Ten Ways to Screw Up a Perfectly Good Birth

How to screw up a perfectly good birth

When you love a good birth as much as I do you are always asking people to tell you their birth stories. I have heard tons first hand, read many more online and personally be present at almost a dozen. I don’t pretend to have all the answers or believe there are not exceptions to the rules, but for the most part when someone tells me their birth story and, let just say, it happened to be different, harder, scarier, sadder, etc. than expected, I can also always pick up on a few reasons way.

Of course, I keep these things to myself to not seem insensitive to their feelings, as I have been down the same roads as many of them myself, but I always keep a mental note pad of things to teach my students to avoid.

So here are my top ten procedures, beliefs, or actions that can possible take your birth from that magical experience everyone in the natural birth community is always talking about to just another one of those stories we all learn something from.

1. Don’t wait for baby to come on her own

One of my number one rules to tell anyone preparing to give birth, whether they decide to go all natural or just want to have a simple good birth with or without pain meds, is to not get induced unless SERIOUSLY MEDICALLY NECESSARY. This means you or your baby are in danger unless baby is born soon.

Remember, due dates are just an estimate to track babies growth for general milestones in utero. It was never meant to be a due date like that on your electric bill. Let your baby come when she is ready. She will come!

I was 10 days past my due date with my first baby. I knew he would come. He did come. He was perfectly ready on that day. Not the day before or the week before. It took patience and trust. Doing this one thing will increase your odds of a normal vaginal delivery significantly.

2. Artificially break your waters

This is one of those things that happen, especially at the hospital, almost as a matter of routine, now a days. You are in labor on your own and as if you just can’t do it without some intervention, a doctor or nurse, and sometimes even a midwife will come in with her long crochet hook (not the official name) and pop that bag of water to “speed things up”.

While breaking the waters (amniotic fluid) can be used to progress things when at a stale mate, why rush it? Your body or baby did not naturally break the waters so it must not be time for that to happen. Allow your body and baby to time that event.

Read more about the risk of an Amnitomy here.

Use the breaking of the waters as a last resort before a transfer or C-section, not as a routine procedure to use after a stall in labor. I have personally experienced my waters being broken artificially and very early, which lead to my baby’s heartbeat showing signs of subtle distress ultimately leading to a C-section. Again, this is where you just need to let nature take its course.

3. Push before your ready

This one is a real kicker. Here you are, having a perfectly good birth. You have labored all the way to fully dilated and you are ready to push, right? Maybe… but maybe not! You just don’t feel that urge, or pressure, or maybe you do a little but it is not overwhelmingly taking over your body. The nurse starts counting to 10 and telling you to hold your breath and bear down. While so many things are wrong with this picture, let’s stick to the pushing before the urge part.

First, understand that fully dilated and ready to push are two separate events. One comes when contractions have completed the process of opening the cervix to its full potential. The other comes when baby is engaged into the pelvis in such a way as to cause the “fetal expulsion reflex“. It your baby is not engaged, she may not be engaged for a reason. Pushing as hard as you can will not help to do much more than tire yourself out if her head is not properly aligned, which sometime can just take a few minutes of waiting.

So do that… wait. Wait until you it feels right. You will save yourself potentially hours of pushing and, well um, hemorrhoids. Nuff said!

4. Have an unsupportive provider

I once read a doulas perspective on why she would not accept clients who were under the care of certain providers. She boils it down to not wanting to climb an uphill battle through the entire birth only to be defeated in the end. Now, while not all doulas have this policy, I understand her points.

You say you want to a natural, intervention free, good birth, do you? Then why choose just any old provider. And not just any old provider, a provider that you have to fight with at every turn. Who doesn’t trust you, your body or birth for that matter. Who talks a big talk one minute and is back peddling the next. You know who I am talking about. It just doesn’t feel right. You are constantly second guessing your decisions when at appointments. You leave knowing that you will not use this provider for your second birth. But, because you have already paid, invested your time, feel trapped, etc. you just stick it out for this birth. Personally, very familiar again!

Know that you can change providers at any time. It is never too late until you are delivering with someone who is undermining your birth plans. Take this doulas advice and switch providers now, if you are really serious about doing it natural or even without lots of unnecessary interventions. Call your provider and talk to them about a partial refund. See if you can find another provider that will accept you now and maybe work out a special rate plan for your situation. Tell the truth, too. Don’t make up excuses for him. Say it straight.

If I was at a nice restaurant and ordered something I did not like, you better believe I’m sending that sucker back. Do the same thing with your provider if needed.

5. Don’t be informed

I know this one pretty well, too. I hired a midwife. Check. I watched a “Business of Being Born“. Check. I read “Baby Catcher“. Check. Now all I need to do is have a good birth. Wait… is that it?

Okay, I will concede that birth is a natural process and does not need to be taught and will happen whether you are ready or not. But since we don’t spend our growing up years seeing babies be born, or even ever attending a birth before we have our own baby, there is not a lot of passed down knowledge happening here. Plus, throw it a provider that is managing your labor like it is a sporting event and your lack of knowledge might come back to bit you in the butt.

So what do you need to know? More than I can talk about in this post, but not so much that you cannot learn it with a little work. Start first thing by dropping any pride about what you think you know about good birth and humble yourself to seek information and advice from others. This may be a few good books about childbirth by people who are passionate about good birth and the truth or seeking out stories from women who have done this before (the way you want to).

