Saturday, August 20, 2011

Blessings through birth

I am awakened in the middle of the night to a phone call. "Do you think you could come over now?" "I'll be there as soon as I can," I reply.
Birth bag already packed, work clothes already laid out, now's the time to put on my real uniform, grab hold of my real tools for what's coming. As I dress, I pray,

"Lord, may these hands do your will. May these feet move along your path. May this mouth utter your praises. May these ears be open to your direction. May this heart be open to your wisdom."

I gather the children, and help them over to the neighbor's house. As I do, I pray,

"Lord, make your presence known to these little ones while I am away. Bless this friend who takes great care for them. Protect them all."

I hop in my van, gathering speed through the darkness. As I drive I pray,

"Lord, guide me through the night. Place your protection around my vehicle as I drive. Lead me to where I need to go."

I think about the mama and daddy waiting eagerly for my arrival, and I pray,

"Lord, thank you for your miracle of life. Place your peace and protection over this family. Surround that little baby with your shield of protection. Place your wisdom over this mama. Give this daddy strength and encouragement. Help me, Lord, to be the quiet support that they need."

I arrive to the house, lights softly glowing from inside. Grabbing my gear, as I head inside I pray,

"Lord, give me peace and strength. May your will for this birth be done. May I work to honor you, Lord, and not me. May this mother feel your love coursing through me tonight."

Throughout the night, and into the morning's first glow of dawn, I work, and I pray. Sometimes I sit silently. Sometimes I am talking through each contraction. Sometimes I sit back and watch mama and daddy loving their baby, working together to bring new life into the world. And sometimes I am using my entire body to support this mama's hard work. I fetch water, I make tea, I brew coffee. I scramble eggs, I run baths, I wash towels. I catch vomit, wipe foreheads, clean toilets. I am there to support, encourage, let the mother and father feel the confidence and wisdom to do the work they were intended to do. And all the while, I'm praying,

"Lord, help this baby to find his way out. Thank you for each contraction which prepares him for the outside world. Give this mama the strength to continue. Give this daddy the courage to continue."

As the contractions change, turn to grunts and then full-blown pushing, I am helping mama move, fanning her, grabbing water, holding mirrors. I am encouraging daddy to talk to her, to see his baby, to wipe her brow. And I pray,

"Lord, protect this baby as he goes through this transition from womb to earth. Keep this mama strong. Keep this baby's heart steady, and his lungs prepared."

We work together, we watch and wait. And we see him emerge, slowly, slowly. A gradual entrance into the world. He looks at us, at these new faces, clear voices, bright lights, and new sounds. He turns and turns and mama reaches down and grabs her baby, and I pray,

"Lord, thank you for your wonderful blessings. Breathe your life into this little one. Give him breath, and give him your peace. Course your strength through this mama's body as it changes from pregnant to postpartum. Give her your wisdom and power. Lord, tie strings from this baby's heart to his mama's and his daddy's. Make them strong bonds. Make them lasting bonds. Thank you for this miracle, Lord. Amen."

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative: Why It's Important! Step #5

To receive CIMS designation as "mother-friendly," a hospital , birth center, or home birth service must carry out the these philosophical principles by fulfilling the Ten Step of Mother-Friendly Care.

Step #5 A mother-friendly Hospital, birth center, or home birth service has clearly defined policies and procedures for:
  • collaborating and consulting throughout the perinatal period with other maternity services, including communicating with the original caregiver when transfer from one birth site to another is necessary; 
  • linking the mother and baby to appropriate community resources, including prenatal and post-discharge follow-up and breastfeeding support.
A lot of times in our modern birth culture, women may feel lost in prenatal/maternity care. It is frustrating to mothers and families to be tossed around by the healthcare system. If you are being seen by a different ob or midwife every visit who "might" have read your chart before you were seen it can be exhausting explaining your pregnancy every single time. Mothers may loose trust in "the system" if it always seems like their health care provider is too busy to take the time to understand her as a patient before her visits.
Also it is VERY important that when a mother is transferred from one care facility to anything so is her information in a successful manor. It is highly inappropriate for a mother to arrive at her new care facility only to find that she has to explain her pregnancy and be "new patient" all over again. It is understandable that a care facility would want to check her in under their own procedures but she has come to this new place for a reason and those needs need to be properly addressed with the understanding of her previous care history. This is ESPECIALLY important when transferring a laboring mother from one place to another because of an emergency. Clear communication is key.

