between your arms
3. Lower into a push up and give baby a big kiss or an big raspberry on their tummy
4. Come back to straight arms

Stroller Lunges-
1. Place baby securely in stroller
2. Stand behind the stroller
3. While pushing the stroller forward slowly slide your right leg forward and bend the knee to go down into a lunge
4. Now slowly slide the leg back up while roller the stroller back toward you.
5. Repeat these steps on the left side
6. Repeat this process several times alternating legs

I hope this helps all of you new mamas get back into shape while still bonding with your new little one!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Birth Day Thursday: Amanda's Birth Story

This week's birth story comes from Amanda. You can read her other birth stories, and find natural pregnancy and birth information on her blog at , or check her out through her Facebook group You can read my other birth stories, and find natural pregnancy and birth information on my blog at .

This is Amanda's story in her own words:

"My name is Amanda.  This is the birth story of my 7th baby, Jacob Porter, born Aug 4, 2011.

Our baby was not officially due until August 8. I was not too worried about an early delivery, since all my previous babies had been born on, or after, their guess date. Hannah being our exception, since she was induced early for no reason (my own ignorance).

Brent and I went to bed at about 11:30 pm on Wednesday night. At midnight, contractions started in. I had been having them off and on for a few weeks. Usually lasting a good 12 hours. This time, however, they were down low, in my cervix, instead of up high on the top. There was a definite difference in these contractions. There was a pressure, a pushing down. I was awake more than asleep. Going between using the bathroom, and listening to my Hypnobirthing soundtrack in my restless sleep. At about 7 am I got up and decided to take a shower. It was such a wonderful feeling. The warm water took so much of the pain away. There were still a few contractions that I had to squat through during my shower and just after as I got dressed. Then, after I got dressed, they stopped completely.

Yep. That's how things had been going for several weeks. I had just gone through another 7 hours of hard contractions, and then nothing. I was a little disappointed, but I wasn't quite ready. I looked at it as 7 hours of labour that I had gone through and was 7 hours closer to having baby. We still had some things to do in the house before I wanted baby to come. We also had some plans to visit Brent's friend a little over an hour north of us. We were going to look at some land he had for sale, and visit with him and his wife for a while.

At 10 am I had only had around 3 very mild contractions, so I told Brent that we should go and visit his friend. I could tell he was a little weary of going so far away from home, but I grabbed up my birth kit, baby clothes and extra cash. I said all else, we'll get a hotel and have the baby there. Seeing that I wasn't too concerned, and feeling pretty good, he agreed to go. It was a trip we were both wanting to take, and I think overall it was a good distraction for me.

We traveled up north to his friend's house. I had a few contractions, but nothing that really concerned me. As we were at their house, we were talking at their kitchen table, and I started getting some stronger contractions. The ones that I had to close my eyes and focus on relaxing and breathing through. They were still only about 20 minutes apart. We went out around noon, and looked at the land... Well, Brent and Jeff looked at the land. I stayed in the van and fell asleep while they tromped through the woods. I wasn't really up to ticks, poison ivy, and walking through the woods with contractions. A little later they came back and we went back to their house for lunch.

At 1 pm we ate lunch. I just opted for salad and some chicken broth. I was beginning to realize that labour was kicking in, and I was pretty sure that I was going to be having the baby that day. Knowing what I know, only 2 of my births had not included getting sick. I only wanted to eat soft, easy to throw up foods. I began to time them, and they were 10-15 minutes apart. I knew that from past experiences (except Moses's whirlwind birth) that usually gave me plenty of time, I laid down and dozed on the love seat as Brent sat on the couch and talked with Jeff about Church history. They asked several times if I was doing alright, and I said yes. A little after 4 pm, I was not feeling good anymore. Brent and I decided to go ahead and head back home around 5:30 pm. By that time, I was at about 5-7 minutes between contractions. However, as we walked out their door, they got so much worse. I had to stop in their driveway, half squat, breathe and I started crying. They had instantly gone from 5-7 minutes to 2-3 minutes apart just by walking to the van! I felt bad for Brent, because he was driving and I could just see him wondering if we were going to make it.

He was awesome. He did speed a little, but not bad (I kept teasing him about getting pulled over). He kept telling jokes and kept the mood light in the van. I'm not really sure if it was for him or me that he was doing this for. I really helped me, though. He was also starving, as we hadn't eating much that whole day, and I was feeling sick. He said a few times (jokingly) how he was going to starve, and I didn't want to stop and eat.

It was a hard trip for me, though. I felt such pressure. Most of the contractions were so hard, and I did my best to relax, and picture my cervix opening wider through each contraction. I read how this worked in a book by Ina May Gaskin. How they actually felt a mother's cervix open when she visualized it opening during a contraction. At one point, I told Brent that I changed my mind. That I loved being pregnant. That I wanted to stay pregnant forever. He laughed and said it's too late now.

When we got onto the back road leading to the house, we ended up getting stuck behind someone going 40. It was 55 on that road. There was nothing but hills, and we couldn't pass. I had to start laughing. I told Brent it was like the movies where they start yelling, "My Wife Is In Labour!". We both laughed at that.

He asked me where we wanted to go, my mom's or his Grandma's house. I really wanted to get in the tub. I knew that his Grandmother's tub was almost never used, and was very clean. At my mom's, the kids all use the tub, and I did't want to clean it to get in and labour in. I wanted it to be super clean and sterile enough for me if I happened to have the baby. We got to his Grandmother's house, and we realized that we didn't have our sterile gloves. They were at my parent's house. Brent grabbed Hannah (and I thought Sadie) our two oldest who were staying at his Grandmother's to help her out, checked on me to ask if I was okay and if there was time to go. I was sitting on the toilet trying to get through contractions. I said I thought so. He went out the door. Then 30 seconds later, Sadie pops in and asks if I'm okay. That Brent wanted her to check on me. I said yes, that I was running a bath. She went on out, and I though she left with her dad.

