You are probably wondering why it is so important to take a birth class. Or maybe you're wondering why your friend's OB told her it was essential and yours hasn't even mentioned it? Maybe you just learned that there was such a thing? (To be honest, I had zero clue a class about how to have a baby existed when I became pregnant with my first son, let alone how important they were)! Or, maybe you are reading this and thinking "I really want pizza right now..." Well, grab the phone and order one while I throw a couple reasons your way that birth classes are very important for you and your partner.
"Before the class, I was definitely nervous about labor and delivery. Cat did a great job educating you on what to expect during labor. Then there were so many helpful tips for my husband to get me through it. We both left the class feeling prepared and excited to meet our son." - Michelle
Flash back to 2011. I was pregnant with my first baby and talking to my friend and colleague, Gina about being pregnant and giving birth. She happened to be pregnant at the same time with her first baby. We began talking about what we thought birth was like. I had the immediate, "normal" cultural reaction that many people I teach have. Words I threw out included: painful, exhausting, scary, WTFFFFFFFF, etc. Gina, though, spoke about birth differently.
Disclaimer: This is a new Birth Freely venture for Birth Doulas, not parents. If you're a parent and reading this just know that this resource was all done with you in mind <3 If you're a doula and are curious about this new program, read on and see if you like what I'm throwing down!
"In a few short months, Cat was able to match me with enough clients that my "on the side" doula business became sustainable! I am watching my business grow and I owe a lot of it to Cat's guidance and referrals."
Its been almost a year since starting the Birth Freely Preferred Doula Program and WOW! It has been amazing to mentor newer doulas and help experienced doulas fill their schedules with referrals from Birth Freely. It has been incredible getting to know these great women who took the leap and started with me and I'm honored to have them as resources! I'll be highlighting them in the coming weeks but for now, I want to talk a little about the Birth Freely Preferred Doula Program.
What is the Birth Freely Preferred Doula Program?
Currently, the Birth Freely Preferred Doula Program is a referral program for amazing doulas that want more clients in the South Jersey, Central Jersey, Philly and Greater Philadelphia areas. This program is not a doula certification program but it includes trainings where most certifying agencies fall short - like in the areas of interviewing and business sense and marketing. (Birth Freely Preferred Doulas also get rad benefits like discounts on the EBB Professional Workshops)! The Birth Freely Preferred Doula Program not only promotes the very real idea that your doula business can be your career but it also uplifts the profession by finding the best doulas for birthing people, in turn making our birth community better!
How did the Birth Freely Preferred Doula Program come to be?
When I started in doula work in 2012, I realized quickly that never wanted to leave it. I loved supporting pregnant women and their partners through the birth experience. I learned something new at every birth, even my 100th birth! But, when 2019 came, it brought with it my fourth child and, with four young children, I found 24/7 on call life very difficult. Still, I kept getting inquiry after inquiry from women that had heard of me or that had been to one of my classes or that had just found me on the internet. I would refer them only to find out that my referral never went far and they didn't hire a doula at all. I was sitting with my husband one night, upset that women weren't getting the doula they wanted or needed and he said "why not set up the meeting for them?" I ran with the idea. I ran straight to the Evidence Based Birth® Instructor retreat where I got to sit in a room, surrounded by brilliant birth minds and I pitched them my plan. AND - they tore it apart! Like, for real, tore it right up. But! They did give me great ideas that melted into this program.
"Having Cat to text or call when I didn't know what to say or needed advice on a situation as priceless. Her support has boosted my confidence and made me a better doula!"
Are there levels of this Program?
Currently, there are no levels but this is in the works! In order to really help and further the field for doulas in turn making the birth community better as a whole, Birth Freely will begin a real training program focused on business marketing, advanced comfort measures, doula advocacy, and healing. This training program will be an extension of the certification work you've already done as a doula or can help if you plan not to certify. The membership levels are in the works and will be unveiled as early as January 2020.
Why would a birthing person want a Birth Freely Preferred Doula?
You mean besides the fact that they are totally BOSS? Clients of Birth Freely Preferred Doulas get amazing benefits such as deep discounts on any Birth Freely class or workshop and Cat as their birth mentor in the community. Its a win, win, win!
Are you accepting new Birth Freely Preferred Doulas?
