birth

Ask the Educators: Skin to Skin Contact and Bonding After Birth

Childbirth education at Blooma serves families no matter what type of birth they are planning. All classes present evidence-based information for normal and safe birth, influenced by the Lamaze 6 Healthy Birth Practices. Classes provide information to expectant families to reduce their fear or anxiety while building confidence and preparing them for birth.

We love hearing your questions, and helping you make informed decisions for your birth. Many mamas and partners want to know, "What are the benefits to skin to skin contact after birth?"

Maybe you have wondered the same? Maybe you plan on skin to skin contact, but dont know the exact benefits. Childbirth Educator Beth Supple to the rescue! Learn why skin to skin contact in the Golden Hour after birth is recommended.

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When a mama gazes into her baby’s eyes immediately after birth, and baby is placed on mama’s abdomen with direct skin contact, a multitude of amazing things happen for both. The first hour after birth is referred to as the “Golden Hour” for a reason.

What happens physiologically to mama and baby during this time is fascinating. Healing begins faster, bonding occurs, breastfeeding has a better success rate, and probiotics get exchanged in a cozy environment. These benefits have made skin-to-skin internationally recommended.

Physical Healing and Emotional Bonding

Both mama and baby maintain a perfect hormonal balance during Golden Hour. Oxytocin, the hormone of love, is the highest during orgasm, labor and delivery, and breastfeeding. After a baby is born and placed on the abdomen, but before the placenta is delivered, the amount of oxytocin released is at its peak. This release minimizes bleeding by stimulating uterine contractions. It also stimulates milk production and begins bonding. Oxytocin is released most easily if a mama is able to gaze without interruption into her newborn’s eyes and feel the baby on her skin. With skin-to-skin, the risk of postpartum hemorrhage is decreased, and there is a better success rate for breastfeeding.

In a natural labor, the body releases endorphins, the body’s natural pain reliever, helping mom and baby with pain relief during the birthing process. These endorphins also help create a sense of bliss after birth and dependency between mama and baby. Add that immediate release of adrenaline, and even the most exhausted mama and baby are typically alert immediately after delivery. The bonding of skin-to-skin and breastfeeding can extend this miraculous alertness.

Increased Rate of Success for Breastfeeding

When a baby is skin-to-skin in the first hour of life, baby and mama have primordial instincts to breastfeed. The first milk produced, called colostrum, smells similar to amniotic fluid. Baby is actually able to crawl up to the breast, motivated by sense of smell. His or her little legs push down on mama’s belly to hunt that nipple! This also helps massage the uterus, minimizing postpartum bleeding for mama too. Amazing isn’t it?

Colostrum is the perfect first meal for baby. It is nutrient rich, high in protein, and full of antibodies to help protect baby from infection. It is lower in sugar and fat than breastmilk, so it is easily digested. A few milliliters help to stabilize baby’s blood sugar over the course of the first 24 hours. Colostrum also helps establish lifelong gut flora. Who needs probiotics anyway?

Probiotics and Baby’s Body Temperature

That is not the only remarkable clinical exchange: good bacteria colonizes from mama’s skin to baby’s! The mother and baby share the same unique antibodies, so a mama’s skin is already a familiar place for baby. Mama’s abdomen is the most beneficial space for a baby within the first hour. Delaying baby’s first bath enhances this probiotic balance, and keeps baby’s body temp appropriately cozy! Through thermal synchrony, mama’s body is able to fluctuate temperature and meet baby’s needs. If a baby is too cool, the mama’s chest temperature heats up to warm him or her. An intuitive mama’s body is almost always better technology than a hospital baby warmer.

Skin-to-skin is not always possible immediately after birth. If mama and baby need to be separated, skin-to-skin can still begin as soon as baby is returned. There are still many benefits to skin-to-skin, even if it is delayed beyond the first hour, including bonding and breastfeeding. And let’s give some recognition to the similar miraculous power of a partner’s skin-to-skin abilities - Partners that practice skin to skin create a relationship with baby, lower stress levels, babies cry less, and enhance bonding. Skin-to-skin for the whole family!

Written by Beth Supple, MN, RNC-MNN

Beth is a Labor & Delivery Registered Nurse, childbirth educator at Blooma, and mama of two.

 

References:

Crenshaw, J. (2014). Healthy Birth Practice #6: Keep Mother and Baby Together— It’s Best for Mother, Baby, and Breastfeeding. Journal of Perinatal Education, 23(4): 211–217.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4235060/

Holley, S. (2017). Providing Evidence-Based Care During the Golden Hour. Nursing for Women’s Health, 21(6): 462-472.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/321701874_Providing_Evidence-Based_Care_During_the_Golden_Hour

Odent, M. (2002). The First Hour Following Birth: Don’t Wake the Mother! Midwifery Today, 061.

https://midwiferytoday.com/mt-articles/first-hour/

Erlandsson, K., Dslina, A., Christensson, A. (2007). Skin-to-skin care with the father after cesarean birth and its effect on newborn crying and prefeeding behavior. Birth, 34(2):105-114.

https://nuroobaby.com/skin-to-skin/the-benefits-of-skin-to-skin-contact-between-dad-baby/

Supporting Mamas Around the Globe - Blooma & Shanti Uganda

Photo by: John Suhar | johnsuhar.com | @jtsuhar

As you mamas know, I run a busy yoga studio with three locations and lots of employees. I am always rushing to get things done, answer emails, and keep the place going. It is so important for me to step back and get back to the spirit and passion of birth. The journey to Shanti Uganda is so important to me, not just as the owner of Blooma, or as a doula, but as a mother and a woman. I need to continue to learn and grow and journey outside of my small, comfortable bubble.

I am blessed to live in a city that has so many resources for birth; the Twin Cities are filled with amazing doulas, birth centers, and mom and baby-first hospitals. There are postpartum support centers and places like Blooma, that welcome all mamas, working to lift them up. Every mother deserves to birth with care providers that can provide medical and emotional support for her and her baby. Unfortunately, not all moms have access to this level of care. Around the world, 800 women die every day from pregnancy and birth related complications - 16 of those happen in Uganda. We know that 90% of all of these deaths are preventable when moms are given access to high-quality care. This is the mission of Shanti Uganda, to provide quality care to women in need.

I remember when I first arrived in Uganda in 2009 to work and learn with Shanti, I was welcomed into the homes of local families. At first, Uganda felt so different from my daily life and I was humbled by the circumstances I witnessed. But as the days wore on and I connected with moms, saw firsthand the depth of sisterhood, family, and connection that existed, I was able to submerge myself into the mission of Shanti Uganda, and the service they provide to so many women and families. The daily distractions of my life – my computer, phone, my own “shit” – was abandoned.

In 2018, it is even easier to become isolated. From emails and social media, there is such a disconnect. We have to go back to community, connection, and support. Women need other women. Being in a fitness class, a book club, a moms group, a COMMUNITY is crucial in fueling your soul. Visiting Shanti and working with the women there was such a reminder of the importance of community. Watching moms carry each other’s babies, singing to them, raising them together. It is the deepest web of sisterhood and support I have ever witnessed.

It because of this sense of community and connection between women that we have to shift our focus to woman’s health, our children’s health, and the future of our globe. If we don’t start supporting women, we all suffer. Feel the vibration and rise up. Women have such an amazing power. We need to support women and show them what that power can bring.

 

So Why Shanti and Why This DONA International Doula Training?

Becoming a doula through Shanti’s DONA International Doula Training will change your life and your outlook on birth. Holding space for a mom at her most vulnerable stage while reminding her what a warrior she is, is a powerful experience. I often say that being a doula is like a drug. It makes you feel good, it is addicting, and it is oh so powerful. Moms need that one- on-one support and guidance from a doula to show her that she CAN do it, that she is stronger than she knows.

Pregnancy and birth are pivotal in a woman’s life. The way a woman feels about herself through pregnancy shapes her birth. Birth can empower a woman like nothing else and can bring them so much confidence in motherhood. But, a bad birthing experience can leave wounds that fester. It is so important to let women share their stories, ask questions, and LISTEN to their response. Women need to feel support as they transition into motherhood. Becoming a doula and working with birthing women makes a difference in the lives of individual women, and to the birth community as a whole.

Training at Shanti us unique because you can fully submerge yourself into the training. You are out of your day to day routine and can give all of yourself to this teaching. You wake up with other trainees, eat lunch with the facilitators, you are surrounded by the sounds, words, and culture of birth.

Photo by: John Suhar | johnsuhar.com | @jtsuhar

Working with Shanti Uganda is a gift that goes two ways. On my first visit I was able to bring my knowledge, experience, and a set of helping hands. But, I learned so much from each person I met, taking so much more knowledge and understanding back home with me.

The money you contribute to Shanti by joining this program is HUGE. It means respectful, maternal care that saves lives. It means supporting women and babies at the most critical level. What you will learn through Shanti will change your life. When you return home, you will have a deeper connection to yourself, your family, children, and relationships.

Africa. Birth. Yoga. Sisterhood. Look into your heart and think about what you want to do with this one precious life. Movement, action, support, education for all! The Shanti Uganda Birth House is a sacred and special place for a life changing training. Emily and I can't wait for this upcoming adventure and we would love for you to join us!

Learn how you can join Sarah Longacre & Emily Shier for a DONA International Doula Training at Shanti Uganda

Written by Sarah Longacre, Blooma's founder & owner. Mama, doula, yoga teacher, and lover of all things birth!

Blooma and HeathEast Early Labor Lounge – NOW OPEN!

Delaying admission to Labor and Delivery until a woman is in active labor can be challenging for families. Many women arrive for evaluation before they are in active labor.

