Sweet Burnt Out Birth Worker.. Take A Break

As amazing as birth workers are, we are no exception to being human, and with every job, comes burn out at some point. You could love your career with all your soul, and yet… life happens.

Let me tell you a brief story of a midwife I once knew and loved so dearly. She was a midwife for many years.. did lots of volunteer work and trainings and her birth center was small, but lovely. As a first time mama whose family had only ever birthed in hospitals, I was enamored. What I did not see hiding during appointments, was a freshly single mama, with many bills to pay, and a husband that had recently passed away. Appointments were missed, labs were not always done correctly or on time, and some things were off.. but I would not know, because I thought this was just the hands off process and I was loving it and fortunately, nothing was wrong with me, regardless. Everything was bliss and I was confident.

Then, came time for the birth.

On the same day that I was birthing, so was another beautiful mama, a birth photographer. Her experience is not my story to tell, but I can tell you that ours were very similar.

I was nearing on 42 weeks and labor was beginning. It was early but coming nonetheless. After the first call, it was a long nearly 8 hours before my midwife arrived to me and I was one centimeter. I was fine with that, maybe I should get some rest anyways. My photographer, my husbands grandmother and the midwife all went home, and we got ready to rest.

I was absolutely restless, could not sit down, the pressure was heavy, I was pacing. I was clinging the shower rack in the bathroom. I was looking at my belly in the mirror through a contraction and then my water broke. The intensity escalated and I could FEEL dilation occurring. I knew I was making progress. I called my midwife right away with joy, this was it.

She arrived shortly after the call, this time, and checked me again. It felt different this time. I could feel the expand of her fingers. Yet… her voice of disappointment proclaimed I was only one centimeter still. It can’t be… She advised us to go to the hospital because something was wrong. She said she would be right behind us, to meet us there and act as my doula.

We flew to the hospital, which was just a few miles away, and upon arrival I was rounding near eight centimeters, how could that be?

I was so broken. The nurse strongly advised an epidural so I could “relax” because I was being too loud and disturbed others, and with my broken spirit, I agreed. Where was my midwife? We could not get ahold of her.

About seven hours later I did successfully have a vaginal birth of my first son. It was beautiful, I was satisfied for the most part. He was healthy, I was healthy physically, but my mentality was not as it should have been.

This story is too common with women everywhere. They do not trust OBGYNs, so they rely on midwives, and then are abandoned by those women that they entrust to protect them from the establishment and the patriarchy within obstetrics and gynecology offices and hospitals. This is absolutely unacceptable. And why is this happening?

Too often, midwives are worked tirelessly and put under so many constraints by the government and pressure from society to prove that they are not dangerous, and prove that they are worthy of the price they set for their services. These factors, in combination with life catastrophes, can be absolutely burdening on a womans soul.

Imagine, if your boss came to you tomorrow and said “Listen, I have a job for you, that you have to start right now and work every day, even after hours, whenever I call you, on for the next 10 months, but you will not get paid for it in full until the 10 months is over, and you have to file a bunch of paperwork and work under tight restrictions to make sure you even get paid at all.” That would be pretty stressful, wouldn’t it?? Many would quit. Midwifery is a labor of love, that gets tainted too fast.

Not to mention, the massive debt many midwives carry of their schooling expenses, some midwifery schools costing up to $30k on tuition ALONE.

Midwives are struggling to take breaks because of the debt they are accruing, their heavy work load and the lack of partnership in the midwifery community.

But sweet birth worker, I am telling you, its needed.

When you are over burdened as a birth worker, someone so important to someone elses birth space, it is time to call in the troops, ask for help, and help yourself. Get that self-care. Set your prices to where you can afford to call in a back up. Do not burn bridges with all the other birth workers in the community, because of your burn out in yourself. People will begin to not trust you, should you become flakey or dangerous in births, and then what will you have?

Allow yourself the freedom to say, “No, I will not take births in August. I have too much going on.” or say, “I have been to five births this week, I really need to catch up on rest and paperwork, I need to call in my back up.”

If my midwife had called in a back up, I would not have lost my dream first birth. But I also would not have spiraled into birth work, myself, so it was bittersweet. But for her own business, her own reputation, her own mental well-being, it was way past time for her to take a break in birth work…

So what can we do as a society?