Next, seriously consider joining an organized childbirth class. Most are set up to give you a good foundation for your birth and help you become an informed patient/client rather than one just doing what you are told. Plus they are really fun, too!

6. Believe that you can’t have a good birth

Here is one that you may or may not even know is happening to you. You say you are going to do it natural and you talk a big talk, but deep down inside, or maybe even lurking on the surface, you know you will probably cave and get that epidural in the end.

You go into the hospital knowing that is it always an option. You choose a birth center with pain management options just in case. You ask your midwife about what happens if you decide you want to go to the hospital because “you just can’t handle it”. Be honest with yourself here. Do you really believe you will do this?

No doubt everyone goes into their first birth, or first natural birth with some trepidation, but that does not have to equal self-doubt. Make the choice to believe in yourself, your body and your baby. You can do this and you will. Just stop second guessing yourself. And stop reading the online stories that make you feel those feelings that you know don’t support your decision. Fill your pregnancy with positive people, positive talk, and positive attitude. This will not guarantee you will have a good birth, but it will stop you from doing yourself in with negative beliefs.

7. Invite unsupportive people into your birth room

Let’s just say that you are all into the natural birth thing and you have attending classes and even picked the right provider for you. You are set for a good birth experience. Then you decide to invite your posse including your sweet but concerned mother, your sweet and very vocal mother-in-law, and your sweet but positively pro-epidural sister to join in your special day.

Birth is going smoothly at first, but when things start to pick up you panic. This is very normal for all laboring women, no matter what birth number this is. You may flippantly say you are “done”, you “can’t do it” or you “want an epidural”. You may half mean these statements or just feel like you need to say them so others can understand how hard this is. All very natural, especially towards the end of labor during “transition”.

But the first time you say something negative, mom, mother-in-law, and sister jump all over the opportunity to “help”. Mom calls the nurse in to get the epidural started. Mother-in-law tells you “you don’t need to be a hero.” Sister states matter of fact, “I told you so”.

Be careful. This pressure can persuade you to give up on your plans. You may be strong enough to tell them to be quiet, but you may not in the throes of labor.

Choose your birth entourage carefully. Make sure those that attend your birth are behind your plans and are prepared to support you. Tell them about the possibility of you saying things you don’t mean or want. Help them understand how important this is for you. Finally, if they don’t get on board, let them wait in the waiting room.

8. Go to the hospital too soon

Here is another of my “must tell” pieces of advice to expectant parents. Don’t go to the hospital too soon. Sometimes moms-to-be are afraid they will not make it in time. Others are just too darn excited to wait at home thinking that getting to the hospital will make things happen faster or more real.

You should speak to your provider and your proximity to your facility does matter, but in most cases stay home until contractions are coming regularly, and I mean regularly, four minutes apart, lasting for a least a minute each, and this goes on for over an hour. This does not mean after two contractions that are 4 minutes apart. This would be more like 12 contractions that are 4 minutes apart.

Go then. If this is your first baby, you will still probably wait at the hospital, but here is the key. If you get to the hospital in active labor then you are far less likely to get unnecessary interventions. The nurses and doctor are more likely to take you and your labor seriously. Sad, but true.

So instead, go back to bed, go for a walk, take a shower, hire to doula to come and comfort you and help you know when is the right time to head out is (if you are not planning a homebirth), and just know that getting to your birth facility will in no way may baby come any faster or slower.

9. Fear birth and believe that birth is fraught with danger

If I had a nickel for every time I heard “if I had had a homebirth, my baby would have died” or “the doctors saved my babies life” with no real evidence to support or even evidence to support the doctors putting you in danger in the first place, I would be a rich… well I would have a few dollars.

My aunt tells the horror story about my cousin having the cord around her neck. Not a really big deal in most cases as baby is not breathing from his mouth. My mother-in-law talks about her “dry birth” experience with terror 40+ years later. But the people that had a good birth are usual not the ones sharing the stories, unfortunately. So all you really have is a collection of bad birth stories.

You go into birth with a fear list a mile long from “what happens if I poop on myself” to “what if baby is in trouble and I am at home”. You may even choose a homebirth, but these fears rest in your mind ready to undermine your good birth. And they do. Fears creep in when you are most vulnerable (labor) and kick in with a fury.

You need to deal with these fears now. First, admit you have these fears to someone else. Your partner, a supportive friend, your loving provider. Then start filling your mind with positive stories, videos, books and even consider joining a group of like-minded women, whether it be a childbirth class or a natural birth group like Austin Home Birth (even if you are delivering in a birth center or hospital). Put your mind at ease and let go of the fears that may be holding your good birth back.

10. Trust more in others than yourself

This one goes hand and hand with not being informed. I did this with my first birth, too. I hired a midwife, done. I don’t need to do another thing. She will take care of the rest. No birth class, no reading (except for the fun stuff). Really, the only thing I thought of was decorating the nursery.

You have to be responsible for your own birth. You cannot blame ignorance on anyone else but yourself. Now, I am not saying that you are in 100% control and nothing bad can happen if you are just prepared. That is foolishness to think that you have control of it all, but I don’t blame my first midwife for her intervention. I don’t really even blame myself. But I do take responsibility.

It was a real lesson that primed me for motherhood. You cannot trust other people to make the right decision for you. Sure, take what they say into consideration, but then make your own informed decision.