I moved myself slowly from the toilet to the tub. A laborious effort, considering they were only like 2 feet away from each other. I got in the tub, and it was so nice and warm. I had one really hard contraction that just about knocked me over. I got on my knees, sitting on my feet, and leaning forward on my hands. My contractions were almost nonexistent feeling because of the water. I was amazed at how much it eased the pain. Why hadn't I ever done this before?!

I reached inside of myself to see where baby was, or if I could even feel baby. I got 1/2 a finger inside of me and immediately felt something round.

"Is that the baby's head?", I immediately thought? I touched it again, and it just disintegrated at my touch. Water flowed out of me, and a tiny bit of bloody show. My bag of waters! I felt it, and then felt it release into the tub. I looked at the not quite as clean bath water, and immediately knew that baby had not passed meconium. That was good.

I was completely calm. I was both doctor and patient. I felt inside of myself again, and a full finger length up was the baby's head. I had never felt this before. I had always just let someone else take control of my births. Even with our last, our first unassisted birth, I let Brent take over and I just told him what to do. I had not wanted to move, to reach, and feel what was going on. I knew what should happen. What to look for. I could "see" it all, with my mind's eye. I felt baby's head again, and knew it felt funny. I couldn't tell what it was that I was feeling. It was a lump, a cord like feeling. I immediately wondered if that was the umbilical cord. I knew that I had to know quickly. I felt again, and kind of pinched to feel it better. It wasn't a pinch to break, but to get a better feel. That is when I could tell it wasn't the cord, but a bunch of the sack on his head from when it broke. I was calmed and knew that it was almost over. Baby was in the birth canal. All that was left was to push my little baby out. That sounds easy enough, but having done this before, I knew what it consisted of.

I waited for another contraction, but they had slowed down since getting into the water. Still on my hands and knees, I leaned back, sitting on my feet. Then got back onto my knees and leaned forward, half way stretched out. Then righted myself back to the hands and knees position. That got the contraction started. I felt inside of me and pushed hard. I felt the baby move down to the opening. I stopped and waited, again, for another contraction. After nothing happening, I again leaned back and forward to produce another contraction. I gave a hard push, and baby made it maybe 1/3 of the way out before I stopped and relaxed, feeling baby move back up inside of me. At this time, I was mentally moving back from doctor to patient. I for a second or two thought how hard this was and how it hurt. How I didn't want to go on.

I then changed back to doctor mode. I thought of when my two boys (4 and 3 years old) cry when they have a hard poop. How I tell them they just have to push it out. The longer they wait, the longer it's going to hurt, and that it HAS to come out sooner or later. I mustered up all my mental energy. When I had my next contraction, I pushed. I pushed hard, but slowly, and with complete control. I felt my baby's head stretch the skin. I held the head, and massaged the skin to help prevent tearing (not the easiest thing to do on yourself). I wanted to stop, but knew I couldn't. I kept pushing. I wanted to cry out (but was completely silent for this entire experience). It hurt. It stretched. It burned. Then, when I though for sure I couldn't do it any more, the head was out. Oh, my! What absolute relief!

Then, baby began to wiggle. Never had I experienced this! Still underwater, baby's head was moving around, like he was twirling around. He was moving his arms around inside of me, wiggling. His head was twisting and turning. I gave another great push to get him out for good. This was, strangely enough, harder than any of my other babies. Normally the body is the easy part for me, but being in this odd position (hands and knees still), I had to lean forward and push him more behind me. Then, as his body began to slowly slide out, I moved back up and guided him back toward my stomach. He was out! I had my baby, all by myself, in the water, and I caught him!

We had another little boy! I held him under the water for a few seconds. He was so calm. As I took him out, he cried. I held him to me, but didn't get the skin to skin contact I was expecting. I forgot I was wearing a shirt. It was too wet to take off, so I just held him to me.

Then, Sadie (my 13 year old daughter) knocked on the door. I didn't know she was there. She came in and helped me with baby. We looked at him, and he was perfect. She got my phone and took a picture of him in the tub.

I then told her to call Brent. She grabbed the phone and I think all she said was, "It's a boy". She went and fetched a towel I had set aside and, still in the tub, we wrapped him up in the towel. I drained some of the water, and refilled it with cleaner, warm water. I tried to nurse him, and he tried, but wasn't too interested. Sadie got my Shepherd's Purse tea (Brent had my birth kit in the van, but I remembered to grab the tea). I drank half, then tried to nurse baby again, and then drank the other half.

Brent came in, and saw that we were all doing good. He made sure I was okay, and baby was doing well. He got out his phone and took a picture of me with baby in the tub.

I then told him he hadn't seen baby's face yet! I unlatched baby and faced him toward Brent. He got another sweet picture of him, wrapped up in a wet towel.

What a sweet baby man! We waited an hour to cut the cord. We tied it, and cut it. Then Sadie got another dry towel. He got wrapped up and Sadie got to hold him. Then Brent took him out as his mom came into the house. I had Sadie shut the bathroom door, and I birthed the placenta in the emptied tub. I laughed, saying the tub looked like a murder scene. Sadie had Brent get a gallon zip lock bag for the placenta (which really grossed him out to hold the bag). I did a really good job of not letting the placenta touch him. I cleared out the room, drained the tub, and took a shower (to clean both myself and the tub).

As I was drying off, Brent and his mom were drying off baby and weighing him. He was born at 7:05 pm Thursday, August 4, 2011. He weighted 8 lbs exactly.

I came out of the bathroom and helped dress him, and then the pictures started with me and my Mother-in-law.

