Sound Body, Sound Birth

August 4, 2013 at 12:31 am

Before my most recent birth, I made a list of “Hopes for next time.” I outlined the ways I hoped to make my fourth birth even better than the previous three. (Most of the items on my list didn’t happen. Oh well.) My first pregnancy was the beginning of my childbirth obsession, but I had no idea back then just how deep the things-to-learn-about-birthing “rabbit hole” was going to go. Now ten years down the road, it goes deeper still.

If I were to write another “Hopes for next time” post, I have another item I’d now be putting at the top of my list: singing.

Birth Boot Camp

June 13, 2013 at 8:57 pm

In 2003, when I was pregnant for the first time, the only prenatal classes my doctor’s office informed me about were those offered at the hospital where I would give birth. The class we took did give us a few helpful tools, but I wasn’t overly impressed. So much has expanded in the world of natural childbirth education since that time. Today I’m excited to share an interview with the lovely Sarah Clark about the recently-created natural childbirth preparation program Birth Boot Camp. Sarah is a mother of four, a natural childbirth instructor, and is on the management team for Birth Boot Camp. She blogs about natural birth and motherhood on her personal blog Mama Birth and writes for Mothering.com.

How did you become involved with Birth Boot Camp?

Natural Birth Classes 250 x 250 alt I had been a natural childbirth educator for a few years when a friend of mine, Donna Ryan, approached me about working with her on a new project. (Donna had been my inspiration for becoming a childbirth educator and was actually MY instructor when I was pregnant with my first child. Her class helped me have a natural birth with a very long first labor.)

So, in a way I feel like I just got lucky. Donna asked me to join them, and I flew out to Texas to start working with her and the other board members to get everything ready before the launch. I started out helping with writing some of the materials and relaxation practices, and I also help Donna in training our new instructors. I met some fabulous women, many of whom I now consider good friends, and we have all been working very hard ever since.

Windows to the Womb

June 8, 2013 at 5:11 pm

I’ve had this book sitting on my desk for a couple of months now, skimming select portions off and on, researching specific topics. I’m not sure why it has taken me so long to just start at the beginning and read it, but I plopped myself down on the grass in my backyard this morning and started. It only took a few pages before I was smitten. (And nobody’s paying me to say that. I got the book from the library.)

Written by David Chamberlain, PhD, it delves into the fascinating research now available in the field of prenatal and perinatal psychology. Mothering Magazine celebrated Dr. Chamberlain as a “Living Treasure” in 2003, and he was honored in 2007 at the Gentle Birth World Conference, receiving the Mother Goose Award for his work with mothers and babies. Dr. Chamberlain also happens to be a fan of my mentor Sarah Hinze‘s work, and he has included several stories from Sarah’s pre-birth experience research in Windows to the Womb.

“Babies have taught me a lot, as I have been privileged to listen to their deep memories. As a psychotherapist, I am especially aware of the need to create babies that are mentally and physically healthy in order to have a world that is healthy and peaceful. Babies are the key to the future of the world” (David Chamberlain, Windows to the Womb, preface).

OK, I’m off to read some more. Stay tuned for a more in-depth review when I’ve finished reading.

Pic-happy

May 31, 2013 at 8:48 pm

If you follow me on facebook, you may have noticed that I’ve become a wee bit obsessed with sharing quote-pics of late. This is partly because I discovered Pinwords, and it’s so fast and easy to make them that I’ve become a little overzealous and perhaps a bit addicted.

Another reason I’ve been so pic-happy is that I’m a little late in discovering that facebook shares status updates and photos with more people than it shares links. Pics are a way to reach more people. Plus it’s easy to read and share a pic in a few seconds, whereas it takes significantly more time to click on a link and read the post before deciding whether to “like” or “share” it. But mostly I’m just enjoying having a new creative outlet.

Here are some of my creations… please feel free to share them on your social networks. Click on the pics to read more about the various topics.