Gather the information. Research your choices and yes, choice a provider that you are in sync with, because there is a place where you cannot know everything and you need someone to trust, but also trust yourself, and your intuition. Give yourself credit; you know more than you think.

Bonus: Be full of yourself

So I had to add this one to the list. Don’t fall into the “elite” attitude that I see so prevalent in the natural birth world. I used to be one of those people who knew it all… well, until I gave birth, that is.

I “knew” if you had a C-section, it was your fault. I “knew” if you had a homebirth you were making the “right” decision. I told everyone I knew about why their birth went wrong or how to have a good birth. I knew it all!

I gave birth via C-section with my first child after “knowing it all”. I was humbled very quickly. I apologized to the people I judged and hurt. I learned a lot from that experience and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. (btw, that is me looking so “lovely” and heavily drugged after my C-section with my first son in the picture above).

But take a lesson from my book. Being humble now is way better than being humbled.

This list includes just some of the things that I have learned that can undermine what you truly desire for your birth. My prayer is that everyone has a good birth experience, whether home, hospital, birth center, drug-free, pain management or C-section.

The Birth Story of Aubri – Guest Post by Dani Lin

dani's birth story

It was July 5th and I was 41 weeks and 2 days pregnant. I headed to my second acupuncture session and Phyllis, the acupuncturist, said I should head out after the session and grab some Italian food to eat. I had read an old wives tale about Eggplant Parmesan stimulating labor and I love Italian food so this was fine by me. Plus my mom, Jan, suggested going out for dinner since it was going to be a while before we could do that once baby was here. Oh how right she was, though I didn’t know it at the time!

We went to Maggianos, one of my favorite Italian restaurants and saw my cousin Midge. I ordered the Eggplant Parmesan and it was delicious! While at the restaurant a lady saw me and told me I was a beautiful pregnant lady and that made me feel good because I did not feel very beautiful at that moment! We went home and I insisted on watching the movie “The Greater Good,” and afterward at about 11pm, I said I was going to bed.

In these last few weeks, I had been very careful of getting enough sleep since I didn’t know when she might arrive. I changed into my favorite nightgown. Mind you, before and after being pregnant, I hate nightgowns, but wore one during pregnancy. Then after brushing my teeth, I went to the bathroom. I finished peeing but suddenly there was another gush of water that plunged into the toilet that I knew wasn’t urine.

It was my water breaking!

I text Salli, one of the midwives, and she said, “Go to bed!” Then I went out and told Pat, my husband, and my mom. We then all went to bed immediately. We all wanted to be ready for what would lie ahead!

At about 1:30 am I woke up with a contraction. It lasted about two minutes. That’s when I remembered there was an app for timing contractions so I downloaded it. About 20 or so minutes later I had another contraction. They were definitely more intense than the Braxton hicks I had been having for weeks. I decided to practice breathing through them like I learned in my childbirth class with Natalie.

On the third one, Pat woke up and asked what I was doing. I told him I was breathing through the contraction. He said he needed to be rested so he would have the energy to help me later, so he went upstairs to the other guest room and left me to labor on my own. This was okay because when it came down to it, it really was just me and my baby, especially in those moments.

I dozed between contractions, knowing I needed all the rest I could get. At 5 am, the contractions were about 5 minutes apart, lasting 2-3 minutes and this had been going on for an hour. All this meant I was now officially in labor.

I text Salli and called the doula, Ruth. The commotion woke up Pat and my mom. It was go time! Salli said she was coming over and Ruth said she was waiting for her baby sitter and as soon as she got there, she’d be on her way. Ruth also told me my contractions shouldn’t be lasting 2-3 minutes until it was time to push so I should take a warm bath to decrease the intensity. At this point the contractions hurt but I could talk through and even during them.

I got in the warm bathtub and my contractions immediately eased to 30 seconds. Thank you Ruth!

I thought it was great and I said to myself “I got this!”

My mom thought I should eat so I would have strength so she made me a breakfast scramble, which I love. After eating it I immediately felt a little nauseous but choked down about half, knowing I needed fuel for the task at hand.

The contractions started to get more and more intense. I went to the bathroom again and I heard another gush. This time it was my mucus plug. I wanted to leave it to show Salli but accidentally flushed it down the toilet out of habit, and the fact that my brain had a few other thoughts going through it.  I got back in the tub looking for some comfort or relief from the intensity.

Salli arrived as I was giving up on the bathtub. I asked Pat to get the thumper. It’s a big heavy chiropractic tool that vibrates and looks like a sander. My cousin who’s also married to a chiropractor and had 3 natural labors said it was amazing, but I would say it was just okay.

It was difficult to talk through my contractions now. I would get down on my knees and Pat would use the thumper on my lower back. It helped but the contractions were still pretty painful. Ruth kept calling to update me on trying to get ahold of her sitter. The intensity was increasing so quickly that when she said she’d be there at 8:30, I thought “do I even need her then?” But I said “Yes, just come as soon as you can and I’ll be okay until then.”

About this time, I got very nauseous and threw up my breakfast.

Salli said “That’s a good sign” and smiled.

Mom and Pat had filled up the birth tub and Salli suggested getting in since the thumper, hip circles, and other things I was trying were not helping the very intense contractions. Salli had also suggested squatting. Before I was in labor I thought, I’d love squatting during labor. I even had looked into squatting bars and stools. While I was in labor that sounded like the most horrible and painful idea, so, obviously, I didn’t do that.