He's a great baby. He doesn't cry much. He is now 3 months old.  From the beginning, he would go to be at about midnight and sleeps until 7am."

Amanda, thank you so much for sharing this amazing birth story with us! 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What's New Wednesday: My Memories Suite v3 Giveaway

I am very excited to be hosting my first ever giveaway, and I am even more excited to have such a great product to be giving away!  You can win My Memories Suite v3 digital scrapbooking software. I will be giving away one copy for download and the winner will be announced one week from today on December 21st. 

This software is so easy to use and can do so much! It includes textured and patterned paper backgrounds, tons of embellishments you can add, and premade page layouts.  The website is constantly updating their merchandise with themed kits, papers, premade pages, and more.  There are also a TON of free kits for download.  There is a lot of variety for every occasion.  You can even add video to your albums!  My favorite thing about this software is that it allows for a variety of different viewing options (interactive slideshow, movie, photo album, calendar, greeting card, or page-by-page).  You can also put your albums on to cd-roms or dvds which would make great gifts and keepsakes! 

As a new parent to a little boy and the long time parent of an 8 year old cat, I wish i had known about this sooner so I could have been making all kinds of scrapbooks! This is must-have scrapbooking software for anyone looking to save their memories in a special way!
Here are just a few of the album pages I have already made using the software:

To Enter:
1. Follow Mommy Talk
2. Visit the My Memories Website
3. Look through the weekly deals section and choose your favorite deal
4. Leave a comment with which item you chose and your email

The winner will be announced next week via email.

Don't be too bummed if you don't win, all of my readers can use this special promo code for $10 off My Memories Suite v3: STMMMS27210

Good Luck!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Main Topic Monday: Preparing Your Body For Childbirth

Preparing our bodies for childbirth is very important. Childbirth takes a lot of energy, strength, and a some flexibility.  I have put together a list of some of my favorite exercises to help you get your body ready to give birth.

Taylor Sitting- Sit on floor with you back perfectly straight. Next, bring the bottoms of your feet together with your knees out to the side. bring your heels toward you body while pressing your knees as far down to the ground as you can. Practice this as often as possible to help with hip flexibility.

Squats- Squat down with your butt as low as you can get it without touching the ground and while keeping you heels flat, stay down for 5-10 seconds, then slowly and smoothly stand back up with out bending over or going down on your knees or butt first. You may need help getting up and down at first, but the more you do it the better you will get at it. This will help with leg strength and flexibility and it helps stretch out the perineum (other exercises to help the perineum).

Cat/Cow- Get down on your hands and knees. Arch your back up like a cat and look in toward your thighs, hold for 5 seconds. Now, arch you back down, stomach lowered toward ground, and look straight ahead, hold for 5 seconds. Repeat this several times. This will help you with back flexibility. This is a good stretch for right before bed because it can help a lot with the aches and pains that can interfere with sleep during pregnancy.

Thigh Pushes- Sit on the floor with your back propped up on pillows, knees are bent and together and heels are pulled in toward your bottom.  Have your partner place their hands on the outside of each knee. Now, while your partner applies light pressure push your legs apart.  Do this 5-10 times twice a day.  This will help strengthen your thighs for birth, as you may be in this position for a lot of it.
Wall Sits- Stand with your back against a wall and slide down the wall until your legs form a chair. Hold this for around 10 seconds, slide back up the wall, wait 5 seconds and then repeat the sit.  Do this 5 times a day. As you get stronger add to the amount of time you spend "sitting", see if you can work your way up to a whole 60 seconds. This helps strengthen your thighs and is great for anyone who wants to birth in a squatting position.

Kegels- Beginner Kegels- Flex the PC muscles. If you are clenching you butt your aren't doing it right. It may help you to understand what it should feel like by stopping and starting the flow of urine.  It is recommended that you do this 300 times a day. I know that sounds like a lot, but it is the equivalent of 5 to 10 minutes a day. Once you have mastered this, move on the next level.
Intermediate Kegels- Now, instead of flexing 300 times per day, you will be flexing just 36 times.  However, now each time you flex try holding it for ten seconds. Once you have mastered this, move on to the next level.
Advanced Kegels- Now you will only be doing about a dozen flexes a day.  Flex just the lower portion of the vaginal barrel, then the middle, then the upper portion.  Now, release the upper portion, then release the middle, last release the lower portion. 
(From Natural Birth the Bradley Way by Susan McCutcheon)
Kegels help to strengthen the pelvic floor which will help prevent tearing during childbirth (other exercises to help the perineum) and can help speed up recovery.

Remember, just because you are pregnant doesn't mean you should stop exercising.  If you already have an exercise routine in place stick with and add these moves to pinpoint those special needs for childbirth.  As long as you are healthy enough, KEEP MOVING! 

On Friday I will have some exercises (that you can d WITH your baby) to get you back into shape once your baby arrives.

Come back on Wednesday to enter my first giveaway for some great software that will help preserve your precious memories.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Follow Up Friday: My Breastfeeding Journey

After Monday's post about RI hospitals no longer handing out free formula I got a lot of comments about the women who NEED this formula.  I want to quickly address these comments with two points:

1.The hospitals WILL still provide formula to those who need it because of medical reasons (whether the mother's or the baby's).
2.  Remember, breastfeeding babies don't even get milk until several days after they are born (before that the mother only produces colostrum).  This gives mom and baby a few days to "practice" before any real supplementation should be needed. So, when a hospital hands women formula right away it gives the impression that the baby needs milk and if they don't get it the mother has failed, and as a result many women will give up trying much too early. 

None of this is meant as a judgement on those who formula feed, but I do believe that ALL women should try to breastfeed.  I tried and some women would say that I failed, but despite the fact that I never quite got the hang of breastfeeding my baby is now 9 months old and has NEVER had formula. 