It is also essential that pregnant families have access to appropriate community resources. It is not ok to expect families to just find this information on their own. When a family is pregnant for the fist time they are experiencing an entire new lifestyle! Sometimes it take a little while to even know what kind of resources a family might need. All care facilities and practices should have a resource list or information available for families available. Things like follow up care information and breast feeding support are essential to a new family and no one is above being appreciative for information!

For more information on the Ten Steps of the Mother-Friendly Initiative or to get involved please visit

Monday, June 27, 2011

Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative: Why It's Important! Step #4

To receive CIMS designation as "mother-friendly," a hospital , birth center, or home birth service must carry out the these philosophical principles by fulfilling the Ten Step of Mother-Friendly Care.

Step #4 A mother-friendly hospital, birth center, or home birth service provides the birthing woman the freedom to walk, move about, and assume the positions of her choice during labor and birth (unless restriction is specifically required to correct a complication), and discourages the use of lithotomy (flat on back with legs elevated) position.

This is so important! So many studies out there tell us that restricting a mother's movement and not allowing her to be free to feel how her body wants to be is damaging to the labor. It slows things down. It can make labor more painful, causing tension.

I want to share this article with you that I found particularly helpful.

I want to tell you the story of me second birth. I could not stand up. If I stood up the pain was excruciating! I thought to myself "this must be why women get pain meds!" I could not lie down in any position or stand up without the pain being so unbearable that I felt like I was loosing my mind. They kept trying to make me stand because I needed to use the restroom. This part of my labor seemed like it lasted for HOURS.... it may have I dunno... (You know how the labor time warp works...)

During transition sometime I shouted my code word to my husband and made him tell them I wanted an epidural. Something amazing happened though. When the anesthesiologist came my husband got in my face, eye level, and told me I could do this. He told me I didn't want the epidural and that I was ok. I believed him and in that moment clarity hit me. I did not WANT to be standing up anymore. I got back in the bed and I got on my hands and knees. I switched from then on to the hands and knees position and squatting on the bed. I can't even begin to tell you how much pain was relieved for me at that point! Soon I was pushing and I had my son. And I felt amazing!!

What would birth be like if all women we given the freedom to listen to their bodies, without pressure from their care givers. Without restraints like wonky beds, fetal monitors, or IV wires. What if these technologies were crafted FOR women in labor and could move with her? What if her comfort mattered enough to the success of the labor that her care givers listened to her?

Birth would be a lot easier for everyone, if you ask me!

For more information on the Ten Steps of the Mother-Friendly Initiative or to get involved please visit

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative: Why It's Important! Step #3

To receive CIMS designation as "mother-friendly," a hospital , birth center, or home birth service must carry out the these philosophical principles by fulfilling the Ten Step of Mother-Friendly Care.

Step #3: A mother-friendly hospital, birth center, or home birth service provides culturally competent care- that it, care that is sensitive and responsive to the specific beliefs, values, and customs of the mother's ethnicity and religion. 

In the United States, this step is so important. Every mother and every family is unique and every baby has the right to be born into this world in a way that symbolizes the culture of his/her family. Since I am a Christian, I will speak from a Christian stand point but the same respect for one's heritage and customs that I demand should be given to every single family that comes through a place of birth. Admittedly, only then will my birth wishes be respected as well. 

As a US citizen my freedom of religion is important to me. It is important that the environment I birth in values my faith in Christ, Jesus. My personal beliefs on birth call for the presence of the Lord and the ability to have prayer warriors with me throughout the process. My doula is a believer. We will want to pray openly during my birth. I will expect respect for that. If some nurse comes walking into my hospital room and hears us worshiping Jesus and makes a rude comment I will be extremely offended. My birth process will be disrupted.

A woman's spirituality is very important to her. It is the very essence of who she is. She needs to be allowed the freedom to express herself during labor. My favorite quote from, I don't remember where, says that a woman does not become someone else in labor but she become MORE herself in this vulnerable time. In my life I walk with Christ. He is all around me, a constant source of strength. During birth when I am most vulnerable I will want the freedom to embrace my faith. It is how I deal with trials... it is the very makeup of my being. 

To deny a woman the right to birth according to her faith system or culture's customs by disrespect, rude comments, forced procedures, and/or dictatorship of birth is to deny a women the birth she will be most healthy in and happy with. When you do not provide culturally competent care for mothers you are possibly inhibiting an otherwise beautiful, smooth birth process. And one that will save healthcare costs when she is allowed the space to birth in a healthy for her manor. 

When providers in the US learn to accept families for who they are and respect them as such... birth becomes a right of passage for women. It becomes something more than just a medical procedure or a common event. For her, it is everything in that moment. And she is at her best, her healthiest, when she is allowed to be her entire self.

