childbirth education

Birth Story: Louise Wynne Kelley - Right on Time

*All photos by Meredith Westin Photography

August 2017 5 weeks pregnant

Early in our pregnancy my husband and I traveled to Colorado and climbed to the top of Aspen Mountain. The concierge at our hotel said it was 2-3 hours long. I was confident I could do it and that it wouldn't be "that hard".  After an hour and a half we reached a beautiful scenic overlook, took in the view, and started out on what we thought must be the final summit of our climb.  Quickly I realized we still had a LOT to climb; more than half; and each part steeper than the previous. I told myself one breath at a time. One step at a time. You got this. You are doing this. These are all things I've learned help mamas in their journey from my career as a doula.  As my mindset wavered and doubt crept in, my cheerful husband was 3 steps ahead of me telling me how great I was doing. Even though I wanted to roll my eyes (ok I did roll my eyes a couple times) and negative thoughts filled my head (like: what were you thinking, you are so out of shape) I leaned into his cheerful positive attitude, took a deep breath, and willed myself to know I could reach the summit.  The view from the top was more beautiful than I could have imagined.  I couldn’t have been more happy to have accomplished the trek.

40 weeks

I actually wanted to be “overdue”.  Who says that?  I do. I guess I was just savoring my pregnancy and trying to get all the things done.  I tend to be a procrastinate, so I am glad my baby got the drift that she shouldn’t be too prompt with her entrance.  As a childbirth educator I knew my body was right in line with the statistics.  Studies show that on average, first time mothers deliver 3-5 days past their guess date.

I remember receiving a text from a mama friend on my due date saying, “Is today your guess date?  Thinking of you, mama.  Way to grow that baby well. Xoxo”  I had never thought of it that way before.  How thoughtful.  Yes, my body was freaking amazing for carrying another human being inside for that long!   I was able to finish my Spinning Babies Educator Training amidst the worst snowstorm in April history on my “guess date” weekend.  Gail Tully and her team along with Phyllis Klaus touched my belly and gave me all the good birth juju I could ever desire.

40 weeks 5+ days

After making an admittedly poor choice to drive 30 minutes to sell old workout clothes to make some extra cash, I swore off ever driving more than 2 minutes for the rest of my pregnancy.   My baby was squished so high inside and when I was driving, it felt as though her knees were in my throat.  Either that or the onset of early labor was causing nausea.  I had finally decided I was ready for this baby to come. That night in the bathtub I told my baby it was ok if she came now.  I was ready for her.

Later that night,around 11 PM, I started having mild cramping. I was up intermittently throughout the night, but was still able to sleep. In the morning I told my husband to go to work and I would let him know if anything changed.

40 weeks 6 days

With fervor and mild urgency I dusted, vacuumed, did the dishes, and set up my birth altar. Nesting is REAL, people.  The dustmites had no chance of surviving.  I had intentions to meet a friend for coffee but I canceled.  In my work as a doula I always suggest to my clients and students to “carry on” with their regular daily life in early labor, but I absolutely could not imagine being in a coffee shop with these cramps.  Around 9 AM I texted my Doula to let her know something might be happening.  She called me right away to let me know she was headed to another birth. I wasn’t worried.  Nothing major was happening.  After speaking with me for several minutes she sensed I may be further along than I thought.  She got extra bonus points for calling my husband herself and telling him to come home from work. Shortly after he arrived home with several bags of groceries in a super excited mood -  Because, “Hey! he was going to have a baby soon!” - I resorted to the bathtub. 

I texted my sister. She has four kids, but if the stars miraculously aligned, we were hoping she could be there for the birth.

I was in denial that labor was starting and before I knew it there was no room to “think”.  As the contraction waves became regular and strong I was soon in labor land. 