Early labor management is a critical time to reduce the cesarean birth rate. When women are admitted to the hospital in early labor they are at increased risk for receiving interventions and having a cesarean section (Rahnama, et al, 2006). With the exceedingly high rate of cesarean sections in the United States (32% from 2013 census data), prevention of the first cesarean birth is important in reducing the overall cesarean rate (current rate of vaginal births after cesarean section – VBAC - is approximately 10%). When women present in early labor at a HealthEast hospital, we often recommend that they go home to labor in the comfort of their own environment. Some women are uneasy with this, feeling nervous to labor at home or are concerned they may birth at home or while in transit. At Woodwinds Health Campus, we want to provide our clients with a comfortable alternative to going home. An Early Labor Lounge has been shown to improve client satisfaction and decrease early admission, thereby lowering the rate of medical interventions and cesarean sections (Rahnama, et al, 2006).

The Blooma and HealthEast Early Labor Lounge offers a space for women and their support team to use until the onset of active labor. The Early Labor Lounge is a beautiful and relaxing space, with floor to ceiling windows looking out over the natural woodlands surrounding Woodwinds. It has supplies needed for the laboring team, such as birth balls, yoga mats, rocking chairs, snacks, hydration, relaxing lighting as well as inspirational messages of encouragement and empowerment to help women as they work through their labor.

Maternal anxiety and fear can lead to medical interventions and less optimal birth outcomes (Hodnett, 2008); promoting comfort and empowerment of the laboring woman can help her cope with the challenges of labor. It addition to staying relaxed and comfortable in early labor, some comfort measures can help a woman progress through labor. Some strategies and techniques include intimate support from a partner and/or doula, ambulation, position changes, utilizing a birth ball, rebozo use, therapeutic shower or bath, acupressure, massage, and nutritional support (Paul, 2017). Some of these supportive therapies are offered in the Blooma and HealthEast Early Labor Lounge.

By providing this space, Woodwinds families will have a comfortable alternative to going home if they arrive in early labor. We hope this will improve our patients’ happiness with their birth experience and improve outcomes. We hope the Blooma and HealthEast Early Labor Lounge makes a positive impact on the clients we serve and finds a permanent home at Woodwinds and other locations.

Written by Natalie Jacobson-Dunlop, MS, CNM, APRN, HealthEast Certified Nurse-Midwife

 

 

 

 

 

Hodnett, E. D., Stremler, R., Eston, J. A., et al. (2008). Effect on birth outcomes of a formalised approach to care in hospital labour assessment units: international, randomised controlled trial. BMJ, vol. 337, (Aug 28 1) 2008.

Paul, J. A., Yount, S. M, Blankstein Breman, R., et al (2017). Use of an early Labor Lounge to promote admission in active labor. Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health 62 (2), 204-209.

Rahnama, P., Ziaei, S., Faghihzadeh, S. (2006). Impact of early admission in labor on method of delivery. International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, 92 (3): 217-220.

Fetal Positioning and Its Impact on Birth

This article was written by childbirth educator and certified Spinning Babies Parent Class leader, Amy Kelley. You can learn more about all Blooma’s childbirth education classes, including Spinning Babies Parent Class here.

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Many scholars have researched fetal positioning.  Childbirth educator Pauline Scott and Midwife Jean Sutton published Optimal Fetal Positioning in 1996.  Their research suggested that mother’s movements have an impact on the position baby assumes later in pregnancy.   Carol Phillips, founder of Dynamic Body Balancing, determined that symmetry in the tension and looseness of pelvic and uterine muscles, ligaments, and joints can help baby navigate their way down and out of the birth canal more easily.  

Gail Tully combined this research with her own clinical experience and application to create Spinning Babies.  The premise of Spinning Babies is to begin with the baby; to open possibilities to support physiological birth and improve parent attachment and baby bonding.  As Spinning Babies Parent Educators and doulas one of the most important questions we can ask is “Where is Baby?” By asking “Where’s baby” we gain insight into fetal positioning, location of the baby in the womb, location of the womb in relation to the pelvis, and the station of the baby.  

Most babies pick their position around 34 weeks and most will stay in that position until labor begins.  As an expecting person enters 36-38 weeks gestation, the lower uterine segments soften and baby drops or lowers.  Babies heads are heavier than their bottoms which allow them to settle into a head down position. Most babies start out facing the mother’s right or left side.

Midwife Jean Sutton notes that birth seems to go easier when baby enters the pelvis from the left side.   This is due to the natural shape of the uterus, being rounder on the left and steeper on the right.  A baby coming down on mothers left side curls into the left side like a hammock.  Flexion, which means curling up, is preferable.  Flexion allows the crown of the babies head to enter the pelvis first and gives baby more freedom to wiggle and help with the birth.  When a baby is in flexion, a smaller diameter of the head enters the pelvic brim which eases engagement. When baby enters the pelvis from the right side he/she fits and matches the steepness of the right side of the uterus with a straighter back (extension).  This lifts the baby’s head and creates more potential for the baby to turn into the posterior position (when the back of baby's head and spine is lined up with the mothers back). The baby aims a bigger diameter of their head into the pelvis in extension. The top of the baby's head does not mold as well as the crown and results in the mother needing to do more work for her and baby.  Sometimes additional intervention is needed. About 50% of posterior babies will require delivery via cesarean.

By bringing balance to the uterus, broad ligament, round ligaments and pelvic floor, we can help baby get into a more optimal or ideal position for labor and birth.  More important than pelvic shape is the tone and relative symmetry of a woman’s uterine ligaments and muscles. When there is more room in the womb, baby moves more freely.  You will learn all about balancing the soft tissues of the uterus and daily activities to encourage dynamic movement in your body by attending the next Spinning Babies Parent class at Blooma.  The Spinning Babies Parent class at Blooma explores techniques to optimize birth anatomy for easing the birth process and empowering parents to fulfill their birth desires with less intervention.  

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Written by Amy Kelley, Doula, Childbirth Educator, Prenatal Yoga & Kids Yoga Instructor and mama-to-be.  You can find me on Instagram as @amykelleydoula.

Upcoming Spinning Babies Parent Class Options

February 28 at the Minnesota Birth Center (STP)

March 23 in Minneapolis

Blooma- A Mama Thank You Note

I want to thank you for the safe and nurturing community you have created and continue to foster at Blooma.  We struggled with infertility for many years and when we surprisingly got pregnant it was equally frightening and thrilling.  I loved my prenatal yoga classes.  They became an incredibly sacred space for me - to connect with my soul and with the babe growing inside of me.  They helped me make peace with my fears.  I often tell people the best decision I made when pregnant was joining Blooma.  Once Henry arrived I could not wait to get back to Blooma.  Those first few months in BYOB (Bring Your Own Baby Yoga) were amazing.  I cried my way through the entire class my first time back.  I was filled with so much joy being able to reconnect with myself (and connect with Henry) in that space.  I also wept the day I realized we had outgrown BYOB.  He started crawling and climbing and finding his way off the mat entirely too soon!   I am not sure if hear this…  but… thank you. The space you provide for women (at so many places along the journey) is a gift on countless levels! 

Written by Katie, Blooma mama to little Henry, wife to Travis, lover of sunshine and bearing witness to the stories of others

 

To learn more about the classes at Blooma, please visit us HERE.

Ask the Educators: What If I Poop During Birth?

Childbirth education at Blooma serves families no matter what type of birth they are planning. All classes present evidence-based information for normal and safe birth, influenced by the Lamaze 6 Healthy Birth Practices. Classes provide information to expectant families to reduce their fear or anxiety while building confidence and preparing them for birth.

We love hearing your questions, and helping you make informed decisions for your birth. Many mamas and partners want to know, What if I poop during birth?

Educator Sarah Auna answers the question many are nervous to ask....

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Birth is not proper :: it’s primal

Birth is not lady-like :: it’s boss-like  

Birth is not pleasant :: it’s powerful

Birth means not holding things back :: ANYTHING!

 

Including your poop. Let the poop go. From a birth worker’s perspective poop = progress.

Pooping during labor means a birther’s body is releasing, letting go, and opening up. It means the baby is moving itself into a position low enough to stimulate the colon, meaning progress is being made!

Now you have to be a real birth-nerd (like we are here at Blooma) to come to a place of “celebration!”  when it comes to pooping in front of your birth team. So here is some info you may need before you can really let it all go in birth…

 

Will I poop during my birth?

The plain answer is simply, yes. Most likely. But, not in the way that you think.

The human body “cleanses” itself a few days, or sometimes hours, before active labor starts. This allows your body to focus on the work of labor.

You’ll likely have most of your bowel movements in private during early and active labor. This is one of the reasons why it’s so smart to labor at home as long as possible. It allows you to eat the calorically-dense, highly-hydrating, nutritious foods that feel good in your body --- and then use the privacy of your own bathroom to let them go.

If you need to “go” at your place of birth - you can ALWAYS ask for privacy. Many birthers love to use the toilet to support themselves in birth. It’s cool, private, quiet, and a familiar place of “letting go”. Just keep in mind -- if the sensation of needing “to go number-two” is combined with an uncontrollable urge to bear down… then you’ll likely have an audience in the bathroom -  because it’s not time to poop - it’s time to push a baby out!!

This “uncontrollable urge to push” is known as the Fetal Ejection Reflex and it’s often all mixed up with that “I have to poop” feeling.

Here are some common phrases birth workers hear when this Fetal Ejection Reflex is present:

“I feel like the baby is coming out of my butt”

“I can’t, not push!”

“I’m puuuuuuuuushing!”

“It feels like there is a bowling ball in my butt!”

“I have to poop so bad!”

“I sound like my toddler when they poop!”

 *GRUNTING* ... just primal grunting.

