Birthing Self Confidence – How your Birth Empowers Life Going Forward

It is beautiful watching women evolve through pregnancy and child birth. It is no secret that birth is transformational, though most have no idea how significant this transformation is. Most have no idea that their birth choices, especially place of birth, can impact their entire life going forward.

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Photo of Kara-Louise Hoppo and baby, freebirthed Jan. 2nd 2019

Some women leave their birth experience feeling traumatized. Many spend their postpartum trying to heal from their experience. Some left with PTSD for the rest of their life. This can impact postpartum, causing many women to become depressed or experience postpartum depression and/or anxiety.

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Photo of Hannah Lee and baby freebirthed on May 24th 2017

After a traumatic birth, many women feel broken, as if their body failed them or is faulty compared to the average woman. When really, it was not her body that failed. Most importantly, a traumatic birth can impact the way mom and baby bond. No good!

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Photo of Anonymous with baby freebirthed on August 1st 2018

Some women, on the other hand plan their birth. They self educate on pregnancy and physiological birth process, get familiar with what to expect in birth, they may or may not hire a provider, only after diligently questioning the provider to get a sense of their view of birth. They choose a location that feels safest to them, and they manifest a positive and healthy birth.

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Photo of myself (Desirae) and my first freebirth baby June 6th 2017

They experience their empowered birth, whatever that is for the woman, a planned cesarean or freebirth and everything in between! They are then left with something a woman cannot gather elsewhere. The empowerment and invincibility a woman carries for the rest of her days, after bringing forth life in empowerment, is irreplaceable.

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Photo of Anonymous and baby freebirthed on May 9th 2019

This is one of the most beautiful things I have ever witnessed as a Birthkeeper of unassisted and physiological birth. I see timid, modest, and ambivalent women blossom into unassailable, indomitable, secure, assertive, and self confident women. Women who used to be passive or acquiescent, transform into assertive, tenacious beings. Unafraid to stand ground and speak their own truth!

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Photo of Danielle Snelling and baby on August 11th 2015

I see women who previously did not see their worth go on to gain security in their own self and hold themselves on higher ground. These women transform into invincible powerhouses that will carry on through out the rest of their life. They are empowered – this is what empowerment is!

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Photo of Treva Ansbach and baby freebirthed on December 16th 2018

Birth is such a crucial experience, knowing what to expect and making educated choices for your birth is important! Your confidence and knowledge surrounding birth plays a huge roll on outcome.

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Photo of Jordan Cloyd and baby born April 3rd 2019

You do not want to be in labor, uneducated, just doing as instructed by a medical provider. That is how you end up with a traumatic experience. Be informed, know what to expect, choose your birth location and birth team with vigilance and diligence.

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Photo of Gloria and identical babies, freebirthed on March 9th 2019

What you choose absolutely will impact the rest of your life, set yourself up for success! As Ina May states, “Wherever and however you give birth, your experience will impact your emotions, your mind, your body, and your spirit for the rest of your life.”

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Photo of myself after my second freebirth on June 15th 2019

All women pictured I know personally and found empowerment in their birthing experience. Many of the births I was present for or showed up there after and I can tell you first hand, transformation was apparent, even in the moments immediately postpartum. These women are empowered for life, and you can be too!

Find out how you can empower yourself and other women to achieve this happiness and empowerment by visiting our freebirth course. And if you’d like to help other mothers achieve this empowerment, don’t forget to have a look at our birthkeeper course.
Be the change in birth, help women find this place of bliss and life time fulfillment of empowerment. Supporting women as they go through the journey and transformation of pregnancy and birth!
Join us – you won’t regret it!

When First Time Moms Choose Freebirth

Freebirth – the process of intentionally giving birth without the assistance of a medical birth attendant – the only kind of birth where you will find me.

Recently, a first time mother ask that I support her choice. Unlike most births, this woman came to me, she birthed in my home. Her environment wasn’t ideal for birth, but I made an exception as I do not offer women to birth in my current home. This was my high school best friend, so this was a special occasion. I would have done anything to preserve her first birth experience. Though, I never thought she would choose freebirth!

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For a woman to choose freebirth, she must be able to disregard the societal idea of child birth. Birth is made out to be an emergency scenario that requires assistance, or death is imminent. As a young girl, I was told child birth is an emergent event filled with pain, requiring assistance to ensure life. This first time mother choosing freebirth saw past this. She saw her worth and ability. She knew what society will not tell her; that SHE CAN.

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This particular mama did not decide until the end of pregnancy that she was choosing freebirth. She was fed up with the medical model of care. She would leave her appointments feeling broken, as if her body couldn’t grow a baby correctly. They made her feel anxious and discouraged in her ability as a first time mom. She was sick and tired of feeling this way! She did not tolerate this type of treatment. She said (excuse the language) “Fuck this, I got this”, more or less. No need for the mental and emotional abuse from mainstream care providers. She did not want any part of that, come end of pregnancy. She chose freebirth.

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At 36 weeks & 4 days, we realized it was the day. We kept in contact during the day as contractions consumed her being. Eventually, she came over, her caring partner and sister joining her in sacred space. In a small room, my children’s bedroom actually. Periodically, I would check in on her, but left her alone for the most part as I know this is how birth is most successful, without watching eyes.