My Doula arrived fresh off another birth.  At this point every contraction required my full attention and was matched with a calm and steady, low, deep moan. Hands and knees became my savior.  I was climbing the mountain.   I called Kate, my midwife to let her know things had started and she asked me to start timing contractions. They were coming about every five minutes.  She said she would finish up what she was doing and head over.  She arrived just before 4 PM and sneakily checked baby’s heart rate and my vitals during and after contractions.  Side Note - We hired Kate without even interviewing other homebirth midwives.  She was confident, caring, gentle, smart, and intuitive.  She made our decision to have a homebirth feel easy and safe.

All of a sudden I felt a big bulge in my underwear. My water had broken. Viola!  The magic compression of those strong contractions was moving baby down and out. There was a little bit of meconium in the water so my midwife kept a close eye on our vitals.

Kate asked if I would like to be checked cervically. I was open to the check, but didn’t want to know the number. Thank goodness I asked not to know.  Later, I would find out I was only two centimeters. I think I would’ve lost it after having had these hard contractions for nearly 5 hours.

Around this time my sister arrived and brought her goddess mama energy with her.  She called in the troops to help watch her children and made it happen to be present for me.  She has a calm presence and I was so glad she was there (she’s the one holding me up in the pushing pictures).

The next several hours were kind of a blur. All I remember is breathing, having my support team right next to me, and thinking "holy crap I never thought it would feel like this". I told myself, one contraction wave at a time. There were thoughts of doubt in my mind but I reminded myself I can do it - I can climb this mountain. And sometimes I even repeated that out loud. “I can do it.  I can do it.  I can climb this mountain”.  We all giggled at the fact that I naturally started rehearsing the word “ouchie” during contractions.  It was my ritual and it seemed to help.  I stared at my affirmation cards hanging on the wall and stared at spots on the floor just to focus my attention.  I labored in the shower, on the floor, in the bed, and eventually my midwife said it was OK for me to labor in the birth tub (Sometimes women relax when they get into the birth tub so they don’t want you to get in there too soon in case it slows labor).

Holy Jesus that tub felt amazing. I remember saying how good it felt, and in my head  I thought “I’m never getting out of here”.

Around 8PM my midwife checked my cervix for the second time, and I wanted to know my dilation. I don’t remember exactly but I think I was a six-ish on one side and then eight-ish on the other. She thought my baby’s head was coming down at a little bit of an angle creating the uneven dilation on each side.   

Kate suggested a seemingly horrific series of different movements to help baby’s head realign. I rolled my eyes at this suggestion. In her sweet voice I remember her saying, “I know you are in labor. Sweet Amy would never have rolled her eyes at me otherwise.”  As a Doula I know certain positions make the contractions more intense, but in the long run it’s worth it as it makes labor shorter.  I would do anything to make this shorter so I obliged.  I had to do each movement for three contractions.  Three contractions on my back in the water.  Three contractions leaning on the left side.  Three contractions leaning on the right side.  And three contractions on my hands and knees.  Eye roll ensued.  I felt so proud when I had actually finished what they suggested. 

Meanwhile, I caught glimpses of my support team sneaking sleep; making smoothies, and seamlessly moving in support of my baby’s arrival.  I was comforted to know they were taking care of themselves. 

The pain in my hips was intense.  The hip squeeze did me no good, but I did find a little reprieve as my doula Alicia shook the hell out of my poor hips with the rebozo.  I thought my hips were going to split apart at one point.  But alas, I am here to tell my story.  My hips did not split apart.  My pelvis is intact.  It boggled my mind to think my sister went through this 4 times and even birthed one baby that was over 10 lbs!  Thinking of that helped me stay present.  I can do this.  I got this.  I am going to make it to the top of the mountain.  I thought of all my strong clients who pushed their babies out.  I thought of all my amazing friends who surrounded me at my blessingway with their words of wisdom.  I started to trust myself.  My body started to open.  Around 11pm I unintentionally and unavoidably started to grunt at the end of every contraction.  I knew this was a great sign-  my body was starting to push! 