For more information on the Ten Steps of the Mother-Friendly Initiative or to get involved please visit

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative: Why It's Important! Step #2

To receive CIMS designation as "mother-friendly," a hospital , birth center, or home birth service must carry out the these philosophical principles by fulfilling the Ten Step of Mother-Friendly Care.

Step #2: A mother-friendly hospital, birth center, or home birth service provides accurate descriptive and statistical information to the public about it's practices and procedures for birth care, including measures  of interventions and outcomes. 

In order for mothers to get a crystal clear picture of the organization they intrust their birth to, this step needs to be implemented everywhere. No matter what choices a mother is going to make during her birth she needs to know if her wishes will be respected or not. Like all businesses, hospitals, birth centers, or home birth services have statistics and outcomes when their product is used. We as birthing families are the consumer. We have a right to know how well or not so well a provider's service is doing or whether they will fit our birth choices. 

For a mother who wants a natural childbirth, is educated about her body and her choices, understands when intervention may be necessary it may not be in her best interest to place her birth experience in the hands of a hospital with a 50% cesarean rate. She has a right to know this information so that as a consumer, she can choose to buy her services from said hospital or not. 

For a mother wanting a medicated birth and wants to be supported in that choice it may not be in her best interest to birth with a provider who has never needed to use an epidural. While this provider may be very skilled at the art of supporting birthing mothers she/he has cared for, this particular mother has a right to choose a place of birth supportive of her wishes.

What if more mothers and families adopted the idea that birth in America is a business. While most of us don't see it that way or wish it wasn't, it very much seems like it doesn't it? The sooner we start placing our births in appropriate hands the better birth outcomes we will have! If we are always agreeing with the idea that we "have to birth here because it is the only option (for whatever reason)..." then we are not treating our births with the respect they deserve. 

It is up to us to HIRE the correct professional for our births. It is up to birth professionals to provide us with the information we need to make educated choices about where we birth. If every hospital, birth center, and home birth service in America made available accurate, descriptive, and statistical information to the public we would all be a little more confident in the places we choose to birth! 

For more information on the Ten Steps of the Mother-Friendly Initiative or to get involved please visit

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative: Why It's Important! Step #1

To receive CIMS designation as "mother-friendly," a hospital , birth center, or home birth service must carry out the these philosophical principles by fulfilling the Ten Step of Mother-Friendly Care. 

Step #1: A mother-friendly hospital, birth center, or home birth service offers all birthing mothers:

  1. Unrestricted access to the birth companions of her choice, including fathers, partners, children, family members, and friends;
  2. Unrestricted access to continuous emotional and physical support from a skilled woman-for example a doula, or labor-support professional;
  3. Access to professional midwifery care.
In order for mothers to feel satisfied with their birth they need to walk away from a birth feeling emotionally satisfied. That is what they will remember. When her feet were cold, when she was hungry, when someone made a rude comment, who held her hand... reasons why she needed someone. Those are the principles that build a beautiful birth story. If a women is supported in her educated birth choices and allowed the freedom to explore her birth, then fear is replaced with comfort and confidence. 

Every mother is different requiring unique and tailored support. Most of today's care revolves around a standard time frame or outcome a birth should have to be "healthy" or satisfying. This  cannot be the case with women who are individual in health and needs. Women are different and should be valued as such. There are many women who only want their husband present at their side. Some women want their whole family. More and more women are hiring doulas to stand behind them and encourage their birth. This is a right we have and should be respected. When supportive people can nurture a mother in the way SHE needs to be nurtured her birth becomes empowering to her self. 

A birth place should have access to midwives. Midwives are trained to care for a mother and her birth experience, not just her "birth". Midwives offer mothers a priceless abundance of understanding. When a mother is understood... her birth experience with thrive! 

For more information on the Ten Steps of the Mother-Friendly Initiative or to get involved please visit

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Who Has Been Destroying Birth?

When we look back through the past 100 years or so of the history of childbirth, we see a drastic change from where it used to take place, who used to be in attendance, and what was available for the laboring mom.

We tend to be quick to point fingers at who is to blame for this great shift in normal to institutional childbirth. Was it men, who wanted to control even this part of women, who made it into something that was "managed", instead of "experienced"? Or, was it women, eager at the idea of no longer having to endure the fear of pain and suffering in childbirth, and begged to just made unaware of what was taking place?