 

What if I poop my hospital bed?

If you’re choosing to birth on a bed (with or without an epidural) and you poop during your pushing phase -  then your midwife or nurse will be at the ready to clean it up quickly (often without your knowing) and your doula will be there “fluffing the air” with some quick peppermint or citrus oil, while she thinks: “Hooray! Great work! Great progress! We’re almost there!”

 

What if I’m having a water birth and I poop in the birth tub?

Many women find that having the “shroud” of the water in birth really helps to the facilitate that “no f***s given” vibe that’s needed to tap into their primal- birthing self.

More importantly, if/when you poop in your birth tub -  it’s not a “CODE BROWN! EVERYONE OUT OF THE POOL!” scenario. Rather, the midwife or nurse, whose job it is to be at the watch, will use a little fish-tank net to swoop up the floater before you (or anyone else) even know it’s there.

 

Remember, poop = progress!  Get real with yourself, your partner, and your pride and if you’re struggling to find peace with this aspect of birth…. just recall midwife Ina May Gaskin’s birth declaration: “LET YOUR MONKEY DO IT!” and you’ll tap into that primal, powerful birther who is ready to bring forth life, no matter how messy it gets.

 

Sarah Auna is a birth doula, childbirth educator, and yoga teacher at Blooma. She specializes in adding humor and real-talk to birth and motherhood and she’s here to help you through all of this! Find her classes HERE.

 

Chiropractic Care During Pregnancy

The uterus grows 500 times its original size during pregnancy. FIVE-HUNDRED!!! It starts deep in the pelvis & by full term it reaches the rib cage, which means everything attached to it stretches & moves too. In addition, all the body parts that are not growing are moving to accommodate your baby. Your lordodic curve (or the curve in your low back) increases exponentially during pregnancy to maintain your balance and keep you from falling over – this can put added stress on your muscles and ligaments on top of all the other body changes occurring. Thank goodness for chiropractic adjustments!

Chiropractic care during pregnancy not only focuses on correcting spinal subluxations in order to restore normal, all-over body function, but it also looks at the sacrum's role in the pregnant pelvis. By adjusting the sacrum we can support healthy pelvic function in an expecting mother throughout pregnancy and into birth. This is done using an analysis called the Webster Technique.

Since the pregnant pelvis is a unit, all its pieces are connected to one another and must be working together to create a comfortable place for baby to grow. The Webster Technique looks at the sacrum and its joints, while checking the round ligaments for tension. The sacrum is attached to the uterus by a strong ligament, therefore misalignment of the sacrum may cause tightening and twisting of this ligament that can contribute to excessive tension in the uterus. By adjusting the sacrum, we can release tension in the structures around the uterus and relieve stress on the uterus. An important part of prenatal care is keeping the round ligaments flexible and relaxed while keeping the pelvis aligned. This helps the uterus maintain balance for the baby to grow in a good position throughout pregnancy. This not only helps keep mom comfortable during pregnancy, but can contribute to a safer, easier birth.

Women usually seek out chiropractic care for low back, hip, and pubic pain as well as discomfort in their ribs and mid-back. These discomforts can also be caused by misalignment of the sacrum and can be improved when receiving regular chiropractic care throughout pregnancy. Getting adjusted while pregnant helps prepare the pelvis for an easier pregnancy and birth by creating balance in the bones, ligaments, and muscles around the birth canal. Chiropractic care has shown to reduce birth times for first time mothers on an average of 24% compared to women that did not receive chiropractic care while pregnant. Women who have had previous births had a 39% shorter birth times.

A pregnant mama's body is literally changing everyday all day long to accommodate her baby's needs. It's a good idea to get checked regularly to be sure all the growing & moving parts are working together so you have comfort and ease during pregnancy and birth.

Written by Dr. April, Chiropractor and Mama

Dr. April offers gentle, individual pre and postnatal chiropractic care for women and their families. She believes by nurturing and supporting our bodies we are able to experience our full potential – this care is especially important during pregnancy and the months following birth for mom and baby. She is seeing participants in Blooma Mpls, and is Webster certified and a member of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association. Make an appointment here, or give us a call: (612) 223-8064

 

Sources:

Nature, Int Wkly J Sci - December 2007

  1. Pediatric, Maternal & Family Health - May 10, 2012

ICPA Ohm Notes

Fallon J. Proceedings of the world chiropractic congress. 1991; 24-31

Ask The Educators: What Should I Wear For My Birth?

Childbirth education at Blooma serves families no matter what type of birth they are planning. All classes present evidence-based information for normal and safe birth, influenced by the Lamaze 6 Healthy Birth Practices. Classes provide information to expectant families to reduce their fear or anxiety while building confidence and preparing them for birth.

We love hearing your questions, and helping you make informed decisions for your birth. Many mamas and partners want to know, What should I wear to my birth?

The short answer is, it’s totally up to you!  As a doula, I’ve seen birthing people wear a wide range of things.  

For some, yoga clothes scream comfort.  I’ve had many of my clients wear stretchy yoga pants throughout most of their labor. When they decide to get into a tub for comfort during active labor they either take all their clothes off, or leave just their bra on.  At most birthing places they have a stretchy piece of fabric that is placed over fetal monitors to keep them in place.  You could use this mesh fabric as a makeshift bra top, too.  It’s thin and doesn’t go over your shoulder like most bras, making it easy to maneuver.  

Wearing a mid-thigh or knee length skirt can be a good choice for some, so your legs are free to move.  If you are birthing in the summer, a flowy maxi dress might also work! During your birthing time you may experience the release of bodily fluids like the mucus plug, vaginal discharge, blood, or amniotic fluid.  Wearing a pad with disposable mesh undies (a common garment kept stocked at every birth place) might be the best option for you if you prefer not to get your own undergarments messy. You may get blood or bodily fluids on anything you may wear.  Some people choose to wear hospital gowns for this reason.  At the end of the day, the gown is not your property and someone kindly takes it off your hands and deals with the washing.  If the sound of laboring in yoga clothes, a skirt, or flowy dress makes your skin itch you may prefer to be naked at your birth!  If you are in a safe place where you feel supported by those around you, undressing completely may feel most freeing.  When the intensity and frequency of your contractions require your full attention you likely will not care what you are wearing.  

Bottom line, simple is better.  I suggest finding one outfit you feel comfortable moving around in and is easily accessible for intermittent fetal monitoring, frequent bathroom trips, and easy to take off when you want.  After baby comes it’s best to have everything off your chest.  Keeping baby skin-to-skin with the mother or other primary caregivers during the first hour improves baby’s ability to breastfeed successfully and self-attach.  Skin-to-skin contact also helps maintain optimal temperature for baby and promotes the release of oxytocin, which can reduce the risk of hemorrhage.  Following the first two hours after birth some birthing people like to put on a robe or a nursing top that is accessible for nursing, easy to cover up with, and easy to take off if needed.  

Written by Amy Kelley, Doula, Childbirth Educator, Prenatal Yoga & Kids Yoga Instructor and mama-to-be.  You can find me on Instagram as @amykelleydoula.

 

Top Image by Meredith Westin Photography

Is This Really Happening? Becca's Birth Story

"Ugh, here we go again," I thought, “more Braxton Hicks contractions.” I was sitting down to eat dinner with my three-year-old. We had just gotten home from the neighborhood wading pool, where I unabashedly stuffed my gigantic belly into a swim suit and floated on my hands and knees among all the small children in the pee-laden pool water. I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions through the second half of my pregnancy, but in the last few weeks they had really picked up momentum. They had become intense, and I was certain I would have to endure them for another week, at which point my midwives would tell me my time was up and I had to schedule a c-section. I was trying for a VBAC, so I was on a much tighter time schedule. My first was born at 42 weeks and six days via beautiful c-section, after 45 grueling hours of labor. Even though I was really hoping for a VBAC, I was unconvinced it was something my body was going to do. My care providers told me, "Trust your body," and that was a really nice idea, but I was having a hard time getting there. 

So there we were, Arthur and I, still in our swimsuits, eating dinner. My husband, Mike, was at work. He wasn't scheduled to work that evening, and even though it was my due date, he was also unconvinced that this baby was coming any time soon. So, he picked up an extra shift. About ten minutes into dinner, I realized the contractions were happening pretty regularly. "Huh," I thought, "maybe I should download one of those contraction-tracking apps." So I did, and I immediately realized I was having contractions that were one minute long and five minutes apart. "Hmm," I thought again, "maybe I should pay attention to this."

The contractions kept coming at regular intervals, and I took Arthur in the backyard to play with the neighbor boys. After 30 minutes it seemed like things might be getting more intense, but I was in full denial that this was actually labor. “Mommy, are you ok?” asked my sensitive, perceptive little guy. “Yeah, mommy’s ok. I just have a tummy ache.” I was sure this would pass and we would continue on with our night as usual. But I was feeling pretty uncomfortable, so I called my mother-in-law, Susie, and asked if she would come over. She got so excited and asked if she should take Arthur to her house for the night. "No," I said, "I'm sure this is nothing. Will you just come play with him for a while and help me with beditme? I'm sure this will go away." Well, in ten minutes, it most definitely was not going away, it was getting stronger. I called over the fence to the neighbors, "I think something might be happening. Can you watch Arthur until Susie gets here?" I went inside and frantically started picking up the house, and before I even realized it, I was bracing myself and breathing through contractions. Time to text the doula. 

Me: Something's happening.

Nicole (one of my amazing doulas): Oh yeah? 

Me: But I'm sure it's nothing.

Nicole: Do you want me to come over?

Me: No, I don't think so. 

Nicole: Are you having contractions?

Me: Yeah, they're a minute long and five minutes apart.