Birth Freely is always looking for amazing doulas but right now, Birth Freely Preferred Doulas must have at least a year of experience. In 2020, we will start taking newer doulas. Go ahead and fill out the interest form below if you would like to start the conversation abut becoming a Birth Freely Preferred Doula!
Through stations, role plays, and discussion, attendees gain hands on experience that they can bring to their work in the birthing room with patients and clients. Super Users even get curriculum to take back with them to their hospitals to teach their peers and colleagues the evidence based comfort measures they learn during our time together!
In this workshop, you are exposed to different comfort measures that you may have never heard of before as well as getting the evidence behind the support you are giving to your patient.
Don't miss out on your chance to have intraprofessional development with birth workers in our community while earning CEUs and valuable tools for your tool kit!
"You won't regret setting aside this time to learn this content. Not only are the "tickets out" so valuable to our community but Cat creates a fun engaging atmosphere where RNs, doulas, and even midwives learn along side each other." - Amanda
Let me start by saying that I so love facilitating this workshop. Birth Professionals come to interact with their peers and colleagues and learn the tickets out (aka solutions) to building a better birth community for their clients. All the while earning CEUs, developing relationships, and having fun! You will love it and, better yet, your clients will thank you since what you gain from this workshop will make their birth better!
Don't miss your opportunity to be apart of this exciting movement in birth. April 28, 2019 is the only public Savvy Birth Professionals workshop that I'll be teaching this year! Click here or on the button below to save you spot now!
Early Bird registration last through March 28th.
After careful research through focus groups and surveys, the verdict is in!
Birthers now-a-days are BUSY. They want the education, the birth class, the support, the community, but they don't always have the time to sit in a class. Well, Birthers of today, say hello to the newly designed Evidence Based Birth® Childbirth Education Series ! This series is PACKED with information that you have the opportunity to learn both in person in a group setting to create the support of a community and at your own pace and convenience online in your home.
The birth story of Sweet Baby Trevor continues!
I felt much better after having eaten, but alas, there was not yet an antepartum room available for me to move into to start the induction. So I worked on my laptop and answered a bunch of work emails letting people know I was going to be having the baby that day. Amazingly, Ben did not have to do much work during this time, and read some Harry Potter in French.
By late afternoon, the room was ready -- a small, windowless room with a shared bathroom. The nurse on duty was awesome. She understood that I’d wanted to have an unmedicated childbirth, and she had the attitude that even though I would be induced, of course I could still forego pain medications and an epidural! I honestly had started to reconsider my position on the epidural after realizing I’d have to have pitocin. But the nurse saw in my chart what my preferences were, and she took it upon herself to make sure that the next nurse after the shift change would be someone who would support the effort for an epidural-free birth. I never even ended up showing the hospital staff the written “birth preferences” document I’d printed out and put copies of in the hospital bag. No one at the hospital ever offered me an epidural.
So much preparation went into Lesley and Ben’s preferences that when they were with the hospital staff they had never met, there was no issue! She was respected and supported in her birth goals because she and Ben created the atmosphere where this could happen well before they even arrived at the hospital.
At 6:30 I saw the midwife I’d expected to have my checkup appointment with earlier that morning. We had a serious discussion about my initial preference not to use Cytotec as part of the induction and the hospital’s position, which I appreciated but didn’t want to dwell on since I had accepted the hospital’s position. Informed consent! She had the midwife trainee administer the Cytotec by placing it up behind the cervix. I was still about 2cm dilated at 50% effaced at this point. I’d also been hooked up to the electronic fetal monitor since arriving in triage. Baby’s heart rate was perfect, and the monitor was also supposed to be tracking my contractions, but I wasn’t yet having any contractions, so that reading was pretty much worthless.
I had to stay still and not get up for the first two hours after the Cytotec had been administered. Ben and I watched some Star Trek: Voyager on the iPad. After two hours, I didn’t appear to be having any kind of adverse reaction to the drug, so Ben left to go home to pick up some more things that hadn’t made it into the hospital bag (such as the orange birth ball!) and also to take care of our cat. I watched the “Bride of Chaotica” episode of Voyager and also some Archer. By the time the four-hour period for the Cytotec dose to take effect came to an end, Ben had returned. I begged him to give me something to eat, and ate an entire pint of berries from Whole Foods even though Ben cautioned me to heed the official advice and not eat anything. But I was hungry! A cervical check showed that I was now 3cm dilated, 50% effaced.
And here is where she heeds the REST and DISTRACT advice of her doula ;).
