• J and J started care with me in the first trimester of their fourth pregnancy.  I had been their midwife for their previous two babies, and was looking forward to helping them for a third time.  You can read about their previous journey’s here and here. J had a history of truly big babies, and […]

  • S and C started care with me in the first trimester of their third pregnancy.  They had their previous babies at home with me, and were looking forward to another home birth journey.  You can read about their previous journey’s here and here. S’s pregnancy progressed along without issue.  Two days before her estimated due […]

  • What is Hyperemesis Gravidarum… I never have easy pregnancies. They are hard and complicated every freaking step of the way. I found out I was pregnant at four weeks because I kept throwing up my vitamins a couple days in a row. Who even does that?  I thought it was because of a recent surgery […]

  • You just found out you are pregnant!  You are so excited, but you feel so lost on the next steps with your care for your pregnancy.  Naturally, you turn to someone who you are close to for guidance and often times for recommendations for a provider.  The number one thing I hear from women over […]

  • A and H started care with me in the first trimester of their third pregnancy.  I have had the privilege of being their midwife through all three pregnancies.  You can read about their previous journey’s here and here. A’s pregnancy progressed along well, but as third baby’s are sometimes wild cards, this sweet girl definitely […]

Big brother was ready to help catch his baby.

J and J started care with me in the first trimester of their fourth pregnancy.  I had been their midwife for their previous two babies, and was looking forward to helping them for a third time.  You can read about their previous journey’s here and here.

J had a history of truly big babies, and she liked the plan we had previously done at starting labor encouraging at 37 weeks.  For her 37th week, she started a homeopathic protocol to try and start the softening and opening process on her cervix, before we started membrane sweeps and herbs at 38 weeks.

Sweet mama working so hard!

On February 7th, 2020 at 38.1 weeks, J came for her weekly appointment and first membrane sweep.  I found her cervix to be 2cm dilated, 50% effaced, and baby at a -4 station.  The plan was made for her to plan to come twice the following day, as it always seems to help kick her into labor when she comes twice.

Here he comes!

On February 8th, 2020, J came over at 11am and 4pm for membrane sweeps.  Her sweep at 11am made her feel pretty crampy, and she was hopeful the 4pm sweep would kick her into labor.  In between the sweeps, she went over to see the chiropractor for an adjustment to help things move along smoothly.

Such hard work!

J was 3cm dilated, 60% effaced, and baby at a -2 station when I did a final sweep at 4pm, and J was on her way home by 445pm, hoping that she would be calling sometime late this evening/early morning needing our support.

Embracing those initial emotions!

J felt labor really started at 5pm while they were driving home.  She sent me pictures of bloody show making sure it was normal at 623pm.  She said contractions were very strong, but she had not timed them.  I encouraged her to time 3-4 contractions so we knew what things were looking like, and know best when to come.

Admiration

At 640pm, she sent a timer that showed contractions were coming every 2 minutes, lasting 45 seconds.  She had asked her friend to come on over, but did not think the birth team needed to come yet.  Her opinion on that rapidly changed, when she called at 655pm, wanting my opinion.  She was vocal during contractions, and I told her we would all be on our way.  I live about an hour from J, but was ready to go, and promptly walked out the door.

Sweet Boy

While I was driving, I got a text from J’s husband stating that J was feeling a lot of pressure like she wanted to push.  I was still 30 minutes out, and did not want J to deliver alone if possible since she had a previous sticky baby.  He later called, where I was able to instruct him to get J off the toilet until the first member of the birth team arrived to help decrease the pressure she was feeling.

Joy

I arrived at 750pm, and quickly got into the house where I found J laboring hard on the toilet, moaning and grunting loudly with contractions.  After helping her focus, J moved quickly to her bedroom at 8pm where she wanted to push and birth her baby.

So much love from his biggest sister.

J was sitting on the edge of her bed, leaning against J and spontaneously pushing at 801pm.  She listened to her body with perfection, and at 803pm, her baby’s head still intact in his bag of water was crowning.  With the full pressure of the next contraction, J birthed her baby as her bag of water ruptured.  After an incredibly fast and furious labor journey, her baby was here!