I knew pushing could take hours so I tried to not look at the clock and not think about time.  I gave every contraction my full attention.  I grunted and when it felt there was room for more, I started pushing.  The pushing lasted for a little less than 2 hours.  I remember asking my birth team, “Can you just pull her out?”,  clearly, I had to finish the task.  We tried several positions.  Ultimately, my doula grabbed her rebozo and used it as a support/pushing tool.   That seemed to do the trick.  More and more of my sweet baby's head became visible with each push, and soon enough her whole head was out.  For an entire minute her head was out.  Then one final push.  My husband caught her body and handed her right to me.  She was plump, with a head full of hair, long fingernails, tons of vernix, and the sweetest most alert eyes.  She came out making eye contact with all of us around her.  Her (dog) sister, Harriet, peeped her head up onto the birth tub just as Louise was born.  I truly can’t imagine birthing anywhere else or with anyone else. 

If I could choose three words to describe my birth it would be empowering, supported, and intense!  Labor and birth is surely physical and extremely mental - Kind of like climbing a mountain.   If you can let go of the doubts, breathe into your strength, and acknowledge your progress one contraction at a time, the whole timeline of everything might not seem so daunting. Having a hardcore team of cheerleaders alongside you makes all the difference.  I could not have done it without my husband, our midwife, birth assistant, photographer, doula, sister, and my doggie doula.  I am forever grateful.

Written by Amy Kelley, Doula, Blooma Childbirth Educator, Prenatal Yoga & Kids Yoga Instructor.  You can find me on Instagram as @amykelleydoula

 

Milk & Cookies: Breastfeeding Support at Blooma

My breastfeeding relationship with my son got off to a rocky start after his complicated birth. First I wasn’t sure if I had enough milk,  then I had too much. I am so thankful for the breastfeeding support group I attended while living in Denver. And, after our rough start, I went on to meet my breastfeeding goals with both of my children. A few years later, as a doula, childbirth educator, and lactation counselor, I am so excited to start leading a similar support group here at Blooma called Milk and Cookies. Breastfeeding support groups are an important part of building a mama’s confidence. It also creates a network of mamas who are able to help you through your struggles and celebrate your successes. Breastfeeding may be natural, but it’s not always easy.  A little reassurance can go a long way. Plus, the evidence shows us that providing women with in-person breastfeeding support helps them to breastfeed for longer.

Here are a few questions I’ve been getting about this new group:

Who is this group designed for?

This group is designed for any breastfeeding mama and her baby. While I expect that a lot of mamas will be seeking support in the first 12 weeks of baby’s life, mamas at any age and stage are welcome. This class is discussion-based and tailored to answering your questions about anything from sore nipples and latch difficulties to pumping at work and transitioning to solids. If you come to class with a question that I am not qualified to answer, I will happily refer you to the best lactation consultants in town!

Do I have to come with a specific question?

Nope! You might just come to practice breastfeeding in public, meet some other mamas with babies around the same age as yours, or because you just ran out of cookies. Yep, we will always have cookies. Listening to others ask questions and get answers can be helpful to know you are not alone in experiencing breastfeeding hurdles.

Do I need to arrive on time?

Of course not! You have a NEW BABY and I know how hard it can be to arrive to anything on time, even with the best of intentions. So shake on some dry shampoo and head out the door. You are welcome no matter what time you arrive.

So, will everyone just have their boobs out the whole time?

Basically, the answer is yes. Most mamas will breastfeed at some point during class because babies get to eat whenever they want. If you feel more comfortable covering up, go right ahead, and if you don’t want to, that’s fine, too! Very quickly, you will get accustomed to talking to other mamas who are also feeding their babies.

Milk and Cookies meets at Blooma at our Minneapolis location on Mondays from 12:30-1:30pm. You bring the milk, I’ll bring the cookies.

You can find this new class on our regular class schedule.

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

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

Spinning Babies - Empower Your Birth

Blooma is proud to partner with the world renowned Spinning Babies program. The goal of Spinning Babies is to create conditions where baby can find the optimal positions for labor, making birth easier, less painful, and even pleasurable! Our Spinning Babies Parent Class teaches you and your partner exercises to expand your pelvis and make room for baby.

