Are You Prepared for Your Best Birth?

I've been watching a bit of this cute mom's youtube channel. She has a great sense of humor and is fun to watch, but when I saw this video of her second babe's birth, well, I just had to jot down some thoughts. . . .

First off, let me just say this - aren't they a sweet family?  What a cute little baby and big sister!  Like any birth, this one had me shedding a tear.  Congratulations to them on their new addition and to this mother for breastfeeding their sweet babe in the NICU.  

Wanna know what else I see?  A family that really could have used the support from a comprehensive childbirth class and a doula.  How so you ask?  Here goes!

1.  Rather than arriving at the hospital early, the information and confidence gained in a childbirth class like Birth Boot Camp and having a doula would have enabled them to stay home longer, hydrate and rest.  Laboring at home helps to decrease cesarean risk by limiting interventions and allows a woman to make greater progress in labor by feeling safe and comforted.   Our bodies and brains have only one way to interpret lights, noise and distraction during labor - risk.  When our primitive selves perceive it is not safe to have our baby in this time/place birth does not progress.  

2. Movement!  This beautiful laboring mom finds that she feels better standing and then later we see her in the bed again.  Lying in bed is a terrible labor position as it restricts movement and is very painful.  When women move in labor they help their baby come down and are more comfortable.  With a doula present dad would have been encouraged to walk with her and help relieve her discomfort using movement and touch techniques.

3.  The Epidural!!!  An epidural that doesn't work is the WORST!  This is why EVERYONE, even those planning medical pain relief during labor, need childbirth education.  Really, my heart goes out to moms that experience an epidural that only works on half or not at all.  When you have only prepared for an epidural and don't have the support of a doula and skills learned from a class to help you labor, this is torturous - far far more painful than a natural birth with support and education.

4.  Oy!  An infection.   Now, who knows why this sweet mom had an infection or why she ran fever.  We do know that epidurals and fluids can cause a maternal fever and that vaginal exams and artificial rupture of membranes (breaking your water) increase risk of infection.  She also said she hadn't slept in quite some time and was likely dehydrated.  It's hard to stay well hydrated at the end of a pregnancy.  Again, a doula and class would have helped her be informed (potentially decreasing vaginal exams, the need for an epidural and interventions) and stay hydrated.

This mom is no wimp.  She brought her child into this world full of love and desire (and with a half-functioning epidural! ouch!).  I do not know her or any details of her pregnancy and birth that are not shared in this video.  Congratulations, Elle and family!  Give us a call if you'd like some more support next time around!


Amanda Devereux is founder of Nola Nesting, a Doula, Birth Boot Camp Instructor, and mom of three breastfed babes.

More New Orleans Birth Options are the Best! (a new midwife in new orleans)

So, here's the big news . . .

there's a new midwife in town!

How exciting is this? It wasn't long ago that hospital midwifery was virtually unheard of in our crescent city, homebirth midwives were only found by carefully listening for the whispers of others and VBACs were rare at best.

We were invited to meet Alison Clark, CNM and chat with her about her new home with Crescent City Physicians at Touro's Family Birthing Center. She has been practicing in Mississippi and is thrilled to be growing some roots in New Orleans. She's looking forward to supporting women in using water to labor and birth, encourages movement during labor and also offers pre-conception care.

Midwifery offers women care that includes a philosophy that

birth is normal.

This is different from the medical model of care ascribed to by physicians (although we are super lucky to have some amazing physicians in our area that have a great perspective of birth). Every woman, baby, pregnancy and birth is different and will have differnet needs. Options are what women need. Women deserve the ability to have a conversation with health care providers and choose what route, what provider, is best for them. In a city that is often (sometimes) endearingly slow, we are rapidly seeing more birth options and this is beautiful progress!

We are thrilled to have Alison Clark's midwifery practice in New Orleans and are looking forward to meeting the other midwives joining her. And we were VERY happy to hear that whether you are planning a natural birth or a medicated birth (epidural) she is available to support you. While cesareans are out of scope for midwives, this midwife will be supporting VBAC moms!!! (can you feel our excitement?) You heard me right ladies, bring on those healing births! She is bringing holistic care to women, is supportive of her clients inviting Nola Nesting Doulas to their births, loves Birth Boot Camp and she's working with some great OBs to offer women the care they need should medical reason arise.