Enjoying the herbal bath.

Welcome to the world, Paul!  Born earthside on February 8th, 2020 at 804pm, weighing in at 9lbs, 20in long.  J had told me the last couple weeks of pregnancy that Paul means “small” and she had been praying that his name would be fitting for his size at birth, which ended up being true.  Although 9lbs seems big to a lot of women, this was actually small for J!  She had gotten her wish for this little guy.

First Moments

It is always a blessing to get to support repeat clients, and I am so honored to have helped this couple for a third time.

#sacredjourneymidwifery

Photos taken by Nurturing Image Photogrpahy.

Birth gown provided by Dressed to Deliver.

 

S and C started care with me in the first trimester of their third pregnancy.  They had their previous babies at home with me, and were looking forward to another home birth journey.  You can read about their previous journey’s here and here.

S’s pregnancy progressed along without issue.  Two days before her estimated due date, S sent me a text letting me know that she was feeling similar to how she had felt with her last labor journey.  This is significant because S felt constipated, and I almost missed the birth as she had mistaken constipation for labor!  After an hour or so, S asked if I would come by to check her for peace of mind.  S lives close, so it was no issue to run down and check in.

I did the initial labor assessment at 820pm on December 22nd, 2019, and found S to be 6cm dilated, 100% effaced, and baby high at a -3 station and sunny side up.  Contractions were hard for S to determine if she was having.  We chatted, and S determined she was fine with me going home until she felt more contraction activity.

I was home 30 minutes, and S sent a text saying she was feeling trembling and it would make her feel better if I came.  I packed up, and headed her way.

I arrived close to 930pm, and found S laboring on the birth ball, chatty and happy with her journey.  Midwife A arrived soon after, and suggested doing lift and tucks with the rebozo.  Lift and tucks were started at 10pm.  S felt that contractions were feeling a bit stronger after the lift and tucks.

As the 22nd turned into the 23rd, we began administering homeopathics to see if it would help strengthen her contractions, which were coming every 3-5 minutes but still relatively mild.  Per our suggestion, S began doing our position we refer to as captain morgan’s with slutty circles, which is doing side lunges with deep hip circles to help baby rotate and move down.

We decided to do a cervical exam at this point.  Despite things seeming mild and hard for S to determine what she was having, S was now 8cm dilated, 100% effaced, and baby at a 0 station.  Contractions were averaging every 3 minutes, lasting 30 seconds.

S decided she wanted to sit in her bath tub for awhile to relax.  She sat in the bath for 30 minutes before getting out.  She felt like the contractions became weak and distant, and did not want things to become stalled.

S got out of the bath and sat down on the ball to eat a snack.  After eating, contractions strengthened, and S decided to get in the bath again.  As 2am neared, she began to feel a lot of pressure and as if she could feel baby moving down more with contractions. She got out of the tub, and was kneeling by the bathtub.  We talked about reasons why she was at the end and baby not coming, reviewing emotional hold ups and possible need for rest.  S decided she would go rest in her bed for an hour or two, and see how she felt.

Close to 5am, S got up from bed and moved into the bath.  Her contractions were present, but mild.  After waking up and laboring in the tub a bit, S discussed with us about breaking her water so she could be done.  After reviewing all sides, S decided she would get out of bath and have me break her water,

At 535am, I broke her water, and a large amount of clear fluid became free and allowed baby to sit more directly on the cervix.  Contractions immediately became transition like, coming every 2-3 minutes, lasting 60 seconds, and strong.

S moved into her shower for relief at 555am.  A couple contractions passed, and she exclaimed to us that she was feeling so much pressure.  She began to push spontaneously at 605am.  The head was born three minutes later, followed by the rest of the baby at 609am.  After an all over the place labor pattern, this sweet girl was finally here 34 minutes after breaking away the amniotic sac!

Welcome to the world, Adalynn!  Born earthside on December 23rd, 2019 at 609am, weighing in at 7lbs 8ozs, 20 inches long.

It was a privilege to have supported this couple for a third journey.