Here are the kinds words from one mama in our Spinning Babies Parent Class. You can learn more about Spinning Babies Parent Class, and find a class for you using the dates listed below.

Spinning Babies was hands down the most valuable childbirth education class I took. I felt so fortunate that the parent class was offered at Blooma during my second pregnancy. I was familiar with the Spinning Babies website, but the instruction and coaching offered during the Spinning Babies Parent Class made a world of difference for me. We were trying for a VBAC. The class gave us a better understanding of anatomy and positioning, as well as concrete daily actions to optimize baby's position. It also helped me process some elements of my first labor that ended with an unplanned c-section.We did the the Spinning Babies exercises every day for the last 2 months of my pregnancy, and ended up having a successful VBAC! Baby was in great position and my labor was fairly swift and uncomplicated. I really felt that, no matter what the outcome of my second birth ended up being, using the tools from Spinning Babies Parent Class empowered me. Knowing that I was doing everything I could to physically ready myself for birth gave me great confidence and peace. When the time came, my body and my baby were ready! I am so thankful for the Spinning Babies Parent Class, and I highly recommend it.

Written by Blooma Mama Robynne

Spinning Babies Parent Class At Blooma

December 7 in St. Paul with Amy Kelley

December 15 in Minneapolis with Amy Kelley

January 26 in Minneapolis with Amy Kelley

February 28 in St. Paul with Amy Kelley

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.

 

Value Systems & Birth Choices

A birth plan is important as a decision-making tool in the prenatal period and as a guide for providers at the time of birth. Now, the vast majority of nurses, doctors, and midwives know (and often expect) that a family will enter birth with a piece of paper that details their specific hopes during the different stages of labor and delivery including newborn care. Many hospitals even offer families an easy to use, and hospital specific, birth plan that goes straight into their file before birth. 

This all is wonderful news for birthing families. It means that providers are interested in what families want and need during one of the most vulnerable and intimate times in life. Providers that listen to families needs are able to provide more specific and supportive care.

While I encourage everyone to write a birth plan, it can sometimes create expectations that come with any give "plan". For example, a mother’s highest priority may be to have a vaginal birth. In her Birth Plan she may write that she does not want an epidural, but at the time of labor an epidural may be what she needs to allow a vaginal birth. Both items are important in her plan, but what holds the most value?

I encourage you to take a different approach to writing your Birth Plan by creating another important document, your Birth Values. By writing your Birth Values, you can allow your personal values to play the biggest role in your birth decision-making process.  The Birth Values approach allows a birthing family to ditch a Black and White Birth Plan and the sense of the "right and wrong", "good and bad" and "success and failure" that it can sometimes bring. Exploring your values goes deeper into the internal needs of the birthing woman, her partner, and the evolving family, rather than only looking at the choices available at the time of birth. 

An Example - A mother may have in her Birth Plan “something” that will help her remain calm and in control. This could be a birthing tub, nitrous oxide, or an epidural. But, it isn’t so much the item on her birth plan that is important, but the underlying value- feeling calm and in control during birth.

At the time of her birth to remain calm and in control, that “something” may change. A mama that planned to be in a birthing tub may now prefer the epidural. Or, a mama planning to have nitrous oxide wants to get into a birthing tub.  The item on her Birth Plan may have changed, but it still aligns with her Birth Values of being calm and in control. Her Birth Plan may only point to one of these things, but at the time of birth, another makes her feel calm and in control. Changing something on the Birth Plan shouldn’t make a mama feel like she has failed because she is still making decisions that align with her Birth Values.

Values do not start and end at the hospital. They are at the center of our very being, and they are at the heart of the new and challenging path new mothers embark on. Values are what matter.

So sweet mamas, and dear birthing partners, please do not ditch the Birth Plan. It is important, and it can act as a wonderful source for essential conversation in the prenatal period. It helps guide the mama, partner, and birth team  - keeping them on the same page before labor and delivery. But, I encourage you to dig even deeper and look at your values as you bring forth new life. Write these values down and share them with your birth team, this way you can move through labor and delivery fully wrapped in those values. 