But this argument is focused on the wrong area. "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." (Ephesians 6:12) To understand fully what women face when they bring new life into the world, we have to understand what is so wonderful about the whole thing.
Satan fell because of his beauty. Now his heart for revenge is to assault beauty. He destroys it in the natural world wherever he can...He wreaks destruction on the glory of God in the earth like a psychopath committed to destroying great works of art.
But most especially, he hates Eve.
Because she is captivating, uniquely glorious, and he cannot be. She is the incarnation of the Beauty of God. More than anything else in all creation, she embodies the glory of God. She allures the world to God. He hates it with a jealousy we can only imagine.
And there is more. The Evil One also hates Eve because she gives life. Women give birth, not men. Women nourish life. And they also bring life into the world soulfully, relationally, spiritually - in everything they touch. Satan was a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44). He brings death. His is a kingdom of death...And thus Eve is his greatest human threat, for she brings life. She is a lifesaver and a life giver. Eve means "life" or "life producer."
- from, Captivating, by John and Stasi Eldredge

So, you see, we need to stop placing all the blame on the things we can see. That is just the human motions of a spiritual destroyer. Instead of fighting this battle with just our words and our threats, we need to take our fighting to the base of where this destruction begins. We need to take this fight on our knees.

We need prayer warriors to start a movement to bring beauty and life back to where God placed it. We need to fight this as we are told to fight spiritual battles. Every day we need to don the Belt of Truth, the Breastplate of Righteousness, Sandals of the gospel of peace, the Shield of Faith, the Helmet of Salvation, and the Sword of the Spirit. These are how we fight this battle. This is how we heal this great wound we have allowed to open and fester. Pray for women. Pray for birth. Pray for those who attend women in birth. There is a battle that is being fought, that has been fought for thousands of years. And it is not going to end until we figure out who we are fighting, and how he can be defeated.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Letting the Lord in my Birth

It is very hard for me to openly speak my testimony. I know that God has given this to me to share... but I have not figured out a way to explain it without coming off as, "I told you so!" or, "This is the right way!" I haven't figured out how not to sound like that because everything inside of me wants to shout, "There IS a better way to birth than what you're doing!" Everything inside of me wants to explain the difference I have seen between trusting the world with my labor and birth and trusting the Lord instead.

My first birth story is one I am still slowly figuring out. Many things happened to me and my baby in that hospital and now that I am a doula, I am finally finding the tools to explain to myself why my son almost died and why I was never able to initially bond with him as his mother. When I was first starting on my doula journey last summer, I met with other doulas to get to know them and ask questions and when I would tell them this birth story, it would not make sense to them. The lies I was told by my health care team about what happened did not make sense to women who see birth sometimes daily. It hit me like a silver bullet. I started researching and am slowly piecing together the truth. It has been very healing and I am so thankful. God has given me this doula journey not only to bless others with, but through it, He is blessing me with wisdom as I grow closer to Him. I am so grateful.

The truth is, God was nowhere in that birth story. I believe very much that it is a testimony I can now use to understand why His presence in birth is so important for women. I did not call to Him during my pain. I did not ask Him for strength. I was incredibly lonely and I did not ask Him for comfort. I did not consult Him in decision making and every decision I made was for the worst. I trusted the doctors to have my health in interest and they did not. I trusted them to take care of my son and me and they did not. I trusted my family to meet my needs and they were unable. If I had trusted the Lord for it all, what would things have been like?

My second birth was much different. By this time I had be born again and I was at peace with my coming labor. I trusted the Lord to take care of me and I had even witnessed His might in my sister's birth experience. (Which ultimately was the reason behind my decision to become a doula!) Her testimony filled me with trust for God.

This time I asked Him for help. I prayed as much I as remembered to. I was convicted to get through my labor without relying on medical pain relief and I successfully did. There were instances in my labor where I was scared of the hospital staff but Jesus was quick to act through my husband for support. My second birth was beautiful, powerful, and I loved every minute of it! I loved pushing my baby out... I loved how in control I was of my body. It felt good to get right out of bed after my placenta was delivered to eat a piece of pizza while I held my new gift and nursed him. We were healthy and needed nothing but each other after the birth. I worshiped the Lord after my birth in joy and thanksgiving, and fully give Him all the glory for that day!

The difference here is the presence of the Lord. Hands down.

"The LORD is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayers of the righteous." Proverbs 15:29

But how do I explain this in a way that teaches and comforts others.... I am still figuring that out. I never want to be a "Bible thumper" but everything in me says the smartest, most beneficial, and healthiest way to bring a baby into this world is to know where your life growing gifts have come from and trusting in the One who will bless you if you only would ask.

"When you call, the Lord will answer. 'Yes I am here.' He will quickly rely." Isaiah 58:9