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Fatigue During Pregnancy

 

How to Deal With Fatigue During Pregnancy

Fatigue during pregnancy is a very common experience. Growing a baby is an enormous task and requires a tremendous amount of physical and mental energy.

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There are a number of factors that can contribute to fatigue during pregnancy:

  • The increased demands on your body, mind and spirit.

  • Lack of quality sleep or rest periods.

  • Overworking yourself inside and/or outside of the house.

  • Short pregnancy spacing, breastfeeding and caring for other children

  • Too much time on computer or cell phone.

  • Inadequate diet.

  • Sedentary living.

  • Unexpressed or unresolved emotional difficulties.

  • Depression or anxiety.

  • Anemia.

  • Acute infection or illness.

  • Under-active thyroid function.

  • Other health problems.

  • And even boredom.

Resolving Fatigue During Pregnancy

Look at the whole picture. Consider what in your life could be contributing to your fatigue, and take common sense measures to take care of yourself.

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LACK OF REST
Get more sleep by going to bed earlier, sleeping later in the morning and/or taking a nap during the daytime. Getting enough sleep is especially essential during pregnancy.

Take frequent breaks or “healing intervals” throughout the day to simply sit down, rest, center and calm yourself. You can do this by sitting quietly with your eyes closed, slowing down your thoughts by focusing on slow deep breathing while gazing internally between your eyebrows.

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Meditation, breathwork, visualization, and yoga nidra/progressive muscle relaxation are all great ways to relax the body. There are many books, audio CDs and hypnobirthing MP3s for pregnancy to help you learn these important life skills, and now there are wonderful phone apps like Breathe and Calm. Make it a regular part of your daily routine to practice them - even just for 15 - 20 minutes.

INADEQUATE DIET
Paying close attention to your diet can go a long way in avoiding fatigue during pregnancy, as your nutritional needs soar during this time.

Make sure you’re drinking 8-10 glasses of filtered, spring or well water daily. Try to drink water away from meals (at least 20-30 minutes before or 2 hours after). Include in your daily diet plenty of fresh organic fruits, vegetables, whole grains., lots of protein and healthy fats.

Eat 20-30 grams of protein three times daily such as:

  • Beans

  • Nuts and nut butters

  • Seeds

  • Tempeh

  • Organic whole eggs

  • Wild Alaskan Salmon

  • Turkey or chicken

  • Beef, Lamb and Buffalo

  • Organic fresh raw whole dairy - ideally goat or sheep

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When eating fruit and whole grains, combine it with a protein or fat like avocado, nuts or nut butters, eggs, or a piece of organic cheese. If eating whole-grain carbohydrates makes you tired, reserve them for your evening meal.

Use cold expeller pressed extra virgin olive and/or coconut oil, and butter (goat is best) as your primary fat for cooking.

Eat small amounts several times throughout the day rather than heavy infrequent meals.

Products containing refined white flours and sugars or high fructose corn syrup will give you a temporary energy boost, followed by greater fatigue once the effect wears off. These should be avoided.

Also avoid highly refined processed foods, as these are usually void of nourishment and contain all sorts of chemicals, unhealthy fats, simple starches and sugars that can also make you feel more tired after an initial brief boost in energy.

VITAMIN AND MINERAL DEFICIENCIES

If you are anemic (which is very common in pregnancy, especially during the second and third trimesters), eat iron-rich foods. Good options include eggs, dark green leafy vegetables, seeds, nuts, beans and split peas, dried fruit, iron fortified cereals, red meat and poultry, blackstrap molasses, and brewers yeast. Take natural herbal sources of iron, such as Floravital Iron & Herbs - it comes in liquid and tablet form, as needed. There are other wonderful natural remedies to boost iron in my online holistic apothecary.

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If your vitamin B 12 levels are low (common in women who have had several successive pregnancies or are breastfeeding), supplementing with 1000 mcg will be needed and can really make a huge difference in how you feel. It is also in the apothecary.

Also, be sure to take a good all natural whole-food based prenatal vitamin and mineral supplement.

A daily nutrition-rich fresh juice made with a combination of veggies and superfoods like spirulina, kelp or wheatgrass can help you feel more alert and energized. Start slowly with 1-2 tablespoons of the superfoods and build up to 1-2 ounces. Drink first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Superfoods also come in all natural powdered mixes that can be added to your daily smoothie. Note: if you have a lot of accumulated toxins in your body, wheatgrass may cause slight nausea at first as it cleanses your system. This is harmless and eventually passes.

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NATURE AND MOVEMENT
Get plenty of fresh air and adequate exposure to sunlight on a daily basis. Try to spend at least 20 minutes outside with nature in the early morning or late afternoon sun each day without sunscreen. If spending a lot of time indoors, at least open the windows – even and especially in the winter.

Engage in moderate exercise for 30 minutes at least 5 days per week. Good options during pregnancy include swimming, brisk walking, cycling, dancing, or low-impact aerobics. Even though you feel tired, exercise creates energy and does wonders to minimize fatigue, depression and anxiety. Incorporating yoga (especially prenatal, Yin, gentle, and restorative) as a regular part of your daily routine can also be very powerful.

Try to maintain correct posture and body mechanics. Use your abdominal muscles to straighten your upper back and tuck your pelvis in to straighten your lower back. Engage your core by bringing your breast bone and lower ribs and belly toward your back, and bringing your front pelvic bone towards your breast bone. Use your arm and leg muscles instead of your weaker back muscles to lift, carry, pull, and push things.

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EMOTIONAL HEALTH
It is important to be open and honest about your feelings to yourself. Some women find it helpful to keep a journal or diary to increase self-awareness and understanding. Share your feelings with your spouse, close friend or family member. Periodically release pent up emotions with a good cry, followed by a hug.

Move strong emotions through your body. If you are angry or overstressed, play an angry song, if you feel grief, play a sad song, or simply play a track of African drumming and let your body move to the music, while making the sounds you need. Our little ones have their temper tantrums, move and release their emotions so they are not repressed and stuck in their bodies. Then they get up and play. Indigenous cultures dance their grief, anger, joy and celebration in community drum circles. We have much to learn from them. Invite friends and have your own drum circle to express and release emotions - you might just feel so exhilarated by it you will want to do this regularly.

Avoid overexertion and trying to be “super mom” by re-examining your priorities, limiting unessential activities, and learning how to say “no.” Delegate tasks to others and let friends and family help.

Try to allow yourself regular time each day without guilt to do something that you fully enjoy, that inspires and uplifts you. Make it easy and fun. Some ideas are:

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  • Watching a musical, romance, comedy or inspirational drama

  • Reading a good novel

  • Taking a stroll through the park or in a beautiful spot in nature

  • Gardening

  • Going on an outing with your partner or good friend

  • Cultivating a hobby you desire

  • Learning something new that interests you

Add more laughter and play to your life. Many women are surprised to find how health-enhancing and energizing this can be.

Seek out a transformational life coach or, if needed, a professional holistic therapist if the above ideas do not help and you are troubled by psychological distress or emotional discomfort. Suppressed feelings can worsen fatigue as well as cause all sorts of other problems if not properly dealt with.

HERBS AND OILS

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Take an invigorating bath with a few drops of essential oils of peppermint or eucalyptus, lemon, wild orange, grapefruit and/or rosemary. You can add a few drops of these essential oils to a bowl or spray bottle of cool water and splash or spray yourself with the uplifting scents throughout the day.

Nettle is a great herb to be taking in pregnancy as a nourishing tonic. It also has the added benefits of blood sugar regulation, adrenal support, improving nutrient intake, and building iron levels. Make a strong infusion by steeping a handful of dried herb in 1 quart of boiling water for 3-4 hours and strain into a canning jar. Drink 1-3 cups daily (with fresh lemon or lime juice, mint leaf or a dash of honey to taste). A fresh spearmint or peppermint tea can also provide a lift of spirit and energy.

If interested in other herbs to improve energy, combine equal amounts of herbal tinctures of schisandra, eleuthero, and American ginseng, and take 1/4 to 1/2 tsp once or twice per day. Start with the lowest dose and work your way up as needed. Reputable herbal companies include Gaia, Eclectic Institute and Wish Garden.

Minimize or avoid caffeinated coffee. It is addictive, too much is harmful, the energy boost is artificial, and it can be agitating and impair sleep. Many feel more tired when its effects wear off.

