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birth story

Audra Geyer Doula horizontal headshot for Gold Coast Doulas with hand on hip

Audra’s Birth Story: Podcast Episode #105

 

Audra Geyer, Gold Coast’s newest birth doula, tells us her birth story and how birth support from her doula was a game changer.  She also took HypnoBirthing classes and went from being afraid of labor to looking forward to it!  Her experience with Gold Coast let her to become a doula herself! You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud.

Kristin:  Welcome to Ask the Doulas with Gold Coast Doulas.  I’m Kristin, and I’m here today with Audra to talk about her birth and HypnoBirthing experience.  Welcome, Audra!

Audra:  Hi.  Thank you!

Kristin:  So tell us a bit about yourself.  I know we met at the Baby Expo in your early pregnancy stages.

Audra:  Yeah.  I live in Alger Heights with my husband and our two dogs, and we have a seven-month old daughter, Charlie.

Kristin:  This was your first pregnancy.  So tell us about how you planned for your birth.

Audra:  So initially, I had no plans for my birth.  I just envisioned that it would not be an enjoyable experience, and I just had to get through it, and it was just part of what the process was for having a baby.

Kristin:  And how did you get that information?  Was it from movies or friends, or what made you sort of fear birth?

Audra:  I think just society’s view on birth.  You know, everyone I had talked to, I had just heard horror stories about their own personal experience.  And, yeah, watching movies, TV shows, everything just shows that this is a terrifying, awful experience, and so that’s just — I was just preparing myself for that.

Kristin:  And I think people tend to share negative stories more than they do their positive birth stories with friends and family.  That just feeds into it.  So you took some classes with us in early pregnancy, and also used both birth doula support as well as postpartum. So tell us a bit about that preparation and maybe how it changed your mindset.

Audra:  Yeah.  So I went with a friend to the Baby Expo, and I had heard about doulas before but just assumed they were for natural home births.  So we just started talking, and I heard about HypnoBirthing.  I remember the first question I asked you guys at the Baby Expo was, can I still get an epidural?  And they were like, oh, of course.  Whatever birth you want, we’re just there to support you.  So I went home and just did a ton of research, and I was like, holy cow.  There’s this whole world of doulas and support for women that I never knew about.

Kristin:  Yeah.  There is a misconception that doulas are only for home birthing, unmedicated birthers, and, you know, especially at Gold Coast, we pride ourselves on judgement-free support, and we have clients who want an epidural the second they get to the hospital, clients who are planning a surgical birth and they want support emotionally and with resources for that birth.  So, yeah, doulas are definitely for all birthing persons, not just unmedicated birthers.

Audra:  And my whole life I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression, and my husband and I knew that would be something we’d have to keep a close eye on while I was pregnant but also postpartum, and to be like, oh, I could have this support right away, and just knowing that I will have someone in my corner and someone to support my husband, too.  It just provided us both with a lot of comfort.

Kristin:  Yes!  So tell us about HypnoBirthing and what you learned in that class.

Audra: HypnoBirthing was amazing!  First off, we just learned so much about the birthing process and what happens to our bodies in labor.  Stuff we’ve learned, but I’ve never really taken a deep dive into it and thought about it.  And just a big focus on labor and delivery and pregnancy — our bodies were meant to do this.  We learned a lot of medication, breathing techniques, but it was also a big focus on bonding with your baby, bonding with your partner.  Every class we left, I just felt so connected to my baby, to my husband.  A lot of positive affirmations and just really starting to envision my pregnancy, my labor, delivery, as such a beautiful experience no matter what happens.  And what a gift I’d been given to be able to go through this.

Kristin:  Right.  Exactly.  And what I love about HypnoBirthing is it’s, as you said, it’s more like that mind-body connection versus just positions and some physical techniques you can do to reduce the perception of pain.  So it’s just — there’s such an emotional connection to birth and your partner and your support team, and of course breath and using positive language in birth and taking the fear out of it.  It’s a huge aspect of HypnoBirthing.

Audra:  I remember my husband was like, sure, I’ll do this with you.  And when we left our first class, he was like, that was nothing like I imagined.  He thought we were going to be in a gymnasium with pool noodles on the floor in different positions, and I think he just felt really empowered, too, that look at what I can do to help support my partner and be just as involved in the birth.

Kristin:  Right.  Beyond HypnoBirthing, I know you took some other courses through Gold Coast.  What else did you do preparation-wise?

Audra:  I took the Saturday Series course.  So Comfort Measures, Breastfeeding, and then Newborn Survival.

Kristin:  And what were your takeaways from that one day series?

Audra:  It was just so nice to have information, and I just felt so much more calm and educated and kind of knowing what to expect and knowing that there’s no right or wrong way.

Kristin:  Right.  It’s what right for you.  I think all of us, you know, emphasize that in our classes, whether it’s Alyssa’s Newborn Survival or the Comfort Measures that I teach, and certainly Kelly’s breastfeeding class is eye-opening in so many ways and shows how a partner can be involved in feeding, as well.

Audra:  Yeah, and I think with the breastfeeding, it really just prepared me, that if that’s the route I choose to go, it’s going to be hard, and it’s okay that it’s going to be hard.  I think I had an idea that, oh, no, breastfeeding is going to be so easy.  She’ll latch right away.  We’ll have no issues.  But to know that, yep, you’re not alone.  This can be a struggle, and again, you have to figure out what’s best for you and your family.

Kristin:  Exactly.  Now we’re getting to your birth phase and working with birth doulas and so on.  I know Katie was your doula.  Tell us about that experience.

Audra:  Oh, it was amazing.  I went from initially, “Of course I’ll have an epidural,” to, nope, I’m going to do this all naturally, thanks to HypnoBirthing, to at 37 weeks finding out I needed to be medically induced.

Kristin:  Lots of changes with that.  Tell us how Katie supported you in pregnancy and then leading up to the induction.  A lot of people don’t really understand the role of a birth doula through pregnancy and labor.

Audra:  Yeah.  I had — the minute I signed the contract with Gold Coast, I had Katie’s support.  Through the phone; I could text her with any questions, anything I was worried about, anxious about.  She would respond, provide me with resources.  A lot of what I needed was just reassurance that things were going how they were supposed to go, that I was okay, baby was okay.  And especially as a first-time mom and first time being pregnant, your body does a lot of things that you don’t know would happen.

Kristin:  Right.  There’s a lot of, “Is this normal, or do I need to call my provider?”

Audra:  Exactly.  And so just knowing I had someone there, nonjudgmental, you know, just supporting me — because, you know, calling your provider, you don’t always get to talk to them, or they’ll just yep, yes or no, give you a short little information, and then they have to move on with their day.  So having someone who can sit down and really just talk through your options, talk about how you’re feeling, checking in with you emotionally.

Kristin:  So when you found out you needed to be induced, how did your doula support you through that process before she supported you in the hospital?

Audra:  So I left my appointment with the doctor sobbing in the car, just absolutely terrified about getting induced.   So the first thing I did when I got home was text Katie.  I just expressed all my fears to her and what I was feeling, and first and foremost, she reassured me that the medical team I had chosen were going to take the best care of me.  My baby was going to be safe and healthy.  I had blood pressure issues, and so I was just terrified of what could happen if my blood pressure gets really high.  She encouraged me to write out a list of questions to ask my doctor.  Like, if this happens, then what do we do, or what would this step be?  What would this look like?  So I could have more of an understanding of what potentially could happen at the hospital.  And then also she really encouraged me to write out some affirmations, because I love writing affirmations and I use them all the time, and so I was able to write a list of affirmations that I would use while I would meditate to just help calm me down and center me, focus me, and let me still enjoy these last few moments of being pregnant.

Kristin:  That’s fantastic.  So you were able to have conversations before the induction started, and you got the answers you needed to feel empowered.  So tell us about some of the induction process and when your body started to kick in and when you felt like you needed in-person support and how that went.

Audra:  We knew it was going to be a long induction process, just because I was 37 weeks and my body was not near ready for labor.  So between Katie, myself, and my husband, we were basically in constant communication through text message, just how I was doing, how I was feeling, what the next step was.  And Katie actually came the first night we were at the hospital just to check in, see how we were doing, letting us know whatever we needed, she was there and ready for us.  And things were going pretty stable at that point; nothing that we needed a lot of support.  We were just resting.  So she went home, and said, I have my phone with me.  Anything you need, call, text, reach out.  And things were slowly progressing.  It got to the point where I did end up getting an epidural, but I was just pretty relaxed.  And then the next day around noon, my water broke, and things started to pick up pretty quick.

Kristin:  Yes.  It intensifies everything, for sure.

Audra:  We reached out and said, hey, you know, I think we’re ready for you to come.  Labor has officially started after 24 hours of being at the hospital.  And so by the time Katie got there, my epidural had kind of worn off a little bit.  So I was in a lot of discomfort.  I was not feeling well, and I just remember her coming in and with her and my husband, they were both just supporting me as I would breathe through my surges.  And I actually — Katie has two sons, and I remember at one point looking up at her, and saying, I just need you to tell me what you love about being a mom, in between, so that I was able to focus on the things I had to look forward to as I was in some of these deep pains and discomfort.  And it was just so amazing to hear.  You know, I had my husband on one side telling me the birth affirmations we’ve written, and then I had Katie on the other just sharing these amazing things that I knew I would soon be experience.

Kristin:  Yes.  I love it!

Audra:  With that, I was able to just relax, surrender, and just — I felt so calm despite being in one of the most uncomfortable situations I’ve ever been in.

Kristin:  That’s great.  So things intensified.  Did Katie help you move into different positions?

Audra:  Since I had the epidural — because I finally got some relief — she would help with the nurses, with moving me, and I think the biggest thing for me was just the reassurance she was giving me, that I was doing great, my body was moving along, this was where I was supposed to be, helping me feel excited.  And I think for Rob, too, she just was an extra support for him because he was supporting me so much, and it helped me to know he was taken care of as well.

Kristin:  Yes.  That is a huge part, because we do support a couple as a whole and make sure that the partner has gotten rest if needed with inductions or had a chance to get food or to step out and take a break because it can be intense when they’re pouring everything into you and are trying to be that supportive partner.  We don’t want them to be depleted at the time of pushing and meeting their baby.  So I’m glad that he felt taken care of, as well.

Audra:  Yeah.  And once I finally felt relaxed and got a lot of relief, Katie encouraged us both to take a little rest.  And there’s actually a picture of us, with me in the bed sleeping, Rob on the couch sleeping, about an hour before I gave birth, and it’s just one of my favorites.  The last few moments of us resting, just the two of us, and that moment was able to be captured.

Kristin:  And then did Katie offer support after the birth?  Like, how did she help after your daughter was born?

Audra:  When Charlie was born, she came very quickly and ended up needing to be on CPAP pretty quick after she was born.  So as a new mom and just already very anxious, I was terrified.  Like, what is this looking like?  Is she okay?  Is this normal?  What are they doing?  And I had just given birth and my body — you know, I was just in this tremendous amount of emotions in general, and she was able to support both my husband and I.  She encouraged Rob to go stand by Charlie and then was able to be there with me while the doctor was finishing up with me and just kind of keeping us informed, educating us about what was going on and that things were okay because the nurses and doctors, they’re all talking to each other and saying terms we didn’t understand, and just encouraging me to ask questions if I had any and validating that, you’re doing a good job advocating for yourself, Audra, and just — yeah, it was nice knowing my husband could be with Charlie for that brief time, and I had someone right there with me, as well.  And so then after Charlie was able to be off of CPAP, we were able to do our skin to skin.  She helped us with latching and, again, I was just very anxious.  Is this supposed to be happening?  Does she look okay?  Is she breathing okay?  And just, like, bringing me back to focus of, look, you just gave birth, and you have this newborn baby in your arms.

Kristin:  I love it.  Did she follow up after she left to see how you were doing when you were still in the hospital?

Audra:  Yes.  She would follow up to see how feeding was going, and then we did — I would say about a week after Charlie was born, she came to our house to just follow up and see how things were going, and she got to see Charlie and hold her.  And it was just so nice to have her support and to have — like, that she was such a part of this experience to us, where I was so vulnerable, but yet it was such a beautiful, emotional experience that I feel just so connected to her now.

Kristin:  Yes.  I feel that way with my doulas.  It is vulnerable, and a time of reverence.  So, yeah, you end up feeling like your doula is part of your family for that journey, whether it’s a birth doula or a postpartum doula.  And, of course, you delivered pre-COVID, but your postpartum phase was during COVID.  So that’s changed your initial plans as far as postpartum doula support went.

Audra:  Yeah.  So we had — I’m trying to think.  Maybe a couple weeks before COVID hit, being at home and being able to use our postpartum doula.  And I remember initially being like, okay, what do I do?  How can I entertain the doula?  Like, I need to clean the house.  I need…

Kristin:  You’re a helper, obviously!

Audra:  I need to look presentable!  And Jen was our doula, and she came over and was just like, oh, my gosh, Audra, like, you can relax.  I have Charlie.  Don’t you worry.  And I would go take a nap.  I would rest.  I would come downstairs, and the house would be tidied.  She’d have a snack waiting for me.  My pump parts would be clean.  The diapers bag was packed and ready to go.

Kristin:  Perfect!

Audra:  Yeah.  Less things I had to worry about or to focus on later that day.  And I like to talk and talk through experiences, so a lot of times, too, we would just sit and talk, which is what I needed at that time.

Kristin:  And we are there to process the birth with our clients as far as postpartum doula support and then help you heal and talk to you emotionally.  I feel like friends and family ask more about the baby and don’t check in enough with the birthing person and how they’re doing and how they’re feeling.  Everyone wants to hold the baby and give gifts for the baby, and there’s not enough attention to the birthing person.

Audra:  Yeah.  The amount of times I got asked, how’s the baby sleeping?  You know, it was never, how are you sleeping?  How are you doing?  It was, oh, how is she sleeping?  And I also got a lot of, oh, I’m glad that’s going great now, and you just wait until you see what happens.  And I’m like, my body is still healing from this crazy experience.  I’m keeping another human alive.  What about me?  I need help, too.

Kristin:  Exactly.  And in traditional cultures, women are supported for 30 to 40 days from friends and family, and they aren’t expected to do anything.  And in our culture, it’s like, okay, get back to work.  Get back in shape.  You should be feeling great and don’t complain.

Audra:  Keep the house clean!

