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Things You May Find At Your Midwife's Office

 

The list below shares with you 15 wonderful things you may find during prenatal care visits with midwives, especially those who practice in relatively small group private practices, out of hospital - in free standing birthing centers and home settings across the United States. Other countries may have slightly different models, but authentic midwifery practice shares many common core philosophies of care, so I suspect there would not be much difference.  They are:

  1. Time – as in actual time for connecting and developing a relationship with your midwife; so that you can ask your questions and speak about your concerns. Time for the midwife to ask you the questions she needs to make assessments about your health and wellbeing, so she can best guide and support you.

  2. Continuity of care - the midwife (or one of the 1-2 partners, if in a small group practice) you see during your prenatal visits will most likely be the midwife who attends your birth.

  3. A big heart - your midwife will give you every ounce of her heartfelt knowledge, expertise and care for you and your baby. You may just feel so close with your midwife after a while, she is like your best big sister or wise friend, and her office is a safe space for you to share, laugh, or cry about anything.

  4. Education - your midwife will teach you and your loved ones about your body, what’s happening, what to expect along your childbearing journey, and what you can do to make it easier, healthier, more positive. This includes diagrams and models of pregnant moms and babies, placentas, umbilical cords, membranes and pelvises. Your midwife might just have a mirror for anatomy lessons of your own body if you are interested....like in seeing your cervix.

  5. Tea and healthy snacks for everyone.

  6. Inspirational quotes, affirmations and art about pregnancy, giving birth, breastfeeding, baby wearing and parenting.

  7. Pictures of graduates on the wall and/or in photo albums.

  8. A collection of thank you notes and birth stories (I call them love letters) in collages and/or scrapbooks.

  9. Midwifery and holistic health text/reference books and a lending library of books and movies on pregnancy, natural childbirth, breastfeeding and newborn care.

  10. Enough seating arrangements for the whole family and even some friends, as well as toys and books for the little ones.

  11. Hands - your midwife’s hands are skillful both in their assessment AND the supportive touch they offer.

  12. Tools - all the supplies and knowledge of how to use them, that could possibly needed for your journey. These include equipment such as blood pressure cuff and stethoscope, fetoscope, Doppler and gel for checking baby’s heart rate, scale, measuring tape for assessing the height and growth of your uterus, and lab supplies for checking your blood, urine, screening for infection and pap smear AND so much more! If she uses an exam table, the stirrups will be covered with oven mitts, and it will probably have a nice comfortable and decorative sheet and pillow on it, with a stool for climbing up and down or for the little ones to be involved.

  13. A boutique, where you can buy needed items like supplements and natural remedies, books, affirmation cards, birth kits, and rent a birth tub.

  14. Office and birth assistants - your midwife may also have students, apprentices, and even have a doula or two to choose from; she may have space to host childbirth classes, pregnancy and postpartum support groups, prenatal and postpartum yoga, parenting groups and all sorts of relevant helpful workshops and community events.

  15. Needed medical and midwifery knowledge and clinical skills; and she will also be familiar with and use a variety of holistic, alternative and natural modalities that can help you during and after pregnancy, birth and beyond.

As you go about choosing your midwife and planning for your birth, you might want to ask yourself what is important for you from the above list. Does your midwife or obstetrician offer some of these things, or what you feel you want and need?  Start writing down your questions and your preferences now in a journal, so when you meet her - you have them handy. My online Love Your Birth course will not only help you prepare for having optimal health in pregnancy and beyond, but will also help you to hone in on your own inner calm, joy and strength, as well as empower you with ways to speak your voice, and ideally avoid unnecessary interventions, medications or surgery. It will guide you get clear on what you really want, and make informed decisions given all your available options.

 

Healing VBAC Birth Story

 
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“My first birth was a natural birth gone wild - my sons leg came out after 24 hours of natural labor - - so this VBAC was soooooo healing for me!!!!

I still cry thinking about both births!” Kimberly Spair of Reclaimers of Health

Here is a glimpse into my birth story, written by Birth Doula https://philadelphiabirthdoulas.com/ 

VBAC baby girl arrived on November 9 after 48 hours birthing!! (Vaginal birth after cesarean!) Past her October guess date it began November 7 at 8 pm and after exactly 48 hours of unmedicated birthing, Hypno-baby Braelyn Mae arrived our world at 7:55 pm naturally at 9 lb 4 oz. After over a day of consistent pressure waves (contractions) exhausted still at 4cm, mom released her emotions and fears about a repeat cesarean. Her first birth was scary and traumatic. She expressed her fears and replayed trauma of her first birth with us. We honored her, we reminded her that this is a new beautiful birth, and that she was doing it.

