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Being a doula looks like solo work at the surface - well, unless we are hired as a pair, which is awesome for the client and us. But really, when we're with a family during labor and birth, we're not working quite as alone as it may seem. You see, it's important for us to have a network. This is one of the reasons Nola Nesting exists, and it benefits our community, our individual practice and our clients. This doula life would not be sustainable for me without other doulas. This is just a small piece of my gratitude.
The backup doula.
She is incredible. Most of the time she following along, knows when a mother is due and how our prenatals have gone. She's read the intake paperwork and I've shared with her how this mother wants to be supported and any other important points. She keeps her phone by her, hanging out on call, the same as me, knowing she is probably not attending this birth, but being available none the less. She is making herself available to support this family because of my professional relationship with her. She is likely checking on things during labor and helping me keep a clear head, thinking through what might be most helpful for the laboring mother and partner, reminding me to care for myself and meet my own minimum needs, she's thinking about the mother and sending warm birth energy even though she is likely never seen. She's a hero because if we need her, she's there. Ready to jump in and care for the family however the birth may go. She will poor her love into the family just as I would. She will call me and keep me informed and I will support her. Because this is what doulas do. This close relationship means that our clients have seamless care, even when the most unexpected events happen. And for this, I am grateful.
Birth work is intense. We place our lives on pause to step into yours with our whole selves. When we walk away from your birth, we walk away knowing that this thing we have experienced - this amazing life changing event, was only experienced by us. This is why it's an honor to attend births - to be invited into the birth circle. But sometimes births are stressful for us. Sometimes we are just tired. Sometimes we are sad. Sometimes we are just over the moon and need to shout from the highest point that today, on this earth an amazing thing happened! We cannot show you most of this, but we need to share it. Doulas experience birth trauma even when their clients are completely satisfied with their experience. The doulas that surround me understand my work like no one else. I don't have to share all the details of your birth, and I won't, because I honor your privacy, but I do need to decompress and enter the rest of my life. Which can be a funny thing after being absorbed in yours. These ladies answer their phone when I call to guide me home at night, to make me laugh and remind me to eat before I sleep. They meet me for drinks and have a laugh. And for this, I am grateful.
By nature, I think doulas are always seeking to learn more. Just when we think we understand birth the universe reminds us that we know only fragments, perhaps illusions of the whole. The doulas who surround me are my mentors, my teachers. From different positions to address various types of labors, to gaining a greater understanding of the holistic nature of birth, to discussions of intuition and how we can better use our intuition in our work - and how we can better listen to yours, these doulas teach me. We each bring to this work a different set of experiences and background and together we are more knowledgeable and can better serve our clients. And for this, I am grateful.
Doulas understand this crazy life. This passion for birth. This feminist drive to help women have what is by the basics of nature, biologically theirs. Doulas do not flinch at the words vagina, uterus, yoni, discharge, mucous, bloody show, cervix or any others that are common place in our conversations. Doulas have your back when your life hits the rocks, or when you just need to drive across town for a special breakfast. Doulas are not offended when you have to text your client in mid conversation. That said, we don't text each other late at night ('cause you know, on call). Doula hearts are huge and the good friendship of a doula is priceless. And for this, I am grateful.
Thank you to all the doulas I know, here and throughout the country and world who have impacted my person, broadened my view and made me a better doula. Happy world doula week to you.
Nola Nesting is proud to welcome back Courtney Jarecki from Homebirth Cesarean International (HBCI). The May 31st workshop, Speaking of Cesarean, is designed to provide tools, practice, and information for first-time students as well as those who attended the full-day workshop in January.
This workshop is focused on how birth professionals can have prenatal conversations with clients about difficult subjects like unwanted interventions, cesareans, NICU, planning for a challenging postpartum, and much more. After this workshop, participants will be able to improve the quality of care they provide their clients, regardless of birth outcome.
This hands-on and interactive workshop asks participants to:
- Go deep in exploring your own discomfort and biases when working with clients.
- Evolve an understanding about your spoken and unspoken beliefs around childbirth.
