Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Book Review: The Complete Woman's Herbal

By Heather Walters
Homeschool Student, age 16

For Christmas I received a book called The Complete Woman’s Herbal - A Manual of Healing Herbs and Nutrition for Personal Well-being and Family Care by Anne McIntyre. The book has wonderful illustrations of herbs and other useful plants, and facts and tips that are must haves for natural self and family care. I don’t have a family of my own yet, but I am preparing by reading this book on an almost daily basis. 

The book has three sections: Herbal Wellbeing, The Seasons of Womanhood, and Practical Problem Solving.

Part One – Herbal Wellbeing:
 The basics of herbs, their chemistry and primary use, and instructions for poultices, salves and creams, and herbal baths are outlined with illustrations. Included in the illustrations are notes about what part of the plant is used, its chemical makeup, and other information about its history and uses.

The Well Woman covers basic health, the importance of a balanced life, how to lower stress, and how emotions play a part in everything that goes on in the body. The systems of the body are outlined with full illustrations and information focused primarily on the female body. Good nutrition is discussed, including sugar, vitamins and minerals, refined carbohydrates, caffeinated drinks, and smoking. There is a diet chart with very organized information about protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals, what foods to get them from, and how they help (or not). 

Part Two – The Seasons of Womanhood: This section covers not only the facts but the philosophies of womanhood, from puberty to menopause and later years. There are herbal remedies for pretty much anything you could ever think of wanting a remedy for from puberty through menopause, plus facts about why and how these things happen, which is what I particularly like learning about. 

Part Three – Practical Problem Solving: This covers herbal first aid, herbs for healing the body, herbs for beauty, and herbs for housekeeping, with many recipes to try and how to grow, harvest, and store herbs. 

Overall, this is the most helpful book I have ever read. It has answered so many questions that I have had all my life and never found answers to, and has further inspired my passion for midwifery and overall natural health care. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

With Water, Childbirth Was More Comfortable for Me

  • I've always loved water, and the idea of a water childbirth intrigued me from the moment I first heard about it. Some of my friends used a birth tub to labor in at a hospital and mentioned that the water helped ease the pain of contractions. Because of hospital protocols in my area, I never got to experience a water birth until I had a home birth for my fifth child.
    I love to swim, and the most relaxing thing I can do after a long hard day is to soak in a nice warm bathtub. Hot tubs have always been a favorite of mine. I find floating in water soothing and comforting. So, I figured, why would it feel otherwise during labor?
    I never really thought about using a birth tub when I was laboring in the hospital because it wasn't an option offered to me. But I do remember wanting a nice hot soak after delivering my first baby. My labor was long and tiring; unfortunately, I couldn't take a bath because I'd just given birth. The nurses helped clean me up and they brought me to a room where I could rest. I took a shower the next morning. I had really wanted a soak in a tub, but that was not to be. It wasn't until years later that I learned about the concept of a water birth.
    Years later, I talked with a friend of mine who gave birth in a hospital in England. She described how she used a birth tub during the birth of her first baby. She explained how, with the addition of water, childbirth became a much more comfortable experience. She lamented that, after moving to the United States, she didn't have access to a tub in which to use during the births of her other children. It was then that I learned that our local hospitals didn't have birth tubs.
    When I was pregnant with my fifth baby, the idea of a water childbirth intrigued me. My desire to have a water birth led me to consider a home birth. My midwife provided us with a large birth tub, filled it with water, and kept it comfortably warm during labor. When I was in active labor, I stepped into the tub and I felt as though my contractions simply melted away. Being in the water brought me a great deal of relief; I wished I'd been able to just step into a birth tub during my four previous labor experiences.
    I was happy to hear from a labor and delivery nurse that some of my local hospitals were recently discussing plans to offer a birth tub option for women who wanted to use one. If I were having a baby another and I wanted to deliver at the hospital, I would definitely look into using a birth tub. I think many women would find great comfort and relief in the water.