Kristin:  Right.  Be perfect!  And that’s not how it should be.  So we’re trying to bring back some more of that focus on the birthing person.  So you are now a doula with us!  So tell us how you became interested in becoming a doula after your experience and a bit about why you are drawn to this work, because you obviously have another career.

Audra:  Yes.  So like I said earlier, I went from not knowing a lot about birth, just expecting, you know, this to kind of be a terrible experience, and through my education and through the help of having doulas, I was able to make my birth one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve gone through, and I found myself, after giving birth, wanting to talk about birth a lot, and I was doing a lot of research, reading a lot of books, reading about postpartum, and right now, I’m a speech language pathologist.  I work with people who’ve either had a stroke or a brain injury.  So I’ve always worked with people, helping people.  That’s been a passion of mine.  And just realizing the lack of knowledge, especially in the United States, of the postpartum experience, the birth experience, and what a doula is.  And I just thought, wow, if I could help give other women the support I had and help them through this journey, help them have the experience and support that I had, that would just be so fulfilling and just — it makes me sad when I think about all the people I know who look back on their birth and their postpartum and it was — they felt like they had no support and they felt so alone.  And that shouldn’t be the norm.

Kristin:  Right.  Yeah, they feel isolated, especially now during COVID, and we’ve been working all through COVID.  Some of our postpartum work had halted, and some hospitals weren’t allowing doulas in, so we offered virtual support only, but I feel like now more than ever, because of the isolation with COVID, doula support and that connection is so essential and providing information, as you said, so couples can make informed decisions about their birth and their postpartum phase and planning out what they want to do after baby or babies are born and how they can accept help from others or hire help, like postpartum doulas or a housekeeper or a meal delivery service, whatever it may be.

Audra:  Yeah.  And even the comfort of knowing you guys have a sleep consultant, and if I ran into issues, you know, I had 12 weeks off for maternity leave, and a big area of anxiety was, what is it going to look like when I go back, with sleep?  And so I always knew I had Alyssa if I needed her.  Thankfully, Charlie got on a good sleep routine on her own, but just knowing the amount and the diverse support that Gold Coast had, I knew I was going to be taken care of, and I knew I was in good hands.

Kristin:  So what did you learn — obviously, you worked with doulas, but then you recently took your birth doula training.  What opened your eyes that you didn’t know before about the doula role?  Tell us a bit about your training.

Audra:  It was so amazing.  Just learning about nonjudgmental support.  No matter what someone is thinking, feeling, we are just really there to support them.  And, obviously, as we go through our own births and raising our own kids, we can develop our own feelings, but putting those aside and saying, we are there to support you, and no matter what you choose.  So it was nice to just learn about all those different strategies and how I could go in and help a woman in any situation, no matter what.  I would feel confident doing that.

Kristin:  Right.  And your particular training through ProDoula — and I’m also trained through ProDoula — you realize you don’t need all the things as a doula, and you have that instinctual knowledge, and you’re able to just serve; again, without judgment, and an open heart, and a brand new doula can be just as effective as someone who’s seasoned like myself.

Audra:  Yeah.  And, again, before I knew much about doulas, I always thought, oh, they have the birthing balls and they’re in the tub and, you know, all these other knick-knacks that you have to have.  And it’s really just yourself being there.  That’s all you need.

Kristin:  I mean, I have a birth backpack that is filled with things, but outside of, you know, my bosu and a couple other things — like, I like the LED candles to put in the bathroom if a client’s in the tub or shower, but I don’t use everything I bring.  Other than snacks for myself, and that’s key.  Got to keep going!  But, yeah.  So we’re excited to have you on the team!

Audra:  Yes.  I’m so excited!

Kristin:  And I know you have plans eventually to become a postpartum doula, but you are available for hire for labor doula support.

Audra:  Yes!

Kristin:  So we’re excited to begin that process with you.  Thanks for sharing your story, Audra!

Audra:  Yes.  Thank you for having me!  I love sharing it and talking about my experience.

Kristin:  You’ll impact so many families, not only from listening to the podcast, but when they begin working with you.  And we will include a link to your bio in our podcast notes and the blog.  Thanks for listening to Ask the Doulas with Gold Coast Doulas.  These moments are golden!

 

Audra’s Birth Story: Podcast Episode #105 Read More »

A new mom and dad pose in a hospital room with their newborn baby

Virtual Birth Support: Podcast Episode #95

Sam & Justin recently had their baby boy, Judah, in the hospital in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.  They describe their experience in the hospital as well as how beneficial birth doula support was throughout pregnancy and then during labor and delivery, even though support was virtual instead of in-person.  You can listen to this complete podcast on iTunes or SoundCloud.

 

Alyssa:   Hi, welcomes to the Ask the Doulas Podcast.  I am Alyssa Veneklase, co-owner of Gold Coast, and today I’m talking to Samantha and Justin, who recently had a baby at a hospital in this midst of this Coronavirus pandemic.  We’re going to talk to you about what that was like.  Gold Coast is not attending births after Governor Whitmer’s declaration that we have to stay at home, and we don’t know when the order will be lifted.  So we kind of just wanted to get a sense of what it was like for you two to go through this whole process.  How far along were you when you hired us?

Samantha:  Pretty early when we found out.  We knew when we were trying to get pregnant that having a doula was something that was really important to us, as well as a midwife and just trying to go that more natural route.  So the minute we found out we were pregnant, it was kind of getting things in plan.  So I would say after the first trimester after we kind of told everybody.

Alyssa:  So you hired pretty early, and that was before all this crazy virus stuff happened.  And you worked with Kristin and Ashley as your birth doula team.  Even before all this stuff happened, what did support look like through the majority of your pregnancy?

Samantha:  It was wonderful.  Being a first time mom, obviously, you have a ton of questions, and I just didn’t want to be the person to be blowing up my midwife all the time, plus it’s hard to get ahold of them.  Our midwife was through Spectrum, so obviously you can’t just pick up the phone and call her.  It’s not as easy.  So being able to have a team of doulas that, any question I had from — I had artisan cheese one day and freaked out thinking I did something wrong.  So to be able to text them things like that and just have that reassurance all the time was awesome, as well as after every appointment, they wanted updates on what’s going on with baby, so it was just that extra support and knowing that they’re there no matter how stupid the question was.

Alyssa:  Well, and as a first time mom, I think we feel like all of our questions are stupid.  Oh, I hear the baby!  Hi, Judah!  So, yeah, obviously, because of this, we’re on speakerphone, and they’re at home and I’m at my home because nobody can go into work.  You guys are quarantined at home with the baby, which is probably kind of a blessing in disguise, maybe.  You can actually kind of hunker down and just focus on bonding and feeding and all these great things without visitors.  But like you said, Grandma comes over and she can’t see the baby!  That’s so hard.

Justin:  It’s been a blessing for dads, I think, especially because I would have had to go back to work today.  I am working, but it’s from home and it’s slower, and I’ve got some time to help support Sam and build my relationship with Judah, too, so it’s kind of a blessing in disguise for — I mean, it sucks, but it’s been nice.

Samantha:  And as a new mom, you’re hunkered down.  I mean, I was planning on not leaving my house for a month, anyway, so it’s kind of nice, especially during this quarantine time, because you’re quarantined anyway with a newborn, so it gives you something to do and keep occupied with.

Alyssa:  Right.  Well, and focus on the positive, right?  Like, there’s so many negatives that we can be focusing on, but you’re stuck at home with a newborn baby.  Boohoo, right?  This is what you’ve been looking forward to for nine months!

Samantha:  Exactly, exactly.

Alyssa:  So your support during pregnancy really would have been the same, Coronavirus or not, because it’s a lot of text and phone calls and emails, right?  It’s all virtual, anyway?

Samantha:  Yeah.  Yeah, that wouldn’t have changed, and like I said, they were available pretty much 24/7, so it was just nice to always have them in our back pocket when we needed them.

Alyssa:  Right.  Tell me about the labor, then.  What happened when you were at home, and how did that support, the actual virtual support after finding out that your doulas can’t support you in person, how did virtual support look then once labor began?

Samantha:  So we came up with a plan that we would utilize anything that we needed.  If we needed to do a video chat, we had my laptop ready to go to bring to the hospital.  But once labor started, we kind of — before I went into labor, we talked over, you know, what are the signs, when we should contact them, how long I wanted to labor at home; all that stuff that we would have done anyway if it was just normal circumstances.  So when I went into labor, it was the middle of the night, of course, and we texted both of them and ended up calling Kristin.  She was the one who answered, and we told her how far apart the contractions were.  She could hear, you know, how I sounded and could tell that they were ramping up.  You know, you can just — moms — everybody says moms have the telltale sign of when contractions aren’t a joke anymore.  So, yeah, she said, yep, sounds like you’re really getting in the swing of labor.  She told me to get something to eat before I went to the hospital and kind of gave us some tips before we — as Justin was packing the bag and getting our bags in the car, some tips I could do before we headed out the door.  And so we did that and then headed to the hospital, and from the moment we got there in triage, I had a couple — well, of course, birth is always unexpected, but I had a couple things come up that I wasn’t expecting to happen.  So from the moment we were in triage, we were in constant contact with Kristin and Ashley, whether it was me or — it was actually mostly Justin.

Justin:  Yeah.  I actually took — like, I would step out of the room a few times just to call her.  There was just a couple moments there when we were down in triage where she was uncomfortable, and the room is a little small.  It was hard to get into that calm state of mind that we were looking for.  So without trying to stress Sam out, I stepped out of the room and just called Kristin.  I was, like,  hey, you know, what are some things I could try to, you know, bring her back into this calm state of mind that we’ve been working on forever.  It was great.  She gave us some positions to try, some things to talk to the nurses about.  Like, she knew there was a tub down in the triage area, so she said to go ask them to use the tub.  So it was good to have them just there — just any questions we had, just to call real quick.

Samantha:  Yeah.  And we had a couple unexpected things, because I wanted to labor naturally, but we had some issues.  I had a LEEP procedure a couple months ago.  Well, not a couple months ago; about a year ago, but that caused some scar tissue that made my labor really difficult.  So we had to have the conversation of having an epidural because my labor was so erratic and my body was under a lot of stress.  So that decision we talked over with the doulas.  And then having Pitocin brought in, which was also something that was on our “absolute no” list, but it was nice to be able to call Kristin.  Spectrum was wonderful, too.  I mean, the nurses and midwives were great as far as giving us all the information we needed and then giving us time to talk it over.  But having Kristin there to be able to call and say, here’s what they’re telling us, here’s what we’re thinking — to have that reassurance from them was huge, especially because our birth plan changed so much, and it was upsetting for me, especially.

Alyssa:  Right.  That’s hard when we get into this mindset of, like, here’s my plan and I’m going to stick to it, and baby or your body says otherwise.  To have an expert to ask those questions and give feedback that’s not — and I think that’s one thing a lot of people thing, that doulas are there to tell you what to do.  It’s more about asking you the right questions so you can figure out what’s right for you.

Justin:  Just having that — just having that information so that we can make our own decision.  Just having them giving us all the proper information we knew everything that was at stake and we could make a better, informed decision.  It was a huge help.

Alyssa:  Right.  Knowledge is power in this instance, for sure.

Samantha:  Yeah, and even the positions.  Once I did get the epidural and Pitocin, we still wanted to do a really low dose of Pitocin to try to have my body naturally ramp up contractions, so Ashley and Kristin sent us a bunch of pictures of positions we could try.  They were always available for Facetiming and virtual, as well, but we never needed to.  But to have that in the back pocket was comforting, as well, that if we needed to virtually see them face to face, knowing that we could do that was very comforting for me, especially.

Alyssa:  So once you actually moved from triage to the labor and delivery room, you said you didn’t actually have to use Facetime or anything.  Was it more of you, Justin, were in contact with them because Sam was in active labor?

Justin:  Yeah.  It was a lot of text messages and a few phone calls.  If it was something we wanted to all talk out together, we’d call, or if it was just a quick question, I’d just shoot them a message real quick.

Samantha:  And I definitely think if I didn’t need — if I wouldn’t have had the epidural, we definitely would have utilized Ashley and utilized some of our HypnoBirthing techniques to help me get through labor and probably would have used virtual face to face more, but just because things moved so fast as far as me needing some intervention, it again changed our plan as far as utilizing the doulas a little bit differently.  But, yeah, it was constant contact throughout the whole labor process, and it was actually nice after I did get the epidural.  I was able to then talk to them and tell them what’s going on and what kind of positions I can try and different things like that.  So the plan changed a little bit, but staying in constant contact with them didn’t.  It was pretty consistent throughout the whole labor process.

Alyssa:  And what about when you got to the point where you were ready to push?  Was there anything they could do to support you during that time?

Samantha:  Well, we planned on having them Facetime for that, but my pushing went very quickly.  I only pushed for about 30 minutes, and we didn’t even — when we started, it was — we texted them saying, oh, they want us to do some practice pushes, and 30 minutes later, we were messaging them saying, well, baby’s here!  So, yeah, we had the whole plan set up for them to help — especially because I had an epidural, they were really going to help me try to breathe baby down, which is what we ended up doing, but to have them face to face so they could see what was going on.  But it just ended up happening so fast that we weren’t able to do that.  But after baby came, we were in contact with them, telling them his birth weight and all that stuff, and once we got up to the room, letting them know how latching was going as far as breastfeeding.  So it was just the best experience possible, especially because I was so devastated, you know, being nine months pregnant and all this emotional — that’s emotional in itself, and then to find out your birth plan is completely blown to smithereens…

Justin:  Two weeks before we even go to the hospital.

Samantha:  Yeah, two weeks before the hospital.  It was just terrifying, but to have them there in that virtual sense was everything because it would have been a very different experience if we weren’t able to have them at all, that’s for sure.

Alyssa:  So let’s say a couple just found out they’re pregnant, and they knew they wanted a doula, like you, but then they have this worry.  They’re going to do the hospital birth; they want a doula, but the doula may or may not be able to be there.  What would you say to a family who’s kind of on the fence about hiring a doula because of the current situation?

Samantha:  I would say, hire.  Hire a doula because, yeah, the situation has changed, but I think even more in this time, you need that extra support more than ever, especially because, in my circumstance, my midwife wasn’t even able to be there.  I had a totally different team because of the way they split up her team, so not only is your birth plan changed, but then my midwife who I’ve been seeing for the last nine months wasn’t able to be there.  So just to have that team, that constant contact, still stay the same even though they’re not there in person, was just a huge comfort and relief for me.  And especially for Justin.