- Skillfully build a foundation of trust and open communication in prenatal care.
- Role-play how to navigate conversations with clients who don’t want to talk about unwanted outcomes.
- Asses client’s risk for suffering trauma during or after a difficult birth.
- Prepare clients to build postpartum support during prenatal care.
- Discuss and evaluate the responsibility of the mother and birth partner’s role in preparing for a range of birth outcomes.
- Understand how your client’s own birth may impact and influence her child’s birth experience.
When: May 31, 10:30-2:30
Where: Nola Nesting Lounge, 3248 Severn Ave (Inside of ZukaBaby)
Registration: $75 / Early Bird $50 if before May 1
Click here to register. Space is limited.
About the Facilitator
Courtney Jarecki has worked as a doula, childbirth educator, and a homebirth midwifery apprentice, but her path forever shifted after the birth of her daughter. In recovering from her 54-hour home labor, hospital transport, and cesarean, she soon began creating a new model of understanding for planned out-of-hospital births that end in cesareans, now known as homebirth cesareans (HBC), a term she coined.
She is the author of “Homebirth Cesarean: Stories and Support for Families and Healthcare Providers” and “Healing From a Homebirth Cesarean” (Incisio Press, 2015), books for mothers, families, and birth professionals. She is also the executive director of Homebirth Cesarean International (HBCI), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit she co-founded. HBCI works to broaden the conversation and education around homebirth cesareans, through the support of mothers, families, and birth professionals.
In balancing her writing, teaching, and leadership activities, she is the mama to Lazadae, wife to Dave, and alpha-female pack leader to hounds Satchel and Maji. She lives in Portland, Oregon.
Professional Doulas do a lot of things. We drop our lives with a phone call, work with very long periods between meals and often with no meals at all, can take a nap anywhere, have both a clinical and sacred understanding of birth, our work is both physically and mentally demanding, and we have learned to manage all of this with very little or no sleep. But I think the most important skill a doula can have is the ability to establish an intimate relationship quickly. As I teach in Birth Boot Camp DOULA, it is this relationship, it is the heart I bring, my faith in your ability to birth that will enable me to support you in the best way possible.
Unless you're in my childbirth class, we've probably spent a total of 5-6 hours together, including our interview, before I join you in labor. Our meetings were casual, our time spent discussing your pregnancy, birth and postpartum period. You were excited, anxious, nervous, hopeful and glowing with your round belly. When you call me to your birth, you are your raw self. You are exposed and primal, powerful and vulnerable. You are likely naked or in some state of undress. If you are uncomfortable being in this laboring state with me present, then I am an intervention who is in the way of your labor. That is not good. This could stall or slow labor.
We do carry a 'bag of tricks' as some of my clients have called it. Really, there is nothing particularly magical in that bag and if I forgot it at home I can still do my job. This is because I bring you my heart and this relationship that we build is love. I have to make myself vulnerable to you in a way very similar to how people fall in love. My own oxytocin levels are high and are rising as you progress through your labor. Oxytocin is the love hormone.
I read this article that has been circulating on facebook and I thought to myself, "THIS! THIS is how we do it!" If you haven't read it, here's the synposis:
- two strangers enter a room and sit near one another.
- they ask one another a series of questions of an increasingly intimate nature.
- they actively listen to one another.
- they hold eye contact for a prolonged period. Then, they fall in love.
(And as the author discusses, this experiment can be repeated in a bar - how New Orleans is that?!)
Now, here's the doula synopsis
- We sit together at a coffee shop and talk about your birth, my profession and you ask me questions about my role
- We sit together in your home, discussing an increasingly intimate number of things. I am sure to make eye contact.
- I listen to you and work to gain an understanding of who you are, your wishes and how I might best support you.
- I join you in labor and at some point, we have prolonged eye contact.
The rest is labor history.
You see, they are very similar. In the article it is noted that both individuals were open to participating and to love. This is not very different from us. You seek to be supported, unconditionally and wholly, through your labor and birth and I am making myself available to you.