This is my breastfeeding story:
When my baby boy was born I KNEW I was going to breastfeed.  I mean, it comes naturally, right? Unfortunately, I quickly learned that breastfeeding is NOT that easy for everybody.  This is something that many women struggle with, but don't often talk about.  As a result, there are now two camps, those who breastfeed and those who bottle-feed.  The two rarely come together and, unfortunately, often  pass A LOT of judgement onto one another.  This is why I wanted to share my story, to let women know that they are not alone in their struggle. 

Immediately, after my baby was born he was placed on my chest and we attempted to get him to latch... he didn't.  I was so disappointed, but the nurses assured me that not all babies latch right away and he would figure it out the next time.  Later on, while still in the birth center, the lactation consultant and nurses worked with me to get my baby to latch.  Nothing...  Again, I was assured that this was fine and we would figure it out. 

Finally, I was able to get him to latch, but it was very painful and I knew something wasn't right.  The nurses checked the latch, decided it looked fine and said that it just may take me some getting used to.  That's fine, I would definitely continue to try. 

When we brought my baby in for his 2 day check-up he was weighed and we were informed that he had lost too much weight.  That is when I heard the dreaded word "supplement".  Because my baby lost so much weight the doctor said we should supplement him with a bottle after he nursed.  So, I pumped extra milk after each feeding and gave him a small bottle. Of course, as a result of this my baby began to suffer from nipple confusion (which I can tell you first hand is a very real thing, don't listen to anyone who tries to tell you it's made up!).  He fought nursing and preferred the bottle because it was so much easier to use.  Despite these problems we continued doing half breast/half bottle.  

Meanwhile, we continued to have latch issue so I worked a lot one on one with a lactation specialist.  After a few weeks I was able to get my baby to latch without pain.  I was so happy and thought this would be the end of our struggles. Unfortunately, I was wrong.

He was a very fast nurser and spit up a lot because of this.  I was concerned about the possibility of reflux because he would spit up very large amounts, but was assured that it wasn't reflux.  I wasn't so sure (and I'm still not) so I basically started treating my baby as though he had reflux.  I decided to nurse more, changed positions so he was more elevated, and made sure his head was elevated for at least a half an hour after he ate in hopes that he would spit up less , but the problem continued. His doctor -who also happened to be my lactation consultant- continued trying to help us find a way to fix the problem, but it seemed there wasn't a good solution.  Much to everyone's surprise he seemed to be better when he bottle-fed than nursed, but I was not ready to give up on nursing yet. So, we continued for another two months this way.

After two months of  nursing (with an occasional bottle thrown in)  I realised that my baby was still getting my milk and contact when I gave him a bottle.  I wasn't really doing him any favors continuing to nurse when it made him so uncomfortable.  That's when I decided that I would be an Exclusive Pumper.

Exclusively pumping is not a solution that will work for everyone.  You are essentially doing twice the work, pumping and then feeding.  In my mind though, I really felt I had now excuses.  I had never had any issues with supply and I am a stay at home mom, so I have the time. The fact is there are things in breastmilk that just aren't in formula and I didn't want to deprive my child of that. Just because he isn't getting it directly from my breast doesn't mean those benefits are wiped out. 

Although I may have failed at breastfeeding I feel like I found a very successful solution to work around it and I am so happy be able to provide for my baby despite these struggles.

I apologize that this was such a long post today. This is one the few personal posts you will see on this site, but I wanted other women to see my story and know that they are not alone.


My hope is that women will start to support eachother more. Instead of judging women who aren't able to breastfeed, show them love and understanding.  If you know someone is struggling with nursing, reach out to them.  If more women reacted this way I TRULY believe that more women would have success because we would be more comfortable talking to eachother about it. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Birth Day Thursday: Maria's Birth Story Part 2

Yesterday, I posted the story of the birth of Maria's third child. The birth was a bit of a whirlwind and resulted in her child being born in the hospital lobby COMPLETELY drug-free.  While she admits it wasn't the ideal way to have a baby, she says that she learned a lot from the experience and realized what her body can do without medical interference.  Read how she used this new found knowledge and confidence in her body to make her next birthing experience what she wanted it to be.

Here is the birth story of Maria's fourth child:

"This is the story of our 4th child and 3rd son. It was my longest pregnancy as well as my longest and hardest labor. It was also my first homebirth, and probably due to it being a homebirth, it was my most enjoyable birth and easiest recovery

Sunday, August 30th During the afternoon, I started to feel what I thought were early labor contractions.  They were not painful, just a whisper of the sensations I knew would come.  All day they came but I kept this to myself and continued on with life.  I went to bed early thinking that sleep might be elusive.  Fortunately I did sleep for a few hours, unfortunately I woke up around midnight for a nightly potty run and I could not go back to sleep. 

Monday, August 31st The contractions were no longer whispers, but the definite tightening that signals real business.  Further more, with each one I needed to go the bathroom, so for several hours I played the back and forth game between the potty and the bed.  Finally around 4am I fell into a weird twilight sleep where I dreamed odd dreams that incorporated the contractions in crazy ways and I knew that today was the day we would meet our little one. I was wrong.

Once the big kids were out the door to school I went for walk.  It was slow going stopping for contractions every 6 minutes or so.  However, it was a beautiful morning and walking around made me feel like I was doing my part to encourage baby’s exit.  Though I did worry a little about freaking out the neighbors if they happened to glance outside while I was breathing through my contractions. I would like to say Wes and I did exciting things all day to pass the time, however we mostly just hung out cleaning the house, reading books, eating and talking on the phone to family and friends. Contractions were still coming every 6-10 mins with no pattern, though the intensity picked up through the morning and afternoon. I decided to get in the tub to see what happened, especially as I needed to do my pre-birth leg shaving anyway. I figured things might slow down or things would keep moving along. Of course since I was in the tub, Wes felt the need to join me. I can’t say that having a 3 year old ram toy boats into my thighs was really all that relaxing, but we both got clean, my legs got smooth and I established that my contractions were definitely not going away.

