Savvy - "Knowledge; the ability to make good judgments."
Everyday, you make informed choices. You gather the knowledge you need to become savvy about your options and make the best choice based on the information you have gathered. From which color tile to put in your kitchen to whats the best soap to use on your baby's skin to where to go for dinner for date night; all these decisions require you to make the best judgement call you can. Some decisions you spend a few minutes deciding while others take some time as you weigh the risks and benefits, your preferences, and whats safe.
Your child's birth should be no exception. You have decisions to make. What will your baby's name be? What color will you paint Baby's room? Will you co-sleep? Breast or formula? Disposable diapers or cloth?
Some people start thinking about these decisions before they are pregnant. Some begin the moment they find out while other's are in their 39th week of pregnancy and still haven't packed their bag for the hospital. No matter which category you fall into, you will give birth to a beautiful baby at some point and before Baby can even enjoy the awesome paint job you did, you will deliver your child into this world.
Have you thought about how that will go down?
Are you savvy enough to navigate the environment you are birthing in? I'm guessing its not somewhere you spend most of your time or even know the people who do spend time there. Yet, this will be where you spend some of the most intimate moments of your life. Where can you find the information you need on your provider? Who can teach you the tools to be the informed decision maker in your birth - To remove you from the systematic approach and create an environment where you are savvy and in control of your birth?
Come join us September 21st to learn the four tickets out of the assembly line of hospital care so that you will instead find yourself at the center of respectful, evidence-based care. It doesn't matter if you desire a medicated or an unmedicated birth! Its about helping you become to become savvy about how to communicate with your providers. Can't wait to see you there to give you tools to put you in the driver's seat for your safe and satisfying birth. Investment in your birth below!
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Birth Freely is WICKED EXCITED to announce that they have won the Philly.com Reader's Choice Award for Best Doula and Childbirth Educator Services the second year running! Birth Freely has had such an exciting year already. From supporting and educating many moms and their partners as they welcomed their babies into the world to building bridges with exceptional area providers to becoming the Instructor Coordinator for Evidence Based Birth® to starting a new partnership with the Wonder Women at The Village, growing the foundation of their practice - Childbirth Education!
And, of course, the greatest personal accomplishment for Birth Freely, the very special delivery of Cat's very own Colin on 6/6/2017!
As a special THANK YOU for your support and votes, Birth Freely is offering discounts on any class or workshop that you sign up for in the next month! Not only will the registering couple get a discount but Birth Freely wants to thank you for referring them so, if the registrant puts your name and email on the form, get ready for a special treat yourself!
**This "not so flash sale" will end on July 22nd but only can last as long as there is availability, so make sure you tell all your expecting friends quickly!**
A very special THANK YOU goes out to all my wonderful family and friends who make my job possible. From the support from a far to being there to watch my littles when a women needs me, I am truly blessed to have you all in my life and cherish you all. <3, Cat
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Colin, your birth story truly starts on May 25th, your big brother, Connor’s, birthday. You see, that was the day that I needed to get through before you were born. I really wanted you both to have your own birthdays so I was determined to keep you cooking. Now, you weren’t “due” until June 4th so most would say that I had nothing to worry about. BUT, having two babies born before you come early, meant that for me, it was a real possibility. I was having contractions here and there prior to May 25th, but nothing too alarming.
Then, May 25th came.
A cloudy, rainy, full moon day where the pressure dropped and so did you. Connor had his end of year picnic that day and it was inside because of the weather. I truly cannot remember much of it since the waves of pain I was having were so severe that keeping my mind on anything else was difficult. Still, miraculously to me, Connor got his whole birthday as his own. The day came and went as we celebrated him with a heating pad on my back for the majority of it. And then, the next day also came and went as these “pain waves” started to decrease with movement and heat and I began a regiment to get you facing the right way which I was sure you were not.
In fact, not only the next day came and went but, 12 days came and went. Each day, the contractions actually decreased in time and intensity and started to become more sporadic, totally throwing me off my “I know the drill!” game. My due date, for the first time in any of my pregnancies, came and went. It was nothing short of a miracle for me to have you in there that long. After June 4th, I was truly ready… and I think you knew.
June 6th – 2am
Your Aunt Becca called to tell us that she was in labor. Baby Benjamin was coming a day earlier then his due date and I still hadn’t had you yet! Excited and awake as we got off the phone, I started to feel differently than I had that night before I went to bed. I started to feel like I was getting waves again. Not painful but not Braxton hicks. These felt contraction-like but were so low my first thought was sympathy contractions. HA! I woke up a few more times that night with these weird, could be early labor could be something else, contractions. I ended up getting up with along with your Dad around 6am since I wasn’t sleeping anyway. Once I got up, the intensity of the feeling I was having changed and became more intense but didn’t wave like contractions I have had in the past and again were so low that I didn’t even feel them above my belly button. I told Daddy to go to work but to be close by because “if I had a couple more like (that one), I’d want him home.” (I was nervous that you’d come quickly. So was everyone. We all wanted to make sure we made it to the hospital. No car baby here!)
Well, I had a few more while Daddy was gone so I called him home. I also notified the birth crew - Tierney (lovely friend who wished to witnessed a birth), Ebony (Birth photographer), and Gigi (your maternal grandmother) - that I thought this could be it. (I had cried wolf a few times towards the end of this pregnancy but this definitely felt like something was happening.) My contractions were strong and intense however, they did not wave, were hard to time and they didn’t seem to be patterning or getting close together. They kept throwing me off; these weird, low, intense, untimable contractions. Daddy came home (7:15am) and Tierney decided to come over to help where needed (9am) and around 9:30am Ebony showed. Connor and Killian were still hanging out with us and Gigi would join us when we were ready to go to the hospital – which was the question of the hour! Every time someone asked, I still didn’t think it was time, despite the intensity of the contraction.