I loved reading this article because this is one of my favorite parts of my job. When this happens the best way it can, you feel supported and cared for even if your labor and birth are different than what you had wished and how you envisioned it. When this happens in the best way it can, I will never forget your birth because it is in my heart and I am genuinely so proud and happy for you; I look forward to seeing pictures of your baby grow and it makes my heart happy when I run into you around town and see you as a mother and father.
I also think that this exercise, similar to how it is done at the bar, can be a very powerful thing for couples to do when preparing for birth. Take the opportunity to share eye contact and really focus on one another. Talk about nothing and let it build to sharing your intimate feelings and experiences, especially those concerning your pregnancy and birth. It may not be over a beer, and you're no stranger to one another - but doesn't everyone love falling in love?
One of the most common questions I'm asked in interviews is what I bring to a birth. What you find in my bag might disappoint you. It's all pretty normal stuff. In fact, you probably have much of it around your house.
What I want you to know is this: You aren't hiring me for the tools in my bag, because what I bring goes beyond my bag.
Birth brings you to places in yourself you have not been. Others may question your journey, you may doubt yourself and your way may seem unclear, but I know that you hold within you the wisdom of the women before you, power you are just beginning to discover and a mother's intuition.
We are so excited to welcome Courtney Jarecki to New Orleans! Louisiana has the highest cesarean rates in the nation - and this means as birth workers, health care providers, mental health care providers, lactation consultants, and all others who support new moms we already know how severely unexpected birth outcomes can affect new moms. This workshop is an opportunity for us to learn more about how to best support women planning homebirths who transfer for a cesarean as well as women planning unmedicated births whose path brings them to medical management with or without a cesarean.
We invite all those who work with expecting and postpartum moms to join us in this workshop and open our hearts and minds to how we can best support all mothers through all births.
When: January 10th, 10:15-7pm
Where: New Orleans, 4011 Baronne St.
Birthing with dignity and power, from home to operating room.
Homebirth Cesarean (HBC) is the name given to planned out-of-hospital births that end in hospital cesarean.
Facilitated by the author of the book Homebirth Cesarean: Stories and Support for Families and Healthcare Providers, this workshop is for all birth professionals who want to learn to fully support mothers, families and themselves through traumatic births and cesareans.
The information, insights, tools, and strategies shared have been gathered from over 200 interviews with homebirth cesrean mothers, partners, midwives and birth professionasl from around the world on:
-What birth professionals can do to prepare clients who are reluctant to engage in the topic of cesrean birth
-Assessing a client's risk for suffering trauma during or after a difficult birth experience
-How to broach the transport conversation during labor and prepare the family to make the physcial and emotional move to the hospital.
-Supporting the partner through a difficult birth
-How birth professionals can care for themselves during difficult births
-Caring for the cesarean mother and partner in the hospital and at home
-Postpartum Mood Disorders (PMADs) and PtSD after a traumatic birth
As background, from 36.5 to 40 weeks (3.5 weeks) I’d been having hours of contractions each day. Sometimes light and Braxton Hicks, sometimes strong enough to make me have to pause and breathe through them. But never closer than 10 minutes apart and no lasting pattern.
At 5:30 am on September 2nd (my due date, which was also Labor Day) I wake up out of a sound sleep to a contraction. This has happened before in the last few weeks, though this one was particularly strong. So I assume it will be more of the same and get up, start making a list of things to do during this session of contractions (iron curtains, file some paperwork, shower, return a few emails), idly writing down the times when the contractions start.
And realize by the third contraction that these are a very different beast. By 5:45 the contractions were 3-5 minutes apart and strong. My husband, Jai, was downstairs, and when I called for him (which I debated not doing, thinking “this can’t be happening this fast!) I think he broke some kind of land speed record racing up the stairs.
By the time 6 am rolled around I couldn’t walk during the contractions and they were 3 minutes apart. Jai insisted we call our midwife, Emmy but I resisted because for some reason I just couldn’t wrap my mind around how fast this is going. Jai, of course, wins this discussion in 30 seconds and we call. A contraction hits in the middle of the phone call and I had to lean over and hang on to the bed to be able to talk through it. Emmy suggests we call our doula, Amanda, to come check on me (which I heard as check me which caused some confusion later on) because it sounded like I was in active labor.
