As you can imagine I am surrounded by births and hearing birth stories on a weekly basis. I thought I should start sharing these amazing and inspiring stories here on my blog as sort of a modern day times, Red Tent. These stories are meant to inspire, motivate, and educate. Look for the pearl in every story no matter the outcome. If you have a story you would like to share please send me a personal email: email@example.com with the subject like "Modern Day Red Tent Birth Story".
Let's start this series with TJ's Birth Story. This is the birth of her second baby who also was born at home. I was her doula for the first birth and because she moved away I was not there for baby number 2 although by the sound of her story, her midwife barely got there on time! And the story begins...
TJ's Homebirth Story
I had my second baby (another girl - her name is Eloise but we call her Louie) about a year ago. I did have another home birth but couldn't use MaryLou because we were just too far away. I used Sue Wolcott - a midwife in Glendale.
The birth was so quick; the midwife almost didn't get here in time! ?My water broke in the early morning hours after I went to the bathroom but I just went back to bed since there were no contractions. Contractions were very mild throughout the day so we just went about our business. I even made my husband, Tyler, go to work because I felt just fine. I did drive with him though so that I would be near him in case things started up more actively.
I hung out in Westchester while he was in Culver City. Around 2:15 p.m. I got a REAL contraction. I called Tyler and told him I was coming to pick him up from work and we needed to get home. I called Sue too to let her know (we had been in contact throughout the day but it was finally time). Tyler and I drove home in traffic on the 405 freeway and he was convinced we wouldn't make it in time. I got very quiet and just kept breathing; I had my music on and was in my own place.
Things got very intense very fast. I made Tyler stop and get gas once we were almost home and also make a stop at Trader Joe's so we would have food for the midwives if labor took all night. It sounds crazy when I think back on it now that we made those stops, but neither of us were convinced that it would be fast birth. We were hopeful, but pessimistic. We got home at about 4:30 p.m. and Sue got here at 5:00 p.m. I was laboring on the ball for the most part and just moving my hips when the contractions eased. At some point I asked Sue to check me because things suddenly felt different and I told her it felt like my water was about to break. She laughed and said, "Hunny, your water has been broken - what your feeling is the pressure from your baby's head about to come out." And sure enough, the next contraction had me pushing.
Tyler asked if he should set up the birth tub and Sue told him, “Only if you can fill it in 5 minutes 'cause this baby is almost here." They set up living room floor with pads and towels and helped me over to labor on the floor, leaning against the couch. Sure enough, two pushes later, our baby was born at 5:30 p.m.! She was tiny and perfect - only 6lbs 2oz, FAR different than her 9lb sister!!
The birth was amazing and perfect. Since we never had time to fill up the birth tub for the actual birth, I soaked in it afterwards with my new baby. The assistant midwife made it to the house about 45 minutes later - hahaha! They both left after a few hours and Tyler went out to get us dinner. We sat on our couch with our new baby girl nuzzled against us, skin to skin, as we ate hamburgers and fries. We reveled in the fact that we got to have another incredible birth. I honestly wish every woman got to experience a homebirth! Burgers and fries on your own couch just hours after having a baby…you don't get that with a hospital birth!
Anyhow, that's our story. I had no idea I'd be so excited to write it out suddenly. Thanks for asking me to share our story, Patricia! I wish we still lived closer so I could come to your mommy & baby yoga class and get to see you. I hope all is well with you.
Posted with permission.
[Originally published April 25, 2013]
Hoping for a more natural birth? Here is How: A sneak peek into my doula-bag-o-tricks and you’ll find my stash of Aromatherapy. Yes, not only does the flowery, fruity, and earthy smell mask the creepy smell of hospitals but pure essential oils (EOs) can actually affect a birthing mama mentally, physically, and emotionally without the use of pharmaceuticals. Woot woot!
Aromatherapy is a method of treatment in which pleasant smells are inhaled thus stimulating the limbic area of the brain, releasing neurochemicals into the bloodstream and promoting relaxation in the body. The right combination of smells can stimulate the body's production of endorphins (the body's own analgesic) and decrease the feeling of pain.
Essential oils are not synthetic but rather are derived from plants and flowers. Essential oils can help you relax. Take a whiff of Lavender oil and notice how your facial muscles melt like wax and your breathing slows into a calm and rhythmic breathing pattern.
