The partner’s role in labor and childbirth has changed drastically over the course of time. It used to be that men would not be around for labor or birth, they would go off and do their own thing while the woman birthed their child. But now, it has become the norm for the partner to be with the birthing woman. Not only this, but his involvement is proving to be highly valuable.
In fact, it is even suggested that having the partner absent from pregnancy, labor, and birth could lead to adverse health outcomes for both mom and baby. Here is a portion from this study, which briefly discusses the harms of not having the father present. “..fathers who are absent at birth, having already largely withdrawn from the child’s life beforehand, are more likely to have children with health problems at 3 months old.”
This study divulges how the father’s involvement with cord cutting has impact on their bond going forward. Those who did cut their child’s cord showed continuous improvement in emotional involvement with the infant. These partners found empowerment in being able to participate in this life changing event, which encouraged their continuous connection with their child. This connection, love, and affection from the father/partner benefits the child’s emotional development and overall health.
This study reveals that fathers are beneficial in comforting and calming baby in the first 2 hours postpartum from elective cesarean birth. Birth where mom might not have been able to experience skin to skin, so the father filled this role. These babies found comfort and security being skin to skin with their father. As in, they stopped fussing and became calm within 15 minutes of being placed on the father.
This is beneficial to the infant’s crucial emotional development. This experience also leaves the father feeling empowered in his role, and more emotionally connected to the child. This supplies a great start for a lifetime of healthy bonding.
I mean, there are hundreds of studies and articles produced discussing the impact of the father’s participation and attendance of birth. It has a positive impact for everyone! – Mom, Baby, and the Father/Partner themselves.
In the births I attend, I like to encourage partner/paternal involvement as much as possible. I see with my own two eyes how this empowers them. I see how this makes the partner confident in their role. I also see the child who is soothed simply by their fathers voice and touch.
Ways that the father can be incorporated in labor and birth are endless, they will also vary depending on the birthing woman’s desires. A few ways I would suggest a father’s participation and involvement would be:
Being a physical and emotional support for mom during labor. Applying counter pressure, holding her, reminding her how well she is doing; offering her water/snacks, and giving her intimate affection (whatever that means to the individual couple).
Catching baby as they emerge. I personally feel this plays a huge impact on the father’s empowerment. This is such a special moment and it often leaves them feeling overwhelmingly competent in their ability to fill the parental role.
Cord cutting! This is something I also encourage the partner to participate in. The tying of the umbilical tie as well as the severing of the cord itself.
Weighing of baby! Nothing is quite as special as seeing the father read and reveal the stats of their newest little love! They almost always smile, just permeated with pride!
The ways a partner can positively impact a labor, birth, and postpartum experience are endless, as are the benefits. Did your partner play an active role in labor and birth? How did you, as the birthing mother, feel about your partner’s involvement?
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…..or more appropriately referred to as round-the-clock, spontaneous pregnancy sickness, which can include indigestion, heartburn, nausea and/or vomiting.
We know, we know, you are tired of hearing about Ginger tea and Peppermint Essential Oils. Maybe they work for you, but it’s certainly frustrating to hear the suggestion over and over again when they don’t, especially when you are just feeling puke-y and not the vibrant, glowing pregnant that you expected.
WHY does this happen to so many women? (Over 80%, in fact).
Well, there are many, many theories. Some say that this sickness and discomfort in the beginning of, or throughout pregnancy, has a protective benefit to give, while others say it is a product of nutritional deficiencies, poor gut health, or toxins.
Can it Actually Be Beneficial?
First, let’s address the protective benefits theory. You might be thinking, how could something that makes me feel SO BAD be good for my baby and myself at all? Well, based on a 2016 study, women that experienced morning sickness by eight weeks gestation were 75% less likely to miscarry, than those that did not experience it. This may bring you comfort.