Hello, my name is Brandi and I’m the woman who woke up in active labor but kept trying to pretend she wasn’t.
While we wait for Amanda’s arrival I decide I want a shower. It would be nice to say it was because I thought the water would help (it didn’t) but really it was because I had just enough presence of mind left at that point to want to look nice when all these people (Amanda, Emmy, and two assistants Kisha and Nikki) arrive. Yeah, by the end of my ~10-15 minute shower I was cursing this idea and holding onto the shower curtain rod just to get through each contraction. The last contraction had me kneeling on the floor of the tub, where Jai found me. He helped me up, I finished rinsing, then stepped out. Jai handed me a towel and was offering me clothes to choose from (I had set aside 2-3 tops and 2 skirts for labor). It was nice to feel clean and fresh during labor, but this shower definitely wasn’t my best idea.
From here I remember bits and pieces. At this point I was already turning inward between some contractions, so what was happening around me wasn’t registering at times. For me, a huge reason I could labor this way (I realized later) was because I felt completely safe and comfortable with my surroundings and the people supporting me. There were no strangers, no surprises in my external environment. Just rooms I was familiar with, equipment I had practiced on, and people I knew not only wouldn’t judge me or fight me but rather supported my needs and decisions. I could relax, ignore the outside world, and focus on laboring because I knew everything else was taken care of.
After the shower I went to the nursery, where we had set up some places for me to labor—a birth ball, chair, and yoga mat. Amanda arrived around then, about 6:30 am, while I was swaying on the birth ball and Jai was rubbing my shoulders. I think I tried to offer her something to drink or eat—as if I was going to get up off the yoga ball, go downstairs, fix her a drink and walk back up the stairs while in active labor (ha!). I think she chuckled at me and politely declined, telling me not to worry about her. That marks the last time I was concerned/aware enough of the outside world to be a polite hostess for the rest of my labor.
Funny side note—Jai put on an episode of the NPR radio show “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” during this part of the labor to help distract me. Several days later we listened to it again with Hypatia and there are whole chunks of it I, and to a lesser extent Jai, had absolutely no memory of.
For a while, this was the status quo—me on the birth ball, swaying, Jai rubbing my shoulders, us listening to “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me.” When contractions hit I would moan through them, low and deep, sometimes leaning back into Jai. Eventually that position didn’t feel “right” anymore. By this point Jai had figured out that our plan for early labor (mainly distraction in the form of funny stories he had stored up, tv shows, radio segments, etc.) wasn’t what I needed. Instead of distraction, during active labor I needed to focus. I wasn’t conscious enough to articulate that, but he picked up on it without me saying a word and switched gears. Looking back, that was pretty amazing of him.
Amanda picked up on the fact the birth ball wasn’t right for me any more and suggested I move to the yoga mat. I ended up on my left side, with Jai in front of me and Amanda behind applying counter pressure. Jai was stroking and massaging me, talking to me, reminding me that each contraction was one less contraction. (Earlier in my pregnancy the thought of thinking of contractions like X-1, X-2, X-3… really resonated with me.)
This was where I just fully turned inward between contractions. I wasn’t worried about the contraction that had just passed or the pain coming with the next contraction. Instead, my mind and body were fully a peace and I was able to just …relax. I knew Jai would be there to talk me through the next contraction, that he would be massaging my shoulders or hands, stroking my belly. That Amanda was experienced and would offer suggestions to make things easier. That my midwives were watching out for my baby. I could trust them, rely on them, and just let go between contractions.
I swear I fell asleep for the brief minutes between some of the contractions!