#sacredjourneymidwifery

What is Hyperemesis Gravidarum…

I never have easy pregnancies. They are hard and complicated every freaking step of the way.

I found out I was pregnant at four weeks because I kept throwing up my vitamins a couple days in a row. Who even does that?  I thought it was because of a recent surgery I had made me sensitive to the vitamins, but took a test just to rule it out.  Boy was I surprised!

One of many, many IVs.

That moment spiraled rapidly into days that started with occasional vomiting and all hours of the day queasiness, turned into relentless, life altering nausea and violent vomiting and dry heaving sessions.  I thought it was simply a more amped up form of pregnancy nausea and vomiting, and tried fighting through not taking medication so that there was no harm to the baby’s development, but then severe dehydration kicked in around 8 weeks and spiraled things to another level.

I have pushed myself through work days fighting vomiting and acting like I am completely perfect. Not wanting to let clients down, or my new amazing midwife partner, while dreading the thought of being called in the middle of the night to a delivery, knowing it’s going to spiral me into hard to control vomiting while having to be on my A game.

The fake vomiting toddler.

It’s sleeping with vomit bags, and having vomit bags all over the house because who the heck knows what will trigger an episode of dry heaving and vomiting.

It’s my toddler equating mommy to the blue vomit bags, and imitating vomiting noises into the bag when she brings it to me.

It’s severe dehydration, so severe I can’t get out of bed. It’s IV attempt after IV attempt, and praying for success and not another set of blown veins, because you don’t know what’s going to happen if it doesn’t work.

The beloved frosted coffee from CFA.

It’s growing a baby on sourdough bread, cheese, and frosted coffee. It’s not being able to eat many things more than once, and rejoicing when you get something of nutritional value down at least one meal.

It’s worrying how you are going to grow a healthy baby when you are growing it on crap.

It’s not being able to take a single vitamin. It’s fighting every day to take the two pills you need to take and praying they don’t come back up.

It’s the feelings of failure and guilt… for how this effects my family, my business, and being less than my best, which is something I can’t cope with the thought of on a good day as it is.

Some of many, many blown veins.

It is multiple medications that you thought you would never take, and then the emotions that follow when they do not work.  It is thousands of dollars every two weeks to cover the medication and equipment that does help.

It is appointments, so many appointments.  It is seeing your midwife, and feeling guilty for being such a burden patient.  Seeing a Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist to help manage your HG and monitor growth.

It’s worrying about facing a hospital birth and a longer NICU stay.  It is not knowing if malnutrition and dehydration is going to cause prematurity issues worse than my history already causes me to deal with in my pregnancies.

Grow, baby, grow!

If you do not battle with nausea and vomiting of pregnancy, consider yourself highly blessed.  My last pregnancy with relentless nausea and occasional vomiting was exhausting, but jumping from that into HG territory this pregnancy has been emotional and completely wearing in every capacity.

What is Hyperemesis Gravidarum?  The exact definition is persistent severe vomiting leading to weight loss and dehydration, as a condition occurring during pregnancy.  It effects approximately 2% of pregnancies, and is linked to a cascade of issues and complications if management can’t be obtained.

What is Hyperemesis?

The HER Foundation has been a wealth of information in figuring out what is wrong, what to monitor, and steps to try.  I highly recommend this site for anyone wanting to educate themselves further on HG, and how to support someone on the roller coaster ride of dealing with HG.

Today is the limited time release of the film called “Sick:  The Battle Against HG.”  You can watch it for a limited time here.

Rocking the zofran pump at the halfway point!

On National Hyperemesis Gravidarum day, I hope this sheds some light on what the reality of dealing with HG is like.  I hope next May 15th, this is a faded, terrible nightmare, and I can look on this in a different light.

#sacredjourneymidwifery

Building Your Birthing Dream Team

You just found out you are pregnant!  You are so excited, but you feel so lost on the next steps with your care for your pregnancy.  Naturally, you turn to someone who you are close to for guidance and often times for recommendations for a provider.  The number one thing I hear from women over and over is that they asked someone close to them (friend, relative, co-worker, etc) who they used for their prenatal care provider, and then set an initial appointment with them.