Friday, May 20, 2011

My Surprise Breech Birth at Home

Another article bites the dust! Yet another article has been declined by the copy editors for the Pampers website. This article is special to me, because I was hoping to share this version of my surprise breech baby's birth at home. I tried working with the editors and revising the article according to their requests, and it was ultimately declined. Here's the article as I originally wrote it (unrevised):

My Surprise Breech Birth at Home

My fifth baby was a surprise breech birth. It was a planned home birth with an experienced midwife.

My first four babies were born in the hospital with an obstetrician. Each one was head-first. I had normal pregnancies and births, without any major complications. I'd given birth medicated and completely natural, and I felt confident in my ability to birth without medical intervention. I trusted my midwife and knew that she had experience with a wide variety of births throughout her career.

My midwife palpated my belly at each prenatal visit and reported that the baby seemed to be head-down. All seemed to be in order for a normal, perfect birth.

I went to my obstetrician's office for a group B strep screen and the nurse-practitioner felt my belly. She wasn't sure if what she felt in my pelvis was a head or a bottom. She suggested that the obstetrician check the position at my next appointment. I didn't have anymore appointments with them, so there wasn't a “next time”. I went to my car and thought about the possibility of a breech baby. I asked myself if my baby were breech if any of my plans for a home birth would change. I realized it wouldn't change anything. I knew my midwife had attended breech birth at home, and I knew she was capable of supporting me if I found myself in such a situation. I felt peaceful about moving forward with my plans to give birth at home.

I had a wonderful labor in the comfort of my home. I was in my own territory and it was easier to be calm and relaxed even in the throes of labor. My husband and two midwives supported me throughout the long labor. I rested in bed between contractions, and I labored in the birth tub with warm water melting the discomfort away.

The big surprise came when I was fully dilated and pushing my baby out. My midwife noticed a lot of meconium in the water and asked me to stop while she cleaned it out and determined why there was so much. When she checked me she realized that my baby was coming out bottom-first! The possibility of a breech birth hadn't even crossed my mind since that day I sat in my car and considered my options. When the discovery was made I felt no fear. I looked at the midwife and she told me to push and keep pushing to get the baby out fast.

His bottom came out first, then one leg and the other leg. Then the torso, followed by one arm and the other arm. Then he took his hands and feet and pushed off of my body and together we pushed his head out. It was an amazing experience, and it was so beautiful. I felt I could do anything after that.

In my eyes it was a perfect birth.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Piper's Birth Story

like all other mothers who write their birth stories, i will try to keep this short, but i will fail.

i think "labor" started on saturday morning 4/23.  i just felt weird and queasy, enough so that i called my midwife, rena, to ask her about feeling so nauseated.  she encouraged me to just listen to my body, eat and rest as i needed.  i didn't think it was labor, but looking back this was the beginning.  later that night i had some bloody show, and this continued throughout the day sunday.  i had been having contractions for a few weeks, but nothing painful.  these continued, but were getting more frequent.  still, they were easy to ignore, so i did.

sunday night i was up every hour and half or more to pee - and waking during contractions.  still they weren't painful, so i ignored them.  i called rena again on monday morning to talk to her about the contractions and bloody show, which i was still having.  i knew this meant i was getting closer to labor, but wanted reassurance as well.  with liam, my labor started immediately after the "show" and i perceived this to be more of an event than a process.  rena is awesome, btw, and said that my body knew what it was doing, that every labor is different, and that all of this was work.  i told her i thought for sure i would have the baby in the next three days, or sooner.  

my appetite was unchanged, so i ate a big breakfast and continued with my plans for the day.  liam and i went to sarah's house to have a playdate with ethan and amelia.  i picked up some burger king on the way (a favorite in both of my pregnancies) and continued to have contractions (still painless).  we all hung out for a few hours, and towards the end i decided maybe i should go home and rest and start timing them.  colin called while i was at sarah's to let me know he had decided to go ahead and air up the birth pool over his lunch break.