Eventually I felt the urge to push, around 8:30 am, but it felt too soon. That scared me out of my relaxed state, especially because I thought the midwives weren’t there yet. Amanda reassured me it was okay to push, so I did. A few contractions with pushes later, just as the midwives are coming into the room, my water breaks with a loud POP. It gushes out, getting on my legs and skirt, and a pillow I had between my knees. I have a momentary thought about needing to clean up the mess I’d just made, but quickly forget about that when someone suggests I move to the bathtub.
Jai helps me get up and while it is only a few steps to the bathroom, I have to pause while another contraction hits to lean on him. I end up laboring on the toilet for a few contractions, then people help me get into the large tub. Jai climbs right in after me.
The water is very soothing and it doesn’t take me long, once I find a comfortable position, to sink back to my relaxed state between contractions. Especially because Jai brought my eye mask with to block out the light (great idea! Highly recommend a mask to help focus and stay relaxed). I even managed to retain some of the mental relaxation during single contractions (definitely not the physical!). The times where two came right on top of each other were extremely difficult and painful in the moment, but once they were done and my last moan had died away I would sink right back into being relaxed. That relaxed state seemed endless, it felt like I spent most of my labor in it, but the reality (apparently, I wasn’t aware of it at the time) was there was less than a minute between contractions and they lasted at least that long.
This relaxed state means that what I remember of my birth is bits and pieces, fragments of what actually happened. Thankfully, Amanda picked up our camera and photographed throughout my labor, birth, and delivery. Previously I had been pretty firmly against graphic photos during birth. I am so glad I’d never mentioned that fact to Amanda, because those photos chronicled my journey—both what I remember and everything I wasn’t aware of. It was like a wonderful gift of this special moment in time.
At times Nikki or Kisha would have me shift to listen to the baby’s heart rate. Internally I would get so upset they were making me move and pulling me out of the nice relaxed state. I wanted to yell at them to “Leave me alone!” in those brief moments when they came after me with a fetalscope, even though they were quick and gentle and soft-spoken.
During the next few hours I ate a honey stick (delicious!) and was given Echinacea (vile!). Shifted positions in the tub several times, from back to side to hands and knees. Now, afterwards, I’m amazed Jai’s hands didn’t cramp up from all the massage he did. Amanda pushed on my forehead (it really does help!) so much it was sore the next day.
At one point I thought I couldn’t do this any more (probably transition, but not being checked means I don’t know). It hurt too much, I was tired, and she just wouldn’t come out! But that was when Nikki told me to reach down and see if I could feel my daughter’s head. At first I didn’t want to, the idea scared me a little. Plus that would require not going into my relaxed state between contractions and I really liked it there. Finally, though, I reached down and realized…my daughter had hair! She was right there and she had hair I could feel!
In the end I pushed for about two hours. If you had asked me right after the birth I would have said it felt like I had been pushing forever but would have guessed perhaps just an hour. At the very end I got out of the tub, toweled off and slowly made my way to the bed, where I ended up on my side.
I could feel her head coming out and was pushing, pushing, pushing but the rest of her didn’t want to come out. I heard something about the cord being wrapped around her shoulder and Emmy suggesting I flip to all fours, that the position change would help her come out. What I didn’t realize then, because everyone was so calm, was that this was a fairly serious issue. For me, what I experienced was a simple “just flip over so the baby can come out easier”—no panic, no fear. So I stayed relaxed and focused.
Flipping did the trick. The first push after flipping onto all fours, my little girl’s head popped out and Nikki shifted the cord. Her shoulders came out with the next push, then the rest of her in one or two more pushes. Jai caught her, holding her for a moment, then placed our daughter on my back. We hadn’t discussed that, he just felt it was the right thing to do, to give me a birth pause but still connect to my daughter and it was perfect.
At 12:10 pm on September 2nd, 2013 (her due date) Hypatia Rose entered the world, born into her Daddy’s loving hands. Less than 5% of babies are born on their due date, let alone almost exactly at noon on Labor Day, so she is our amazing little statistical anomaly.
A few moments later, Hypatia was passed under me, I turned over and she was placed in my arms. Propped up against our head board, I held my daughter for the first time. She was sticky and squishy and beautiful. Because of the cord issue she was purple/pale at first but quickly started pinking up, let out a few cries, but mainly snuggled against me, skin-to-skin.
