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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#Birthfreely #PMN #phillydoula #NydiaHan
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
south jersey doula, central jersey doula, Cherry Hill doula, Voorhees Doula, 08002 doula, 08003, 08052, moorsetown doula, cinnaminson doula, collingswood doula
Dear Dr. Amy Turner ***: RE Time article “Why I'm not celebrating Word Breastfeeding Week”
An Open Response.
I was baffled as I read through your article so purposefully titled. I kept thinking, “Why the hell are you not celebrating World Breastfeeding Week?” After all, you say, “It’s not because (you) don’t understand the benefits of breastfeeding; (You’re) an obstetrician.” and you remark that you enjoyed breastfeeding.
What gives, Dr. Amy?
Maybe you should hear the perspective of a mother who 1. struggled to breastfed her babies herself, 2. supplemented a bit with formula when needed for her children’s sake, and 3. (most importantly) celebrates ALL mothers, breastfeeding and formula feeding.
Seriously, how dare you decide that you will not celebrate a mother who breastfeeds her infant?
To me and many, World Breastfeeding Week celebrates the normalization of breastfeeding. However your precious babies are nourished in their infancy, it is only important to the point that they are nourished! The struggle of breastfeeding in this "breasts are solely sexual" culture is the primary battle - not the difference between formula feeding and breast feeding. Defiantly not the mommy guilt of how you feed your baby. An incredible mother provides nourishment for her children, whether she is getting up at night to pull down her shirt or getting up at night to make a bottle.
You say that the benefits of breastfeeding are “trivial.” Well, I say that you are an idiot. The benefits to breastfeeding can mean the difference between a happy mom and a sad mom. The benefits to breastfeeding in a third world country can mean to difference between a healthy baby and a sick baby. The benefits to breastfeeding can change the course of a mother’s life, and, in effect, change the course of her baby’s life. I’ll speak for myself since that’s the case for me.
With my oldest child, I had to express milk into a spoon and spoon feed him for the first two weeks of his life in order to successfully breastfeed past a year. It not only made me more determined of a person, but it built a stronger bond between my husband and myself and I 100% feel like it made me a better mother.
I whole heartily want to believe that you are joking when you say ”It appears that we are celebrating World Breastfeeding Week in the US to extol mothers who breastfeed and to shame those who don’t.” Unfortunately, I know you are not joking but the human in me says “She HAS to be” so I will give you the benefit of the doubt. My friends, past and current clients, neighbors, family members, colleagues… NONE of them have attacked formula feeding by posting about their accomplishments, struggles, life altering moments, happiness, etc while breastfeeding. Us breastfeeding folk are not attacking mothers who choose formula feeding. We are simply stating that it sucks to be judged for feeding our babies. That’s it. Grow up.
Oh, and thank God we have gotten to the point that someone is speaking up for breastfeeding to be the cultural norm. Huzzah to you - World Alliance for Breastfeeding Advocacy (WABA)!!After all, you didn’t exact make a good point why it shouldn’t be. I am happy to live in a world where culture is not a stagnant concept. I mean, maybe soon I can feed my baby in peace and not have to hide out in a bathroom stall to do it.
Cat LaPlante, CD(DONA)
Written in response to “Why I will not Celebrate World Breastfeeding Week” http://time.com/3983936/world-breastfeeding-week-2/ ---
*** I have since found out that Dr. Amy Turner is deemed a "troll" in the natural birth community and I didn't mean to "feed the troll" but I'm happy to expose the troll. G away and stop shaming moms, "Dr." Amy.
I have to share it EVERYWHERE!
Thank you, Gina. You are one of the most in-control people I know. I am so very proud of you.
You did AWESOME!
Please click here for her blog post about my work for her as her doula!
Happy World Wide Breastfeeding Week! Time to kick start the normalization of breastfeeding! Whoop! Get excited - doula Cherry Hill, doula Camden County, doula Voorhees, Doula South Jersey, doula Philadelphia, doula 08002, Birth Freely Doula
Visit http://worldbreastfeedingweek.org for more information on how to get involved in your community.
When my clients get me a super cool shirt as a gift for being their birth doula, I just have to blog about it to show it off! Thanks Andrea and Dave for the privilege for being apart of your daughter's birth and for this awesome shirt to remember our first meeting by :)
Back story - Andrea was wearing a cute "baby in the belly" shirt when we first met to discuss me becoming a part of her birth team and, after commenting on her shirt, we sealed the first inside joke of many on her and Dave's journey to becoming parents.