The care providers were pleased with this progress and deemed my cervix sufficiently ripe to proceed with Pitocin (as opposed to administering further doses of Cytotec). So I was moved to an actual labor and delivery room, which was much larger than the antepartum room and had a pull-out couch for Ben and a private bathroom. It also had a little heat lamp table for the baby, which was exciting to see as it reminded me that I would soon be meeting our baby!
Cat had suggested that we try to get some sleep because it was likely that the induction would take a long time and I would be very tired by the time it came time to actually deliver the baby. We had anticipated more than one round of Cytotec, so suddenly things seemed to be happening a little more quickly than we’d counted on. They told us I’d be starting the pitocin right away, but some funky things started going on with the baby’s heart rate after I was settled in the new L&D room (I suspect just as a result of trying to get the monitor set up correctly) so it took a little longer and more observation time before the IV was started. A resident came by and did another cervical check -- still 3cm, 75% effaced. The pitocin drip was started around 11:30 pm, and Ben and I both lay down to try to get some rest.
I started to have a dull pain in my lower back, but was otherwise resting comfortably in the dark room. I kept repeating to myself in my head, “Open, open. Spread, spread. Wide, wide” and visualized my cervix stretching open.
She rested. Despite the pain and discomfort. Lesley used visualizations to get in the right mind set.
Perspective. Is. Everything.
Around 1:45 am, I shifted around in bed and felt a pop. It was my water breaking! There was a big wet spot in the bed (which was covered in puppy pads). Ben called the nurse and let her know. At that point, regular contractions finally started to happen. I also had the urge to use the restroom right away and emptied my bowels a bit. I did not want to get back into bed, so I sat on the orange birth ball on top of absorbent pads facing the bed. It was a very strange sensation -- with the beginning of each contraction, a gush of water would come.
Ben put on music: Return to Forever’s “Light as a Feather.” I was able to labor on the ball despite being hooked up to both the pitocin IV and the continuous electronic fetal monitoring. After a little while, I felt a very strong urge to vomit. I threw up into a basin (hello again, berries!) and suddenly needed to use the restroom again. I sat on the toilet and vomited some more. This felt GREAT and I could feel the baby moving down as I heaved. But even though I felt great sitting on the toilet, the nurse told me I had to get back over to the ball and be on the monitors again. I was like, “I’m not ready yet! I need to be right here!” but I did eventually relent.
Again, a discussion around where she could comfortably and safely labor. Given the pitocin, the policy of the hospital had her be continuously monitored but she had to use the restroom! So she did!
Around 2:30 am, Cat arrived. We had debated whether to have her to come in right when my water broke, still thinking the induction might take a long time, but given how relatively quickly things had progressed so far, we decided we wanted her there sooner rather than later. In retrospect, I’m so glad for this because she arrived just in time to usher us through the overwhelming experience of acute labor.
For the next few hours, I sat on the ball and rocked to the music. With each contraction, I would bark at Ben: “Back!” or “Hips!” and he would apply counterpressure to that spot. He also applied a heating pad, which felt heavenly. I was very much focused on getting through each contraction and relishing the relief that came when each one stopped. It was dark and quiet in the room, and I was able to really go inward and keep thinking about how each contraction was getting me closer to meeting our baby. The midwife came by to see how I was doing, and was surprised to find that my water had broken -- apparently no one had told her! Cat continued to give quiet, calm support to both me and Ben.
Eventually - very quickly in the mind of this doula, actually. I “blame” this super quick progression on Lesley’s strong belief in herself and her abilities. Perspective is an amazing thing. She had done a lot of work on her mental mind prior to this moment. Books, videos, classes, discussing her goals. She did the work up front and it was paying off! - the contractions became stronger and I began to feel fear that it would continue for a long time. I announced to Ben and Cat, “I am interested in exploring pain relief options.” Luckily, they quickly deflected my statement and changed the subject, as I had not used the code word (“Hufflepuff”). It felt helpful to say that out loud, and also for me to realize from their (lack of) response that I was doing just fine! They both started telling me explicitly how great I was doing and how strong I was after that point. Donald Byrd’s “Blackbyrd” was playing, followed by an Idris Muhammad album. (Ben and I had intended to put together a labor playlist, but didn’t get around to it before the unexpected induction. Ben chose the perfect soundtrack for us to have our baby to, and I still can’t believe that labor only lasted for three albums.)