We laid like that, letting the cord finish pulsing, for some time. Jai joined us and we just relaxed as a family together. After about 20 or 30 minutes I felt the urge to push again, so I (reluctantly!) handed Hypatia off. The placenta slid right out and at the end of everything I had only a slight abrasion, no stitches needed, that healed very quickly. I actually got up and out of bed and walked to the bathroom on my own soon afterwards, surprising everyone with how good I felt.
When it came time to weigh Hypatia, Jai was the one to hold her up in the sling. She came in at 8 lbs 10 oz. and 21.5 inches long. We snuggled some more, then the midwives prepared a bath for me. After that Jai and I bathed Hypatia together, dressed her, and came back to a clean, freshly made bed (Amanda even threw the old sheets in the laundry!). Jai made sure he had on a t-shirt with a picture of a tie “so she would recognize her Daddy” because dress shirts and ties are all he ever wears. At some point in all this Hypatia latched on like an expert and our breastfeeding journey started. But that is a story for another time.
Never having given birth before, I went into this with very high hopes but realistic expectations. This birth, my husband, and my birth team surpassed all of those hopes, transforming a very painful, stressful event into a moment in my life I treasure and remember with joy. Not just the birth, but the labor itself. My birth into motherhood and my daughter’s birth were a beautiful family experience.
When your pregnant with a babe that isn't your first making plans for baby means also making plans for your children during the labor and birth. Becoming a big brother or sister is an important transition for a little one and a Sibling Doula can help make it seemless, impacting the familial balance and sibling relationship forever in a meaningful, loving way.
Children do not bring to birth the society fed fears and concerns that we do. Their honesty, open hearts and age-defying undestanding of it all is a beautiful thing to be witness to. With the right support and care children are able to fully experience and share in the experience of their sibling's birth, whether they are present for the birth or nearby eagerly awaiting the moment that they can first meet their new baby.
Franki Batten is both a Birth Doula and Sibling Doula. As a Sibling Doula, Franki spends time getting to know these pint sized memebers of the family during prenatal visits that are all about them and their new role. When mom is in labor Franki is there to care for the child and help them participate in the birth of their sibling as is appropriate for them and their family. Sometimes this means making a card for mom and the new baby, working on some crafts at home while mom labors in the hospital, or being with mom and offering her a cool towel for her head.
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.
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.
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.
Alison Clark, CNM
3600 Prytania Street, Suite 30 New Orleans, LA 70115
41 weeks and 3 days pregnant is uncomfortable, but at that point I was kinda on autopilot. I was used to it and just trying to wait it out and not be impatient. Liam was 10 days "overdue", but I realize that my kids take longer to "cook". My babies are never big, they have been 6lb. 9oz., 7lb. 11oz., and now 8lb. 2oz. So not too big of babies and two of those were "overdue." Also, I am not fond of going by due dates because there can be so many flaws with that. But I won't get started on all that. On Wednesday, February 19, I had my regular doctor appointment and like usual I took the kiddos with me, but they (mainly Cason, who is 2) were exceptionally crazy that day. It was a really stressful day to say the least, and when we finally saw the doctor she said what I had feared. She legally had to put an end date on when baby had to come (which is so wrong and even she agreed). So she said she would strip my membranes that day and see if that did anything, but if nothing happened that I would have to come in Monday and try something else (breaking my water bag, or....Pitocin). Neither of which I wanted! So she stripped my membranes and said I was 4 centimeters and she didn't know how I would NOT go into labor at that point. She laughed that some people get epidurals before 4 centimeters! lol This was at 1:30 p.m. I left the doctor's office to go pick Bradley (my husband) up from work. I started having contractions approximately every 5 minutes but didn't think too much about it since I had heard many stories of people getting their membranes swept, having contractions, then the contractions dying down. I kinda kept count in my head how close together they were but didn't think a whole lot about it. We got home and I started washing dishes and cleaning since it was possible that the contractions would stay. But when I was standing my