Avoid stimulant drugs (including diet pills) and sleeping medications, as most have side effects for you and your growing fetus, and can cause you to become dependent on them. Many substances, such as cocaine, are outright dangerous to you and your baby. You must seek professional help if you cannot stop using them.

OTHER RESOURCES

Homeopathy and acupuncture can both be great for soothing stress and increasing energy. Also, check out Clarity Breathwork and/or read The Journey. - for extremely effective, mind-body, cutting edge methods that have lead to transformational healing for thousands of people around the world.

If you experience any sort of chronic fatigue and exhaustion in which serious causes have been ruled out and none of the natural and allopathic remedies help, consider reading the book “The Mindbody Prescription” by Dr John Sarno, MD, an amazing pioneering physician whose brilliant approach has helped hundreds of thousands of people without drugs, physical measure or surgery.

If your exhaustion is extreme or persists in spite of following the above guidelines, consult your physician or midwife or schedule a consultation with me. If you are feeling overwhelmed, or do not even know what questions to ask, I can help you!

Check out my number one international best selling book Natural Birth Secrets and my online course - an online version of how I have helped thousands in my local practice. Both resources are unique, but each provide an in depth, one-of-a-kind holistic approach created by me, a seasoned nurse midwife of over two decades, who has seen everything!

Battling with low back or pelvic discomfort? Having common pregnancy aches and pains and need some additional support? Try Bellefit’s prenatal support wear. I am thrilled to announce that you get a $20 Off with code: ANNE20 at checkout - if you purchase here.

 

Bleeding in Pregnancy

 

Bleeding During Pregnancy - Why It Happens and What To Do About It

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Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy can often cause us to freak out and start thinking the worst. However, there are a multitude of less serious and more common reasons for light bleeding at this time, such as:

  • A burst of a tiny blood vessel in the vagina or cervix engorged from pregnancy hormones (especially with local infections, during the friction of sexual intercourse, internal exam or pap smear, and when there are vaginal varicosities).

  • Cervical polyps (often benign growths on the cervix that usually increase in size during pregnancy).

  • Hormonal fluctuations, especially around the time of usual monthly periods.

  • The normal implantation of the fertilized egg within the uterus (occurs 1-2 weeks after conception, around the time of your expected period, and lasts just a few days).

  • Bloody show at the beginning of labor (a welcome event only if your baby is at least 37 weeks, but more concerning if preterm).

Vaginal bleeding in the first trimester of pregnancy affects approximately 25% of all pregnant women. Less than half of these bleeding women actually miscarry. And once the fetal heartbeat is detected at the prenatal visit or on sonogram, miscarriage is rare and unlikely, especially in a healthy pregnancy where there is no prior history of problems like recurrent pregnancy loss. about 1 in 10 pregnant moms will have some bleeding in the third trimester. More often, the cause of bleeding is never found, the bleeding stops and the pregnancy continues to a happy conclusion.

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Vaginal bleeding during the second half of pregnancy can infrequently indicate potentially serious complications such as:

  • The placenta partially to completely separating from the uterine wall before birth (placental abruption).

  • A placenta that is located close to or over the cervix instead of higher in the uterus (placenta previa). A note of reassurance is that while approximately 45% of placentas are classified as “low lying” during the second trimester, the majority “migrate” upwards far enough away from the cervix by the third trimester, and are not a cause for worry.

  • The umbilical cord first inserts into the fetal membranes, then the exposed blood vessels without the protection of the cord travel to the placenta (velamentous insertion).

When To Call The Midwife or Doctor

You should be evaluated by your midwife or physician any time there is bleeding during pregnancy in order to rule out anything concerning or deal with something that is treatable. Call your practitioner if bleeding is light but lasts more than 3 days, is heavy like a period or a continuous flow (you completely soak through a regular sanitary pad in an hour or less), or accompanied by any of the following:

  • Pain in your pelvic area, abdomen, back or shoulder

  • Rhythmic uterine cramping

  • The passage of tissue or clots bigger than a 50 cent piece

  • Foul smelling discharge

  • A gush of fluid from the vagina

  • Symptoms of a urinary tract infection - like feeling you have to urinate frequently, but only little amounts come out, burning or foul smelling urine, low mid pelvic pain when you pee

  • Fever or chills

  • Decreased fetal movements

  • Weight loss, premature resolution of early pregnancy symptoms like nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and breast tenderness, or the return of your normal breast size

  • You have a history of ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, molar pregnancy, placenta previa or abruption, or other significant health problem

  • You simply feel that something isn’t right

Once A Serious Cause of Bleeding During Pregnancy Has Been Ruled Out

Once you have been evaluated and the more serious causes of the bleeding have been ruled out or dealt with, you should do the following.

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  1. Make sure any issues that can be treated, like infections, MTHFR mutations or low progesterone, have been addressed.

  2. Do what you love, what brings you joy, and use your imagination to make routine tasks more enjoyable - even by turning on the music and dancing while you work.

  3. Take it easy and avoid heavy lifting until a few days after the bleeding subsides, with frequent breaks in a comfortable lounge chair, bed or couch.

  4. Limit non- essentials, delegate and ask for extra help from family and friends.

  5. Stock up on some good books, inspirational podcasts and movies, practice deep breathing and progressive relaxation exercises several times a day.

  6. Put nothing in the vagina (this includes no sexual intercourse) until 1-2 weeks after the bleeding has stopped.

  7. Eat warm foods, drink fresh ginger tea (steep a piece of raw ginger in a quart mason jar of boiling water for several hours), and limit cold and frozen foods

For a friable cervix that bleeds easily, small amounts of bleeding from a subchorionic hematoma, or persistent spotting from placental implantation, eat foods high in vitamin C. Good choices are citrus fruits, berries and dark leafy greens, as well as many other fresh produce. You may need to supplement with 500-1000 mg vitamin C with bioflavonoids, and add vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)  400 - 800 IU daily for a few weeks only, to support stronger placental adherence to the uterus in early pregnancy. Chasteberry can enhance pregnancy hormones, and natural progesterone can be prescribed if levels are low in the first trimester. There are natural supplements recommended like whole food B complex with 2-3 mg l-methylfolate, and at least 400 mg DHA/EPA Omega threes for those with the MTHFR mutation, as well as low dose baby aspirin (81 mg) that can thin the blood enough to help it circulate through the tiny vessels of the early placenta without clotting, and prevent miscarriage if that is the issue.

If You’re Cramping But Not Bleeding

If all more serious causes have been ruled out, and you are simply having a lot of cramping without bleeding, make sure you are drinking enough fluids, and are getting plenty of calcium and magnesium in your diet. Start by eating lots of green leafy and seaweed veggies, ground sesame seeds (tahini), wild caught fish like salmon, almonds, whole grains, and organic yogurt and cheese. Avoid excessive cow dairy intake, coffee and soda, even spinach, which decreases calcium absorption. You may need additional supplementation - at least 400 mg magnesium and 1200 mg calcium daily in 2-3 divided doses; or make your own infusion of nettles and red raspberry leaf tea, using the recipe here.

Also, helpful herbs to reduce cramping are cramp bark, black haw, and wild yam. You can experiment with one of them at a time, or use all together in combination. Take 1 - 5 cc of each tincture every 30 minutes to few hours, depending on how often and intense the cramping is.

If There’s A Threat of Miscarriage

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Women can bleed and cramp and still have a healthy pregnancy. But not all miscarriages can be prevented. Miscarriage is actually pretty common, and rise with age and the more pregnancies a woman experiences. About 10-20% of women with known pregnancies miscarry before 20 weeks. Many miscarry around the time of the first missed period, before they even realize they are pregnant.

Heavy bleeding with cramping, lower abdominal or back pains and/or passage of tissue or fluid from the vagina during early pregnancy usually indicates that a miscarriage is in progress and there is little that can be done to stop it. In most cases, a miscarriage is your body’s natural way of rejecting an unhealthy or abnormally implanted fetus.

Once you know you are pregnant, it is still often experienced as a huge loss and the grief can be intense. I am sorry if that is what is happening and I encourage you to mourn as you need to, tap into your strength, look for the silver lining, and notice how you have grown as you heal.

Other less-common reasons for an isolated miscarriage include infection, dehydration, poor nutrition, severe trauma, and exposure to significant doses of hazardous substances (toxic industrial or environmental chemicals, drugs, alcohol, smoking, and radiation). It is still important to get evaluated, though, to be sure what is going on, and get treatment if needed..