We hung out at the house and then walked the boys over around 10am and it was lovely. Saying bye to them was harder than I thought it would be but it was time to focus on you. We went back home, ate a snack, and then around 11am I noticed the contractions started to waiver a bit. By 11:30am, I was nervous that this was another false alarm since I didn’t feel like I had any decent wave in 30 minutes. Small ones were happening but nothing that made my mind believe my body’s signals that you were coming. Tierney then suggested changing the music. Paul changed it to more upbeat tunes and I got off my ball and walked around a bit. Boom. 3 strong contractions back to back. Call Gigi, its time to go. Funny thing though, after each contraction, I was alert, smiling, talking – you would never believe I was in labor and only a few hours from having you.
In the 45 minute car ride, I had 5 ish contractions. Your play list was playing and I was singing along in between contractions. I was so happy to have that music I picked especially for you. Your song, Connor’s song, and Killian’s song played back to back, bookended by songs that reminded me of Daddy or of great family times. I’d be remise not to add that on the way, two tractor trailers departed their lanes without regard for others around them but your Daddy maneuvered quite well, keeping us safe.
We arrived at Inspira Medical Center Elmer (12:45pm) and parked far away so I could walk up. These contractions were intense for sure and took all my concentration but weren’t patterning closely and made me second guess where I was in your labor. Bernadette, my midwife, the perfect midwife to be on call for me, met us at the door. Another contraction hit before we walked into room 103. I was nervous to be checked since I had no idea what my body was trying to communicate with me. Check was 7cm/8cm, 80% and -1. I was shocked I was there but disappointed in your station. You had been SO LOW my entire pregnancy and now you’ve popped back up and cleared my pelvis. I reminded myself to have faith in you. You knew what to do and there was a reason you were up there still. Bernadette also echoed my thoughts as she asked what I wanted next.
I wanted the tub.
Tub was filled. I got in. It got real. All of a sudden, I felt like I was actually in labor. My waters were still intact and I kept wondering which contraction would break them. I stayed in the tub for about an hour and some with your playlist on, Daddy by my side, the lights off, and my mom, Tierney, Bernadette, and my nurses in and out of the room. I started to feel pushing urges at the peaks of the contractions that still weren’t waving but definitely had a point, I had to grunt to get past that point to feel better. A few uncontrollable grunts in the tub and Bernadette came in to help me out. (I did not wish to birth in the water.)
Then - Gravity. OMG – Gravity. I never felt gravity like that before as I tried to get out of the tub. I went back down. “Nope. Can’t do it.” I said. Bernadette, knowing exactly what to say as she does said “Let the gravity help him move down.” I remember thinking, “Yes – If I get out, gravity will do the work for me. I’ve had two babies before. He’ll just slide out with the monumental weight of gravity.” ;)
I got out of the tub with Daddy and Bernadette supporting me and got into bed on my knees, kneeling over the top of the bed. I started grunting at that peaks but still had a little cervical lip and my waters were still remarkably intact. Daddy stayed by my side, holding my hand and supporting me. If he moved even slightly, I reminded him that I needed him there. Right there. I felt very connected to your Daddy during your birth. He was trying to get in place to catch you, as was the plan, but I kept pulling him back.
I moved onto my side and with my permission, Bernadette helped out the lip at 2:55pm and a gush of water followed with my next push and, quiet suddenly, I felt you move right into place. Two more pushes and
You, Colin Paul Everett LaPlante, were Earth side at 3:02pm, assisted by Bernadette, Daddy caught you and I brought you up to my chest.
My first words upon seeing you were “You’re so minnie!” Um, no, Mama. Not minnie. In fact, you weighed in at 8lbs 9ozs and 21.5 inches long, my biggest baby yet by over a pound and 2 inches! Funny what the mind sees! You were wrapped in your giant, substantial cord three times (nuchal, wrist, and shoulder). You were perfect. You eagerly started nursing only minutes after birth, while still connected to your placenta.
This story was written for you, Colin. My third perfect boy. Happy Birthday. I love you.
After much anticipation and request, Birth Freely will begin offering One Day, Group Childbirth Classes starting in July! Stay tuned for more announcements!
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These images are just fantastic. You won't regret viewing these.
Click here to see Dads supporting their partners in the births of their children. These images are a spectacular glimpse into the moments I am honored to witness day in and day out.
And below are personal favorites of Matt and Natasha as they welcomed their third child peacefully into the world. Love the partners I work with!
photo credit - Gingersnap Photography
I am beyond thrilled to announce my new position as Instructor Coordinator at Evidence Based Birth®!
I joined EBB back in December 2015 as an instructor and have been blown away by the program since! Rebecca Dekker, PhD, RN, the founder of EBB, is a nurse researcher and nurse professor who has dedicated her professional career to researching and providing solid evidence for the overall goal of making birth better for women. She is amazingly supportive as a mentor and unbelievably passionate about her work. I had been using many of her articles as evidence based (read -- RELIABLE) resources for my clients prior to hearing about the opportunity to become an instructor for Evidence Based Birth®, so when I got notification that Rebecca had created a curriculum that could help me reach more women in my community, I jumped on it. And I am so glad I did! (And so are the attendees to my workshops and my clients :) !)
In the year I've been an instructor, I've run many successful parent workshops and now, with the ability to now offer other birth professionals (Doulas, RNs, LPNs, CMNs, OBs, etc) continuing education credits through the nursing board, ACNM, and AAFP, I just hosted my first Savvy Birth Professionals Workshop with another scheduled for the beginning of Fall. As instructors, we also have the honor of offering contact hours through the EBB Seminar Series which can be used during grand rounds and the like for continuing education for maternal health professionals.