Birth was filled with beautiful intense emotions, physical challenges, consistent counter pressure, and mom continued to change positions, in and out of the birthing tub, using her natural instincts and accepted every suggestion to birth her baby. Mom pushed for 4-5 hours and then her moment was here… she reached down and their beautiful baby girl was in her arms.

“Fear is what got me through. I was MORE afraid of a c-section and more trauma. My birth was extremely hard-but not traumatic! I guess I can say “old fear” because I had very little fear of going naturally.” She shared and released her fears with us although what WE saw throughout her entire birth was fear that she overcame with COURAGE, STRENGTH, DETERMINATION, AND CONFIDENCE.

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It was an honor and joy to be part of this special family’s beautiful birthing. They mean so much to me. We were fortunate to have a calm, supportive environment and to work with an incredible midwife. All birth is beautiful, all birth is unique. Going on 6 years as a doula this birth experience was truly unique to any birth I’ve had the opportunity to support. I can’t possibly describe this 2-day birth in an announcement. One strong mama! Mama, You inspire me and I thank you for inviting me in to be a small part of your pregnancy and birthing journey. So proud of you. You did it! Thank you for sharing your birth as I know you inspire many other families. Congratulations to a very special family of four. #VBAC #Hypnobabies #unmedicatedbirth #VBACaccomplished #VBACthat #wowbirth #ilovewhatidoula

Was your birth upsetting or traumatic? Do you have more questions about processing your birth and need help healing? Arrange some time to chat with me. I’d love to answer your questions and help you heal and get yourself back - I have a program specifically got you, that can also include this revolutionary and last natural healing modality called Clarity Breathwork.  Helping women heal from birth trauma is one of my passions and areas of expertise. 

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This is why excellent childbirth education is a must, why planning for your birth 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. 

You can get a free nugget from my course - all about creating your ideal birth plan here. A huge part of preventing birth trauma is getting clear your birth preferences, knowing the pros and cons about all the tests and procedures, all the interventions your may be faced with, so you can make informed decisions - rather than simply give over your body, your choice and voice to your health care providers and institution you choose.

In looking for that supportive birthing space I talked about earlier, seek care providers and settings that have a low intervention rate (low rates of medical interventions like inductions and epidurals, low rates of cesareans, etc.)—their practices are more likely to be in line with your goals.

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 hereHave a Great Postpartum Recovery (with a little help from Bellefit)!

I am thrilled to announce that you get a $20 Off with code: ANNE20 at checkout - if you purchase here.

 

The Transformative Power of Dance

Dance has always been a powerful tool in my life.  I dance when I need to recharge and recalibrate when times get tough, or just to get out of my head and into my body – where I feel so much better and more vibrant and alive. I dance when I need to feel and express emotion, relieve stress or simply create fun and happy.

And I know I can’t be alone!  

Modern life can be overwhelming.  Each day, we are inundated by technology, distraction, and negativity.  It is easy to get caught up in the morass and to lose connection with ourselves.  Of course, life often has more in store for us than just innocuous daily challenges.  At one point or another, we are all confronted bytrauma of varying degrees...verbal, sexual or physical abuse, a career crisis, illness, accidents, death of a loved one, relationship problems, financial trouble.  Needless to say, life can be hard.

When life feels off track, I say it’s time to put on music a start dancing.  Dancing will help you move through the tough emotions, tap into your inner joy, your playfulness, your aliveness, even your sensuality, and sassiness — all of which are an integral part of healing and living fully.

Dance has real benefits:

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1. Improved flexibility

Repeated practice will increase the flexibility of the body, so you know how far your body is able to be moved, and you decrease your risk of injury.

2. Stronger muscles

Dancing often calls on muscles that are rarely used in everyday activities – especially in modern sedentary living. Dancing can strengthen the abdominal muscles, buttocks, and thighs and just about all body muscles from regular practice.

3. Weight management

Regular dancing is a wonderfully effective way to stay fit and maintain a healthy weight. It also helps you lose excess weight. High-intensity repetitive motion and mastering the technique requires a lot of calories.

4. Body Shaping

Shake with graceful body movements during the dance, will be put on the joints and ligaments of the lower spine back into position. Mastering the technique improves posture.