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When a  first time mom chooses freebirth, she feels empowered. Before, during, and after. There are bouts of doubt, absolutely. This is conquered with the reminder that there is no safer space unless there is a need for emergent care. Which this badass mama knew, and kept in mind. She never once requested relief or transfer. She KNEW her ability. She knew this was the safest space for her to meet her daughter.

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She had determination, gritting her teeth during her first experience of childbirth.
She would mention how she appreciated the breaks between contractions. She would refuse all suggestions, solely following her body, like an experienced navigator of physiological birth. As a Birthkeeper, this left me humbled at her confidence and power. Power that would leave anyone in the room trembling. There wasn’t doubt in her, in the end of her labor. All I could see was power and determination to get baby out. As we knew was imminent, after much vocalism and physical effort, she brought her baby earth side, completely free from assistance.

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(Look at their faces though! Dad’s face, too – OMG!!)

Freebirth as a first time mother. Did you read that? She does not know the trauma she swerved from avoiding a facility, but I cry each time I recall. Her situation wasn’t the average, they would have ripped her through the wringer. I am so thankful and proud that she missed out on a facility birth, and experienced physiological birth, ignoring all societal indoctrination. As is she.

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Her word on the experience: “There’s no other way I would’ve wanted to do it, Hospitals were completely out of the question, and there’s nobody else that I would’ve wanted there with me to do it. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life but every second was worth it and it’s all history now, and I barely even remember. Its just Joy now.”

Here are Dad’s thoughts: “It was wild”

Yes Dad, birth is wild. Wild, primal, imitate, and so forth. Rightfully so!

When a first time mother chooses freebirth, she finds confidence and empowerment NO ONE can steal from her – ever. She did it, and so can you.

Educating Women to Avoid Tyrannical Oppression in Birth

Likely a very unpopular opinion, that’s okay though! It’s mine and I own it.

✊We should be educating women on healthy lifestyles, diets, etcetera to help them have a healthy pregnancy, so she is not needing emergency/high risk services.

✊We should be teaching women about each aspect of physiological birth, dispelling all the typical myths society established surrounding pregnancy and birth. We should be making her educated and confident.

✊We should be teaching women how to efficiently interview and choose a midwife/provider/support person, to ensure her birth is what she is looking for.

✊We should be educating them on what happens in captive birthing facilities. They should be taught the many unnecessary cascade of events that occur in this setting.

✊Iatrogenic care, the 3rd leading cause of death, infant and maternal mortality rates, and unnecessary interventions should all be discussed with all women in their childbearing years. We should be informing them the best we can to ensure their birth leaves them empowered, not traumatized.

It is no secret what happens in captive birthing facilities. It is no secret that more often than not, the services offered are a disservice (to say the least). It is also no secret that we cannot really support someone who cannot support themselves.

Once a woman signs her birth over to the hands of a medical provider, her autonomy is out the window. If the provider sees something as ‘medically necessary’, it will likely happen no matter how loud she screams “NO”. She can sue – but she likely will not win. She is no longer in charge and that birth plan of hers is nothing shy of a request. Nothing on her plan is guaranteed now that she isn’t in control. It is at the discretion of the provider even if it was discussed prior or notarized.

How can one support and protect a mother in this setting when she literally signed her autonomy away? Imagine this, real scenario for ya – Mom is about to give birth to her baby (confined on her back with some gloved individual between her legs with a bright light). Her provider says, “Oh, you need an episiotomy, I’m going to cut you now” Mom screams “NO I want to tear naturally.” Doula/Attendant/Birthkeeper standing next to her reiterates moms request to provider. Provider disregards everyone and cuts her anyway. There was no way to protect her, no one could have saved her at that point – she had no autonomy, she willingly signed it away.

There are so many situations like this in captive birthing facilities. I’d like to claim it is rare, but I’m here to tell you it is insanely common for a provider to disregard a birth plan or moms requests. Yet people still choose to birth there, wanting to hire someone to advocate for them/help them advocate for themselves. There is nothing I can do in that setting to protect a woman who has signed her autonomy away. Whatever the provider dishes out is her fate, she is at their discretion.

I’d be standing there with my hands tied behind my back, witnessing the tyrannical oppression. I’d go home with secondary trauma and my energy all over the place. Not all births will be bad, but is it worth the risk of secondary trauma when I can’t really protect her, anyway? HELL NO. Not worth a single dollar amount to witness the things that occur there.

I reached out to birth workers that I know are versed on physiological birth. I asked them how they could handle attending hospital births knowing what they know about physiological birth. Almost all of them said they disassociate. THEY HAVE TO DISSACOCIATE! Disconnect from what is occurring and become numb to the acts occurring, in order to cope with what they witness.

Why are we doing this? Why are we encouraging low risk women to birth in this setting knowing how terrible the mortality rates are being produced there? Why are we suggesting women go here for this life changing event when we know most leave traumatized, or abused and unaware. Why aren’t we educating women on how to protect their births and stay in complete control?

This is just my opinion, but I feel we shouldn’t be standing next to them while they experience this trauma. We should be teaching them how to avoid it. Controversial and triggering, I’m sure.