Although a variety of essential oils can be used for labor and birth, my personal doula favorite is Lavender essential oil. Lavender can be put directly onto your skin. It can be used alone (neat) or in combination with other oils. Spearmint or Mint EO scent is good if you are feeling nauseous however it cannot be placed neat on the skin without a carrier oil because it can cause irritation.
Essential oils can be mixed with carrier oil such as vegetable or nut oil (try extra virgin olive oil, jojoba, apricot kernel, wheat germ, sunflower, almond, or avocado) and placed in your bathwater or a diffuser to create a relaxing atmosphere. You can burn your favorite scents using a vaporizer to scent the air or put a few drops on your pillow, handkerchief, on your wrist or a hot damp facecloth. Try mixing a drop of each essential oil of Rose, Neroli, and sandalwood in jojoba oil you can rub into your forehead, face and neck.
Ask your partner to mix your favorite essences with a carrier oil so that they can be massaged into your skin. The suggested mixture is about 4-8 drops of essential oil with 2 tablespoons of carrier oil depending on the strength you want. A cotton swab with a few drops of essential oil is perfect and can be tucked easily in mama’s bra strap or shirt for quick and easy inhalation.
Cheat-Sheet of Essential Oils for Labor & Birth
For Relaxation: Lavender, Geranium, Ylang Ylang, and Neroli
To Relieve Nausea: Sniff a cotton swab with 3 drops of Peppermint or Spearmint or Lemon
Energy Booster & Lift Spirits: Sweet Orange, Sandalwood and Jasmine
For More Regular Contractions: Clary sage can stimulate uterine contractions and should be avoided during pregnancy. However, if you are dilating slowly in labor, you may ask your doctor if clary sage would be beneficial to you. Add a few drops of clary sage to a tablespoon of carrier oil and gently rub onto your tummy, shoulders, legs and back.
At Birth: I advise my clients to use essential oils on a cotton swab which can easily be disposed at any time if mama no longer wants the scent. Additionally, mama should not have strong scents on her chest, neck and shoulders at the time the baby is about to be born. You can imagine that a room filled with strong essential oils can be strong and overpowering to a newborn. Massaging a woman’s low back with a massage oil combination is no problem since the smell is away from mama’s breasts and should not affect the baby at birth.
Some women may be allergic to aromatherapy essential oils and experience side effects of nausea, vomiting or headaches. If this occurs discontinue use immediately.
To order essential oils, reach out to my friend Mai Serenity and order here: https://www.doterra.com/US/en/site/maiserenityspace
I have seen mamas sail through birth with just a few cotton swabs of aromatherapy. And the best part is that aromatherapy is au-naturel and easy to use.
[Originally published February 26, 2013]
I recently read an awesome article by one of my favorite childbirth blogs called Midwife Thinking’s Blog. The topic was called “Cord Blood Collection: Confessions of a Vampire-Midwife,” posted February 10, 2011.
It was well-timed since I just received an email from a Representative of Pacificord- Cord Blood Collection. Funny how they got my name and email? What was most interesting is his offer to give me (as a Doula) a $50 referral fee for every client I sent to them and booked an account. Wow! Now, I know this type of thing happens at doctors’ offices but this is the first time, as a doula, I have been approached and been offered CASH for referrals.
I am aware of doctors and hospitals receiving incentives for selling/recommending drugs or childbirth interventions but have never heard of doulas being approached. What happened to the doulas helping to be the Guardians of gentle birthing for moms and babies? I have to admit, for a quick second I thought, "Hmmm, who do I know that I can refer?" Then I quickly snapped myself back! But with such a generous referral incentive you can see how tempting it could be to pass along the Pacificord brochures.
Read The Midwife Thinking’s blog to learn more about the process of cord banking and the affect on baby. When you learn how much of the baby’s own blood volume is taken (about 1/3) it makes one really think hard about this topic of cord banking. The midwife further states, “I am not saying cord blood banking shouldn’t be an available option. All I am suggesting is that parents need adequate information before they make a decision to withdraw a significant amount of their baby’s blood volume. They need to be able to weigh up the definite benefits of full blood volume at birth vs a possible treatment for an unlikely future illness. Cord blood is baby’s blood.”