back home, liam and i had resting time, which meant he watched a movie while i napped and timed the contractions.  they were between 5 and 10 minutes apart and lasted 30-45 seconds long.  they stopped while i slept, and were a still pretty painless.  colin got home around 5:30 and i showed him my contraction log.  we ate a big dinner of leftovers.  i had ham, sweet potatoes, tomato soup and a few deviled eggs.  being so hungry really made me feel like i wasn't really in labor, just still getting ready.  

the contractions continued through dinner and after.  i decided to call mom and mandy around 7:30pm to let them know what was happening.  since they were so regular, they decided to leave for topeka.  i was still doubting whether it was really happening, since it didn't really hurt and they weren't getting more intense.  

i called rena to give her the heads up, too, and megan, our birth photographer.  i decided to take a bath to see if they would slow down and took that time to rest, just in case i had a long night ahead of me.  with liam's labor, i was in labor land immediately.  with this one, i was very grounded and lucid the entire time.  i watched my stomach in the bathtub during the contractions turn into practically a cube.  it was so cool!  colin took liam for a car ride so he would fall asleep.  my contractions pretty much stopped while i talked on the phone, spacing out to 15-20 minutes.  i called rena and asked if she would just stop by to check on me around 9:45.  again, i wasn't really feeling like i was in labor.  but thought she should come over. 

after liam was in bed and mandy arrived around 9:30, i started to have to move through the contractions and breathe.  i leaned over the yoga ball and spent time on my hands and knees.  as soon as my sister arrived, everything picked up.  i think the combination of liam being awake and my birth team not being assembled kept my labor at bay.  once rena and lilly arrived at 10pm, my contractions were 3 minutes apart and i could no longer talk through them.  i still felt totally weirded out by the feeling of NOT being in labor in between the contractions.  

lilly, who was assisting rena and is training to be a midwife, is also a doula and provided wonderful conterpressure on my back.  she and colin offered me water and i just hung out in between contractions.  she told me she could feel piper's head through my back.  how cool!  colin and i both got to feel her - it was incredible.  the contractions were getting mighty uncomfortable and i wanted the pool filled quickly.  we ran out of hot water, and my support team had water boiling on every burner.  i was still unsure if i was in active enough labor to get in the pool, but rena reassured me that it wasn't going to slow down.  

while waiting for the pool to fill, lilly took my and piper's vitals to get a baseline.  i was still breathing through the contractions, but they were getting harder.  finally, i could get in the tub around 11.  it felt so wonderful!  the bottom of the tub is inflated and i could move around easily.  my labor really picked up.  and i finally let myself believe i was in labor and actually going to have a baby!

the midwives and colin turned off all the lights and lit my candles.  i told them they were for all the women thinking about me while i labored.  it was really powerful.  i was glad to be in the dark, although i feel like i never opened my eyes again until she was born, so maybe it didn't matter.  

then liam woke about 20 minutes later.  he was crying and i wanted him to know i was ok.  i hugged him over the side of the pool and colin took him to mandy and the grandmas downstairs.  my contractions completely stopped.  i can see now that my body was waiting for him to be taken care of to start piper's labor, and it wouldn't start again until he was ok.  i got the report that he was watching a movie and i could relax again.  i asked rena to turn on the cd player to get my mind off any ambient house sounds (including liam).  i listened to musical acupuncture, a cd i found in with some doula books michelle stottlemire donated to the AP and LLL libraries.  i didn't listen to it beforehand, i just knew it would be what i needed to hear, and it was.

everything picked up and continued to get harder.  my water broke in the tub a little after midnight.  i continued to labor in the water, but it was getting increasingly difficult to find a good position.  i felt like i was moving constantly in between contractions, but would invariably lean over the side on my knees during one.  lilly and colin continued to offer me water to drink.  

then things get a little blurry.  transition was INTENSE.  i was still lucid in between, and needed reassurance that i could do this after all.  i started to feel really hot, so rena got a bowl of ice water and they gave me a cold wash cloth for my forehead.   it seemed like i hadn't been in labor long enough, and i was afraid it would be that hard for too long, that i would get too tired.  i asked rena to tell me that i would for sure have this baby by morning.  she said, you are definitely having the baby.  ah, midwife speak.  still, it was enough.