Nicole: Well, that's something! Is Mike there?

Me: No, he's at work.

Nicole: Maybe you should have him come home.

Me: I don't think so. I'm sure it's nothing. 

 

But, I went ahead and texted him…

 

Me: Hey babe, I'm feeling some intense stuff here.

Mike: Great! Ignore it.

Me: I know, right? I'm sure it's nothing.

Mike: Keep me informed. I love you!

I continued to brace myself and breathe through the contractions. "Maybe I should take this seriously," I thought. "Nah, I'll just get in the bath." But first I called Nicole. We talked through two contractions, and she said she was coming over. "You're in labor!" she announced. "You think so?" I asked. I was still unconvinced. "I'm going to take a bath," I told her, “and it will probably go away. Door’s open – come on in when you get here."

I called Mike and told him he should think about coming home. "Ok, should I keep taking tables? Or just finish out what I have?" I told him he should probably finish his tables and head home. "Do you think this is it?" he asked. "I don't know. I think so. I don't know," I said.

I sat in the bath for exactly 30 seconds and said aloud to myself, "Get me the hell out of here." I was so uncomfortable.

I think that's when I finally accepted that I was in labor. I started frantically throwing Arthur's overnight things in a bag. "He can't see me have a contraction," I thought, "he'll be so freaked out." Susie came bursting through the door then, and I shoved the overnight bag at her, and asked her to get Arthur out of there as soon as possible. She watched me have a few contractions and joked that I might have a home birth after all (which is what I had wanted with the first one). She was very concerned to leave me alone. I knew Nicole would be there soon. I couldn't get Susie and Arthur out of there fast enough. I knew I couldn't let my body do its thing until Arthur was out of my care. For months I had been in tears every time I thought about this moment - letting go of Arthur as my baby and turning my attention to a new baby. I had envisioned this would be a heartfelt moment, with prolonged hugs and kisses, as I said goodbye to my little boy who would be a big brother the next time I saw him. But there was no time for that. In between contractions I gave him a quick kiss and shoved him and his grandma out the door. 

A few contractions later Nicole arrived. "Is Mike on his way home?" she asked. I wasn't even sure. Did I tell him to come right home? Things were getting so intense that I couldn't really remember or bother with my phone. Thank god for doulas. The details get a little blurry from here, as I instinctively moved to my hands and knees and started making that all-too-familiar moaning sound I had made three years earlier. I was kneeling on the floor with my head on the couch, thinking, "I can do this. I got this. I can do this for ten hours." I had prepared myself to last 12 hours; that was my max. I knew I could labor that long. Past that, I was giving myself permission to wave the white flag. I was determined not to have a repeat of the marathon labor I had with my son. I was left traumatized by that birth. Deep down, I didn't really care how this baby came out - via VBAC or via c-section. What I did care about was having a different birth than the first - one that didn't last for 45 hours. I was already one hour in. I could do this for quite a while longer. And hey, I could get an epidural at the hospital. Yep, I got this.

Thirty minutes later Mike came through the front door, saw me on hands and knees, and heard the familiar moaning, and he knew it was real. “That’s a noise you don’t really forget,” I remember him later telling the doulas when the birth was over. "Ok guys, I'm going to pee, then we need to go," I announced. This most definitely WAS happening.

On the short walk from the house to the car, things got ugly. I crawled into the backseat and turned circles like a dog trying to find a comfortable spot. This was really happening. Like REALLY happening. In the next five minutes I had five contractions. I was panicking and climbing the walls of the backseat - I was no longer in control. I let the pain come out of my mouth and screamed through each contraction. They were coming one on top of another. "I'm losing it!" I cried. "I need a fucking break! They're coming so fast!" We weren't even on the freeway yet. We still had 20 minutes in the car. "Mike, I need an epidural as soon as we get there! Ok?" "Of course, baby. Of course," he calmly reassured me. Poor guy. I’m sure the last way he felt was calm.

Nicole was following us to the hospital. Our other amazing doula, Liz, was meeting us there. Nicole was a labor and delivery nurse at Methodist at the time, and she was scheduled to work that night. Our plan was working perfectly. She was going to be my nurse that night, while Liz was going to be our doula. At our last clinic appointment, we had joked with Vida (our favorite midwife) that we would see her on Friday night, which was her on-call shift at the hospital. And here it was, Friday night. My dream team was all in order. And it was my due date. Was this really happening?

It was, and very quickly at that. Somewhere on Hwy 100, I started to feel pressure. Liz's all-knowing doula powers kicked in and she called Mike right at that moment. "Tell her to pant like a dog," she instructed. Thank god for that. I crawled and screamed and swore and panted the rest of the way to the hospital. What a ride!

Liz opened the car door and I fell into her arms. I clung to her all the way to triage, and I clamped my eyes shut, firmly telling anyone around me who could hear that I wanted an epidural. They checked me. I was already at a seven. Holy mary mother of god! "I want an epidural! I want an epidural! I want an epidural!" As I screamed and grunted my way to the delivery room, everyone reassured me the epidural was on its way. Before I got into bed, I leaned over through a contraction, and my water exploded onto the floor. Vida appeared, and I calmed down long enough to say hi to her. I asked yet again for an epidural. I got up onto the bed and she checked me. "Becca, you're at a ten. Look at me." When Vida tells you to do something, you do it. I opened my eyes for the first time since arriving at the hospital. "Becca, you're complete. You can push." WHAT?! I didn’t think those were words I’d ever hear. Those were words reserved for women who had vaginal births. Was I going to join that club?

I was in agony, but I felt amazing. And I also realized I wasn't getting an epidural. But what I didn't realize was how good it would feel to push. I mean, not good, but at least now I felt like I could do something with the pain. Pushing was hard. Really fucking hard. After 20 minutes I thought to myself, "Shit, some women push for hours. I don't think I can do this for hours." But lucky for me, Liz is a master at describing how to push. If it wasn't for her, I think I would have pushed for much longer. "Becca, push that baby across the room!" Every time Liz said that, I pushed in a different way. And every time I pushed like that, everyone who was looking at the business end of things started cheering. I guess pushing isn't just pushing - there is a specific way to push that creates a lot more progress. "I want this baby out!" I screamed. It was time. Two more hard rounds of pushing, and someone was saying, "Becca, reach down and grab your baby! You're having your baby. Open your eyes! Reach down and grab your baby!" I couldn't reach down and grab my baby – all I could do was keep pushing. A few seconds later, a warm, wet baby was placed on my tummy, and Mike paused, looked, and announced, "You have a baby ... GIRL!" Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god! "Mike, I did it!” I cried. “Mike, I did it! Mike! I DID IT!" 

I'll never forget that moment. Maybe one day I'll think of it without tears welling in my eyes, but not today. It was the most profound feeling of accomplishment that I've ever felt and will ever feel. And it was over. Thank god, it was over. In only four hours, our family of three was transformed into a family of four.

Everyone who knows about Arthur's birth asks me if Francesca's birth was healing. No, no it was not. I did need to heal from Arthur's birth, but I needed to do that by honoring his birth, not by replacing it. All I wanted was for this birth to be different that my first, and it couldn't have been any more different. The births of my babies are both beautiful in their own ways. Birth is such a mystery until it happens. You never know what kind of birth you will get, and I am lucky to have birthed my babies in completely different ways. I may not have yelled "I did it!" after Arthur was born, but I should have.

Francesca Felice was born on her due date, 7/7/17, and she weighed 7lb 7oz. Lying there with my new baby girl on my chest was the best feeling I think I'll ever feel. It was over. I didn't have to labor anymore. And look what I had to show for it! A baby girl! I did it. I did it. I DID IT!

Written by Becca, Assistant Manager at Blooma Minneapolis, Prenatal Yoga Teacher, and Mama of two.

 

I Sucked at Being Pregnant

I have an app on my phone that calculates the odds of my flight going down. I just plug in the airline, the make of the plane, the departure and destination airport, and voila - my fate appears on the screen. Once the four pieces of information have been inputted, it produces some glorious statistic such as, “There is a 1 in 3,983,422 chance of the flight going down.” I wish I could say that the $1.99 I forked over for this app has eliminated all anxiety about flying, but unfortunately, the presentation of numbers is too rational. And anxiety is not. What will forever fuel my palm-sweating, eyes squeezed closed, heart racing, coming to terms with my own death, fear of flying is the obvious fact that I am not in control. I suggested to a doctor that I take flight lessons instead of Xanax and she sympathetically assured me that one of those options was cheaper and less time-consuming, and wrote out a prescription. Fine. I will never become a pilot and will never get to be in control of my own flight (destiny). Instead, I will use my app to calm me down, knowing full well it will be the Xanax that will take care of my nerves.

It may not come as a surprise then, that someone who enjoys control and dislikes the unknown, will struggle with some aspects of pregnancy. Cut to the scene of me eight weeks pregnant, my wide eyes red and puffy from an afternoon of crying, demanding that three of my closest friends – who all had children - explain themselves to me. “WHY DIDN’T YOU COMPLAIN MORE?! THIS IS TERRIBLE! WHY DOESN’T ANYONE TALK ABOUT HOW AWFUL THIS IS?!” At that point in my pregnancy, I was experiencing - what I felt to be - an extremely hostile takeover of my body. The nausea was terrible and only moderately subsided when I was shoveling some kind of nutritionless food into my face. I felt sick all the time. Whoever coined this state of vomitus-being as simply “morning sickness” was a fool and I hated them for calling it something so inaccurate. I was exhausted. I couldn’t stop crying. And unlike any other time in my life, I felt like I could not see the light at the end of the tunnel. I realized that I was experiencing the first of many infinite sacrifices of motherhood. My body was being transformed and there wasn’t anything I could do about it, nor would I want to. Forty weeks felt like forty years. I was mad as hell that I wasn’t prepared for the state I was in. The only logical place to channel that anger was directly at my friends for not preparing me. Obviously.

