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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!

 

HBAC Birth Story - Homebirth After Cesarean

 

“Having a HBAC was really so special after a totally unnecessary c-section with my first. I’d love to spread the word that it’s possible. So many people think it’s not.

And Then There Were Four

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The last time I typed up a birth story it wasn't one I was super excited to share with the world. I'm eager to get this one down before I forget it since labor amnesia sets in quick and because this one could not be more different than the last. A friend of mine who also had a particularly difficult first labor said that when she had a second child she wanted a do-over. At the time I was telling myself that all that matters is getting a healthy baby and while I still believe that, I am very happy that things went the way I wanted them to this time. 

[ I am not sure I need to but I would like to stop here and warn any readers that since this is a blog entry about giving birth, there is some TMI. ]

Last Friday I was 39 weeks. It started like any other day since I became full-term, with me thinking "Will this baby come today?" followed immediately by "Nah, I have tons of time left" followed by a much quieter "...maybe."  

Because Thora's birth was such a mess and because I believe it was the four days in a row of acupuncture that my midwife sent me for before my due date that started my prodromal labor and not Thora herself, ready to be born, I was treating this time like it was my first time. Lots of people said that since Thora was born four days before my due date, this one would be early too, but I was telling myself just in case that I really didn't know when Thora would have come, had circumstances been different. This one could very well wait until long after my due date. I knew four or five other people who were all due around the same time as me and I kept saying they'd all be first, just so I wouldn't be disappointed if I went on to 41 or 42 weeks. 

So on Friday morning I didn't think anything of going to work like usual.  I had a lot to do, including dealing with three chickens I was fostering in my tiny shared work space. (Don't ask!)

Johnny, on the other hand, seemed to know something was up. The night before I'd had what I thought could be a little leaking of amniotic fluid. (Any expecting parent has to be familiar with the awful "here, smell this, is this pee?" ridiculousness) Even though he didn't say so, he was on high alert. That morning he drove me to work so Thora could see the chickens, and en route he announced that he was cancelling the plans he had with his friend for that night just in case the baby came. I told him not to be silly and encouraged him to go ahead because my due date was still a week away and who knew when he'd get to go out again. Likely that leak was nothing. But he insisted. 

At the office, I managed to knock out a few things before everyone else arrived. I did an interview and wrote up a document I really needed to get out. I exchanged emails and calls with a few people. All the while I was having contractions and they were pretty regular but mild so I didn't say anything to anyone, just kept working and waited for them to pass. Around 1 pm when we were discussing lunch options, I felt a sudden gush and ran to the bathroom. Knowing that only 8% of labors start with the water breaking, I wasn't exactly sure what I'd find but I did not expect to see a lot of bright red blood. A lot. I had also passed a clot the size of my pinky. It didn't look like a mucus plug, it looked like a blood clot. And sitting there, I passed another. So I completely panicked. I called my midwife who seemed calm but mildly concerned. A few minutes later she called back: she'd been able to get me an emergency appointment at the women's ultrasound office I'd been going to, which was up on Madison Ave about a fifteen minute walk away. She encouraged me to put on a pad so I could see how much I was bleeding and said I should call her from the doctor's office to let her know what was going on. I called Johnny, who wasted no time getting into the car and on his way.

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I threw my stuff into a bag and fled. As I waited impatiently for the elevator, a coworker and mom of three passed me in the hall. She took one look at my face, nodded and said "Oh yeah," in a knowing voice. "Good luck!" In my mind I was thinking "But I'm not in labor!" though I wasn't about to stop to explain.

Of course it was pouring rain so finding a cab was virtually impossible. Frustrated, I called Johnny again and reminded him that my first labor was during a blizzard and complained that it wasn't fair that this happens to us during horrible weather. Someone from my office accompanied me to the corner of First Ave with a big umbrella, trying to help me flag down occupied cab after occupied cab. There were a handful of other people doing the same and I ran in front of them, totally focusing all of my fear into anger at them for not seeing me standing there and giving me the first cab that pulled up.