If you have been informed that a miscarriage is threatening, follow the suggestions above for treatment of bleeding, plus:

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  • Drink a small glass of wine or beer, or a shot of whiskey in juice to lessen the cramping at night if interfering with sleep, but alcohol should be used in very limited amounts during pregnancy.

  • Keep well hydrated with plenty of fluids (at least 8-10 glasses of water daily).

  • Light some candles and take relaxing warm baths with your favorite essential oils.

  • Take 200 IU of Vitamin E 3-4 times per day for no more than 3 weeks to strengthen placental attachment and reduce spotting.

  • Take 500 mg of Vitamin C with bioflavonoids twice a day during the crisis period.

  • Do a yoga nidra, mindfulness practice or a progressive relaxation meditation to stay calm inside.  Whenever worrisome thoughts occur, use them as an opportunity to practice being present in the now and doing breathwork. For example, for 5- 10 minutes twice a day, do slow deep extended exhalation breaths (inhale for a count of 3, exhale for a count of 6), while allowing yourself to feel whatever you feel.

  • Tune into what is true for you, and what you really want. If it is your heartfelt desire to continue the pregnancy, let that feeling expand, as that will enhance whatever else you are doing. You can send loving thoughts to your baby and visualize your womb surrounded by love, light and spiritual protection; affirm that baby is welcome in your life, you and your baby are healthy and vibrant, your placenta is strongly attached to your uterus, you are providing safety, security and nourishment to your baby…as well as mama love, a love like no other.

  • You and your partner can place one hand on each other’s heart, the other hand on your womb, and imagine enhancing your family bond. Send love from your hearts to one another and to your baby. Focus on deepening and strengthening your love and connection, especially if there is tension between you. Never underestimate the close relationship of the mind and heart to the body, and the power of love and harmony to heal, and transform...and even prevent miscarriage if the pregnancy is healthy. This can be a wonderful opportunity of healing and transformative for all of you.

  • It helps to love yourself unconditionally and with compassion, to have a clear intention to release all self judgement and blame. Visualize the blame leaving you with each exhalation or melting away from your body, sinking down into the earth beneath you.  

  • Connect to other wise women, in sisterhood - those who uplift, inspire and support you. Have a good cry, a good laugh and a good hug several times a day.

  • It also helps to pray, and as much as possible. Then let go, surrender to what is greater and wiser than us all, the benevolent infinite, and release trying to control what is not in your control. Can we embrace what is, even when we do not understand the whys?

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If you are interested in herbal remedies to help prevent a threatened miscarriage, you can make your own infusion or tincture combination by mixing the following bulk dried herbs or the same herbs in tincture form:

Combine equal amounts of partridge berry, cramp bark, black haw, false unicorn root, wild yam, and chasteberry, with a dash of lobelia. Take 2.5 to 5 cc of the mixture every ½ to few hours until symptoms resolve, then a few times per day for a week. This mixture can be taken prophylactically twice a day in the first trimester, if you have a history of miscarriage in prior pregnancy. These herbs are said to aid the miscarriage if the fetus is not normally formed, but prevent it if it is strong and healthy.

Most of the supplements and herbal remedies I recommend are available on my customized online holistic apothecary. If you need more personal guidance, I am happy to help. You can set up a consultation with me here.

For extra support in pregnancy and relief of common aches and pains, wear an abdominal binder. Bellefit makes a fine one as pictured above. They also make postpartum support girdles . I have a holistic approach to life, including healing after pregnancy and birthing. Nothing replaces abdominal toning and exercise for restoring muscle strength and tone - which I encourage for all mamas as soon as they feel up to it postpartum. Nothing replaces touch, slow deep abdominal breathing, and a 'love your postpartum body' perspective that I promote.  But I have found many mamas simply feel comforted by this support garment, especially early postpartum and temporarily as needed....to be used without forfeiting abdominal toning and strengthening exercise, breathing well and touch. 

I have found Bellefit supportive garments to help like they use belly binding around the world such as in Indonesia. They do aid in early postpartum healing and provide support many mamas feel comforted by. I deal with human beings and the reality is many postpartum mom's struggle with body image, feel frustrated that getting back to themselves takes longer than expected.

Being into holistic health and healing includes being sensitive to real human struggles - the mind, body, heart and soul of each person and their unique situation. 

Having helped countless women with these issues after having a baby as a midwife, I have found many still love that binding and feel better with this support, and ability to fit into their pre-pregnancy clothes comfortably and sooner than they would if they went through a C-section or natural childbirth recovery without it - especially when they have to dress up and fit into a certain favorite outfit for a special occasion or wedding not long after having a baby.

For more info on the Bellefit girdle, check out my blog about it here.

 

Have a Great Pregnancy and Postpartum Recovery (with a little help from Bellefit)!

Again, you get a $20 Off with code: ANNE20 at checkout - if you purchase here.

 

Singing and Dancing My Way to Natural Birth With Pre-Eclampsia

 
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My heartfelt thanks for reading my story. I'm so blessed and honored that you will post my birth story on your blog and social media.  I hope and pray that this would inspire more women to try birthing naturally and perhaps encourage them also to sing and dance their way through labor! 

I was diagnosed with Pre-Eclampsia with severe features due to the extremely high amount of protein in my urine. My blood pressure remained normal, below 120/80, all throughout my labor, delivery & recovery. This is my 5th pregnancy. My first pregnancy was with twins.  The 1st twin, Annalise, was born naturally (no anesthesia, IV, oxygen, pain meds) in our church's birthing clinic.  The 2nd twin, Therese, was born via CS in a hospital. I was transferred because Therese went transverse when Annalise came out and it was Therese's hand that first came out.  My midwife put her hand back twice before transferring us to the hospital.  

In most hospitals, 24 hour monitoring is only done in the High Risk unit, so when my fluid was low, I had to be monitored for a full 24 hours before I transferred to a regular room.  I went back to the High Risk unit again for the Magnesium sulfate, to counter possible seizure or convulsions, according to my OB.  They also don't allow the natural birthing suite for high-risk cases like mine, because I already underwent Caesarean in a previous pregnancy, even though I've already had 3 VBACs.

Valentine’s Day, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019, I was looking forward to a lovely dinner that night with my husband of 13 years, Ritche, to celebrate our 15th year of being together, when we received news that my husband’s 98-year old maternal grandmother “Lola Auring,” whom he was very close to, had just passed away peacefully in her sleep.  He regretted not being able to visit her sooner when she was still alive but looked forward to flying out from our home in Metro Manila (Philippines) to their province to be with her for the last time.  

But, first things first… I had to go to St. Luke’s Medical Center in Bonifacio Global City, for my routine 36th week checkup & ultrasound.  My OB did a Biophysical Score of our baby and told me that my fluid was low.  In my mind, I thought, “Okay, I’ll just have to drink up at home then.” But, my OB had another plan... I needed to be admitted to the High Risk Pregnancy Unit and hydrate via IV. I called Ritche and he agreed for me to be confined, thinking we’ll just stay overnight until my fluid goes up in 24 hours.  

So, aside from the IV drip, I tripled my water intake to 3 liters in the morning, 3 liters in the afternoon and 2 liters at night, which equated peeing almost every hour! AND I had to be hooked to several machines so my heart rate, blood pressure, baby’s heart rate and my contractions will be monitored for 24 hours. It was super uncomfortable but I thought, “No problem! As long as baby’s fluid will go up right away.”  We then asked our churchmates and close family & friends to pray with us.  I also prayed that I would be discharged as soon as possible so that Ritche could still travel the next day to be with Lola Auring.

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24 hours later, Friday afternoon, my fluid just increased a tiny bit so my OB double checked the protein-creatinine ratio in my urine. While waiting for the results, we got a regular room and waited another 24 hours.  My husband already cancelled his trip and let my mother-in-law, Mama Tess, go ahead to their home in the province.  My UPC ratio was still extremely high, which made me a candidate for severe pre-eclampsia. We couldn’t believe it.  Even my OB couldn’t believe it, either. I’ve always been careful with my diet, preferring veggies & fruits. I always made sure I had regular exercise.  My blood pressure has always been normal.  How could I have pre-eclampsia?   