"I look forward to working with Nola Nesting and providing childbirth options and being part of normal healthy birth designed to the mother and baby's natural abilities."

"I look forward to working with Nola Nesting and providing childbirth options and being part of normal healthy birth designed to the mother and baby's natural abilities."

Alison Clark, CNM

3600 Prytania Street, Suite 30 New Orleans, LA 70115

504-897-7700

Hiring an OB or Midwife: 10 Things That Are NOT Deal Breakers

1.  The office/hospital is beautiful.

A beautiful office sure makes for a nice place to sit. I'll give you that.  But, are you going to labor and birth in that office? Are you moving in? Is there a correlation between wonderful, respectful health care providers and new/modern/spa like space?  nope.  This might be a great way to choose a nail spa or even a spot for dog grooming, but not your health care provider.  This is NOT important.  Bring a book and take off on a fictional journey while you wait and snack on raw nuts.  

You want to birth in a beautiful space? Who can blame you.  But you know what - when the day comes you won't be aware of the color of the walls or how fine the linens are.  It's a wonderful bonus if you get a beautiful birthing space and an awesome motherbaby friendly provider in one birth-perfect package.  But, a well designed room won't matter much to you if you're not happy with how things go down.  Your provider has a greater impact on this than a room color and fixtures.

2.  The staff is so nice!

So, the office staff isn't making the calls on game day.  It sure is nice to work with pleasant people, that's for certain.  I prefer to eat at restaurants with great wait staff and stay in hotels with amazing service.  When it comes to making the big calls concerning your health and birth - it's the provider that matters.  However rude or nice the staff, ultimately they make up a very small part of your pregnancy experience and none of your birth experience.  

3.  Appointments are always on time or have short wait times.

How is it that some providers always run on time or close to?  I'll tell ya- they're not at their births and if they are their induction and/or cesarean rate is likely high.  Health care providers who are patient enough to allow labor to start and continue as it is intended and attend their clients' births rather than relying on the on-call doc and scheduled births, have clinic-scheduling difficulties.  Add to this the fact that they are told how many appointments to take/hour, appointment scheduling is out of their hands, and this amazing provider is probably spending more time with you than the 5 minutes you are truly allotted.  When it's your time to labor and push you're never gonna feel bad for those people waiting and you will be gratful to have your patient, skilled provider caring for you.

A caviat to this is that it's unfair to compare those in private or shared practices to those working for a group/hosptial and midwives to OBs.  Midwives, by the nature of midwifery, allow for longer appointments and have fewer patients.  In shared practices it's easier for the person not attending births on a given day to keep up with clinic appointments.  This is great!  But a provider's ability to run an on-time office is in no way a measure of his/her quality of care. 


4.  He/She makes me laugh.

Laughter is the best medicine, of course! While bed-side manner is awesome and definitely a plus, being funny and/or super polite does not equate to being an awesome health care provider.  This is just not reason enough to hire someone. 

It's great to have a connection with your provider.  But ultimately this is a professional relationship and you aren't looking for a bestie - you are looking for someone that you can trust to leave you alone when it's appropriate and to only intervene when needed.  You need someone that will be there for you when you are ready to birth your baby.  Someone who will trust your own ancient birth wisdom and support you while you labor and push as your baby and body tell you - not to say "sure you can do whatever you want so long as you and baby are safe" then procede to flip you over to a standard stirrup position to "make things easier."  If and when this person looks in your eyes and says "I think we need to move to an induction/augmentation/cesarean" you know that all else has been exhausted and you can move forward in this direction with confidence in the decision and respect and honor for your birth.

5.  My sister/friend/cousin/mom/friend's-cousin's-mom uses him/her.

This is probably a great way to choose a hair dresser.  A health care povider, not so much.  Unless of course your sister/friend/cousin/mom/friend's cousin's mom and you have a lot in common in regards to your motherbaby care birth plans. You may like the same jokes, love the same music and read the same books, but have very different ideas about optimal motherbaby maternity care.  Take a good childbirth class and look for red flags.  Hire a doula and listen to what your doula has to say.  What care providers are doulas choosing?  Who do her clients see?  You hire a doula because of the knowledge she holds, because of what she has seen - this person has had far more experiences with birth than your sister/friend/cousin/mom/friend's cousin's mom (unless of course that person is also a doula).