contractions went away! I was disappointed and thinking, hello? this is backwards. So I decided to just sit for a while and luckily they picked back up. Bradley made dinner and I cleaned some more and by the end of dinner the contractions were definitely there to stay I thought. So I let my parents know and let a few others know what was going on too. By 6:00 the contractions were getting uncomfortable so I let my wonderful [awesome Doula, Grace], know what was going on. We finished up dinner and I got the kids to bed. After I finished reading Cason a bedtime story I went to put him in bed real quick because I felt a contraction but he got so sad and said "Please rock a baby!" Which means that he wanted more cuddle time and rocked, so of course I rocked that baby!!! After that I walked around some and was getting very "discomfortable" and remember saying to Bradley that it kinda sucks how we forget these pains because right about then I was annoyed and wanted them to go away. They were 2-3 minutes apart but only lasting 30-40 seconds which meant that I probably wasn't as far along as I thought I was. Thats a disheartening thought. I text Grace again and she suggested getting in the tub/shower. So I decided to get in the tub and it was ok but I was seriously just annoyed and the bathtub is too long at our place so it was just frustrating more than anything. So by 8:00 the contractions were really wearing on me and I was kinda panicking, I will admit. I was thinking I can't do this, this is ridiculous; I mean I had only been "hard" contractions since 6. How was I going to last several more hours (my other births were both 12 hours from start to finish)? At 9:00 I laid on my side on the couch and felt so defeated. Then what happens?...a MUCH worse contraction with some weird pressure that felt like Liam did a huge flip or something. So I got up only to realize that my water leaked! (it never did more than that for the rest of the labor) I text Grace that and she came right over and helped me with assessing where I was in labor and to get a few things straightened out. I really wanted to go to the hospital, actually I wanted to BE at the hospital already, I was just so.....annoyed for lack of a better word. I even snapped at Bradley a bit! lol So we left for the hospital around 9:20 and got there at 9:36. Grace helped me check in while Bradley parked the car. This was a lifesaver! I say that because I personally would have killed all the ignorant people we ran into on the way to the Labor & Delivery! I got checked in and hooked up to monitors around 10:15. They checked me and guess what? It was like a dream come true, I was 10 centimeters!!!! WOOHOOO!! No wonder I was in so much pain! This boy was coming fast! I felt like I needed to push a little so I got on my knees on the bed while I hear the nurses calling for my doctor to come. I reallllly wanted to wait until she got there but I was in soooo much pain. I pushed maybe 3 times and really just felt like it did nothing, like he wasn't ready yet. At some point Grace was just standing by the bed and patting my back for comfort then she saw Bradley trying to get pictures so she got the camera from him and said for him to go stand by me. Well, Bradley goes to put HIS hand my back and my immediate response was "DON'T TOUCH ME!!!" Or so I have been told. This makes me laugh because I do NOT remember doing that! At some point between then and 10:30 my doctor got there and I decided I wanted to try to get in the tub, so they filled it pretty quick! The water immediately felt wonderful, I think it helped to release some tension I had since I was really tense this whole labor. I just couldn't get focused enough to go with the pain. I felt like I was fighting against it which, for me, makes it worse. So around 10:40 I tried some pushing but found it gave no relief, unlike pushing when I had Cason. This birth was so different than Cason's! At this point I am in the tub and here is what is happening around me: Dr. Lap is sitting in a chair beside the tub just chatting away with the 100 people (slight exaggeration, there were only maybe 6-8 people) who decided to be in the room. I really didn't care that there were that many people there, I barely noticed at the time. Here is what did annoy me (but as you may can tell I was just a bit irritable this whole labor): my doctor is chatting away about the Winter Olympics....at MY birth...while I am in pain, she has the audacity to be chatting it up with the nurses! lol In all seriousness this only annoyed me for a minute and then I realized how wonderfully laid back she was about all this. No one was telling me what to do or how to do it! She was letting me labor and push on my own. I seriously love this doctor! She is the best! I tried pushing a little but swear it hurt worse. With Cason it gave a little relief, but not so this time. After kinda moping to myself for a minute I decided that I needed to suck it