i really vocalized during transition.  lots of moaning, and blowing through my lips all blubbery - ina may fans will know what i mean.  that breathing really helped me open up and melt the contractions away.  it was amazing.  i started to feel like i needed to get into another position and got into a squat and immediately felt like i had to poop.  i remember thinking - "you're almost done!  remember, that's what it feels like to push!"  of course, i did poo some, which is expected.  but i was ready to push.  

rena asked if i could feel her head inside.  i reached in and there she was - about two inches in.  that was INCREDIBLE!  i was totally re-energized and knew i was going to meet her soon.  i pushed with the next contraction and she moved down.  i pushed in a squat, on my hands and knees, but then decided it felt best to lay on my side.  i held my right leg up pushed.  i could feel her move down, then back up in between.  when she crowned, it was awesome.  almost done!  i gave myself perineal support and could feel myself stretch slowly. i pushed just a few times and her head was out.  this apparently took colin by surprise, as he was supposed to get the family from downstairs. 

i felt her little head in the water and then pushed out her shoulders, then her little body.  her cord was wrapped around her neck (twice i think) and she somersaulted out, unlooping it once.  i still had my eyes closed, but i had my hands on her and was ready to bring her to me.  rena told me about the cord and unlooped her and handed her to me.  she was officially born at 12:57am.

she was perfect.  she was covered in vernix and so tiny!  she weighed 8lbs 4 ounces and was 19 inches long.  her hair looked very red, but we haven't quite decided what color it really is.  she didn't cry for awhile, just looked around taking it all in. rena listened to her lungs and heart while she was on my chest and checked out her color.  she was perfect.  liam got to watch her being born, and really wanted to get in the pool.  as soon as she was born, i was over the water.  it was pretty funky, so after 5 minutes or so we decided to cut her cord so it would be easier to get out.  liam got to do the honors, with daddy's help.

i didn't have any tearing, maybe just a skid mark or two.  i wasn't even really swollen.  i delivered my own placenta on the bed after i got out of the pool.  it was just awesome.  

no one checked my dialation, or told me to change positions, or told me when or how to push.  my midwife and lilly really trusted that i would know what to do and just let me do it.  they were in the room the whole time, but didn't meddle with my labor.  they gave me encouragement when i asked for it.  i feel like the space we created really helped my labor move so quickly.  

i can't get over how awesome everything went.  i ate some snacks, and piper nursed and pooped a few times.  we had some family alone time for about an hour while lilly started preparing my placenta for encapsulation.  i took a shower (the shower chair was really handy for that!) and we did the newborn exam around 2:30am.  everyone left around 3:30 or so.  grandma sonja took liam on a car ride to get some fries so he could fall back to sleep.  

since then it's been life with a newborn.  i'm averaging four hours of sleep a day, in one hour chunks here and there.  i lay in bed all day or in the recliner.  i am waited on hand and foot.  i get food and snacks delivered to me all day long, and this really helps me not feel sleep deprived.

i cannot wait to see the photos megan took of this special time.  

piper is absolutely perfect, and although liam wasn't sure he would, he does in fact love her.  <3 

you can see more pictures on her website,

Monday, May 16, 2011

Video of Planned Twin Home Birth

Planned home birth of twins at 40 weeks 3 days!!!! She was attended by 3 midwives, her hubby, her 3 daughters and friends and family! Her baby boy and girl were born 1 1/2 hours apart. It also included the afterbirth of the fused placentas.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Father's Presence During Labor: Help or Hindrance?

I've recently come across some interesting quotes. Michel Odent and Grantly Dick Read are both prominent obstetricians in natural birth circles and have spoken and written extensively in support of natural physiological birth. However, they don't agree on everything. Take a look at these opposing viewpoints:

‎"When a woman in labor knows that she will not be disturbed, that her questions will be answered honestly and every consideration given her, then she will be better able to relax and give birth with her body’s neuromuscular perfection intact. The presence of her loving husband and/or a supportive attendant will add to her feelings of security and peace, so she can center upon the task at hand." ~Grantly Dick Read

"The most common cause for a long and difficult labor is the presence of the baby's father." ~Michel Odent, M.D.