Justin:  I was going to say, for the fathers-to-be out there, I think it’s even more important for them.  We went through a lot of the classes and stuff, and we had good knowledge going in, but you get in the heat of the situation, and you know, her surges and contractions were starting to really hurt her, and I didn’t know what to do in that situation.  So we had this whole plan, and I was doing my best to stick to this plan, and when you get thrown that curve ball, having someone to turn to and just get that reassurance.  I might have made the right decision in that situation, but just to have them say, “Yeah, you did,” or, you know, this is — “Yeah, you did do a good job there.  This is what’s going to happen.  Here’s the outcome.”  Just having that extra sense of security in this very unsecure time is a huge benefit.  Even though they’re not there, it was almost like they were, and it was very helpful, especially for the dads that sometimes might feel a little lost.

Alyssa:  Right, which usually, most of them, I feel like, they do probably feel a little bit lost.

Justin:  Especially the first time.

Samantha:  Yeah, and it takes the pressure off, too, you know, just because I’m telling him one thing, and he’s trying to say, you know, it’s going to be okay, but for him to then reach out to the doulas and say, you know, here’s what’s going on, and for them to not only give me reassurance but him was a game changer, for sure.

Alyssa:  And like you said, you’ve built a rapport with them throughout your pregnancy.  I didn’t know that your midwife couldn’t be there either!  So without your doulas, you would have not had your midwife either, and you would have literally been in a hospital with a bunch of nurses who you’ve never met, and that was it.

Justin:  Right.  Exactly.

Samantha:  And thankfully, we had an amazing team.  Our nurses and midwives that we ended up getting were amazing.  But also, you’re going — it’s your first time.  You’re laboring.  It’s new.  And then you have a whole bunch of strangers, so you’re throwing that mix in it.  So having the doulas there that we’ve had throughout the whole pregnancy, virtually, even though they couldn’t be there, was such a comfort because it just — you had somebody to turn to that you know.

Justin:  One more thing, too, is the hospital — I don’t know about other hospitals in the area, but Spectrum — it was like a fortress.  It was so clean and locked down in there.  We kind of forgot this whole thing we even going on until we left.  I mean, I went down in the cafeteria a few times, and every time I went down there, a whole different section was being completely pulled out and cleaned.  There was no visitors walking around.  There was no one walking around.  I mean, it really did feel like a fortress.  Even getting into the building, we had to go through a couple security checkpoints, so if anyone was worried about the hospital part of it, I think that especially Spectrum, that I know of, I think they’re doing a very good job of keeping everything separated, and the sections of the hospital that need to be cleaned and all that.

Alyssa:  That’s a good point.  For those who maybe have that as a main point of fear for them, delivering in the hospital, they’re doing everything right.  I mean, they obviously want to keep their patients safe and healthy.  It’s got to be weird to walk through that hospital and hardly see anybody because there’s no visitors.

Samantha:  It was weird pulling up because they have the whole security detail, and it was, like, “Why are you here?  What’s going on?”  It was very weird, but like Justin said, it ended up — I almost was sad to leave, just because you’re in this clean, sterile bubble, and like I said, we almost forgot about this whole Corona thing because you’re in — you are — you end up being in the bliss of having your baby, even though it’s such a scary time.  But having — you know, right after he was born, we talked with Ashley and Kristin, and then it was just kind of that blissful — we went up to the room, and they’re doing a very good job.  Obviously, things change, but I think they have it pretty locked down.

Alyssa:  That’s great.

Justin:  They’re definitely out in front of it.

Alyssa:  So then you guys go home, and usually, they do a postpartum visit, but I’m assuming they did that virtually, as well.

Samantha:  Yes.

Alyssa:  Did you have that already?

Samantha:  We did.  From the moment we got home, too, we were in constant contact with them, from them asking how he was sleeping.  I had a couple questions just as far as my recovery and what I could do for comfort as far as that goes, just because as a new mom, you just don’t really expect the discomfort.  I kept thinking, you know, I didn’t have stitches or anything like that, so I thought, oh, I’m going to be good, but you don’t realize what you’ve put your body through.  So it was just nice to have them there so I could say, I’m feeling — you know, what can I do about this pressure that I’m feeling?  I’m having some pain and discomfort here.  To have that support on the postpartum aspect, because, you know, this whole time leading up to the birth, you’re thinking pregnancy and delivery and labor and all that, but postpartum support is also huge, and they really, really helped with that, giving me ideas and tips of helping my milk supply come in.  It was just — they’ve been wonderful.  And we just had our virtual visit with them face to face, and that was great to be able to see them.  They could see the baby.  And then to tell them the birth story, since they weren’t there — I mean, they were there, but they weren’t.

Alyssa:  They got bits and pieces but finally got to hear the whole thing.  That’s great.  Well, is there anything else that you wanted to add or that you think other parents should know?

Samantha:  I just think if you’re on the fence, I mean, nothing — I had this whole — I thought I planned for even the most unexpected in pregnancy, and I definitely didn’t because pregnancy can change in an instant.  But I think that’s why even more now in these times to have that extra support and to have a doula because we plan on having another child, and I’ve already said to them — I said, well, hopefully you guys will be there in person for our next baby!  But I couldn’t imagine going through labor and birth and even through pregnancy and postpartum without having a doula and support, and I think Justin feels the same way.

Justin:  Absolutely.

Samantha:  It’s like having your best friends to be able to talk to, and it’s such a comfort, especially —

Justin:  But a best friend who’s also very knowledgeable!

Alyssa:  Your best friend who’s knowledgeable and judgment-free and can give you all the best support.

Samantha:  Yeah.  And especially because my birth plan changed so much in the sense of having to have interventions, which I didn’t think I was going to, so that was even more unexpected, and to be able to — you know, you’re in the rush of the moment, and I was really upset, and, you know, you get down on yourself as a new mom thinking you’re failing in some aspect.  To be able to have them — obviously, Justin can sit there and tell me all day that I’m doing the right thing, but to have somebody else who’s not only gone through that experience but seen other women and giving me advice and telling me what I’m doing and the decisions I’m making are right for me and my baby was such a relief and such a comfort because it’s such an emotional time, and when things aren’t going already as planned, and then you throw in more wrenches into the mix, it can overwhelming.  So to have them as support was just everything to me.

Alyssa:  Thank you so much for sharing!  I wish that I could see little Judah, too.

Samantha:  I know!  I know.

Alyssa:  It’s really hard!  But, yeah, focus on bonding with that little guy.  How’s breastfeeding and everything going?

Samantha:  Breastfeeding is going good.  We’ve had to supplement a little just because he’s such a peanut, but, again, they’ve helped with that, as well, just because that can be hard as a mom.  You know, you think, oh, breastfeeding is going to be this simple thing, and it’s hard.  Being able to talk it over with people — they’ve given me some great articles, and I had a virtual meetup with some new moms that Kristin suggested, a team that I should join in on, and that was really helpful.  I got some great tips from that, and to not only see new moms who delivered around the same time as I had, and that was all virtual and really cool to be able to hear from them.  You know, they might not be going through the same issues as I am, but to hear they’re also having questions and not knowing what to do was really reassuring because you can get stuck in this loop of, why is this not working for me?  What am I doing wrong?  Why is it so easy for everybody else?  And you don’t realize other moms have, you know, if not the same issues, then different issues.  It’s all different for each person.

Alyssa:  Yeah.  It’s not easy for everybody else.  It just seems like it is.

Samantha:  It does, and it’s easy to get down on yourself and think, oh, you know, woe is me, why is it not working for me?  But to be able to have not only doulas but then give me other resources to be able to reach out to was also great, as well.

Alyssa:  That’s awesome.  Thank you for taking the time to share your story!

Samantha:  Of course!  Thank you

 

Virtual Birth Support: Podcast Episode #95 Read More »

MJ wooden letters with a picture of two embryos

A Journey Unlike Any Other

To all of the couples who have had retrievals, transfers, and IVF schedules postponed or affected by the Corona virus outbreak my heart breaks for you. IVF is no small or easy journey; it takes a toll on your mental, emotional, and physical state. It’s beautiful and terrifying all at the same time. It’s expensive and stressful. It’s all the feels at once every single day.

My journey with the Fertility Center of West Michigan began after my son was born. I suffer from secondary infertility. My son was conceived naturally and born in May of 2012. I began doing hormone therapy to conceive again a year after he was born. Unfortunately every pregnancy I had resulted in a miscarriage. We did several months of hormone therapy and endured four miscarriages. Unfortunately we never made it to IVF, instead my then husband and I divorced in 2016. I remarried in 2018 and in January of 2019 my Husband, Matt, and I began working with the Fertility Center again doing the hormone therapy for 6-months, which again resulted in another miscarriage. It was time to step up our game.

After taking a break in April of 2019, Matt and I decided to travel and take some time away from the constant thought of trying to get pregnant. It had become a chore and that can be so hard on a marriage. When December rolled around we decided to get on the IVF list and signed up for March of 2020. During this wait I began doing something for myself, I started taking a close look at my own health and began to prepare my body for pregnancy. Starting IVF at 35 years old made me a senior citizen in this setting. My body had changed immensely since my first pregnancy. So I began working with my coworkers at Grand Rapids Natural Health to address my thyroid and hormone issues as well as my food sensitivities and stress. I began weekly acupuncture sessions that I planned to do all the way through IVF and into pregnancy. I was working out to build my body’s strength to carry a baby and to create healthy habits I could continue into my pregnancy. I also began sharing my journey with the world via Instagram.

Sharing my journey was very important to me. Working in the health industry I notice too often that these sensitive topics are not spoken about enough and I wanted to share my story in hopes that my own vulnerability might help others along their journey. I wanted to empower women to talk about their pain, their loss, and their sadness instead of hiding it from the world. I found once I started to share my journey that there were so many others like me out there. I didn’t feel that I was carrying that burden alone anymore which was incredibly comforting.

When February arrived they started me on birth control. During this time we did our mock transfer and Endosee. I was thankful for the mock transfer because it calmed my nerves and answered a lot of my questions in regards to how the procedure worked. Since I have undiagnosed infertility an Endosee was performed to make sure that my uterus looked healthy and had no underlying problems that may prevent me from getting pregnant. We then met with Dr. Young and our nurse who walked us through every detail of our care during this process. Since my problems weren’t about getting pregnant, but more about keeping a pregnancy, our plan was a little different than what they were use to seeing. They decided, because of my age and history of miscarriages, that they would transfer two embryos. Our chances of twins are now much higher since twins are on both sides of our family, my age, this being my second pregnancy, and because we are transferring two embryos. As scary as that sounded we took our chances and agreed to the two embryo transfer. From there we waited for my period.

During our wait I began getting myself organized, ordering medications, supplements, syringes and needles for injections, and sharps containers, all of which were provided by our pharmacy. I found so many wonderful resources along the way to help me organize and reduce the stress of injections. My favorite was My Vitro. My Vitro is a small business that have created organizational items that help make the process of IVF a bit smoother. I was so thankful for their Caddy and mat. It helped me organize everything I needed everyday in one place. They also offered the gel hot cold pads to use before and after injections to ease the pain of the needle pokes. They were a great resource for support since they were a couple who had also been through the IVF journey and created products they wish they had had when they were going through it.

When February 28th arrived I began my injections. I started with two evening injections. The Follistem and Menopur injections were used to increase the number of follicles and to help with the quality of the eggs. I did these every night between the hours of 6pm and 8pm in the belly, until I was instructed to stop using them on day 10. Alongside these injections I had blood work and Ultrasounds every other day to measure my progress and determine exactly when I would be ready for my trigger shot and retrieval. On day six of my cycle we introduced an injection of Cetrotide, which was also administered in the belly daily in the morning hours between 6am and 10am. Cetrotide inhibits the premature LH surge to prevent ovulation from occurring while the follicles are maturing. By March 6th my ultrasounds and blood work had become a daily routine instead of every other day. By March 7th I was done with my Follistem & Menopur injections, and by March 8th I took my last injection of Cetrotide and was instructed to take my trigger shot. The trigger shots consisted of two injections, hCG (Human Chorionic Gonadatropin) and Lupron, one in the belly and one in the muscle of the upper thigh. These two injections were used to trigger ovulation, help the eggs to mature, and make it easier to retrieve the eggs from the ovaries.

Monday, March 9th I had my last ultrasound and no injections that day which I was so thrilled about because I had a really hard time with the injections making me physically ill, causing migraines and vomiting. Everyone reacts differently to the medications and they all have different side effects. Some women don’t have any trouble with the medication, others do and that was just how my body reacted to them. Our retrieval was scheduled for the morning of March 10th and we were ready to rock. The procedure went beautifully with the successful extraction of nine eggs. Three of the nine were immature; six were mature and ready for fertilization. We did a two-day fertilization process and ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection), a technique for in vitro fertilization in which an individual sperm cell is introduced into an egg cell. We were thrilled to hear they all fertilized beautifully.

Thursday, March 12th was our transfer date and our two little embabies transferred smoothly. After our transfer we would continue injections of Progesterone up to the day of our pregnancy test. If we were not pregnant we would stop taking the progesterone. If we were pregnant we would continue injections for 11-weeks in the muscle of the upper booty. Progesterone is the hormone that is needed to maintain the lining of the uterus and to help support a pregnancy. Now it was time to go home, rest and wait.

After our transfer was complete, our 2-week wait had begun but I had never anticipated what would happen next. That Friday morning, I woke up to the school closings due to the Corona Virus. Our State was gearing up to take action against the spread of this deadly virus that seemed to be doubling in cases overnight. By Monday morning I read with tears in my eyes a message from the Fertility Center of West Michigan that they were suspending initiation of new treatment cycles and strongly recommended patients consider canceling upcoming embryo transfers due to lack of data on the risk if pregnancy complications when COVID-19 is acquired during first or early second trimester of pregnancy. My heart sank. I was terrified for my embabies who just days earlier were tucked into my uterus, and devastated for all the mamas out there that I had met and connected with along my journey. They had supported me every step of the way, they had become sisters and friends throughout this time and now in an instant their worlds, hopes, and dreams came crashing down.