Just to cover a few points

– I know not everyone can birth outside of a facility, I am speaking for the majority.
– I support all women’s choices to birth wherever and however they choose. I support her autonomy to choose – absolutely. I will not physically support or stand in the presence of all birth choices, though. I choose to protect my own mentality, energy, and peace.
– I know you *can* have a trauma free birth in a hospital- I had one and know how incredibly lucky I am. I also know you cannot know until that day if your experience will be traumatic or empowering because the birthing mother is not in charge. It is a straight gamble, at the providers discretion.
– These are MY feelings on the topic, it doesn’t have to coincide with yours to make mine valid.

If this resonates with you, join us at herbal-training.com. Join the revolution! Be the change in the birth field! ❤

How Your Struggles Can Make You A Better Birth Worker

In your life, even after becoming a birth worker, there will be hills, speed bumps, pot holes, and road blocks along the way. While we’re going through it, and it feels like we will never come out of it, or understand why it is happening to us, we can envision what this will do for our future, and as the light at the end of the tunnel starts to become brighter, perhaps we can turn the struggles into our advantages, if we choose to visualize our journey that way.

Allow me to preface by saying I do not ever intend to belittle or invalidate someones current feelings or situation. You have every right to feel those negative feelings and be upset that the world is not spinning in your favor, at this time. Instead, I would like this post to be encouraging and uplifting, rather than be perceived as toxic positivity.

My mindset will be more easily explained by sharing how my own struggles have helped me, personally, improve as a birth worker.

My Story

In 2015, I was intending a home water birth. Instead, my midwife abandoned me, I had a hospital birth that was not even remotely close to my birth plan, and it resulted in a fair amount of trauma. At this time, my career was a police dispatcher and my goals were to go to the police academy and become an officer. My birth plans drastically changing made me realize I needed to serve my community in birth work rather than in uniform. In 2016, I began that journey to be a birth worker.

In 2018, I was a surrogate to twins and it went horribly, but I learned SO MUCH about multiples pregnancy, surrogacy, IVF, and the interventions involved in a multiples birth, as well as primal trauma, and how it feels to be absolutely used. This granted me so much patience, taught me more about informed consent, showed me what a “high-risk pregnancy” looks like from the patient’s perspective, and I was able to carry this knowledge into my birth work to serve such a broader range of clients.

In 2019, I suffered multiple miscarriages, my son was diagnosed with leukemia, and then he was taken away from us because we delayed treatment to seek a second opinion on his chemotherapy protocol. The losses helped me connect further with the bereavement side of my birth work. My son’s diagnosis taught me how to grasp more medical terms, read lab work more effectively, and communicate with doctors in a different way. Having Noah taken away has taught me a lot about how CPS, dependency case law and court, works, which can help a lot of families in the birth world, surprisingly, especially those that choose home births.

Turning Trauma into Healing

That being said, if you feel like something in your life is hindering you, a past trauma, or a struggle you are currently going through, I offer you a challenge that may help.

Take a moment this week to write down your struggles individually, and for each struggle, I challenge you to find how that struggle can bring you a new gift and new experience for your career. If you feel ready, offer that as something you have experience in on your website, it may help a family that has been or is going through something similar, connect with you better. It is way okay to be open about our struggles, previous or current, as they are not just struggles, they are LIFE EXPERIENCES.

A few examples of experiences, which may seem un-favorable and potentially even morbid, to discuss on a professional website might be:

  • Domestic Violence (1/4 women experience this.. if you get more than 4 women to view your website, one of them is likely a fellow victim that appreciates that you understand her prior or current journey)
  • Loss & Fertility Struggles (Loss statistics are at about 1/4.. Infertility is about 1/8.. This applies to so many)
  • Special Needs
  • Single Parenthood
  • Gender Transition
  • Teen Parenthood
  • C-Section History
  • Addiction

What else can you think of, or may want to share from your own personal experience, that could actually do you or others a service in regards to birth work?

I always love to be able to turn something hard, into something positive and something to look forward to and utilize, and I hope to share and help others do the same.

Taylor

 

 

Pitocin Is The New Episiotomy

If you were a fly on the wall on a Labor & Delivery floor, you would see a bag of Pitocin or Synthetic Oxytocin being hooked up to a majority of the IVs on the floor. For some, Pitocin is absolutely necessary to stop a serious hemorrhage, but why is it being used routinely for women that are having perfectly normal postpartum lochia?

Postpartum hemorrhages are responsible for about a quarter of maternal deaths worldwide, so it is absolutely a valid fear for birthing women, babies, and providers. About 1-5% of birthing women have a postpartum hemorrhage.

We also must factor in and unpack the fact that many hemorrhages ARE iatrogenic, aka caused by the providers themselves. Ripping a woman’s placenta out two minutes postpartum is not acceptable unless there is a true emergency. Pitocin, while effective at ceasing a hemorrhage in progress, can also cause a hemorrhage, when used to force uterine contractions over a long period of time, by hyper-stimulating the uterus.

What Causes Postpartum Hemorrhage?

Are there pre-disposing factors to hemorrhaging? Kind of. Black women are more likely to hemorrhage than white women, due to routine poor provider care, and a higher chance of iatrogenic-induced complications. If you have a history of hemorrhage, you are more likely to hemorrhage again. Poor nutrition may also pre-dispose a woman to hemorrhage, depending on the deficiencies.

If we reflect on the above statistic again, that an estimated 1-5% of birthing women hemorrhage, that leaves a fair 95% that DO NOT, so why are we routinely administering Pitocin to prevent hemorrhage, when we can simply treat hemorrhage when and if it occurs?