Please, don’t do that.  Hear me out on this.  People close to you truly care about you, and although they may have had a fantastic experience with their provider, what they wanted for their pregnancy and delivery may not at all be what you want for yours, and this is so important!

In my fourteen years in the birth related field, I have seen so many cringe worthy decisions in this category.  The ones that worry my heart the most are the sweet first time mamas wanting an undisturbed vaginal delivery using a doctor who performed a great cesarean delivery on their sister, friend, etc.  This does not work.  If you want a surgical birth, then by all means, you want the best OBGYN out there known for his surgical birth experience.

Alas, that is not the majority of women I serve or encounter.  For every woman I cross paths with, I want to help them set the stage for the best birth team, which in the long run helps increase birth satisfaction and decrease mental and emotional trauma from a poor experience.

How does one start building their birth dream team?

First, lets start with location.  What environment makes you feel safest?  It is important when deciding between hospital, birth center, and home birth that you are taking into consideration your emotions when you consider each location.  It is of the utter most importance that you feel safe in whatever location you choose.  There is not a perfect answer for each person.

I recently encountered a sweet lady who was going to start care with me.  Since I am insanely type A and detail oriented, my contract, consents, and waivers are also very detailed.  I want everyone to know risks and benefits, and to fill comfortable with her decision.  This sweet lady had a lot of anxiety, and she wanted a peaceful home birth, but her sense of safety was in the hospital.  I wished her the best, and told her that it was wonderful that she was listening to her gut, and following those instincts.  You cannot force a home birth to happen if you do not feel safe there, and vice versa.

Second.  What type of birth do you want?  There is not a one size fits all model for how to birth.  I personally prefer unmedicated vaginal deliveries, and have been blessed to have had three.  However, because that is what I wanted does not mean that is what you want.  You may not even know what you want, and that is okay.  That is where hiring a doula (see below) will come in perfectly.  I highly encourage reflecting day one on what you envision for your birth.

Third.  What type of provider do you want for your care?  OBGYNs mainly work in the hospital, where as a midwife you can find one in either category, hospital, birth center or home birth.  With a midwife, you have a higher chance of knowing which provider will be attending your birth, as well as having a relationship with any other midwives in the practice.  With an OBGYN, it is not as common for one to attend all their births.  Most often, you will have an on call doctor who attends your birth, and you will not see the doctor much during the labor process.  If using a hospital midwife, you still have the option of obtaining an epidural or other forms of medicinal pain management if desired, and a doctor is available if something such as a cesarean is deemed necessary.

Fourth.  No matter where you are birthing, every woman should consider a doula!  I find a good, well trained doula to be a valuable asset to the birthing team every time.  A doula is a non-biased person one hires to assist in helping a couple navigate their birthing preferences, reminding them things to ask of their birth provider, helps with teaching and preparing for comfort measures, and is present during the birth to provide emotional and physical support to the woman during her labor journey.  A doula will often be able to help guide you on things to read and do to help you see what type of birth you want, and how to best prepare to make that happen.

Fifth.  Family and friends.  This is a long standing dilemma so many of my clients have faced over the years.  It is amazing to me how many people feel they deserve the right to attend another woman’s birth.  It is incredible that one could forget how completely vulnerable a birth is, and guilt and manipulate a woman into allowing them to attend the birth.

Let me tell you, this is absolutely not okay!  No one deserves the right to be in your birthing space without your permission.  For every uninvited person in your space that does not have a job or make you feel comfortable in that moment will add at least an hour to your labor.

Why?  Because the body is smart.  If the body does not feel safe and comfortable, labor progression ceases.  This is not a time to people please.  Please, please, please only allow people that you truly want in your space.

My worst experience with this with a client was I had a sweet first time mom who only wanted her husband, mother, and sister with her during her birthing time.  Her husband was quite enthusiastic, and did not understand the importance of listening to her wishes, and therefore made his own decisions and invited his entire family over.  I walked into lawn chairs, yes lawn chairs, set up all over the living room for the “show.” I was furious inside with the husband for disrespecting his wife’s wishes, and needless to say, this mama ended up with a hospital birth because she could not labor with so many people watching her so closely.