Stop trying to put midwives in the same playing field as OBGYNs. Oof, thats a hard pill to swallow for some, isn’t it? We want to be equal don’t we? No. Not at all. Midwives became midwives because they want to be midwives, not because they want to be OBGYNs. If they wanted to be OBGYNs, they would be. And if you are a midwife that wants to be an OBGYN and wants to be treated as one, you should not be a midwife, end of story. Midwives should be exactly what their name derivative depicts them as, “with woman.” When a midwife has to go through the state, a bunch of legal hoops and bares the burden of apprehension for things that are of no fault of her own, and has to weigh out her license versus quality of care, simply because a woman is 42 weeks or further in gestation, or because she is having twins, or because she is a VBA2C, the water gets muddy for her, and she worries for her family, her safety, and everything she has worked so hard for. This has to stop. By restricting midwives, we restrict WOMEN as a whole, and those advocating for tighter midwifery laws are HURTING women and OPPRESSING us further. Yep, I went there.

Come together as a community for fellow birth workers. We need to drop this concept of competition and rise up and support each other. We need to take the responsibility where we have open time and open hearts, to take back up births for even our “competition.” Create a birth worker calendar with fellow birth workers around you, where you can help with each others kids, be back ups for each other, make meals for each other after a long birth, and then some, rather than expecting to make birth work survive in a dog eat dog world. We do not have to be more business model, we need to be more village model. We also need to create a safe space for birth workers to speak freely, without fear of what they have said and what they are going through, being blasted to anyone that wants to hear negativity and gossip. A fellow birth worker that gossips about anothers private life, is not a healthy birth worker in the community.

Demand better for our women as a whole. Demand more rights for women in birth. Demand responsibility for OBGYNs and hospitals, the same way they would demand responsibility for midwives in the present day. They want midwives to be held fully responsible if anything happens, yet they cause death in both birthing people and babies on the daily, and continue working as if nothing happened at all, without their million dollar malpractice insurance even scuffed.

PAY YOUR BIRTH WORKERS. Birth worker burn out also happens because people are expecting birth workers to work for free, because they love it, right? Its a cute little hobby, right? No. Its FOOD on the table for their family. Its their electricity. Its their car to GET TO YOUR BIRTH. Its birth supplies for your birth! Pay your birth workers so they can effectively support you, and continue to support others, with minimal chance of burn out.

When tragedy strikes, can we rise up as a community for one another? Not just fellow birth workers.. but everyone. When there is a death, when there is a set back in a business and we see a small business struggling through hard times, can we be there to support them in every way we can?

In corporate America, we tend to not see the delicacy in birth work, because we try to turn everything into heavy profit, or we see it as “everyone has hard times, they can deal with it,” but that is not the village mentality and endless love that this world needs. That is the mentality that builds war, that builds competition and evil and neglect. Birth work is human life, love, bonding, trust, primal memories and mental health. Birth work is important and we need to, as a community, rise up and help prevent and ease burn out.

Birth workers, this is a call to action, make a plan. How can you help yourself? Where are you falling short on self-love and self-care? What in your business model can improve to help ease that burn out? What resources in your community is available to you? Feel free to comment your ideas below, and maybe you can help another struggling birth worker out there.

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Is your Midwife there to serve YOU? – Questions to ask a Potential Midwife

So you want to hire a homebirth midwife?

That’s a great choice! There are many great midwives that serve women all across the world. They usually serve in a more natural minded manor and know more about physiological birth than their obstetrician counterparts.

When you go about hiring a midwife, it is important to be aware that they are not one size fits all. They are each very different, all will practice differently, all will have different views on what physiological birth is, and not all midwives are attending for YOU.

When choosing a midwife, be aware that most are limited in how they can serve you due to state laws. Most licensed midwives will not serve you completely autonomously with out risking losing their license. Which is sad – but important to be aware of. This is something many women are unaware of when hiring midwives. There are also midwives that are not bound by legalities and can serve you completely autonomously. These women are often considered Traditional or underground midwives. There are also licensed midwives who are willing to bend rules and fudge numbers to ensure a safe, out of facility delivery, making you the number one priority. Be sure you know who you have along for your journey before hiring!

A few questions you may want to ask a potential midwife would be:

1. What does a physiological home birth look like to you?

Some may have a more medical version of home birth in mind with monitoring vitals, checking the cervix, and so on. Some will have a more natural flowing version where medical monitoring/assisting only occurs when needed.

2. How often do you need to monitor baby?

In some states licensed Midwives are required to monitor baby every few minutes. This can be an unnecessary bother during labor. If this is something you’d like to avoid, be sure your midwife is able to support your choice of limited monitoring.

3. Are cervical checks ever required, if so, how many?

Most women do not enjoy cervical checks during labor. They can be hindering during labor and are 100% unnecessary. If your birth plan is to avoid cervical checks, be sure to discuss this as some may require them.