Meanwhile Johnny and Thora were stuck in traffic on the FDR drive on their way to meet me at the ultrasound place. In the cab, my contractions slowed and my bleeding too. I could still feel the baby moving so I knew she was alive, but bright red blood is never a good sign in pregnancy so I was still very worried. I raced into the office and told them who I was. The woman at reception reminded me that I didn't have an appointment, that they were fully booked but would see me when they could. I reminded her as sweetly as I could that I was 39 weeks pregnant and bleeding a lot. Then I sat down to wait. My name was called not two minutes later and Johnny and Thora arrived about two minutes after that. The ultrasound showed that the baby and her heartbeat were fine, there was a lot of amniotic fluid, the placenta was intact, and everything was overall peachy. Both the doctor there and my midwife on the phone said they could not easily explain the blood, that they guessed it was either my mucus plug or a small placental abruption. My midwife ordered me to go right home. "Do NOT go back to work," she said sternly. How did she know what I was thinking?! She insisted I rest and check in with her in another hour or so. Feeling calmer, I apologized to the receptionist on our way out. She looked relieved. I thanked everyone for seeing me so quickly and we headed back out into the rain.

We did go right home. My contractions continued, mildly. Johnny and Thora took a walk to Uptown Juice Bar, our neighborhood veggie restaurant, to pick up some dinner, while I tried to nap. By 5 pm or so we were timing the contractions but they seemed pretty stable at 5 minutes apart and lasting only 30 - 45 seconds. After Thora's birth, which was a full five days of contractions like that and two hospital visits during which I was checked and promptly sent home, I was determined not to be the boy who cried wolf a second time, so I kept telling the midwife it was no big deal, that I wasn't concerned yet.

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We got Thora to bed around 7 and settled in front of the TV for some Netflix streaming. I texted my sister to tell her I thought I was in labor. Then I sat on the birth ball and moaned and yelled my way through three episodes of Breaking Bad before Johnny told me that the contractions were obviously getting longer and more intense. I was still in denial because they weren't any closer together. I called our midwife again around 10 - a full 45 minutes later than she'd asked me to, she reminded me. I had a contraction as we talked and I tried my best to talk through it. I did not want her to have to come all the way here only to tell me I was having prodromal labor and then go back home. She said she was ready to go whenever we said the word, but I told her we were still fine. 

Oh the stupid things that go through a laboring woman's head. At this point I was thinking "What would a woman birthing with Ina May Gaskin do now?" I tried to channel the birth stories I'd read over and over in Spiritual Midwifery. These women would have made food, cleaned their RVs, worked in their garden, gone for a hike, hugged a tree, or gone to sleep. Remembering that with Thora I gave up pushing for a c-section because I was too tired to keep going after five days of being too excited about having a baby to rest at all, I picked sleep. I took a quarter of a Bendaryl and lay down. I knew that if this was really it, the contractions would not slow. But they did, to about 8 minutes apart.

I did manage to doze a little between contractions but they kept waking us both up and after an hour or two, they got more and more intense. By 2 am they were 2 - 3 minutes apart, lasting 90 seconds to 2 minutes. I was nauseous and restless and knew sleep was now out of the question. Benadryl or no, I was wide awake and in agony. Soon I was in pain even between contractions and I was suddenly throwing up and having to poop and everything else all at once. This was it. 

Johnny called Joan while I ran the bathtub. She'd been asleep but was instantly alert. The no-nonsense woman she is, she declared me to be in active labor and said she was on her way. Still not wanting to be humiliated for thinking I was in active labor when I wasn't, I was nervous that the bath might slow things down by the time she arrived. But it didn't. 

Between contractions in the water, I was fine. I sat there in the candlelit darkness and tried to relax. I could talk, even joke around a little. The contractions were painful as hell but in between them there was a minute of reprieve. Also they felt very different from the ones I had with Thora. Thora was posterior (meaning she was face up) and the resulting back labor was agonizing in a whole different way. At the same time, this was pain like nothing I ever knew. 