5. Increased stamina & confidence = Better Sex!

Dancing is a workout and can improve stamina, as well as toning your muscles naturally. Not only that, you will feel more confident, alive and fabulous in other parts of your life.  Dancing helps you feel better and sexier outside of the dance class.

6. Improved Blood Circulation

Improve Blood Circulation system that is very important in maintaining the balance of the body's biological system as a whole.

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A Closer Look: The Femme! Experience

Femme! is a passionate fusion of dance, sensual motion, meditation and celebration of the human form, designed by Dance, Health & Fitness Expert, Bernadette Pleasant.  

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Femme! is about the freedom to love your curves, move your body and express yourself freely… your way! From your head to your heart, to your hips, it’s an empowered, fun, fit and sexy way to warm it up, work it out, make it move, express and release emotions, and cool it down with ease and sensuality. “It’s your body; you can do whatever you want with it – including love it, unapologetically.”

Using a variety of movement and musical styles including live drummers, Femme! interweaves the influences of Dance, Healing and Sensual Arts into a multi-sensory healing experience that expresses the entire body.

Set to African drumming, Femme! is not a work out class and no prior dance experience is necessary!   This is an opportunity to find an outlet for deep emotional healing. The hypnotic pulse of drumming moves dancers and drummers into a joyful celebration of life and provides a space for self-expression of the full range of emotion and incredible release. The focus is on "heart and soul drumming" as an avenue for individual spiritual deepening, healing and collective community building. It is a timeless tradition common to so many different cultures. An opportunity to unite a community as each individual enjoys a stronger connection with spirit.  

I’ve been to Multiple trauma, healing, growth and transformation workshops and trainings, - 10,40, 100, 500, 2300 people in a room telling their stories, feeling, digesting, expressing, moving through the full range of human emotions with music, sound and dance– from grief & rage to joy, sensuality, wild primal, play and celebration.  We lose connection with our wisdom and power because we lose connection with our bodies.  The trapped energy of inner stress, emotional pain, grief, anger, feeling stuck, past traumas ALWAYS show up in our bodies….no matter how disconnected and distracted we are, despite our efforts to deny and escape and bury in busyness…without even realizing. The body never lies. When you open up a dialogue with your body, you recover an essential part of yourself.

The Femme! Experience creates a sacred, safe space for every participant to feel and live fully as human beings; to move in sensual ways, to explore and release emotions, to change beliefs about themselves and to unapologetically love their bodies.  It invites everyone to reclaim their power and to boldly display that power as they move freely and fabulously throughout the world and to radiate our unique magnificence through our body, in every aspect of our lives.  Learning the Femme! Experience is to learn how to use movement to heal and transform yourself.

Let me know if this article helps.  I’d love to hear from you!

 

JOIN MY REVIVE WORKSHOP THIS AUGUST 17 - 19!!!

Feeling stressed, overwhelmed, stuck, uninspired & not sure how to get out of the rut? Juggling it all, career, kids, family, relationships, expectations, health issues?

Are you holding on to emotional pain that’s eating you away from the inside out? Is fear, emptiness, lack of connection, guilt or shame holding you back from truly living your life to the fullest?

If so, it's time to embrace your life fully & fiercely again! It’s not only ok but absolutely necessary to PRESS PAUSE from time to time to reset and recharge. If we don’t, it can take a toll on our physical and mental health and affect our families and loved ones.

I am hosting, with my friend Asta Kay, the Revive Retreat, to practice the incredible modalities of the Femme! Dance Experience with live African drumming, and Clarity Breathwork, as well as other luscious healing, calming and soothing activities for your mind, body, heart and soul. During this 3-day healing weekend - August 17-19th at the Lifebridge Foundation Sanctuary in Rosendale, NY, you will learn how to use powerfully effective tools to release stress, trauma and emotional pain. This retreat is all about healing, reclaiming yourself, reconnecting, feeling vibrantly alive and fabulous.

You will leave the retreat feeling so much better in your body, gain healthy coping skills, connect in community, and cultivate more joy and freedom in your life. To learn more and register please visit: https://www.revive-workshop.com and unleash the power within yourself! Hope you can join us! Only just a few spaces are left!

Understanding Epidurals and the Benefits of a Natural Birth

 
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We’re discussing the pros and cons of epidurals! What is their place in the medical world and should they be as commonplace as they are?