6. I don't want to cheat.

There is no cheating in health care. If you feel uncomfortable with the care you have received in the past, with the suggestions your doctor or midwife is making and the conversation that takes place there after, if you find you and your provider have different comfort levels with pregnancy gestation, baby size, natural labor, inductions, pitocin, skin-to-skin contact, vaginal breech birth, etc. . . this isn't a reason to cheat - it's NOT cheating. It's your RIGHT. Get another opinion, transfer care to another health care provider, you have options! It's important you are a good match with your provider. This will allow you to trust this person's suggestions and decisions regarding your care rather than questioning him/her the whole time, which, truly, is frustrating for everyone involved.

7. The office/hospital is so close to my house.

Okay, if you live in the woods and have a history of precipitous labor, this might be important. But for the average woman with an average labor there are at least two hospitals within a half hour of her, even in traffic. Proximity to your house at a place with a 50% cesarean rate vs. drive 30 minutes further for a care provider with a much lower cesrean rate . . . even in transition this mom of three would choose the 30 minute drive.

8. He/She says "whatever you want to do" when I ask questions.

See number 4 above. Be sure you are actually hearing what is said and what isn't said, not what you want to hear.

9. My partner says this is best.

YOU are a strong, intelligent and capable woman. In a perfect world you, your partner and provider will have an actual discussion. You CAN and SHOULD BE making decisions about your health care and while your partner may have valid input and legit concerns, ultimately you are the one going through this and your input and concerns are not invalid. It is you that will labor and birth this baby and you are capable of that AND choosing your provider.

10. I NEED my toes painted in the hospital the day after I've had my baby.

It's no secret, postpartum isn't always when we look our best. New moms are tired, swollen and sore after a vaginal birth. Add a major surgery on to that and yah, some pampering might be nice. A pedicure is a great way for mom to grab some alone time and treat herself - but let's revisit that section rate, your birth options, your provider's availability for your labor and birth and faith in your body to grow and birth a healthy baby - would you give all that up for pretty toes? Maybe you work it out where you get it all. Maybe not. But don't let some polish, even organic formaldehyde-free polish, be the deal breaker when chosing a health care provider.

Amanda Devereux is founder of Nola Nesting, a Doula, Birth Boot Camp Instructor, and mom of three breastfed babes.

Raffle to Benefit GNOBAC at BREASTMILK the Movie! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (New Orleans Doula, Breastfeeding)

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Here's an opportunity to support a great cause, the Greater New Orleans Breastfeeding Awareness Coalition and their nolamom campaign, win some incredible items and have a good time!

The response to support the New Orleans premier of BREASTMILK has been so amazing that we've decided to spread the wealth and hold a raffle to benefit GNOBAC. We love the work they are doing and are loving this opportunity to support our New Orleans community. So, now you can too!!

Raffle tickets are $5 each or 5 for $20 and can be purchased in advance or at the film. (see below for details)

To purchase in advance you can send payment via paypal to support@nolanesting.com, please include your contact information in the comments section and select 'gift' in stead of 'services' so that all the funds can go to increasing breastfeeding awareness in New Orleans!

Dancing For Birth in New Orleans . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (New Orleans Prenatal Fitness)

I am so excited to bring a new class for moms to our area. It is Dancing for Birth and it is an excellent way for women enjoy themselves while learning about birth and postpartum. This class has never been offered here but is currently assisting women with labor preparation and adjusment to new motherhood in other parts of the country and all over the world. It is part belly dancing, part childbirth education and part just plain fun! This class is designed to help women get in touch with their inner wisdom and celebrate birth. No dance expereience is needed!!! Just a desire to learn about birth and a willingness to move your body. The confidence in birth and the mind body connection that come from this class can help prepare you for labor. New moms can even bring their babies to move with us, just make sure you have a sling. Babies love the bounce and rythm of the many world dances that inspire the Dancing For Birth moves. Doulas are welcome too! During class we will discuss many movements for aiding optimal fetal positioning and comfort. Doulas may learn something new or find revisiting some of these moves inspiring. I hope to see all of you dancing soon!Classes are currently being offered at Destination Maternity on north Causeway Blvd. And the first class is always free. -Erin

Breastfeeding and the Family . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(New Orleans Childbirth Classes)

Breastfeeding isn't a single experience. It can be wonderful, stressful, beautiful, trying, tiring, restful and inspiring as well as many other things - in just a day!