I have read literature on both sides of the fence about cord banking. Cord banking is still in its infancy (no pun intended) since the 1980s. And in 1992, the University of Arizona banked the first cord blood sample in the world specifically stored for family use. Other factors could affect one’s decision about cord banking such as family history of certain diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, leukemia, sickle cell anemia and type1 diabetes. The Thinking Midwife encourages parents to understand and be "... informed that cord blood collection requires premature cord clamping, and that the blood being collected belongs to their baby.”
Could our current practice of early cord clamping be depriving the baby a chance to a better start?
Here is another great article found in the British Medical Journal about the practice of early cord clamping. Dr. David J R Hutchon, retired consultant obstetrician, in England says, "I have always argued that applying a clamp to the cord is clearly an intervention, having the greatest effect when it is done quickly after birth." Early cord clamping has become so routine that we have forgotten to question its necessity. The practice of early cord clamping goes hand-in-hand with cord banking, unfortunately.
Cord blood is baby's blood to benefit from it NOW not frozen for the small probability of use later. It is ultimately the parents’ choice to make. So unless upon request, you won't see me passing out cord banking brochures lest I be called...the Vampire Doula : )
[Originally published December 1, 2012]
If you are pregnant and wondering what to bring to the hospital or Birth Center for your upcoming labor & delivery, chances are you have already come across those long lists of what to pack. Sure, the essentials are obvious such as your toiletries, change of clothes, a coming home outfit for the baby…your husband and Birth Partner, duh of course! But, what about a SHORT list of the absolutely most essential things to bring with you that will make a big difference? I give you a short list of the top 10 most important things to pack in your hospital bag but often get overlooked, so if you are within 4 weeks of your due start packing your bag now.
[Originally published April 9, 2013]
I am so pleased to share this VBAC birth story of my yoga mama, Krystal! We post this as an inspiration for women considering the option for a Vaginal Birth after Cesarean (VBAC) rather than a repeat surgical birth.Krystal asked my advice for how she can prepare differently for the second birth. She’s been my yoga student since her first pregnancy. As you read Krystal’s story let me point out some very critical choices she made that contributed to the success of a vaginal birth.
On Saturday night, September 9th, I started having pretty strong contractions around 6:00 p.m. that were 3 minutes apart but by 11:00 p.m. they moved to 4 minutes apart and felt less intense so I decided to get some rest and went to bed.At midnight I woke up and the contractions were stronger than ever and about 2-3 minutes apart. I paced around a bit and then decided I needed to get into the shower. I think the warmth of the shower helped a lot but I could only be in the tabletop position on my hands and knees. Nothing else felt possible. I stayed in the shower for about an hour and then told my husband we should probably head to the hospital. It took me awhile to get dressed and walk downstairs because the contractions were coming in sets of three and were so strong that I had to wait for the minute break so I could get up and move.The car ride was tough but we made it to Little Company of Mary Hospital before 3:00 a.m. and when they checked me to see if they would admit me I was already 7 centimeters dilated. They got me in a room quickly and I spent the next couple hours on my hands and knees laboring. I noticed I lost my mucus plug and sometime after my water broke on its own.The contractions quickly turned into a pushing sensation. My body did it naturally, they wanted me to wait but I couldn’t help it. They checked me again and said I was at a 10 cm dilated and they called the doctor in. I felt the baby come down with the “ring of fire” and pushed her out within 4 contractions (a couple pushes each contraction). The doctor caught the baby as I pushed her out. I was finally able to sit back after they slipped her through my legs so I could hold her while the cord pulsated.Caroline Moon Back was born on September 10, 2017 at 5:57 a.m. 7 lbs 9 oz, 20″ long and 16 days past her due date!! I would not have been able to make it through a natural VBAC if I hadn’t done all that strengthening in yoga (mentally and physically) and if I hadn’t believed I could. The support and blessings of all the yoga mamas in Patricia’s class was everything! It was tough and I wanted to give up but managed through. Thank you so much! It was so worth it! Congratulations, Krystal! Thank you for sharing your birth story with us!
[Originally posted September 16th, 2017]
It breaks my heart and also frustrates me to hear women time and time again share with me the fear that has been implanted in their minds by their doctors concerning the size of their babies. Knowledge is power. Let’s have a discussion today about “the Big Baby Bullshit.” I put this term in quotes because I did not coin this term but ran across some website a few years ago dedicated to this topic.