Eventually I felt concerned that I might fall off the ball -- I felt tired and slightly lightheaded. I wanted to get into bed. Cat, Ben, and the nurse helped me, but as soon as I was in the bed, the contractions felt way stronger and more painful. “What have I done??” I wailed to Cat. I felt like I was writhing. The only thing that helped me through the contractions was to exhale raspberries with each breath during the contraction. Cat helped remind me to breathe and not let the contraction control me or tense me up. This was really helpful. Ben was right at my side too, whispering encouragement as I became more and more uncomfortable. The nurse kept fiddling with the belts containing the electronic monitors -- apparently they weren’t working right, or I was moving around too much. She moved me onto my left side, and Cat tried to put a pillow between my knees to help open my pelvis up. It hurt like hell and I screamed at her to stop. Things were starting to get wild! Cat and the nurse took my top leg and extended it straight out at a 90 degree angle.
This maneuver felt good and must have really helped get the baby in position to descend, because shortly after that, I felt myself beginning to involuntarily push at the height of the contractions. I probably did that for two contractions before Cat asked me, “Are you pushing, honey?”
“I can’t help it,” I replied. By this time I was really writhing and screaming a bit. Cat helped me move into an all-fours position, HANDS AND KNEES, People! ALL FOURS! Incredible. which felt better (and was the position I had visualized and verbalized myself giving birth in). The nurse got me an oxygen mask to lean down into and breathe through during the contractions. They got the midwife to come in to check me. “You are complete,” she declared, meaning I was fully dilated and effaced. It was time to push! I could hardly believe it. Even though I’d felt myself needing to push (little pushes!), to have gone from 3cm dilated to complete without any intervening checks was pleasantly surprising. The midwife settled in behind me and asked if the baby had a name. “Trevor,” I said. “Okay,” she replied. “Let’s meet Trevor.”
Pushing felt just like trying to poop -- but the biggest, roundest poop. It seemed unlikely to me that it would ever be productive. I could feel the midwife’s hands in my vagina, stretching me (I guess to prevent tearing?). It felt sharp and unpleasant. I groaned, grunted, and screamed. I tried to work with the contractions. I breathed in the oxygen. Cat reminded me to keep my pelvis angled up so the baby could come through. Ben kept telling me how amazing I was, how great I was doing, how strong I am. Finally I declared to Cat, “I am going to meet my baby!” I pushed harder and harder.
The contractions started to be spaced further apart. I said out loud that I was concerned that they were coming too slowly -- wouldn’t the baby get stuck in the birth canal if things didn’t move along? Cat reminded me that in the pushing phase, there’s more rest time between contractions -- totally normal. I felt better. I pushed with the contractions as they came. I roared with every push.
Did you read that, Reader? “I roared with every push.” Doesn’t that statement just affirm the power Lesley displayed the moments before her son was born? Amazing.
Finally his head was visible to the team. The midwife asked me if I wanted to feel it. At first I felt negative about this -- I wanted to just focus on pushing and get this thing over with! But then I realized what a cool opportunity it was. As soon as I reached down and felt that he was really there, right between my legs, I felt a burst of energy as I realized just how close we were to being done with labor and meeting Trevor. I bore down hard, again and again. I was pushing without there being any contractions, just trying to get him out. It was burning. “Just one more push to get the shoulders out!” the midwife said cheerfully. I could do this!
I pushed, and Trevor shot out of me with a plop and a splat at 5:15 am. He was here! I couldn’t believe it. They told me to turn over to meet my baby. I lay back and they put him on my chest. He was a little goopy but I could see his head, his hair, and his alert dark eyes looking right into mine. It was unreal, it was perfect. Ben was right at my side, gazing at this little slice of perfection right along with me.
Cat captured these first moments together for us. I’m so grateful she was there, from the first panicked moments about needing to be induced through to the blissful end. Although I had been hopeful that I wouldn’t need an induction, and had strong feelings about certain interventions (including one that ended up being used), I definitely felt empowered throughout the entire experience and was able to process and accept the interventions being recommended. I feel like that acceptance and empowerment allowed the rest of the labor to go smoothly, quickly and unselfconsciously; and I was very much able to have the birth that I wanted and had envisioned for myself. I seriously felt like a superhero in the days and weeks following the birth, and still enjoy sharing our story with anyone who wants to hear it. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to do it again, hopefully with Cat once again by our side.