We walked down to pick the older kids up from school and once again walking felt productive. When we got home, I sat on my birthball for a while and had Ashby rub my back. I started to feel like contractions were getting closer together so I texted Donnellyn (my midwife). She thought I should time some to see how long they were lasting. Timing contractions is actually quite a challenge when one is alone in labor and can’t find one’s watch with a second hand, so I went to According to the site my contractions were coming every 4-6 mins and lasting about a minute.
I have to admit; I was getting a little frustrated dealing with contractions and not having any one around to help the kids or me. I was also frustrated that my labor didn’t seem to be progressing as fast as I hoped. I was too uncomfortable to do much but not uncomfortable enough to be ready to push out a baby. Brian did come home around 6:30 and he watched me have about two contractions before he phoned Donnellyn and Charlotte (my doula) and told them it was time for everyone to come over. I was not sure it was really time, but Brian saw a panting wife and figured he needed to bring in the troops, if not for me then for him. Charlotte arrived first and we immediately went to walk. Donnellyn arrived about half hour later (8pm) and Lynsey (the photographer) a bit after that. After Donnellyn arrived she asked if she could check me, but honestly I was too worried to find out that I might be completely undilated to let her.

Maybe having Brian home and made me feel I could stop being mom and start being labor woman because contractions hit a regular pattern and intensity picked up. I was somewhat concerned that the baby was in an asynclitic position due to my labor’s slow start. We used some rotational positioning to see if that would encourage baby into a more ideal position if that was indeed an issue. The positioning slowed labor a bit, but eventually I made it through the whole rotation and it was obvious that afterwards my contractions were now stronger. Donnellyn again suggested doing a vaginal exam so that she would have a better idea about when to call the second midwife. I was still very apprehensive about having an exam for the same previous reason, but I did consent. I was thrilled to find out after a quick exam, that I was 100% effaced and 6cm. With this good news I had a sudden burst of energy and walked around the house with a big smile on my face. It was probably around 10pm at this point.
That happy energy didn’t last long because I quickly entered the fun of transition phase. At first I was doing great, breathing slowly to relax through contractions and laboring on the toilet, against the kitchen bar, and at the end of my bed. However, within a short period of time my labor seemed to overwhelm me. Sarah, the second midwife, arrived at some point and Donnellyn suggested it was time to get in the tub, which I happily did. Once in the tub I relaxed well in between contractions, but it was hard getting comfortable during contractions. I don’t know how long I was in the tub, but the water had gotten cold and I needed to go the bathroom, so I got out. I honestly don’t know why I never made it back in, but at that point I started to come a little unhinged. I was laboring holding on the footboard of my bed and leaning over into each contraction but I no longer had any control of my breathing. With each contraction it felt like the baby might be coming out of my thighs and hips there was so much pressure there. I also had the shakes and felt like vomiting with each contraction. During this time the baby’s heart tones were getting a bit high, so Donnellyn and Sarah had me gulp a bunch of my tea. They also thought I needed some quick energy so Donnellyn spoon-fed me some honey. Yuck! I normally like honey but that was not something I enjoyed at that particular moment. However, instantly the baby’s heart rate came down and I just kept drinking as much as I could to keep it that way. I don’t recall how or why the issue was brought up, but we had a brief discussion concerning breaking my water. I immediately said I was not interested since in doula work, artificially rupturing the membranes is often the start of things going down hill fast.

Tuesday, September 1st At one point when I was really at my emotional limit, I heard Sarah, who was sitting in front of me, start to pray and then behind me Charlotte started to pray too. I loved the prayers but I couldn’t help but think, “Oh my, I must be really bad off if they have just given up on anything helping except prayer.” Donnellyn was praying too, but she also started doing some fabulous hip squeezes. They really made a big difference. I kept thinking that I must be almost complete and hoped to feel an urge to push with each contraction, but alas contraction after contraction came and no pushing urge. It had been 3 hours since I had been found to be at 6cm. Now I asked Donnellyn if breaking my water would be helpful because I was DONE. I still was not quite ready to try this option, but I was ready to talk about it. Donnellyn definitely did not push me and I think since I was still reluctant she changed the subject. Sometime in this phase Donnellyn gave me the homeopathic Rescue Remedy. I was a skeptic, but that stuff really works. Of course contractions were just as painful, but I felt pure peace for the few moments in between. I know I was really loud during this time, moaning (or singing as someone kindly put it) during each contraction. It was about this time that I started to consider giving myself a c-section right there in my room. My level of pain level was higher than with my other natural births and knowing I was reaching my breaking point, I decided it was time to pop my bag and see what might happen.
At first, Donnellyn thought she would do an exam and hope my water broke during the exam. It didn’t, and she said I was only an 8 plus cm. She tried a little finger amnio breaker, which also failed to break my water. Finally she used the big ‘ole amnio hook and it STILL could not break my water. Lying on the bed having this done during major contractions was the exact opposite of fun. Sarah then took a turn with the amnio hook and she said I was now 9 or even 10 with just a lip. That was good news! Finally Sara managed to rupture my water. She just started reminding me that I might feel a change in the next few contractions but she didn’t even get to finish that thought. Suddenly the baby was in the birth canal and on my perineum. I must have made some guttural sound, because Brian, who was sleeping in the den, came running in. I knew the baby was seconds away from being born and I wanted two things…I told Brian to wake up the kids and for someone put me in the tub. I wanted my waterbirth! Donnellyn and Sarah basically ignored me because they were now busy catching a baby and I wasn’t going anywhere. If Brain had gone to get the kids, he would have missed the birth.