Film Review: Birth Story

April 24, 2013 at 4:52 am

“Some of the best birth footage out there–a must-see for anyone even remotely interested in the subject.” -Ceridwen Morris, CCE, childbirth educator, and co-author of From The Hips

When I received an email last week asking if I’d be interested in reviewing the film Birth Story on my blog, I immediately responded, “Yes!” I received my copy of the film over the weekend. My husband watched some of it with me, in between doing the dishes. I was impressed at how much it didn’t seem to freak him out. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. He’s been married to me for almost twelve years, after all.

Never give up

February 20, 2013 at 5:29 pm

We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee.  -Marian Wright Edelman

Back in January of 2010, I got a surprising email from a local friend.  I discovered:

1) She was pregnant with her first baby.

2) She had been following my birth blog.

3) She had chosen a practice of fantastic nurse-midwives.

She also said, “I’ve loved reading about your home birth… I just am not ‘courageous’ enough to go that route on a first (maybe our next?).”

All of these discoveries made me giddy with excitement.

Then at the end of April, she and her husband attended my “Birth Coach Boot Camp” where I shared what I believed were the best ways husbands can help their wives in childbirth.  Her due date was right around the corner, so I sent her home with my birth ball and my copy of The Birth Partner, by Penny Simkin.  And then we waited.

This is why I carry on

February 17, 2013 at 6:48 am

Every once in a while I start feeling weary of this “work.” Lately I haven’t even been able to muster the energy to blog about anything specifically birthy.

A few years ago, I was feeling discouraged, wondering whether I was wasting my time making a big fuss about nothing with my blog and all the time and energy I put into birth advocacy. Did it really matter as much as I thought it did? Then I got an email from a friend-of-a-friend that rekindled my passion to carry on in my cause.

A few weeks prior, she had discovered that a certain medication she was taking would prevent her from having an epidural. So she had begun scrambling to prepare herself for an unexpected drug-free birth two weeks before her due date. A couple of our mutual friends had alerted me to her predicament, so I had whipped-up an email with attachments and links and tips. I didn’t hear any more about what happened until she sent me her email. Here’s what she said…

Gift ideas for the pregnant woman you love

December 4, 2012 at 9:53 pm

Being pregnant this time of year is great. For one, you can blame the holidays for the ten pounds you gained from November through December. ;-) But I also just think there’s something special about carrying a child during such a love-filled season. Whether you’re pregnant right now or know someone who is, I hope it’s a magical month for you and those you love. And in case you have a pregnant woman in your life, here are some gift ideas that will make her month even merrier.

1) Body pillow

If she doesn’t already have one, she needs one. I got a body pillow during my first pregnancy, and I slept with that thing through all four of my pregnancies. It was the best.

2) House plant

Not only would this lovely little friend remind her of your love and support as she prepares for birth and then adjusts to her new life as a mother, but it would also purify the air in her home, keeping her and her baby healthier. I’d be sure to give my new momma friends the most tolerant and low-maintenance options, of course.  Rubber plants and snake plants are very forgiving when it comes to neglect from busy caretakers. (See this post for more info).

Give the Gift of Giving Life

November 21, 2012 at 4:32 pm

Give The Gift of Giving Life this holiday season! Get 33% off when you buy three or more copies of our book HERE using coupon code FSLUTHK9!

    • Get three books for only $40.17. It is pretty much buy 2 get 1 free!
    • Regular shipping is $4.77. If you want the books to be under the tree you should order by December 12th for regular shipping.
    • The Gift of Giving Life is also a perfect gift to have on hand for baby showers too, so stock up now! One woman bought 6 copies – 1 for each of her daughters and daughters-in-law. Another bought 10 copies to have on hand as baby shower gifts.
    • Offer ends December 20th.

I’m planning to purchase several (once I figure out what my mailing address is going to be next month). I hope you will too!

p.s. Just as a reminder… I’m not sharing this to put money in my pocket. I won’t see a penny from your purchases (and I don’t get any free books myself). We just want to spread the message of our book far and wide… that God will help us through all the challenges and triumphs of the process of giving life and that our Heavenly Parents care deeply about the life-giving process from start to finish.