First, allow me a moment to celebrate a few September births from my yoga class:
Amy ‘s story: “Hi Patricia! I’m the short blonde girl who usually sat in the back corner. I was scheduled for a planned c-section because the doctor said I would have a huge baby. But, I went into labor on my own on Friday, August 31st (water broke at 12:50 am), I dilated all the way to 10 cm by Saturday night at 9 pm but he wasn’t coming so they wheeled me in for c-section at 1:30 am. On Sunday morning, September 2nd, Baby boy, Everett James, was born at 2 am and weighed 7 lbs, 14 oz. Doctors were way off thinking I was going to have a 10 lb baby!”
Another Yoga Mama who declined her doctor’s recommendation for induction/Cesarean for suspected big baby:
Liza’s story: “Hi Patricia! This is Liza from Yoga class. I'm the girl with glasses that sits all over the place and brings non-pregnant family members to learn yoga moves with us. My daughter Lillian Marie was born on Thurs, Sept 27 after twelve hours of non-medicated labor - four at home, eight at the hospital. I used multiple music playlists, lots of dancing and moving, a yoga block, and partner stretches to get me through the whole process. My husband almost passed out doing the slow breathing techniques! Thank you for all your support and can't wait to join the Baby and Mommy classes in six weeks! By the way, Lillian was 7lbs 2oz, 21 inches long. So much for this HUGE baby the doctor was expecting. So glad I didn't fall for the big baby inducing/c-section BS. Again, thanks to all the yoga mama's for their support!”
Sigh. Need I say more? The examples above are just a fraction of the stories I hear time and time again. Some become empowered and informed about their choices in childbirth and will escape induction/Cesarean but still many more fall victim to the pressure and scare tactics. Not all doctors are this way so please don’t post any comments about me being a rebel or doctor-basher. Quite the opposite, in fact, I have a large handful of doctors whom I LOVE and recommend to my students and doula clients. It’s all about choosing your doctor wisely, one that is “mama-friendly” and one that actually reads the research and studies rather than practice fear-based medicine.
Let’s look at what ACOG Guidelines are on defining and describing the care for suspected Fetal Macrosomia, “i.e. big baby.”
Summary of ACOG committee recommendations for the management of fetal macrosomia:
ACOG Practice Bulletin 173: Fetal Macrosomia:
Recommendations based on good and consistent scientific evidence (Level A):
* The diagnosis of fetal macrosomia is imprecise. For suspected fetal macrosomia, the accuracy of estimated fetal weight using ultrasound biometry is no better than that obtained with clinical palpation (Leopold's maneuvers).
Recommendations based on limited or inconsistent scientific evidence (Level B):
* Suspected fetal macrosomia is not an indication for induction of labor because induction does not improve maternal or fetal outcomes.
* Labor and vaginal delivery are not contraindicated for women with estimated fetal weights up to 5,000 g in the absence of maternal diabetes.
* With an estimated fetal weight more than 4,500 g, a prolonged second stage of labor or arrest of descent in the second stage is an indication for cesarean delivery.
Recommendations based primarily on consensus and expert opinion (Level C):
* Although the diagnosis of fetal macrosomia is imprecise, prophylactic cesarean delivery may be considered for suspected fetal macrosomia with estimated fetal weights of more than 5,000 g in pregnant women without diabetes and more than 4,500 g in pregnant women with diabetes.
* Suspected fetal macrosomia is not a contraindication to attempted vaginal birth after a previous cesarean delivery. Vaginal delivery is a reasonable alternative to elective cesarean section for infants with estimated birth weights of less than 5000 g and a trial of labor can be offered. For the fetuses with estimated birth weight >5000 g, an elective Cesarean section should be recommended, especially in primiparous women.
Just so we are clear, ACOG is not recommending automatic Cesareans for suspected “big baby” up to 5,000 g. Here is another published study by the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in France, which concluded that “Vaginal delivery is a reasonable alternative to elective cesarean section for infants with estimated birth weights of less than 5000 g and a trial of labor can be offered. For the fetuses with estimated birth weight >5000 g, an elective caesarean section should be recommended, especially in primiparous women.” http://www.ejog.org/article/S0301-2115(97)00242-X/abstract
5,000 g is equivalent to 11 pounds!! So why are doctors continuing to schedule women for C-sections based on an ultrasound and Leopold Maneuver of a possible 8 or 9 lb baby? The truth is we have no way of knowing the exact weight of the baby until she is born! And my strong opinion is that the pregnant woman deserves a fair Trial of Labor.