So, less than 30 seconds after my water was broken, Dalton made his appearance. It happened so fast that Donnellyn didn’t even have time to put on gloves. He had a nuchal cord that needed to be reduced but otherwise I received Dalton on my chest and that is where he happily hung out for a nice visit until the cord stopped pulsing and we were ready to move to the herbal bath. I don’t recall who announced the gender, but someone told me that I had new son. I don’t even think I looked to verify until later though. Dalton’s apgars were 9 and 9, and he nursed well as we lay in bed together getting to know each other."
Maria, thank you so much for sharing BOTH of your birth stories with us!
Please visit Maria at 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What's New Wednesday: Maria's Birth Story Part 1

This week instead of the usual What's New Wednesday post I will be featuring two birth stories from ONE mom.  Maria is a mother of four and these are the birth stories of babies number 3 and 4.  Both births were completely natural, but VERY different. 

First, here is a little bit about Maria

"Most importantly to me, I am a wife and a mother of 4 children. I became a parent after dealing with fertility issues and through that process I gained an interest in pregnancy, childbirth and supporting women as they build their families.

I have had a variety of birth experiences myself ranging from one with all the bells and whistles at a hospital, to one that occurred with a midwife in my home. After the birth of my 3rd child, I completed my doula certification and also trained to become a childbirth educator. Since then I have attended over 150 births and taught countless childbirth classes. I still love what I do!

I believe women are strong and our bodies were designed to give birth. I believe most women are capable of birthing without medical intervention, however, I believe medical intervention can serve a valid purpose. There is no one perfect way to give birth, each mother and each situation is unique. I believe women should be fully informed and educated on their choices in birth so that they can achieve the birth they desire."

Check out her blog 
and website

Now here is her birth story in her own words:

"I woke up that morning feeling icky. I had also been ill in the night so I was tired as I got ready to go into work at KDO. During the day I was very sluggish, I even fell asleep during the class nap time. How nice to get a half hour snooze during the day! When we arrived home I told the kids I wanted to lay down for a while and I hoped they would play nicely. I noticed that I was having some mild contractions and since they continued while I dozed I decided to start timing them. Sure enough, they were every 7 mins like clockwork. It was about 4 in the afternoon.

At some point I called Brian about my plans for the evening and to see when he was planning on coming home. I also mentioned that I was contracting every 7 mins but that I was just keeping an eye on it. He arrived home as usual and as soon as he arrived I walked out the door to go to a girls night out. The contractions were getting stronger now, but still very manageable. I would say it was about that time (6:30ish) that they went from mild to uncomfortable. I remember stopping outside the door of the host’s house to breathe through a contraction. At first I did not mention to the others that I thought I might be in labor, I was not sure myself, but as time went on the contractions become much closer together and much more painful, and it become obvious to everyone there. I enjoyed a large meal as in the back of my mind I thought it might be a while before I ate again. At one point I was squatting during a contraction and Daisy was rubbing my lower back then Analyn came up behind me with salad tongs (it was a salad supper) and pretended to “catch” the baby. I was still denying that this was anything but early labor even as my friends were telling me to head on to the hospital, however by the time I left the dinner I knew I was in labor and I was hurting, I just wanted to jump in my tub and see if that helped. Daisy followed me home to make sure I was OK. It was 9ish and the contractions were coming every 3 or 4 minutes.

Once home I drew the tub and got in. Brian wanted to go to bed as we both figured I would labor all night and then in the early morning we would head to the hospital. He thought he would catch a few zzzzzs before things got intense. By the time I got in the tub I was working hard during each contraction. Though they were closer together and harder I still figured it was early. I checked my cervix while in the tub and it seemed I might be 3 to 4 cms (ironically this was both the first and last time my cervix was checked and I have no idea if my estimation was accurate). I had no show and no lose of my plug so I really was not convinced anything was happening.

The tub was nice. If we had more hot water I would have stayed in there longer, but I was only in about an hour. Brian decided to stay up and we had some chats while I was in the water. I was very proud that I was handling things well but still worried that I was in that much pain that early in the game. I wondered how I would handle the real thing. When the water got cold I got out of the tub and started to labor in our bedroom. I don’t know if it was getting out of the tub or just timing but contractions really started in earnest. I stacked some pillows on my bed and draped myself over them trying to relax and repeat the word “open” with each one. At some point the repetition became moaning,. Brian suggested we go to the hospital. I resisted. At about 11:30 I did decide to go ahead and call Cindy (our babysitter) so that she would be here for the kids. In the back of my mind though I really thought I must still be in early labor b/c still no show, no plug.

We called the OB right after we called Cindy. Of course I expected Dr. Ramos but when we got our call back it was some doc I had never heard of and I was not happy. I knew Dr. Ramos would have worked with me to achieve natural birth but Dr. Hoffman did not seem interested. Basically I asked him if I would be hooked to a monitor and he said yes. I asked if I could walk around and he said no. I hung up on him during my next contraction. Cindy arrived right after I spoke with the doctor and I was furious. I told her I was stopping my contractions and waiting until Dr. Ramos was on call again. However, after she saw me have another contraction she encouraged us to get to the hospital regardless of my feelings about the doctor.