Into the birth tub I went. It was sometime between 8-8:30am at this point. The warm water felt good but barely dimmed the intensity of the contractions. Ruth arrived and immediately got out a bottle of olive oil and started massaging my arm. It felt good and my mom massaged my other arm. I started to feel hot so Pat got a hand held fan with a spray bottle. He fanned my face but I hated it, though I loved that he was trying to make me comfortable. I politely asked him to please not do that so he then ran and got a cloth with cool water to put around my neck and a cool wash cloth for my forehead and that I really did like.

The next few hours were a blur…

…of either being in the tub, standing to lean on Pat or sitting on the toilet with my feet propped up on some old high school yearbooks. Pat was so strong and during some of the most intense contractions, my legs would go completely weak and I’d put all of what felt like my enormous weight onto his shoulders. With my arms around his neck I’m sure it didn’t feel good to him, but he never complained or asked me to stop.

I would let out long low moans during contractions. Supposedly it helps relax the cervix and vaginal muscles and decrease pain. I can’t tell you if it worked or not but mentally it felt good to be doing something to help the pain.

Soon, I got very nauseous again and asked Pat to get me a bucket. I had been drinking coconut water for electrolytes. He ran over with the bucket and I managed to get most of it in but some splattered on the wall and my antique wooden scale. I didn’t care a bit. After that I switched to regular water.

I kept reminding myself that this was one day in my whole life. I also thought,

“I can’t believe people do this more than once”!

I told Pat this was it; only one baby because I did not want to do this again.

My other midwife, Heather suggested walking outside. I said okay but only because I wanted to privately ask Pat to remind me of why epidurals are so bad and say I no longer hold any judgment to the moms who choose them. He told me, “No, you don’t want that. You got this.” I answered, “I know I do, besides it’s not like we have one in the fridge. It wasn’t so bad that I don’t think I can do it, but man, it would be so easy with an epidural.”  Good thing for me is once I have a plan, I stick to it. This would be it.  I never give up.  As another contraction hit, I ran into the house. I didn’t want the neighborhood hearing me in all my glory.

Back into the tub I went. Heather, herself in the third trimester of pregnancy, napped on the couch between knitting sessions. My dog Jade came to lick my hands and check on me. She paced around the midwives as if to find out how I was. She had been quite the companion all through my pregnancy.

I was so tired. Not like, physically just did a workout tired, but like I stayed up all night, can’t escape it tired. I kept saying I wished I could push a pause button take a nap and then finish. I felt like I could really handle it well that way. Obviously that wasn’t an option. Salli told me it was the hormones. I had heard birth stories of so many women who slept between contractions then woke up and pushed then went back to sleep. I never understood how that was possible before. I get it now.

After holding out as long as I could, I asked Salli to check me. I think it was around noon. I remember her reaching and reaching. I thought how can she still be that far up after all this work? I silently prayed “please be at least 6-7cm.” Salli emerged and announced, “9 and a half.” I don’t remember if I said it out loud, but I thought, “Oh thank God!” After about 20 minutes Salli said it was time to push.

I was so excited to push!

From my research on birth and labor, I expected a few pushes and then, yay baby! Not exactly how it went. I started pushing in the tub. It felt futile. This was going nowhere. We tried the toilet with my feet up again. I was facing backwards so Pat could rub my back. I pushed so hard I poopped. Poor Pat was right there to smell it. I also felt like this wasn’t working. I could hear my mom say she must have been really good at pushing. That really annoyed me. I asked Salli to close the door so I didn’t have to listen.

Salli suggested squatting but I just couldn’t. Besides the fact that my legs turned into “jello” with every contraction, it was too painful. I said I was so tired and asked to lie down. Salli recommended getting on my hands and knees on the bed. I did, reluctantly, but it actually felt really good. Between contractions I would ease into a child’s pose to rest. After a few pushes Salli could tell this wasn’t an effective position. I wanted to stay because it felt so good.

Salli could feel babies head was tipped. She suggested lying on my left side and holding my right leg in the air. I again reluctantly agreed. I did not want to put my legs together as it just felt too painful. My mom and Ruth held my right leg in the air while Pat helped keep my left leg bent and then I pushed and pushed. It was going well until baby hit my pubis bone and got stuck.

I continued pushing and pushing but got nowhere. Salli suggested Pat adjust my hips to help baby move around my pubic bone. I knew that meant my legs would need to be very close together, but even though I did not want to get adjusted, I said okay. Pat and my mom put the adjusting table right next to the bed. As soon as a contraction ended I rolled onto the table. He adjusted my hips but wanted to check the rest of my back. I told him “no way!” and scrambled back to the bed as another contraction hit.

More pushing. Her head would come down then back up, still stuck on that bone. I’d been pushing for about 2 hours and was not getting anywhere. I glanced nervously at the midwives to try to read their expressions. Nothing! I couldn’t tell what they were thinking. I really didn’t want to go to the hospital but I wasn’t sure how long they would let me go on. I remembered reading on the Spinning Babies to prop up the pelvis at the level of the trochanter to help an acynclitic head move under the pubis so I decided to tell the midwives and they wanted to try it. We propped me up and started pushing. It worked! Little by little down she moved. She was still going back in a bit but at least we were finally making progress.