4. What all might risk me out of your care?

Closer to the end of pregnancy, many women are shocked when their provider says they “risked out” of care. This means you are no longer a client and they will no longer serve you. Some midwives will risk you out for silly reasons such as baby being breech, solely to protect their license. Be sure you are aware of every situation that could risk you out of their care before signing a contract.

5. What would necessitate a transfer during labor?

During labor, your midwife can choose to transfer you. Transfer is necessary in some situations! Unfortunately, some will choose to do so for unnecessary reasons, with out warning. Of course, you can refuse transfer, but they may be required to call 911 before they leave – this then becomes your issue to deal with while you are vulnerable. Some will transfer for silly reasons such as two slightly elevated blood pressure readings, baby being breech, or “failure to progress”. Be sure you are aware of all scenarios your provider will transfer for, before labor. It is important to also discuss what you will do in the case of a suggested unnecessary transfer. Will you stay home and continue with delivery or will you do as she suggests? This should all be discussed prior to laboring day.

It’s comforting to believe that all home birth midwives have your best interest at heart, but this unfortunately is not always the case. Those are a few questions that might be able to help you decipher if she is more concerned about you or licensure. A few things you could do to protect yourself if your midwife drops you or suggests unnecessary transfer would be:

1. Do not pay in full until the deadline of payment.

2. Be informed on your states midwifery laws and the legalities surrounding.

3. Have a plan of what you will do in the case she drops you out of care.

4. Discuss each unnecessary transfer scenario and what you and your partner would do if she made the suggestion to transfer.

5. Discuss with your midwife prior to labor what you will do if she feels she needs to leave your birth to protect her license. Discuss each situation and scenario.

6. Make sure there is a refund policy in your contract, be sure you agree with it.

7. Be sure your partner and/or Doula are in the loop with all of the above because they will be the ones you look to for support if your midwife drops you or suggests transfer. Everyone involved should know what would “risk out” of care as well as what might necessitate a transfer. No need for surprises on laboring day!

I’ve heard too many stories where a home birth midwife left a woman hanging, mostly for unnecessary reasons. Most times, the woman was unaware that their midwife could abandon them like they did. Most did not get any amount of refund, and many were left with traumatic births. This is what drove me to create this article. Women in their childbearing years need to be aware that this can happen. They need to know what questions to ask and how to decipher if the potential midwife is a good fit, prior to signing a contract and paying in full. She can be a sweetheart and say she supports, you but there is more to it than that.

Again, not all midwives are the same. It’s important to acknowledge that there are a few snakes in the grass. Many midwives will have your best interest at heart, will bend silly rules for you, and put you before themselves – be sure the woman you hire is one! There are amazing midwives out there, you just have to look! Keep in mind, if your midwife is driven by the law, that is exactly what she will deliver.

Constant Electronic Fetal Monitoring

Did you have those two straps put on your belly when you were in labor? One monitoring contractions and the other monitoring fetal tone? Or maybe you had an NST (Non Stress Test) completed monitoring baby to “make sure everything was okay”? Did you know that these constant monitoring systems are not necessary? Were you aware that they are actually showing to be harmful in low risk pregnancies?

Let’s talk about it!

Electronic Fetal Monitoring is an ultrasonic machine, monitoring baby’s heart rate while a pressure sensor is monitoring mom’s contractions. The fetal monitoring creates a baseline and records how it changes with a contraction. The maternal monitoring tracks the duration and frequency of mom’s contractions. There are other variations of EFM but we will stick to these two for today as they are moat common. It became a thing in hospitals in the 1970’s, without being proven safe. It has been used ever since, in about 90% of births held in facilities! They have even gone as far as creating monitors that are wireless and waterproof so you can wear them in the shower. Let’s also note that these new updated monitors have very little research completed on them. A technological breakthrough or a disservice to a physiological function?

Studies completed show the slew of complications associated with constant EFM. Increased chances of cesarean, vacuum, and/or forcep delivery are a few of the interventions connected with continuous EFM use. All associated with several types of birth injuries. In fact, the cesarean rate in the US went from 5% to 32% from 1970 (when EFM began)-2016. With “non-reassuring fetal heart tones” being the second most common reason for first-time Cesareans in the U.S.
(https://journals.lww.com/greenjournal/Fulltext/2017/11000/Practice_Bulletin_No__184___Vaginal_Birth_After.48.aspx)