up and get his baby out. I tried to push a couple of times but felt nothing different after each push. I felt like I was pushing and nothing was happening except more pain. I wanted the pain to stop so I just figured I needed to try harder and I did. I had to push a lot more with one than with my others, and Liam may have moved down some on his own if I would have waited but I didn't want to deal with the contractions that much longer. Dr. Lap and Grace were there to encourage me, and help keep me going. Grace gave me water a few times and I'm sure a lot things were said and done that I just don't remember or wasn't fully aware of at the time. I had a wonderful support ream. Oh yeah and Bradley was there, taking pics and making sure my birth mix playlist was playing soothing tunes. After what seemed like forever of pushing (in reality it was only 20 minutes at the most), the doctor said that started encouraging to push a little more and to keep going because he was getting close. At some point someone said he was crowning, which for me was obvious...OUCH, but I didn't have the same intense burning like I did with Cason. It was a little less intense. I did manage to to feel his head which was so cool! I pushed 3 more times I think (I can't remember a lot from the pushing phase) and out came Liam at 11:05 p.m.! Dr. Lap immediately hand him to me (I had wanted to get him myself but I couldn't muster up the strength, I was just like FINALLY!) and of course I was elated but more relieved than anything. Something I forgot to mention was that during my last few doctor visits Dr. Lap had suspected that Liam was posterior, which means he was face up instead of the way he should be; face down. She would mention it but never showed any real concern while I was slightly worried and had tried some techniques to get him to turn. On the last day I went in to see her she still acted like it was no big deal, which frustrated me! I say all that to say this. The reason the doctor even had time to make it to my birth was obviously because Liam was posterior (maybe not even all the way, but at least partially), and he was trying to flip over, which he did. He born face down, like he was supposed to. lol The following moments were packed with so many emotions it makes my head spin to think back on it all. First of all, when I was handed Liam, I was just like relieved...like YAY it's over. It really took me a minute or two to kind of come back to reality and realize I was holding my precious baby boy. Then it took me another few minutes to realize that no one was bothering me or baby. No one was rushing to "fix" anything, were just there with some towels over Liam of course, and he was looking around, just checking things out. Dr. Lap then checked the chord, which I had totally forgotten about. We got to let it pulse for several minutes (which I was elated about), until all of sudden I said ahhh...the placenta...and then it just kinda plopped out. lol. It was a crazy feeling, but once again, it happened on it's own, no one needed to rush it! Soon after, we got cleaned off and moved over to the bed where my little man continues staring at me and also happens to latch on nearly perfectly several times! Also, one the best parts about having a natural birth, and breastfeeding, the crazy adrenaline and oxytocin rush! With Cason and Liam the rush of hormones kept me up most of the night that night. Once we FINALLY got put into a room about 2 a.m. I was too excited and spent the night just staring at my little boy. He stared back at me most of the night too. Just content to be in mommy's arms.
The birth story of a natural vaginal breech birth.Read More
Ready for an inspirational, informational and fun night?
When: September 21, Doors at 5pm - Film at 6pm Where: East Jefferson Hospital, Esplanade Room 1
Every ticket purchase is a chance to win a Medela Breast Pump!
We are thrilled to be bringing a sneak peek of BREASTMILK to the New Orleans area. For us, this is a huge mile marker. We have nurtured and cared for Nola Nesting for three years and much like our own children, we just can't believe how much she's grown! This event is at the heart of what Nola Nesting is about - the celebration and support of new and growing families.
We have an array of amazing partners who will be offering some seriously incredible prizes that you will be entered to win just by coming to see the film and building your community! How awesome is that?
The outpouring of support for this event has been incredible so we've decided to share the love and host a raffle to benefit the Greater New Orleans Breastfeeding Awareness Coaltion. They're doing amazing work and the raffle prizes are to die for! Read all about it and see what you can win here!
Keep an eye on the blog for annoucements of these lovely partners , so get your tickets!
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
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.)