‎"When you are in hard labor, remember that the length of labor is usually proportional to the number of people around. Avoid the presence of anybody who might release adrenaline. The best situation I know for an easy birth is when there is nobody else around than an experienced, motherly and silent midwife who does not behave like a guide or an observer." ~Michel Odent, M.D.

So what do you think? Which is it? Is the father's presence during labor comforting and beneficial to the process, or does it detract and possibly hinder it?

When I was in labor I always felt comforted by my husband's presence and support. Even simply having him in the room with me helped me relax more deeply and feel more comfortable and at ease, but having him right next to me, touching me, was even better. Of course, if he'd been busy watching football or playing video games it would have definitely detracted and caused more stress for me. The key for me was having his focus on me during that time, and he has always done that very well.

What are your thoughts? What's been your experience?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Many Uses and Benefits of Placentas

Photo by Patti Ramos

by Jennifer George

The placenta is an organ that grows once you become pregnant. It is attached to the uterine wall and attached to the baby via the umbilical cord. The placenta is what makes hCG which is the hormone that makes a pregnancy test turn positive. During pregnancy the placenta produces hormones and brings oxygen, blood and nutrients to the baby. It also helps take out carbon dioxide and put it into the mother's blood stream for her to dispose of. The placenta can also help ward of certain infections going to the baby. The placenta is a life line from mother to baby.

Some women choose to consume their placentas for the benefits. Some of the benefits include

  • Energy
  • Decrease in insomnia
  • Decrease in postpartum mood disorders
  • Balancing hormones
  • Restore depleted iron
  • Milk supply

Different ways to take your placenta

  • Placental encapsulation is one of the most common forms in USA and Canada. You steam the placenta, dehydrate it, then grind it into a powder and place it into capsules. You can take up to 9 pills a day. Take with food and water, or you can drink it with a glass of white wine to help diffuse it into your system. You can also encapsulate using the raw dehydration method which is minus the steaming.
  • Raw is what some women like to do to ensure that they're not losing any nutrients by dehydrating. Many women will cut the placenta into pieces and take a few a day. It is also said that if you eat a piece after birth it helps with postpartum hemorrhage (I've also heard if you put a piece of the raw placenta under your tongue).
  • Placenta food is another way to take your placenta. You can put placenta into almost anything. One way is called plasagna which is placenta lasagna. 
  • Placenta smoothies are fairly common as well. Mix raw placenta into your smoothie. You can add spinach to make it more healthy.
  • Placenta tinctures are also common. You can place a piece of the placenta into a bottle with alcohol and leave it sit, usually in sun for 24 hours. There are some recipes that require it to sit for 6 weeks.
  • Placenta balms, salves and lotions are good options for women who don't want to consume the placenta but still would like to use it.

If you want to use your placenta but don't like any of those options you can bury it under a tree or bush called "The Tree of Life" or you could grind it to powder and spread the remains in your garden for plant food or over a favorite place of yours. 

In USA , Canada and many other places the placenta is considered medical waste and is usually discarded of after the birth. However in many other cultures the placenta is seen as many different things.