With the extraordinary feedback about the Evidence Based Birth® services I was providing from the community - I mean I was getting love from everywhere about this material - In my workshops, private classes, free mini classes at the local BRU, and within my doula work - I felt compelled to find a way to become more involved with EBB. So I did!
I am very excited to see what this new role will evolve into under the direction of Rebecca and her super supportive team and thrilled to be able to spread the work of EBB through this new role.
Applications are open for the next cohort of instructors! :) Come work with us and join us in creating a better birth environment for women, not only in the US, but around the globe!
Are you an expecting parent looking for an EBB Workshop in your community? Check out the directory here!
My goal as a childbirth educator and birth doula stands on education. As a teacher, I always had a plan on what I needed my students to accomplish that day. This plan was usually written out but, at the least, it was throughly thought through with bullet points to fall back on - before I entered the classroom with eager eyes upon me. If you are apart of any formal education system, you know how the push for a lesson plan that starts with the end goal and then backwards maps to develop the key points is a strong movement in education. Well, if you think about it - isn't a birth plan is just that? End goal - Have a baby.
The parents' job is to figure out HOW they want to get there.
In order to discover the HOW of your individual plan - you have to think about all the options you have. Now, remember that "options" could sometimes be an illusion depending on where your birthing. For example, at one area hospital a certain prostaglandin (A) is all they carry. They don't have another option. If you are in a birthing class and they are discussing various forms of induction and your instructor mentions the risks and benefits about both A and B and you choose B as your choice, you are going to have severe let down perhaps leading to a mental block and negative perception of your birth team when you find out the A is all the hospital you have chosen carries. Therefore, when you are considering your options to add to your birth plan, you need to KNOW whats there for you.
So, how do you do that if you are an everyday parent to be?
Well, you must educate yourselves! And HOW do you do that - get ready because here is the answer to the million dollar question -
You start to research your options!
In your research, as you hone into exactly what you have available, you are now creating a birth plan. You can find yourself making a decision about A verses B and then when you know beforehand the A is the only thing available, you research other ways to help your goals be met. This not only better prepares you for more satisfaction, it also begins to empower you to discuss your goals with your provider. And what happens when you discuss your goals?! You find out where they other people on your team are and learn how to better negotiate your wishes and GET RESULTS.
If you are a visible person, you are writing it down. If you are a verbal person, you are hearing and storing. Should you choose to bring a piece of paper to the hospital when you are in labor, thats your choice. Should you not, you and your partner now have a clear understanding of WHAT YOU WANT and in talking it through, you now have a better idea on HOW TO GET IT. Now you have created a plan based on informed choice and not solely on "oh, that sounds good."
This was just a a little piece of how to evidence based care. Join me in my next Evidence Based Birth® Workshop to learn it all!
**This blog post comes in the wake of the Alabama court ruling for Caroline Malatesta. Please read more about her $16 million ruling here and here. Knowing your rights is important. Standing up for them in the moment is whole other concept. Find your voice, hire a doula, empower yourself and your birth partner, talk to your providers and PLEASE always remember, Mom, you are the captain of this ship.**
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I am so proud to announce that I have been voted Philly.com's and Philadelphia Inquirer's
2016 Readers' Choice Award for
Best Doula and Childbirth Education Service!!!!!!
Thank you so much to all that voted and have supported me throughout this crazy doula life I live. You rock!!! My clients and students are the best, hands down. I am honored beyond words that I am able to do this work. And, I would be insane to think I could do this alone. SO - get ready for my "THANK YOU!!! OH MY WOW, I'M BEYOND BLESSED FOR YOU!!!!!" speech. Listen y'all - this is like my Pulitzer. I need to thank my peeps!
I honestly wouldn't be able to provide the dedication to my clients without certain amazing people in my life who show me time and time again such incredible support and love. Special thank you's are going out to my incredible husband, Paul, who is supportive even when he doesn't want to be. To, my parents who are always able to pick up my kids at a moments notice. To my dear friends who step up without question to offer help when I need them at the drop of a hat. To my May Moms - who backed me up in this crazy doula dream from the get go. To my mentors when I was just starting out - Kelly, Karen, and Katie. To the amazing women I work with. Whether we teach together, refer each other, or back each other up, the network of women I've found here in the Philadelphia area has been phenomenal. And, above all, big ups to God, for without Him, I wouldn't have this wonderful doula life!
I am so grateful, so blessed, and so honored to be the voted as the Best Doula and Childbirth Service in the Philadelphia area for 2016.
THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH! I'M BLOWN AWAY!
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While you were discovering your passion for animal rights given light to the past week's news, ACOG released a poignant ethics opinion on HUMAN RIGHTS - specifically on an issue near and dear to my heart as a crusader for a woman's right to informed consent and refusal within the realm of obstetric care. ACOG's 2016 "Refusal of Recommended Treatment During Pregnancy" is about the mother's right to say "no" or refuse a certain aspect of her care, when it came to her care in pregnancy and in labor.
If you are pregnant, desire to become pregnant, or have a mother, sister, wife, cousin, aunt, etc that you care about who is considering giving birth, this opinion that replaces the 2005 Committee Opinion Number 321, “Maternal Decision Making, Ethics and the Law,” gives a valuable resource to you and/or to all these women in your life.
Cristin Pascucci, founder of Birth Monopoly, wrote a summary of ACOG's newest opinion on maternal right to say no in her blog. Its worth a read and you can find it here.
