Pregnancy

Natural Ways to Induce Labor

(Photo by Meredith Westin Photography)

Mamas-to-be - it can be exhausting and frustrating to be facing week 41 of your pregnancy. Maybe you are wondering how you can encourage your body and your baby to begin labor. Natural induction methods are gentle enough that you won’t go into labor if your body is not ready but can help move things along at the end of your pregnancy. Always talk with your midwife or obstetrician before attempting to induce labor naturally. 

Here are some natural induction methods to help you and baby along:

 Acupuncture

Acupuncture is used in traditional Chinese Medicine. It involves the insertion of fine needles into specific points in the body to stimulate Qi, or energy. Studies have demonstrated that acupuncture is safe to use during pregnancy and research shows that acupuncture may help obtain optimal positioning, increase cervical ripening, and even shorten the length of labors. Acupuncture is one of the wellness services offered at Blooma and it can be beneficial for mom and baby in all stages of life and pregnancy. You can book an acupuncture appointment here or by calling us at (612) 223-8064.

Dates

While it is nice to go on a date with your partner late in pregnancy (for the connection and privacy of just the two of you), we are talking about a different kind of date – the sweet dried fruit that comes from a date palm tree. Several studies have looked at the effects of eating dates late in pregnancy because the Quran contains verses claiming that dates are beneficial for pregnancy. Randomized studies have found that eating dates might ripen the cervix more, lower the need for pitocin induction or augmentation during labor, increase the likelihood of having a vaginal delivery, and decrease postpartum blood loss. Dates can be great for bringing on labor, but be sure to talk with your care provider first. Dates are high in sugar, so we wouldn’t recommend making them a large part of your pregnancy nutrition. 

 Nipple Stimulation

Stimulation of the nipples releases the hormone oxytocin, which can lead to ripening of the cervix, uterine contractions, and milk production. Nipple stimulation can be an effective tool for inducing labor naturally. Studies are varied in the methods used and lengths of time for nipple stimulation, some studies used breast pumps and others used breast massage. The studies found that women were more likely to go into labor with nipple stimulation, had lower c-section rates, and decreased risk of postpartum hemorrhage. However, there have been a few case reports of hyperstimulation of the uterus, by either causing too many contractions or contractions that are too long.

 Castor Oil

Castor oil is a vegetable oil that is produced by pressing the seeds of the Ricinus communis plant. It is an herbal remedy that has been used for hundreds of years to induce labor, but it also works as a powerful laxative. Studies found that using castor oil can be an effective tool to stimulate labor as well as ripen the cervix. However, study participants in several different studies reported nausea after ingesting castor oil.  This is a popular natural induction method I see as an RN, but most women feel pretty miserable after taking castor oil. Also, there is strong evidence that taking castor oil in early pregnancy can be harmful to the developing fetus.

 Sex

Theoretically, having sexual intercourse should help to stimulate labor because human semen contains prostaglandins, which help to soften and ripen the cervix. Also, any orgasmic stimulation can increase uterine activity (whether alone or with a partner). And it’s fun, so why not? The evidence on having sex to induce labor is mixed. Some studies found no significant difference in those advised to have sex and those who were not. However, another study found sex in late pregnancy was associated with an earlier onset of labor and decreased chance of induction. Since it is safe to have sex during pregnancy and may even relieve some stress, we think this method is worth a try. Your partners can thank us later. *It is not advised to have penetrative intercourse of any kind if your water has broken.*

Prenatal Yoga

Prenatal yoga and movement don’t necessarily induce labor, but can be beneficial for getting your body ready for labor and can even lead to a quicker delivery. Prenatal yoga poses can help your baby into the optimal position for delivery by stretching and opening the uterine and pelvic ligaments. New research has found that women who exercise during pregnancy have shorter labors and are less likely to use epidurals. Exercise during pregnancy also reduces the risk of gestational diabetes, preclampsia, and c-section. So, it's a no brainer, sign up for one of Blooma’s  yoga or barre classes today!

 The evidence has shown that these natural induction methods can associated with stimulation of labor and cervical ripening in women that are term or post-dates pregnancies. Remember to talk with your care provider before attempting to induce labor naturally. To read more about the research studies cited in this blog post, visit https://evidencebasedbirth.com.