NST testing is also a form of constant EFM. They are called Non-stress Tests because “it doesn’t inflict stress on the fetus”, even though the claim has not been proven. There is not a scenario where an NST would be the best option, in my opinion. If there were concerns of decreased fetal movement or fetal distress, an ultrasound would give a more accurate conclusion than that of an NST. Especially if the possible issue would be related to oxygen/placenta/cord complication. Of course, that is merely my opinion. More on NST another day!
(https://americanpregnancy.org/prenatal-testing/non-stress-test/)

In 2009 the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force released a suggestion stating that “Low-risk women should not be candidates for continuous EFM. It does not improve long-term outcomes, and it increases operative deliveries”. Again, this began in the 1970’s with zero research or studies completed. Women were not informed that they were literal guinea pigs, trying something with zero safety studies. To this day, evidence on our updated technologies are failing to prove safety for the baby during labor.
(https://journals.lww.com/greenjournal/Citation/2011/03000/Electronic_Fetal_Monitoring_As_A_Public_Health.33.aspx)

Why are we going this route? Especially when we have options of intermittent monitoring such as fetal doppler and fetal stethoscope use! There has only been one study completed thus far, as far as I am aware, comparing EFM use during labor to intermittent monitoring using a doppler or fetal stethoscope. The outcome was insane! The EFM group of constant monitoring detected 54% more abnormal fetal tones than either of the other methods. As a result, 28% more of those in the EFM group were subjected to a cesarean than in the intermittent monitoring group. The system is over active and creates more fear and concern than is necessary. The link to this study is shared below.

(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2542781/)

The evaluating article below from The Journal of Perinatal Education states “The indiscriminate use of EFM in the labor room is not improving outcomes, and is actually causing harm to healthy women with uncomplicated pregnancies. Employing a low-tech, high-touch approach needs to be the main philosophy while providing nursing care to most laboring women.”

(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4010242/)

Why is EFM used in facilities without being proven safe? Here are 7 reasons why:

– Liability
– Lack of resources
– Time
– Marketing
– Training
– Nurses views on monitoring
– Lack of leadership from professional organizations
These reasons are elaborated in great detail in the article below:
(https://evidencebasedbirth.com/fetal-monitoring/)

What is quite eye opening in my opinion, is that in other countries such as Canada or the UK (where health insurance is not a thing), they do not suggest constant electronic fetal monitoring for low risk women. This leads me to believe that revenue may be a factor in the equation.

How does constant fetal monitoring make you feel? Do you feel safe using these “tools” during labor? Does the idea of being strapped with bands, on your contracting abdomen, during labor, sound like a brilliant idea to you? Especially when it has never been proven to improve the outcome, but likely worsen outcome in many cases. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want anyone touching me in labor. I do not even want any clothes touching me, let alone tight bands strapped around my belly that is contracting every few minutes.

Please research this topic in depth before consenting to its use, be sure your choice is fully informed. If you would like to learn more, I would suggest checking out the links below. The link to Evidence Based Birth sharing on EFM covers the topic in great detail, I’d start there. The last link is loaded with many studies on EFM as well. Make your own educated choice!

https://evidencebasedbirth.com/fetal-monitoring/

https://www.bmj.com/company/newsroom/is-continuous-electronic-fetal-monitoring-useful-for-all-women-in-labour

https://www.birthinjuryguide.org/2014/05/risks-electronic-fetal-monitoring/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4010242/

LGBTQ+ Baby Making Options

This article is inspired by Tampa Bay Birth Network! You can find more information about their organization at their website: Tampa Bay Birth Network

Some people view not being able to get pregnant while in an LGBT relationship, as a positive thing. Natural birth control right?! We must reconsider our words, as some LGBT couples really struggle through the fact that they cannot accidentally conceive or easily begin to try doing so, like a lot of heterosexual couples can. But, there ARE options!!

LGBT couples are four times more likely than heterosexual couples to adopt, likely many due to this challenge, or by preferred choice, but what if your family, simply does not want to adopt, but wants to have biological children? Your feelings are valid and there are choices beyond adoption!

First, it is very important to make a game plan, when trying to conceive as an LGBT couple. What are the realistic options? What are the most cost-effective options? If the cost-effective options do not work, what will be the next step, and can you afford the more expensive treatments? How much money do you need to start saving for the treatments? Set goals for when you or your partner would ideally like to be pregnant! Start eating healthy, whether you are the partner contributing sperm to a carrier, you are the partner getting pregnant, or you just want to be extra healthy for that brand new baby that is going to be coming into your life.