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Joan and her assistant S. arrived around 2:45. Joan checked me right away. 7 centimeters. She said "The rest could either be slow or fast but I'm thinking fast" and went back to making her preparations. There was no time, she said, to set up the birth pool. I was going to have the baby in the bathtub.

They started setting things up while Johnny sat with me and made sure I had water, Emergen-C, whatever I would drink. S, Joan's assistant, held my hand ("but only if it's not annoying," she reminded me) and helped me keep my sounds low and my shoulders low and relaxed. The pain got more and more intense and I got louder and louder. I surprised myself by how much I was screaming and howling and growling but it was what I had to do. Joan shrugged. "Some people just need to roar their babies out," was all she said. This kept on. I beat my hands on the lip of the tub with every contraction and screamed this guttural, totally insane scream. I was sitting cross legged, sort of like in lotus position, in the center of the tub, leaning over the middle of it. My head was resting on a towel they put on the lip of the tub and my hands were hanging over the side so I could remember to keep them unclenched. Rayna, my cat, was sitting right beneath my hands keeping a close watch on things. Johnny sat on the closed toilet seat and S sat on the floor next to Rayna. Joan left me to it for the most part, but came back in periodically to tell me I was doing great. I panted and screamed and shrieked and didn't believe her. "I don't think I can do this!" I heard myself whine. "You ARE doing it," everyone chanted, in unison, in response.

Then all of a sudden everything changes. My growl gets deeper and I hear myself scream like I never, ever have before. It gives me chills to think about it now. "That sounds like pushing!" calls Joan from outside the bathroom. She is suddenly there, checking me, asking if I feel like I need to bear down. "I don't know what I feel," I say. I am hoarse and my mouth is dry and I'm starting to whine again. "I feel her in my butt now and it really, really huuurrrtttss."  Yep, she says, that's pushing. And then I am at my absolute least attractive, retching and vomiting and panting and feeling like I'm crapping my brains out and watching the water around me get redder and redder. I'm babbling like a fool, asking how soon I can get an IUD, asking if I am going to make it through this, begging for it to stop. My head is filled with wild images: I'm thinking of my birth mother who should be there with me but isn't, of long-haired hippies who don't feel any pain as they push, of how I am certainly waking our daughter, asleep in the next room, of how I am definitely terrifying our neighbors and scaring my husband from ever wanting to look at me naked again, of being split open, of living through this to meet my baby.

Joan is suddenly all business. She kneels down and makes me change position. "If you are going to have this baby here, you need to stretch out and lie down on your right side and hold up your leg like this." She holds up my left leg like this. She gives Johnny the job of holding it up even further and pushing it back against the wall of the tub. She lets out some of the disgusting water and runs more warm water in the tub and over me, saying now it's too cold for having a baby. 

And then I am gone. What takes over is this primal thing, barely human, screaming and roaring. From a million miles away, I hear "I can see her!" and "She went back in, but that's okay, she's stretching you so you don't tear" and I'm panting and and my voice is saying "I can't" and then I'm wailing again and there are hands on me that I push away and suddenly I feel a pop and I hear "That's the head!" One more howl and a huge push that takes everything out of me and the next thing I know she's crying in my arms and there's a warm blanket and a towel being draped over her and I am spent but I have my baby and I did it, just like the women in the hippie books and exactly how I always wanted, with my husband next to me and my daughter asleep in her room just ten feet away and we are all in our element in our home and I can't believe it. It is 5:33 am on Saturday, September 24. I have been in labor for over seventeen hours and I have pushed for only 23 minutes.