They kept telling me to push like I was pooping. I did that and pooped a little with every push. Poor Randi, the student midwife, ran out of gauze wiping it. Eventually, I got the hang of it and started pushing with all my might. When I was pushing, I was so focused I didn’t feel the pain of the contraction. I was pushing so hard and so long the midwives started telling me

“Stop pushing the contraction is over.”

Finally I got to the ring of fire when she started to crown and it hurt so badly. I wanted to just push right through but Heather reminded me to pause and allow the skin to stretch so I wouldn’t tear. The next contraction I pushed so hard she came right out! Head and shoulders! Salli looked at us and said we could pick her up. I reached down so fast! I’d visualized catching her for months and after all that hard work, I wanted to be the first to pick her up. Pat and I ended up doing it together. I put my hand under her left arm and he under her right.

As we lifted her up I checked that she indeed was a girl.

We brought her to my chest and I was just staring at her beautiful face! I announced, “She’s so cute!” I had been so curious about what she’d look like and hopeful she’d at least have some resemblance to me. And she did. We looked a lot alike as babies. She had a cute big round head though and I loved it! She nursed right away and basically all night.

Dani's Birth Story

Pat ordered pizza for everyone. Everyone was bringing things to me and I just wanted to get up and move around! I was so tired of being stuck in the bed in labor. The midwives were impressed with how easy I could move around and wanted to. I actually really felt great! They made up an herbal bath for both baby and I. She was so calm you could tell she loved it. Coincidentally, she hated all baths after that until she was 9 months old!

When everyone left and my mom and Pat went to bed, it was just her and I. I kind of felt like, “You’re just going to leave me to do this by myself?” I couldn’t stop taking pictures of her. She didn’t want to sleep but wanted to eat all night long. I don’t think I really slept until about 8:00am! The next day my eyes were swollen from pushing so hard and I felt like I went through the windshield of a car and I was so happy all our relatives lived far away and we could just be alone to look like crap and sleep! My mom helped me get rest while Pat had to head off to work.

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Dani was a one of my first clients. Her and husband, Pat, own and operate Symmetry Heath Chiropractic Center in Cedar Park. She graciously agreed to also be my first birth story from previous clients to post on my site. I hope to have more stories from past clients in the future.

Is Motherhood The Goal? Reflections on pregnancy-related loss

pregnancy-related loss

In case you haven’t read anything from me before, I am a happy mother of four. I even want more and pray that the Lord’s will for me is to have more. But once upon a time I was far from this place. I was married like many, not wanting to start a family right away. I used the birth control pill for years with no though of what it could be doing to my body and conceiving a baby was far from my thoughts. For a while. Then, after discussions with my husband, we decided it was time. So, naively, I excepted I would just end up pregnant without knowing what I was doing, understanding my body and be pregnant before I could count to 3. Years later and one miscarriage to grieve, I was no closer to pregnancy.

My experience with pregnancy-related loss ran the gambit of emotions from disbelief, to anger, and finally to acceptance. Getting there was no easy task and it took a lot of soul breaking along the way. But I wouldn’t change it for the world. God knew what I needed and when I needed it. He opens and closes the womb. Bring life and even death (Psalms 139:16). It was a humbling experience.

Since then I have been blessed to see life in my home. But I have seen others that are going down the same road I traveled and want to encourage my sisters that this time, too, has a purpose.

Pregnancy-related loss can be defined as many things, but specifically I am talking today about infertility, miscarriage and stillbirth. This loss leaves a woman wounded with no physical solace for the pain; no baby to be salve for the wounds. What can we do when we are at this troubling place? Are we still mothers? Will we ever be mothers?

During my years of infertility I sought God daily for answers. I prayed for a baby. I cried for a baby. And then I cried for the baby I lost. Then I waited still. I cannot tell you that it was easy. During a particularly hard time I cried in my bath tub nightly. I wanted to be a mother so badly. So badly.

I was leading a bible study in my apartment community where my husband and I served and during these studies, where I delved deep, deep into the Word to create the study for the ladies in my community, I was moved into acceptance. Not a pitiful acceptance that sounded more like resignation, but joyful acceptance. Acceptance that Jesus was enough. And if I never had a baby, never carried a child in my womb, never had a beautiful home birth, that He was still enough.

God showed me that Motherhood does not define me; Jesus does.

There was still a regular dying to my flesh that was needed to stay joyfully in this place, but I finally found peace. Not bitterness at ever newly pregnant friend or relative. No more crying at every movie with a pregnant woman and impending birth. I was no longer just waiting for motherhood to start living.

The Lord taught me to rest in His will, seek His glory, and start being defined ONLY by Him.

I recently had a friend and client loose a baby at 41 weeks gestation. It was devastating for her and her family. It was heartbreaking for those around her, like myself, who stood with her, joyfully awaiting her child. But I have seen such a beautiful phoenix rise from the ashes of her pregnancy-related loss, her grief. Joy, yes, joy in Jesus and He who has her, her family, and her precious baby in His arms. She does not blame others. She is not bitter. While she is still hurting and will carry the memory for her precious baby she felt kicking around inside her belly for 9 month forever, she knows God is sovereign. He still deserves glory.

For “the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away. Blessed by the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21 ESV)

Now even after 4 health pregnancies and 4 healthy babies growing into young men and women, I reflect on how motherhood does not define me. I am not a mother, a wife, a childbirth educator, a homeschooler. I am defined by Christ. I am a Christ follower. That is who I am.