Now, if you are 10 weeks gestation, reading this and realizing you have not had any morning sickness, DO NOT panic! This was not at all a cause and effect study, and not having morning sickness does not indicate that you will not carry a healthy baby to term. While a lack of morning sickness can be an indicator of a low amount of hormones, it can also indicate that your body is just amazing at handling a perfect normal balance of hormones and you have a higher tolerance for not experiencing symptoms, which is definitely something amazing!
Surprisingly enough, morning sickness does not occur for all mammals, and mostly exclusively in humans, especially those of us in Western culture (Things that make you go hmmm…). There is suggestion that it is simply because we are more toxic beings in regards to our air quality, foods, and lifestyle, and that our body specifically rejects toxins through vomiting during pregnancy to protect the growing fetus in it’s most sensitive and developmentally critical stage.
Our consistently sick episodes may also be related to gut health. You may have instantly defended yourself in your mind such as, well, I take probiotics, that must not be true for me. But wait, just because you have been working on your gut health does NOT mean that your gut health still does not need improvement, and that you do not have H Pylori in your system. H Pylori is a bacteria that lives and thrives in your gut. It exists in water sources, can spread through families very easily by sharing foods, drinks, bathrooms, and you would never know you have it, unless you got tested for it, and shockingly, 90% of the Western population HAVE IT. H Pylori is associated with increase risk of anemia, pre-eclampsia and neural tube defects. It very easily leads into Hyperemesis Gravidarum, which goes well beyond morning sickness, and is actually very serious and often requires many trips to the hospital for fluids, intravenous medications and heavy monitoring to make sure mom and baby are okay. Treatment with antibiotics has a very low success rate, as low as 30% effectiveness, and antibiotics certainly come with risks while pregnant, so be weary.
Some natural, and more effective, ways to approach H. Pylori would be:
Mixing baking soda with water, and doing regular enemas can also be effective against H. Pylori, but be mindful that even herbs can come with risk while pregnant, so assess them properly for yourself. Also, just a side note, if your nausea couples with pain in your back, or under your right side ribcage, you may actually be experiencing gallbladder problems, rather than common pregnancy sickness. To read more about what to do about that, start here.
Can You Avoid Morning Sickness?
The theories on what to eat to prevent or alleviate the sickness are extremely conflicting, but high sugar, high acidic foods – such as citrus, coffee, pastas and certain vegetables, being avoided, seemed to show a positive relationship in decreasing the prevalence of nausea and vomiting, for some. Some organizations will claim that high-protein is better, while others lean towards a plant-based diet, then others toward very high-fat. We take the stance that you should intuitively eat!! Intuitive eating is simply just listening to your body. Avoid the aversions, meet the cravings, find out what certain cravings mean if your body is obsessing over them, especially if they are non-food based cravings like dirt, or ice, and meet those deficiencies. Even if you are not having odd cravings to indicate deficiencies, it does not hurt to go get a nutritional panel to see if you still have underlying deficiencies, either!
Naturally Approaches to Morning Sickness
You may benefit from acupressure, if you have not tried it already. A commonly known acupressure point is on the wrist, but one that is lesser known is found near the sternum! Applying pressure to your sternum also relieves your adrenals. See the photos below to get an idea.
Cannabis is another natural remedy that some choose. As a disclaimer we do not encourage breaking the law, selling, nor purchasing illicit drugs, so there’s that. Check your state laws and proceed with caution! There are no current studies completed and published in the USA, so if that bothers you, cannabis may not be up your alley, but there have been studies done in other countries and they all point to no harm, no risk. Smoking ANYTHING in general, is not ideal, but edibles, tinctures, topicals, and suppositories are all options. Vaping THC oil IS an option, as well, but be mindful that many vape cartridge packs contain preservatives, flavors, fragrances, and other chemicals that should definitely not be in anyone’s body, let alone a pregnant body. If THC is illegal in your state, but you still want to take advantage of hemp as legally as possible, give CBD oil a try. Full-spectrum is excellent, but for some, it does make them test positive for THC on a drug test even though the amount is legal in every single state, so if your work would have issue with that, be mindful. There is absolutely COMPLETELY THC FREE CBD oil. WILL it definitely help nausea and vomiting? Not entirely. Most people see THC as a psychoactive component of cannabis and think that by removing it, you solve the whole issue of “getting high,” yet still reaping the FULL benefits of cannabis, but this is a myth. THC has medicinal properties in itself, and when you remove THC from the picture, you unfortunately lose some of the benefits, and that is just a reality, so weigh your options!