If you will be using a sperm bank, there are a lot of different options, and a plethora of things to be looking for. Check the pricing! Is it affordable? What does the initial fee cover? What extra fees are there to view potential donors and once you have decided on one, what are the legal fees involved? What are the sperm shipping costs? How is their matching process? Do they have facial matching options? (This is where you can put a picture of anyone you want, including your spouse, and get matched up with donors that look like that person). Do you want the donor to be completely anonymous, have their contact information released when the child turns 18 (known as an Open-Identity Donor), semi-involved (in their life, but not as a parental figure), or do you want to co-parent with the donor? Do you know someone who will be a donor for you PERSONALLY? Most sperm banks have very strict qualifications as far as medical history, including relatives, luckily! Not all sperm banks are LGBT friendly though. Biogenetics, California Cryobank, Cryobiology, Idant Laboratories, Pacific Reproductive Services, Rainbow Flag Health Services and Fairfax Cryobank are known to be LGBTQ friendly. Fun fact, there are also such things as Donor Sibling matching sites, where families that used the same donor, can talk about their kids and meet, if they would like to!

IVI – This is intravaginal insemination, meaning that donor sperm is placed in the vagina, as close to the cervix as possible, to travel up through the cervix, into the uterus, to meet an egg! This can be done at home with the right equipment, or in-clinic. A midwife, if they are willing, may also assist you, if you feel you want a professional alongside you, depending on state laws. IVI typically has a 10-30% success rate, depending on whether the sperm is washed or not (washed sperm increases chances, but this will have to be done in-clinic and can be more costly).

ICI- Intracervical insemination. This involves the use of a speculum, catheter and syringe to place sperm into the cervix, and then placing a sponge under the cervix to prevent mucus and sperm from leaking out, then is removed a couple hours later. ICI has a 5-30% success rate.

IUI- An intrauterine insemination also consists of a speculum, catheter and syringe, but the catheter will go a bit further, into the uterus for the best chance at sperm meeting an egg, and a sponge is again, placed and later removed. IUI success rates range from 2-40%.

IVF – In-vitro Fertilization is a bit more complex than any of the above listed methods. It requires eggs to be extracted from a donor or the intended carrier, whichever is best for your family, then matching those eggs with sperm from a donor or from one, or both, fathers! Embryos will develop to approximately 3-7 days old, and then be transferred into the carriers uterus. This is relatively the same process as surrogacy and involves a protocol of medications and lots of monitoring. It is certainly the most expensive but is sometimes the only option. IVF typically has a 40% success rate, but it truly varies per clinic and their different protocols.

If you are considering surrogacy to grow your family, here are the things you should be considering!

Traditional Surrogate VS Gestational Carrier

  • Traditional surrogacy involves using the carriers egg, so she would be biologically related to baby. This may involve home insemination, in clinic insemination, IUI or the full IVF process, extracting her eggs, creating an embryo or multiple embryos, and transferring the embryo(s) into her uterus.
  • A gestational carrier is simply hosting the embryo(s) and they are not directly biologically related to her, though, if it is a a cousin, sister, daughter or any other relative, they will be distantly related, of course. This involves basically the second half of IVF where ovulation is suppressed, lining is thickened and embryo(s) are transferred. Progesterone and estrogen are supplemented to sustain pregnancy.

Review the laws of surrogacy in the SURROGATE’S home state, as those will be the laws that apply, not your home state. http://www.allaboutsurrogacy.com/surrogacylaws.htm

The process leading up to becoming an intended parent are as follows:

  • Decide on an Agency or Choose to go Independent (aka “INDY”)
  • Medical Evaluation
  • Disease/Drug Screening
  • Psychological Screening
  • Match With Your Surrogate of Choice & Pay for her to go through her process
  • Build up an escrow account for surrogate compensation, medical expenses and a little extra to cover bases
  • Decide on a lawyer to do your contracts
  • Provide sperm and/or eggs to clinic of choice to make into embryos to freeze or use fresh

You might be wondering, what is the process that the surrogate goes through?

  • Requirements: Must be between 21 and 50 (generally), not be on any type of government financial assistance (food stamps, WIC, or any variety of that), have had at least one healthy, complication-free and term pregnancy and be raising said child. People who have had gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, antenatal depression, pre-term delivery, hyperemesis gravidarum, placenta accreta, or any other complication may not qualify.
  • Background Check
  • Medical Evaluation (includes hysteroscopy, pap smear, pelvic exam, blood work)
  • Drug/Disease Tests
  • Psychological Screening
  • Follow all steps necessary to complete all necessary evaluations, contracts and follow RE protocol to raise chance of pregnancy

Contracts are so very important, so be sure to discuss these and more, in-depth, when considering matching with a surrogate.