At the end of her article, Cristin acknowledges the extraordinary resource this decision is for mothers in the maternal health care system but she also relays the very real aspect that our work as advocates for maternal rights is no where near over by posing the question - "What can we do to further awareness and education among medical professionals, as well as providing protections for women who do experience coercion and forceful interventions?" (Pascucci, 2016)
Well, I called myself a crusader so ---- What am I doing?!
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A picture says a thousand words.
Learn more about ways in which I can support you today with a click of button.
I look forward to hearing from you!
Proudly serving expecting families - doula Voorhees Virtua, doula Cherry Hill, doula 08002, childbirth education Cherry Hill, doula Maple Shade, doula Moorsetown, doula Haddonfield, Philadelphia doula, South Jersey Doula, and beyond!
photo credit - Christine Louise at Gingersnap Photography
Evidence Based Birth® is where expecting parents can learn about what evidence based care looks like *and* how to get it from their providers.
A comment was made the other day that sparked a brief and telling conversation. It was "I don't get it. Don't all doctors practice evidence based care?" I smiled and responded, "Well, what is evidence based care to you?" The response was "Whatever the doctor says."
That doesn't sound right to me. Does it to you? I didn't think so.
Who do you want in the drivers seat of your birth, making the informed decisions about your delivery? If you answered "ME!", this workshop is for you. It is ideal for Moms in their 1st and 2nd trimesters but 3rd trimester mamas are also encouraged to attend. Taking advantage of this flash sale gives you $15 off the price of a ticket. This is the lowest price that the ticket will be offered and space is limited.
Questions? - Go here to learn more -- You can also purchase your ticket using the purple "purchase now" button at the bottom of the page. Once your registration is complete, we will be in touch! Looking forward to hearing from you and giving you the tools to be your own advocate at your birth and improve maternity care, one step birth at a time.
I frequently talk about the likelihood that I will come to love my clients in our very first meeting together. We discuss how I am a guardian of their space; an educational and emotional outlet throughout their pregnancy and with them and during one of the most intimate moments of their lives as they birth their child. We grow together, learn together, and I urge them to lean on me when they need me. Some need me less. Some need me more. And then there are some that are special snowflakes. Ones who need me multiple times..in real snow storms! These wonderful people, Tierney and Ian - proud parents of our star today, Charley - and I spent a few days together (not consecutive hours!) to try and navigate her labor as it unfolded. Let me say off the bat that I am so grateful and happy for our time together and I truly don’t think that Charley would have it any other way. Now, Tierney will tell her birth story through her eyes.**
My labor story is not quite what I expected - as is with approximately 99.87% of births out there. When Ian and I spoke of birth, I had prepped myself for hours of contractions; having a slow build-up to the birth of my first child. I was told to expect labor to last for about 24 hours for first time mothers… Cat was the only person who mentioned prodromal labor in our visits. That being said, I would like to start my birth and labor story to five days before my daughter made her debut to the world.
I woke up Saturday, Feb. 21 at around 4am with contractions and a forecast for a snow storm. Prior to this, I had been getting contractions on and off for a few days prior but I could talk through them and assumed they were Braxton Hicks. This morning, however, they felt different. The discomfort started in my back and radiated forward. Not trying to rush out of bed, I laid there and had my husband hold a heat back to my lower back to make it through the first few contractions. After that, we moved to the birth ball and the intensity and frequency started to pick up. I believe around 6am we had texted my mom and Cat letting them know I had been consistently contracting for about 2 hours and asked them to come over. After they arrived we all worked well as a team and everyone helped me work through my contractions.
**Doula Interjection** OH WOW - did the team work well! It is something truly beautiful and amazing when a Mom is supported the way Tierney was being supported. Even though she talks about laughing and discussing TV shows, when her contractions started to build, she was focused and so was her team. No one spoke. The power belonged to Tierney and she worked it. Magical. **
At this point, we were all still able to joke around and make references to TV shows we all thought were funny. Hours had gone by and the snow continued to pile up. My contractions were no longer intensifying and the frequency was slowing down. By that evening, labor had completely halted. Feeling defeated, Cat reassured me that I needed to focus on resting and letting my body do its thing.
A few days went by and there was still no sign of labor. I went to my scheduled doctor’s appointment on Monday and at that point was about 4cm dilated. Early on Tuesday morning (about 2:30am) contractions had started back up. Cat and my mom came over bright and early (again) and I continued to labor. Contractions were definitely more intense from that Saturday and I was convinced that today was the day we would meet our daughter. I started to focus more inward and we decided to go to the hospital.
**If I may - Tierney was showing signs of active labor for hours before they made the call. She mentions focusing inward. Again, her humble manner of writing gives her little credit for how “inward” she was focused. She breathed in rhythm, worked in rhythm, and was supported in rhythm. Back to T - **
After I got to their triage, I was checked and placed on the monitor. I had let them know that I wanted a natural labor and they were concerned that I did not seem to be progressing. They hospital gave me the option of getting admitted or going home. I was emotionally stuck at this point because this was the second time I had geared myself up for going into labor and meeting my daughter but it seemed like my body was getting in the way (at least that was how I viewed it at the time). I was torn between wanting to stay at the hospital out of my stubbornness, thinking, “I can will this child out of me,” and wanting to go home. I kept thinking that the longer I was at the hospital, I more worried that there would be a higher likelihood that my providers would push for a medical intervention.
After discussing it with Ian and Cat, I felt that the best decision for my labor would be to go home where I was comfortable and could rest. By 4pm that day, my contractions had died out despite us trying every natural way to help labor progress (I’m talking everything from essential oils suggested by my mom, acupressure, walking, nipple stimulation, bouncing on the labor ball, laying in odd and uncomfortable positions to try to help my daughter get better aligned for birth) to help prevent this start-stop-start cycle we seemed stuck in.