Within moments I had another contraction in my bedroom, I was leaning my body against the end of our bed and just as the contraction hit, my water broke pouring down in one big gush. My pants caught most of that mess but I was unable to remove my clothes at the point on my own so Brian got me new clothes. At this point contractions were coming all the time, with about 30 secs of rest time between. Moving was difficult, thinking was difficult. I wanted to say goodbye to the kids and was able to do one at a time. When I went to kiss Reese he woke up and come out but Brian got him back in bed. I don’t know how they could sleep anyway, I was very loud at this point. During another contraction I laid down on the kitchen floor. It felt so good, those cool kitchen tiles

Finally we got in the car. I thought I would lay down in the back but I could not fit in b/c of the carseats. We had to remove one to get me I the minivan! I ended up draped over one of the captain’s chair and never moved to look out the window or anything. On the ride I noticed that now between my contractions I was actually resting. It was a strange sensation, like time stood still. I know they were still just as close apart, if not closer, but the time between actually felt like a rest rather than a pause. I was in my own world. I was not thinking about the baby, or the drive or my other kids I just said goodbye to.

Then I felt Wes come down into the birth canal. This was my first knowledge that I was beyond early labor. There is no feeling like it, but when I felt it, I knew what it was. Wes was moments from being born and there was nothing I could do to not push him out, in the minivan or not. And I must admit that when I felt him come down I felt such relief that I cannot describe. I had made it through transition. I thought there was more intense pain to come and I wasn’t sure I could handle it, but now I knew I had done it and I did not stop to think that he might come on the side of the road. I reached down and I could feel that the baby’s head had crowned.

I screamed, “Brian, the baby is coming now…..” I felt the van surge under me but I had no idea where we were. I just hoped we were close. I also prayed, please God, give me two more mins so we can make it to the hospital and Brian doesn’t have to deliver this baby…and somehow it seemed like the contractions did stretch out at that point, enough so that we pulled into the entrance of the hospital shortly after. Brian bolted out of the car and tried to get me out. I was unable to move at that point due to another strong contraction and he yelled he was going in to get me a wheelchair. I basically laughed at him…I had a baby head between my legs, I wasn’t going to be sitting on anything! After that contraction passed I got up and waddled to the door. The main entrance was locked so I had to go straight into the ER. I had not made it two feet inside the lobby when another contraction hit. Brian and a nurse (?) ran out at that point. I guess I made some pushy type noises because the nurse yelled “don’t push, don’t push, lay down, lay down.” I yelled back that there was no way I could NOT push but I did lay down on the floor. At that point it is a blur to me. There were people pulling my pants off and someone was told to bring a gurney. A man I assumed was a doctor looked between my legs and said, ”yes the head is out”. He started yelling for people to bring suction, to bring clamps, to bring him stuff. I was lifted on the gurney and as I was wheeled from the lobby into the ER waiting room as another contraction hit. I pushed involuntarily and Wes’s shoulders arrived, seconds later I heard him cry and some ER doctor held up a purple, crying, wiggling baby for me to see. They did whatever they had to do to him, wrapped him up well and quickly I was holding him, cord still attached. Shortly after that, while holding little Wes, I was wheeled in the gurney up to L&D. The OB I had spoken to on the phone came in and then I delivered the placenta.. While all this is going on I am just grinning saying over and over again, “I did it, I did it!”

That is how little Wes came into the world. Drug free, monitor free, IV free, basically all medical intervention free. I did not plan to have him in the lobby/ ER but I am thrilled I got to experience what my body can do without doctors adding to mix."

Monday, December 5, 2011

Main Topic Monday:Providence, RI Hospitals Doing Away with Free Formula

Read the article here: No More Free Formula in Providence, RI Hospitals

This may not be the most popular opinion, but I think this is a step in the right direction.  We all know BREAST IS BEST, so why are hospitals encouraging mothers to give their babies formula.  This is a great way for hospitals to send the message that women should at the VERY least try to nurse their children because it IS what is best for their babies and for mothers. 

Breastfeeding is extremely difficult for some women (myself included) and handing out formula makes it too easy to just give up.  My baby struggled to nurse when he was first born and the hospital kept saying "If he doesn't get it soon we can give him a little formula".  I remember thinking "My baby would only be getting colostrum right now anyway, my milk won't even come in for a few days.  What's the rush?" I refused the formula because I did not want to give up so soon, but not all women would do the same and not all hospitals would take no for an answer.

In my eyes hospitals giving new mothers formula is as bad as allowing advertising formula. 
Why are we inundated with ads for formula, but rarely see ads for breastfeeding?
Why aren't we educating women on the benefits and importance of breastmilk to a baby?
Why aren't we helping women find lactation experts and support groups in their area?

I am positive that if we as women started supporting each other and stopped treating breastfeeding like a taboo, but instead embraced it, there would be a lot more women successfully breastfeeding their babies.

Come back on Friday when I will share my struggle with breastfeeding and how I made sure my baby NEVER had formula.

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Friday, December 2, 2011

Follow Up Friday: How to Avoid an Episiotomy

On Monday I discussed why you want to avoid an episiotomy and promised I would provide some techniques for avoiding an episiotomy and hopefully tearing all together. 
Here they are:

Do lots of squatting. This helps to stretch out the perineum and will also increase flexibility and leg strength which will help during labor.  Squat down with your butt as low as you can get it without touching the ground and while keeping you heels flat, stay down for 5-10 seconds, then slowly and smoothly stand back up with out bending over or going down on your knees or butt first. You may need help getting up and down at first, but the more you do it the better you will get at it.  If you make a conscious effort to squat instead of bending every time you have to pick something up or go down to the ground you will become a pro in no time.

Perineal Massage.  This helps to make the perineum more stretchy and pliant.  To do this sit in a semi-reclined position and spread your legs apart.  With lubricated thumbs and fingers (you can use vitamin E oil, vegetable oil, or a personal lubricant- DO NOT use petroleum jelly, mineral oil, or baby oil) place thumbs about knuckle deep into vagina and put pressure down toward rectum and out toward sides.  Hold this for one to two minutes.  Then, GENTLY massage the lower part of your vagina back and forth and then rub the tissue between your fingers.  It is important to remember to use a very gentle touch to avoid bruising, irritation and infection. If you are comfortable it may be easier to have your partner to do this for you.