  • Place of Birth (Hospital, birth center, home?)
  • Compensation (plus lost wages, gas, transfer fee, complication fees, any other fees that may need to be considered.. How will it be broken up, monthly, bimonthly, lump sum, etc?)
  • SET or DET (This is how many embryos you will transfer)
  • What circumstances is termination requested?
  • Involvement & Contact
  • Medical Decisions
  • Surrogate Providing Breastmilk
  • Placenta?
  • Ask questions if you are confused, make sure you and the surrogate are in AGREEMENT before either of you sign, or this may cause future conflict. Do not rush!
  • Contracts must be notarized

Once the surrogate gives birth, you will work out any final payments or paperwork that needs to be done, and you will take home your baby/babies!

If you decide that adoption IS for you after considering these options, be sure to check out the laws in your state! https://www.familyequality.org/resources/foster-and-adoption-laws/

A note about pronouns, respect and understanding for LGBT families in pregnancy, birth and postpartum: Please be sure you use a provider that respects you and your family, enough to use proper pronouns if you prefer non-binary or alternative pronouns, or non-gender specific references as opposed to ‘mom’ and ‘dad’ for example. If they cannot respect you enough to make this simple change, they will likely not respect you in birth, either!

Enjoy building your family!

With all our love and support, HERBAL.

 

Unassisted Birth is NOT for Everyone!

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A woman came across one of my unassisted birth advocacy posts on my personal social media page.  She stated that by making the article, I was suggesting all women should birth unassisted. I guess me stating the US mortality rate and sharing what the third leading cause of death is, made her feel some sort of way. She isn’t alone in her assumption, many individuals have reached out to me assuming the same. I am not sure what leads others to believe I feel all women should birth unassisted. I wanted to make clear – that is not and never will be my message.

After my unassisted birth, I wondered why others would not take this route. Why wouldn’t everyone want this experience? It did not take long after I began speaking with women in regards to birth, for me to realize that unassisted birth is not for everyone. I will never suggest all women should birth unassisted. There are definitely components that might make a woman a poor candidate for planned unassisted birth, in my opinion.

Of course, biologically, most women can deliver a baby from their womb without medical assistance or complication. If a baby is ready to make way earth side, they will not wait for a provider to be present. Unplanned unassisted births happen daily! So, while I understand and agree that (almost) any woman can biologically deliver without assistance, I do not suggest that all women are candidates for a planned unassisted birth. Here’s why:

Medically Unfit

Some women may not be the best candidate for unassisted birth if they are not in the best health. A few situations that might make a woman unfit would be:

–          A woman who has past history of epileptic episodes during labor.

–          A woman who becomes ill with unmanageable Preeclampsia.

–          A woman who has true placenta previa at term.

–          A woman who is carrying a baby with a diagnosis needing immediate surgery after delivery

–          A woman with known blood clotting issues

These are a few medical complications during pregnancy and labor that may make a woman a poor candidate for unassisted birth. A medical provider would throw many more situations into the category of ‘unfit’ such as weight, age, and how many births one has had. I personally do not agree with any of those being of concern based on completed studies. Diet plays a larger role than many realize. Diet can cause one to be ‘medically unfit’, with a change in diet, they may see a change in health.

 Mentality and Energy

Not all women come with a full deck, if you understand what I am saying. Not all women can use common sense or think logically. If an emergency or complication would arise during labor, some might not respond appropriately if they are lacking these basic skills. This could lead to a traumatic outcome if a woman is incapable of making rational choices.

Having a mentality of fear surrounding birth is another dangerous factor that has no place in a planned unassisted birth. The primary cause of fear is lack of knowledge. Acquired knowledge conquers fear.  Some women have fear they refuse to replace with knowledge – this can be toxic in an unassisted birth setting. Many women have fears surrounding birth such as cord around the neck, baby being breech, baby not breathing right away, a knot in the cord, and other various conditions that are not actual concerns. They are not educated on these topics so they fear these things, rightfully so! I find that where there is fear, there is likely ignorance. Fear and doubt will manifest, often leading to poor outcomes and unnecessary transfer (which can lead to medical abuse). If a woman is fearful or doubtful of her body’s abilities, she may not be the best candidate for unassisted birth.

Mindset leads into energy. Energy in a birth space is critical to outcome. I would assume that majority of the population has no idea what “energy” means or how it could possibly effect birth. The human mind is one of the largest contributors to energy levels. Having positive high levels of mental energy emanates happiness, confidence, focus, and increased determination, and motivation. This would be beneficial in labor and contribute to a healthy and positive outcome. If the mind is permeated with fear and doubt, the energy will reflect. As explained, thoughts in the mind control the energy that determines outcome.  Think “Law of Attraction”, what you speak will manifest. One who speaks with self-doubt and fear might not be the best candidate for unassisted birth.