Otherwise, in come the Doctors Orders! A solution that some have to resort to in order to function, is pharmaceuticals to treat consistent nausea and vomiting. While we completely validate that, we also cannot claim that HERBAL as an organization stands for informed consent, without expressing the risks of the drugs, as well. Zofran can lead to arrythmia, dizziness, headaches and loss of memory, as some of the more common effects. We will not scare you with the rare effects. Phenergan/Promethazine can lead to disorientation, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, edema (swelling), jaundice, anemia and seizures. Diclegis can make you sleepy, enhance nausea, induce vomiting, and cause itching. All of these also deplete nutrients in their own unique way, so be sure to test your nutrient levels before and about every couple weeks after utilizing these prescription medications, to see what you also need to be fulfilling as far as nutritional gaps.
If you want to read and learn more about nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, check out this study that evaluates all the risk factors, associations and more.
To close, I would like to discuss what exactly I mean by embracing this horrific feeling for the first months, or the entire span, of your pregnancy. I have found that welcoming the nausea, the vomiting, accepting its presence, navigating how to work through it even when nothing is helping, and see it as another piece of the puzzle (even if it’s a really yucky piece) to your amazing body and the creation of life within you. Now, if you have HG, do not embrace that, please get help, because HG is beyond awful. There are meditations available on Youtube and Insight Timer for relieving and embracing morning sickness and making peace with the beast that have been found to be incredibly soothing and helpful! You certainly have the right to complain, and even roll your eyes, especially if you are going through morning sickness right now, but hopefully this article can bring you some sort of relief, even if that relief is simply knowing that you are not alone.
Here is to a happy pregnancy, with or without puking involved! Tell us what helped you through, if anything.
I always joke that you should be as picky with your Back-Up Doula/Business Partner, as you are about your Life Partner/Spouse and to not be afraid to date, take a break, break-up entirely, or stay together forever… LOL but honestly, that’s pretty valid!
You want to seriously know their values, their experience, their comfort zone, their training and capabilities, availability, financial requirements, childcare situation, what supplies they bring to the table, and more!
Can you genuinely work together without conflict? Would you want this individual at YOUR birth? Would you feel comfortable at theirs?
When choosing a back-up doula to take on a client, or clients, of yours, you need to discuss and agree in several areas.
Fee that will be provided in the event that one of you back up the other (does it change whether the back up is there 2 hours or 24 hours?) Tip: I firmly believe that 30-50% of the birth fee is fair, especially if you provided a few prenatal appointments and intend to follow up postpartum, but also have to consider how the back-up doula has to be on-call and attend the birth, which genuinely is a lot of work. It is much easier if you collect the full payment from the client prior to birth, and pay the back-up doula yourself, so there is no confusion between the client, you and the back-up.
What circumstances you can call them in (any and all, preferably, because emergencies get weird)
What their availability timeframe will be (36 weeks to 42 weeks, or a slimmer timeframe? Weekends only? Weekdays only?)
How quickly can they get to a birth? Where is their home-base (where they live)?
What can they bring to a birth? What if they do not have the same tools in their bag that your client prefers?
What experience/training do they have? Is it pretty equivalent to yours? If not, how can you ensure they do? Tip: I prefer to attend a birth or two with my back-ups before relying on them AS a back-up, so I can see their style, if they are honest about their availability, their energy in a birth space, and more. If it takes them 2 hours to get there when they live 20 minutes away, they seem confused or intimidated in the birth space, this does not necessarily mean that they are completely written off, but it does mean we need to have a new discussion on realistic expectations, needs, and how we can address their energy and how to improve. You have to be able to have open communication.