The same day that we were informed that the Fertility Center would be postponing future cycles and transfers, we found out we were pregnant. It was a bittersweet experience at first but I have decided to make it the light that has come out of these dark times. People are dying, losing jobs, and unable to hug loved ones but through it all I was able to finally create life amongst all the turmoil and that is the most beautiful thing in the world. I am taking this time at home and resting, accepting this time as an opportunity to bond with my son before he has to share me with another baby and that is such a gift. I am taking care of my mental, emotional, and physical health and working hard to create a healthy environment to grow a baby in. April 7th is our first ultrasound and my husband will not be allowed to attend it with me to keep down the amount of exposure at the clinic. As disappointing as that is, I am thankful that they are taking these precautions and count my blessings everyday that we have even made it this far because I know so many would love to be in our shoes.

So I ask you to be gentle with yourself, be forgiving, and be kind. Allow yourself to break down and cry, you have earned it. But also be strong, be safe, and be vigilant because your time will come. Take this time if you are able to show yourself some self-care. Eat healthy, exercise, and brain dump into a journal so you can sleep soundly at night. Reach out to me, or a friend along the way, when the days get hard because you are not alone and your story needs to be heard so that others do not feel alone in this time of isolation.

Jen Smits is the Office Manager at Grand Rapids Natural Health.

 

A Journey Unlike Any Other Read More »

Birth story

When Your Baby Doesn’t Follow Your Birth Plan

Have you ever set out to accomplish something life-changing? How did you prepare for it? Did you research it online? Did you read a how-to book? Did you seek advice from those you trust? Would you ever show up for the big day without preparing ahead of time?

Back in November of 2017, I finally saw those two blue lines on a pregnancy test.  I was unbelievably excited, but yet filled with fear and anxiety. After over a year of trying to conceive and a devastating miscarriage, my husband and I were blessed with the opportunity to try it again.  For anyone that has experienced a miscarriage you know that each cramp, test, and Dr. appointment is filled with intense emotion and fear.

The fear and anxiety wasn’t completely gone after our 12 week ultrasound, but it definitely became a background noise that I could drown out with our baby registry, nursery decorations, and my efforts to create the perfect environment for my baby for the remainder of the pregnancy.

During my first trimester, I was gifted The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth by Genevieve Howland (highly recommended by the way, even if you’re not a super crunchy mama) by my sister who unknowingly would become the trail blazer that would go before me by about 12 weeks and share all her child rearing wisdom with me.  This was new for me as an OLDER sister, but her recommendations and personal experience were pivotal in creating an empowering childbirth experience for me.

Fast forward to the third trimester where it really started to sink in that I was going to birth this tiny human inside me.  This is the part of the story where I realized I was going to experience something life-changing that I knew very little about.  After reading the best books, talking with seasoned mamas and investing in a bomb childbirth course (Mama Natural’s once again!), I decided that my ideal birth plan was to have a vaginal delivery with as few medical interventions as possible.  I did the research to get the facts and my husband was very supportive (but also a rookie) so I wanted some reinforcement to help me achieve my dream birth story. This is the part where my very wise sister recommended talking with Gold Coast Doulas about how they could help me reach my goals.  She had just accomplished a successful, low intervention vaginal delivery so it didn’t take much convincing for me to call and get matched up with doulas that were a good fit for my birth goals.

At 41 weeks and 3 days, it became apparent that my son had not read my birth plan and despite my best efforts was coming out on his own terms.  In the midst of my research, I learned that induction could be intense, unpleasant, and ruin my plans for an unmedicated birth; unfortunately, my OBGYN had decided this was the best option for me. My husband and I walked into the hospital like a couple headed to Baby-Mart to pick-up our baby.  I had not experienced one real contraction to this point, was dilated to 1cm (I still think this was a pity centimeter) and I had shed many tears as I realized how little control I actually had over this birth experience.  I prayed God would help me surrender to His will for this birth.

As if this was the moment my son had been waiting for all along, I felt my first real contraction minutes after being hooked up to the fetal heart monitor before beginning the induction process.  I finally stopped feeling sorry for myself about my “ruined” birth plan and regained my confidence knowing this was MY birth plan and no matter how it ended, it was the perfect plan for me!

Contractions continued to come, and they recommended that I receive a dose of Cytotec to soften my cervix. Thankfully labor continued to progress on its own without any further doses of cytotec or pitocin.  Several hours after contractions started, I peed the bed… or so I thought. After 2 trips to the bathroom and continued “leaking” I realized my water had broken. My cervix continued to dilate and my husband was now recruited to help me through my increasingly more intense contractions.  My nurse was amazing and encouraged me to change positions by kneeling and leaning forward on the bed and rolling from side to side with a peanut ball between my legs to encourage continued progression of my labor. It’s funny because I knew this movement was important, but in that moment, all I could think about was how it made my contractions hurt worse and that I didn’t want to move at all. Turns out that’s the point! You want to intensify contractions, progress labor, and get that baby in your arms!

As the hours progressed my husband continued to ask if we should ask Mary, our doula, to join us (she’d been checking in with him periodically) and I continued to say no. I guess I had heard too many stories about long labors because I was convinced we still had a long way to go.  When my attentive husband noticed the signs of transition he quietly vetoed my decision and let Mary, along with family, know that we were getting close and it was time to come to the hospital. When Mary arrived they were wheeling in delivery equipment and it was go-time. She reminded me of the breathing techniques I had practiced and was available to help with whatever comfort measures we needed even when it was silence.

There was no mistaking when it was time to push as my fetal ejection reflex kicked in.  I was thankful that my provider let me stay in a side-lying position to push while my husband and Mary held legs and hands (focusing on my needs) allowing the doctors to focus on our son. My husband excitedly updated me that they could see his head, but he just didn’t seem to want to move past that point. Despite my best pushing efforts for about 40 minutes, our baby’s heart rate was dropping, and I was now needing oxygen. At this point, my OBGYN highly recommended an episiotomy to deliver my son quickly. This was not part of my birth plan, but I agreed knowing everyone’s goal was to deliver a healthy baby. As his head emerged and the OBGYN quickly freed him from the umbilical cord around his neck, he launched himself earth-side and to this day has not stopped moving and wiggling.

It’s crazy to think that at 8 pm on Sunday night we walked into the hospital with a space in our hearts we had no idea even existed and by 8:30 am on Monday morning our hearts were overflowing with love and connection with someone we had only just met.  Childbirth was unknown, exciting, and challenging.  The experience was so very empowering and the outcome was undeniably life-changing. My piece of advice for expecting moms is to go into labor and delivery prepared, supported and believing in yourself knowing that your body was made to do this!

Written by Dr. Nicole Bringer, DPT
Owner of Mamas & Misses Physical Therapy
www.mamasandmisses.com 

 

When Your Baby Doesn’t Follow Your Birth Plan Read More »

HypnoBirthing Story

Maddie’s Birth Story: Podcast Episode #83

Our listeners love hearing a positive birth story.  Today Maddie, a previous HypnoBirthing and Birth client, tells us all about her labor and delivery as well as her experience in the hospital right after having her baby.  You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud.

Kristin:  Welcome to Ask the Doulas with Gold Coast Doulas.  I’m Kristin, and I’m here today with my former birth client, Maddie, and we’re here to talk about her personal birth story.  Welcome, Maddie!

Maddie:  Thank you.  I’m glad to be here!

Kristin:  So we talked a little bit about why you chose HypnoBirthing in a previous podcast, so tell us about your birth story.  How did you know you were in labor?  Give us all the details.  I was lucky to be there!

Maddie:  Yes, it was wonderful to have you there!  I went into work on a Wednesday, and I was due July 18th, and it was July 13th.  For some reason, I just kind of thought, oh, I’ll know.  It’s not going to happen yet.  I went to work; I had a normally-scheduled weekly appointment with my midwife.  I went at 10:30, and I had been kind of grouchy all day and just felt a little off but did not think about it at all.  I’d been having practice labor for a few weeks, so I really wasn’t noticing anything different.  I went to my appointment and sat down, and she said, how are you feeling?  And then I started bawling. I said, “I just feel so confused by my body!”  And she was like, well, let’s just take a look.  How about we just take a look, and so she did an exam, and she said, girl, you’re six to seven centimeters!  And I was like, what?!  And I started crying again, and then I said, but what does that mean?  Even though I’d been through HypnoBirthing; I knew what it meant, but it was just so unexpected.  I was so far along already.  She was fantastic; she was so wonderful, and she said, well, it means you’re going to have a baby today.  Go have some lunch.  So I called my husband.  He was working, and I told him I was six to seven centimeters, and he said, well, what does that mean?  And I called my mom who was coming, and she said, but wait; what does that mean?  So we were all pretty taken off guard because it wasn’t like I had woken up and said, oh, you know, I think something’s happening.  No one was really prepared.  Hey, I’m six to seven centimeters.

Kristin:  Right, I couldn’t believe it when I got the call.  I was like, what?!

Maddie:  Yeah!  I went and got some lunch and drove myself to the hospital and parked on the fifth floor of the parking structure and waddled in.  You showed up; you were the first one, and we went up to the room.  Fortunately, since I’d already had the exam, I didn’t have to go through and wait for 20 minutes for them to monitor me or anything.

Kristin:  That’s so nice to skip triage and go right up.

Maddie:  We went up the room, and it was not bad for a really long time.  You know, my body was doing a lot of the work as far as maybe turning the baby or getting more effaced.  Having done HypnoBirthing, I knew that dilation is not the only factor that you need to pay attention to, so I was able to just kind of relax and say all right, it’s going to happen when it happens.  You were there; you did a lot of hip squeezes for me, which was really fantastic for that counter pressure, because I was having back labor.  My husband is not able to do those with his wrists, so that made a huge, huge difference.  And we just kind of hung out, and I listened to my HypnoBirthing, and I listened to some relaxing music.  My appointment was at 10:30, and he wasn’t born until 10:45, so it was a while, but…

Kristin:  But for a first-time mom, it was pretty quick, and it’s one of the few calls I get in the daytime hours.  Most of the time, I get a call at 2:00 AM or 11:00 PM.

Maddie:  Right!  Things started to get ramped up some, and then I started noticing it more, but none of it was overwhelming.  One thing that we talked about in HypnoBirthing was breaking the amniotic sac.  That’s protection for baby, so I didn’t want to do that; didn’t really feel like there was any reason to.  The contractions really weren’t bad.  The surges weren’t overly painful or overwhelming, and so my midwife worked her full day at the office and then came in.  She checked me again quite a bit later, and then she did accidentally break the amniotic sac, and then after that, things got pretty intense.

Kristin:  Yeah, that can intensify a lot!

Maddie:  Yeah! I think from the time my water broke until the baby was born was about 2 hours and 45 minutes, so doable.  I spent a lot of the time in the tub, and that felt really great.  My husband was able to just use the hand shower, and having that, the different points of pressure, I think kind of helps take your mind off of it to some extent.  The water makes it a little less intense.  I really liked to be in there.  Then we got out, she said she wanted to check me, and I was Group B Strep positive, so they wanted to do another round of antibiotics.  That had been one thing that, when I found out, I was super devastated, because I wanted to labor at home for as long as possible.  I didn’t want to have to come in before six centimeters, and we had me the plan that if I came in and I wasn’t six centimeters, I didn’t want to know what I was at.  But I would just not go home.  You could know; my husband could know, and then we could make the decision.  Let’s walk around a little bit or just not be admitted.  But because I was already six to seven centimeters, when I was checked, we went right in after I got lunch.  We went right in and got admitted, so I was able to get those antibiotics in.  Once she checked me again and broke my water, it got intense.  It was really just — I felt very internal.  You know, it was not a lot of talking, and it was — I think right after it broke, I kind of got to that point where I was like, oh, no.  I can’t do this!

Kristin:  Which most women go through with unmedicated births.  Transition!

Maddie:  Right.  However, as soon as I had that thought — I have a distinct recollection of, oh, no, I can’t do this.  No, wait – that means I’m really close.  That means I can do this.  And so then I really tried to just focus on my breathing, because we’d talked about that and learned and practiced about getting those breaths in.  And I did end up struggling with that, but having you, having my husband, having my midwife all saying, all right, this is the birth you prepared for.  You can do this.  Just take those big breaths.  Breathing and focusing on those voices helped me to kind of get back on track, get it under control.  We tried a lot of positions for delivery, which that was one big thing.  I had changed providers pretty early on from an OB who said you’re only allowed to birth on your back, and I said, I want the freedom to do whatever position feels comfortable for me and for my baby and my body.  And so I ended up doing a lot of my laboring and pushing leaning over the back of the bed on my knees, and that definitely felt like the best position for me.  We tried on the side with the peanut ball.

Kristin: I remember trying a lot of different positions, and it’s all about listening to your body.

Maddie:  Right, and my body was saying, this does not feel good!  Don’t do that!  So I spent a lot of time there, and then I got to a point where I just remember feeling so hot and just, you know, put as many ice-cold washcloths on me as possible.  I was so hot, but I was just kind of getting right there to the end.  It was right at the end, and then my midwife had said, okay, I want to check you after this next surge, and so I want you to roll over.  And I already knew I was crowning, but I couldn’t really explain it at that point.  I’m like, no, no.  He’s there.

Kristin:  Right.  I feel him!

Maddie:  He’s right there!  So I did end up flipping over, and that was okay on my back, and that was fine.  What was helpful was the nurse that was there; she had said, do you want a mirror?  And I had said no, no, I don’t want a mirror.  And then she said to reach down and feel your baby.  When I could feel — he’s right there.  More than just oh, I feel it with my body, but actually touching it with your hand — he’s almost here!  That kind of gives you a little reinvigoration.  I’m right there at the end!  So I was able to catch my baby and put him right on me and do optimal cord clamping.  It was fantastic, just beautiful.  He was born on July 13th at 10:45 PM, so about 12 hours from when I figured out that I was in labor until he was born.  And it was being just relaxed about the whole process and recognizing it’s going to happen when it happens, and your body is going to do it, and trusting your body.

Kristin:  Exactly, trusting your baby and your connection with your own body and your baby, because it’s the two of you working together along with, of course, your partner and support team.

Maddie:  The very first thing I ended up saying after Charlie came out was, good job, buddy!  He was a part of it, too.

Kristin:  Exactly, babies work so hard!  They have to turn in the canal and — yeah, they’re exhausted.  You’re exhausted.

Maddie:  Exactly, there’s a lot happening.  It was beautiful!

Kristin:  It really was.  It was an honor to support you.  How did it go with the skin-to-skin time and breastfeeding as a first time mom?  Let’s talk about some of that and how you felt bonding in that first golden hour.