Modern medicine today encourages epidurals like water. This doesn’t make epidurals inherently bad - they are simply being misused and overused. It is time we tell the truth about epidurals. Physician, neonatologist and researcher Dr. Michael Klein, points out in his three part Science and Sensibility blog analysis of the evidence

on epidurals, “Women need to be accurately and completely informed of their choices for pain relief in labour before they can provide their true consent. No matter how well intended, epidural analgesia increases the likelihood that women will have a variety of other interventions, especially if the epidural is given without specific medical indications….When used routinely as a first line agent, epidural analgesia can create problems that could have been avoided.”

Epidurals can be literally life-saving in a dire situation when a cesarean birth or medical induction of labor is needed, and there are times when they are indeed warranted, but there are serious concerns about their use in a childbirth process that is proceeding normally and healthily - when their risks outweigh their benefits.

I will hopefully give you an enlightening look at the different sides of epidurals, including the situations when they are very necessary. You making an informed decision for yourself, is what’s important here. But do your research.

Learn more about the intricate process of labor and delivery, as well as what your mind and body are doing during each stage, the purpose of its sensations and how to best cope with them. I go into this thoroughly in my online Love Your Birth course. The more you really understand what is going on, the less you will fear it, the more you will trust and lean into it. And know your strength and capabilities. You’d be surprised at what you’re able to withstand and overcome!

It is crucial to prepare for coping with natural labor, even if you think you will want or need an epidural, as you will still have to experience parts of labor, it is not always an option depending on your health history, the anesthesiologist does not often come right away, and the epidural does not always work adequately.

How do Epidurals Work?

An epidural is an injection of a large needle in the lower back that pierces the covering of the spinal cord. Medications are injected through a tiny catheter threaded through the needle, into space surrounding the spinal cord and then they infuse the nerves nearby. These medications consist of usually a regional anesthetic and an opiate.

The anesthetic drugs temporarily block the sensory nerves which usually create the numbing and this, in turn, inevitably blocks the motor nerves with some degree of paralysis. The opiates are included because they increase the effectiveness of the anesthetic, allow for less dose required, while working to decrease the blockage of motor nerves at the same time.

The Cons

The true downturns of using an epidural occur in a birth that is perfectly healthy and normal are many, according to the research. This will then lead to a cascade of other risky and dangerous interventions just by taking a drug in which there was no need in the first place. In fact, epidurals increase the risk of requiring a C-section, especially when given too early - but there are plenty of other reasons for this.

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According to Dr. Kelly Brogan’s research, there’s been a 60% rise of C-sections since 1996. A study has shown that a prolonged second stage of labor is the main reason for most C-sections. This prolongation can be directly linked to the use of epidurals, for many reasons, including a mom’s decreased ability to push effectively and her needing to be in supine positions that make birthing more difficult, as it goes against gravity and pelvic capacity is at its smaller dimensions.

Related: The Unnecesarean Birth Story - How It Might Have Been Prevented

What happens after this prolonged stage? A myriad of interventions to “help” induce the birth: “food and drink restriction, immobilization, IV fluids, bladder catheter, medications to augment labor, and continuous monitoring.” All of these will only encourage the need for even more intervention, like vacuums, forceps, episiotomy and increased probability of more severe perineal tearing into the anal sphincter and rectum, or major abdominal surgery. All medications, invasive interventions and operative deliveries risks birth trauma and injury to the baby as well as the mother.

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Epidurals prolong all stages of labor. They increase the incidence of fever for mom, which leads to IV antibiotics in case of infection that most likely is non-existent. Antibiotics disrupt the microbiome and lead to all the associated health risks of interfering with the healthy balance of bacteria within the body for both mom and baby. It can also lead to signs of fetal distress, which then lead to other interventions from needing oxygen to emergency surgical delivery.

This drug administration does upset the normal hormonal balance during labor. While the very nature of an epidural is to alleviate at least some of the pain and so easing a good chunk of stress, some stress during labor is actually quite good for both mother and baby.

Cortisol (the stress hormone), for example, lessens mom’s exhaustion; it gives the mother energy to push, and heightens her euphoria and sense of excitement—a big part of the natural birth experience which we’ll get into a bit later—and this euphoria actually increases bonding with the baby. For the baby, the healthy “stress” of being born turns many biological processes on during the whole birthing process, like the breathing instinct at birth, which eases transition to adjusting to life outside the womb. No surprise that babies may need more assistance to breathe.

There are so many effects that also take place in the aftermath of the birth since an epidural is a narcotic that’ll pass from mother’s circulation, through the placenta into the baby’s bloodstream.