We’ve been praying for Baby Abe to come out at least on his 38th week so, imagine our surprise when she advised us on Saturday afternoon that we’ll both be safer if he came out as soon as I reach my 37th week, which was the following day, Sunday!  Questions ran through my mind.  We knew 38 weeks is the ideal.  How do I induce labor?  We’ve always just waited for me to labor naturally.  With Agatha, our 5th child, we had to keep her in as long as possible.  With Abe, it seems, we now had to bring him out as soon as possible! We hadn’t even packed our hospital bag! We were just supposed to buy baby boy stuff this week!

I had my Birth Plan printed out for the doctors and nurses and went back to the High Risk unit so that I can be given magnesium sulfate to counter possible seizure/convulsions.  I was also given 4000 mg of Evening Primrose Oil every 4 hours to soften my cervix. It just seemed so foreign and unnatural to me that we had to naturally induce labor.  How do we do that?  

My husband comforted me and reminded me that we have a great and awesome God and that so many people are praying for us.  He had been diligently communicating with and updating our close friends.  My dearest friend Kartika from Singapore visited me twice. My best friend and sister, Lala and her husband, Solomon, came all the way from Carmona, Cavite, to encourage me with their love and presence.  Our dear godparents, Fr. Dino and Sis. Anj, braved the 3-hour traffic to show their support and pray with us. When they mentioned the words “total trust” and “perfect peace” in their prayers, I was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write down the alliterations the Lord revealed to me as they were born in my heart so I can meditate on them:

“Total Trust in Thee”  “Perfect Peace in the Prince of Peace”  “Sweet Surrender to My Savior”  “Calm and Courageous in Christ”  “Blissfully Blessed and Brave to Birth our Baby Boy”  “Relaxed, Rested and Ready”

Most importantly, my mother, Mama Lou, my father-in-law, Papa Adelo, and our 5 beautiful and wonderful children, gave me so much encouragement that I knew that we can bring Baby Abe out in God’s perfect timing.  The Holy Spirit will lead me and guide our baby out.

Monday, after the magnesium sulfate treatment, I had another ultrasound.  Baby’s fluid had significantly increased from 7.89 to 13!  Praise God!  We could really feel the prayers of everyone.  We were ready to induce natural labor.  My OB mentioned that Baby Abe could even be born on Thursday, which was her birthday!  But I thought to myself that I didn’t want to labor that long.  Our churchmates, Dcn. Jojo and Sis. Evelyn, brought homebaked muffins along with much laughter and prayed over us before leaving.

We finally finished my IV (Yay!) and I drank my red raspberry leaf tea, walked about our windowless room, slow danced, bounced on a birthing ball. Contractions were very mild at 3-5 minutes apart, but they weren’t “painful.”  Mama Chato, our midwife who helped me naturally birth our other children, taught us that we must reframe contractions as “good pain” because it helps bring the baby down.  The more you welcome each “good pain” and embrace the sensation, the more relaxed you will be and fear will leave you.  So, everytime I felt a contraction coming, I relaxed my facial muscles, my jaw, my shoulders and let the tightening sensation do its work on my belly. The uterus is a very powerful muscle and I looked forward to the pressure, imagining that every contraction brought Baby Abe closer to being in my arms.

The resident doctor did my first internal examination and said I’m only 2cm dilated.  Well, at least it’s not totally closed, right?  However, at 530pm, I had an unexplainable occurrence of “chills” where I suddenly felt like I was freezing.  I couldn’t stop my teeth from chattering and my body from shaking violently. My mom wrapped me in thick blankets, wore socks on me, rubbed my legs. I called my husband to hurry, as he was getting some documents for our hospital stay. I placed my cold hands in my armpits and prayed that the nurse won’t peek in and report that I’m having some kind of seizure.  The chills passed after 20 minutes.  My husband warmed me with his embrace.  However, I couldn’t sleep a wink that night.  My husband decided we transfer again to a normal room with windows so I could be more comfortable.  I searched online “how to dilate cervix fast” and visualized my cervix opening and prayed constantly to the Lord to give me thoughts of peace and not anxiety.  The baby knows when to be born.

Tuesday, I had a prenatal massage to relax and press those labor-inducing points, drank more red raspberry leaf tea, bounced on the ball and did more than walking, I did some dancing, too!  Contractions were still mild at 3-5 minutes apart. I had another bout of “chills” at 530pm so my mother wrapped me again and I rebuked every thought of convulsion or seizure.  I kept telling myself that this will pass and Baby Abe is safe in my womb. The chills stopped at 6pm. By 8pm, I was so tired from the lack of sleep that I was able to sleep very well, even with the regular rhythm of my belly tightening.  We continued to entrust everything into the Father’s hands. 

The next day, Wednesday, February 20, I was determined to up my natural induction techniques.  My OB was pleased with the progress of my labor but reminded me not to wait until my water broke.  She reminded me to let her residents know when I’m already 4cm dilated, because I gave birth so quickly to our last child, she almost didn’t make it.  

My Mama Lou and I danced belly, hip hop, Zumba to the jiggiest songs I could find (Think “Trolls” soundtrack, “Walking on Sunshine” “Moves Like Jagger” “Waka Waka” you get the picture) and I sang my heart out to our Hillsong & Bethel favorites (Oceans, What a Beautiful Name, O Praise the Name, Open Heaven/River Wild, It Is Well, No Longer Slaves, etc.) when I rested. The doctors and nurses were amazed I could still sing and dance through my contractions.  Haha!  It actually took my mind away from the pressure.  By 530pm, I thought my water was leaking so I called a resident to examine me.  No water, just the EvePrim Oil melting but I was 3-4cm dilated.  Yay! She then asked me to go down to continue laboring in the High Risk unit.   Labor progressed very quickly and I did feel more and more pressure every minute!  

Shout out to the doctors and nurses of St. Luke’s BGC for honoring my Birth Plan as much as possible and I agreed that I will only be hooked to the monitor for 20-30 mins every 2 hours.. No pitocin, no IV, no oxygen and no pain meds.  By 8pm, I was 5cm dilated.  Hooray! That pushed me to do even more dancing, bouncing, marching, swaying & singing during contractions, with my husband playing every song I requested.  The pressure was already immense at this time, and I had a tugging feeling I was very close to transition, although it’s only been a couple of hours.  I was thankful that my husband was just right there to tell me I’m doing great, and my mother was also with us, cheering me on.  Whenever I felt the tremendous pressure, I would say, “Baby’s going down, down, down!  Yes, yes, yes! Go, go, go!” and I knew that they both agreed with me and believed with me.  

I was already speaking in tongues, asking the Holy Spirit to be my Comforter, my Teacher, my Guide.  I envisioned Mama Mary giving birth to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  I remembered all our children who are happily awaiting their baby brother at home. They’re counting on me to give birth to Baby Abe soon.  I wanted to birth this beautiful being in my womb without fear, only love and joy and peace... Feelings of indescribable bliss welled up in my heart for this boy whom Ritche and I had so conceived in love.  I was determined to confidently bring him out in that same love that conceived him. 

At 1030pm, I asked the resident to check my cervix, which had already dilated to 7cm, with a “bursting” effacement.  I had to be strapped again so I lay down waiting for the nurse when, a minute after, the nurse relays the message from the doctor to tell them right away if my water bag ruptures. She hadn’t left the room yet when my water bag burst!  It felt like a water balloon popped out of me. 

I excitedly told everyone, “Baby’s coming out!”

 They wheeled me out our room into the delivery room right away.  I felt the head of Baby Abe crowning.. I thought I couldn’t hold him in anymore.. but I tried to relax, as the doctors were still preparing, I had to be moved from my bed to the delivery bed and my husband, Ritche, was also getting into scrubs. I requested that I be more upright and not lying down.  Our OB was nowhere to be found but already gave instructions to her three resident OBs present in the room.  I already felt like pushing but was holding Baby Abe in.. I was so excited.. I called my husband.. “Daddy!” and told the nurse, “The cellphone!” Haha!  I didn’t want the nurse to miss taking Daddy Ritche’s picture catching Baby Abe.

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Finally, it was only a matter of minutes before I told them I had to push Baby’s head out.  The doctors assured me and said they won’t hinder me from pushing.  His head came out and the doctor was wise enough to remind me not to push anymore because he slid out so easily! It’s a birth phenomenon they call the “Fetal Ejection Reflex.” Pushing would have made the baby fly out.. Haha! It was amazing to see my husband “catching” our son!  As with all our other children (except Therese who underwent emergency CS), he did the ceremonial cord cutting after the cord stopped pulsating.  Baby Abe had already pooped meconium but miraculously, he didn’t ingest any and his Apgar score was 9 out of 10.  Thank God!