Lesley and Ben did such an amazing job together in the birth room. Ben’s presence was calm and positive which helped Lesley such a powerful force as she labored and birthed their child. I thank both of you for honoring me with the privilege of being your doula and for allowing me to share your story here.
Trevor, you are a lucky guy to have such remarkable partners as parents!
When Lesley sat down at our first interview, I asked her, as I do everyone who interviews me to be their doula, why she wanted a doula. Her response was “because birth is so mysterious.” After reading her two part story on the birth of her son, Trevor, I hope you realize that through dedicated preparation and support, the fear and mystery of birth can be replaced with confidence and empowerment - even despite certain obstacles.
Cat asked me to write a blog post about our birth story on our baby’s first birthday, and I could not be happier to oblige and share with others what was such an empowering and intense experience! Much of the detail below was written about a month after the birth, but I was glad to revisit it on the occasion of my little guy turning one on November 1, 2017.
Shortly after I became pregnant, I watched “The Business of Being Born” and started reading lots of Ina May Gaskin and birth story blogs. I realized that I very much wanted a doula to attend my birth, and that I wanted to aim for minimizing interventions as much as possible. Meeting Cat and talking with her about evidence-based birth practices, I immediately knew that I had found the right person to support me in this mission.
I saw the midwives at a local hospital throughout my pregnancy, which was generally uneventful. In addition to reading Ina May, my husband and I did our prenatal education sessions with Cat and also attended a three-week birth education class, both of which helped us understand informed consent. I easily came up with a detailed birth plan aimed at preempting unnecessary interventions, which Cat helped me distill down to bullet points. I shared the final “birth preferences” list with Cat and my midwives about a month before my due date.
In my mind, I would go into labor and have a day or two to “rest and nest,” rewatch some sci-fi television series, and go for long walks along Kelly Drive. I thought about this a lot when I was heavily pregnant and stressed out as almost a reward I was working toward. (In retrospect, this mindset ignored the fact that I would be having contractions during this time, but I was still looking forward to it.) I also visualized my ideal birth process and would verbalize it to anyone who was willing to listen (Cat; my husband; a friend who had recently given birth), detailed down to my anticipated laboring and birthing positions. Alas, the “rest and nest” stage was not meant to be, and I ended up facing a major intervention at the outset of my labor: induction!
I went into the office for my 39 week appointment on October 31, 2016. I was supposed to see one of the midwives at 8:15 and I arrived promptly at 8:00 after skipping breakfast. I had a work call scheduled at 11am that morning and was looking forward to a productive last week of work before my due date.
I sat in the waiting room for quite a while, watching other people arrive and be promptly called back. I became more and more anxious and agitated as the time approached 9am and my nose began to bleed. (So many nosebleeds during pregnancy!) Finally I went up to reception and asked what was going on. About 20 minutes later, I was called back and ushered to a room beyond the exam rooms I usually went to. I asked the nurse, “So who am I seeing?”
It turned out that the practice had fit me into one of the OBs’ schedule. Apparently there had been a scheduling snafu: the midwife who I was scheduled to see was actually over at the hospital on delivery duty that day. I hadn’t seen an OB at any point during my pregnancy, so it was odd to see one at the very end. The nurse took my blood pressure and it was high, around 140/90. I’d had a high reading at my last appointment, too, so the doctor was concerned. It was taken again after the checkup, and hadn’t gone down to normal range (unlike what had happened at my 38 week appointment when my pressure was normal by the end of the appointment). The OB did a cervical check and found me 2cm dilated and 50% effaced. She offered to strip my membranes, but I declined. Because my pressure was still high, she sent me over to the hospital for further blood pressure checks and evaluation.
I started to cry when she told me this, as I knew it meant that an induction would be likely. I had really hoped for spontaneous labor, and was looking forward to the “nest and rest” portion of early labor. I wasn’t ready! I wanted to rewatch some Battlestar Galactica! And plus, I still had a couple projects I was trying to wrap up at work. I’d prepared myself mentally, as a first-time mom, to go past my due date, and had planned at work accordingly. Plus, induction at my hospital meant Cytotec (misoprostol) and pitocin. I was anti-Cytotec after researching the medical rationale for off-label Cytotec inductions as a standard of care (largely cost- and convenience-driven, in my assessment), plus I was somewhat irrationally affected by the fact that I had done a science fair experiment on goldfish in the 9th grade where I fed them Cytotec (my dad was a pharma sales rep) and it killed them all. Most disappointingly, induction meant continuous IV and electronic fetal monitoring, and no birthing suite. Continuous monitoring was anathema to my birthing preferences; I wanted to be able to move.