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Evidence supports risks to the baby from epidurals, that include reduced muscle tone, poor feeding, jaundice, withdrawal, and sensorimotor impairment. Epidurals have been linked to failure to establish breastfeeding and this is not to be taken lightly, as breastfed babies have much healthier outcomes and less health risks than formula fed babies. Newborns also can get a fever and increased heart rate from the epidural, without having an infection, but separation from mom and extensive work-up in the neonatal intensive care unit ensues for evaluation, including blood tests, spinal tap, and precautionary IV antibiotics.  Renowned childbirth educator Penny Simkin highlights that “epidurals can result in short - term subtle neurobehavioral effects, such as irritability and inconsolability and decreased ability to track an object visually or to shut out noise, bright light. There are no data on potential long-term effects....Decreased infant responsiveness may lead to long-term consequences for the parent-infant relationship... (risking) labels of “difficult child” or “incompetent mother” (self imposed or by others).” 

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The mother can experience some annoying but distressing side effects - mostly from the medications entering her bloodstream and/or administration error, like itching, nausea, shivering, spinal headache, residual numbness, tingling and weakness, backache, as well as alarming side effects, like difficulty swallowing and breathing, rare permanent nerve damage, convulsions, respiratory paralysis, cardiac arrest, and even death. Evidence based care expert Henci Goer points out in her ongoing evaluation of risks and benefits of maternity care, that epidurals cause, “Somewhere between 1 in 1,400 and 1 in 4,400 women to experience a life-threatening complication.”

This is some very scary stuff! And yet, epidurals aren’t so much the problem as are our society’s tendencies to consider them such a benign and advised common practice for the majority of laboring women.

Epidurals necessitate hospital birth, and eliminate the home and birth center option, which are associated with better health outcomes physically and emotionally for mom and baby, when it comes to low risk healthy childbirth. Dr. Klein poignantly elaborates on the concerns that epidurals have medicalized birth so much so, that they increase the demand on the nurse to pay greater attention to the technology of all the resulting interventions, and consequently have less time, experience and skill to provide needed hands-on and emotional support for the laboring woman.

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Disruption of the normal hormones of labor with epidural use can cause the laboring mom to feel detached from her own childbirth process and to becomes more of an observer than a participant. Studies indicate that women who had an epidural may have had less pain, but were most dissatisfied with their experience even up to a year later. The provider and nurse can no longer assess labor progress by observing the mother and must rely on the monitor - which makes the experience more impersonal - and vaginal exams - which are invasive and increase risk of infection. Use of epidurals and the anesthesiologist alone raise the cost of care, and it increases exponentially with the cascade of hospital interventions that result.

So, when are epidurals medically appropriate? In an urgent or concerning health situation when there are serious complications, but not in a normal, healthy, natural birth. They can be also psychologically appropriate, in individual cases.

The Pros

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One of my founding philosophies in helping women to have a safe, healthy and transcending birth experience is that a birth (of any kind, in all settings!) isn’t a medical procedure—it’s a natural and miraculous process of life. It’s not in and of itself a dangerous crisis.

That being said, I’d like to affirm that an epidural has its place in childbirth.

When a labor isn’t proceeding normally, when there’s a prolonged or arrested labor or the mother is experiencing exhaustion, extreme pain and/or anxiety, the compassionate use of an epidural could be the answer, and can enable her to relax, rest and progress to vaginal delivery. There could be a real medical need for medications to help induce or augment labor, which make labor sensations much more painful.  As a last resort, an epidural can help relieve the pain and stress from an emergency situation.

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A woman suffering from preeclampsia, for example, who receives an epidural anesthetic, will likely not have a prolonged second stage of labor. Epidural tends to lower blood pressure, which is a benefit in cases of hypertension.

An epidural could also be an advantage during a major operation like a cesarean;  in most cases, it carries much less risk than general anesthesia and is a great alternative to being unconscious from the high doses of those medications.

Epidurals can provide relief or reduction of pain without impacting mother’s mental state. Since birth by C-section is still a birth, an epidural can help the mom stay fully alert and pain-free during this operation. She’ll be involved, fully capable of holding and bonding with her baby even after a C-section operation, as opposed to being put out from a general anesthetic.