 

Written by Beth Supple, MN, RNC-MNN

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

 

 

 

My Blooma Journey: Gratitude, Motherhood, & Connection

I’m laying on my side, facing my 5 week old baby, his tiny limbs gently exploring the air.  There is soft music playing in the background, sun shining through the window, we’re warm and comfortable.  Strong hands reach to my neck with intention and massage my neck, my shoulders, my back, all the way down to my feet.  Unconsciously, a couple of big tears roll down my checks. It’s such a relief to move my nursing, mama body into powerful poses, to lay down to rest, and then to receive someone’s tender touch and affirmation.  With hormones shifting, emotions raw, and exhaustion all encompassing, these are tears of gratitude. Thank you for this space, thank you for noticing me, and us, together and connected. At a time when every waking (and sleeping!) moment is consumed with giving care, I have a sweet moment at Blooma where I am the one receiving.

In those early weeks and months of Samuel’s life, yoga at Blooma was the place I went to receive.  Parenting young children is so physically demanding, but I don’t think it’s ever more demanding than those first few weeks after giving birth.  In that space of newness and recovery, yoga was the sanctuary of our day. It was the place I went to be acknowledged, celebrated, and encouraged.  A place where I could connect with other moms - where our stories, our concerns, our joys (and sometimes our babies’ cries!) could be heard.  

Samuel is my 4th child, and it hasn’t been like this with my other babies.  There was no sanctuary where I felt that sweet connection and relief. My older kids are in 6, 9 and 12, and  Blooma wasn’t even in existence when I was pregnant for the first time.   Perhaps Blooma’s offerings weren’t as developed when I had the chance with my middle children, but I think the biggest factor was my desire to take care of myself wasn’t as developed.  I look back on those years and I think how much easier things would have been if I’d had this community. And I should have known better, I’ve been involved with the birth world for over 20 years.  

When I was 19, I had the rare opportunity to shadow the village midwife in a small fishing village in India and attended many births with her.  I came back to college, completed a doula training, and attended births in my early 20’s. I became an acupuncturist and Chinese medicine practitioner, and opened my practice in 2007 focused on women’s health, specializing in fertility, pregnancy, and postpartum care. I have walked alongside women becoming mothers hundreds of times, always encouraging excellent self-care and valuing of their well-being.  But now, with more things than ever on my to-do list, I finally see this equation from a different angle.

My assumption with my first three babies was that time spent caring for myself took away from the well-being of my family.  I would fit in an acupuncture treatment or massage, but there was no foundation of support that offered consistent care. Now, I recognize that the most important thing for my home, my children and my practice (which has now grown into a much larger women’s health and fertility center) is that I take top-notch care of myself.  Because Blooma has classes where I can bring Samuel with me, and offers childcare on-site, this is much easier to achieve.

My journey with Blooma started with barre class at 14 weeks of pregnancy.  I’d been dealing with very significant pain in my sacrum for a couple of weeks.  I knew that I needed something to help stabilize and strengthen my pelvis and decided to try a barre class.  After the first class the pain had significantly decreased and I was hooked.   I made an effort to get to barre class at least 3 times/week-- it became one of my main priorities.  If I didn’t go, the pain would start to return, so I was motivated. I was also determined to do barre regularly because I remembered how much strength it takes to care for a baby-- to hold and wear a baby, and then a toddler--for long hours, and especially to lug that infant car seat everywhere!    

I had done weight training and exercise during my first pregnancy, but by the time I was recovering from my third birth, I was physically weak and depleted and had a variety of physical ailments related to this.  This time around I wanted things to be different and I was determined to emerge from this pregnancy strong and vibrant.

Samuel is now almost 5 months old and I have marveled so many times at what a profound impact Blooma has had on the ease of my postpartum journey.   We try to make it to babywearing barre at least a couple times each week. Postpartum can be an incredibly isolating and lonely time, especially in the winter months. Getting to class regularly not only boosts my energy and my mood, but has provided connection and community, laughter and support.   

The staff at Blooma and the other women in my classes have witnessed my baby grow within my belly and now out in the world.  They have celebrated with me and sympathized with me, and I have done the same for them. They’ve witnessed me when my baby is adorable and when he’s inconsolable.  By showing up again and again I have not only become stronger and more comfortable physically, but I’ve also learned to be more vulnerable and more compassionate with myself and others.  

For everything I have received at Blooma I am so grateful.  Thank you amazing teachers and staff. Thank you Sarah. And thank you to all the women in the classes who share this space with me.  

Kara is a Blooma Mama and the founder and senior practitioner at Fertile Ground Women's Health and Fertility Center.  Fertile Ground is a holistic women's health center in Southwest Minneapolis offering acupuncture, Chinese medicine, therapeutic massage and Maya Abdominal Therapy for women facing fertility challenges, who are pregnant, postpartum or dealing with other women's health concerns.

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

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.

 

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

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.