I delivered the placenta within 5 minutes. And our OB, Dra. Bambalan, arrived moments after to check on me.  Everything looked good.  My blood pressure stayed normal all throughout. I had a 1 mm tear that didn’t need any stitching. 

They were amazed at how easy the birth was and how fresh I still looked even after giving birth.  We all laughed at how my primary concern was to get the cellphone to the nurse and how Baby Abe didn’t want to have the same birthday as Doc.  Everyone in the room was lighthearted and Dr. De Guzman exclaimed that this was one delivery she will never ever forget!

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All in all, we stayed in the delivery room for 18 minutes then I was brought out to the Recovery Room for 4 hours to check on Baby Abe and me.  By the end of the recovery period, my BP was still stable, Baby Abe and I had skin to skin contact and he latched on the breast perfectly, but there was just one problem.  The nurse said that they’d have to put a catheter on me if I didn’t urinate soon. No way!  I gently pressed on my bladder and, sure enough, I was able to pee on my own.

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The next 48 hours were critical for me and Baby Abe. I recently saw the diagnosis of my OB upon discharge.  It was Pre-eclampsia with Severe Features.  But, thank God, we never manifested any complications.  No headache, nausea, vomiting, seizure, swelling, convulsion, shortness of breath whatsoever.  My blood pressure never elevated all throughout.  Baby’s oxygen levels were stable.  I didn’t go into shock, stroke, had brain damage or any organ failure. I didn’t need any kind of pain medication.  

Within 48 hours of delivery, we went home to our family, carrying our 6thbundle of joy, our second boy, whom we named "Abraham Nickola."  So thankful to all our family, relatives, friends, and churchmates for keeping us in your thoughts and lifting us up in prayer.  I believe that Ritche’s grandmother, Lola Auring, was also looking down from Heaven and interceding for us, along with all the saints and angels. To God be all the glory, honor and praise!  He is a miracle-working God who faithfully keeps all His promises and grants us the desires of our hearts!

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By: Chat Jandayan @chatjandayan

Most of the photos were taken by my husband and my mom.

This is why excellent childbirth education is a must, why planning for your birth and the unexpected challenges that can arise, is so important today, and is a major reason why I created my Love Your Birth course. It is a comprehensive online course that teaches women what they need to know about planning and carrying out the birth that they want in all settings - the hospital, birthing center or at home. It’s a course on how to have a holistic, healthy pregnancy for the body, mind, and soul - and is how I have guided thousands of women and their families in my midwifery practice for over 21 years.

It contains a rolodex of my favorite resources with over 200 of the best books, movies and supplies I use personally and professionally with my clients, family & friends. Even diving into a fraction of this list will have you feeling empowered and prepared for conception, pregnancy, postpartum and parenting...It includes resources on improving and even ensuring ensuring healthier pregnancy and birth outcomes than the status quo, and preventing and healing from birth trauma so prevalent in the modern world!  

Be prepared to do some research on your own, but knowledge restores your power. I also help you prepare your mindset for such a task, to debunk myths, and to reframe any current ideas or conditioning about pregnancy and birth that can use a change in perspective or that are simply incorrect and do serve you. After finishing the course, the idea is that you are now able to create and have the healthy, beautiful and empowering pregnancy and birth that you want - so you can ROCK your birth, however it unfolds!

It’s wonderful alone, a great refresher or adjunct to any other course!

 

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR BABY IS BREECH OR TRANSVERSE

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR BABY IS BREECH OR TRANSVERSE

Art by Catie Atkinson @spiritysol

Letting Go: Dying To Birthing - The Key To A Very Real First Time Mama's Homebirth Story

 

My birth story is currently gathering a lot of attention, specifically around my thoughts on home birth, and the rawness of what I learned about myself.

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Disclaimer 1: This was my first pregnancy and birth experience. I say this because I know my feelings around my journey are so much a reflection of it being my first time.

Disclaimer 2: All birth is birth, and all people who birth babies are badasses. I chose a home-birth experience because it most reflected the journey that *I* wanted to have, based on my personal value system. Please don’t let my passion for home-birth make you feel that any other path is not as powerful.

Disclaimer 3: Don’t let my story shape your narrative of birth. Every birth is different, and pleasurable births are possible. In fact, here’s an interview I did about Orgasmic Birth just days before I went into labor. I believe that some mothers manifest the birth experience they need for whatever lesson they are walking at that time. I believe God is reflecting back to her in those moments the things her heart most needs to look at. For those that could use healing in regard to their birth stories, I highly recommend a Birth-Processing session with my midwife, Tiffany Hoffman, through Alchemist Movement's healing sanctuary. 

Disclaimer 4: I was blessed with a healthy pregnancy, and privileged with access to healthcare and a steady income, and this is what made me successful in my home-birth dream. Even though home-births cost about $10,000 less than hospital births (and that's without a C-section), they are rarely covered by insurance. I hope my story helps spread the gospel of birthing at home.

Act I: The Mind Fuck (36-40 Weeks Pregnant)

36 Weeks: You feel like an expert in pregnancy but a complete novice in labor/birth (for first time moms, at least). At this point in my journey, because the impending labor just didn’t seem real, the whole thing felt like an exam I was studying for but that there was a chance I might get out of. Like, you’re nervous for the test, but also the Professor has shared he might just cancel the finals and base your final grade on your most recent paper, or something.

39 weeks: The reality of your birth, which absolutely no one knows how it will unfold, is definitely just around the corner. Because I was planning a natural birth and natural induction, the whole thing just felt like a surprise party that I accidentally found out about; I knew a party was happening, but I didn’t know when or where. So every corner I turned (every strange feeling), every time I walked in the door (every new pain), I’m like, “Is this it? Is it happening now?” And then it’s not, and the mind fuck just continues. You know you’re at the end, but also you’re still going...

40 weeks: “The Surprise Party” is now all the time. Basically everyday I was sending group texts like, “IT’S HAPPENING.”... ”No wait sorry no it’s not, my bad everyone.”...  “OK NOW FOR REAL!”... “oh shoot sorry no it went away sorry.”

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Act II: It’s Really Happening (Labor begins)

On Monday of my 40th week, I kept thinking my water broke because I was constantly leaking fluid due to incontinence (#LoveRealLife). There are these swabs that test for amniotic fluid, and my midwife gave me a handful of them to take home because it just kept happening. (Did you know that only 8-10% of women’s waters actually break in early labor? Most don’t break until right before the baby comes out. The idea that water breaks early is just an overused Hollywood trope!) The reason it was important for me to know whether or not my water was still in tact was because I had tested positive for GBS (1 in 4 women do), and, in the case of my water breaking, I had 18 hours (or something like that) to get the baby out in order to keep his risk of infection low.

I went through several false swabs throughout the week, then...Friday morning, February 9th, at 8:30am I went to pee and felt a little rush of fluid. At this point I had every expectation of another false result, when suddenly, the tip of the swab turned a vivid blue/black. My heart did flip-flops. I texted a picture of the swab to my midwife, and within seconds she wrote back, “Yep. That’s a positive swab. Your water has broken.”

A strange mixture of both calmness and adrenaline washed over me. It’s really happening, I thought.

I walked out and told my husband that my water broke. We both felt grateful that our baby decided to begin his journey on a Friday, giving us a 3-day weekend to capture the experience (it seriously could NOT have been better timed).

Typically, labor starts naturally within 12-24 hours after your water ruptures. My birth team and I decided that if my labor hadn’t started by 6pm that night, I was going to drink a “castor oil smoothie” (a natural way to induce labor at home). I texted all my friends and we decided to have a “castor oil smoothie party”. I was nervous because I really wanted to let my body progress naturally without the smoothie, but I was also ready to get the show on the fucking road.

I went about my day as normal. I even got a text from a producer I work with a lot, and she needed me to record a voiceover for the film we had been working on. I wrote back, “No problem. My water just broke, so send me the script within the next couple hours and I can knock it out.” She replied, “Can I please screenshot this text and send it to our client? You’re fucking insane.” To which I replied, “No, I’m dedicated.” But also, early labor can be mentally brutal, so having normal things to do was always a part of my plan, anyway.'