  • The Maori of New Zealand, the Navajo, Cambodia, Costa Rica and the Aymara of Bolivia typically bury the placenta for various reasons. Some believe it is to connect the baby back to earth. 
  • The Kwakiutl of British Columbia bury girls’ placenta to give the girl skills in digging clams. They expose boys’ placentas to ravens to encourage future prophetic visions.
  • In Turkey the disposal of the placenta is believed to promote devoutness in the child later in life.
  • Ukraine, Transylvania and Japan interaction of the placenta by the parents is thought to promote fertility in the parents.
  • Nepalese believe the placenta to be a friend of the baby’s. 
  • Malaysian Orang Asli believe the placenta to be a sibling of the baby.
  • The Ibo of Nigeria consider the placenta to be the deceased twin of the baby and perform a funeral ceremony. 
  • Native Hawaiians believe the placenta is part of the baby and bury the placenta under a tree to allow the tree to grow with the child.
  • Men may consume the placenta in some cultures and in China they use the placenta in medicine called Traditional Chinese Medicine.
  • In other places (some Asian) they use the placenta in cosmetics, and in other places the placenta is considered a delicacy. 
Jennifer is a mother of 2 boys. She's been a Placental Encapsulation Professional for 15 months and has encapsulated over 20 placentas. She lives in Minnesota and serve the MN area, parts of South Dakota, Iowa and Wisconsin. For more imformation about her services you can visit her website at To learn more about her you can visit her blog at

Monday, May 9, 2011

Trying to Cover Up While Breastfeeding

My babies have done this exact same thing whenever I tried to cover up while nursing. I finally gave up on trying to cover up. Watch the video and tell me if you ever catch a glimpse of her breast, areola, nipple, or any "inappropriate" skin. It IS possible to breastfeed discreetly without a cover.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Cillian's BIRTH Story

by Eric and Cristina Marantette

January 16, 2011 (Due Date!)

(Cillian is my second child but first home birth. Ethan is my first born (born at St. Mary's Hospital) and he was about 22 months on Jan 16th 11. Tux is my 4 year old Boston Terrier)

3 am - I woke up to minor cramp-like pains. I felt these pains were slightly different than normal. I had been having "labor pains" since December. I turned to my husband, and just kind of stared at him for a second, debating whether to wake him from his slumber or not. I didn't want him to wake up and be excited if this was just a false alarm. Finally, after a few minutes, I shook him and said, "Eric, I'm having weird pains." He gave me the confused, I'm-not-awake-yet look, then passed out again. I sat in bed waiting for the pains of true labor.

4 am - I felt them alright! This time I didn't feel too bad about waking my husband, so I shook him a tad bit harder and said, "Wooby, I'm having pains." He quickly sat, rubbed his eyes, and looked straight at me. I knew now that I had his attention. We sat in bed, chatting in hidden excitement about what the pains were like and how far apart they were. The contractions weren't yet consistent; some would come 8 minutes apart, and others came after only 3 minutes since the previous. I knew deep down that these pains were different. After a while we knew that this was it because the contractions kept coming, progressively getting stronger. I decided that I needed O' Brother, Where Art Thou?, one of my favorite movies playing in the background. It was also playing while I was in labor with Ethan. After starting the movie, Eric went to the kitchen to warm up two of his home made cranberry orange scones from the day before, one for each of us. They were delicious!

5 am - Still in bed, we finally convinced ourselves that it was time to call our midwife, Diane. She assured us that we still had a while to go and advised us to call her again when the contractions were closer together. After hanging up with Diane, I stood and waddled to the bathroom. I sat on the toilet and had a couple of contractions. The contractions were becoming more painful earlier than I expected. They were strongly advancing. Every time that I felt one coming, I would look up and stare at the bright, round light bulb above me. It was my focal point during the toilet-sitting phase. My husband walked over and asked if I needed anything. He would stop talking if he saw me breathing heavily, which was really nice because I needed the concentration to deal with the pains. When I was almost ready to get off of the toilet, I noticed my bloody show. I was so happy to see that the labor was advancing that I called Eric over to let him know.

6 am - My husband filled the large bath tub and helped me in because of my desire to be submerged in warmth. The first contraction in the bath came, and I started swaying my body back and forth as Eric splashed the water on my neck and legs. It was easier to take the edge off of these contractions because of the toasty water that surrounded me. My contractions were now consistently coming 5 or less minutes apart and lasting for a minute. Eric was using a contraction timer on our iPad to keep track of them. At this point he insisted calling Diane again even though I didn't think that Cillian's arrival was near. She told him that she would call her apprentice, Liz, and that they would be there soon when he explained how often the contractions were coming. With me still in the tub, Eric took my hand and began to pray, "Dear God, ..." At this moment, a contraction began, and I squeezed his hand as he continued to pray.
During his prayer, I closed my eyes and felt the strength that God was giving me. "I can do this," I told myself.