Maddie:  That was fantastic that I could do skin-to-skin right away.  I didn’t feel pressured to stop.  That was super important.  I did have some postpartum bleeding, and so while all of that was being taken care, not being separated from my baby was so big so I could just focus on him.  That part was wonderful.  We got all cleaned up.  The breastfeeding definitely was more difficult.  I have one side that’s inverted normally, and so baby really struggled to latch on that side, but he also struggled on the other side.  I was fortunate that Spectrum has IBCLCs on staff 24 hours a day, and so they were able to come in at 3:00 AM and focus on what’s going on, why is baby not latching.  We did end up using a nipple shield, and that was pretty demoralizing for a while.  We used it until six weeks, and I went to some Le Leche League meetings and things like that.  It really was important to have those contacts ahead of time and know where the meetings are; know when the meetings are; know an IBCLC that’s recommended in case you are having those issues so you’re not having to try to figure that out when you’re exhausted and you’re feeling downtrodden and things aren’t working.  It’s really hard to try to find that when you’re already struggling.  So having figured that out ahead of time, I was able to go to a meeting, go meet with a lactation consultant again.  We did stick with it, and then at six weeks, which is pretty common, he just kind of got it.  We got in the tub where it was warm and kind of womb-like and got rid of the nipple shield, and it worked.

Kristin:  That’s amazing that you were so persistent and it paid off!

Maddie:  Yes!  We just weaned at 2 years and 11 months.

Kristin:  Oh, congrats!

Maddie:  Yes, that was exciting.  We had a fantastic nursing journey.  If you really stick with it and arm yourself with that support system, you can do it.  I feel like so many women don’t have that support system.  My mom nursed; my sisters nursed all of their children.  Having that support system makes a huge, huge, huge difference.

Kristin:  Yeah, and like you said, just taking advantage of lactation while you’re in the hospital, even for moms who have a great first latch, to just have someone see your holds and answer any questions you might have — it’s a resource that I highly recommend anyone take advantage of, if they’re birthing in the hospital, of course.

Maddie:  Right.  That was important that they did come in.  They came multiple times to check on us and did work on holds and really understanding, you know, here’s another technique.  Here’s another hold to try if this one isn’t working, so you have those skills in your toolbox to pull out.  Okay, this isn’t working; let’s try this.  That definitely was helpful for me, as well.

Kristin:  Great!  Well, thanks for sharing your story!  Do you have any parting words?

Maddie:  I would just say to do your research.  It’s easy to just say that my doctor is going to do what’s best for me.  This is what happens.  This is how it goes.  But it doesn’t have to be.  You can be such an advocate for yourself, and you can surround yourself with other people to advocate for you so that you can get the type of birth that you want so that you have the support that you need.  Even if you have a partner that’s not able to be there in the way that you need, you can get a doula.  You can have a midwife who births in the hospital.  It’s really not different.  I know people that really think, oh, they’re not a doctor.  That’s totally different.  Just really doing your research and asking other moms who have been through it.  Moms are very willing, good or bad, to give you their advice, so get as much information as you can so that you can make your own informed decisions.

Kristin:  Yes!  Thank you for sharing your story because other women want to hear personal, especially positive, stories.  I feel like when it comes to birth, you here the dramatic or tragic.  Everyone likes to tell negative stories, and there aren’t enough positive, and a lot of women in pregnancy want to surround themselves with light and positivity.  We really appreciate you coming in!  Thanks so much, Maddie.  Thank you, everyone, for tuning into our podcast.  Remember, these moments are golden.

 

Maddie’s Birth Story: Podcast Episode #83 Read More »

HypnoBirthing Story

Maddie’s HypnoBirthing Story: Podcast Episode #81

Today our former birth client and HypnoBirthing student, Maddie Kioski, tells us her personal pregnancy journey using HypnoBirthing and how it helped her feel excited about labor and delivery instead of scared.  You can listen to this completed podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud.

 

Kristin:  Welcome to Ask the Doulas with Gold Coast Doulas.  I’m Kristin, and I’m here today with Maddie Kioski.  She is a former HypnoBirthing student of Gold Coast and also my birth client.  Good to see you!  It’s been a while.

Maddie:  You, too!  It’s been so long.  We just had the third year birthday for Charlie, so three years!

Kristin:  That is so amazing!  I love following all of your adventures on Facebook.  So, Maddie, let us know a little bit about your HypnoBirthing experience and why you chose HypnoBirthing and what it did for you.  We’ll have another episode coming up about your actual birth story, but this is focused on the class.

Maddie:  I’m lucky to have two older sisters who were very instrumental in that they both researched natural birthing and all of that, so before I ever got pregnant, I was kind of familiar.  The middle sister took a HypnoBirthing class in Atlanta, so when I got pregnant, I knew I wanted to go for a natural birth, so I started researching in our area.  I found you guys, and I found speed-dating with the doulas, and so I was like, oh, perfect.  And I saw you guys did the HypnoBirthing classes, so once I came and met you guys, I was sold.  I knew for sure this is what I want to do.  So my husband and I did the weekends class, so we had just longer weekend classes.  When we started, he was not totally sold on it, but he said, well, if you want to do, then of course we’ll go and we’ll do it together.  I actually really enjoyed having the weekend class.  For me, it was a long period instead of the shorter periods; you could really focus on it and really get in depth.

Kristin:  Did you do any preparation knowing that it was a very time-intensive class versus being spread out for five weeks?  Did you read the book in advance?  Did you do any preparation?

Maddie:  I didn’t.  We came to the class, and then we would read after class on the way home; we’d read on the way to class, and then we’d do some in the interim before the next week.  I just knew this is what I wanted to do.  I can’t remember; I think I was maybe five months when I started.

Kristin:  That sounds about right.  Yeah, I remember there was some time before your due date.

Maddie:  Yeah.  So we started listening to the rainbow relaxion every night.  It was weeks before I even knew there was a rainbow in it; I just fell asleep every time.  But my husband listened to it every single night, so he was pretty familiar.

Kristin:  It’s good to fall asleep to.  It means that you’re getting in that fully relaxed state.

Maddie:  Right.  So I think what was really, really helpful for me in the classes was reframing how you think about birth.   That was really helpful for me.  Instead of saying Braxton-Hicks, it was practice labor.  This is natural and normal and healthy; really understanding that trusting my body to do what it needed to do; trusting my baby, that he was going to be able to do what he needed to do.  Reframing all of those words was really, really helpful for me.

Kristin:  Yeah, I’m all about the impact of language.  Even the contraction; you think of it being intense and tightening up, but in labor, you want to be relaxed or it’s just going to be more uncomfortable and take longer, so calling it a surge, for example, and viewing the wave-like motion of labor.

Maddie:  And I also think what was really helpful for me is understanding what’s actually happening with your body and the different phases and knowing — I felt very internal when I was going through it, and so knowing what was going to happen and having learned about all the physical physiology, hormones, and all of that — I felt was really helpful to just kind of put my mind at ease and feel more prepared about what was going to happen and what I could expect.  And I think being able to relax and feel more relaxed about it also let me feel a little free with, if something doesn’t go exactly how I want it to go, that’s okay.  We have another plan.  We know if it’s an emergent situation, things are going to have to change, but feeling more relaxed about the birthing process allowed me to feel relaxed about letting go of exactly how things were going to happen.

Kristin:  Right.  And there are some misconceptions about HypnoBirthing only being for home birthers.  You birthed in the hospital?

Maddie:  Yes.

Kristin:  And you were able to apply what you learned in class?

Maddie:  Absolutely.  I took an old phone with me and I had my rainbow relaxation, and I had some other music on there and the affirmation track, and so I was playing those while I was at the hospital.  Even just something like keeping the lights down low to allow a more relaxed atmosphere, to allow your hormones to really react to the calm environment rather than bright lights and people coming in and out.  I mean, you can change your environment when you have the knowledge of what it should be to help your birth go more easily.  So that was helpful.  And I was fortunate to go to Spectrum Butterworth, and you can labor in the tub there and all of that, and they have a lot more training as far as helping women through a natural birth.

Kristin:  Yeah, your provider makes a difference; a supportive hospital and their policies and procedures make a big difference in being able to achieve HypnoBirthing in the hospital.

Maddie:  What was helpful as well: I did do a lot of research as far as who I wanted as a provider and selecting a provider that you guys have worked with a lot and a lot of other moms in the area have recommended, so they were more familiar with HypnoBirthing, too, and they understand it more and understand what a natural birth looks like.

Kristin:  And it can be much different to observe someone who is internally focused if a provider is not familiar with HypnoBirthing.

Maddie:  Right, exactly, and not feeling forced to respond and explain what’s happening and just allowing your body to do the work that it needs to do, allowing your baby to do the work that they need to do.

Kristin:  Exactly.  Was there anything from the class that didn’t sit with you?  I always say, take what you like from a class or experience and then discard the rest.  Was there anything that didn’t resonate with you immediately?

Maddie:  I responded well to a lot of the self-hypnosis kind of techniques, but we didn’t end up really using those a ton when we were actually going through the birth process.  We did a lot of focusing on breathing because that’s where I really ended up struggling was just calming down and getting those deep breaths in and having my husband understand what needed to happen; understand I needed to be breathing to get that oxygen in for baby, too, and help calm my body down.  He was a fantastic birth partner.

Kristin:  I remember that about your birth, for sure.  He’s a very supportive partner.

Maddie:  He was really involved, and we felt really connected after, so that was beautiful.  And I know some people did a fear release, and for me, that didn’t really work, I feel like, as well for me.  I think it would be really helpful for some people, but my main concerns were that I get migraines, and they’re really bad, and I’ve had kidney stones and they’re really bad, and so I felt like, oh, man, if I can’t handle those, am I going to be able to do a natural birth?  So I think what helped more was just understanding how the birth process works, and then I talked with some other moms who also struggled with those same health issues, and they were able to help calm my fears, as well.  Understanding that your body is putting out all that love hormone; you’re not going to be getting a migraine.  Your body is protecting you from that; it’s focused on what needs to happen.  So the actual fear release part, I didn’t really use that as much.

Kristin:  And one thing about the HypnoBirthing class that’s helpful is you work on your birth preference sheet or birth plan.  Was that helpful in having discussions with your providers during your pregnancy?

Maddie:  Extremely helpful.  I think it was almost more helpful for my husband and I to kind of give us a guideline of what we need to focus on.  With HypnoBirthing, we had informed choice, really; here are evidence-based articles that you can read about these certain preferences that you can choose from.  That was helpful for us to talk about.  My providers were so wonderful, though; I just kind of was like, well, here’s my sheet, and they were like, yep, these all look great.

Kristin:  Whatever you want!

Maddie:  So that was helpful.  But I would say I had a shift change, and so I think what would have been helpful that I didn’t realize was making sure, when we did that shift change, that the other nurse made sure to read the birth preferences.  I had put on there that I didn’t want coached pushing, and so when she came in, I don’t think that she had really read it necessarily, and so then they were pretty focused on that.

Kristin:  That can be challenging, the timing.

Maddie:  I was just trying to block that out.  You were helpful, and the midwife and my husband were all talking about breathing and getting those breaths in, and that was helpful.

Kristin:  Great.  Any other tips or advice for anyone considering HypnoBirthing?

Maddie:  I think it was so helpful and such a bonding experience that I feel — I felt prepared and I felt excited to give birth.  I think so many women go into it feeling scared and saying, give me drugs; they just feel from the beginning that I’m not going to be able to do it.  And after going through HypnoBirthing and really understanding the process, understanding and getting to a point where I trust my body and trust my baby; it’s natural; it’s normal; it’s healthy.  I was so excited!  I was so excited to go in and give birth.

Kristin:  I could tell that; I could see it and feel it.

Maddie:  And you can know, okay, it’s not going to be a walk in the park, but it was beautiful, and I feel so fortunate to have had such a wonderful first birth experience.

Kristin:  Do you use any of the breathing or relaxation techniques in general life or parenting?

Maddie:  I do, actually, do a lot of deep breathing when I feel frustrated and I need to take a step away and focus internally; do some breath depths; focus on a relaxing color.

Kristin:  I do that with my kids.  I get them to use HypnoBirthing and the birth breaths and the relaxation.  For me, I have a fear of the dentist, so I’ve used it at the dentist!  Yeah, it’s very helpful.  Well, it’s so good to have you on, and we’ll talk about your actual birth story shortly.

Maddie:  I’m excited!

Kristin:  Thanks for listening to Ask the Doulas with Gold Coast Doulas!  Remember, these moments are golden.

 

Maddie’s HypnoBirthing Story: Podcast Episode #81 Read More »

Birth Stories

Gaby’s Birth Stories: Podcast Episode #77

Gaby is a local business owner in Grand Rapids and talks to Alyssa about the birth stories of both of her children. You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud.

Alyssa: Hi, welcome to Ask the Doulas podcast. I am Alyssa and I’m excited to be here with Gaby today. How are you?

Gaby: Hi, I’m great, Alyssa.

Alyssa: So we met a couple of months ago?

Gaby: Yes.

Alyssa: Was it the Mom Brain meet up?

Gaby: We did, yeah.

Alyssa: Yeah, and we got to talking about your lovely little bridal shop. I shouldn’t call it little, we’ll talk about that in another episode. But you have three children?

Gaby: I have two.

Alyssa: Two children.

Gaby: And a fur baby!

Alyssa: But you didn’t birth that one!

Gaby: Yeah, no.

Alyssa: I just wanted to talk about your stories. So our moms who are pregnant love hearing positive birth stories and it’s not to say that even though your birth story – the outcome may be positive, but there weren’t crazy things that happened along the way.

Gaby: Yeah.

Alyssa: I think there are so many people telling you, oh, just wait until… You know? And they tell you negative things about pregnancy, about labor and delivery, about postpartum, and then every year as your kid grows, oh, you just wait until… So I like to give our listeners some positive stories. So tell me about your kids. How old are they now?

Gaby: I have two kids. My oldest, Aurora. She’s going to be six this year. And my youngest, Andreas, he’s going to be three this year. They’re a good amount apart, but still kind of fighting the ages right there.

Alyssa: Yeah. What was it like having a three-year-old and a newborn?

Gaby: She had just surpassed the age of needing me 100% of the time. She was starting to be independent and she was very involved and loving, but there was still that balance of like, she’s still not 100% independent. But I like that space. I wouldn’t personally go any closer. I know I have friends and moms that are like, I just like to have my babies super close so that I’m having babies all at the same time. And I’m like, that sounds very overwhelming!