What are the Risks of Using Pitocin?

The reasons we feel Pitocin should not be used preventatively include mental wellbeing, breastfeeding, and supply/demand purposes.

Pitocin is related to a 36% increase in postpartum mood disorders, including depression and anxiety, and with the prevalence of mood disorders being 1 in 7 REPORTED cases, we seriously feel that providers should be taking this more seriously.

Pitocin can interrupt the flow of natural hormones, after all, it is derived from pig hormones these days. This can also disturb the natural placental delivery, and the breastfeeding relationship by disrupting the physiological process involved in one, the other, or both.

Is Pitocin The New Episiotomy_

Now, onto the supply and demand reason. When you utilize a valuable resource on someone that does not need it, it is obviously a waste of a resource, making it a waste of time, money, and creating a gap that needs to be filled in the supplies. This leads to lower quality product because hospitals desperately have to keep replenishing, for those that are actually in need, and then continue to use the product on those who DO NOT need it. If you have a person on your left dying of dehydration, and a person on your right that just drank two cups of water, and you only have one cup of water, are you going to give both of them a half cup, or would you rather give the dehydrated individual all of the water, since the other person is fine and well-hydrated already? I think the answer is obvious, myself. I would much rather those that genuinely need Pitocin to receive higher quality Pitocin from a safe source, than for everyone to receive lower-quality Pitocin, preventatively.

For my animal-loving friends, it also must be pretty unimagineable how many pigs must be used and abused to keep the Pitocin manufacturers up to speed on supplying…

Also be mindful that Pitocin administration postpartum does not only occur in hospital settings, there are MANY midwives that routinely administer Pitocin injected intramuscularly, postpartum, so be sure to discuss this with your midwife if you are having a home or birth center birth, as well.

To address the title, we compared Pitocin to episiotomies because for a very long time, episiotomies were seen as absolutely necessary, to PREVENT tears. This is exactly what is happening with Pitocin as well, it is being used to PREVENT something that may never happen. Now, the ACOG organization advocates against the use of episiotomies in any scenario, allowing the body to naturally tear and stitching/repairing as needed. It would be optimal for everyone to use Pitocin the same way.

Should Pitocin be used in an emergency, despite the risks? ABSOLUTELY. It just does not need to be used for every single person that just had a baby.

Take control of your birth, and stay educated.

Healing Foods, Supplements & Therapies For Cancer

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On a daily basis, people reach out to me, knowing how my son’s health was improving tremendously in mine and my husband’s care, despite a diagnosis of cancer, and immediate initiation of chemotherapy. Noah was found to be blast-free a mere three days after his first day of Induction Phase for his ALL (acute lymphoblastic leukemia). I have compiled this list in response to those that need it all condensed into one space, so that they know what to start if their loved ones, or themselves, are diagnosed with cancer.

Disclaimer
**Keep in mind that there are no guarantees that any of these additional supplements and such will work exclusively, counteract, or cooperate with modern medical treatments for cancer, just like there is no guarantee that modern medical treatments will work, either. This is simply an anecdotal guide, with perhaps some studies alongside, on what helped our little boy and many others. We at HERBAL do not take responsibility for the positive or negative result of utilizing any of these, and you shall do so at your own discretion**

Treating Cancer in the Modern World

Our cancer rates in the United States are astonishing, and unacceptable, to say the least. One of the most developed countries, yet our cancer rates are one of the worst in the world. One in TWO men will face cancer in their lifetime, while one in THREE women will face cancer in theirs, and unfortunately, children are not exceptions to that statistic.

First, MINDSET.
Mindset is everything. For kids, this is generally easy, but for adults, hearing a terminal illness for yourself or a loved one can be devastating and detrimental to emotional and mental stability. Visualizations, affirmations, and goals are critical in cancer treatment, whether you are a parent, friend, relative, or the patient. Create a vision board, SEE the patient coming out of treatment alive and well, speak and radiate positivity to the patient. Stress plays a huge role in relapse and death of cancer patients, REDUCE the stressors. Motivation does not guarantee success of treatment, but it sure does help to have the mind fixated on healing, rather than hurting. For kids, their motivation is their parent’s positivity and comfort. Using music therapy, color therapy, positive mirror reflection therapy, and reiki are all great ways to enhance the mindset of a patient.

Next step, NUTRITION. If you are not already educated on nutrition, hop on the Organic Whole Food express, because it’s time to gear up with fruits and veggies. Many oncologists will tell you, “a calorie is a calorie is a calorie,” but WAIT, is it really?? Nope. The research on intermittent fasting in regards to resetting the body shows us that we do not necessarily need to shove food down our throat to meet a caloric value daily, BUT what we do need to be doing is giving our body healthy, restorative and pure foods when we are eating. There is a controversy though on what style diet is best during cancer treatment. On one end, a raw vegan diet is very cleansing AND alkaline (what we ultimately chose for Noah), but at the same time a heavy-veggie-based style keto is restorative, so I think there is a balance in how we eat and what our body tells us to eat. Regardless, there should be at least natural-made fats, fruits, veggies, and protein in ones diet, hopefully every day! DROP the PROCESSED garbage, McDonalds, frozen foods, etc are not in the patient’s best interest, period. They contain chemicals, preservatives, synthetic vitamins, loads of sugar and sodium, and more.