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Freyja Rae is teeny. She is coughing and sputtering. I count fingers and toes, look at her tiny face, pick some vernix out of her ears. I push out the placenta and then a few minutes later, I manage to cut the cord myself because Johnny doesn't want to, snipping Joan's finger in the process. I smile and apologize. She shrugs and says she's been cut worse. I ask her if this ever gets old for her and she says with a smile, "Nope. Never." Everything is quiet. Then at some point, I ask how in the world women go through this pain. Her answer is simple. "We can do it because it ends. No matter how long it lasts, it always ends." 

Freyja and I lie there together for a few minutes in the gross bathwater while I think that over. We are happy and exhausted and I'm thinking about Rocky calling to Adrian that he did it. Johnny snaps a few pictures and S snaps a few more.

Then Joan wraps her in another warm and dry receiving blanket and hands her to her father, saying she's not ready to nurse yet but that she needs skin on skin contact with Daddy, and then I am fading away and I'm gone. 

I smell ammonia and hear someone say "smelling salts." My blood pressure is so low they can't even get a reading, but the smelling salts are so awful they wake me up enough so I can turn my head away. This feeling is nothing new for me. I have low blood pressure all the time so when I am sick or weakened I always react by getting dizzy and feeling faint. I am not concerned, but Joan and S are. A peanut butter sandwich appears before me and a glass of some flavor of Emergen-C that I didn't pick out is shoved in my face and a straw stuck in my mouth. I want to be in bed, with the AC on, wrapped in a blanket snuggling with my new baby but I know I can't make it there so I take slow bites and sips and wait.

Gradually I regain strength. We drain the tub and I am able to stand long enough to rinse off in the shower while they make a bed out of a plastic tablecloth and wee wee pads, right there on the tiles. I lie down and as I do, I hear Thora, awake. Freyja is passed back to me and I latch her on for the first time while Johnny brings Thora right to us in the bathroom. She's not fully awake and is very unsure of what's going on. "Mama?" she asks dubiously.

I sit up and nurse cross legged on the bathroom floor while they set up a spot for me in the living room. Moments later, Freyja and I make our way over to the couch. S hovers and makes me eat and sip sweet tea while I nurse Freyja. Johnny is next to me cuddling Thora, who asks for a pinky. A blissful moment: I am with my family.

But I am tired. Joan examines Freyja and prepares to weigh her like a bunch of bananas. "Any guesses?" We venture a few, but we are all off. She is much smaller than her sister was, only 6 pounds and 12 ounces. 19 inches long. Head and chest circumference are both 33 inches. "She's symmetrical!" Joan laughs. Freyja is perfect. And since we are at home, nothing invasive happens. She hasn't been suctioned. There is no ointment in her eyes. Joan doesn't even clean her off. Instead she rubs what's left of the vernix into her skin and wipes her down with some olive oil. She grabs a onesie from the pile, a white one with a pink and black skull and crossbones, a gift to Thora from our friend Missy Church. I smile and say she's dressing her like a punk rocker. "For you, nothing less!" she smiles back.

Johnny gets up to dress Thora. I help her on with her shoes and give her a big hug and kiss. Johnny brings her downstairs to our neighbor to hang out with her two girls for the morning and I throw on a shirt and get into bed with my new daughter. Joan hugs me and tucks me in. I hear Johnny come back in and he joins me a moment later, closing the bedroom door behind him. We hear cleanup noises in the rest of the apartment, and a few minutes later, the front door opening and quietly closing, as we three drift off to sleep.

I did it!”

Mama @thewriteaimee

Photo credit to @db4johnny (my spouse)


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 for you, that can also include this revolutionary and powerfully effective, natural healing modality called Clarity Breathwork.  Helping women heal from birth trauma is one of my passions and areas of expertise. So is preventing it in the first place.

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 - so you can ROCK your birth!

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.

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.

 

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 for you, that can also include this revolutionary and profound natural healing modality called Clarity Breathwork.  Helping women heal from birth trauma is one of my passions and areas of expertise. 

image2.jpeg

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.

 

What Does Birth Trauma in Babies Look Like?

 
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Babies aren’t simply the adorable bundles of joy whose lives begin on the day they’re born. They are the thinking and feeling beings that have a big job to do in transitioning from momma’s womb to the outside world.