Alyssa: I think it’s very overwhelming in that stage. I was actually just talking to a girlfriend today who did that and she was like, It was so overwhelming! I don’t even know how I made it through. She goes, “But now, it’s so easy. They’re all within the same age range and they’re all independent. And they all just go play outside for two hours together.” So I can see the beauty of both ends, I guess.

Gaby: Yeah and now since she’s a little bit different, she’s still kind of interested in what he’s interested in, and can also watch him a relative amount of – you know, she’s kind of on the lookout a little bit. So she’s enjoying that responsibility of like, I’m in charge and don’t do that.

Alyssa: Oh yeah, my daughter’s six and she would love to be a big sister.

Gaby: Yeah. She’s like, don’t do that. Or she’ll run inside like, “Mom!” Okay, let’s go through the emergency levels here. Not everything is 100% red flag, our house is on fire, emergency.

Alyssa: So how were your deliveries with both of them? Were they pretty similar or completely different?

Gaby: They were relatively similar. I like to talk a look at all the possibilities and when I originally was planning to get pregnant and got pregnant, I was like, gve me all the drugs. Let’s set a date for the delivery, just give me all the drugs, and it’ll be quick and simple, and I’ll be in and out, and I’ll look great. You know, in a week I’ll be fabulous.

Alyssa: Instagram perfect, right?

Gaby: Yes! It’ll be fabulous! And that’s when I started reading up more on it and because of my tendencies already – so for example, my back has always kind of been sore, in pain, or more on the delicate side, and I started seeing the complications with medications and where they go and how they go and how they affect you. I started to explore a more natural way, more hands-off, with still keeping in mind, If I need it, that’s open. So not ever being like, I don’t want it no matter what. But just being like, I want to go in with the mindset of as much hands-off as possible. And then with the nurses and the doctors, because I trusted them if it really needed to be done, or if I needed medication or an intervention, then I was okay with doing that. And it was relatively – the pregnancy itself, I was sick! Sick, sick, sick, sick, sick! I think I lost weight until the last couple of months. And she was right on time and it was a relatively – I don’t know if it’s long, but it was almost like 12-20 hour from start to finish. But I think the active labor was maybe 6 hours? I was in a lot of pain. It seemed like, I can’t even tell you how long it was, but the active labor wasn’t that long.

Alyssa: Did you end up begging for an epidural?

Gaby: No, I didn’t. What ended up happening is they gave me Stadol at the last stages because I was refusing to sit down, to lay down, because it just hurt so much more. So when the contractions started they put me in a little tub, but as it started to get more intense I just couldn’t be sitting down. So most of the labor my partner and I were just on our feet. So I would be on my feet and then the contraction would come and I would obviously just collapse and he would just kind of hold me. Like underarms hold me through the contraction. Then the doctor’s like, you need to rest! You’ve been on your feet most of the labor. And I was like, I can’t, it hurts! They’d try to lay me down and I’d be like, “No!” It was just not good. It definitely helped me rest once I took the medicine and I don’t want to say it took the pain away, but it definitely helped ease the transition from standing up and the anxiety of like, If I lay down, it’s going to hurt more. She came and it was everybody focus! Don’t talk to me, focus! And she was delivered. There weren’t any complications. She came out great and everybody in my family waited until we were in the other room to come in.

Alyssa: Yeah, I was going to say, who was in the room with you?

Gaby: Just my partner at the time. Yes, I was very adamant about that. In fact, my grandmother tried to come in a couple of times and she was like, do you need anything? And I’m like, There’s nothing you can do! Please, I need some space. And I think it really helped me focus in the moment and just continuously tell myself, your body is meant to do this, to go through it, don’t panic. I just had to be like, don’t panic, just breathe in. You’re supposed to do this. If something were to go wrong, someone’s going to tell you if something’s wrong, they’re going to intervene. But as long as they’re just like, hey, everything’s okay! I’m trusting my environment and my body that this is what it’s supposed to do.

Alyssa: So was that intentional decision to only have you in your partner in the room for your first baby?

Gaby: Yes.

Alyssa: Because you wanted to focus.

Gaby: Yes and I feel like I would get distracted. And my mom, I love her to death, she’s great. She actually works in the emergency room. She’s an interpreter. But when it comes to family emergencies, she gets really panicky. And at that time with my daughter, she was actually in Florida, so it wasn’t too bad. It was just my grandma kind of coming in. And I think after the second time, I was like, I will see you when it’s done. Please, I’m fine. There’s nothing really. I guess in my head it’s kind of like, what can you really do? And I have friends that have everybody in there. Like a photographer and the neighbor. They’re great, they love it. They just want all the hugs and kisses and I just want everyone like, we’re here to work. We’re here to get from A to B, but we’re going to do it. So I told everybody, you cannot be out until I’m in the next room. And for the most part, they listened.

Alyssa: Minus grandma, twice.

Gaby: Minus grandma! I think she was just – you know, I think it’s definitely shocking. Your loved ones want to like, how can I make it better?

Alyssa: Well how did your partner react? Because often times they’re the ones who, you know, I want to fix this. I want to help and there’s nothing I can do.

Gaby: We had been together for a while and I definitely have a – in my life in general, when I’m sick I have the same kind of reaction. So he kind of knew that I was going to need specific help and we kind of were like – he knew. And he knew that if I needed something I would ask or that for example, really he was just there literally as a support because I was on my feet. And then the next time he was just there to make sure – I was like, I just need you to make sure that if I cannot vocalize what I want, this is what I want. That we have decided together. And he was just kind of there, vigilant, just checking, which kind of also brought me a little bit of peace of mind. Like, I have someone that isn’t trying to deliver a baby. I think they were 7.8 and then my other one was like 8.7.

Alyssa: But in your head, you were probably like, this must be a 12-pound baby.

Gaby: Whatever is coming out, I’m doing it and he’s not and he can say, go through the checklist.

Alyssa: Right!

Gaby: I’m very – I like to take charge and so at that point, there was only one thing that I was going to be able to focus. We had talked about it and I think he definitely – I have a very like, don’t get close to me unless I need it kind of vibe when I’m in pain. But again, I just kept thinking, this is something that happens. That’s supposed to happen, that you’re meant to happen. Like, you’re body’s prepared for even though you’ve never personally gone through it before, but it’s supposed to kind of go this route.

Alyssa: So how did that affect baby number two knowing you’ve been through this before, you knew your pain thrthreshold did that help?

Gaby: I actually thought I was not as far along than I actually was. With both of them! So don’t time your contractions in your head. Make sure you’re using an actual timer. With my son, when I got in they were like, do you want medication? Do you want some Stadol right now? I was like, Oh, no! I still have time. I’ve only been here a couple ho ofurs. With my daughter, I was here, it wasn’t until like midnight or you know, until I got Stadol, so I still have a couple hours of labor.

They didn’t say anything, they were like, okay, fine. You don’t want medicine right now, we understand. And then when it started getting worse and I was like, okay, I’m ready!

Alyssa: Give me some!

Gaby: And they were like, you’re too far along. And I’m like, wait, what do you mean? It hasn’t been that long. I had already labored outside of the hopsital longer and I must have been dilated much faster, obviously, because it was my second.

Alyssa: Right.

Gaby: So it was kind of a shock to me like, wait, I’m not – this is going to happen without anything. So with my son, I didn’t have any medication. And he just kind of – I don’t think the doctor was a little – she didn’t even have time to put gloves on. ‘Cause when they were like, you don’t need medication, you’re far along. I’m like, oh. And then a little bit after that, like less than 30 minutes, I was like, it’s time! You have to wait until you feel pressure. I’m like, yes! I’m checking it off, yes. And they’re like, no, it’s going to be a little bit. And then the doctors come in so relaxed. They’re so relaxed. And I’m like, ma’am. You should probably move along. And she sits on her little stool and I’m just kind of watching her like, she shouldn’t be this calm because I’m feeling it. It’s coming. She’s coming. And she literally turns around and she’s like, let me put my gloves on. And I’m like, nope! And she’s like, what do you mean? And she’s like, oh my God. And she just – she’s like, okay. And she catches him – he comes out.

Alyssa: No gloves? No time.

Gaby: She didn’t have time for gloves.

Alyssa: Oh my gosh.

Gaby: Yeah.

Alyssa: So I mean it kind of was a totally different experience. I mean, very quick.

Gaby: Yeah.

Alyssa: You probably wouldn’t call it painless, but it was a lot less drawn out.

Gaby: No. It was a lot less drawn out pain and I don’t know if I was – I don’t want to say I was used to the pain. I was in pain – like the muscles on the inside of my legs had decided they were too sore the whole pregnancy, so I was in a lot of pain consistantly. Kind of like jolts of pain. I don’t know if I was used to pain and then it was a faster delivery and he was just kind of like, I’m ready. And he just slid right out.

Alyssa: Do you think that as first time moms, since we don’t know what to expect, our brains kind of tell us that it’s going to be worse than it is?

Gaby: I think it definitely contributes to that and sitting down and talking to friends – the stories are not there for us. Like my friends and I are not like, I wish somebody would have sat down and talked about the actual labor. Honestly, not in a, I’m going to scare you. Not in a warning, not in a, don’t get pregnant because then labor’s painful. But in a, let’s go through everything, compare notes. So that you can be at least aware of what actually happens. Be prepared for the pain. As women, we have pain every month. Some of us more than every month. I think we’re much more capable, but we have this background fear of labor and delivery.

Alyssa: What are a few of those things that you would say to a new mom who has no idea?

Gaby: I think that mostly would be educate yourself with actually facts. Educate yourself in how you yourself react to pain in just your everyday life. Are you squimish? Are you not squimish? How your partner does that? How are you going to communicate? Some people can’t communicate when they’re in pain. Does that need to be talked about beforehand? You can bring your $200 ball to sit on, but I could not sit on the ball. It wasn’t mine. I didn’t pay for it, so I was grateful that I didn’t invest in a birthing ball that I didn’t need. So there’s going to be so many switches. Just kind of learn to be a little bit more go with the flow, ‘cause in the end – I want to say it’s like the baby in your body that’s going to be in charge of what happens. I just kept telling myself like, just breathe. Breathe through it, not because it’s going to minimize the pain, but because it’s going to help focus where I’m going out of the pain.

Alyssa: Sounds like you could have benefited from our hypnobirthing class. It’s like learning physiologically what’s going to happen. You know, what’s going on in your body, what’s happening during a contraction, what’s happening during active labor, but then like you said – so you’re ahead of most knowing that, let’s talk about how I deal with pain and how I process things. Do I like to be touched? Do I not like to be touched? Do I hold all my tension here? So knowing that and talking to your partner about that ahead of time is a big part of what the hypnobirthing class is about. Let’s focus on these things and practice how are we going to deal with that when we’re in this situation.

Gaby: Yeah and you definitely have to – we work so hard in preparing the room, and the baby, and all the stuff, but that moment is so small comparatively speaking, but it’s so intense. And it can leave such a big mark if it gets too complicated. So I feel like being prepared for a lot of stuff makes the load a little bit lighter. ‘Cause you already have the answers and you know what to expect. I didn’t realize that my doctor wasn’t going to be there until the very end. This whole time I’m like, I want my doctor. I’ve known her for a million years and we’re best friends. They didn’t call her until the end. Then when I realized, the nurses were just fabulous. They’re the ones that are going to take care of you. So it’s great to have a great relationship with your doctor, but going into where you’re going to give birth and seeing the support and the nurses – the support staff, I guess depending on where we give birth, they’re going to be there for the long run. They’re really invested in you because they’re there with you the whole time.

Alyssa: Yeah. Labor and delivery nurses are amazing.

Gaby: Yeah, yeah. I was kind of worried that – because I wasn’t going to be in a hospital, they were going to be like, we’re going to wire you up and we’re going to put all the juices in you. And I was like, I don’t want -. But it wasn’t like that at all. I didn’t feel forced into a certain way that they were doing things.

Alyssa: Well, is there anything else that you would love to share?

Gaby: I just wish we would trust our decisions more and be more confident in what we can handle, as far as labor and delivery. Again, if you want that support group there around you, and you know you need it, and that’s how you’ve been your whole entire life like you want mom, and aunt, and everybody, and the dog, that’s great. But if all of a sudden because you’re giving birth everybody wants to sign up and come and take pictures, don’t do it. It’ll be a good first start to parenting and being with family. It’s not about you not loving or caring, or that you don’t want them involved ever in the life of the baby, but that is such a critical moment that you can’t have extra people that you’re really not going to ulitize or that you’re going to feel like you’re trapped in that room for a long time.

Alyssa: Yeah, so often family members can make us feel – like guilt us into doing things that we don’t feel are right. And this is, like you said, the first step in a very long journey of parenting where you have to do what’s best for you and your family and not everybody else.

Gaby: Right. I probably would have been mad to see my sister on her phone while I’m mid contraction.

Alyssa: Right! You better not be posting anything to Facebook.

Gaby: Yeah. Like, how can you be relaxing? I’m mid contraction! You know, let’s not get angry. Let’s just focus on that.

Alyssa: I did the same thing, so I totally understand.

Gaby: People are so hesitant to say – They don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings and I think it’s – now that we’re learning a little more emotional tintelligence, think we can put responsibility on both parts. One to say no and the other part to understand. Hopefully everybody understands if you want to draw that line.

Alyssa: Well, thank you so much for sharing.

Gaby: You’re welcome. Thank you for having me.

Alyssa: We will have you on again. I want to learn a little bit more about your business and what it’s like. I love talking to moms who are business women as well.

Gaby: Yeah, I can’t wait.

Alyssa: Thanks, everyone for listening. You can find us on iTunes and Sound Cloud. Again ,this is Ask the Doulas. You can find us at goldcoastdoulas.com, Instagram, and Facebook. Thanks for listening.

 

Gaby’s Birth Stories: Podcast Episode #77 Read More »

Woman wearing neutral colors lays on a white bed cradling her baby bump

HypnoBirthing Baby – Wesley

We love getting birth stories from clients! This is a beautiful story from one of Ashley’s HypnoBirthing students. Through all of the unknowns of labor and delivery for a first time parent, this mom describes her birth experience and how relaxing and keeping calm throughout eliminated any room for fear.

Wesley Thomas Sarazin was born 9-2-18 (13 days prior to EDD) at 5:02 pm. At 4:30 am on 9-1 was laying on the bed at my cabin and felt a pop/jolt feeling and thought my membranes released, but I stood up and no fluid was coming out. I went to the bathroom and had instead lost my mucus plug. I laid back down with my husband and had 2 contractions 20 minutes apart, but decent intensity. Since the cabin is about 1 hour and 15 minutes from home, I knew I wouldn’t feel comfortable laboring there and wanted to go home. Chris started to drive, and about 15 minutes before getting home I started to vomit. I got out of the car and fluid gushed. Surges were 6 minutes apart and lasting about 1 minute, with lots of back labor.