Noah’s diet at the hospital consisted of bananas (he would eat at least 5 a day, at will), tangerines, oranges, grapefruits, green smoothies, hard-boiled egg whites, salads, juices, and more, just to give you an idea.

Now, here are a list of the supplements and vitamins we provided:

Breastmilk (we provided as much as he would drink, and sometimes we had to mix it in things, especially if it was higher lipase milk, newborn colostrum is IDEAL)

Rosemary (if you do not have access to fresh rosemary, we recommend obtaining some of the herb in it’s full glory, and making a tea, oil, or tincture of it: Organic Rosemary Dry Herb

Vitamin B Complex (For kids, break open the capsule and put into yogurt, or smoothies)

B17 or Amygdalin (Raw Bitter Apricot Seeds) 

High Dose Liposomal Vitamin C

Collodial Silver

Grapefruit Seed Extract (We made our own, as my husband Joshua picks wild grapefruit, but if you do not have access to wild, organic grapefruits near you, you can use this brand)

Grassfed Collagen & Bone Broth (of course, if your child will drink regular bone broth, that is even better!!!)

Reishi, Chaga, Lions Mane, Turkey Tail, Cordyceps Mushroom Tea or Tincture (we used both interchangeably)

Black Walnut & Wormwood Tincture

Vitamin D3 & K2 Tincture

GoYin by Genesis

Cleanse Tincture by Genesis

L-Lysine Powder

Pau D’Arco Herb

Digestive Herbal Extract (Yellowdock, Burdock, Dandelion, Nettle, Milk Thistle, Cleavers Herb, Bayberry Root, Bupleurum Root, Turmeric, Asparagus, and Schizandra Berry)

Selenium

CBD Oil (later on, we would obtain a Medical Marijuana license for him, but he has not yet received more than two doses, so we will revisit this subject later, but we highly recommend patients obtaining an MMJ license), we love the Provida brand!

Probiotic for gut healing/immunity

Flax seed oil

Allimed (Garlic Allicin Extract, strongest antibiotic in nature)

L-Glutathione

Oxygen drops (to add to water)

Zinc

Iron

Astragalus

Chlorophyll

MSM (Sulfur)

Lemon Water, Coconut Water, Alkaline Water exclusively (NO TAP WATER)

There are more supplements that people are finding every day that are helping, and there are way more than I can list, but this is what was used for Noah, specifically. If you had something that you know worked for you or someone else, please comment below so others can view as well!

We could not do detox baths with his PICC line in, and many patients will also have a port placement or PICC line, in the beginning stages of treatment, so be mindful that while detox baths are amazing once they can be provided, they are not always possible right away.

TOPICALS:

Iodine

Magnesium oil

Dry brushing

Castor Oil Packs (apply oil, then apply heating pad to needed area)

Essential Oils (applied and diffused): Defenseshield, Lemon, Grapefruit, Tea Tree, Oregano, Frankincense, Rosemary, Lemon, Sandalwood

Next, once the patient is up for it, GET OUTSIDE as much as possible. Be mindful, some of the chemotherapy drugs can make one extra sensitive to light, so if they say they are really hot, or that they feel like they are burning, listen to them and get them back inside and try again in small intervals throughout the day. Vitamin D is a major cancer-killing, and body-restoring component.

Other therapies that can be utilized that we did not get a chance to use with Noah, but intended to: 

Intravenous Nutrition

Thermal/Infrared Sauna & Cryotherapy (Hot N Cold)

Salt Room Sessions

Lymphatic Massage

Oxygen Therapy (Hyperbaric Chambers)

Chelation (EDTA)

Essiac Tea

Rebounding (Jumping Exercise that stimulates blood flow)

Gerson Therapy Style Juices (we got to do a couple, but wanted to continue daily in addition to healthy foods)

**Some folks like to incorporate coffee enemas and IV Hydrogen Peroxide in their protocol, we would not have done that for Noah due to his age, but it is something I would like to add as a potential benefit to others**

Final Thoughts

This list of things can be impeccably overwhelming and certainly expensive, but can become fairly easy once the patient establishes a schedule and routine of how to incorporate these things all together. Speak with the patient or consult with a physician that is open-minded, and decide what is best for you.

Questions To Ask A Potential Midwife

Recently I have seen a rise in people claiming to be a home-birth midwife that are not trained or equipped to provide the services they offer – all across the US. This has resulted in multiple fetal deaths, maternal deaths/harm, and unnecessary birth trauma. These ‘midwives’ are something to shy away from – here is how you can avoid them for your own birth.

Midwives are not interchangeable; no two are the same. Most serve with a heart of true passion and care; some serve solely with a wallet to fill or ego to boost. Some will walk with women throughout their entire journey, and some will bail on them for various reasons. Some midwives undergo years of training/attending/learning/practicing. Some claim to be a midwife but has nowhere near enough training to do so. It is crucial to interview properly to make sure your midwife is a good fit for you. Don’t hire a woman who will be ‘a deer in the head lights’ when you or your baby needs assistance.

Keep in mind, a licensed midwife does NOT mean a well-trained and educated one. More often than not, it only limits how they can serve you. In my experience, it is the licensed midwives who can be fear ridden, as taught in their medicalized schooling – not all though! Again, none are the same. It should never be a degree or license you are looking for. You want one who is there to serve YOU, not serving the state or medicalized model of birth.