Keep in mind that I’m speaking of C-sections that are necessary because of endangering complications and serious issues. This is not the same as C-sections that are caused by epidurals themselves like we spoke about before. Cesareans in and of themselves are supposed to be the last resort, and indicated for serious life threatening health problems —the fact that we have them more and more often in America and that they are treated as a normal procedure during a labor is a sore reflection of our society’s ideas of pregnancy and birth.

Related: How to Plan, Have, and Rock Your VBAC

How do You Prepare for an Epidural-Free Birth?

 Photo by @senhoritasfotografia

Photo by @senhoritasfotografia

Not only is a natural birth the healthiest way to go but science is more and more discovering ancient truths about birth.

The women who come to me want to have their pregnancy and labor in their own way and they don’t want to numb themselves to the healthy and normal sensations of giving birth. It is, in fact, your own birthright as a woman to have this right of passage into motherhood. The women I work with want to feel that empowerment and the high of successfully bringing their child into the world on their own.

Understanding what your body is capable of can begin to give you the confidence you need to begin planning your natural birth. My Love Your Birth course can help you prepare for the entire process from beginning to end. You’ll equally learn how to cope with and handle labor pains...so much so that you can love your experience no matter how challenging. The right preparation really begins with a shift in mindset, not just about labor but in what your body is capable of doing.

“In labor, such high-levels [of beta-endorphins] are released and help the laboring woman to transcend pain, as she enters the altered state of consciousness that characterizes an undisturbed birth. In the hours after birth, elevated beta-endorphin levels reward and reinforce mother-baby interactions, including physical contact and breastfeeding as well as contributing to intensely pleasurable, even ecstatic, feelings for both.” -Sarah Buckley, MD.

 Photo by @senhoritasfotografia

Photo by @senhoritasfotografia

My rate of successful women having natural births is 93%--the other 7% of cases had complications that required medical attention or surgical intervention. But, in over two decades practice as a homebirth midwife, I’ve never once had  transfer a mother to the hospital for an epidural or any other pain medication because she couldn’t cope with sensations of normal labor. Never once! It is not that women who come to me have different bodies. It has more to do with how well they prepare themselves in advance, their attitudes and mindset, and how they are cared for and supported during birth.

Women are able to do what comes naturally when they are prepared, supported and encouraged to follow their own desires for their birth. Women have been giving birth naturally around the world since the beginning of time. Today we interfere more with it, and sometimes we get in our own way. Have faith that your body and nature both have your back—they were designed to know what to do! We just need to step aside. That takes advance preparation in the modern world, as well as care providers and settings that will have the same philosophy and expertise.

The physicality that is required to give birth has been compared to the performance of an endurance athlete! There’s an inherent strength in every woman to go beyond what she knows herself to be capable of. And when she does that, she is darn proud of herself; she has discovered her strength and capacity she can draw on for the rest of her life.

Learn as much as you can about what that is, about yourself and your body. The pride and joy that a woman experiences after giving birth naturally is overwhelming. So many mommas are overcome with their own capability to bring their child into the world.

Don’t deprive yourself of the sensations and transcending experience. You are able and you are supported!

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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 hereHave a Great Postpartum Recovery (with a little help from Bellefit)! I am thrilled to announce that you get a $20 Off with code: ANNE20 at checkout - if you purchase here.

 
 
 

Healing Emotional Pain, Inner Stress and Past Trauma Naturally

 

Healing With a Form of Breathing - Clarity Breathwork

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In dealing with my personal experiences of childhood and teenage abuse, severe stress, emotional pain, physical pain, tragedy, and birth trauma, unconsciously over the years it became habitual to repress and bury my experiences and feelings. It finally started to catch up with me. I felt something was very wrong. It felt horrible to be in my body. I tried various types of therapy and so many different holistic modalities to heal like herbs, supplements, osteopathy, homeopathy, hypnotherapy, acupuncture, reiki, and then conventional approaches. Although some of these things were helpful, none worked permanently or completely. 

I knew I was carrying around this awful emotional stuff inside; but I didn’t have access to it and I wanted it out. Talk therapy never helped me; it made me feel worse. I found Clarity Breathwork by 'accident' - I overheard someone talking about the profound healing experience she had with it during a yoga retreat. I made an appointment that changed my life. My sessions of breathwork led to the complete relief and healing I'd been searching for. I found gold and I had to share it. I took extensive training to become a practitioner myself, so that I could help guide others through it. 