Keep reading to learn how this natural yet huge transformation that is birth, oftentimes, is a traumatic experience for them in modern times!

When thinking of trauma, we largely conjure up images of disastrous and catastrophic situations. There is a significant amount of research, however, that shows us that the any highly intense situation - especially where there is overwhelm, fear and helplessness - can have just as significantly a traumatic effect on our health.

And, we generally know that the traumas that have the deepest roots in our lives are the traumas that happen the earliest, all the way back to experiences of young childhood - including birth and womb time - when we were fully conscious but not yet verbal.

This may sound overly dramatic but it is now backed by science and solid research. Being born is a big and tender step in our life. We don’t pay enough attention of the psychological impact of childbirth on newborns—we assume that babies are not aware and won’t remember the pain of transition made even more difficult by maternity and newborn care given without this sensitivity.

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While it may not be written in our conscious memories, experiencing birth remains in our very cells, and is certainly within our subconscious - influencing much of our behavior, reactions and perspectives later on in life. How we relate, in our adult lives, to stress at home or work, pressure from loved ones, how we go about making our toughest decisions can very well be traced back to how we experienced birth, when our response to stresses within our nervous system were developing.

Let’s take a look at how a baby should experience birth and why he or she may have a traumatic experience instead. In looking at why a baby experiences trauma, we’ll delve a bit into the possible causes and symptoms that come with birth trauma in babies. This is the starting point for why we should begin to rethink who babies are and what they’re trying to tell us!

The Dynamics of a Normal and Healthy Birth

Photo by @senhoritasfotografia

Photo by @senhoritasfotografia

“The birth process is more than just the means through which we come into this world. It is the first major period of transition in our lives. This transition from our experience of being intimately connected with our mother, whilst in the womb, to gradually separating and individuating, once we leave the womb, affects us not only physically but also emotionally and psychologically. The effects of this transition can range from mild to severe depending on the nature of the birth.” (Graham Kennedy, EnhancingTheFuture.co.uk)

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On the physical level, birth happens naturally by a complex series of biological events believed to be initiated by the baby.  When baby is ready, it is their biological priority and they navigate their way down the birth canal with the help from the contractions of mama’s uterus, her instinctive pushing, gravity and mobile positioning. An immediate connection to the mother and breastfeeding are crucial after birth to begin bonding and for the baby’s healthy development.

Basically, anything that interrupts this entire process can be experienced by the baby as invasive, overwhelming and really scary.

Related: Birth Trauma for Moms: What is it? Symptoms and Prevention.

Birth itself is tough enough without even considering interventions. Going down the birth canal includes twisting, turning in the body as well as with the head and neck, not to mention all of the compression and pressure the baby feels. But we as a species have handled it just fine, born into a calm community of love and support, soothed in the warmth and comfort of mama’s chest, quiet surroundings, soft lighting, demand breastfeeding and babywearing.

If the baby feels overwhelmed and frightened at any time, this feeling can be kept locked into their bodies as trauma until they work it out of their system after birth. But, it also can impact them for a long period of time, developing into behavioral and learning difficulties in the child’s later years.

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We know from decades of research in neurology, embryology, and psychology, that newborns are born fully aware and conscious. They are exquisitely sensitive – even more vulnerable to acute or chronic stress and trauma than adults. Consciousness actually begins in the womb. We have known for years, that drugs, alcohol, nicotine, poor nutrition, and certain infections in mom can drastically affect the unborn baby – altering DNA and genetic expression, as well as physical, mental  and emotional development. What mom eats, drinks, breathes, thinks, feels, and experiences goes right to the baby. So does her stress hormones.

We are learning that trauma from high impact experiences during childbirth is not only stored as nonverbal memories within newborns, it impacts their life at a critical time in their development, affecting short and long term physical and mental health – their entire neurological system, from their learning capacity to mental orientation, emotional stability and stress management. The fight or flight stress response creates a strong memory in babies and leads to  similar responses to similar cues until resolved in their nervous system. 80% of children with sensory processing disorder, ADHD, developmental delays and autism have a history of birth trauma. This is staggering.