We got home and I took a shower, grabbed our hospital bags, and contractions were now about 5 minutes apart. I had wanted to labor at home for a while, but felt that I needed to head into triage because I was doing more vomiting and I felt like I needed to poop so I was afraid to try not knowing what my cervix was doing. I was 1cm and “soft” with baby’s head pretty low at the appointment just over a week prior. We got to triage around 9:00 am. I was still only 1-2cm but surges seemed quite intense and still no more than 5 minutes apart. They confirmed I had released my membranes and I was taken up to L&D by 10:00. I had some high BPs initially but they came down and stayed around 135/85 so they weren’t really concerned about pre-e. I was GBS neg.

Krista, my first nurse, was awesome. She has been in the field for 25 years. I’m a nurse so I wanted an IV in up front, because I don’t have great veins. I got in the tub right away and labored there for about 2 hours. I did not have to do continuous monitoring. They took an initial 20 minute reading (wireless in the tub) and then just traced me for 2 minutes each hour with the portable one. I purchased a bath pillow on Amazon and that made it more comfy. I listened to Rainbow Relaxation and some other YouTube/Amazon playlists that I had ready. I got out and dried off, and did some squatting. I hated the ball. I hated leaning forward; the sensation in my abdomen when leaning forward was less tolerable than the back labor. I had lots of rectal pressure the whole time, probably my least favorite part.

I had them check me at around 1:30 pm, and I had made it up to about 5.5cm and 90% effaced. I continued to labor, now mostly side lying with a peanut ball and some standing/squatting and rocking hips. Krista, the RN, told me to try to get through 4 surges in 1 position and then switch to another position; that it would help time go by, and for me it did. I would do about 3-4 surges and then switch. It gave short term goals to get through. Kind of like when you’ve got 10 more minutes to run but you think of it in five, 2 minute sections, just get through the next 2 minutes.

My husband, Mom, and sister took turns applying heat or ice to my back and some counter pressure. I also held heat or ice over my pelvis as it just felt like menstrual cramps. Between surges, I would tell myself to be “loose, limp, relaxed”. I continued with either Rainbow Relaxation or a really great birthing affirmations track that I had found on Youtube. My favorite affirmation was “My surges are not stronger than me because they ARE me”. Baby did have some late decels but was overall ok.

The first 5 hours I was barely monitored but had to be watched more closely at the end. About 2 hours later I was having natural expulsion reflex and I was about 7.5cm and 100%.

Doc finally came in and I was relieved when she didn’t leave, which encouraged me to know that things were likely happening soon. She was fantastic. Even the nurse commented that she has a very midwife-like approach and I felt totally comfortable with her. She put a warm wet towel on my perineum and did counter pressure during my surges. She told me to keep doing the natural expulsive pushing if it was happening even though I was not 10cm because baby was coming down well, at +1 station and tolerating it. She said, “You’re not going to rip through your cervix, your body knows what it is doing.”

After 20 minutes of active pushing, I was struggling to breathe because my urge to push was so strong it was hard to breathe in as much as I’d like. They threw a mask on me and had me push with 1 leg up through 2 surges and then switch and lean the other way to get baby to keep rotating. They got a little aggressive with how they had me push but at the time I was ok with it because I wanted him out ASAP! His head came in and out through several surges and once I popped that head through his body came all at once, such a relief.

During transition I almost asked for some nitrous oxide, but with knowing that the end was in sight, I just kept completely relaxing between surges. I didn’t have any drugs aside from IV fluids. The Doctor did do a pudendal block right before I pushed which I had never even heard of but am super thankful for. I didn’t have the “ring of fire” feeling that some people talk about.

I didn’t get post delivery pit, and had no issue with bleeding. Baby did about 2 minutes of delayed cord clamping, and then I donated the rest. He wasn’t pinking up well and neonatal needed to come. He had lots of fluid/mucus in his lungs and got deep suctioned. H also had to go on CPAP. Once he was looking better, they put him on my chest again, but unfortunately after a few minutes his color was not looking good and we had to call neonatal back for more CPAP and suction. He was threatened with the NICU and I told him to get his act together so he could stay and snuggle with me. I just kept talking to him from across the way. My husband and mom were right by his side as well. The 3rd try to my chest worked. He had mild signs of respiratory distress but his color was looking better.

The next hurdle was hoping his blood sugar was ok since he couldn’t try to latch until his breathing was stable. Luckily that was good!  The only thing I would change about the whole process would be to slow down on the pushing because I think that would have minimized my tearing and maybe the baby wouldn’t have had as much fluid in his lungs.

We are in mother baby now, doing fine. He has been latching pretty well. He still is borderline tachypnic so Dad and I are taking turns holding him because he does better that way. No bassinet for him tonight.

I had my Husband, Mom and sister in the delivery room and am so glad they got to witness our awesome birth. The labor and delivery was hard but honestly not as hard as I thought it would be. It was different I would say, in regard to the back labor and rectal pressure. My husband called me a “gangster”. He said, “I don’t know how to say this the right way, because I know it wasn’t easy, but you made it look easy. It didn’t look like you were uncomfortable.”

Before labor and birth, Chris was a lot better than me about trying to use the HypnoBirthing lingo and shut down any negative birth stories that people would tell. We had several people (who are honestly GREAT people, so it surprised me) say to us, “Oh you’ll see once you get into labor, you’ll want an epidural,” or “You don’t get a trophy afterwards.” After a few of those statements, I just stopped telling people that I was going to try for a natural birth. Fortunately, my mother delivered 4 children without medication, so I had her encouraging me and my husband fully believed I could do it, more than I did.

I should say that the reason I took HypnoBirthing was because I believe that our bodies are made to do this. One of my friends, who’s biggest fear about labor was that she would go too fast and not be able to get an epidural, had read the book – Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth and she gave it to me when she was done. That book further ingrained the message that our bodies are made to do this and a birth without fear will hopefully progress as it should. I think that is the most important part of preparing yourself for natural childbirth. I can honestly say I was never fearful at any point and had a beautiful, exciting, experience.

Most, if not all, of my preferences were met and I am so happy with my experience. I was up to the bathroom and walking around the room less than 2 hours after he was born, and I’m really not having any pain. Bleeding is appropriate without the dose of pit. Just trying to get some rest but being extra attentive though this first night because of my little guys breathing.

 

HypnoBirthing Baby – Wesley Read More »

HypnoBirthing Story

Podcast Episode #65: Annette’s HypnoBirthing Story

Today we talk with a previous HypnoBirthing student, Annette Beitzel, about her personal experience with HypnoBirthing at Gold Coast Doulas.  Although she didn’t use it how she intended, it had an incredible impact on her pregnancy and birth experience.  You can listen to this complete podcast episode on iTunes or SoundCloud.

Kristin:  Welcome to Ask the Doulas with Gold Coast Doulas.  I’m Kristin, and I’m here today with my business partner, Alyssa.

Alyssa:  Hello!

Kristin:  And we’ve got Annette Beitzel here.

Annette:  Hello!

Kristin:  And we are talking about Annette’s experience with taking HypnoBirthing class back in 2016.  So thanks for coming on!  First of all, as far as all of your options of out-of-hospital childbirth classes, what made you choose HypnoBirthing?

Annette:  Honestly, I heard about it on a podcast, and it just sounded cool.  At first, just the name HypnoBirthing sounds really kooky, like, oh, yeah, those people!  But just hearing the person’s experience with it, it was like, oh, my goodness.  This sounds like exactly what I want.  I already had planned on natural birth at a birthing center.  That was my goal, and so it just felt like it fit really well with what my goals were.  Breathing is better than medication, right?

Kristin:  Of course, yes!

Annette:  So yeah, it just sounded like it fit well.

Kristin:  Perfect.  And did you have any reservations about HypnoBirthing, when you think of hypnosis?  When people call our office and ask questions about HypnoBirthing, they get a little freaked out by the “hypno” aspect of it.

Annette:  I think that because I heard about it on a podcast with a person who really explained it right away as just relaxing yourself; that’s what you’re doing; you’re doing it to yourself.  Nobody is coming in with a watch on a chain!

Kristin:  That’s what people imagine, for sure!

Annette:  It was harder to explain to my husband.  I was like, okay, just listen to this podcast.  This will help you understand what I heard.   Because it is; it’s one of those weird things.  It just sounds that way, right?

Kristin:  Right!  And you mentioned your husband, so again, one question we get a lot about the class is that people feel like with hypnosis, it’s internal, even with self-relaxation and visualizations.  How is your husband involved in both the class as well as your birth using that technique?

Annette:  So in the class, you do all the same exercises.  A lot of it is dealing with your fears and just understanding the process, and so men come in with those things, too, right?  Maybe not the same ones or different ways, but they still have their expectations of what birth will be.  And so I think he found it really helpful to really get an expert explaining what’s really happening, that women’s bodies are made for this.  And then also they do all of the “hypnosis” along with the women, so everyone is doing it together.  I mean, it would feel really weird if the men or the partners were just sitting there watching, but they’re involved.  It was all group things, so he understood what I was doing.  There were some exercises that he would sort of help me.  I don’t remember the different things, like tapping or different things like that, and so he sometimes played a more active role.  But also, I think, if I had gone by myself, he wouldn’t have really understood what I was doing in birth because the way it all ended up, he didn’t do really anything.  And so I think he would have been, like, oh, my goodness; I’ve done nothing; nothing’s happened here; I’m useless.  But he knew what I was doing.  He knew I was inside myself.  He knew that I was relaxed.  He knew all of those things, and so I think it really helped him just understand what was going on and not be like, “Oh, do I need to do anything?!”

Alyssa:  I have not gone through the class.  I’ve tried to set myself outside of this as a person listening who doesn’t know what HypnoBirthing is, and I’m thinking it still sounds hokey.  So when you say “hypnosis,” what kinds of things are you doing in the class, and why isn’t it hokey?

Annette:  Right!  Because it works would be the main reason I’d say it’s not hokey.  So basically all she does is go through a reading of something, and she uses a very soothing, calm voice, so it’s easy to sort of stop thinking that you’re in this room, in this place.  You just close your eyes, and you think about what she’s saying.  I think the first one you do, she has you raise your hand as if a balloon is raising you up or something.  And so you just kind of realize, like, oh, I can go outside of my brain.  I can come back into my self-conscious, or I can sort of disconnect a little bit.  And that’s all me.  I’m listening to her, right, but it’s all me just choosing what I want to focus on, how I want to move my thoughts or my energy.  So I don’t know; it does sound a bit ridiculous, and even in the first class, she’s totally talking about that.  She’s like, I know this is weird.  I know it sounds weird, but you’re relaxing yourself.  Don’t think hypnosis; think relaxation.  That’s what you’re doing here.  And is there anything better for birth?

Kristin:  Exactly, opening up and relaxing — that’s key to it!

Annette:  So, yeah, to me, listening to a big explanation of what it really was from an expert was really helpful.  These are the steps you can take, and this is how it can benefit you.  But for me actually being in the class, it was like, yeah, okay; this is me; this just me relaxing; this is me choosing what I’m thinking about, what I’m focusing on.  If I want to think about my fears, that’s going to make me tense up or stress out.  Or I can think about a flower opening up, and I’m sure that sounds silly, but that’s sure a lot more relaxing than, “Am I going to go to a C-section?!”  It’s what do I want to choose to think about, and how will that help me give birth the way that I want to.

Kristin:  And certainly it goes over the basic physiology of what your body is going through, understanding the stages of labor and what’s normal, and for those birthing in the hospital, a little bit about what the hospital experience is like, as well as breastfeeding.  So anything an out-of-hospital class would cover, in addition to changing the language of birth.  That’s one of the things as a doula that I love the most is just changing some the fear-based words.  I mean, contraction already sounds like you’re tensed up, and just looking at “surge” as a more opening, positive word, and not looking at pain.  You know, you go to the hospital, and it’s like, what’s your pain threshold.  They ask you that, like, ten times during labor.  So just sort of changing that language and using affirmations, which I love.  Being positive and just being relaxed.  And the fear releases you do in task — can you talk a little bit about that experience, of doing a fear release?

Annette:  Yeah, that was really interesting.  So I think that my husband actually experienced that one more deeply than I did because I remember the whole thing.  I remember going in the book and pulling out pages and saying, I’m not going to be afraid of this.  This is okay.  I already know the facts because we’ve gone over what do I expect.  Can my body handle this?  Very likely, yes!  And so for him, he doesn’t remember it at all.  He was so relaxed and so into it that he — which is an interesting aspect.  Talking about the different affirmations and stuff, you listen to something that’s about 30 minutes long every night, and to me, that was one of the main things that I really did that was super consistent.  I listened to it every single night, and it’s Rainbow Relaxation.  So it goes through all these colors of the rainbow, and I think by the second color of the rainbow, I’d be asleep every night.  And she was like, that’s totally fine.  You can sleep, and it’s relaxing, and you’re still hearing it, and it’s fine.  And I remember a couple of times, I would wake up at the end, which means I wasn’t actually asleep, I was just in that super entranced state where I was really relaxed, really in my subconscious and feeling it.  And it was just such a weird feeling, because you’re like, oh, my goodness; I was awake this whole time.  I was hearing these things, but I didn’t really feel that awake.  So it’s amazing what your brain can do and just how relaxed you can really get.  So with the fear, I don’t think that I came in with the same fears that a lot of people do.  I already had two sisters-in-law go through natural births at birthing centers, so I was kind of like, yeah, this it totally doable.  I’m not experiencing terrifying birth stories all the time.  I came in with relatively positive expectations.  And then going through the actual information part of it, it’s amazing.  I mean, she really explains to you what is this; how does it work.  Your body is made to do this!  Now, I have to caveat that my sister-in-law — another one — her pelvis cannot.  It doesn’t work.  So it doesn’t work for everyone, but for the vast majority, our bodies can do this.  And that was my experience, too.  I didn’t do anything for labor.  It was just there, and he came out, and there we were.  I don’t think that the fear thing for me was the biggest part of it.  The biggest thing for me was the relaxation, and even through my whole pregnancy, I had a miserable pregnancy.  I had SPD starting at 14 weeks, which is symphysis pubis dysfunction.  I could not walk without excruciating pain.  I couldn’t put my pants on.  I couldn’t do anything; it was just horrible.  And I was pretty down about it.  It was really frustrating because I was going to be the active, pregnant woman that was going out walking all the time and keeping active, and I just couldn’t.  Talking to Ashley about that, she just helped me reframe everything, and the last couple of months of my pregnancy were just completely different.  I was so much more positive; I was so much more relaxed and comfortable, and even though there was still pain, I wasn’t just grumpy all the time.  And I had been up to that point.  I would say my husband was probably really glad we took the HypnoBirthing, even just for my pregnancy.  I was just so much more at peace, and it was so, so helpful with that aspect of it.  So even before we got to the birth, I already felt like HypnoBirthing is amazing because look at my outlook on this pregnancy.  It’s okay.