At this point I was feeling defeated and feeling like there was something wrong with me or my body. I was trying to hold it all in though since people were around me and I’m not a fan of showing my more vulnerable emotions to many. Cat zeroed in on this ***I’m a sly birth lady vixon*** and helped me talk about it. I worked on letting go of my expectations and allowed myself to be upset without blaming my body or me. That evening we focused on getting me more relaxed and in a better place emotionally (Pitch Perfect was a great way to accomplish that at the time). I am one of those people who is always in her head and I easily psych myself out so it took a lot of work to get out of that headspace. At around 8pm that night, Cat and my mom went home while my husband and I continued to rest in anticipation of the day that we would finally meet our daughter who has been teasing us for the past four days.
On Thursday, February 26, I woke up around 7:30am with contractions again. I was resting on the labor ball and my husband was brewing a pot of coffee to start the day. I distinctly said to my husband “If I’m still contracting at 4pm this evening then we’re telling my mom and Cat” since I was expecting another 10 hours of contractions before they died out. Well, I did not have to worry about waiting until 4pm because not even 15 minutes later my water broke naturally, during a contraction. My poor husband seemed a little confused about this (he asked a few more times what had happened and asked about my waters despite me telling him I needed a towel). We called Cat and my mom to let them know about this progress and we had agreed to meet at my house. The contractions here on out were so intense I had my husband call them back ***5 minutes later :) *** and tell them to just meet us at the hospital.
We made our way and after an expletive-filled car ride thanks to back labor and with no help from NJ pot holes, we finally arrived at the hospital (again). My husband asked the valet to get a wheelchair for me since it took me about 15-20 minutes just to make it from my house to the car in the first place. I remember the contractions were so intense and were about 30-60 seconds apart so it felt like as soon as one contraction was finished, the next one was gearing up. I was honestly scared to move and I remember asking my husband to literally rip me out of the car in between contractions. I still don’t recall how I got out of the car…
***I have a great photo of Ian helping Tierney out of the car...but that’s saved for Tierney and Ian :) ***
We got to the hospital a little before 9am and they moved me from triage to L&D relatively quickly (at least it felt quick to me… there is no real was to reference time too much while in the midst of labor ;) I just remember the back pain was pretty intense and it was so painful to sit back. I also remember a nurse behind me saying something about me going naturally at which I promptly felt this moment of sheer panic and wondering how much longer I could stand this intense pain. Cat was able to pick up on this panic and re-center me. (That’s the nice way of putting it- I panicked and started to ask for an epidural and Cat just looked at me and said “You’re doing this. You don’t need an epidural” to which I’m pretty sure I cried “Okay”).
***The nurse was in front of her and she glared at her as she sat up and said “I can’t do this naturally!” I have to tell you all reading that that moment of “sheer panic” as Tierney describes was only witnessed by me because no one else would have even known! She was at much more peaceful than her perception of herself allows you to see. A birth goddess, through my eyes.***
I really needed to hear that in the moment. Having someone so confident in me and my body’s ability to have her helped to situate me.
Fortunately the hospital had these nifty beds that they could manipulate so I was able to labor on my knees facing the bed while resting my head on the top of the mattress; my body at a 90 degree angle. At around 10am, ***READ - an hour after arriving!*** I felt a lot of pressure and could tell the baby was moving down and I started pushing.
At 10:19 that morning, I first held my daughter in my arms. In that moment, all I felt was relief and gratitude that I had such a supportive birth team to help keep me focused and confident in myself.
***And her doula said - AMEN!! Really though, I must say that Tierney and Ian (and Mimi, Tierney's mom) were such a remarkable team to work with. Another birth team I am honored to have worked with and so very excited to work with again for the birth of Charley’s sister later this yea!. For my special snowflake couple - I am so lucky to have been chosen to be your doula and friend. For Charley, you are an amazing young lady baby and more than lucky to call Tierney and Ian your parents. This is only the beginning! ***
**Miles Birth story is written in the eyes of his fabulous momma. I have had the pleasure of knowing Alex for years as her friend and when she welcomed me onto the team for the birth of her second child, I was humbled and, well, super excited. :) Living a couple hours south of Alex and her family, we met via Skype for our prenatals and once I got the call that things were starting up, I was up, speaking with her and your husband, Mike, as she labored and I started my journey to her. I am thrilled to share Miles' Birth Story here, told from the perspective of his momma, Alex.**
"So this one time, I was scheduled for an induction at 5 in the morning, but instead I woke up at 12:30am with real live contractions. I called my doula (aka the lovely Cat LaPlante) and she headed into the city. I labored in bed for a bit but decided I needed to be in the shower. Had a funny conversation with Cat while in the shower with Mike holding the phone against the shower curtain as I tried to update her through my contractions. Things started to pick up a bit and around 3am I decided to get dressed and head to the hospital. Cab ride was horrific with contractions. Worst 8 minutes ever. We got in and I was in so much pain. We arrived at the hospital at 3:40am. Cat walked in and I believe I told her I was going to die."
**DOULA interjection - Alex was fully dilated at this point. Laying quietly and calmly in the bed, I stroked her head and told her of the excellent job she was doing. Despite her words, she emitted strength, control, and ease that was powerful to witness and beautiful to be able to absorb. Back to Alex - **
"I had asked for an epidural 5 minutes before Cat walked into the room but when they checked me I was already fully dilated and my OB wasn't there yet. As they were placing my IV I was like um, I think I feel his head and they peeked, yelled for the doc, I pushed once and a nurse caught him just as the OB walked in to cut the cord. It was wild. I had this amazing baby at 4:03am without any medical interventions. They actually did all my vitals after he was born. He was born in caul and the nurse told me that meant he would be a sage."