I will never forget their sympathetic nods and words of encouragement. One of them in particular – who had three children and was probably the quietest during my tirade –started texting me daily to check in. She became my pregnancy coach and frankly, my lifeline. I could vent and she would listen, support, encourage, and gently remind me of the beauty of creating life.

Eventually things started to improve, but I still struggled to find joy in being pregnant. What compounded the bleakness was the fact that I very much felt that I should find joy. We had been trying to get pregnant for a couple of years, and it finally happened. My rational side – the same side that understands that operating an automobile is a bajillion times more dangerous than flying – would very loudly scold my lack of joy. I am not going to list all of the circumstances and scenarios that I would think about willing myself to feel happiness for actually getting to be pregnant. We know them. I would tick through the list and plead with my heart to find joy.

After I triumphantly passed into the second trimester, I went to my first prenatal yoga class at Blooma. I vividly remember standing tall and placing one hand on my lower abdomen, over the tiny zygote furiously growing inside me, and my other hand over my heart. It was quiet. It was calm. The nausea had momentarily subsided and the room was full of glorious Blooma supportive energy (that if I hadn’t experienced myself I’d tell you to tone it the eff down, hippy). A lump in my throat formed. As I breathed in and out and closed my eyes, tears streamed down my cheeks. I just wanted to lay down and do some ugly crying because my heart was suddenly painfully full of joy. I stopped fixating on the hostile takeover that was happening to my body. In that moment, I surrendered. I started channeling thoughts to the little plum. “You can do this. Keep growing. I’ll keep you safe.” And even as I said it, I hoped that I could.

Now, let’s be honest. I may have left the class zenned out on “she believed she could so she did” Blooma love, but by the time I got home, I was probably cursing a litany of things that were uncomfortable and frustrating. And believe me, that did not stop until the day I evicted our sweet, precious bundle of joy from my body. But I definitely realized: first, it was okay that I wasn’t a naturally joyful pregnant woman; and second, it was crucial to take time and space to focus on what was happening and surrender to it. Whenever I did, the joy would come.

Being pregnant and becoming a mom is an ass-kicking in humility, and for someone who prides herself on being able to create some semblance of control with a shitty app for $1.99, I trust that this ass-kicking will keep reminding me that some of life’s best experiences are not mine to control. Oh and here’s the plus side of having a kid and flying: there is no time to contemplate death when there’s a tiny human requiring all of your attention for however many hours the giant tube shoots through the sky. What a fantastic distraction.

Written by Blooma Mama Ann

Ask the Educators: What does it mean to lose your mucus plug?

Childbirth education at Blooma serves families no matter what type of birth they are planning. All classes present evidence-based information for normal and safe birth, influenced by the Lamaze 6 Healthy Birth Practices. Classes provide information to expectant families to reduce their fear or anxiety while building confidence and preparing them for birth.

Each Blooma Educator is a seasoned birth doula, up to date on birthing practices and policies.

Our educators frequently hear the same concerns about pregnancy, birth, and beyond. We love hearing your questions, and helping you make informed decisions for your birth. Many mamas and partners want to know, what is the mucus plug, and what does it mean to lose it?

The mucus plug is exactly what it sounds like—a plug of mucus in the cervix that helps to protect the baby from infection. When a woman loses her mucus plug, like many early labor signs, it can be a sign that labor could start in the next few hours, days, or even weeks. It does not give us any exact information about when the baby will arrive. What it does mean is that the cervix IS making change—yay! It is thinning out (or effacing) and dilating. During this process, the mucus plug comes out. For some women, it really does look like a plug of mucus that comes out all at once, and for others, it’s more like a thinned-out, jelly-like substance that leaks out over a longer period of time. (Who said pregnancy wasn’t glamorous, right??)  Some women notice that they have passed their mucus plug, and some don’t. The mucus plug may be tinged with drops of blood and may be pink or red in color. Another term for this that you may have heard is “bloody show.”

It is common to experience a small amount of bleeding within 24 hours of a vaginal exam or having sex in late pregnancy.  This blood is likely brownish in color, and again, just a few drops is no big deal. This is not your mucus plug. The blood that may come out with the mucus plug is typically pink or bright red.

*When you lose your mucus plug, it should be mostly mucus with some blood. You do not need to call your provider if you lose your mucus plug. However, if it is mostly blood with some mucus, you should call your provider immediately. Any bleeding like a period (rather than just a few drops) needs to be taken seriously at any point in pregnancy.

Written by Mari Melby, a childbirth educator, doula, intuitive healer, writer, and a mama. Learn more on her website, www.marimelby.com.

Birth Story: Everyone Makes It Out Alive

That was our birth plan in all of its simplicity. Except for a small detail: I didn't want to feel the majority of it. Look, I am all about celebrating and basking in the strength of women. I hosted a vagina monologue party in my 20's and my lady friends wrote and performed pieces about their glorious vaginas. I read the book "Cunt" and embraced all things about menstruation. I have a tattoo on my lower abdomen - approximately over my uterus, I think, I'm not a doctor and find anatomy confusing - of a woman sitting cross-legged with hands raised above her head in front of a moon. And most importantly, I frequently went to prenatal yoga classes and drank so much Blooma kool-aid I almost gave myself metaphorical gestational diabetes. But for sure, 1000%, I had zero interest in having an un-medicated birth. Getting pregnant did not come easily and required a lot of testing, a laparoscopy to remove endometrial scar tissue, and a round of fertility drugs to make it happen. Modern medicine could be credited with getting pregnant. Between my gratitude to medical intervention and a much more powerful emotion, my fear of the pain, I wanted an epidural to play a prominent role in the labor and delivery of our son, Luca. 
 
At 41 weeks and one day, I was scheduled for an induction at 5:00 pm. My husband Diogo and I were ready. Everything was meticulously ready. We are obsessively organized people and had been ready for an obsessively organized amount of time. I, as a waddling tool shed, was so ready and though he would weigh just over nine pounds when he emerged, Luca was the only person who wasn't ready. But off we went to have a baby. 
 
After a delicious and nutritious meal at Good Earth, we arrived at the Fairview Southdale Birthing Center promptly at 5:00 pm and I announced that I was there to have a baby. We were given a room and started to settle in. After three or four failed attempts at installing an IV (that left me bruised for weeks), they were successful. This matters only because during each arm stabbing debacle, I kept thinking about how terrible it would be to try and get an IV into someone's arm and miss. I also kept thinking that I wanted to make it as easy as possible for the nurses because we were now a team. They were going to help me bring our little boy into the world and getting salty with them for making me look like a drug addict wouldn't be the most positive way to start our journey together. 
 
At about 7:00, a cervical ripener was inserted and Diogo and I naturally turned on HGTV and also streamed a legislative hearing on my iPad. I'm a lobbyist and a bill I'd been working on was receiving a hearing. Sometimes those hearings are so painful they can make someone wish labor upon them self so it made sense to watch one while my cervix went about its business. 
 
Round about midnight, I started to feel cramps and was very excited about this. Like every other woman in the history of humankind about to deliver her first baby, these cramps were foolishly mistaken for the beginning. And yes, they were, but COME ON. They were "the beginning" of what would end up being over 24 hours of labor just as much as a pair of too-tight pants are the beginning of a speedy and successful diet. I was starting to dilate though and quickly enough that the nurses decided that the next dose of ripener should be in a tampon-like form so that it could be easily and quickly removed. And this is when shit started to get real. My water "broke" in the most lame and anti-climatic way possible. I know it's never like the movies but a trickle of fluid onto the bed is so blah. I mean how awesome would it have been to have the "clean-up in aisle nine" sort of water breaking situation? Like some poor bastard stops into my room to check my vitals or something and happens to slip and fall in the massive pool of my amniotic fluid. 
 
So I'd always envisioned that I would labor and move my way through contractions for awhile. At least in the very beginning until the pain was too intense. Like getting to a certain mile on a run, I'd hoped to power through contractions until I was dilated to, maybe, like a six. You know, one more past halfway. And to get there, I was going to settle so deep into goddess pose during those contractions and serenely hum or say "yes" that Blooma Founder Sarah Longacre herself would have been proud. I was going to move that baby into position and then boom, order up an epidural and push out a baby. No big whoop.
 
And then it happened. My first contraction. Like the first all-consuming, every fiber of my being cried out in pain explosion. And it didn't stop. I went from crampy uncomfortable to pain level seven cluster contractions. As soon as one ended, a smaller one started. So as I envisioned, I channeled all of the power of the female energy and spirit throughout the world and sunk into that goddess pose. I lifted my hands above my head and bellowed "yes" with a guttural throng the likes of which can only be uttered when all that is powerful, amazing woman bears down and brings forth life.
 
J/K
 
I did everything I shouldn't have. Birth coaches, doulas, midwives, nurses, doctors, experienced mamas the world 'round would have collectively cringed. Sitting on the edge of the bed, clenching every single muscle - muscles I didn't even know I had, I found them and squeezed them really, really tight - and simply said "no". Over and over and over again. My husband immediately realized that this approach to pain management may not be the best. He tried so calmly to get me to breathe and all I said was "no" and "epidural". I also may have uttered "hate" and "you" but the pain has blurred my memory. The nurses came in, the anesthesiologist was called and a screen showed big contraction, little contraction, big contraction, little contraction. And as I continued my "no" monologue, a seasoned nurse grabbed a chair, spun it around and up against the bed and put my feet on it. Before I had any idea of what was happening, we were face to face, her forehead pressed against mine, my hands in hers and she sternly and calmly said "breathe with me... in and out... focus on me... curl your spine... don't move... breathe". And just like that the epidural was in and the pain stopped. 
 