7 am - I was able to stand up in the bath tub all on my own, then Eric helped me the rest of the way out. After drying my body, Eric clothed me with one of his white t-shirts and I made my way back to the toilet. The toilet seat provided the perfect support during the contractions because of the pressure that I felt. For each one of my contractions, Eric was there to put pressure on my lower back. He was my support angel. Eric heard a knock on the front door, so he had to leave me to go let Diane in. It was hard for those few minutes while he was away because I had no helper by my side. He quickly returned to inform me that she was here. Diane entered our room and quietly sat on the ottoman as Eric warmed up the last scone for her. Forgetting Sarah Marshall was playing in the background at this time.

7:15 am - I called Eric over to help me off of the toilet so that I could go lean on the edge of the bed. During the first contraction that I had there, my body told me what I needed to do, which was to get down on all fours and arch my back like a cat. I remembered to find a focal point and to intensely focus on it to help with the contractions; however, I found myself staring through things instead of right at them. After the first contraction that I had on the floor, I heard Diane reassuring me, saying, "That was good, Cristina. You're doing good." Almost immediately after she said that, I felt another one coming. The cat-stretching began, and I felt Eric's fist pushing down on my lower back, which eased the pain. After that one, Diane said that they were coming really close together. That was great news to me.

7:30 am - In the middle of one of the contractions, I heard footsteps in the hallway. All I saw were scrubs walking towards us, and I knew that it was Liz. I felt bad for not greeting her, but I figured that she would understand because of the heavy breathing. After the contraction was over, Eric apologized to her that there were no more scones. She said that she was okay because she had just eaten a big piece of banana bread. A couple of times, I pulled my body up against the bed to attempt to have a contraction there, but my body would take over, with almost animal-like instinct, to force me back down to my hands and knees. Around this time, Ethan woke up, and I remember looking up at him and saying, "Mommy's okay. I love you." Eric put Cars on in the living room and told him to stay out there, but he kept coming back in to see what was happening.

7:45 am - Eric realized that Forgetting Sarah Marshall was inappropriate for the situation, so he took the movie off. Diane asked Eric where the birth kit was, and Eric replied, "The towels and sheets are right here." However, she was referring to the kit that she thought she had given us during the home visit. To her surprise, she had never given us one. Eric could see the concern in her eyes as she left to go see if she had one in her car. We were all relieved when she returned with one. Diane and Liz asked me if I could make it up on the bed so that they could check me to see how dilated I was. Liz took my vitals and then saw that I was dilated 8 cm. I was pleased to hear this, even though I thought that I would already be 10 cm. Greedy me! Since we didn't have a complete birth kit, Diane asked Liz to call one of their other patients to see if they had any sheet-protection pads. We were in luck because the patient did have some and she only lived a couple of blocks away.

8 am - As Liz left to go get the pads, I got back down onto the floor to deal with the intensifying contractions that were coming every couple minutes.

8:20 am - Liz returned with the pads, and then I crawled back in to bed. I remember asking Diane if she was setting up the birthing tub. To my dismay, she said, "Oh no, we don't have time for that. This guy is coming soon." In a way, I was disappointed to hear that I wasn't going to have a water birth; however I was excited that he was coming soon. I don't know when or how, but next thing I knew, Ethan was in bed, by my side. I was so happy to see him and have him so close to me.

I remember turning over and grabbing his little face saying, "I love you so much," as a tear ran down my face. That was the only time during labor that I got emotional. Eric asked if I wanted Ethan to stay next to me, and I replied that I did. However, both he and Diane agreed that it would be best if he wasn't, so Eric took him back into the living room. When Eric returned, he asked if I wanted to watch A Night at the Roxbury. I responded that I did not care, so he put it on. Immediately after starting the movie, he turned it off because he realized that it wasn't necessary.