Alyssa:  So you had the ideal birth where you said you didn’t have to do anything; it just happened.  So what kind of tips or advise would you give for parents for whom that doesn’t happen or if they know they’re getting a C-section.  Would HypnoBirthing still benefit them, and how?

Annette:  Oh, absolutely!  So first of all, I would not say I had the ideal birth.  He came out without my working for it, but I actually had some really intense bleeding the night before.  I was planning on a birth center and ended up in a hospital because my midwife just didn’t want to touch this; this is scary; could be placental abruption.  You know, we didn’t know.  So I checked into a hospital at 6:30 in the morning.  We thought I was probably at a 6 or a 7.  I wasn’t really having intense surges; I wasn’t feeling that much pain.  It was there, but it felt more like Braxton Hicks at that point still; maybe a little stronger.  We knew I was in labor.  They had found that out before because I had actually been in the hospital earlier that night and went home.  So at midnight, my water had broken, and 6:30, I’m in the hospital.  We were like, yeah, nothing is really happening yet.  But it was still a little scary.  I was in the hospital and I didn’t really want to be in the hospital, but they went with my birthing plan, which was like an emergency birthing plan, which unfortunately I had to use.  So I’m sitting in this hospital.  She turned down the lights for me.  She’s doing intake paperwork because I’m not supposed to be there, and I’m answering questions between the surges, and all of a sudden, I felt him move into the birth path, and I was like, oh, I feel him moving down right now.  And she’s like, oh, good good!  I’m like, no, no, he’s coming!  And they were like, okay…  And I rolled over away from her; I’m not going to answer any more questions right now.  And they checked me, and I was at a 10.  And this is six hours or seven hours after my water had broken.  So it was so, so fast.  He was born 20 minutes later.  It was actually too fast.  He didn’t get properly squeezed out, so he was vomiting up stuff the next night, which is scary in its own right.  So yeah, they were, like, oh, don’t push!  I’m like, honestly, anything that happened was involuntary.  And then the doctor got there.  He came out ten minutes after the doctor was there, and he was there telling me, you might want to hold your breath!  And I was like, no, I don’t!  I remember that conversation.  I remember when he was crowning.  They told me, oh, he’s crowning.  And I was, like, wait, I thought this was supposed to be a ring of fire.  Where’s the fire?  And that was my thought while he was crowning.  I was just relaxed.  That’s all I can say.  We did not have time for listening to any of the meditations.  We didn’t do anything during the actual birth because even during the night, I was sleeping most of the time.  So I feel like I barely did a HypnoBirthing, other than the fact that I was relaxed and I was breathing.  And that’s what I really took from all of the classes and all of the work, which is part of the reason I wanted to do this, because it was like, hey, I didn’t even really do it, but it still worked, right?  I didn’t spend 12 hours listening to relaxation things and breathing him down.  I did breathe him down, but very quickly!  So yeah, I had a second degree tear and there was all sorts of other things, but my placenta was getting old.  They said that was part of the reason for the bleeding, and so there was reason for concern, which I would also say, the whole time, it was like I didn’t want to go to the hospital, but all right, here we are.   I think just the knowledge of everything — I never freaked out.  I wasn’t worried.  It was just like, okay, well, this is what’s happening now.  And just very — I think I was very go with the flow.  And my husband and everyone else was kind of freaking out.  I was texting my family because they’re in another state.  I told them I was going to the hospital because there’s lot of bleeding and they think it might be this and whatever, and they were all freaking out.  And then 20 minutes later, we’re sending a picture of a baby.  Okay, well, I guess it was okay!  So, yeah, it was an ideal birth, and also completely not what I was expecting or planning.  I was going to be in a birthing tub all night long, right?  That was my plan!  But even without going along with the plan, it still was just completely changed how I was approaching everything, how I felt about it, what I was even thinking about.  I was thinking about my breath and feeling him in my body.  Everything else was so peripheral.  Oh, there’s doctors out there.  I even remember looking up, like, oh, look at all these faces I have never seen before.  I think there were five or six people at the end of the bed!  And I was like, all right, well, here we go then!  And all of it was so — I just got the inevitability of a birth.  It was going to happen.  It didn’t matter what I was doing.  It didn’t matter what they did.  Here we are in this place that I wasn’t planning, and here comes my baby, just exiting my body.  And I think after that birth, I really did believe and understand the women giving birth in a coma because it was like honestly — I feel like my body did some pushing.  It didn’t feel like it.  It didn’t feel like what people explain is a birth.  It was just like my body helped him exit.

Kristin:  You were breathing your baby down, as we talk about, the birth breath in HypnoBirthing.  But of course, we see the movies where everything is traumatic and the woman is screaming.  That’s not what the reality of birth is, even with a precipitous birth, which can be a little bit stressful and overwhelming if you haven’t prepared the way you did and having that relaxation.  And even with your change of plans, in HypnoBirthing, of course, instead of a birth plan, you talk about birth preferences, so what you would like in an ideal situation, knowing that you may need to be flexible, which you obviously were, and you handled it very well.

Annette:  Yeah, sorry, I forget some of the terminology.  It’s been a couple of years.  But yeah, it was amazing.  It was, okay, we’re working with my midwife, so we don’t need to tell her what all we were going to do.  We were on the same page already, but I was really glad we actually did walk through all of that and come up with a list of what we really wanted from a birth.  And he was on my chest for two hours before they even touched him to do anything.  They still followed all of the things that I wanted, and I think that was a really helpful part of the class.  I was going into it thinking, “That’s not going to happen to me!  I’m not going to be in the hospital!”  But I was, and I’m really glad that somebody walked me through just saying what I want, if I’m in the hospital.  Just lay it all down.

Alyssa:  Having the knowledge and being educated ahead of time, I think, is a big part of releasing fear because you know what to expect “if,” instead of walking into this unknown.  And then you would have been panicking because you’re in a hospital; there’s six people that I don’t know at the end of the bed; what’s happening to me?  You were kind of like, oh, yeah, we talked about this.

Annette:  Yeah, it was very much that way.  I know what my body is going to do, so you all can hang out if you want.

Kristin:  And we have students that have planned Cesareans that want to eliminate some of that fear or students who then have medical issues and then need a Cesarean.  That can certainly be helpful.  I mean, the situation you just described is just knowing how to plan, how to relax, to use your breath, regardless of how you birth.

Annette:  Yeah, for sure.  That would have been such a huge — I mean, I can’t imagine if they had said, hey, you’re in a Cesarean.  I know it was all about — got to keep breathing.  That’s what I need to think about!  I’m just going to keep breathing, and this baby is coming.  I’m going to be holding this baby soon.  And if somebody, especially with a planned Cesarean — I know these women have so much fear around that.  It’s a surgery; that’s a huge thing.  And yeah, that class would be so helpful to process all of those fears and to know your body will be okay.  You will be okay.  Your baby will be okay.  You’re going to come through this.  I can’t imagine the difference in being in that situation, but with the confidence and the relaxation and all of that, rather than being scared and stressed out.  I imagine that would be much more helpful.

Kristin:  So, Annette, at what point in your pregnancy did you take HypnoBirthing?  It sounds like you had some time to practice.  You were saying you were listening to the relaxation tracks at night.

Annette:  I think that we were taking it in November, and then he was born in March.  We had a couple of months afterwards, which, like I said, was super helpful.  Honestly, I would have taken it at the very beginning, after knowing how much it helped me with pregnancy.

Kristin:  Yeah, HypnoBirthing is different than a lot of childbirth classes in that it helps to take it earlier in pregnancy so you have time to practice.  Of course, we have students who take it right up until their due date and sometimes even go early and miss a few classes.

Annette:  Yeah, we had that happen!  We lost a student.  It happens!

Kristin:  But certainly, like you said, to have a few months or even taking it very early in pregnancy, where other classes, you want it fresh on your mind, especially if it’s focused more on movement and positions rather than the whole mind-body-spirit connection.  That is one thing that I think is different about HypnoBirthing is it’s not just the physical movement and breath.  It’s a focus on your inner being and peace and serenity.

Alyssa:  Yeah, it sounds like it’s not just for birth, and I would venture to say that it probably helps — that you probably even think about it now in day to day.  Like, it almost helps you when a situation arises just in life?

Annette:  Oh, for sure, yeah.

Alyssa:  Just breathing and releasing fear in whatever way you’ve come to do that.

Annette:  Yeah.  And I do meditation now, and I didn’t think that was a cool thing before, but now I’m like, sure, yeah, that sounds great!  I want to get back into that space with my mind where I’m in control of things and thinking about what I want to be thinking about.  I’m not usually going through the ones the instructor did, but it’s opened me up to that whole world of what can my subconscious do?  And a completely unrelated thing; I’m now doing EMDR therapy, which is also very similar in using the relaxation and controlling what you’re thinking about and all of that.  And I think I would have thought that was ridiculous, if I hadn’t gone through HypnoBirthing.  So yeah, it’s amazing all the different ways in your life that it can continue touching you.

Alyssa:  Our brains are powerful.  They do a lot of good and bad for us on a day to day basis!

Annette:  Definitely, yeah!

Kristin:  So it sounds like your class had a mix of birth center, home birthers, and hospital birthers?

Annette:  Yes.  I don’t think anyone had a planned C-section, but there was a mix of all three of those, yes.

Kristin:  And then another question that we get pretty commonly is for people who are very religious, faith-based, would this class be something that they need to steer away from?  That’s a common – because of the hypnosis, maybe, but having experienced it yourself, can you address that for us?

Annette:  Yeah.  I mean, I grew up super religious.  I’m not as much anymore, but for sure, I remember that being something.  Oh, yeah, hypnosis; that’s something that you would want to stay away from.  And this class isn’t that at all.  It’s 100% you controlling what you’re thinking about and thinking about what you’re deciding to.  It’s just all you.  That’s all I can say, right?  You’re listening to someone talking, but you’re choosing everything that you’re doing, and all of the images that you’re seeing and everything is what you want to do.  So nobody is controlling your mind.  Nobody is coming in and saying, drop this pen, and then suddenly you’re dropping pens or whatever.  It’s all you, relaxing, choosing what you’re listening to, choosing what you’re going to respond to.

Alyssa:  It really sounds no different for a religious person than prayer to me, right?  Like, they could almost — it could feel like prayer to them, and they can call it whatever they want to call it: medication, prayer, hypnosis.

Annette:  Yeah, it’s relaxation, right?  That was the thing that I came away with, especially.  It’s relaxing yourself.  So if you want to go and learn how to relax yourself, then this is for you.

Kristin:  Thank you so much for sharing your experience.  Do you have any last words or tips for our listeners?

Annette:  If you’re thinking about HypnoBirthing, do it.  It’s amazing, truly; 100%, I tell every single pregnant person I meet: have you heard about this thing called HypnoBirthing?  And then I tell them my story.  It’s a weird one.  I didn’t use it the way you’re supposed to, but it still made a huge difference.  Even now, I’m like, I don’t know; did I earn the woman badge of giving birth?  I feel like I kind of didn’t, but here’s my kid…

Kristin:  You totally did!

Annette:  So apparently, I did!

Alyssa:  There’s the proof!

Annette:  but yeah, it’s amazing.  It really is, and I think it’s perfect for any birth situation, for anyone who’s going to give birth.  Do HypnoBirthing.  It really is amazing.

Kristin:  Thank you again, Annette!

 

Podcast Episode #65: Annette’s HypnoBirthing Story Read More »

Gold Coast Doulas Team

Response to Article About Illinois Doula That Suppored an Unassisted Homebirth

There has been a lot of talk in the birth community lately about the recent case of the doula who pled guilty after attending an unassisted homebirth where the baby died. Our team is saddened for the family and for the doula community as a whole. Birth doulas do not take on a medical role, period. We offer emotional, physical, and informational support. Nothing more, nothing less.

Gold Coast Doulas works hard to maintain firm boundaries with clients. We never attend unassisted births. If we are supporting a homebirth before a midwife makes it, or are at the client’s home before heading to the hospital, our clients know we will not “catch the baby”. Our clients are informed at the prenatal that we will call 9-1-1 and will follow instructions. We don’t even try to read the monitor at the hospital. We aren’t trained to do that. 

We carry professional liability insurance for the agency and we stay within our scope of practice.  We are not trained to deliver babies or to offer medical advice to the birthing parent. We are your support team not a nurse, doctor, or midwife. We have so much respect for medical providers and the work they do; we would never assume we are able to diagnose or take on a medical role. We love working as a team with other care providers during labor and delivery.  

The doula who was convicted in this case presented herself as a certified birth doula and a certified Bradley Method instructor. She does not hold either of those certifications. You can trust that our certified doulas maintain their certifications including CPR and AED. We are always focused on continuing education and growing our skills as birth doulas.  We wear name tags with our credentials on them during births and meetings so medical professionals know who we are. Our pre-certified doulas have two years to complete certification requirements or they need to leave our team. Professionalism matters to us and it matters to our clients.    

Most doula trainings range from two to four days in length and take up to 2 years to complete. Doulas have readings, essays, an exam, and client and medical provider evaluations as part of their certification requirements. Many birth doulas also take a full breastfeeding class and a childbirth class. Not all doulas who practice in the community choose to certify or have even attended a formal training. At Gold Coast Doulas we know training and certification matter and allow us to better support our clients with experience and professionalism.

What we will promise our clients is that we will be honest and trustworthy. We will always work within our scope of practice. We will refer medical questions to medical providers. Gold Coast Doulas will support you without judgment through your pregnancy, birth, and immediately postpartum. You can count on us to do the right thing because it matters and so do you.  

 

Response to Article About Illinois Doula That Suppored an Unassisted Homebirth Read More »

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