Here are a few questions that would be great to ask a possible Midwife. Be sure she has answers, if you have questions that go unanswered – you should not take this lightly. She should not be hired. Never ‘settle’ on a Midwife.

  1. What training have you had? Schools, degrees, certificates, preceptorships, internships, etc.?
    (You can look up their schooling history, degree, and certificates online. Do not take anything for face value. Do your research before signing a contract. Again, some midwives do lie about qualifications. If they attended internships/preceptorships, ask to reach out to their preceptors. Some are fired or let go before completion and choose not to disclose this information. You may want to know why.)
  2. Are you trained/certified in neonatal resuscitation? (You can ask to see their NRP certification card as proof. Yes, many birth workers do lie about their trainings!)
  3. How many times have you had to resuscitate in your career?
  4. How many births have you attended?
  5. Where can I find reviews for your services? (You want to be sure you hire someone who is backed by past clients. If she does not have reviews, this could be a red flag)
  6. How long have you been attending births as a primary midwife? (This asks how long they have been attending on their own, without a preceptor – someone guiding them)
  7. How many births do you attend per month?
  8. Do you have a backup midwife? Will I meet her? (Every midwife should have a backup. You should ask to meet this backup prior to labor if you do not want a stranger possibly walking into your home on birthing day)
  9. Do you have an assistant or will you be attending alone? (Some bring an assistant and some charge more for the assistant)
  10. How many times have you had to transfer during labor? (A midwife’s transfer rate says a great deal about her ability to serve women)
  11. Do you stay with mom once she is transferred? (Many midwives will transfer mom to the hospital then leave once she is admitted. This likely isn’t something you want, be sure it will not occur)
  12. How many times have you had to transfer mom/baby postpartum?
  13. Will you attend twin, breech, and VBAC births? Why or why not?
  14. What complications and emergencies have you seen and how were they handled? (i.e. prematurity, prolonged labor, fetal distress, breech, bleeding, dystocia)
  15. What circumstances/conditions would rule out your attendance? (In many states, especially with licensed midwives, they are required to drop you from their care for many unnecessary reasons. Do not get to 37 weeks and find out she is dropping you because your baby chooses to present breech. If she is not competent, or holds her license above your births wellbeing – she might be a MEDwife and might leave you hanging with no care or reimbursement.)
  16. Can you list each scenario that could possibly risk me out of your care?(Know ahead of time EVERY reason you could be released from her care. Depending on state, the midwife’s knowledge, her licensing, and her competence, there are many reasons they can drop you from care. Things that are not in your control Be aware of EVERY possibility before signing a contract)
  17. What complications/emergencies are you prepared to handle?
  18. Under what circumstances do you transfer to a hospital? (Some midwives are known to transfer women for silly reasons that are not science based. Be sure your midwife will not bail on you when you are vulnerable.)
  19. What percentage/exactly how many clients have had cesareans in your practice?
  20. Will you accompany us through a hospital birth if one was necessary?
  21. Do you offer prenatal care? What is your schedule for visits?
  22. What is included in prenatal care? (i.e. lab work, urine checks, blood pressure, fetal heart tones, fundal measurement, baby’s positioning, & vaginal exams & PAP)
  23. What type of nutrition counseling do you provide?
  24. Do you visit the home at any time before the birth?
  25. Am I required to complete any kind of testing? (Some Midwives require specific testings or they will drop you from care. This is not autonomy and likely not something you want to sign up for. You should have complete control and say over your prenatal care)
  26. Am I required to attend a certain amount of prenatal appointments?
  27. What happens if I refuse appointments, procedures, or suggested medications? (If they have an issue with your having say over your pregnancy and refusing XYZ, run the other way)
  28. When do you like to be called once labor has begun?
  29. When do you come to the home once labor has begun?
  30. What equipment do you bring and what must we provide? (You can tell a great deal about a midwife and the care she supplies by what she carries in her bag. Does she carry herbs and tinctures or does she simply carry Pitocin and oxygen. Know what she will be showing up with! Know what you are comfortable with being used.)
  31. What emergency equipment do you provide?
  32. How do you view the father’s role?
  33. What is your role during labor? birth?
  34. How do you feel about sibling participation in birth?
  35. What non-drug measures do you suggest for pain relief?
  36. How often do you listen to the baby’s heart rate during labor?
  37. How often do you check the mother’s blood pressure?
  38. Do you require vaginal checks at all, ever? (Vaginal checks can be harmful and mean nothing in regards to progression during labor. If she requires vaginal checks, she might not be a good fit. That would be a red flag that she does not support autonomy.)
  39. What is considered fetal distress in your opinion?
  40. What do you consider prolonged labor/birth pushing?
  41. Do you have preferences for labor/ birth positions? (This answer should always be “It’s the mother’s choice”. If she requires you to lay in a certain position, this is a concern.)
  42. How do you feel about water-birth? Have you attended any?
  43. What measures do you take to prevent tearing?
  44. Will you allow partner to “catch the baby” instead of you?
  45. Do you check for tears after delivery?
  46. Do you have local anesthetic & suturing equipment for this repair to be done without going to the hospital? Do you suture all tears or only major?
  47. How do you prevent/treat excessive postpartum bleeding?
  48. How do you handle the baby immediately after birth?
  49. How long do you stay after the birth? What do you check at this time?
  50. What is your schedule for follow-up care?
  51. Do you do the newborn screening tests?
  52. What are your thoughts regarding circumcision?
  53. How is the filing of the birth certificate handled?
  54. Do you routinely give me a copy of all my records after the birth?
  55. How much do you charge for your services?
  56. What services are not included in this fee?
  57. Do insurance plans cover your fee? Do you accept direct payment?
  58. When do you want the full fee paid?
  59. Are there any refunds if I risk out of care? (I see it occur so often that a mom “risks out” of care and mom is left with no midwife and no refund. 7K+ down the drain at no fault of her own, and no home birth to show for it. Know about her refund policy and make sure you agree before signing!)