I did the voiceover. I went for a walk with my husband. We kept having these mini existential crises like, “Babe. This is our LAST walk as a family of two. Next walk we take there will be a BABY.”

At 6pm, all my friends had gathered for our castor oil smoothie party. We had pizza and donuts and were ready to rock out in my living room. Then...the midwives showed up. Another mama had gone into labor, and they asked me to NOT drink the smoothie, because it can speed up labor REALLY fast, and they can’t be in two places at once. So, they ran a few tests on me (checked heart rate of baby, took my blood pressure, and gave me an IV of antibiotics as a guard against any infection from the GBS).  

The new plan was that they were going to rush off to the mom currently in labor, and then text me at midnight; if my labor hadn’t progressed by then, I was to drink the smoothie at midnight, giving them enough time to take care of that mama, and then get back to me.

I felt bad, like I had ruined my friends’ plans (this is a theme that would come up majorly throughout the next 22 hours). BACKSTORY: My midwife had been emotionally preparing me for 6 months, “You labor as you live,” she would tell me. What does that mean? It means that whatever emotional battles you fight in your life, THEY WILL ARISE TO THE SURFACE DURING A NATURAL LABOR! This is why having a natural labor was so important to me -- because it presents one of the most powerful opportunities to heal yourself of old patterns and wounds. It sets the space for absolute, total self-awareness and alchemy to occur. For me, that meant people-pleasing and trying to control everything, and then feeling really bad when I couldn’t. More on that later, though.

My friends, being the amazing humans they are, obviously didn’t care. We hung out and ate junk food, and my doula taught us some belly dancing moves. So, there we were, a bunch of girls, gays, and a pregnant chick, belly dancing in early labor on a Friday night. Around 10ish, it was clear that a baby wasn’t coming any time soon (contractions hadn’t even started yet), and so my friends went home, and I watched the clock, waiting for midnight and preparing my smoothie.

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At midnight, my midwife texted me, “Almost done here. Go ahead and drink the smoothie, if it feels right.”

IF IT FEELS RIGHT -- those words seemed to stick out in bold on my text screen. Why did she text “if it feels right??” I wondered.

So I asked, “Why did you say, ‘If it feels right’?”

“Because you don’t have to drink it if it doesn’t. Does it?” She asked.

NO. It didn’t. It didn’t feel right. And I’ve never in my life, even as a professionally trained psychic (whatever that means, right?), *heard* something as clear as the “no” I got when I read her text. And this is why I am and will always be so in love with Tiffany Hoffman, my midwife, because she also listens to the Universe, and she knew to text me that.

I wrote back, “It doesn’t feel right.”

She said, “Great. Don’t drink it. Try to get some sleep. See you soon.”

The house was quiet. My friends were all gone. My husband was sleeping. I felt depressed because I JUST wanted to GET THE SHOW ON THE ROAD. But I couldn’t deny that “no” I felt/heard. It was just so...loud and clear. I went and laid in bed. There was no way I was going to fall asleep. What’s going on in there, I wondered to my baby.

At 12:30am my bff, whom I lovingly call “Wifey”, texted, “What’s going on?”

“Nothing, really,” I answered. “All the sudden I just got these really bad period-like cramps. I’m just laying in bed in the fetal position.”

“Be there in 10,” she shot back. She showed up a few minutes later with a heating pad. We went to my living room and I laid on the floor as the period cramps got worse. I was in the fetal position and she was cuddling me. Just typing this part of the story is making me super emotional. I’ll never forget that hour, just her and I on my floor. I texted my doula who showed up around 1:30am. My bff went to lay down in my bed to sleep, and my doula took over cuddling me on the floor, rubbing my head, talking to me about what was happening. The pain was gnarly, so my doula texted the midwives and said things seems to be progressing rapidly.

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The midwives arrived around 3:30am, I think. They had spent all night at that other birth. I texted my friends and told them to come back around 6:30am. My plan (which is laughable now) was to have all of my tribe present when the little King made his entrance. I had also made a private facebook group from which I was going to broadcast my labor live. Over the course of my final month of pregnancy, that group had grown to about 60+ people, all friends and family near and far. Again, my intuition screamed at me, “Don’t do it. Don’t broadcast this to that many people.”

I had been watching live births on a Facebook group called “BirthTube” for weeks, and felt really attached to the idea of letting all my favorite people be a part of this experience in such a modern way. But no, my insides were telling me not to. So, in the middle of a contraction, I created a new group with only a few people in it (parents, my husband’s family, and a couple of important friends that I really just wanted there). I also insisted on no one even knowing I was in labor, and flipped out when I found out my husband had posted in a small, private theatre group that my water had broken. For whatever reason, I could suddenly *feel* the energy of people thinking about us, and I then understood why mammals seek privacy when giving birth. I went from wanting all of my loved ones to know things had started, to not wanting anyone to know until it was over.

My mom, who was 3 hours ahead of us in Ohio, called me and said Azlan had come to her in a dream. That it was super real and that she had even seen his face. She said in the dream she was showing him off to our family, including my great-grandmother Orpha, who I’ve had an extreme psychic connection to since I was a baby (including talking to her in my dreams as a very little kid, and knowing things I couldn’t have otherwise known). My mom said in the dream I was walking around looking for donuts to eat, which was hilarious and validating because I was absolutely walking around eating the donuts my Wifey had brought over the night before.

5am: I got into the birth tub in my living room for the first time. You’re supposed to wait until the last minute to get into the tub, when you can’t handle any more pain,  because it provides so much relief. If you get in too early, it can make it less effective later. I was so convinced that I was so close to the end at this point and wanted to be in the tub. (More backstory: in 2009, when I met the man who would become my husband, I had a vision of a waterbirth in a living room, with him sitting behind me. This was before we were even together. This psychic vision was so intense that it actually made me go, “Hmmm...well, he IS kind of cute. I could see him being my babydaddy.” That vision then created the crush that then made me pursue him.) So, needless to say, I was convinced this is how my baby would be born, and I wanted in that tub.

While I was in the tub, my friends had the MOST INCREDIBLE jam session. They were playing worship music, and my favorite singer in the whole wide world was belting out my most favorite worship songs while my husband played piano. Then they had a drum circle, which was amazing to hear while in labor, and really helped me to tap into Earth energy. This whole part is so fuzzy to me, and I remember not being able to look at my friends because I felt so self-conscious. Turns out I only like the spotlight when I’m in absolute control of everything happening under it.

7am: I was antsy and annoyed that “nothing was happening”. I felt like I was disappointing people, that I was “taking too long”, that I wasn’t performing, that my friends were bored, that my birth team was annoyed. I was more worried about being a good host and was absolutely incapable of tapping into my own needs and focusing on myself. (Are you seeing now how all of my personal issues were arising in my birth, full frontal, completely raw. It was impossible to not be aware of them). My midwife 10000% warned me this would happen, and so I knew in my heart what was going on inside me. 

My birth team suggested that I get out of the tub and sit on the toilet for a while. By this point some back labor had started and I was miserable. It fucking hurt to sit on the toilet, but also I could see how SO many women give birth on toilets because of the muscle memory that comes as soon as you sit down. Like, I had so much trouble relaxing my pelvic floor and “letting go”, even in the tub, but the second I would be on the toilet, I felt comfortable relaxing “down there”. But also it fucking hurt to sit on a hard seat.

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I want to take a moment to talk about my doula, Allison, who was the most amazing thing to happen to my birth. I would never have another baby without a doula. I called her my shepherd, since that’s exactly what she was for me throughout my journey. While my midwives were busy charting and executing their medical role, and my friends were just trying to hold space, my doula never left my side (unless I asked her to). Every time I peed, every time I changed rooms, every time I cried..she was right there, affirming me, telling me stories of  other births, promising me over and over again that the pain would stop the very moment the baby came out.

At this point, I hadn’t been measured yet, and didn’t know how far along I was. Part of going the midwife/homebirth route is that they are very hands off. It’s all about trusting your body, trusting the mother, and trusting the baby. The medical reasons for not checking for dilation are because it GREATLY increases chances of infection (especially in cases where the water has already ruptured). It’s actually kind of crazy that this practice has become normal in hospitals because the research is all there of how much more risk it creates. The psychological reasons for not checking is because it can really put the mother in her head if she’s not “as far along” as she thinks she “should” be.