What people don't often talk about is that once you get an epidural, you need to be rotated once an hour to prevent pooling of the fluid in your spine which can make the numbing uneven. So every hour, two nurses would come in and flip my huge, bloated pregnant body from one side to the other. One of these pig-on-a-spit rotations wasn't as timely as the others and the next thing I knew my whole left side was numb and my right side was alive. It's cool. It evened out eventually. Oh and another thing people don't often talk about is the puking. But more importantly than the puking itself is the flailing around in the bed like a beached whale trying to sit up but you can't because of the epidural and you just know you're going to asphyxiate on vomit so you start screaming at anyone in sight "SIT ME UP!! SIT ME UP!!". So much fun, you guys. 
 
Let's cut to the chase. Dilated, pushing begins. Amazing doctor at the foot of the bed, amazing husband on left side, amazing nurse Hannah on the right side.
 
"Diogo put my hair up." Tries. Fails. "Hannah put my hair up." Hannah grabs ponytail holder and while piling all of my hair on top of my head smiles and says, "Messy buns get shit done." Four and a half hours of pushing. Each push is made possible by being heaved up by Hannah and Diogo and cheers and words of encouragement. Oh and remember that whole epidural playing a starring role in delivery? Between contractions the four of us chatted like we were at a neighborhood BBQ. "You're looking to buy in Highland Park? That's a great neighborhood." "You work at the Capitol? I have some friends in government relations; do you know so and so?" "Anyone want an Altoid?"
 
Baby is stuck. Doctor recommends a little suction on his head action. We weigh some pros and cons and conclude with "of course." Room fills with NICU nurses and people ready to make sure our baby makes it out safely. "Hi Ann, my name is Jenny..." That's great Jenny and I appreciate you respecting me enough to introduce yourself but let's get this kid the eff out already. Vacuum in place, I close my eyes because I know I'll cry if I see him. I push once and Diogo's voice cracks as he says his head is out. Tears stream down my cheeks and I keep my eyes closed. I push one more time and he pops out and he is on my chest for a second and is then immediately whisked away for assessment given the very long time he hung out in the birth canal. I will later learn that he was gray when he came out and Diogo was really afraid. The nurses go to work on him and we wait and watch from across the room.
 
He is fine. He is good. He is crying. He is peeing on the nurses. He is on my chest again and yes. It is the most amazing moment of my entire life. I look at Diogo and at the baby and say, "We did it." 
 
There are moments in life that you wish you could return to whenever you want. Literally life-changing moments and experiences. I have a fairly short, predictable list which no, does not include that time I got my kickass lady tattoo over my liver or whatever but does include: the last conversation I had with my Dad before he passed; getting to marry Diogo and our wedding celebration; and the serenely quiet moments in the delivery room with Luca after he was born. After all of the controlled - and uncontrolled - chaos; the minutes that were literally life and death; the table of tools was gone, the NICU nurses had moved on to another birth, the monitors were wheeled away and then, there were simply, three. 
 
Luca and I lay in the bed facing each other. He was wide awake and his eyes bright and as focused as they could be on me, his former body roommate, his mom. I stared at this tiny human being with one thought "so here you are" and as I gazed, he caught his feet on my hip and propelled himself upwards in this most eerily familiar way. He had been kicking his way around my insides for so long that if my eyes had been closed I would have sworn he was still in my womb. As we stared at each other, I could see Diogo so peacefully and soundly asleep on the couch just three feet away after being my absolute, unflappable rock for so many hours. My line of vision was Luca and his Dad just past him. And this sight, of these two, was so simple and so deeply, beautifully profound. 
 
We were soon transferred to the recovery room where some reality kicked in including the realization of the fairly horrific damage done to my undercarriage. I mean holy shit the kid was pretty big and the process was long. I often refer to his birth as "The Great Undercarriage Destruction of 2017 otherwise known as The Birth of My Son". We should have saved ourselves some money and trips to Target by putting Epsom salts and ibuprofen on the baby registry and nothing else. But it will never cease to amaze me what the female body is capable of and how quickly it heals. But I knew that - at least in part - long before the experience of birth. This just wholly reaffirmed it. It just may be time to get that tattoo touched up. 
 
Written by Blooma Mama Ann

Labor Of Love

In life, we are often convinced to doubt ourselves. So, it is no wonder that we find it hard to believe that we have everything we need to bring our babies Earthside. Babies have been entering into this world, through the gates of their mother’s souls, since the beginning of time. Regardless of how births unfold, they do. Babies arrive in their mother’s arms; their father’s arms; into the arms of those that love and care for them deeply.

The truth is, we are innately born with the ability to start labor, move through labor, and give birth. As humans, we are built to become deeply connected to one another. Though much of what we witness in our world today doesn’t always prove this to be true, love is at the heart of our existence. The science of it all boils down to one simple fact: the flow of hormones in our bodies drives these finely-tuned, innate processes.

As a DONA-trained birth and postpartum doula, a LAMAZE-certified childbirth educator, and a prenatal/postpartum yoga instructor, I often get asked:

“How can I best encourage, enhance and support the natural, pulsating rhythms of labor?”

I hear this question from the doting father-to-be who arrives at the Couple’s Birthing Intensive with a desire to learn how to be the best he can be in supporting his wife as they welcome their child into the world.

I hear this question from the loving partner, in awe of her wife's changing body. A partner who wants to give support while showing acknowledgement and love for this commitment to their growing family.

I hear this question from the “new doula” who just finished her formal training and is dripping with excitement to support her first family in their sacred birth experience.

I hear this question from the woman who will be by her sister’s side while she molds and grows     and forms into the new role of “mother”.

I hear this question from expecting mothers who carve out time to show up on their yoga mat for prenatal yoga. Connect with her baby, but most importantly, connecting to her hopes and desires for her impending birth.

All of these questions stem from a place of acknowledgment and recognition that the anticipation of birth can be overwhelmingly significant. It can stop us dead in our tracks. It can bring up fears and hesitations that were once long buried. It can evoke unwelcome vulnerability and uncertainties. It can open up our self-doubt unlike any other. Expectant woman or not, these sentiments are often felt in varying degrees from everyone involved in the witnessing of such a significant life transition.

Regardless of who is asking the question “how can I best encourage, enhance and support the natural, pulsating rhythms of labor” my answer is always this:

whenever possible, create an environment conducive to building oxytocin”.

Ah yes…Oxytocin.

You may have heard of it. And chances are, whether you know it or not, you’re strongly familiar with it.

Oxytocin is the hormone of love. It is the hormone of a comforting embrace; of a shared kiss; of a deep belly laugh; of a late night cuddle; of intimate sex; of the welcomed touch from a loving hand; of a gifted smile. Simply put, it is the hormone that sky-rockets when we make a connection with another human being. This super-star hormone is also the one in the driver’s seat during labor and birth.

Lamaze International states that “one of the most powerful ways we can support the normal physiology of labor and birth is to let labor begin on its own…the most compelling reason {for this} may be to allow the birth hormones to regulate labor and birth as nature intends.” By doing this, we are allowing the woman’s body to respond, hormonally, in a way that signals to her body and baby that “it’s time.” From this moment on, environmental factors have an impact on the laboring mother.

Women’s bodies are magnificent works of art and function. When trusted and given the opportunity, our bodies - capable & powerful - can do much more than expected. The rush of hormones - of oxytocin - can contract the uterus, can bond two humans together, and can even block the rest of the world out, if even for a moment.

While the body is capable of blocking out it’s surroundings, external and environmental factors can still play a role in the ability of women’s bodies to do their biggest life’s work. Much like the laboring animal retreats into its den for safety; laboring women also need a safe birthing space that enables the sacredness of the journey to unfold.

This may sound like an overwhelming task — creating an environment conducive to the manifestation of oxytocin — but it’s simple really. Laboring women need an environment where they feel love.

When an expectant woman’s partner looks me in the eyes with anxious nervousness and asks me, with quiet hesitation, “how can I possibly be what she needs in birth?”, I look at them confidently and tell them, “You already are.”

*All Photos by Danica Donnelly

Written By Sarah Bach-Bergs-Blooma Yoga Instructor, LAMAZE-Certified Childbirth Educator, DONA-Trained Birth and Postpartum Doula, Mama of two crazy boys, wife, friend, and wilderness lover.

You can learn more from Sarah at Blooma's Couples Birthing Intensive on October 29th, November 19th & December 10th

What is Spinning Babies Parent Class?

Spinning Babies is a technique made famous by Gail Tully. It is an approach based on easing baby’s rotation - when rotation is easier for baby, birth is often easier for mother. We are so excited the Blooma is the FIRST organization to offer The Spinning Babies Parent Class with our trained Childbirth Educators.

What is Spinning Babies?

Spinning Babies looks at birth from a physiological perspective - birth is seen as a natural and normal occurrence for the body with mamas using their own powers to allow labor to start on its own. The Spinning Babies approach investigates baby’s role in labor.  We know that baby's position plays an strong role in the process and progress of birth.  By knowing fetal position, and the space available in the womb, less force and medical intervention is warranted.   

Why should I take the Spinning Babies Parent Class?

Spinning Babies Parent Class is a great opportunity to better understand how baby is an active participant in labor. You will learn how to maintain balance in your body prior to labor, helping to create ease and even pleasure during your birth.  This hands-on class allows you and your partner to practice comfort techniques and daily exercises with ample time to ask questions.

How will Spinning Babies Parent Class impact my birth?