If you’ve experienced intense stress, emotional pain or any type of trauma that impacts your life today this modality represents true hope and is a must. Clarity Breathwork is for you if you have physical or emotional symptoms that modern medicine and other modalities cannot diagnose or heal; if you feel stuck in your life, or have emotional blocks, habitual thoughts or behaviors that are limiting you; if you want increased energy and vitality (to feel like yourself again- or even better!), healthy, holistic and natural ways to reduce stress in a way that lasts; if you desire more ease, flow and joy in your life and relationships.

This form of Breathwork is such an effective healing tool to compliment my practice as a certified nurse midwife. Over many years, the women in my practice, their partners, extended families and friends have shared with me and sought my guidance for their deepest darkest sufferings. I guide women to birth their babies into the world and themselves as moms. I also guide people to heal their wounds, rebirth themselves as healthy and whole human beings capable of immense joy and inner peace that is our birthright. I have held space for the huge powerful transformation of birth and rebirth — that both involve challenging situations of extreme intensity, vulnerability, pain of all degrees, facing enormous fears head on, surrendering to a process far greater than all of us - and lead to the creation of enormous relief, empowerment, elation, love, and miracles. 

What is Clarity Breathwork

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Clarity Breathwork is a powerful potent healing modality, yet gentle and nurturing, that uses a certain type of breath to release trapped energy of inner stress, trauma, emotional pain and harmful repeated thought patterns from the body – resulting in lasting effective recovery. It is the most potent modality I have ever experienced myself and used to help numerous others alleviate their suffering, and it is completely natural. The risk is feeling better and getting your joyful self back. 

The International Breathwork Foundation describes it: “breathwork is a dynamic body-mind practice using conscious connected breathing techniques for inner peace, enhanced well-being and personal transformation. Breathing, beyond the basic need for survival, acts as a bridge between spirit, mind, and body; between the conscious and the subconscious.”

According to the foundation, “Conscious breathing is one of the quickest ways to open the heart and energize the body. When used in specific ways, breathing allows us to release and resolve emotions, belief systems, stresses and memories which are often inaccessible through the more conventional talking therapies.”

Clarity Breathwork, a form of what was previously called Rebirthing, is a safe, easily accessible and all natural, but powerfully effective process of healing, growth and transformation that is not usually achieved with traditional therapy and modalities which only involve the logical mind. It enables you to tap into your body’s tremendous capacity to rebalance and heal. It increases oxygen and energy flow in the body, helps gently release toxins, negative thoughts, inner tension and stress, suppressed wounds, painful emotions and trapped trauma within you. It leads to greater clarity, a deeper sense of knowing and profound insights into your core life’s issues. This work, and its life coaching aspects, can also bring awareness to habitual dysfunctional subconscious beliefs, repetitive patterns and conditioning, as well as remove blocks and a sense of feeling stuck, that limit you from living the life you want. It allows for spontaneous completion and resolution, invites you to develop the courage to cultivate acceptance, understanding, reconciliation and even gratitude for past hurts. It enhances love, compassion, and forgiveness of yourself and others, and inspires you to take responsibility for your life, embrace what is, and let go of trying to control what cannot be controlled.

What is amazing is how it can bring consciousness to your subconscious — which dictates much of your bodily functions, emotional responses, and behavior. Clarity Breathwork can even connect you to the spiritual realm within and around you, to reveal the true magnificence of who you are and heal a mistaken sense of separation from these essential components of life. Thee process creates an incredible feeling of relief, aliveness, enhanced well-being, and joy. Wonderful inner change creates outer changes in your well-being, your life, your direction and sense of purpose, and your relationships.

How Does Clarity Breathwork Work?

Physically

Breath is what gives us life, needed fuel, energy and oxygen; exhaling is the most effective natural detoxification. Clarity Breathwork invites you to breathe at 100% of your lungs’ capacity, accessing 100% of your respiratory system. In modern day life, we usually breathe far less than that, with 20-30% of our lung capacity. Oxygen is the main fuel/energy for every cell and organ in your body. During the time you are breathing completely and fully in this way, you are enabling your cells to get get fully oxygenated and energized, you are supplying yourself with maximum amount of that fuel.

You are also releasing toxins, so that your entire body can work better and operate more efficiently. Your lungs are the main organ of detoxification as well, releasing many toxins, not just carbon dioxide, so you are getting a huge cleansing and natural detoxification with breathwork. This enables your cells and organs to function most optimally and healthfully.

In the state of breathing in this way, you are bathing in healthy hormones. You are creating a more alkaline state, instead of acidic state associated with many diseases.