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But by this point I was going a little crazy and needed to be checked...for my own sanity. Again, the midwife journey is about honoring WHAT THE MOTHER WANTS, and guiding her to have autonomy in her choices. So, though many midwives discourage checking the cervix, when I was clear about wanting it, I got it. I decided that if I was anything less than 8cm dilated, I was going to send my friends home. So, my midwife checked me, and the result was 6cm. I started crying and finally admitted that I needed my friends to leave because I just couldn’t surrender. I am a people-pleaser, and a control freak, and there was zero chance I was going to be able to tap into my primal nature with anyone watching. I asked my doula to go tell all of my friends (except the one who feels like my big sister) to leave while I cried in that bathroom, grieving the loss of the birth I had so carefully “planned” in my head.

9:30am: They suggested I try getting into bed. Again, I had a ton of emotions around this not being a part of my “plan”. My beautiful, wonderful midwife took it upon herself to move all the “affirmations” I had taped up in my living room to my bedroom. I hated those affirmations at that moment. “Fuck the affirmations,” I kept thinking. The only thing good about this part are how beautiful and raw the pictures are from my husband and my doula in bed with me.

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10am: I made Tiffany check me again, I was 8-ish cm.

11am: I tried to overcompensate for the guilt I was feeling about how long this was taking by showcasing a suddenly fresh and invigorated attitude. It became clear that the baby’s position was not great. He was head down, but the awful back labor and slow-ish progress also indicated that he may be mal-positioned. Luckily for me, my doula happened to be familiar with something called Spinning Babies, which is ALL about creating better births by creating better positioned babies. My doula had told me I should be doing these exercises throughout my whole pregnancy, ESPECIALLY third trimester. Here I was, with probably the only doula in town with this knowledge, and I didn’t do it. I assumed that because he was head down that I was totally good to go. I regret that so much, and if I ever had another baby, I would spend my entire pregnancy focusing on this aspect. But it was too late now, so all I could do was try to do some moves in the moment, including deep lunges up my basement stairs, and a weird upside thing that hurt so bad I only achieved one.

12pm: The back labor was so bad at this point, I was so miserable. The ONLY thing that provided relief was sitting slouched on my couch. But here was the kicker: every time I sat like that, I undid all of the progress from the lunges. I literally had to CHOOSE to stop doing the one thing that was bringing me any relief. And here’s why midwives are the heroes of our planet: they never told me that I had to stop slouching. They only suggested it. I remember Tiffany actually saying, “You can keep doing it, we’re not going anywhere, but it is slowing your labor down. We support you no matter what.” Can you fucking believe that?? A doctor in a hospital would probably be like, “I’ve got a golf game at 4, so you need to hurry up.” But here was my birth team, letting me have my journey. I just don’t have words to capture how incredible, humbling, and boundary-pushing that was.

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1pm: My contractions stopped. WHY. GOD. WHY. Emotionally, I knew God was challenging me again and bringing up my people-pleasingness. It was KILLING me knowing that my midwives had come from an overnight birth. I knew they hadn’t slept yet. I knew that I had called them too early. I felt like I failed them, that I should have known I wasn’t as far along as I thought, and that they could have gone home to sleep after the birth from late Friday night. I kept begging them to go take naps in our guest room. And I kept apologizing that I was “taking too long”. I seriously was so triggered by this aspect. It was almost as unbearable as the physical pain. And no amount of loving affirmation from them that everything was fine would help.

Anyway, midwives can’t administer pitocin to stimulate contractions (outside of the hospital), so they used herbal tinctures and nipple stimulation via a breast pump, which are known natural stimulants.

It wasn’t working.

4pm: No urge to push yet and really pissed off about it. I was crying and begging Tiffany to “tell me when it would be over.” I felt like I could handle the rest of the journey if someone could just FUCKING TELL ME how much longer it would be! Even if someone was like, “You’ve still got 8 more hours of this shit,” I would have been like, “Awesome. Someone start the clock.” But not knowing how much longer I had was existential torture like no other. Was it 2 more hours? 5 more hours? 2 more days?!?! The physical pain mixed with the emotional distress of not knowing made me want to die. It was sometime around here that I asked for a gun so I could shoot myself. (Dramatic, I know. But I was NOT planning on this back labor, and I was NOT planning on it taking this long.)

At this point my lovely brother stopped by to take our senior dog for a walk. I remember that he walked in, and so casually and genuinely said, "You're still in labor?"

I. almost. murdered him. He will never live that down.

5pm: More lunges, more stairs, more resisting the urge to recline on the couch, more crying, more begging, more praying and pleading and bargaining with God. One thing that I swear worked is that I kept bargaining with my baby and making deals with him that if he wanted to be born at home, things needed to progress.

6pm: My husband took his third nap. I remember telling myself that I would be very supportive of him napping because he would need his rest and should seize it when he could, but oh my god I was SO FUCKING ANNOYED by this time and resented him for even being able to sleep at all. I’m only noting this because it’s funny and true.

Also, at the time, we decided to discontinue my IV. This was another moment of intuition where I could simply FEEL that I didn’t need it, and that my baby and I would be okay without it. Also, there was something about that contraption being lodged in my hand that was seriously holding me back. I can’t quite describe it but I felt so free when they finally took it out.

Asynclitic

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6:30pm: Midwife noted that the baby felt asynclitic, which refers to the position of a baby in the uterus, such that the head of the baby is presenting first and is tilted to the shoulder, causing the fetal head to no longer be in line with the birth canal. This would explain the excruciating back labor and slow progression.

7pm: I asked to go to the hospital. All the passion I had for having my baby at home was gone, and I just wanted it out of me. Despite there being absolutely no medical concern for me to transfer (heart rate, blood pressure, etc), I had so much fear that I just wasn’t going to be able to do it. My contractions had stopped. In my head I felt like I wasn’t progressing. And though the pain was insane, it was more that no one could tell me when it would be over, and I just wanted to give up.

Of course my midwives supported whatever I wanted to do, but they also knew I was fine, so they encouraged me to understand what transferring would mean, and I realized that it wouldn’t really solve any of my problems (as it was probably too late for an epidural, plus I would have to deal with checking in, etc). The idea of leaving the energy of my home and dealing with the energy of a hospital seemed absolutely impossible. My midwife actually bargained with me, which was a BRILLIANT move on her part. She said, “Let’s check you again, and see if you’ve progressed in dilation. If you have, we should stay.”

I loved that idea and started bargaining again with my baby. I prayed to God and to my baby, “If you want to be born at home, mommy needs you to have progressed past 8cm.”

I laid down to let her check me. I was almost 9cm. We were staying home.

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8pm: I started pushing, laying down in my bed, even though I didn’t really feel the urge to. Pushing laying down is literally the worst thing I’ve ever felt in my life and I cannot believe anyone has babies this way.

9pm: My contractions felt really inconsistent but I wanted to keep pushing. Pushing for that long and feeling like no progress is being made is absolute hell. At one point my midwife gave me a "focal point" of "where" to push by pressing down on my perineum. Not only did it actually feel really good, but also it helped IMMENSELY with the pushing. Highly recommend. I remember begging her, "DO THE FINGER THING AGAIN!!"

9:30pm: My husband and my friend are standing at the side of my bed, watching me push. I would push with all of my might, and nothing would happen, and it was so depressing. Then, one time I pushed, and while I personally didn’t notice anything different, my husband and my friend both GASPED at the exact same moment. They had just seen the head emerge at the very back of the canal. Watching them react was exactly what I needed. The only tragic thing was that I thought it meant I was so close to being done! Little did I know I still had an hour left of pushing.

Somewhere around this time, while pushing with all my might, my midwife reached inside and executed a “manual rotation” to try to get his head unstuck and in line with the birth canal. It was quick, and though the moment in general was chaotic, I 100% remember thinking it was the most badass thing I had ever witnessed. It was also what changed the game, and made the rest of my journey possible. I reflect on this moment a lot when thinking about how expert my birth team was, and how heartbreaking it is when “the establishment” does not take these women seriously. The brains, skills, and spirit it takes to be a midwife is very super-human, while at the same time is the essence of humanness. (If you haven’t seen my performance called “The Passion of the Midwife”, you can watch it here)

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10pm: I started squatting at the foot of my bed. This also hurt like a bitch, but it was so much easier to let go. I realized how much I hadn’t been letting go fully because I was afraid of peeing and pooping. Of course I was squatting over chuck pads, but there was still so much self-consciousness around this aspect. If you want to have a natural birth, I recommend practicing this somehow. 