“Babies are far more conscious and aware, even as newborns than we realize. They are also incredibly sensitive to what is going on in their environment. Unlike adults, babies do not have the option of fighting or fleeing as a response to threatening or overwhelming circumstances. As a result, the only option left available to them in these circumstances is to freeze. This makes them much more vulnerable to the effects of overwhelm and traumatization than adults, or even older children.” (Kennedy, 2008)

So, what are some of these threatening and overwhelming circumstances?

The Damage of Today’s “Technological” Birth

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The typical hospital birth today will include an array of drugs and procedures just to get started! These are administered to the mother for inciting stronger, more frequent contractions, sedation for sleep and anesthesia to numb the pain. But, a baby is, of course, susceptible to anything the mother has been given since its conception all the way through to the breastfeeding stage.

In additional to being flooded with stress hormones that mom feels from her own fear, the manner in which she is treated and interventions she doesn't really want, babies experience actual trauma from the aggressive way they are often ushered from the comfort of the dark cozy womb attached to their mother, to the world.

Just think for a newborn, what is like to for them to:

- get drugged to induce labor, to make contractions stronger and more intense for them,

- get drugged to numb the pain, sedate, or destroy their microbiome of essential healthy balance of bacteria within them

- feel a hook to break the water bag around them,

- have an internal probe screwed on their head to monitor continuous heart rate and contractions,

- be pulled out by forceps, vacuum, or cesarean,

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- have their umbilical cord  immediately clamped off, cutting off their lifeline of blood volume and oxygen, (other nutrients, antibodies and stem cells to boost their immunity) as they  transition to using their lungs instead, as independent human beings, then often they then have to be resuscitated

- be born into a world of bright lights, rough handling by strangers who disregard their experience

- get tubes stuck down their throats to suction them,

- have their ability to see blunted by abx ointment in their  eyes,

-  be  given vit k shot and hepatitis vaccine injections, poked for other blood tests,

-   get probes put on them for screening procedures

-   be taken to the nursery away from their  parents with strangers left alone for hours in hospital isolettes/cribs,

-  be given formula and pacifiers instead of their mother’s breastmilk and skin to skin comfort….and this is routine and standard  in most US hospitals and some other parts of the modern world. I am not even including the effects of NICU treatment and procedures (even if  necessary), or being strapped down for medical circumcision.

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“Additional medication is put in the baby’s eyes immediately after birth. For many years physicians used a caustic solution of silver nitrate. After much consumer pressure, they began to use a painless but vision-blurring antibiotic ointment. Babies are given antibiotics and other drugs during their hospital stay—perhaps even to counteract common hospital pathogens. Technology may mandate fetal scalp monitoring via an electrode screwed into the baby’s scalp while still in the birth canal, or delivery via vacuum extractor, an increasing practice now that the use of forceps is officially discouraged.” (David Chamberlain, Babies Remember Birth, PathwaysToFamilyWellness.org, Issue 44)

And, this doesn’t include the effects of the environment the baby’s born into. The light is too bright and too harsh in the delivery room and nurseries, and the noise level is also much too high. There are possibly needle injections to administer vitamins but also to draw a large blood sample for testing.

“Physical handling will be rushed and disorienting, while compulsive wiping, washing, weighing and measuring all irritate. If the baby is not already crying, a cry must be provoked (babies were often held upside down and slapped on their backs)” (Chamberlain, Babies Remember Birth, Issue 44)

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The standard birth today just doesn’t encourage a safe, quiet, intimate, and private environment for mother and baby to flow naturally within it. This type of maternity care definitely does not promote trust or give baby the message it is safe, kind or comfortable to be here. It certainly does not help to enable a tender bond to develop between mother and baby. It actually elicits their instinctual stress response of fight or flight. And when there is fear of harm, overwhelm, helplessness and inability to fight or flee, their nervous system gets stuck in trauma.  It’s no wonder that some babies are so “fussy” or won’t breastfeed with ease or are experiencing colic.