By doing so, you will feel more fully heard, held, supported, honored, empowered and understood. It can also allow you to be super gentle on any decision made during birth. If there is any one thing I want for a birthing mother, it is that she feels held and supported, and that starts with first understanding her most intimate values before she ever steps foot into her place of birth.   

Best to each of you on your birthing journey, 

Brook Holmberg - full-time Birth Doula, a Childbirth Educator, a Lactation Counselor, co-founder of Birth Doula Centering and above all else, a value-drive mother. 

borealbirth.com 

Birth Doula Centering  - Twin Cities

 

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.

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

 

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.

Not Your Grandma's Childbirth Education - Couple's Birthing Intensive at Blooma

A "good" birth truly comes in all shapes and sizes, is highly personal and often cannot be defined by the birthing mother and her partner until after the little one is born. We may start our birth journey with a certain set of expectations and hopes, but as birth is often a winding path, our perspectives evolve out of experience and out of necessity. As a mother that has born two children, a birth doula of 9 years and as a student midwife of 3 years, I have seen more than enough birth to know that there truly is no right and there is no wrong, that there is no one way to have a "good" birth. I have also witnessed enough birth to know that when a mother and her partner both feel safe, connected, heard, held, valued, supported and able to make informed decisions along the way, there is a very good chance they will define their unique and powerful birth as a "good" birth, even if it looks very different than anticipated. This is the foundation from which I build and lead the Couple's Birthing Intensive.

Every Intensive that I teach at Blooma starts something like this: "This is not your Grandmother's childbirth education class", which is usually followed by a few knowing laughs because anyone that goes to Blooma and knows our beloved and fearless leader Sarah Longacre, knows that there is nothing old-school and out-dated about our offerings. That statement is then followed-up by something like this: "Instead, this class is about movement, breath, connection, vulnerability, safety, touch, and the amazing hormone 'oxytocin'".

I go on, and I do in fact belabor the point, that "no one gets to define what a 'good' birth is to you. No one. Not your doctor, not your Midwife, not your Nurse. Your doula does not get to define this for you, nor do you friends and family. Only you get to define what a good birth is to you, leaving no room for external judgments and expectations." Then, we spend the next 3.5 hours exploring the opportunities and possibilities of labor and delivery through movement and positions often used by birthing women. I integrate the use of long, full moans and groans that often come during birth, and use touch between couples to foster connection and safety. We discuss how oxytocin works at every stage. I work to help create the reality of vulnerability that happens with birth (yes partners, this means you get to be vulnerable too!) and we explore how to use "informed decision-making" as a pillar of strength in personally defining a "good" birth.

A very clear point is made that just as there is no right or wrong in how to birth a baby, there is no perfect way to support a mother in childbirth either. I work to gently remind partners that they do not have to have the exact right touch, nor the perfect words, but that often just being close, believing in her, grounding her when she needs to feel more safe and simply holding her hand and reminding her that she is loved, may be all she needs. However, because we know that often a mother wants and needs a whole lot of support directly from her partner, we spend a huge amount of time on the stages of labor and how the partner can appropriately and effectively support the mother though physical support and touch, through verbal encouragement and through practical tips like making sure she is drinking, eating, and using the bathroom on a regular basis.

This is not your Grandmother's childbirth education class, as it is far more about getting out of your head and into your body than it is about analyzing the intricacies of birth. But, this class does offer the timeless advice that mothers want and need to be supported, loved, held, and heard in childbirth. Today’s birthing women most often do what their partners present and actively involved in the birth process. This class offers plentiful ways in which the mother can be open to the birth process as it unfolds, as well as an abundance of ways in which the partner can move deeper and more confidently into the birth, so that when their baby is born, both parents look at one another and say, "we rocked that birth together".

Please join me or any of the other amazing Couple’s Birthing Intensive teachers (we each have our own flare!) in one of the monthly offerings in both Minneapolis and St. Paul!

For the next Couple's Birthing Intensive (May 7  & May 25) , click HERE.