**Miles came so quickly - the room buzzed. Literally buzzed. I remember Mike's face. A combination of awe, wonderment, and HOLY COW WHAT THE HECK JUST HAPPENED?! There was nothing unremarkable about Miles' entrance into the world. Truly destined for greatness and I am incredibly grateful for having the opportunity to be apart of this amazing team. Thank you so very much, Alex and Mike. You are the best.
Happy Birthday, Miles!! To say you are lucky to have your parents and big sis is an understatement. Now, go get the world!**
All words and photos are property of Birth Freely Birth Services, LLC and shared with permission. copyright 2016
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You have an ideal image of your birth. Great! Now, ask yourself this.
How will you get it? Check out Evidence Based Birth® today. I am hosting a workshop in Haddonfield at The Village March 7th at 11:30am. Don't worry - You'll be home well in time for the Super Bowl!
Looking forward to seeing you there!
I'm sure all my friends and colleagues in birth work are filling in their own endings to this starter phrase. To round out the holiday season and ring in the New Year - this is my finish -
You know you're a birth worker when the best gifts you receive, right behind the quality time you get to spend with loved ones, are dedicated to birth work. For me, this is namely numerous books to further my professional growth, gift cards to Staples and Dunkin Donuts, and this glorious pelvis with a moveable coccyx pictured here. I cannot wait to use this in my childbirth education classes, Evidence Based Birth(r) instruction, and for my prenatal visits with my clients! Such an enhancement to my workshops!
Friends reading, always remember I am here for you and for your loved ones to help them by improving birth now. My services page gives you tons of information but never feel hesitant to contact me at email@example.com with any questions you have about what I am honored ago do for a living.
I hope to see you at my Evidence Based Birth(r) workshop on January 24th at The Village in Haddonfield. Learn more and register here! **Only 3 more days to receive $10 off you ticket**
As I sit and reflect back on an awesome year with my family, friends, and clients, I can't help to think about the generosity shown to me this past year. When I think about the Five Love Languages, something I go over with all my clients, I realize that I have been shown all throughout the year. The thank you notes from clients - words of affirmation -, the thoughtful gifts of gratitude - receiving gifts -, friends and family pausing their lives to watch my children as I ran to a birth - acts of service -, family adjusting their plans to make sure I am a part of special celebrations I might have missed from being on call - quality time - , and the generous hugs and warmth that come with great appreciation and respect for what I do - physical touch.
To say I felt overwhelming blessed and eternally grateful would be an understatement. What even more fantastic is that this year's outlook is just as amazing, if not better.
Thank you all from the depths of my heart and soul! Happy New Year!!
Check out what's coming next! by clicking here
I'm VERY excited to bring Evidence Based Birth(r) to the South Jersey / Philadelphia area this year! The first workshop will be held at The Village in Haddonfield on January 24th at 1pm. Registration is required and the early bird discount that saves you $10 of the ticket price, ends January 8th so don't delay! Click here to learn more and register.
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No better day than today to remember the joy you have in your life. If the New Year will bring more joy to your life with a new baby, register for the January Evidence Based Birth(r) workshop today! Hosted at South Jersey's The Village, come and learn the six basic steps to receiving evidence based care in your pregnancy and labor and delivery. Learn how much who you are birthing with plays into your birth, ways to advocate for your wants, and meet other couples eager to join the new parent community!
Register before January 8th and receive $10 off your ticket
Click to register. Merry Christmas!
The first Evidence Based Birth(r) workshop has been scheduled! This is will be a small workshop to keep it intimate and safe for all expecting parents. The Workshop is in Haddonfield, New Jersey on January 24th and registration is required!
Event details can be found here!!
Save $10 off your ticket NOW with Early Bird Registration.
Did you know that birth plans are rarely followed? The truth is, many expecting parents "know" what kind of care they want during their birth, but in the end, they don't know how to get it.
The solution?? You are invited to attend an exclusive Evidence Based Birth(r) workshop for expecting parents, taught by Cat LaPlante, CD(DONA), MA! In this workshop, you will learn the Six Essential Steps of HOW to get evidence based care during your birth.
This Evidence Based Birth(r) Workshop does not replace childbirth education classes. Instead, the resources you will gain at this workshop are the missing link for those of you who want evidence based care but are worried about your wishes and decisions not being replaced when you actually go into labor. Register today, before tickets are sold out!
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Cat LaPlante of Birth Freely Birth Services LLC is now officially an Evidence Based Birth(r) Instructor! She will begin offering classes to expecting couples who are looking for evidence based care in January 2016 in New Jersey and Philadelphia.
Classes are best geared towards pregnant women and their partners in the first and second trimesters of pregnancy because this class will teach you not only what evidence based care looks like but also how to respectfully advocate for it when you are with your provider, both prenatally and during your labor.
Most people know what evidence based care is but have trouble when hospital culture and provider preference seem to mold their birth in ways they weren't expecting, causing adverse birth outcomes and regret. In the class, Cat will teach the 6 steps to getting evidence based care and will empower you to advocate for it during your pregnancy and in the labor and delivery room.
Keep an eye out for class schedules!
Last time I wrote about Early Labor. Take a look at that blog before you read this one. Seriously, CLICK HERE! It may calm the nerves about this SUPER IMPORTANT question. And, if you are catching what I'm throwing, you'll be in your home for a while before heading to your birth place, which, for the benefit of the whole, I will refer to as the hospital from here out.
People ask me this question so much, if I only had a nickel every time...You get it. Seriously though, rolling in dough. If someone only handed out nickels...
For women who have chosen to give birth outside their homes, the number one asked question I hear is - DRUM ROLL!