So what is the criteria for friends and family?

First, I tell my clients that they have to love and support you, and be 150% okay with your birthing decisions.  They cannot be in the corner having an emotional crisis because you do not want pain medications and they can’t handle seeing you in pain.

Second, for each person there that is not part of the birth team itself, they need to have a job.  This helps keep idle hands busy, and less eyes waiting for the “pot to boil” so to say.  The jobs can be anything.  It could be having a grandmother make your favorite soup, or sister run some errands for labor snacks.  Your provider and/or doula can also help craft a busy list for those members you want at your birth to support you.

Sixth.  Is there anything else in this equation you are desiring or needing for your birth?  I would group birth photographers, birth videographers, and sibling doulas in this category.  Make sure to invest a good amount of time in the interview process for any of these people.  These people should have more of a fly on the wall role, and should know how to abide by it.  You want to be sure that who you interview gives the respect of your birth space vibe and makes you feel comfortable.

It is an interesting concept that couples invest so much energy, money, and time planning their weddings for this picture perfect day, but spend an ounce of that planning their birth. How a birth goes and how a woman feels after her experience can have effects that last a life time, whether positive or negative.

I highly encourage if you are pregnant, please invest the time into cultivating the dream birth team that fits what you need and desire.

-Midwife Shannon

#sacredjourneymidwifery

A and H started care with me in the first trimester of their third pregnancy.  I have had the privilege of being their midwife through all three pregnancies.  You can read about their previous journey’s here and here.

A’s pregnancy progressed along well, but as third baby’s are sometimes wild cards, this sweet girl definitely changed up her mama’s labor pattern!

A’s estimated due date came and went, and then so did 41 weeks.  We made a plan that if baby had not been born by 41.4 weeks, we would try a membrane sweep and herbs.

Sure enough, A made it too 41.4 weeks.  She arrived at my house around 830am.  We joked about a previous client who made it past 41 weeks, with a history of long labor, who had a very quick labor with her 41 week baby.  A said she would take it!  Neither of us knew how things would proceed and be different from her previous babies!

I did an exam and found A to already be 5cm dilated, 80% effaced, and baby at a -1 station.  I could stretch her cervix easily to 7cm.  It literally appeared her body simply needed a nudge to get the labor memo.  A’s previous baby was a pound bigger than her first, and I was anticipating this little one at 9lbs 8ozs, which was also bigger than her previous baby.

A drove home, and labor began while driving home.  I had to take my nine year old to his soccer pictures.  We did not see a reason why this would not work out since A had always had lengthier labors.

A sent me many texts while I was on the soccer field.  She said she felt like a baby feeling like her contractions were really hurting.  We talked for awhile, and I told her don’t wait too long to call us, as we are ready to support her whenever she needed. While I was driving home, A said she was ready for us.  Apprentice A and the birth assistant headed her way, while I was slightly behind waiting for the baby sitter to arrive.

Apprentice A arrived at 1145am, and I arrived at 12pm.  A was laboring on her birth ball, moaning and grunting at the peaks.  A was so surprised things were happening so fast.  She began to push on the ball a few contractions later.

We suggested she try the birthing stool at 1219pm, as it gave her the same sort of positioning as she had on the ball.  A continued to push.

Her water broke at 1243pm, and she spontaneously moved to hands and knees.  The next minute, the head was born followed very quickly by the baby, who had her hand by her head just like big brother did.  After a fast and furious labor journey, her sweet girl was here!

Welcome to the world, Elouise.  Born earthside on November 2nd, 2019 at 1244pm, weighing in at 9lbs 8ozs, 20.5in long.  She was immediately so loved by her big brother and sister.

Repeats are so special, and it was special for me to support this sweet couple for a third time.  A said if there is another baby, she would most definitely go to 41+ weeks again if that means a quick labor again.  <3

-Midwife Shannon

#sacredjourneymidwifery

 

 

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