By doing this, everything in your body works better and more efficiently, so you are putting yourself in the most ideal state of health that is possible for you.

Emotionally

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Breath is also intricately involved in our emotional responses. When we are relaxed, we breathe more slowly and deeply. When we encounter a stressor, our bodies are hard-wired to go into the fight or flight stress response. Sometimes this can be lifesaving. But if there is no imminent danger, we still experience all the symptoms and effects of the stress hormones which become harmful over time, and often we are without the ability to fully process it all — especially if the stress is chronic or severe. We momentarily hold our breath, then breathe more rapidly and shal- low, and the unprocessed emotions felt at the time get subconsciously repressed, and stored as trapped energy within the body, without our knowing.

Breath is the vehicle by which we process emotion. Clarity Breathwork puts you in a semiconscious state, gets your conscious mind out of the way so your central nervous system can reset. It is like turning off and on the computer, so we can return to ideal original state/intended original factory settings, so your body can rebalance anything out of balance. It enables the trapped emotional energy in your body and cellular memory, that was not processed to come up to be felt, expressed, processed and cleared/released on its own without you having to think, know, mentally understand, analyze, or talk about it, without having to try to make it happen or access your subconscious via thought.

In the process of Clarity Breathwork, you are opening and accessing your subconscious. You get awareness and clarity of your core limiting beliefs, dysfunctional patterning, old programming and conditioning, which frees you from them, and enables you to transform them. Breathwork literally empowers the body to reset, recalibrate, rebalance, heal itself.

Many people in the modern world operate almost continuously in the fight or flight mode even though there is no actual danger from which to flee, wreaking havoc with their health. Animals, especially mammals, shake off trauma energy, after they escape a predator threat, and return to their normal relaxed state of being — they move on without being impacted by the trauma experience; the energy of the trauma is not suppressed, it does not build up and cause dis-ease as it does in humans. Humans tend to carry baggage of past wounds, hurts, pains, and traumas. Clarity Breathwork enables the breather to be in an altered state, so the body naturally releases this baggage of past trauma energy, and when it is released we feel better emotionally as well as physically. It is incredible to feel and to witness the immense relief that follows.

Spiritually

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It even works on a deeper spiritual level, regardless of whether you believe it or not, and is inclusive of all belief systems. Spirituality means a lot of different things to different people. Whatever you believe it does not matter — God, Spirit, mother earth, goddess, the universe. The route of breath, inspire, is in spirit, which can simply be all that which transcends the body. Around the world in many cultures and religions, breath is associated with spirit, God, the infinite and eternal — from all biblical religions where God is described as breathing life into the first humans Adam and Eve, to the yogic traditions describing prana (breath) as spiritual life force energy.

Clarity Breathwork has no association with any religion or spiritual dogma, but it sure has spiritual benefits; it enables us to explore, feel deeper into, and connect to the essence of who we are, that which is sublime and so very there, but not directly discernible through our five senses. It connects you with the less tangible transcendent aspects of you.

Clarity Breathwork can lead to transcendental and divine mystical experiences. People report they connect with a higher power, energy/presence of others who have died or are not near, but still present for reconciliation, support or guidance, have healing visions, access great clarity and get incredible insights.

Breathwork takes you beyond your limiting judgmental mind, beyond your body, beyond the illusion of separation from divine energy within and around us, and each other.

If you are literally taking in all this breath, inhaling the spiritual life-force fully into your being, especially with the intention to heal, the healing that takes place is all the more profound; this not only makes this modality even more compelling, but also it provides such an incredible tool, that you can access at your own will. Miracles happen. I have experienced them myself or witnessed them in countless others.

Want to try it? There are group and private local and online sessions available throughout the year. Go to my Clarity Breathwork website page for more details and the full schedule. 

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Join my Revive Workshop this August 17 to 19!!

Treat yourself to a weekend healing retreat in New York's Hudson Valley's the Hudson Valley’s most unique retreat center - Lifebridge Sanctuary; it is truly a place of beauty, privacy and quiet...and our meals will be healthy, yummy and wholesome, catered by a local chef.  I am so excited about it and sharing this incredible modality with you in such a special group setting!!

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Come on a journey with me and my wonderful colleague, that empowers you to heal past traumas, emotional pain and stress, releases what no longer serves, and cultivate joy. Discover how revolutionary breathwork, unique movement and mindset tools can make remarkablechanges in your life. Reconnect to yourself, to your truth, to your light and vitality.