I called my husband through my tears and asked if he was still at home. Luckily, he was just about to leave for work but was still at the house. He grabbed my computer charger and the hospital bag I’d packed a week previously (but hadn’t finished packing completely!) and met me at the labor and delivery triage area at the hospital around 11:00 am.
In a shared room in triage, I had my blood pressure taken a couple more times and it was high for all but one reading. I explained that I’d been upset by the scheduling issue and not being seen for so long for my checkup, but in the end, that didn’t matter. The midwife on duty in triage and explained that since the placenta is one big blood vessel, high pressure could potentially cause a placental abruption and threaten me or the baby. Thus, I would have to be induced that day -- I was full term and baby would be safer out than in. I needed some time to process this. I considered going home and waiting for labor to begin on its own. I was also fearful that they wouldn’t let me eat anything if I was going to be induced. I hadn’t eaten anything all day at this point, around 1pm, and I was very cranky! Ben and I talked, and we spoke to my mother-in-law (a pediatrician) and to Cat to try to process the advice we’d been given. Induction at our hospital meant Cytotec, and no 9th grade science experiment on the effects of Cytotec on the circulatory systems of goldfish would change that, Honorable Mention notwithstanding. (I had discussed alternatives such as cervadil with the midwives during routine prenatal appointments, but was advised that it was not an option due to cost.)
It is important that you know where you are choosing to birth for many reasons and this is one! The alternative was not available at this hospital. Although Lesley did not plan on an induction, when the unexpected happened, she and Ben kept their heads above the water. They discussed every option. They got their information. They leaned on their supports. Then, they made their decision. So important since true informed consent doesn’t mean that you get your way; it means you get the information you need in that moment to make the best decision in that moment. POWERFUL.
We agreed to stick around and get induced. Ben went down to the Italian Market to get lunch. He came back with hoagies from Sarcone’s and they were delicious. The “Exotic Veggie” (breaded eggplant, roasted peppers, broccoli rabe, abbruzzi spread and mozzarella) fortified me for the effort ahead.
And here is where we will break. Part Two of Trevor’s story will be continued in a few days!
My life started another trajectory 6 years ago. I found out a was pregnant and, as many other women do, started to think about pregnancy, labor and delivery as a first hand experience for the first time in my life. Always a student at heart, I had to learn more. At the advice of an also pregnant friend, I decided upon a 12 week intensive childbirth series for my husband and I to both take together to prepare us for that first hadn't experience that seemed so foreign and really filled me with more fear and uncertainty than I thought it should. I kept thinking - "Birth has happened since the beginning of time."
... BUT, that didn't make it less scary...
"The more I know, the better prepared I'll be." That felt better. And, I was right.
Not only was I better prepared but the experience of giving birth to my first son, transformed me. (I can guarantee you that this transformation does not only happen to me, but to every woman. See blog post below)!
How, it was how birth transformed that started me on the trajectory that places me here, today.
Yesterday, I got word that I passed the LAMAZE Childbirth Educator Exam. (Insert your WHOOP!!! WHOOP!!! here).
What does this mean, Cat?!
I'm glad you asked! This means that I am now certified to teach childbirth education to effectively promote the beauty of childbirth for all. Hopefully, releasing the fear and stigma of this normal process for every woman I have the honor of teaching.
No, not all women will walk away from my classes wanting the same thing in their birth. And, guess what, that's OKAY! There is NO RIGHT CHOICE in childbirth. The way I want to birth is not the same as my neighbors' views, my friends' views, or even my mother's views. BUT, now, as an LCCE, I can help to diminish the mystery, alleviate the fear, and bring on the empowerment for more women to have a safe and satisfying birth experience.
One that will transform them.
Now, as a LAMAZE Certified Childbirth Educator, an Evidence Based Birth® Instructor, and a Certified DONA Doula - I'm calling triple threat status to start knocking fear out of our birth culture.
So ready for 2018!
Demystifying Your Hospital Birth
Savvy Birth Workshops
The Village, South Jersey
Labor of Love
Path to Parenthood
Childbirth Education in your Own Home!