In the blog about Early Labor, you know, the one you read before reading this one, I spoke extensively about resting and distracting yourself when you felt like labor was starting. (And, if you've been anxiously anticipating your labor like I talk about here, then you are probably not in the best place to rest and distract. I know this. I get it. I am sorry that Baby is making you wait in agony in the space in-between but trust me, its for a good reason. Your body has to get ready for the big show just as much as your mind does. So, you're following my very wise words - hanging at home, contracting away while baking a cake and watching Finding Nemo, and suddenly, that feeling pops up again. UGH.
You look at the clock - its 4pm. Traffic is starting. What if labor moves too quickly now that cars are on the road? What if I have to push in the car? What if I have Baby in the car!?!?! I'll be on the news! OH SNAP! MY "DOWN THERE" WILL BE ON THE NEWS!!! OH MY GOODNESS!! GET IN THE CAR!!!!
Look at me. (Figuratively speaking but my picture is right in the right corner if you need some eye contact.) Breathe. Now -
STOP. FREAKING. OUT.
No, we don't want a car baby. So, let's do a mental check. (Here's a spoiler alert. If Mom is able to actually do a mental check...might not be time to head out just yet.)
Mental check - My contractions are about 10 minutes apart. I'm still hungry. I still can do laundry if I wanted to. Actually, I want a turkey sandwich and...some juice. Breathing is returning to normal. Freak out over. Mom gets in the shower and waits for her sandwich. (She probably won't eat it but hey, it kept you busy, Partner! Great job!)
Now that I've told you a bit about knowing when its not time, let's talk about some signs it *might* be time. *Might* because your labor is circumstantial to you. You *might* want pain management and, in understanding the benefits/risks/alternatives you are choosing to be in your location sooner. These are more guidelines for low risk women who are trying to go as long as possible without pain management. Also, if anything alarming suddenly happens and Mom no longer feels safe at home, go.
That last one is always the end all be all. Basically, Mom has the human right to decide everything here. She is actually deciding for two humans! For a Mom who is educated on childbirth and her birthing environment, with her own preferences and plan in mind, she is probably having some internal conversations as her body flows into active labor. She has seen the writing on the wall. She doesn't need to be reminded that she wanted to go to hospital. She'll figure it out. Don't be pushy, Partner. Also, its sort of your job to not let other people be pushy.
Mom will know.
Hope you liked this one! If you've been in labor before - comment here about how you knew it was time to go!
Early Labor in Real Life
Mouths drop like mics hitting the floor when I tell my first time clients and students the answer to that oh so popular question - “How long is a normal labor?”
In this day in age where we can see speak to our family and friends in another country with just the touch of a button, why hasn’t labor caught up!? Moms in labor be like -
“COME ON BABY!! Don’t you get it that we’ve been waiting anywhere from 9 months to ten years for you to make you appearance in our lives and now that things have seemed to be starting up, we have to wait, while working reeaaally hard the whole time, another day to see you!? AHHH!”
The fact of the matter is that labor, which is split into three stages, averages around 24 hours for most first time moms. The longest of the sections is typically Early Labor. Well, Early Labor is the pits for most parents to be. Especially you the first timers. Mom is feeling things but is totally able to go about her day so everyone is confused. Why is everyone confused? Well, we expect this:
((Photo credit Universal))
RIGHT AWAY. I mean, that’s what happens in the movies so, thats got to be what happens in real life. Sorry to burst your bubbles parents. Our bodies are made to do this work in a timely manner but its got nothing to do with the clock on the wall. Let’s check out somethings that are happening in within Mom’s body during early labor.
The science: Mom’s cervix needs to thin (or efface) and dilate. Its never done this before in this pregnancy so Mom’s body needs to start to figure things out. A glorious symphony of hormones continues to release including prostegladins, oxytocin, relaxin, adrenaline, and - my favorite - endorphins. Now, following our theme of slow and easy, the three hormones Oxytocin is the hormone that starts contractions. If a surge of oxytocin is released to quickly, both Mom and Baby go into a spin of “WHAT ON EARTH IS HAPPENING!?!” madness that isn’t fun for anyone involved. Therefore, its much better to let the body do its thang in Early Labor.
With all the above going on, Mom has got to figure out what to do. Most parents now-a-days want to “labor at home” before heading to the hospital or place of birth for many reasons. Quite frankly, many places won’t even admit you until you fit certain criteria. Being turned away is usually at the top list of in convinces and fears for all parents so they wait. So, you wait. Let me paint you a picture of how this “waiting” usually goes for parents who haven’t educated themselves on what labor is like.
Mom tells partner that she’s been feeling what she thinks are contractions for a little while when partner wakes up in the morning. Dad or Partner decides to stay home because “WOOHHOOO! We are going to meet baby soon!” Mom gets all caught up in the excitement and adrenaline kicks in so they go for walk. Then they eat. Then they watch TV. Then they walk the stairs because we need to keep busy! This is happening!! More eating. Mom still feels things, that seemed to pick up when she was on the stairs (WOOOOHHHOOO!) but now that she is sitting, they are less noticeable again. Wait, was that one?! Better get on the birth ball.
The saga continues …
This pattern usually will last until around dinner time. All of a sudden, contractions are really getting noticeably stronger and consistently more frequent. Mom is having to stop what she is doing, focus through her contraction, and then carry forward. She is tired now. Partner is tired now. Baby. Isn’t. Here. Adrenaline has kicked its last surge. Its getting dark outside. Mom is just now hitting Active Labor. Her body is not prepared because she has not rested. Her work is beginning at the end of her shift. Yikes.
Lesson of the story - When labor feels like it is starting, there are three things Mom should do. Follow this beautiful arrow ------------------------------>
Do those three things and if it turns into Active Labor - you are ready for it. If it turns into nothing - you haven’t lost anything! So, Mom to be, if you find yourself in Early Labor with noticeable “these could be contractions” contractions, here’s a short but ultimately comprehensive list to chose from:
Well, Cat, you've told me what I can do... whats the one thing I shouldn't!?