Here is another Blog regarding big babies that I found inspiring http://jeremyscorner-grifter.blogspot.com/2009/04/big-baby-is-not-emergency.html. Adventures in Crunchy Parenthood blog wrote a very comprehensive article siting studies and resources that support the statement that birthing a suspected big baby is NOT an emergency.
I will leave you with this very inspiring video of one of my clients who gave birth vaginally, without pain medication, to a 10 lb, 2 oz baby girl without complications and without a stitch or tear. A few things helped this mama accomplish that birth: 1) she declined a scheduled Cesarean, 2) she fired her first doctor midway through labor, 3) she was without an epidural and thus able to be upright and dance through labor in order to create more space in her pelvis and use gravity to help baby descend . Pushing phase was less than 20 minutes!
I hope you feel more empowered to trust your bodies and give birth with a suspected “big baby” a fair try.
[Originally published November 2, 2012]
We’ve all heard the latest in meditation trends – meditate for 15 minutes in the morning before you start your day. As a yoga teacher, I definitely concur with that philosophy. When I stay consistent with my meditation practice my day flows better, the things that can trigger me and agitate me seem to just roll off my back like Teflon. My favorite thing to listen to as I begin my day is Ester Hicks rampage of positive momentum. I also love listening to Mantras and Gregorian Chants. One can listen to ocean and nature sounds; the Hypnobirthing Affirmations; and simply be in silence. And whatever your flavor is, there’s no question about it: Meditating every day does wonders for the mind, body, and spirit.
And it usually isn’t for lack of time when I miss my morning meditation. I manage an old neck and back injury (L4, L5/S1), with a slight Scoliosis to boot, so for me it’s more a matter of having access to a comfortable cushion. It’s what partially motivated me to become a Yoga teacher. Crazy, I know, but that’s for another blog.
Proper sitting posture in pregnancy is so important for the preparation for birth. I listened to Pregnancy Chiropractor, Dr. Jeanne Ohm, has said that when a “sacrum is displaced by sitting, accidents, and major trauma to the spine, it can cause more difficult births and slower labors.” [Trust Birth Conference, Redondo Beach, March 2010]
There are so many benefits of meditating during pregnancy and childbirth. Here is a great article to help convince you of the benefits of quieting your mind and going Zen: https://www.doyouyoga.com/10-ways-meditation-helps-your-unborn-child/
I recently discovered the You Matr cushion, made by Lauren Stephanoff, a California-based yoga
mamapreneur! These cushions are ergonomically-sound so that your low back is slightly elevated to alleviate back pain.
Share these with your children to teach them good posture and body mechanics at a young age. These cushions are also great for pregnant women so they can comfortably meditate and stay zen. Lauren wrote about her meditation practice during her pregnancy:
Besides coming in really chic-print fabrics, the You Matr cushion are light and portable! Get one and send a cushion to your favorite friend for the Holidays!
Meditation is made easy when your Tush is on THIS Cush!
By patricia|November 22nd, 2017|General Topics, Kids Yoga, Mommy, Yoga|Comments Off on Mindful Pregnancy – Meditation for a Healthy Pregnancy & Birth
I am so excited to share Mrs. Patel's Lactation Tea and Gluten-free Vegan Chocolate bars! That's right, CHOCOLATE!Mrs. Patel so kindly sent me a box of these treats and lactation tea so that I could share in my Mommy & Baby Yoga classes at YogaWorks Playa Vista.I was curious about the taste so I tried the bar myself and whoah, it tasted so good! Mrs. Patel's treats are gluten-free and may contain almonds. They keep well in the fridge for 1 1/2 months and in the freezer for 3 months. Mrs. Patel's lactation treats do not contain preservatives. The treats also come in other flavors such as Peanut Butter, Salted Caramel White, and Vegan Original.Try Mrs. Patel's Lactation tea of fresh leaves and herbs. Steep the fresh tea blend for 5-7 minutes and drink straight or with coconut milk and honey.Mrs. Patel's treats and teas are handcrafted artisanal lactation products based on the tenets of Ayurveda.A box of these treats would be a welcoming gift for a new mama! Get this delicious, powerful product now and get 20% off with coupon code: FIRSTORDER. For more information visit website mrsmilk.com.
Happy milking, Mamas!