Enjoy!

Gift

October 22, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Saturday was my birthday, and I was given a wonderful gift at the end of the day. I received an email from one of my readers, sharing how my essay “Unity with Providers of Care” (in the Unity chapter of our book) had a positive impact on her. She also shared a beautiful spiritual experience she had after reading my essay. With her permission, I share it today. -Lani/Busca

I’ve been reading your blog for a while now, and have been making my way through The Gift of Giving Life, and I wanted to tell you how much your book has helped me.

Long story short, I was very unhappy with the hospital care I received with my 3rd child. While I like the Ob/Gyn I normally see, they have about twenty doctors that rotate at the hospital. With my 3rd child, I played Russian roulette with this system and ended up with two very horrid doctors who threatened and yelled at me for giving birth the way I wanted to. So I have been hoping to find—and not have to pay for—a better option for my 4th child.

Yesterday I had a very important meeting with the head OB for the insurance provider we have to discuss whether or not I could get a referral to a birthing center.  I’d been waiting for a month for this appointment and was very keyed up about the whole thing, so I went to bed the night before knowing that I probably wouldn’t be sleeping well…

Read the rest of the post HERE.

Enduring a mile (or a centimeter)

March 26, 2012 at 6:00 am

My husband ran the Boston Marathon back in April of 2008, and I was so inspired by it that I (very briefly… ha!) decided I want to run it as well. So a week or two later, my husband and I decided to see how fast I could run a mile. We ran a warm-up mile at a medium-effort pace, and then I threw myself like crazy into the second mile. It was misery. It was horrid. It was an intense mental tug-of-war between “I can do this! Keep going!” and “What was I thinking?! I have to stop!” But somehow I kept going.

After finishing that run, I thought a lot about the experience. I speculated that it was probably like a mini-marathon—a condensed version of the marathon experience. And I also recognized that the same things that helped me to navigate the journey of childbirth also helped me to get through that mile (and would probably help me get through a marathon as well, if I ever actually get around to running one). Here’s a play-by-play:

Doula ripples

February 1, 2012 at 7:33 pm

“Continuous support during labour has clinically meaningful benefits for women and infants and no known harm. All women should have support throughout labour and birth” -(Hodnett and colleagues 2011)

Jennifer just asked this question on my Birth Faith facebook page wall: “My friend’s OB told her that hiring a doula was ‘dangerous.’ What would you tell her?”

Good grief.

I’ve shared in a previous blogpost (Why hire a doula?) what a doula’s presence can do for a woman’s birth experience using my own experience and stats from scientific research. Let me reiterate that research quickly.

Gathering and analyzing the results of 15 studies, a team of researchers found that, compared to women laboring without a doula, women who labored with a doula were:

• 26% less likely to have a cesarean section
• 41% less likely to have a vacuum extractor or forceps delivery
• 28% less likely to use pain medication or epidurals
• 33% less likely to rate their birth experience negatively
(Hodnett E, Gates S, Hofmeyr G, Sakala C. Continuous support for women during childbirth. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2003. Issue 3. See DONA).

But did you know that the benefits of having a doula’s assistance don’t end at birth? There are significant ripples that can impact a woman, her baby, and her relationship with her baby’s father. 

Dolphins and birth plans

January 20, 2012 at 4:39 pm

[Originally posted April 2010]

While I was in California a few weeks ago, we hit the beach. Almost as soon as we got there, we saw something swimming several yards out in the water. At first I didn’t know what it was and sort of screamed (thinking shark), “There’s an animal!” Once it became clear it was a pod of dolphins, I had to smile to myself, reminiscing.

I used to be mildly (or… very) obsessed with dolphins as an adolescent. I had dolphin figurines, dolphin stuffed animals, dolphin posters, dolphin videos, dolphin stationary, dolphin everything. I did book reports about them, dreamed of swimming with them, toyed with becoming a marine biologist because of them, etc.