How has Jesus been shaping your walk thought infertility, miscarriage or stillbirth?

Why I don’t teach natural childbirth anymore

childbirthNatural childbirth has failed me. Twice! I wanted it so badly too. I read all the right books, met all the right people (well, mostly), but it still failed me. Two home births planned and two home births failed. That is when I decided to give up on the whole natural childbirth movement.

Now before you think I just threw in the towel on natural childbirth and opted for an epidural for my third labor, hear me out.

It all started with my first pregnancy, well actually before my first. I watched it on Netflix. The start of my desire for a natural childbirth. You know it, we all know it: “The Business of Being Born”. Wow! This film rocked my world. A mere year before I had mocked a friend who had a home water birth and was already planning my epidural. Now I wanted to know who would be attending my home birth to the baby I hadn’t even conceived.

I didn’t have to wait long, though. Within a couple of months I was finally (after 2 years and a miscarriage) pregnant. Through a recommendation I picked a midwife and started planning. Well, sort of. I read and watched every natural birth story I could get my hands on. I mocked every non-natural labor as either not trying hard enough or just stupidity (I’m serious). I remember commenting on an acquaintances C-section as “her fault”. I was lovely, let me tell you.

Finally my labor day arrived, two weeks late, but no inductions for me. I was going to trust my body and my midwife to do the rest. It might have been a good idea to read or watch anything on how labor was going to be or what to do and not to do.

Labor itself was fine, but despite my intuition, I chose a provider that did not share my beliefs which caused friction at my birth leading to a 9 cm transfer and a C-section. Not the plan. Okay… maybe it wasn’t that girl’s fault she had a C-section.

Despite this unthinkable outcome, the Lord used the whole event to teach me humility (me, in need of humbling?)

–Read my guest post on Super Rad Christian Writer Chick about my pride here

Take two. Two years later, same verse, similar to the first. With more studying, a much better midwife, and a more humble stance, labor started. Labor was more difficult by far, fear was in the air (for me), and at 8 cm I decided to transfer to the hospital for an epidural. I made a very graceful exit from my home (half naked holding a chux between my legs while my midwife, doula, sister and husband tried to keep up) and an even more graceful entrance to the hospital (begging the nurse for drugs). Despite myself, the doctor walked in, checked me, and declared it was time to push (without the “juice”). Praise the Lord! Health baby boy # 2 was before vaginal and naturally. (Read the whole story here)

Despite the dramatic location change, the Lord taught me acceptance.

Now, during this time, I was actually studying a two year program to become a childbirth educator. I wanted to share my knowledge without the elitist shacklings that so easily follows the natural birth community. I still believed in natural childbirth with my whole heart and wanted to share it with those who cared to listen.

Fast forward 14 months later and I am pregnant with baby boy 3. I was given a gift from my previous midwife (whom I love and was supportive in my craziness of birth 2). She offered me a redo, which my husband was not because he was tired of paying for two births a child (home birth and hospital). I thoughtfully accepted and prepared yet again for a home birth.

Wait wait wait! Isn’t the definition on insanity doing the same thing over and over expecting different results?

As a Christian (for over 10 years at this point) I had really never given much thought to God in preparing for childbirth. I mean a prayer here and there, but not really to do anything more than grant MY wishes.

I finished my childbirth education certification and taught my first humble class (a mere three couple who all have a special place in my heart). But something was not right. The thing missing in my class was the same thing missing in my preparations.

Here I was at a crossroads. Do I really trust God to do the best for me? In this area of so much importance to me, can I lay it all down on Him?

Yes! I do. Yes! He can.

So I stopped. I stopped preparing and searching for the method to guarantee me a perfect natural childbirth (trust me; there are a lot out there).

I started to pray. Thanking and praising God for who he is and for gifting me another blessing (really the whole point of this pregnancy and childbirth thing anyway). I was not praying for a pain free natural home birth anymore. I just wanted to see God glorified. He knew how that was going to happen. He didn’t need my directions.

With only a few simply preparations, I let the matter go to God and just enjoyed my pregnancy.

When labor day # 3 arrived, it arrived in the exact same fashion the first two had (they call it labor for a reason).  But this time I had a sound mind. I prayed and called out to the Lord to help me. To stand with me. To carry me. To do it for me. And He did. (Read the whole story here)

Labor wasn’t less painful, or shorter, but it was peaceful. I was with my God and He was with me. I pushed my healthy baby boy out at home and sang my praises to the Lord.

The question might come to mind, “would you still have given God praise if it hadn’t gone that way.” The answer is yes, and I already have. God used each pregnancy and delivery to teach me a lesson. Some had to be learned the hard way (no, not God’s doing, but he can still use our failings), and some the long way. I praise God for my C-section, my crazy VBAC transfer and my homebirth (followed by a 2 day NICU stay) because He is good. Not because things always go my way, but because all things can be used to glorify Him (for those who love Him and are called according to His will). He was all the satisfaction I needed. The natural childbirth was just a perk.

Yes, I am still teaching childbirth classes. I still believe in knowledge and preparation. But that is only secondary to knowing and loving God. That is why I designed my classes to encourage couples to focus on developing a deeper trusting and loving relationship with God. Not as an “I win” button to be pulled out at birth, but by knowing that when God is glorified, you are doing exactly what He had planned.

Want to seek the Lord more than natural childbirth? Sign up for my next 6 weeks course and prepare to glorify Him together with me and other couples. Learn more about my 6 weeks series here.