An awesome shirt deserves a blog post, so here it is!
Coming up soon, I explain further my passion for birth in - Why I DOULALOVE BIRTH!
Stay tuned, crowd!
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!
Parker’s birth was one that I submitted to complete my DONA certification. When I wrote about the one thing I learned as a doula from Parker’s birth, I wrote this - “As Natasha and Matt’s doula, I learned the power of a quiet laboring mama.” After two of my own natural births and two years into this passion of assisting women birth their babies according to their goals and wishes, I am still in awe of the power that Natasha beamed as she labored with her body and birthed her baby. I cannot begin to describe how amazing this experience was for me.
Thank you, Natasha and Matt for not only allowing me to be a part of it, but allowing me to relive it by honoring me to write Parker’s story from my perspective.
It was around 9pm on June 15th when Natasha texted me and said she thought this might be, definitely, maybe labor. You see, Natasha and I had been texting a lot that week. Since I lived four hours away from her and, with my youngest son only being 2 months old, I had a finite period of time that I could spend with her. If I came too early or came for a period of prodormal labor that fizzled out, basically we blew our shot. I wouldn’t be able to make the 8 hour round trip twice. From what she was telling me and with her intuition driving her, we made the call that this would be our best bet. I was in the car by 9:30pm, suggesting that she try to sleep the best she could as I made my way to her. After a pretty easy drive through mostly no cellular service farm land, lost for about 45 minutes and with my phone battery near death, I arrived at Natasha’s home around 1:45am. She was awake to get water as I came to her door. (There goes my planetary alignment theory, again!) But, let down, she informed me that thought her definite labor had fizzled into not labor. Total Bummer! Well, I’d better sleep a bit before I drive back. We decided that I’d hang out until sun up morning for a while and made another plan that by 11am, I’d be heading back home unless she was in labor. She went back upstairs, I set up my breast pump and, after pumping, fell asleep on the couch bed she had made up for me. (Thanks girl!)
Around 5am, I heard some shuffling upstairs as I woke up to pump again. Owen, Natasha’s first boy, had awoken. Natasha, the ever so successful breastfeeding mama (I’m serious - Breastfeeding Goddess , folks!) nursed her first baby when he woke and “Ding Ding Ding!” we were back in labor land!
It started slowly. I watched her as she came downstairs and turned on the TV to distract her first born as we talked. Matt, her husband followed, getting Owen and Natasha some breakfast and we all talked about a plan for the day. Matt would go to work but stay at the ready as we puttered around, flowing through what I believe we all saw as “the real deal” starting.
Matt went upstairs to get ready for work as Natasha and I stayed downstairs, speaking about our kids, how we saw the day going, her new home on the East Coast (remember she had just moved across the nation only a few weeks before), her new life here, our families, and in what ways she hoped that Parker’s birth would be different than Owen’s birth. Natasha kept up with the conversation, moving around in the chair, concentrating slightly on contractions as we conversed. Then, Owen asked to go upstairs to play. Upstairs, in Owens phenomenal play room - obviously organized by a former teacher with books taking up a entire wall, floor to ceiling, left to right - Owen, Natasha, and I played as I saw Natasha quickly progressing along. It wasn’t long before she had the idea for the babysitter to come get Owen.
Once sweet Owen left with his sitter for the day, Natasha’s labor started change. She sat on her birth ball and and bounced a while as I stood with her gently massaged her. She began to sway and get hot so I offered to put up her hair and stayed with her swaying and gliding her own internal rhythm. She stopped talking and started to really focus inward as she swayed. Only coming out of her trance to accept water a few times. She got up to go to the bathroom around 7am and we decided that Matt should make his way home. Matt arrived at 7:30am and sat with us for a few minutes before he went upstairs to change and ready everything for the trip to the hospital.
It was 8:48am when we left for hospital. Around 9am, a very, very, very quiet Natasha was admitted and in bed for her first check. My role as direct support changed once Natasha got settled as I became more of a birth database and Matt took over as direct support. Natasha was checked and the room suddenly went into a whirlwind. At 7cm, the hospital staff rushed around trying to provide Natasha with everything they had to help her with her natural birth plan. Everything from Olive Oil to diffusers came into her room as she laid in bed, quiet, eyes closed, concentrating. Being in her room, I felt like we were in a hurricane with Natasha and Matt being the eye of the storm.