This is all merely my opinion. I’ve seen uneducated women, unhealthy women, and women that had ample amounts of self-doubt deliver unassisted. I have also seen the harm that can arise when a woman is not physically/mentally prepared for birth. This being said, I would never suggest that a planned free birth is for everyone. It is an option for everyone and this is what I advocate, woman’s choice and ability.  “Everyone should birth unassisted” is never my message when advocating for a woman’s choice.

Building The Village For Our Young Mamas

A teenage pregnancy is defined as any pregnancy that occurs in a female under the age of twenty years young! Teen mamas account for 7% of all births in the US. While most of them are unplanned, this does not mean that they are necessarily dangerous or problematic. What IS dangerous and problematic, is how healthcare providers are treating teen mamas as walking ignorance and a living, breathing complication, and then how we are treating these sweet girls, when they become mamas and need support more than ever.

So let’s talk about prevention first. The best way to give a teenager truly informed consent about sex, we have to squash the concept of abstinence-preaching. This does our girls NO JUSTICE, because let’s be real, teenage hormones are surging, especially in public schools where there are “pretty/handsome” teenagers EVERYWHERE, relationships and sexuality are a status symbol, opportunities to hear about a party are abundant, and there are about a thousand ways to sneak out of your parents house. Instead, we should be discussing methods of fertility tracking, natural family planning and preventing, safe contraceptives that do not destroy their bodies, and holding young men accountable for prevention and consequences of sex, as well. YEP, I went there. I have a son and believe me, he will know about cervical mucus, temping, neem oil, and more about a woman’s fertility, and his own, it is crucial that the two that will tango, are both knowledgable, it should not solely rest on a young woman to prevent pregnancy. We need to leave an open conversation for teenagers to come and talk to us, as parents, as teachers, as advocates in the community, whether it is about STDs, infections, a pregnancy scare, rape/assault, or any other potentially “embarrassing” or “private” subject, and if we cannot have this, what else can we expect to happen but an unplanned pregnancy due to LACK OF WILLINGNESS TO EDUCATE ON OUR PART?? We are adults for goodness sake, and our babies, will not always be babies.

Next, we must address the fact that not all parents are going to be open to the above and that pregnancy is going to happen, so let’s figure out how to handle the scenario of your teenager coming home and sharing with you that she is pregnant, or that he has gotten his girlfriend pregnant. Instead of crying, shaming, yelling, grounding, expressing that their “life is over” and “what have you done” blah blah blah… why can we not meet them with compassion? They are obviously already feeling all kinds of emotions, and they do not need to carry yours; unload that baggage on someone else, not your child, that needs you to be their rock right now, more than ever. Remember, YOU as a parent, are their role model, how would you want them to react to your future grandchild? Look at that sweet teenage face, and remember when they were a baby… that is how fragile they are right now, love them, guide them, do not push them away. Ask them how they are feeling right now, talk with them about their choices, how far along mama is, what can you do to help.. Make a game plan! Start with discussing jobs, finances, the home they will live in/raise the child in for the first year at least, how can you arrange childcare, what about transportation, how can they finish school, etc. Not all of this needs to be addressed off the bat, but progressively and productively, all filled with love and positivity, as your children make these tough decisions at such a young age. They will be so grateful for the gentle guidance we can provide to them.

What ARE their choices? We mentioned choices in the above paragraph, but some people truly do not know their options and what all that entails. She has the option to access abortion, pursue closed or open adoption, or choose to raise the baby, either co-parenting with the child’s father, or as a single mother. No woman should EVER be forced, coerced or intimidated into any of these options, she should be presented with non-biased, evidence-based research as well as equal anecdotal experiences on all of the following and make her own decision.

Nutrition is vital once a young mama finds out she is pregnant, just like any other mama! Many teenagers do not know how to eat properly, especially if they are raised in a home that does not exactly model healthy meal plans. Start together. Look into the Dr Brewers diet, it is sustainable and nutrition-packed and perfect for a mama to start when she is pregnant, reducing the likelihood of complications such as high blood pressure, anemia, premature labor, low birth weight, and more, that teenage pregnancies are stereotypically associated with.

Mental health is also an important aspect to address for a young mama. She may lose all of her peer support and friends from school once she is pregnant, she may even lose her relationship with her boyfriend. Talk to her about visiting a therapist that she can vent to and discuss all the hardships of losing those peers and the social status at her school. Find out what teenage pregnancy resources are available locally to you, and go with her to classes, support groups, so she does not feel so alone!