Five Tips for Staying Healthy Through Your Pregnancy

When most women find out they're pregnant, first comes excitement, then comes the sometimes overwhelming reality of all the changes that are to come. We want to take care of ourselves and our changing body to promote the best health for ourselves and our babies, but sometimes it’s hard to know what to do. There’s advice everywhere, and it’s often contradictory. As someone who’s delivered babies for over 20 years, here are my top 5 behaviors for keeping you (and baby) healthy through your pregnancy:

1) Eat well – We all know that pregnancy is a time when we need more calories for the development of the growing baby.  Mamas need an extra 300 calories a day. An average apple has 95 calories, a banana 105, and a ½ cup of cucumber only 8.  We also need a lot more protein than most of us usually get.  You need 2-3 servings of meat and/or legumes a day to get the recommended amount.  Eggs and peanut butter are also good sources of protein.

2)Move Your Body– Exercise is always important. It’s also a lot easier to say, than do. During pregnancy, exercise helps keep your weight healthy and safe for you and baby.  It has also been shown that women who exercise during pregnancy tend to have an easier time with labor.  Yoga can be particularly helpful, especially to maintain flexibility while building strength.  Some studies even show that women who exercise during pregnancy have babies who are healthier during their first year of life, compared to babies of women who don’t exercise.

3) Sleep – Over the course of pregnancy, this only gets harder, both because of body discomfort and the need to empty your bladder in the middle of the night.  Sleep is when our bodies rejuvenate themselves.  Things are much more tolerable when we have had plenty of sleep.

4) Find a community – It’s easy to start to feel isolated. Finding support with people going through the same thing gives you a place to get questions answered about the changes that go with pregnancy. Find a community of other mothers or mothers to be (Blooma is a great place to do this!)

5) Communicate with your partner – Pregnancy causes a lot of changes to your body and mind, and it’s easy to internalize a lot of those changes and the thoughts that go with them.  Remember that your partner wants to know what’s happening.  Together you are the base for your family, so make sure to carve out time to maintain the relationship that existed before pregnancy.

We encourage you to move your body, relax your mind, and connect with other mamas at Blooma. Learn more about our offerings here.

 

Written by Laura France, MD, FACOG, obstetrician/gynecologist, Senior Medical Director – Women and
Children’s Service Line at HealthEast. Learn more at www.healtheast.org/maternity.

Let's Go To The Barre - in the morning!

I'm not a morning person.  The proof is in my college transcripts, or my employment records. If I had a job that required me to work early in the morning, it never lasted long.
 
Then I became a mom, and again, and again. And soon my afternoon workouts were first on the chopping block under the pressure of nap time, or groceries, or doctor appointments. I resented putting myself on the back burner. Then I noticed that resentment was getting worse, because I was tired and at a loss for an outlet.
 
Enough was enough and I made a plan. And so I took my first 6 am class.  And I survived, AND I felt great! And by noon I had completely forgotten I had already worked out, and wasn't beating myself up for missing yet another thing.  Then the next day I did it again, and again, and two years later I am getting up and making ME the priority.
 
How did I start, and how do I keep it up? Each night I make sure to:
  • Set my workout clothes in the bathroom before bed.
  • Set my alarm for a ridiculously early time (who are we kidding though, I'm up at that time anyway with kiddos most nights!).
  • Establish a routine that my partner and I agree on so I can have that time to myself.
It isn't easy, but neither is being a grumpy mom, wife and co-worker. With my 6am workouts, I am able to handle the sideswipe of everyday life with a bit more grace.
 
See you in class! 

Jessie Seehof Carlson is barre, yoga, and prenatal yoga teacher at Blooma. She has been part of the family since 2008 and is incredibly grateful to teach and take classes in such an open and loving community. Click here for Jessie's class schedule!
 

The Top 15 Blooma Blog Posts: #2 – “13 Reasons Why You REALLY Want a Doula”

Doulas are birth magic, Blooma Family. Aside from the amazing facts this article by the incredible Alisa Blackwood goes through, there is one reason we want to add (call it the bonus reason):

Doulas are trained to hold space for you. They inhale anxiety and anger and pain and exhale peace into your room. They hold your partner's hand while you cannot. They talk to nurses and midwives and family and provide the space you need to give birth in whatever way works that day, for you. They will stand up for you, support you in your choices, and then afterwards, tell you your birth story and give you a hug, telling you that you did a great job.

EVERYONE can use a doula - whether you are birthing in a hospital or in the woods, whether you are waiting until your water breaks at 42 weeks or whether your C-section is already on the calendar.

Can you tell we have so much love for doulas? Well, if this short rant hasn't convinced you yet, please read Alisa's beautiful words in this, our number 2 in the Top 15 Blooma Blog posts of all time:

"13 Reasons You REALLY Want a Doula"

Lots of Blooma love,

Ann + The Women of Blooma