“While in the hospital, all mothers and babies are on professional turf where everything is regulated by hospital protocol designed not for patients but for staff. […] Even in the most lenient hospital environments, parents must expect to insist upon continuous contact with their baby, as well as privacy, or they will not get it. […] The mental and emotional damage done by birth technology to infants in the last century has followed our babies into childhood and right into adulthood, and has made necessary the development of reconstructive therapies for body and mind.” (Chamberlain, Babies Remember Birth, Issue 44)

Why do we need these reconstructive therapies? What kind of effects come with birth trauma in babies?

What Kind of Effects is the Standard Birth having on Our Babies?

When looking at birth from a baby’s perspective, it does indeed sound traumatic and unfathomable, but these practices are all too common and routine.

Common practices do not make common sense and contribute to poor outcomes  - the US ranks near the bottom as compared to other modernized countries in terms of maternal and newborn morbidity and mortality, despite high rates of medical and surgical interventions. In the United States, 23% of all births performed in a hospital are induced; this means the mother is given drugs and chemicals to induce more frequent and intense contractions. And, 65% of those women will also be given epidurals on top of that to cope with the unnaturally intense pain from the medications. Furthermore, 33% of births in America wind up in a C-section. These numbers no longer seem ordinary when compared to natural births in which 95% of them will deliver healthy babies without intervention.

Although babies can’t verbally explain their trauma to us, the symptoms they endure for their traumatic birth are the language with which we can begin to translate for them a solution. Think of an adult in a stressed or post traumatic state—perhaps poor appetite, trouble sleeping, expressions of angst, irritability, and irregular breathing come to mind. Well, a baby is not so different. Don’t mistake these symptoms as those of simply a “fussy” or “difficult” baby:

-increased heart and respiratory rate;

-increased startle response, reactivity, jerky movements;

-irritability, fussiness, being inconsolable, excessive crying (here, a baby is usually labeled as “fussy” or “difficult”) or no cry at all;

-poor sleep or excessive sleep;

-feeding difficulties;

-bonding issues, decreased eye contact, glossed divergent eyes.

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“‘Most parents and professionals consider it ordinary for infants to awaken during the night, cry for long periods, have gastrointestinal distress, or be irritable. Few parents or professionals have seen trauma-free babies, so few have experienced babies who are symptom-free.

In addition, few have glimpsed the human potential that is possible when babies are freed from the bonds of early trauma.’

The effects of early trauma do not have to be a life sentence. With appropriate therapeutic support, they can be fully healed. Nor is there an age limit beyond which these early traumas can be treated.” (Kennedy, 2008)

We’ve assumed, for a long time, that baby’s are little, cute and albeit empty and emotionally unfeeling creatures when they come into the world.

“Leading researchers now sing the praises of infants. Harvard’s Berry Brazelton calls them ‘talented’; Hanus Papousek, a German pioneer in infant studies, calls them ‘precocious’; famed pediatrician Marshall Klaus calls them ‘amazing.’ Professor T.G.R. Bower, one of the most innovative of all infant researchers, declares that newborns are ‘extremely competent’ in perception, learning, and communication.” (Chamberlain, Babies Remember Birth, Issue 44)

And, the research to fully understand who these amazing beings are is still unfolding and is only now gaining momentum.

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In the meantime, how do we help our babies heal from birth trauma or help them avoid it altogether? In part two of this series on birth trauma in babies, we’ll take a look at how we can prevent birth trauma and how to heal it if your baby is already dealing with it. Preventing birth trauma for moms -  Birth Trauma for Moms: Prevention and Healing - will go a long way in preventing it in babies.

If you’d like to know more about holistically healthy and joyful birth be sure to sign up for my newsletter or read my books.


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.

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