Now, discuss the birth plan! A lot of care providers assume that a teenager will not make it through labor without some kind of pain medication, and this stigma needs to stop. Just because you have a first-time mom, that is young, that does not know much pain, sitting in front of you, does not mean that she is any less than a 30-year-old first-time mom. Her body is just as capable, just as strong, do not dare treat her less. Talk to her about her options, provide her with evidence-based research, and allow her to decide and compile her birth plan herself. The best thing you can do if you have a daughter that is aiming for a natural birth – is get her a doula! No matter what birth setting she is choosing to birth in, home, birth center, or hospital, a doula is full of great techniques and knowledge to advocate for that mama! Even when a mama is under-age, she still has the right to choose how her body is treated, what interventions are involved during her birth, and how her baby will be treated, she is still in control! Support her in her choices. First time, young mama can have a home birth, too! Home births are not just for trendy millenials that have already had a couple of children, but for anyone who grasps the concept of undisturbed, physiological birth.

Then, we fall into the fourth trimester. This is a hard one for young mamas. They likely do not have a friend that they were pregnant with at the same time, that now has a sweet newborn around the same age; someone to vent to, ask questions to, and bond with, as a new mom. Likely, all of their friends are actually getting ready for a school dance, like prom or homecoming, attending a football game, on a date with their newest partner, or cramming for finals, while she is learning to breastfeed, doing laundry, changing diapers, and possibly also cramming for finals and doing home work! Being a great support person for a young mama in her postpartum period includes watching for signs of postpartum depression and educating her on those signs as well (The edinburgh scale is wonderful for this), take her places (the mall, the beach, outside for a walk), acknowledge that she is still a person and her dreams, goals and wishes are still obtainable and they still matter! Young moms absolutely breastfeed, too, and it will help her get more sleep by dream feeding, not have to stress about bringing bottles, water and formula out and about, and she can start her baby out with an amazing microbiome and immunity. Praise her on her successes and choices, she is blossoming and flourishing as a new mama.

As a society, we can do much better in encouraging the success of young mothers everywhere because like it or not, young motherhood is going to happen and instead of shunning them from schools and workplaces, they deserve to be a functioning and strong representation of what a young mama looks like. Implementing nursing or pumping rooms in schools, fighting for pumping rights in the workplace for ALL, advocating for teen rights in birth settings, providing resources further than “maybe you should consider adoption”, and overall coming together as a community to ask how we can help young mothers locally to us, will make a MASSIVE difference in our growing generations and the bond between a young mother and her child.

So let’s branch our village out and surround young mamas in love, grace and support, shall we?

 

 

I am not BRAVE for Having an Unassisted Birth (Eye Roll)

If you’ve birthed unassisted, you’ve likely heard it. “You are brave”, “You are daring”, or ” You are bold!” Quite flattering, sure, but brave isn’t exactly the word I would use.

The women who waltz into a facility – mid labor, putting their birth into the hands of a medical provider, expecting them to successfully allow a physiological birth to take place, are brave.

Medical birthing providers are the cause of our incredibly high maternal and infant mortality rates; higher than any other 1st world country. (Mortality rate means the amount of women and infants who die during pregnancy/child birth- we have the highest rate.) Medical providers in general are the third leading cause of death in the US due to their iatrogenic care. What a huge risk to take!

Putting your birth outcome in their hands is incredibly brave if you ask me.

Better words to describe an unassisted birther are empowered, educated, unhindered, fearless, self sufficient, capable, or confident.

What about staying home and allowing a physiological fuction to take place is brave? Bare with me here for a second.

Am I brave for taking a poop? Quite a few things could go wrong when making bowl movements – am I brave for staying home and avoiding doctors to monitor my bowl movement process? Of course not! How silly! They are both physiological bodily processes though! Different, sure, but very similar in the same token!

People are so conditioned to believe we need medical assistance to bring our offspring earth side. This is a scary understanding to have when the ‘assistance’ has proven to be failing women and infants and is an actual leading cause of death.

Allowing birth to happen with out unnecessary interventions, in a peaceful environment, with full autonomy, unhindered connection to baby, ability to get in get in your birth zone, and bring baby earth side, the way biology intends is not brave. It is the biological norm – something society has zero grasp of.

Before you tell a woman that she is “brave” for birthing the way nature intends, think about how silly it sounds. Replace it with one of the words shared above!

Have you ever been told you were “brave” for having a home birth or unassisted birth? Tell us, how hard did you eye roll them in reply?!