Do Kegel Exercises.  This helps to strengthen the pelvic floor and can help prevent tearing, but another benefit of Kegels is that if you do tear it can help shorten recovery time.
Beginner Kegels- Flex the PC muscles. If you are clenching you butt your aren't doing it right. It may help you to understand what it should feel like by stopping and starting the flow of urine.  It is recommended that you do this 300 times a day. I know that sounds like a lot, but it is the equivalent of 5 to 10 minutes a day. Once you have mastered this, move on the next level.
Intermediate Kegels- Now, instead of flexing 300 times per day, you will be flexing just 36 times.  However, now each time you flex try holding it for ten seconds. Once you have mastered this, move on to the next level.
Advanced Kegels- Now you will only be doing about a dozen flexes a day.  Flex just the lower portion of the vaginal barrel, then the middle, then the upper portion.  Now, release the upper portion, then release the middle, last release the lower portion. 
(From Natural Birth the Bradley Way by Susan McCutcheon)

What you do before labor is very important, but how you deliver your baby can also affect your chances of tearing. 
Keep these things in mind when you are making your birth plan:

Do NOT push laying on your back.  Laying on your back puts added pressure on your perineum.  Better positions to push in would be squating, on all fours, or on your side. 

Avoid forceps and vacuum assistance.  These techniques both forcefully pull the baby through the vagina which obviously can lead to tearing.

Avoid anesthetics. Drugs can affect the way your body and muscles work and limit your ability to control pushing which leads to tearing.

Have a waterbirth. The warmth and lubrication of the water helps to make the perineum more pliant during delivery.

Use a warm compress.  Most midwives use this technique of applying pressure to the perineum with a warm, damp cloth during pushing.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Birth Day Thursday: Amy's Story

This week's birth story is from Amy.  She is the mommy of Lillia, born in 2009 (whose homebirth story was featured in Cosmopolitan Pregnancy Magazine from Australia) and Annabella, born November 15th, whose birth story is featured here. 

This is the story of Amy's homebirth in her own words:

"So here is the homebirth story of the birth of Annabella Grace born November 15th 2011.
After a false start early the previous morning, I was woken by what felt like strong period pain that lasted a minute at a time. So I grabbed my iPhone and turned on my BabyBump app that counts and times contractions. Everytime one would hit I woke, timed it and fell back asleep again. I did this for an hour and a half until I woke up properly and realized they were every 8 mins lasting 60 secs.
I told Pete and went to my mums room, who had been staying with us, and told her I thought this was the start of things. She started cleaning up a bit while Pete got things ready for her to take Lillia out for the day.

It was a long day of facebooking, relaxing, waiting for things to kick off. When my contractions went down to every 10-12mins I told Pete we were going for a walk to get things going. So went for a slow waddle to the local park where I had to stop and grip him when a contraction hit. By the time we got home and I had a shower they had picked up to every 8min again. About half an hour later at 4.15pm they suddenly dropped to every 3 mins. I waited for half an hour to see if they continued like this before calling Lisa my birth attendant and Claire my birth photographer. They said they would leave right away and be here soon.
Meanwhile mum came home with Lillia and she was exhausted as she had been at the beach and playground all day and hadn't napped. So Pete made her dinner, bathed her and had her in bed by 6pm which was good timing as 5mins later everyone arrived at the house!

I finally felt like I could let myself go and begin labour properly! I lit the candles I had set up on the bookshelf and tv cabinet and Pete started filling the birth pool.

Lisa suggested I get into the pool and it was exactly what I felt like. The water felt so good and relaxing and I found a good place was leaning forward and half squatting against the edge. this position really kickstarted my contractions and they started coming on very quickly. The started coming hard and fast and in between them I managed a joke and asked Lisa if she brought an epidural with her, she laughed and said "oh yeah I have one in my bag, hang on!" next I moved onto my bottom and tried to lean back against the pool but I soon felt like I needed to go to the toilet. Lisa encouraged me to go and come back to the pool.

I slowly walked to the toilet and as soon as I sat down I had the hugest urge to push! My whole body took over and was pushing for me! Lisa came in and told me to get off the toilet as my baby might fall in! She said i still had time to get into the pool but there was no way i was walking! I kept refusing because I felt like I couldn't move, but quickly after a huge contraction I got off the toilet and onto my hands and knees on the floor in front of the toilet! Lisa and my photographer crammed behind me and Pete was down on the ground in front of me holding my hands as I pushed like crazy. I remember it took about 3 big pushes and her head was out. Lisa told me I needed to push again soon as the cord was around her neck. I waited for the next contraction to hit and pushed and she came out into Lisa's hands.
The cord was actually wrapped around her neck 4 times!! She quickly unravelled it and passed my baby girl under my legs for me to hold! Lisa said to blow some air on her face and as Pete and I did it she started screaming! What a great sound! Lisa then told me to stand up so I could deliver the placenta which happened within minutes of giving birth.

We walked to the loungeroom where it had been set up for me to lean back on the arm rest and cuddle my baby. I spent about half an hour getting baby to latch on and feed. Then Lisa helped me to the toilet and made sure I did my first pee. Then she helped me get dressed and put down lots of waterproof bedding pads on my bed.

After a few other checks she left us alone and said she would be back in the morning.
And that's the birth of Annabella Grace Giannakis, 15/11/11 at 8.26pm weighing 9lb5oz or 4.2kg"

Amy, thank you so much for sharing this beautiful story with us!