Do they have a friendly face, demeanor, and energy in general? If you were interviewing for a doula for your birth, would you hire them? You definitely do not want your clients feeling disappointed in the services your back-up doula provided because then they will feel disappointed in YOU and your business, and will be less likely to recommend you, and hire you in the future.
A Back-Up Doula is a Must Have
ALWAYS discuss the possibility of a back-up with your clients, even if you see no way that it could happen. Your clients need to have their contact information, business information, and potentially even an option to meet them – just in case! If you got struck by lightning, got into a severe car accident, or had a serious family emergency, you would want the comfort of knowing your back-up doula had everything covered and your clients would not be left feeling alone.
Whomever you hire, remember you are not stuck with them forever if they are absolutely terrible and do not be afraid to break it off if the relationship stinks, because your clients are a priority! Interview and meet with several different people as potential back-up doulas.
Some doula businesses even run on a two-doula method, where two doulas attend prenatal appointments, births, and postpartum together, or they alternate attendance. There are also doula agencies that clients may receive one of several different doulas. If this is something you are interested in, you should definitely explore it for your business, they are cool models of business!
I love birth but some aspects of birth are very triggering to me, it literally makes my skin crawl.
I support women’s choice to birth wherever they feel most comfortable. The woods? I’m with that. Your house? Call me, I’ll show up! Birthing center? I support it, but you won’t be hiring me. The hospital? I support that choice too! – but I, physically cannot support you there. I have nothing to offer a woman that chooses a medicalized birth. Be it a birthing center, hospital, or any other assisted setting.
If a woman births in these locations, she is literally signing her birth over to the provider’s power and discretion. If the provider feels mom needs an episiotomy, forceps use, a cesarean, etc., she will endure this and it will be legal, even if she is screaming “NO”. She can sue, but from what I see, she will not win. How can I support a woman with zero rights, who legally, cannot support herself? I’d be happy to explain, feel free to ask.
The trauma that occurs in these facilities is not worth any set dollar amount for me to endure witnessing. I’m not down with the secondary trauma involved in assisted birth. Some women are strong enough to watch this all play out, and sleep at night – I cannot.
Here’s something many people do not know; I have never attended in support at a hospital birth. This does not mean I have not seen hospital birth. Don’t get it twisted, sistah. I am triggered in this setting – it is hard for me to watch all that a hospital birth has to offer, play out. Even in social media shared videos or photos – I won’t look, I do not want to see that. In fact, I will not step foot into a facility unless there is a case of an emergency. In this case, I would be the most fierce guard dog for mom. This has not been necessary thus far. I personally will only attend births where the mother is 100% in control of her birth and choices being made.
When I see assisted birth photos or videos, the items listed below are what make me cringe. I literally want to throw up when I see these things. I wasn’t always this way! Only after learning what birth could be for women, do I cringe at the sight of anything less.
The room itself, the setup, the equipment, the tubes and cords, the bed, the baby table, the hazardous waste bin, and the privacy curtain.
The needle in mom’s arm, taped to her with cords and tubes.
The crowd of people in the room, most being random strangers mom has never met before, and the excessive energy that will impact mom.
The harmful constant fetal monitoring bands on moms’ belly, penetrating baby constantly.
The unnecessary interventions being performed by the medically mined provider.
Mom confined on her back, like a helpless victim.
Mom’s positioning during birth and there immediately after – often, legs spread, up in the air, with a light shining right on the women’s vagina. Very degrading and disempowering.
The provider pulling baby from the vagina or interfering manually in any unnecessary sense.
The Placenta being pulled/tugged only an hour or less after birth as if they cannot wait for the woman’s body to release it.
The bracelets on mom. Plastic rubbing against laboring women’s skin.
The horrid hospital gowns, making one look like an unwell patient of illness.
Gloved hands being the hands welcoming baby earth side.
The immediate wiping off of the baby.
The separation of mom and baby immediately postpartum.
The suctioning of baby’s mouth and unnecessary handling of baby.
The staff uniforms, from the shirt to the shoes.
The gloves and masks worn by people present, as if it is a toxic event.