Learning the material and techniques in the Spinning babies Parent Class will instill confidence in your body’s ability to birth your baby. As Gail Tully says, “Not too tight, not too loose, not too twisty.”  Some of our daily habits (i.e. sitting for long periods of time, placing more weight on one leg versus another when standing/leaning, long commutes to work) can create imbalances in the body. The Spinning Babies Parent Class teaches techniques to help bring more symmetry to the tensions/looseness of your muscles, ligaments, and joints. This can help baby navigate the pelvis and surrounding tissues more easily.  This knowledge will help alleviate fears of the birth process and leave you feeling empowered and excited as your little one’s guess date approaches.  

Interested to learn more? Sign up for an upcoming Spinning Babies Parent Class!

October 4 at the Minnesota Birth Center in St. Paul

November 17 in Minneapolis

If you have any questions about this class, or the Spinning Babies technique, please reach out to our educators at education@blooma.com.

Written by Amy Kelley, a M,ama, Doula, Childbirth Educator, Prenatal Yoga Instructor, Kids, Toddler, & Byob Yoga Instructor.  You can find me on Instagram as @amykelleydoula or visit my website at www.amynkelley.com

 

A Complete Guide to Processing Your Birth

The birth of my son was unexpected and did not go at all how I had planned or hoped. It took a long time for me to heal from the experience. Now in my work as a childbirth educator and doula, I see a deep need for mamas to process their birth experiences in a setting that is safe, supportive, and validating.

Who needs to process their birth?

Everyone. Literally every person who has given birth needs to set aside some time to process the experience. Even if a birth seems to have gone smoothly to others in the room, the birther may still have experienced disappointment, guilt, shame, or trauma at some point during her pregnancy, birth, or postpartum experience. While these feelings may be more prevalent following births with unexpected outcomes, even an insensitive comment from a care provider can harm someone during their birth.

Why is it important to process your birth?

In our culture, we don’t know how to talk about birth experiences in a way that feels good or promotes healing. The canned response we give after hearing a birth story, particularly one that didn’t go as planned, is, “Well, at least you and the baby are healthy!” Yes, it’s true: it’s great that mama and baby are healthy, but this response negates and ignores any trauma or emotional pain that the birther may have suffered. In fact, it can make a birther feel even MORE guilty for harboring any feelings of shame over her birth experience. A person might harbor these feelings for years. This is all because they were not given the opportunity to process the experience, find ways to appreciate and grow from it, and ultimately, move on. I find it particularly important for mamas to process their birth experience before giving birth again, so that the emotions from the first birth do not invade the space of the labor and delivery room the next time around.

How can I process my birth?

There are three main ways to accomplish this:

  1. Write your birth story. Many women feel that writing about their difficult birth experience is a great way to begin to process it. This was my first step in processing the unexpected birth of my son, which you can read here.

 

  1. Pursue short-term therapy with a licensed counselor. It’s great to find someone who specializes in issues related to pregnancy and postpartum. Blooma has therapists at the St. Paul and Minneapolis locations that are available for help and support. Here are some other great resources for qualified therapists in the Twin Cities.

 

  1. Attend a Process Your Birth workshop at Blooma. Through guided meditation, reflective journaling, and small group sharing in a safe and supportive space, we will begin to process your birth. Your birth story includes your pregnancy, birth, and postpartum experience. This class is appropriate whether you gave birth a few weeks ago or a few decades ago.

Join us! See all upcoming Blooma Workshops HERE. OR, click the dates below for information about the Process Your Birth Workshop.

October 13, Minneapolis

November 17, Minneapolis

December 1, Minneapolis

Written by Mari Melby, a childbirth educator, doula, intuitive healer, writer, and a mama. Learn more on her website, www.marimelby.com.

All current Process Your Birth Workshops are led by Mari Melby.

Ask the Educators: Prepping Your Car for Birth & Baby!

Childbirth education at Blooma serves families no matter what type of birth they are planning. All classes present evidence-based information for normal and safe birth, influenced by the Lamaze 6 Healthy Birth Practices. Classes provide information to expectant families to reduce their fear or anxiety while building confidence and preparing them for birth.

Each Blooma Educator is a seasoned birth doula, up to date on birthing practices and policies.

Our educators frequently hear the same concerns about pregnancy, birth, and beyond. One of our educators, Mari Melby, has some tips for prepping you - and your car - for baby!

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As you prepare for your new baby, you will undoubtedly come across plenty of lists detailing what you should bring to the hospital or what to stock in your nursery. However, something that is often overlooked is what you should have packed IN YOUR CAR prior to the baby coming. I suggest that you have these items in your car from 36 weeks on. Most likely, your baby will not come that early, however it will give you some peace of mind knowing that certain things are in place and ready to go.

1. A 1/2 tank of gas at all times

From 36 weeks on, I recommend not letting any of your cars go below this mark. Maybe you have a long drive to the hospital or birth center, or maybe there are frigid temperatures outside. Even if you live relatively close by, you may have a work commitment that takes you out of the area for the day. The bottom line is, you do not want to have to stop and get gas while you are in labor. Keeping the tank half full at all times will pretty much guarantee that this will not happen to you.

2. Chux pads or a few towels

In the event that your water breaks either before getting in the car or during the ride, amniotic fluid may continue to gush or leak for a while, and having something that you can sit on will help to protect the car from any damage. You will not get the chance to properly clean the car for a while, so this is a nice protective measure. My sister ended up having to use garbage bags as a last-minute fix, but this also worked well.

3. A properly installed and checked infant car seat

Without this item, you cannot bring your baby home! You may feel that reading the instruction manual is sufficient to install the car seat, but this is often not the case. It is generally FREE to get your car seat inspected by a safety specialist. In addition to making sure that the base is properly installed, he or she may even have you practice putting a doll or stuffed animal into and out of the car seat a few times. It feels a little silly at the time, but I was so fortunate to have had the practice when it was time to drive our new baby home for the first time! You can typically find where to go on your state’s transportation website.

Pro tip: Pack your suitcase and keep it in the car from 36 weeks on, too. You will be ready to go even in an unexpected situation and it is one less thing to do while in labor!

Originally posted on Mari Melby, Birth Services

Written by Mari Melby - doula and childbirth educator at Blooma. You can read more from her on her website, www.marimelby.com.

My Postpartum Body

“So, when are you due? I don’t normally ask, but you have the most darling little belly,” asked the woman working at the retail store in the fitting room. It was the second time I had heard that in the last weeks prior to this incident. I was so hurt internally, that in order to avoid bursting into tears and tell the truth that would embarrass us both, all I could say was, “Oh, I’m not very far along” and quickly took my stack of clothes into the dressing room. The reason I was so hurt? I wasn’t pregnant. In fact, my daughter was one year old and I was there trying to find a pair of jeans that better hide my “belly.”

I’ve had three babies in four years. With the amount of weight I have gained and lost each time, along with sustaining life inside of me and outside of me in breastfeeding, I look at my body in the mirror now in complete awe of creation. What an incredible miracle conception, pregnancy, birth, and infants are! The blessings and gravity of what I have been a part of is not lost on me. I am truly grateful.

However, it does not mean that there are not challenges. I have had relatively easy pregnancies and recoveries postpartum. And, yet, I still struggle with the changes in my body. In each of my pregnancies I have continued to stay active and eat relatively healthy. I love to walk/run around the beautiful neighborhoods of Saint Paul and take classes at Blooma. Postpartum life brings even more walks with babies, early morning runs, and yoga practices.

But after my second baby, I found that it was really hard to get rid of my “mom pooch.” I was slimming down and getting stronger everywhere else, but I could not get my belly any flatter. In the midst of diapers, toddlers, working part time, and keeping up with the house, I couldn’t find or make the time to do anything about it. I kept thinking that maybe it was the extra ten pounds I had kept on during breastfeeding, like with our first child, until I had weaned him. So, when it didn’t come off when I weaned our second, I started researching if it was something more than baby weight. That’s when I found out about diastasis recti. It’s the natural ab separation that happens when you are pregnant. However, mine, like many women, failed to knit back together postpartum. Thus, the pooching belly. There are a lot of variables how and why this happens, but it’s still there.

By the time that I truly realized that it was a problem and there was something that I could do to fix it and work on it, I was pregnant again. After having our second son this past April, I immediately started Google-ing videos and exercises that could help me work on this condition. I found a lot of different information, all promising to pull in the “mom pooch.” It wasn’t until this past week, when I went to Karin Trigg’s Abdominals: Before and After Birth Workshop at Blooma that I truly felt I received a comprehensive presentation on diastasis recti and how to help it. She went over the anatomy of the body, how and why this separation can happen, breathing and exercises on how to lessen it within our own bodies, and plenty of encouragement and empowerment that we can be our strongest selves, even after being a vessel for another human for so long. Since this workshop, I have tried to dedicate five to eight minutes a day to work on the exercises Karin gave us. Some days I have to wake up even earlier just to make sure I get the exercises in, but it’s helping. And, I can only hope that it continues to help. I strongly encourage any woman, pregnant or not, to try Karin’s class, even if only to learn more about diastasis recti and how to protect your core.

I realize that I may never look like I did when I was at my smallest, but that was before my body had given life to three other human beings. And, for those miracles, I will be happy with however my body looks, as long as I’m staying healthy and active.

Written by Shea Olson- Wife & Mama Trying to Make it All Work

Learn more about the next Abdominals Before & After Birth Workshop (October 26, 2017)

Ask the Educators - Let's talk about VBACs

Childbirth education at Blooma serves families no matter what type of birth they are planning. All classes present evidence-based information for normal and safe birth, influenced by the Lamaze 6 Healthy Birth Practices. Classes provide information to expectant families to reduce their fear or anxiety while building confidence and preparing them for birth.