I am saddened that another blogger experienced breastfeeding as a 'ball and chain' and that another described a 'super husband' as one who rushes in with formula to save the day. Breastfeeding is something done for the family -For a baby brought into this world who the family is responsible for feeding long after the breastfeeding relationship has ended. I have attended births as a doula, held meetings, enjoyed movies and date nights and more all while exclusively breastfeeding. There's no imprisonment here. Feeding a baby, by breast or otherwise is the job of a family.

Partners, husbands, friends, siblings - Breastfeeding isn't just mom's gig. This is about feeding and nurturing the family, and you all have a role!

Click the links below for the full blog.

See? No chains.

See? No chains.


Amanda Devereux is co-owner of Nola Nesting, a doula, Birth Boot Camp Instructor and mom of three breastfed babes.

 

The Nurture of Women (or Redefining the Hen House)

Gatherings of women often get an unjustly bad rap - the stereotypical hen house image full of clucking, pecking, and feathers flying. Strong, assertive, expressive women are frequently (mis)labeled as "catty" and "bossy," amongst other things. This typecasting begins early in our daughters' social development with groups of girls who are just learning to navigate friendships, be it with girls or boys. I’ve already heard this in reference to gatherings of girls in my daughter’s social interactions, and these loaded words are never used to characterize boys' social behaviors. The thing is, these words do not define my experience, and I find it to be presumptuous, rude, and a very prejudicial and unfortunate way to see the world. I would tell my daughter “it’s unkind.”

The women who share in my life have been and are powerful, uplifting, and empowering. I didn’t view my grandmothers as "catty," but as loving, warm, and generous. I have amazing childhood friends, female ones, that I respect and love. Sure, there are girls I didn’t get along with, women I don’t like, and the same goes for boys and men - but it has more to do with personality and less (well, nothing) to do with gender. I could not be the mother I am without the women, the friends I cherish, mothering alongside me. As an owner of Nola Nesting, I work closely and interdependently with other women. I have so much admiration and love for these women and for all they bring to not only Nola Nesting, but to our clients. They are creative and inspiring, giving and healing women.

As childbirth educators and doulas, we celebrate the power and strength of women, their ability to transform and bring life into this world in a way done by innumerable women before them, a way the predates by millenia the medicalized model of childbirth and the categorization of pregnancy as a condition to be treated and cured. We see women at their most vulnerable and at their most fierce, and I feel nothing short of awe each and every time. I love families at births. The privilege of witnessing a person fall in love with their partner (again) and new baby is one of my favorite parts of birth, but supportive women bring a special energy to labor and birth. The women at my births were tender and held wisdom in a way my very loving, supportive, and nothing-shy-of-amazing husband could not.

To bring Birth Boot Camp to New Orleans, I attended a training in Dallas last month and was surrounded by women I had never met before. These were strong women who were there to learn more about supporting other women and families, and everyone was beautiful, loving, and supportive of one another. I truly enjoyed being in their presence and I left feeling energized and full. In our busy lives it’s not often that we get to gather and just enjoy the company of other women, each uniquely teaching and learning in our turn.

I am grateful for the women in my life, for the way they nurture and encourage me, for being sounding boards, for love and support. These are the relationships with women I want my daughter to see. Whatever she does in her life, whether suffering a broken heart, celebrating a hard-earned victory, pondering life’s meaning, or bringing a baby into this world, I hope she has a support network that includes women who love and celebrate the woman she is. And of course, should she decide to become a mother, I hope she has a doula!

 

(Disclosure: This blog post was edited, as is much of my work, by one of the profound women in my life.  My sister-by-another-mother - one of the most courageous and witty women I'll ever know.)

 

Amanda Devereux is co-owner of Nola Nesting, a New Orleans doula, Birth Boot Camp Instructor, and mom of three breastfed babes.