Great question. Here’s the big DON’T!
—Wondering when you should maybe plan on heading to the place of birth? Check back here in a week or so and you’ll hear it from me! --
Proudly serving expecting families - doula Voorhees Virtua, doula Cherry Hill, doula 08002, doula Maple Shade, doula Moorsetown, doula Haddonfield, Philadelphia doula, South Jersey Doula, and beyond!
I get the question a lot.
“So Cat. Why did you become a doula?” (It’s usually the second one after “What the heck is a doula?” Which, by the way, is being a sidekick to a superhero.) I digress.
Why did I become a doula? I can’t begin to answer this loaded question without telling a bit about the journey it took to get here. After all, I had a successful teaching career, a Masters in Human Development and ECE, and, well, if you had asked my pre-pregnant self how I saw my labor going, I would have answered “with screaming and with drugs.” Doesn’t exactly leave the inquirer with the - “She’s going to LOVE childbirth!” - notion.
But then, on May 24th, 2012 at 8pm, I got the chance to experience what labor felt like for the first time as my waters broke in the movie theater while Paul and I were watching “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” (You can’t make this stuff up!) On May 25th, 2012, around 4:45am, I was looking at my fresh into the world newborn son and remember clearly thinking,
“That was AWESOME!”
With my husband, Paul, by my side, both of us looking at this little version of what I can only describe as the most beautiful person I had ever seen in my entire life, I thought about the journey that we had just taken to bring him into the world and realized something almost as beautiful as my new baby.
I loved every minute of it.
Even the part where, at 10pm, I decided we should get some rest since we didn’t know how long labor could be. I tried my best but couldn’t sleep. Paul, of course, could. I remembering glaring straight through him, snarling as contractions flowed through me, not wanting to wake him because, at least this part, I was doing well on my own. I knew I would need his support later and he is one of those dudes who can’t function at all without rest. So I let him be. Even if I was trying to wake him up with my mind with every contraction.
I still loved every minute of it.
Even the part where my midwife, Karen, checked me and said I was HUZZAH!! 9 cm dilated but then, I heard a “No. Wait. She’s 7cm.” WHAT!?! Even today I think she must have been playing with me. That was her way of giving me the push I needed. Had to be.
I still loved every minute of it.
Even the part where I started doubting myself. When I was exhausted from working all night long and still had no idea how much more work was in sight. At that point, Paul had been awake for hours with me - guiding me through contractions, talking with me, attempting to make me laugh. Supporting me and encouraging me through the hardest thing I have ever done at that point in my life.
I still loved every minute of it.
As I looked at my baby boy, I felt so powerful. So appreciated. So loved. (Thanks endorphins!) It was pretty clear at that moment that I loved birth. What I was fuzzy on though is exactly what I loved about it.
It wasn’t until I started writing Connor’s birth story the next day that it dawned on me. I could not write one sentence without reflecting back to my support team during his birth. Not once, even while I labored “alone” as Paul slept on the poor excuse for a couch across the hospital room, did I think, “I can do this on my own. I won’t need anyone to help me.” I let him sleep because I KNEW I would need him. I couldn’t have done it without the support of Paul or without the support of my midwife and fabulous nurse, Lydia, whom I will never forget.
Now, anyone who knows me can attest that I am a pretty strong lady. I have a tendency to be a go getter and am not exactly one to back down from much, especially when it comes to a task of physical endurance and strength. Laboring and delivering a human being was something I prepared for. It was something I studied, something I meditated on, something I convinced myself that I was wholly capable of doing naturally, without unnecessary invention. I removed all fear. All doubt. Still, even with it all gone -
I still knew I couldn’t do it alone.
It was then I realized the role I could play for other women in labor. I needed to help other women have their journey be as amazing for them as mine had been for me. Be their consistent support. Be their consistent encouragement. Be their consistent educational lifeline that I would have needed had I not taken classes prior to Connor’s birth. I decided, as we brought Connor home, I was going to be a doula.
I tell my clients all the time that I am there for them. I remind them that I began this work so that I could help them have the birth they wanted, just like I had the births I did. I do love babies. Who doesn’t. But, they aren’t why I do this work. Its the pregnant women - the women about to embark on their journey - that I do this work for.
So, why did I choose to be a doula? No, not because I love birth. I DOULA-LOVE it :)
Proudly serving families - doula Voorhees Virtua, doula Cherry Hill, doula 08002, doula Maple Shade, doula Moorsetown, doula Haddonfield, Philadelphia doula, South Jersey Doula, and beyond!
As I work on my previously promised "why am I a doula" post - which will be I believe a two parter, who would have thunk that?! - I feel as though I must keep something going so you guys know I am still here! I tell you - life as a mom of two rambuntious toddlers balancing her childbirth education and doula work is tough. Can't say that I didn't have fair warning though.
"They" always tell you that is it.
But, something "they" don't always tell you is something that tends to ALWAYS come up in my doula and childbirth education work. This something is what the German refer to as "Zwischen." I could never write about this "in-between space" as eloquently as Jana Studelska, CPM/LM did in her article, "The Last Days of Pregnancy: A Place of In-Between," so I humbly share this word which carries remarkable meaning and Jana's prospective in how it relates to those last days of pregnancy with you.
Read this and remind yourself of the outstanding power you have growing inside you. Cherish every moment of this space.
The Last Days of Pregnancy: A Place of In-Between
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Cat is the founder of Birth Freely Birth Services. Her passion is empowering women through education and providing them with continuous labor support so they can have the birth they desire!