Anyway, I somehow stopped caring, finally. Like, seriously stopped caring. I would grab the edge of my heavy oak-framed bed and PULL it toward me while simultaneously squatting and yelling, and fluids just starting flowing. There was blood and poop coming out, and my birth team would switch out those pads quick as lighting, and I never saw anything. But damn did it feel good! All the poop and blood meant we were close and it was the most motivating thing ever. It turns out the thing I was most scared of was actually the thing I most needed. Birth is so, so strange and beautiful.

Again, my contractions had stopped, and my team was constantly doing everything they could to get them going. My midwife said, “Your contractions stopping are a sign that you are tired,” (which made sense because I had been up for two days at that point without sleep). That scared the shit out of me. There was absolutely NO FUCKING WAY I WAS TAKING A BREAK. So, I lied, and said that they had started again. And every minute or so I said I could feel one coming out, and I’d bear down, squat, pull on the frame of my bed, and push, stand up, and repeat. It seemed like the baby wasn’t really making it any further down the canal.

10:28pm: I had just come up from squatting and bearing down. I remember my midwife said, “Ok, let’s take a little break,” or something like that. Whatever it was exactly, all I remember was yelling, “NO!!!!!!”, and with that I squatted down, and pulled on the frame of my insanely heavy bed. I remember thinking, I don’t care if I explode. I don’t care if I die, I’m not stopping pushing until this is fucking over. 

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Suddenly, I felt this burning. It’s called “The Ring of Fire”, and it’s the burning sensation felt as the mother's tissues stretch around the baby's head. (It’s very similar to sticking your fingers in your mouth to stretch your lips and pulling as wide as you can.) I yelled, “I FEEL THE BURNING THING!” To be honest, it felt really good in a really weird way, and for a SPLIT second I had a glimpse of what orgasmic birth must feel like. 

Tiffany said, “KEEP GOING!!” She was in her infamous squatting position, twisted, looking up inside of me from below. My husband was also laying on the floor on the other side, looking up, best seat in the house. (He was so cute, not afraid of absolutely anything the entire journey. The midwives even commented on how grounded and calm he was the whole time.)

The poetic thing about birth is that you have to die. Like, you get to this moment where you are SO over the pain, that you legitimately no longer care if you die pushing the baby out. You just want the pain to stop, so you push until you die. You split open, you let go of everything (literally) and you pray for death. And then BAM. In a single MOMENT the excruciating pain just...stops. It’s not gradual; it’s sudden. The pain is just over...and there...is your baby. The death becomes life.

The moment that my death turned into birth was accompanied by a *splat* that I’ll never forget. Mr. Azlan Rey Taglieber did not come out gradually, as I had seen in so many birth videos, where the baby crowns slowly, and gently just fallllllls out. Nope. Not Azzy Rey. He came out in what can only be described as a quantum moment. And just as my doula had been promising, with that splat came instantaneous relief. I remember my midwife catching him like the true professional she is and handing him up to me, bent over at the side of my bed. The next thing I remember is her yelling, “SHORT CORD, DON’T STAND UP!” So there I hunched, holding this THING in my arms, and mumbling, “It’s over. It’s fucking over. I did it. I can’t believe I fucking did it. I did it. I did it. I did it myself.”

When the cord situation was handled, they laid me on my bed and covered Azlan and I in blankets. He never cried. Not once. I remember he was lying belly down on my chest and at one point he lifted his head up and scanned the entire room, looking everyone in the eye like the freakin’ Terminator or something. It was psychedelic and wild.

The moment he was handed to me.

The moment he was handed to me.

This is me looking up at my bff and whispering, "It's over. I did it." You can STRAIGHT UP SEE those #OxytocinVibes in my eyes.

This is me looking up at my bff and whispering, "It's over. I did it." You can STRAIGHT UP SEE those #OxytocinVibes in my eyes.

The most beautiful, candid picture of my husband the moment he became a father.

The most beautiful, candid picture of my husband the moment he became a father.

Everything from there was a blur. The oxytocin rushed in, and while the midwives did their thing (which was beyond fascinating to see) I remember staring at my bff Heather at the foot of my bed, and she was crying (and snapping these amazing photos), and I kept whispering to her, “Mama, I did it. I did it. He’s here. It’s finally over. I did it.”

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They had me “birth” my placenta, which I never remember learning ANYWHERE in all my education. It’s the most wild, sensational feeling. Like birthing jello. They properly cared for it so that it could be made into placenta capsules by this amazing local doula.

Everything was so calm, and we know we were blessed to not have required any further medical procedures. The home-birth experience, when as healthy and smooth as mine, is very hands-off. There was no rush. There was no unnecessary separation. They allowed his cord to stay connected until it turned white. My midwife stitched my one, small tear in the comfort of my bedroom. We were laughing, joking, crying.

My doula fed me an ice cold cherry coke she found in the fridge (sorry, Amanda), and it was THE MOST GLORIOUS THING I HAVE EVER TASTED IN MY LIFE. I freakin’ chugged that thing. I’ll never forget that cherry coke.

The midwives told me that they couldn’t leave until I peed at least once, and that sometimes it can take a really long time and multiple tries. I remember thinking, I’m gonna rock this for you ladies. I’m going to pee quicker than anyone has ever peed as a small token for having had a 22.5 hour labor. 

AND I DID. I peed right away, and shouted, “I PEED!” And they cheered from the other room.

The next thing I know, it was probably 3 am, and Tiffany was tucking the 3 of us into bed. She kissed my head and turned out my light as she let herself out of my house. The last thing she said was, “This is your last chance to get a really long stretch of sleep.”

And that was it. I was a mother. 

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I listened to the stillness of my mostly-empty house for what felt like a really long time. Writing this now, almost a year later, I don’t actually remember if I ever slept. But I do know I didn’t leave my bed, my favorite place on Earth, and now the holy site where I gave birth, for almost 2 weeks. It was more glorious than anything I could have designed myself.

Looking back and examining the motifs that showed up in my journey, I realize that this birth for me was about letting go of what other people thought of me, and, recognizing that I can do things myself. Where many people struggle with asking for help, I think I struggle to believe I can do things on my own. I have a tendency toward codependency, often believing that I need other people to accomplish my goals (more so professionally than personally). The light side of this trait is that I have a talent for bringing teams together, and my matriarchal role is often the glue holding things together, as well as the air stoking the fire in the passions of other people’s heart. The shadow side of this trait is that I forget I’m enough on my own-- that I, too, am worthy of being produced, not just being the one who is producing. Like all codependents, I avoid looking at myself by focusing on others. Now I know that when I focus on myself, I’m capable of producing life.

Amen.”

Jessica @reverend.levity

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This is why excellent childbirth education is a must, why planning for your birth and the unexpected challenges that can arise, is so important today, and is a major reason why I created my Love Your Birth course. It is a comprehensive online course that teaches women what they need to know about planning and carrying out the birth that they want in all settings - the hospital, birthing center or at home. It’s a course on how to have a holistic, healthy pregnancy for the body, mind, and soul - and is how I have guided thousands of women and their families in my midwifery practice for over 21 years.

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It contains a rolodex of my favorite resources with over 200 of the best books, movies and supplies I use personally and professionally with my clients, family & friends. Even diving into a fraction of this list will have you feeling empowered and prepared for conception, pregnancy, postpartum and parenting...It includes resources on improving and even ensuring ensuring healthier pregnancy and birth outcomes than the status quo, and preventing and healing from birth trauma so prevalent in the modern world!  

Be prepared to do some research on your own, but knowledge restores your power. I also help you prepare your mindset for such a task, to debunk myths, and to reframe any current ideas or conditioning about pregnancy and birth that can use a change in perspective or that are simply incorrect and do serve you. After finishing the course, the idea is that you are now able to create and have the healthy, beautiful and empowering pregnancy and birth that you want - so you can ROCK your birth, however it unfolds!

It’s wonderful alone, a great refresher or adjunct to any other course!

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“Forget your childbirth class, and take steps to your most empowering experience. If you are thinking about conception, pregnant, or love someone who is, take it from me that her wisdom is life-changing.
Yours in the truth

— Kelly Brogan, MD