Final Thoughts

Determine the midwife’s willingness to be open to communicate, explain things that you don’t understand, and willingness to let you make your own decisions. If she is unable to answer all questions without hesitation, be wary.

Be sure to reach out to your local birth community and ask around. Some providers will present themselves to be something they are not. Their abilities will reflect in their past client’s experiences. Read all reviews, ask questions.

Hiring a midwife is not a simple choice, this plays a HUGE role on birth outcome. Knowing the difference between a CNM, CPM, and traditional midwife is also helpful in making a midwife selection. Again, Midwives are not interchangeable – none are the same. Do not settle, find one that is a perfect fit for you!!

Why I will not Attend a Hospital Birth as a Birthkeeper

One of my largest biases when it comes to birth is location.
I am very biased on where a woman delivers her child – so much so, I refuse to attend births in a facility setting. I have no problem admitting this and speaking on why.

I’m sure many of the main stream birth providers will be angry about this as many are trained to accept and assist all walks of life, and that’s okay!

I personally choose to acknowledge and respect my biases in respect for the women I serve and for myself. Bias is something I previously spoke on if you are interested in learning more about it.

I (Desirae) am personally really not about hospital birth. I’ve had 2 myself and I am aware of what they have to offer. I know that once you get there, you put your birth into someone else’s hands, and with this, I do not agree.
This is not empowering.
This is not biological.
This is a disservice.

Why Do I Stay Away from Hospital Births?

You could have a perfect hospital birth that goes just the way you want! Sure, I’ve seen it! The issue with that is you won’t know for sure until delivery day. Your provider might respect you but then again, they might not. They might feel like an episiotomy is needed (when it is not), and that will be happening no matter what you say because they write it off as “medically necessary.” Say “NO” all you want, it doesn’t always stop them. I’ve seen this happen as well.

You can press charges, but good luck with that…

I’m not about secondary trauma either, I’ll pass. You literally couldn’t pay me to watch a woman endure the abuse that occurs during many hospital births. I will not stand next to a woman while a doctor reaches in to check her cervix when she is begging them to please not. I do not care to experience a woman being told “You must get the epidural or we will simply take you back for a cesarean”.

What a disruption to her birth energy! No thank you. That is NOT what I’m about to wake up for at 2 AM to go witness. I’d rather sleep. “Why is she there in the first place?”, is all that comes to mind.

When a law suit is drawn up over the abusive malpractice, I’d be dragged into it. Again, no thank you. I already know how those outcomes go.

I am not about trying to negotiate with a medically minded provider over their poor choices. It’s a waste of time trying to speak to someone with a “God complex” that feels they are most knowledgeable, I’ve done it. Their main goal (for most) is “keep my license” not, “follow mama’s birth plan”. Birth plans are nothing shy of a request during a hospital birth. Keeping licensure will always trump a mothers desires.

I do not attend births as a means of living. I do this on the side to assist women who feel empowered and trust in their body and baby. I only assist those who see birth for the spiritual and natural process that it is. I’m not about defending a birthing mother who does not trust her body enough to stay home. If she has fear, that means she has more research to do. Research is the answer. Not a hospital birth.

I always mention how insane it is that low risk women flock to hospitals to birth their young. Going to a place of emergency for a natural bodily function? Where’s the sense in that? Should I be showing up at a hospital so I can take a poop? I mean, I might get a hemorrhoid or get a tear in my anus. I should go there just to “be safe”, right?

I have no desire to support someone who doesn’t trust in their body’s ability. If you have fear, you need more knowledge, not more unnecessary assistance.

There are birth attendants and doulas that will attend those medically minded hospital births. There are many women who will attend hospital births and don’t mind watching the activity that occurs there.

I am not one.

I Love Home Birth

There is definitely a provider for everyone and I feel that is glorious! As for me, I support the small crowd of women who are empowered and see home birth as the only logical option.

Sometimes there are complications in the birth process, I get that, but let’s get back to the numbers… less than 5%. I feel hospital births happen out of fear. Fear from the birthing woman or her partner. It could also be because that is what the birthing mama was conditioned to believe was necessary!

Fear has no place in a soon-to-be mama’s heart. If she has fear, that is ok and normal by all means! She just needs more research. Not a hospital birth.

Hospitals have zero place in low risk births. If mama can’t trust herself at home, I can not assist her. & that’s ok! Ask someone else.