Converting to Natural Birth

I find myself continuously shocked when I talk to people about birth and I still hear that they don’t know or don’t care about what their birth will be like. When a woman talks about how horrible she fears it will be and why she is just “trusting her doctor” to make the right decisions for her.

When the only book she has ever read about pregnancy and birth is “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”.

The reason I find myself stunned each time this occurs is simple. I am surrounded by people who think the same way as me. My friends in my church community mostly all have home births and my other friends are all in the natural birthing community. We can sit and talk about natural birth with such ease as is always true when you are “preaching to the choir”. You all nod your heads in unison at the atrocities taking place in the, uh, obstetric world.

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So when I am face to face with a woman who doesn’t feel the same way about birth as I do, what should I do?

This is the same question I ask myself when facing anyone with a profoundly different belief than mine. Whether is be birth, homeschooling, religion, child rearing, etc.

My first instinct is the educate the poor soul. Help her know the evils of the dark side of birth and flee from the traps of her OB.

Let me just tell you, this doesn’t work. Not on birth and not for any other topic. What I have learned through my experiences, my education as a birth instructor, and unfortunately, just time, is that you are more likely to get someone to listen to you about your beliefs if you listen to hers first.

Sometime this is easy. Maybe she has never thought about it and is eager to learn from you. Often times it can prove difficult and take time. Her beliefs may be so deeply ingrained that you have to peel away layer by layer to ever start laying a new foundation.

But what I believe is the more important aspect of the process is care!

You have to truly care about the person you are talking and listening to. You cannot just want another convert into the natural birth community. You have to think about her and what she really needs. It may be that at the end of it all what she really needs is to do things her way. This might not be her thing. It might not be the battle she chooses to fight. And I have to be okay with that.

I have to remember that she is not me. My choices are just that, mine. Hers and her. We are responsibly for our actions only. I have to answer for my own decisions to myself and she to herself.

I have made many of the mistake of convincing someone to make the choice I would make if it was up to me, not really caring about what they wanted. I end of feeling ashamed when I discover that I have wronged that person in my “help”.

We do need change in the birthing community, but it’s not going to happen by preaching. I will happen when we care enough to listen and love.

4 Ways to Acheive a Less Painful Labor

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As a childbirth education I read a lot of different opinions about labor pain. I am not talking about contractions, the tightening and loosening of the uterus, but actual pain associated with them.

Some sources say that labor pain is natural and necessary to have a baby. Other sources say that labor pain can be avoided if you prepare your mind and body properly. Another sources claims you can pray away any labor pain.

While I have watch and read many testimonies from birthing woman that attest to the truth of certain claims, I have also watch and read many testimonies saying that it was not as excepted or expressed in a book or class they took.

What I have gained from all my studies, is that all the most popular childbirth education methods have a few things in common to achieve less “pain” or in some cases, a “pain” free labor and delivery. I can also pick out a few things from stories and videos of why some woman did not get what they expected.

4. Positioning is key

If your baby is in the correct position at birth, you will have a much quicker and less painful birth. This is not due to chance, though. Understanding key positioning methods is critical before labor even starts. Almost all natural childbirth methods and books talk about correct fetal positioning and exercises to achieve them.

I have read birth story after birth story about this or that method not working and subsequently having a long and painful labor. At some point in the story, it is discovered that the baby was posterior or in another less desirable position.

An labor with a baby in a less than optimal position can change a normal labor into a long and arduous process.

3. Preparation is necessary

Another thing most methods have in common is the preparation stage. You cannot just read the book or attend the class and think you are ready for labor day. You may think you have got the methods down pat, but when in the throws of the intensity of labor, they go right out the window.

Whatever the method is, practice, practice, practice!

That means that at least 4 weeks (the more the better) before your EDD, you should be spending 30 minutes at least 5 days a week preparing your mind and body for labor. This is a stage that cannot be taken lightly.

Again, reading many of the stories that end with a less desirable labor, the writer will admit that she did not do as much preparation as was suggested.

2. Support is essential

When preparing for an easy labor, it is not enough to prepare yourself. You need support to keep you on track or to help you get back on track when you have derailed.

This can be your husband, it he is committed to learning to necessary support techniques, or you can hire a doula (which I highly recommend) that has experience with the method of childbirth that you are working towards.

There are going to be times in labor that thinks change dramatically, and in those times you might find yourself struggling to stay with the program, or loosing it all together. It is critical to have someone who knows what to do or say to you to get you back into the zone.

1. Turning inward (or upward) is critical

Method after method share the same major tool. Inwardness!

This means leaving the thinking side of yourself and going into a deeper side where you can be focused and unfocused all at the same time.

You have to be intentional about staying in that zone, but that zone exists with no major thinking or hearing. You are only slightly aware of what is going on around you, but it is not the primary thing your brain in processing. Instead you are focusing on breathing, relaxing and even praying. You will find yourself in a state of unconscious consciousness (like you’re driving but not paying attention and find yourself at your destination without making any conscious decisions about driving).

While there are many other aspects that contribute to an easier labor like staying health and active during pregnancy, working through fears or past traumas, and believing in your bodies ability to give birth naturally, these 4 tools are key to achieving a more pleasurable birth experience.

Be aware, that I also believe that you can prepare yourself to the nth degree, do everything “right” and birth still throws you a curve ball that ends the game in an unexpected outcome.

