Category Archives: Birth

How Not to Talk to Expectant Parents

Earlier this week, a friend of mine sent an email to several parents, including me, asking for our best advice for moms to be. The very first response included the phrase, “labor is terrible!!!” I was not surprised. For whatever reason it seems that when someone is pregnant, people come out of the woodwork with their horror stories. Everybody has one, or at the very least can tell their cousin’s, or their sister’s friend’s cousin’s. 
It is as though everyone feels that it’s their duty to make sure women don’t expect birth to be easy. The fact of the matter is, there are plenty of depictions of frightening, painful birth experiences in popular culture, so stories of this kind do nothing to give women a realistic, balanced picture of what birth is like. Instead, they add to the pile of reasons to be afraid, and fear is the last thing that a birthing woman needs. When women should be feeling excitement, they’re made to feel dread. If we truly wanted to even the scales, we would share the most positive, encouraging birth story we had ever come across.
Anyone who has read about natural childbirth is likely familiar with the idea of the “fear, tension, pain cycle.” Our bodies have a physiological response to fear, often referred to as the “fight or flight” response, during which many important processes all but shut down (tension) as the body prepares itself to flee the situation. This type of response is the enemy of the birthing woman, whose body needs to focus its energies toward the core – particularly the uterine and pelvic floor muscles. When the body does not cooperate, the result certainly can be extreme pain (or “failure to progress”), but it doesn’t have to be. 
It’s no secret that birth can be uncomfortable. It is hard work, but it can be a beautiful experience when welcomed and unhindered by fear and tension. So next time you see a pregnant woman, or a father-to-be, please refrain from sharing your, or anyone else’s horror story. Be respectful, and know that they are preparing for one of the most life-changing experiences imaginable, and fear will only detract from the beauty of it. Be encouraging, and know that they can have a beautiful, empowering experience.
What’s the most positive, encouraging birth story you have ever come across?

Annabelle’s birth story can be found here.

I see that you have a birth plan…

Annabelle, the day after her birth.
Clearly happy with the way things went ;)
When talking about birth, the subject of birth plans comes up frequently. Several friends have requested to see mine, so I thought I would post it here.
I have heard very different opinions on birth plans: some think they’re wonderful, others think they’re patronizing. I can definitely say, however, that writing a birth plan and discussing it in advance with my support team was the single most important thing I did in preparing for Annabelle’s birth.

My plan was a bit, well, different as compared to the way most women at the Naval Hospital birth, but it was so well received. I shared it with the doctors during my third trimester, asked their thoughts, and they signed off on it. Talking it over in advance was very helpful, because some of the things I wanted were so different from the ‘standard of care’ and having time to discuss them and explain why I wanted them when the pressure was off made Annabelle’s birth day totally stress-free. Everyone knew where I stood, and knew that the doctors were comfortable with it, so there was no debate. Every person who came into my room introduced themselves by saying, “I’m so and so, and I’ve read your birth plan.” I can’t say enough how glad I am that I wrote and shared it. Anyway, on to the plan!

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Birth Preferences

First of all, we would like to thank you for being a part of our and our baby’s birthing experience. We are aware that childbirth is unpredictable and every birth is different, therefore some of our preferences may have to change during this important process. We welcome open communication about any necessary changes in our ideal plan that will help to facilitate a safer, more healthy birth.

Early Labor and Transition
  • Dim lights, soft voices, and minimal interruption
  • Only intermittent fetal monitoring
  • Freedom to move, stand, walk, and change position for the laboring mother
  • No IV
  • Minimal cervical exams
  • No artificial rupture or stripping of membranes prior to or during labor
  • No offers of pain relief drugs – we know they are available and will ask if needed
  • Mother will wear her own gown
  • Mother will have water, juice, and broth to maintain energy as needed during labor
  • No episiotomy
Second Stage
  • Mother-directed pushing in any position that is comfortable
  • No episiotomy
  • No use of a bulb-syringe unless there are clear indications that it is necessary
  • No ointment in baby’s eyes
  • Baby placed immediately to mother’s chest and left undisturbed until breastfeeding has been successful
  • Delayed clamping and cutting of the umbilical cord
Third Stage
  • No cord traction or other artificial methods to stimulate birth of the placenta
  • No pitocin
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    Did you have a birth plan? How was it received? Would, or will you do things the same way in the future?