Each Blooma Educator is a seasoned birth doula, up to date on birthing practices and policies.

Our educators frequently hear the same concerns about pregnancy, birth, and beyond. We love hearing your questions, and helping you make informed decisions for your birth. We often hear questions about VBACs (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean), so we wanted to take the time to answer your questions and provide information for you and your family.

I had a cesarean birth. Will I be able to have a vaginal birth this time?

The short answer is yes, most likely! In the US, 74% of women who attempt VBACs are successful.[1] Previously, The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommended a TOLAC, or Trial of Labor After Cesarean, for women with one previous cesarean and a low-transverse incision. In 2010, they updated their guidelines so that “…women with two previous low-transverse cesarean incisions, women carrying twins, and women with an unknown type of uterine scar are considered appropriate candidates for a TOLAC," according to Jeffrey L. Ecker, MD, co-author of the guidelines.[2]

 What can I do to prepare for a VBAC?

Choose your provider and place of birth carefully. Research VBAC success rates for both the practice and the location. Hire a doula who has experience in supporting VBACs. Blooma offers a VBAC class to help answer questions, explore the pros and cons, and more!

What if I decide I want a repeat cesarean or end up needing one?

Know that a repeat cesarean is still a valid choice. Many women have so much fear after what happened the first time that a repeat cesarean feels like the safer emotional choice. There are also certain medical conditions that make a planned cesarean a safer option. If you do go the route of planned cesarean, be sure to find a provider who is willing to accommodate a family-centered cesarean. A family-centered cesarean includes things like:

  • Using a clear drape or lowering the drape when the baby is born
  • Delayed cord clamping
  • Skin-to-Skin in the OR
  • Mom and baby stay together in recovery
  • Doulas and partners allowed in the OR

The Blooma Childbirth Educators are a great resource for VBAC-friendly providers, doctors who practice using family-centered cesareans, doulas with experience supporting VBACs, and additional reading on this topic. Join us for an upcoming Vaginal Birth After Cesarean Class, led by Mari Melby, April 7 in Minneapolis.

Mari Melby is a doula and childbirth educator at Blooma. You can read more from her on her website, www.marimelby.com.

 

[1]Cunningham FG, Bangdiwala S, Brown SS, Dean TM, Frederiksen

M, Rowland Hogue CJ, King T, Spencer Lukacz E, McCullough LB, Nicholson W, Petit N, Probstfield JL, Viguera AC, Wong CA, Zimmet SC. National Institutes of Health Consensus Development Conference Statement: Vaginal Birth After Cesarean: New Insights. March 8—10, 2010. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2010; 115(6):1279–1295.

[2]American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Communications. Ob Gyns Issue Less Restrictive VBAC Guidelines. ACOG. N.p., 21 July 2010. Web. 6 June 2017.

A Birth Story - Baby Fritz

Seven weeks. It’s been seven weeks since Fritz decided to grace our lives with his presence outside of the womb. I truly do not know where the month of May went – it seems to have flashed by in a snap. However, the seven weeks leading up to Fritz’s arrival dragged slowly on.

My pregnancy with him, my third, carried along relatively fine and uneventful. But, as anyone who has been pregnant before will tell you, the last handful of weeks tick by at a snails pace. As our family approached his due date, there was a flurry of family events, and we wondered if you would be a part of them – our daughter’s birthday, Easter, and a few baptisms of his cousins. Nope. He decided he wanted an entrance and celebration that was completely his own.

At my 40 week appointment, two days after my guess date, I was completely fed up with being pregnant, and so dearly wanted labor to be over and our baby to be on the outside of my body. I spoke with my midwife about stripping my membranes – something I hadn’t done with our other two babies. She told me that with stripping my membranes, I may or may not go into labor, I could cramp, I could spot, etc.

About an hour after my appointment, I had consistent cramps that felt worse than the Braxton-Hicks I’d been feeling for weeks. But, I still wasn’t sure it was actually labor. I called my husband home from work and a friend to come over to watch our napping kids. Even though I wasn’t sure this was IT, my second labor and delivery was four hours start to finish and I didn’t want to take any chances.  With a flurry of last minute packing and spewing out instructions about our other kids, we went to the hospital, only to see the look in the nurse and midwives’ eyes that I was not in ‘real’ labor. We stayed for observation for a few hours and were sent home. I was so disappointed, and frankly, embarrassed that I didn’t know what my body was doing. Retrospectively, I am glad that we went, even if just to know that everything was healthy and moving along.

The next morning came with cranky kids who seemed to know that something was going to rock their world later that evening. To get out of the house, I put together a list of errands that I had been putting off – like going to the DMV, Costco, and the bank. Waddling in and out of each store, I would have random contractions at no regularity. And, due to the ‘false alarm’ the night before, I wasn’t even sure that they were contractions. After getting the kids home for lunch and down for naps, I finally sat down to time my ‘random’ contractions. Twenty minutes apart. “Oh,” I thought. Maybe this would actually turn into something.

An hour or so later my husband came home, got the kids up for naps and outside to play. Thirty minutes (and two contractions later), I decided we should go on a family walk ‘around the block.’ My contractions were now coming about every five to ten minutes, and soon I needed to stop and breathe through them. My husband called his dad to come over and watch the kids while we went to the hospital. As we got home from the walk, I labored in the living room while my husband tried to make the kids a quick dinner and we waited for my father-in-law to get there. Within ten minutes, my contractions (and back labor) were increasing in intensity and length. Something really felt like it was changing quickly and my husband sent me outside to wait by the car. I kissed my older two babies as I walked out the door, now truly realizing that our family was changing right before my eyes. Within one minute of his dad showing up, my husband was in the car and pulling out of the driveway. Running three red lights with me laboring in the front seat, is how we pulled into the hospital and were raced up to our delivery room.

The nurse who brought us to our room introduced herself and quickly helped me into bed, letting me know my midwife was on her way. My husband happened to tell this nurse that our favorite nurse, who had been a part of both of our previous births had her same name. “Oh, she’s here today too!” said that nurse who brought us to our room. As my contractions were coming right on top of each other, and full of back labor, I was only able to burst into tears, when our favorite nurse walked into our room, ready to be a part of another Olson baby birth.  Her presence, words of encouragement, strength, and gentle touch always seem to be exactly what I need to get through a natural labor. With a team of two nurses and our wonderful midwife, a little baby boy was born into this world not 40 minutes later. He was put on to my chest immediately, stuck his thumb in his mouth and looked up at me with the bluest of eyes.

From the time that I starting timing my contractions to the time that our babe was in my arms was four and a half hours of the most intense labor I have experienced yet. It was so deeply worth the bundle of true joy and easygoing nature which has been given our family. Frederick ‘Fritz’ Simon is a gem and a delightful addition to our little family.

Written by Shea Olson- Wife & Mama Trying to Make it All Work

A Legacy of Mothering

Life takes us on many paths-it never occurred to me that birth, and the joys it brings, would become my life’s passion. But after adventuring through other directions in academia and pastry making, I was taken up in the birth world after a close friend’s home birth. From there the rest, they say, is history. An important and relevant history that empowers me, each day, to work within the wonderful world of birth.

I delved deeper into birth when I found out that I was pregnant. The support and compassion I received from my doula and midwives at Health Foundations Birth Center was truly inspirational. My birth experience was both healing and transformative, in more ways than I could have imagined. It was through these complied experiences that I knew I had found my calling.

I started my journey in the birth world as a doula. Taking in as much information as I could through my DONA International Training at Blooma and attending births. I attended births in a multitude of settings. Each birth provided me new insights. I was honored to support families and was thrilled each time to bear witness to the magic of birth. What I learned, quite quickly, was that I had developed a preference for out of hospital birth. The support I provided as a doula was embraced in this setting, allowing me to thrive. The quality and thoroughness of care provided by the midwives was incredible.  I realized that midwifery, in an out of hospital setting, was the next step in my journey as a birth junkie.

Explaining myself to family, friends and supporters, wasn’t always the easiest. They couldn’t understand why I was pursuing this “unconventional occupation.” But, I had an ally very early on, my grandfather. He reminded me that our family had a history of midwives. Lena Appert, my great-great grandmother, was a midwife. She served families around St. Cloud, MN. Lena was a German immigrant and a single mother of three children. She traveled to over 1,000 births often bringing her children along in the middle of the night. 

My grandfather shared the photos, news clippings and stories he had about Lena. This calling to out of hospital midwifery resonated even stronger as I learned my own family’s history.  I was determined to carry on this legacy of out of hospital midwifery, just as Lena had done so many years ago. I find myself so curious about her experiences. How did she find herself on this path to midwifery? Was her presence in the community embraced? What changes did she see as birth entered the hospital system? What would she think about the systems in place today?

I was blessed to know my great grandmother quite well. I was incredibly close to my grandmother as well. I lost both of these powerful women before I was 20 years old. As I grow into my calling as a midwife and as I grow as a mother, I find that I have a different longing for their wisdom and support. I cherish the stories I have heard of Lena’s life and legacy as a mother and midwife. 

Now, at each birth I attend, I am so grateful for the history of women who created a legacy of female healers and of midwives that pushed back against institutionalization of birth. It’s as though at each birth, Lena’s life’s work and spirit is with me.

Written By Jamie Huberty, Jamie is a DONA trained birth doula, placenta encapsulator, and Lamaze trained childbirth educator. She will be taking her Lamaze Certification Exam in October and has attended 3 spinning babies trainings. She is a CPM midwifery student at NMI. You can see Jamie at Blooma in her role as a childbirth educator!

Check out Childbirth Education at Blooma!