Monday, January 27, 2014

No Blog Post This Week For a REALLY Good Reason

Like that title?  I know, I know, technically this is a blog post, but not really. The famous Sarah Clark (who you know as Mama Birth) is coming back to Texas to record a new round of Birth Boot Camp online classes with me! This is childbirth education like you've never seen it before - trust me!  We both really love our jobs!

Birth Boot Camp has so many exciting updates this year including -- but not limited to -- a new Instructor Manual, the 6th edition of the Birth Boot Camp workbook (it's about perfect now!), and updated online classes. There are actually more exciting things happening at Birth Boot Camp Headquarters (besides my birthday this week), but I'll keep you in suspense for just a little longer.

If you are interested in taking a LIVE CLASS, click here to find a natural birth instructor near you. If you would like to come train as an instructor, we'd love to have you!  We will be in Indianapolis in June and Orlando in October.  Our 2015 workshops will be announced in February.  Fill out the application today!

Be a part of changing birth in your own communities by teaching Birth Boot Camp classes - helping families have AMAZING births - one couple at a time.

Monday, January 20, 2014

8 Things I Learned From My First Unmedicated Birth

Today (January 19) is the 15th anniversary of my first unmedicated birth, the day that changed my life in so many ways.  In addition to welcoming my first daughter, I learned several things about myself and others:


1.  I had been sold a bunch of lies by the media.  Labor does not (necessarily) start by water breaking.  I didn't yell at David for "doing this to me."  The first contraction did not have me doubled over in pain.  And the baby didn't start coming out soon after labor started.  While it was a fast labor (5 hours), it wasn't as fast as it is in the movies!

2. I am strong!  I did it!  I wanted to shout it from the rooftops.  I did it!  I gave birth without drugs!  No one thought I could do it and I DID IT!

3.  When I set my mind to something, I can do it.  My midwife with Baby #3 told me that birth is 90% in your head and 10% what happens to you.  I've thought about that a lot over the years.  Not discounting that crazy stuff can happen in labor/birth, but generally, I think that is a very fair statement.  It's important to prepare your body for labor, but it's equally important -- and maybe even more important -- to prepare your mind and your spirit.

Juice fasts have reminded me of this principle.  I am strong and if I put my mind to something, I can accomplish anything. I refuse to be my own worst enemy.

4.  I will not allow others to be my enemy either.  Block out the naysayers!  Surrounding yourself with positive people is always a good thing no matter the situation!

5.  Preparation and education pay off. Take a comprehensive birth class and learn all that you can. David and I attended class each week and practiced relaxation on a regular basis.  It was priceless.
I had confidence, not only in myself, but also in him.

6.  Birth should be recorded in one fashion or another.  Even if you give birth several times, it's only so many hours or days in your life.  You don't have to share it with anyone, but it's nice to be able to revisit every now and then.

7.  If you are in the hospital, take someone with you that will stay with you if they take the baby to the nursery to weigh, bathe, etc.  It will make you crazy if you have to stay in a room by yourself when all you want to talk about is what you just did!

8.  Take food with you because you'll likely be starving after the birth, but bringing you food will not be high on their priority list.


I would have never thought that having a drug-free birth would be so important in my life at the time.  It was the hardest, and yet neatest, experience of my life.  I am a childbirth educator because education is what made the difference for me.  I love my job.  Not only do I want couples to have this AMAZING experience, I also want women to have the opportunity to do what I do by teaching childbirth classes in their communities.

Happy birthday, sweet Vena!  Your birthday will always be extra special to you and me!

Monday, January 13, 2014

"Cesarean birth? That won't happen to me!"

When I was pregnant with each of my babies I never read anything about cesareans.  It was intentional.  I deliberately skipped over those chapters in whatever book I was reading.  I've thought about that a lot over the years and have mixed feelings about my "ignorance is bliss" attitude.

I am fortunate - I never had a cesarean.  I narrowly escaped one with my first baby.  I've had couples in class who haven't been so lucky, however.  With every passing year the c-section rate grows in the United States.  Despite doing everything "right", some women will still have a cesarean.

The question I pose is this:  does reading about and seeing cesarean videos help or hinder when you are planning a natural birth?  I honestly don't know.  When someone has an unplanned/unwanted cesarean, they will always say they wish they had more information beforehand, even when they actually had a fair amount.  I have to ask, does the brain shut out the majority of the information to protect our hopes and dreams?

We watched a cesarean video in Birth Boot Camp class the other night and the reactions were so varied.  It's a very graphic video from the initial cut to the stitching of the uterus.  The baby is aggressively suctioned and that is pretty upsetting to most people.  Some people thought the c-section itself was quite upsetting and others were expecting much worse.  It was an interesting conversation that followed.

Maybe it goes back to not only perception, but also expectation.  Let's face it, some people are terrified of abdominal surgery and others aren't fazed by it.  The approach we've taken in the Birth Boot Camp curriculum is to load it with information on cesarean, including recovery, as well as VBACs and spend most of the time talking about all the things you can do in labor to avoid a cesarean.  While we don't go over it all in class, the information is in the workbook to read at home -- before or after the birth.  We leave it up to the couples to decide what is right for them.  Some just don't want that information getting into their brain!

What did you do when you were pregnant?  Did you study cesarean birth or shy away from it?

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Debate - Toddlers or Teenagers - Which is Better?

This week I had a moment -- a really great moment with one of my teenagers.  We were totally laughing about the same thing standing in the kitchen.  It was a moment when I thought "I really like you.  I like being with you just because you are you. You are so fun to be around!"

On the same day I had another great conversation with my son, also in the kitchen.  (Fact:  all great conversations take place in either in the kitchen or the car.) It was more serious in nature, but I felt it was honest and good.  I feel him maturing and able to talk without being defensive or emotional.  It was downright pleasant.


I reflected on a post I wrote a while back about missing having toddlers and encouraging moms to treasure the time when your kids are little.  If you don't remember the post (it was the one with the Trace Aktins videos), you can find it here.  I must have been writing that when I was having a difficult time with my teenager(s).

I don't know about you but I really hate feeling nostalgic.  Knowing you won't get time back is awful.

Sarah's post at Mothering Magazine this week is on a similar topic -- kids growing up and how we identify ourselves as women once we aren't breastfeeding or having homebirths anymore.  Babies become toddlers who become children who become "tweens" who become teenagers who become adults.  Each phase is so unique and full of challenges but also happiness.

My point to this post?  An apology to all the moms of young children!  As much as I miss those days on occasion, I wouldn't go back if you paid me a million dollars.  Well, maybe a million... But it was HARD!

I love my kids being bigger.  They are independent and generally pretty fun to be around.  Yes, we still have days that are HARD, but it's in such a different way.  I worry about them and the choices they are out there making.  I hope we've taught them well.  I hope they are strong and confident and full of self-esteem.

To those of you still in the trenches of toddlerhood, hang in there!  Enjoy the little moments and the sweetness and know that one day, they will be able to make their own mac and cheese!