Trust me, I have been there done that. I planned my first birth at home with an experiences midwife and still ended with an unnecessary C-section. But my belief about life is that everything is an opportunity for grow and 3 years later I would never want my first birth to be different as it has made me the person I am today.

Remember this…Labor is work. Labor is hard work, at that. More than anything, labor is natural and normal. Your body already knows how to give birth, but preparing our bodies physical and our minds mentally is a great component to an easier birth.

 

Win a spot in our February 8 week childbirth class

Enter to Win

Win a spot in Open Arms Childbirth Educations February 2014 8 week childbirth class (a $240 value).

All I need from you is to:

  • Like my facebook page

  • Comment below telling me why childbirth education is important to you.

The class is open to anyone, whether you are first time parents, already had a baby, or a pre-pregnant couples.

1 wins will be announced on January 30th.

Find out more about what are classes are about here.

The prize is non-transferable.

Next Class Start in February

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The BirthWorks® Childbirth Preparation Class has been designed to instill confidence and trust in your ability to give birth, and help you to prepare both physically and emotionally for your birth experience.

You Will Learn About:

  • Understanding and working with the contractions in labor
  • Making informed choices about medical interventions
  • Using relaxation to manage labor discomfort
  • Labor companionship and comfort measures
  • How our beliefs and attitudes affect our experience of birth
  • Healing past emotional trauma to facilitate normal birth
  • Option for your birth and birth planning
  • Breastfeeding
  • Primal Health, Nutrition, and Exercise
  • Mother-Baby Skin-to-Skin contact
  • And more…

Birthworks® is for:

Anyone preparing for birth, new parents, and those with previous vaginal or cesarean birth experiences. All learn together, support and share with each other in the same class settings. Birthworks® can be taken anytime during pregnancy.

The Classes are taught by:

Natalie Amparan, mother of 2 children with one on the way, and a certified Birthworks® educator. She has experiences both a Cesarean birth and a natural VBAC birth. With her experiences, she desires for woman to become educated about their choices in birth, empowering them to make their own choices about what is right for them. Her classes are taught with love and no judgment about where, when and how a woman chooses to give birth.

Classes meet:

For 8 weeks in Georgetown, Texas at Central Texas Birth Center. Contact Natalie for more information on the upcoming series at 512-909-1561 or visit us at www.openarmschildbirtheducation.com .

Next class starts on February 6th at 7pm!

OBGYN North – In Hospital Option That Won’t Leave You Without Any Options

OBGYN North

As part of my childbirth education training I am required to interview hospitals, birth centers, homebirth midwives, and OBGYNs that could be a possible place to recommend to my future students. So far, I have visited Austin Area Birth Center, Central Texas Birth Center, Cedar Park Medical Center, North Austin Medical Center, and OBGYN North.

The two birthing centers are clear choices if you want to go natural without any intervention. The midwives there are dedicated, caring, and good at what they do.

But what if you want to or need to have your baby in a hospital so you can have access to technology or pain relief.

Many hospitals in the area are pushing, cold, and firm when it comes to their strict rules. You must, for instance, at Cedar Park Medical Center, be connected to electronic fetal monitoring at all time, have an IV, are not allowed to eat or drink. The doctors that serve there have typical high C-section rates and induce and augment regularly.

On the other hand, OBGYN North, serving at North Austin Medical Center is a doctor/midwife practice that encourages woman to move around during labor, uses intermittent fetal monitoring, allows eating and drinking, showering, and practices delayed cord clamping.

Plus, with a low 11% C-section rate, is a great option for in hospital births.

OBGYN North also allow post dating to 42 weeks and laboring longer than most standard practices. Of course, with any pregnancy, things can change and what is believed to be best for mother and baby will always take priority, but with such a supportive staff and environment, you chances of having a natural birth at OBGYN North are much higher.

OBGYN North also just recently opened a birthing center right next door to the main practice where you can birth in the water and has all the regular amenities of a traditional free standing birth center just right across the street from North Austin Medical Center. They also now offer Nitrous Oxide to help get laboring women through those difficult times, if necessary.

I used to believe that the only way to give birth naturally was at home or in a free standing birth center.

I am now persuaded that OBGYN North is a great alternative for those wishing to birth their babies in the hospital.

Judgment?

 

 

 

 

There is a Bible verse that says “haste makes mistakes”. Judgment falls into this. When we judge, we make the assumption that we are or will do things differently.

In childbirth and parenting we usually judge before actually having first hands experience. We watch “A Baby Story” and say to ourselves “that will never be me”. I will never be the woman screaming in pain. I will never be the lady that births in a pool. I’ll never have C-Section, or an epidural. I will do it natural; I will be in control.

In parenting, we do the same thing. We have goods intentions by planning and believing, but often times our beliefs turn into ammunition for judging someone else’s.

It is only after we have had our butts tossed off our high horse that we find humility.

To clarify, I am not saying to not have standards or make provisions. Do! Just be sure that yours don’t become a weapon.  I personally have learned this lesson the hard way. I now have learned and choose to not live in the world of “elite” thinking. I now live in the world of knowledge with chose.

My goal as a soon to be childbirth educator will be just that. Give people the knowledge but then give them the freedom from judgment to chose. Chose for themselves what is best or what just makes them more comfortable.

Losing the judgment allows for you and others to make mistakes with out being shamed in the process.