I was reminded of that adolescent dolphin fascination again this morning. I’ve been skimming through Marsden Wagner’s Creating Your Birth Plan off and on over the past week or so, contemplating lending it to my newly-pregnant sister-in-law. This morning I lingered on p. 176 where Dr. Wagner shares some fascinating details about dolphin birthing. Here’s an excerpt:

At its physical and emotional best, support for women in labor has always reminded me of dolphin birth. When a dolphin gives birth to a calf, several female dolphins swim in a circle close to the laboring mother. Slightly farther away, another larger group of all the remaining females in the pod circle around the laboring dolphin. Then, even farther away, all the male dolphins in the pod circle around her. The entire collective comes together to protect the laboring dolphin and her emerging calf from intrusion and harm. A woman giving birth to a baby thrives when she’s at the center of a circle of love.

God takes the pain away?

January 3, 2012 at 11:27 pm

My teenage brother is a free-spirited artist with a particular affinity for buddhist thought. He likes to create collages with magazine clippings, so I decided to give him a book full of empty cardstock pages to unleash his creativity upon. I gave the gift a personalized touch by decorating the front cover with a collage of my own. I love how it turned out!

While flipping through my old magazines looking for materials for my collage, I found a little snip-it of an article with this headline: “God takes the pain away.” It shared a bit of research (by Amy Wachholtz, PhD) about how spiritual meditation can impact our perception of pain. Study participants were instructed to either 1) Do relaxation exercises, 2) Mediate on phrases such as “I am happy,” or 3) Meditate on phrases such as “God is love” for several weeks. Afterward, participants’ abilities to withstand pain were tested. Those who had practiced spiritual meditation demonstrated the highest pain thresholds (Click here to learn more).

Amy Wachholtz has also studied how spiritual meditation can impact migraine sufferers. She found that “over the course of the intervention in comparison to the other three groups, those who practiced spiritual meditation had greater decreases in the frequency of migraine headaches, anxiety, and depression, as well as greater increases in pain tolerance, headache-related self-efficacy, daily spiritual experiences, and existential well being” (Source).

Excerpt from our book

October 28, 2011 at 3:51 pm

As we near the release of our book, The Gift of Giving Life: Rediscovering the Divine Nature of Pregnancy and Birth, we have been posting excerpts on our website. The most recent excerpt release was a piece written by yours truly: “Counsel with the Lord.” Here’s a teaser:

During my third pregnancy, after receiving a clear answer from the Lord of the unusual path we should take, I still found my faith wavering on occasion as I allowed my fears to cloud my faith. I struggled to do as Proverbs 3:5 urges us: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding.”

In such moments, we may sympathize with the children of Israel as they prepared to cross the Red Sea. If they were to trust in logic or their “own understanding,” fear would most certainly have kept them rooted on the water’s edge, incapable of stepping forward into the parted sea. Elder Holland urges us:

After you have gotten the message, after you have paid the price to feel His love and hear the word of the Lord, go forward. Don’t fear, don’t vacillate, don’t quibble, don’t whine. . . . Nobody had ever crossed the Red Sea this way, but so what? There’s always a first time. With the spirit of revelation, dismiss your fears and wade in with both feet.[2]

Perhaps the Lord will instruct you to cross your own “Red Sea” as you navigate your pregnancy and birth journey. This could mean following a seemingly illogical prompting to seek emergency medical attention when your gut tells you something is wrong with your baby. This could mean choosing to give birth without pain medication when all of your friends and family say it’s impossible. Or your “Red Sea” could be a planned elective cesarean prompted by revelation. The right path isn’t always the logical path, or the easy path, or the path we had envisioned, but God’s guidance will always be in our best interest. I pray that we may all become wise women, building our houses upon the rock of the Lord’s perfect counsel.

Click here to read the complete essay. Enjoy!

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