I wish I could accurately describe to you the way that room felt as watching her labor. Natasha laid in bed and held Matt’s hand. For 2 hours, as nurses flowed in and out and the doctor checked in, she laid there. Eyes closed, breathing in rhythm, listening to her own internal conversation. She was so calm, so incredibly peaceful, every single person who came into her room asked me quietly if she was asleep. Honestly, I had to ask myself that a few times but what I did know was that whatever she was doing, was beautiful.
Natasha started to comment that she had to push around 11am. After using the bathroom, she was checked again. She was complete. Time to meet her son! Listening to the support and coaching that Matt, her doctor, her nurses, and I provided, at 11:21am, Parker Levi was born to a suddenly awake and overjoyed Mama who, wide eyed, took her son to her breast as he heartily began to nurse. (Told you before, Nursing Goddess!)
Happy Birthday, Parker Levi! You are a lucky dude!!!!!!
Birth Freely’s Birthday Baby Bonanza Series brings us to another amazing birth story, once again! For this Super Squishy Star’s Birth Story, Natasha, Parker’s Mama, honored me by asking me to relay Parker’s birth through my eyes as her doula. However, before I just dive in, allow me to walk down memory lane and paint a picture for you. After all, the story of me becoming the doula for Parker’s birth starts even before I even knew I would discover this passion for doulaing!
I met Mom, Natasha like I meet most of my clients: Online. However, Natasha and I didn’t just meet by her one day typing “doula 08002” in the Google search bar. Nope! Natasha and I met online through a group for women who had had May babies the year that our respective May babies were born. Being it Connor’s birth (he’s my first boy) that made me realize my life long passion for doulaing, Natasha then had a front row seat to not only the my own highs and lows of first year parenting, but to my journey becoming a doula. At the time we "met," Natasha lived on the West Coast and me in Virginia. (For my geographically challenged friends, Virginia's beaches make up part of the East Coast. *insert sarcastic smiley, winky face*). Well, there were a few us in the May Mom group, including Natasha, that talked about me possibly one day being the doula for them. You know, when the stars and planets aligned perfectly and the sun danced through the clouds and the Moon was in retrograde…do moons retrograde?! Anyway! Natasha and I were on the opposite ends of the country. That would take some crazy alignment! Never did we think that I would have the privilege to be a part of her birth team.
Well, little to my knowledge, planetary alignment was beginning.
Natasha’a husband was set for a transfer to another location through his job. Out of the 5 or so places he could end up, one of those places was only around 2 hours from where I grew up. At about 30 weeks pregnant, Natasha’s husband, Matt, was transferred to the East Coast, and of all places, to that very location! (Now, for those out there that know me on a personal level, this would be the beginning to my full circle!) Still, when we found this out, I still lived 3-4 hours away in Virginia so we joked again about it but knew it would still take a little more than a coast to coast move since I had just given birth to my second boy, Killian, only a month before. It didn’t stop us from dreaming the dream. We talked about it back and forth for about a month and came up with a plan but still knew that the entire universe had to corporate with us for the plan to actually pan out. It wasn’t until Natasha went into labor that we both actually thought “Hey! this could work!”
Seemed only fitting that a woman who knew me as I started my journey would round out the births I, myself, needed to complete that component of my DONA certification! I’ll be happily posting Parker’s birth story tomorrow on his one year birthday. Be sure to stop by tomorrow to read what an incredible job this fantastic woman, new to all her surroundings, did as she birthed her littlest baby into the world!
See you back here tomorrow, friends!
Don't get me wrong - there is certainly need for medicine and surgery in some births. I've said before that without cesarean birth, there is a possibility that neither my mom nor I would be alive today. Still, the phenomenal rate of cesarean in the U.S. without medical necessity is astounding and leading to terrible outcomes for mom and baby.
Know your facts, know your rights, hire a doula!
"C-sections are “often performed without medical need, putting women and their babies at-risk of short- and long-term health problems,” WHO said."
Click below for the article. Thanks for visiting Birth Freely, South Jersey doula
serving Philadelphia doula, Cherry Hill doula, Voorhees doula, Collingswood doula, Moorsetown doula, Camden County doula, Burlington County doula, Glouster County doula
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!