For the full Couple's Birthing Intensive, Click HERE.

Written by Brook Holmberg, Birth and Postpartum Doula, Lactation Counselor, Childbirth Educator and Yoga Instructor

borealbirth.com

(Photo by Megan Crown Photography)

Celebrating Nine Years of Blooma Love: A Personal Account From A Blooma Mama

As Blooma celebrates its 9th Birthday, we want to celebrate the people that have contributed to our success and have held our mission so close to their heart. Lauren started at Blooma as part of our childcare team. Nine years later, she basically runs the place. Not only has she seen her career grow, and Blooma develop into the community it is today, but she has become a mother herself, THREE times! She is kind, warm, hardworking, and dedicated to the mission of Blooma. We asked her to reflect on the past nine years, and we won't lie, some moments brought us to tears. Thank you for all that you have done, and continue to do! Happy Birthday Blooma!

I started my journey with Blooma as a college student, completely unaware that my hourly job in the childcare room was going to impact the next decade of my life.  At that point, I hadn't thought much about yoga or birth and I couldn’t imagine then what my life would be like 9 years later.  But here I am!  Now a mama of 3, married to my incredible husband, and the Director of Operations for Blooma. 

Reflecting on the last 9 years with Blooma, I am overwhelmed with the abundance of personal and professional growth opportunities I have experienced and witnessed. 

As a business, Blooma has grown in many different ways.  Our staff has grown from a handful to almost 100. We have moved and added locations across the twin cities and trained yoga instructors and birth doulas across the world.  We’ve developed and fine-tuned class offerings, education, and wellness services.  We’ve touched the lives of thousands of mamas and their families, made mistakes and celebrated enormous triumphs.  And, with the heart and passion of our leader, Sarah, we will continue to identify and serve the needs of our mamas.  

Blooma’s growth wouldn’t have happened without the perseverance of the women (and a few men!) that pour their energy into Blooma.  I have met so many inspiring people through our studios in the past 9 years.  Women and men who are on a mission to make our world a better place.  Our staff and support team has been comprised of mothers, sisters, doulas, writers, teachers, artists, designers, farmers, lawyers, midwives, accountants, grant writers, marketing managers, world travelers, photographers, small business owners, musicians…and I can keep going for hours!  It is humbling to think of the talent, passion and knowledge I have been surrounded by for so many years.  

lauren-family

 

I smile when I think about the ways Blooma has impacted me personally, as a mother and sister.  While working for Blooma, I have been blessed to give birth 3 times. Three very different births. I had a natural hospital birth, a beautiful home water birth, and an unplanned 35-week cesarean birth - each with my friend, doula, and boss Sarah by my side (Literally, I wouldn't let her leave my side). During each birth, I drew from the knowledge and strength that Blooma had given me.  Through yoga I learned to manage my breath, Doula Training provided me with comfort measures, and I found strength in every woman who had shared their birth story.

In the last nine years, I have walked with my fellow mamas through their own unique journeys. From infertility and loss, to planned and unplanned pregnancies.  While I have witnessed hard pregnancies and traumatic births, I have been humbled to witness smooth, complication-free pregnancies and swift births.  I have journeyed through perinatal mood disorders both personally and with other mamas, and have been honored to provide postpartum care to my sisters that they had provided for me - holding their newborns, bringing meals, and offering encouragement.  

 

We all have a journey. I never would have predicted this would be mine.  My passion for pregnancy, birth, and postpartum life has turned into a career in a supportive work environment, allowing me to navigate the "working mom" balance.  I have been given an opportunity to apply my skill set in a business with a mission so near to my heart. I am thankful for each client I encounter, each co-worker that’s worked alongside me, every challenge we overcame together, the support I received during my pregnancies, and most significantly of all, for Sarah.  I am beyond grateful for what Blooma has given to me in the last 9 years and can't begin to imagine what the next 9 will bring!

 

Written by Lauren Herbeck

Director of Operations at Blooma

Wife and Mother of Three, Friend to Us All