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What comes to mind when you hear
,Every time I teach, I start this small activity. Over time this activity has made me very aware of how women and their partners feel as we begin to discuss labor and the birth of their child. The unfiltered responses for what comes to mind when I say "birth," should bother you. They certainly bother me! It seems the first words that come to mind when I say "birth" are FEAR and MYSTERIOUS. How can we be describing childbirth with words like FEAR and MYSTERIOUS surfacing more often than EXCITEMENT and JOY, I'm thinking is about time for a perspective change. How about you?
And, my dear friend,
After all, I started my journey into motherhood with similar buzz words. I was anxious. I felt overwhelmed. I, just like many others, was fearful. Who could blame me though?! It seemed like everyone I knew had a story. Rephrasing --- everyone I knew had a BAD story. My mom “never progressed” and I was born via cesarean section. My grandmother couldn’t remember the birth of her two girls because they knocked her out for her labor. My mother in law, who gave birth to four children, unmedicated, said she felt not listened too, under supported, and rushed. Prior to my first birth, there was a point when I walked out of my childbirth education class because, as I told my husband, “what I just saw, that’s impossible.”
But then, a perspective change happened. That’s great, Cat... but HOW??!?!
My husband and I went back to our childbirth education class. We went back and allowed our fantastic, experienced instructor to teach about birth, explain to us what was normal, answer our questions and hear her answers to others’ questions. The experience of attending the class took our FEAR and turned into CONFIDENCE. The explanations and answers took the mystery and turned it into EMPOWERMENT. We learned all about what would happen within my body, both physically and mentally, and my husband learned how to support me while I would be in labor land. We also learned about the hospital we would give birth in and how to navigate what we be placed on me by policy.
Flash forward to today. I have had 3 hospital births of my own. After my first, I started my journey into the birth world and have worked locally as a doula in 10 different area hospitals. I became an Evidence Based Birth® Instructor, teaching parents how to be more SAVVY within their birth setting and I am a Parent Educator at a major area hospital, teaching childbirth education to parents-to-be. During whatever precious time these parents-to-be decide to spend with me, I try to change their perspective; to replace the FEAR and MYSTERY with EMPOWERED and SUPPORTED. Demystifying the Birth Experience. After our time together, the birthing person and partner leave with less anxiety, more empowerment, and a more in-depth idea of not only the birthing process, but how they will find comfort and how they will guarantee they feel supported and receive true family based care in the hospital.
I want to help change your perspective. I want to DEMYSTIFY birth for you. So, I created this class where we talk about the local hospital routines coupled with the birth process and support systems so that women and their partners feel prepared for their time laboring in hospital. We answer those questions running through your head like:
If you are birthing in a hospital, come join us for this not to be missed class!
photo credit Gingersnap Photography.
Giving birth soon in the South Jersey or Philadelphia region?
Be prepared! The Lily Childbirth Education Course taught by Cat LaPlante at The Village in Haddonfield is a one day event for the busy parents or the second + time parents who need a refresher on birth. Any and all birthing preferences are welcomed and discussed so that you can be prepared to make the best discussions regarding your birth. Next class is September 17th at 1:30 and there are only a couple spots left. Ticket sales end September 13th!
During this intensive and comprehensive child birth preparation course, you will learn how to diminish fears surrounding pregnancy, labor, birth and early parenting. We discuss the natural physiological process of labor and birth, giving you the confidence and understanding to work with your body during the amazing moments of labor and birth. Mothers and partners learn natural comfort measures to use during your labor while birth partners are given specific tools that enable them to provide comfort and support during the amazing transformation while empowering them to maintain a calm but active role in the birth.
We cover ways to navigate through unexpected turns of events using evidence based information and informed decision making as well how to keep communication open with the medical providers there to maintain your Baby's safe transition into the world. Immediate postpartum moments are also discussed to give you and your family the most special golden first hour of Baby's life.
All materials are included to take home in a binder.
Dsicounts offered to bundle classes including Labor of Love on Sept 24th and Savvy Birth 101 on Sept 21st or Savvy Birth Workshop on Dec 8!
Cost is for Mom and Partner and tickets can be purchased here --> https://www.eventbrite.com/e/lily-childbirth-education-class-tickets-37583821221 Please inquire to email@example.com about additonal attendees.
Each attendee receives this awesome Birth Freely Labor Positions Guide included in their materials! If you can't make it, these are always for purchase by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
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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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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!