*I will also note that in the case of emergency, I would transfer with my clients. I will never put my desires above her emergency needs. I do know when to pull the plug and have zero problem doing so. I would go into that facility and defend her like a guard dog, as if my life depended on it. I’d literally push a medical doctor out of the way and run into the hall demanding a new one if mama and I did not agree with their practice. My passion runs deep. My past experiences would be set aside for her. In a true emergency, a hospital birth is the best bet. It can save lives, I will not deny. I’m simply saying that if a low risk mama doesn’t trust her body and baby enough, or realizing the safest place for a healthy birth is at home, I can not assist her; I am not the best fit.

-Desirae

Supine Hypotensive Syndrome: An Epidural Blackout

Imagine the horror as you welcome an epidural, relief, into your body after a long stretch of contractions (and having to hold a specific position for several minutes while the anesthesiologist placed a needle the size of your face into your spine), only to instantly start blacking out while you hear rapid, loud beeping in the background. The nurses faces start to get fuzzy and you notice your breathing getting slow and short, but you cannot seem to force your body to take a deep breath to help your oxygen flow…

This horror is not an allergic reaction.
This is not a labor complication.
Your body is not broken.

This is Supine Hypotensive Syndrome.

What is Supine Hypotensive Syndrome?

SHS is defined as a sudden drop of blood pressure in a pregnant woman when she lies on her back, due to Caval Compression (compression of the abdominal aorta – the main artery in the abdominal cavity – and the inferior vena cava.)

The only cure to this is to GET OFF YOUR BACK and GET INTO A DIFFERENT POSITION!

Have you experienced dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath, even fainting/unconsciousness when you lay on your back while pregnant? Has a doctor ever talked to you about why?

Position Matters!

Have you ever been told your body isn’t capable of birth?
What if it wasn’t your body, but instead your epidural restricting you to only laying on your back?
Or, what if it was the need to be monitored in the bed, on your back, every 20 minutes?
Did you push for a certain amount of time, only to become absolutely exhausted because it was so hard to breathe?
Did you/your baby’s heart rate drop so rapidly after the epidural that your birth resulted in a cesarean?
ALL of these ‘complications‘, and many others, could have simply been fixed by allowing you to move and change positions.

It’s infuriating to think that, isn’t it? I get it, because I have been there.

Final Thoughts

Doctors don’t talk about this, they likely don’t even know about it actually because their textbooks won’t tell them this, but I will. Even if they did know, would they say anything? Would they make the effort to roll you onto your side or encourage you to move around, if they knew it could allow you to have a birth that didn’t leave you with trauma? Or is it prime and optimal to have you lying on your back in stirrups for their convenience? They are well-trained surgeons so whats another cesarean to them?

And yes, YOU CAN move into a different position with an epidural. Ask for the lowest dose possible, and ask exactly what medication they are using for your epidural. Are you comfortable with Fentanyl, for example? A WALKING epidural can allow for much more movement, and quicker leg function and healing post-birth, too.

Have your support team help you get onto your hands and knees. You may put a ball or a stack of pillows in front of a bed placed in seated position, face the back portion of the bed, hold the ball or stack of pillows and rest comfortably on that, while still allowing gravity to do its job on your pelvis. Using a peanut ball in between your legs as you lay on your side can be optimal as well, as it keeps your pelvis open and ready for baby.

Take control of your birth with education, one step at a time!

Birthkeeper/Doula Training in Baltimore, MD

As a growing number of families are actively seeking out doulas to attend their births, a huge opportunity for employment opens up to many. And, while more and more doulas are just beginning their journey on this remarkable career path, they seek mentorship, community, and hands-on training.

On August 3, 2019, only in Baltimore Maryland, HERBAL is offering and exclusive hands-on doula training opportunity! With a unique and personal touch, HERBAL is providing a training unlike any other!

During this training, you will have the opportunity to learn about:

  • The Physiologics of Childbirth – Discuss the varying hormones and natural chemicals in the body, and how they play a role in birth, what disrupts them and how you can orientate your birth or birth support to gear towards the physiological birth process.
  • Herbalism for Fertility, Pregnancy, Birth & Postpartum (Make your own tincture, sitz bath, yoni steam, etc)
  • Nutrition – Discuss how nutrition impacts fertility, pregnancy, birth and postpartum, how you can relay this to your clients and how to help families build meal plans (and learn how to eat healthy yourself!)
  • Placenta 101 (WE DO OUR BEST TO FEATURE REAL PLACENTAS SO YOU CAN EXPLORE THEM – If you would like to donate one or know someone who would, please us our Contact page to discuss how this would work!) Discussing anatomy, physiology, hormones, anecdotal benefits, safety and sanitation, variations, complications, encapsulation, other methods of consumption and non-consumptive methods.
  • Birth Scenarios – Role play different birth settings, practice handling a range of emotions, complaints (non-medical) and discussing options with your clients, with our birth scenarios. Includes bereavement/loss, adoption, surrogacy, planned cesarean, change of birth plan due to emergency, precipitous birth, prolonged labor, hospital interventions that may arise, birth center roles, home birth roles and unassisted birth roles, and how to protect yourself and act professional in every setting.
  • Natural Pain Management Techniques – Learn how to best support yourself or your clients through labor with inexpensive pain relief options, including JUST YOUR HANDS. Discusses an array of rebozo techniques, counter pressure, position practice, reflexology, and more.