The rough handling of baby after birth.
The plastic bands placed on the newborn’s arms and legs after arrival.
The ointment in baby’s eyes, interfering with physiological bonding and wiping out all good flora/bacteria.
The band aids on baby’s legs from the injections they snuck in almost immediately postpartum.
The unnecessary and hindering hat placed on the newborn baby.
The hustle and bustle immediately postpartum
The PURE lacking of autonomy and biological normality’s in labor, birth, and postpartum.
I could go on but it is impeding my energy.
Nothing about any of the above or the actions occurring in this setting are physiological. It starts out medicalized from the second mom walks in. Putting plastic bands on her arms, needle in her arm, monitoring bands on her belly, and whatever else they can deem necessary. Almost as if there is some sort of emergency occurring, not a biological function.
I am not comfortable with this, and that’s okay! Many women aren’t comfortable with unassisted birth either, I’m sure. Seeing something I know is often better off untouched, being touched and turned into a medicalized event, brings me so much anxiety. I stay away from settings that can contort my view of birth, give me anxiety, or are likely to leave me with secondary trauma and stress. The medicalized birth setting is not for me, I simply am not best fit to serve in this setting. It literally makes my skin crawl.
*NOTE: This is simply my perspective and feelings surrounding hospital birth. I do not need your agreement or understanding to make them valid. I also know that not all of the list above occurs in all facility birth, no need to point out the obvious.
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This list can be used for not only birth workers, but birthing peoples may want to gather these items for themselves!
The items I have marked as a rental means they are items doulas should not necessarily be using on a client, as doulas are not medical professionals, but they are items that most clients need/want, therefore it’s a great idea to rent them out during prenatals/births, rather than the clients having to purchase their own!
You may click any of the supplies you are interested in, to be taken to a link of the product brand that we have used, and recommend!
Aloe Vera Gel (excellent to replace lubricant for a doppler, minor burns, skin healing and more)
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.”
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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!)
How many times have you had to resuscitate in your career?
How many births have you attended?
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)
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)
How many births do you attend per month?
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)
Do you have an assistant or will you be attending alone? (Some bring an assistant and some charge more for the assistant)
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)
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)
How many times have you had to transfer mom/baby postpartum?
Will you attend twin, breech, and VBAC births? Why or why not?
What complications and emergencies have you seen and how were they handled? (i.e. prematurity, prolonged labor, fetal distress, breech, bleeding, dystocia)
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.)
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)
What complications/emergencies are you prepared to handle?
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.)
What percentage/exactly how many clients have had cesareans in your practice?
Will you accompany us through a hospital birth if one was necessary?
Do you offer prenatal care? What is your schedule for visits?
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)
What type of nutrition counseling do you provide?
Do you visit the home at any time before the birth?
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)
Am I required to attend a certain amount of prenatal appointments?
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)
When do you like to be called once labor has begun?
When do you come to the home once labor has begun?
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.)
What emergency equipment do you provide?
How do you view the father’s role?
What is your role during labor? birth?
How do you feel about sibling participation in birth?
What non-drug measures do you suggest for pain relief?
How often do you listen to the baby’s heart rate during labor?
How often do you check the mother’s blood pressure?
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.)
What is considered fetal distress in your opinion?
What do you consider prolonged labor/birth pushing?
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.)
How do you feel about water-birth? Have you attended any?
What measures do you take to prevent tearing?
Will you allow partner to “catch the baby” instead of you?
Do you check for tears after delivery?
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?
How do you prevent/treat excessive postpartum bleeding?
How do you handle the baby immediately after birth?
How long do you stay after the birth? What do you check at this time?
What is your schedule for follow-up care?
Do you do the newborn screening tests?
What are your thoughts regarding circumcision?
How is the filing of the birth certificate handled?
Do you routinely give me a copy of all my records after the birth?
How much do you charge for your services?
What services are not included in this fee?
Do insurance plans cover your fee? Do you accept direct payment?
When do you want the full fee paid?
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!)
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!!