8:30 am - The next contraction that I had was the most intense one that I had before I started pushing. I felt my body taking over because I had no control. My legs were shaking uncontrollably, and I felt the immense need to push. It felt longer than any of the previous contractions. Finally, this contraction had ended, and I said to Diane with an almost whiny voice, "I feel like pushing!"

Diane responded, "I know, I know. You're doing good," as her and Liz turned me over to place extra sheets and the pads underneath me. Almost instantly, the next contraction started, and I began to push as I had never pushed before. I felt intense pressure and began to scream. Even if I wanted to stop screaming, I couldn't. Next thing I knew, I saw Ethan to my right, next to Eric, staring up at me. He looked interested but not concerned. We decided to let him stay. Diane was standing at the end of the bed, observing and instructing Liz, who was sitting just below my feet, ready for Cillian. My upper body was on its side, and Eric was next to me, pushing on my back during the contractions. During the next contraction, I pushed so hard that my water broke! It burst right at Liz, and everyone jumped in shock. Up until that point, I didn't even realize that my amniotic sac hadn't ruptured.

The next contraction came, and I felt a ring of fire. I pushed and pushed, and his head started crowning. I could feel the contraction going away, so I was so disappointed when I felt Cillian's head going back in. Another urge came, and the pushing began. Voila! His head was out. The pain from his head was actually more than that of his body. I could feel Liz gently removing the cord from around his neck; however, I was not worried because Ethan's had been wrapped around twice when he was born. With just his head visible, I yelled, "Can you just pull him out?" Everyone else quietly giggled. My last contraction came, so I began to push again. When his torso was out, I again yelled, "Pull him out! Pull him out!"

8:40 am - When Cillian L Marantette gushed out, it felt like a river down there. Then almost instantly, I had a soft, warm, and wet little body placed on my chest. That moment will stick with me forever. "I did it," I silently thought to myself as I looked down and squeezed him. "I love you," I whispered to him as he peacefully laid on me. After around a minute, he let out one tiny cry that already sounded so grown-up. Eric then asked if anyone checked if the baby was, indeed, a boy. I uncovered my little guy, and there it was. A boy for sure!

When I first saw him, I couldn't believe that he was real. Every feature was absolutely beautiful. I immediately noticed how hairy he was. It wasn't only on his head; he had noticeable peach fuzz all over his arms and back. He was a manly man already. Eric proudly looked at me and said, "Good job! I love you." He then leaned over and kissed both Cillian and I. Diane handed Eric the clamps and scissors as she asked if he was ready to cut the cord. He then put both clamps on and severed the physical connection between mother and child. Around three minutes after Cillian was born, Eric brought Ethan over to meet his baby brother. Eric said, "Look, Ethan, it's Cillian."

Ethan then pointed at Cillian, saying, "Baby!" Next, he pointed at me and said, "Mama!" Eric brought Tux over to meet his new brother, and Tux just sniffed him until he could sniff no more. Tux was probably more excited about the baby than Ethan was.

I was able to push out an enormous, 9 lbs 7 oz baby without tearing. I knew this was because labor went at the pace that my body wanted it to. Around 10 minutes after Cillian was born, the placenta was delivered. It was shown and described to me. I then asked, "People actually eat that?" I still had some humor in me. I felt amazing! After it all, I took a shower, breastfed, then took an awesome nap with Cillian. We called our families, I did my hair and makeup, and then visitors were here. This was an absolutely overwhelmingly amazing experience that took place in the comfort of our own home. We wouldn't have had it any other way.

Women were given the amazing strength to give birth. Women are capable. We are told now that we can't do this naturally, but we can! This thank you of ours, goes straight to the One Most High! To the King of Kings! To our Father, who art in Heaven! We thank Him for giving me the strength to birth our little Cillian. Thank you, God! Through Your grace we were given strength! Thank you, Father!

5 minutes old
Cillian and Mama

With the Midwife

Monday, May 2, 2011

How Would Men Handle Childbirth?

A TV show host has labor contractions simulated using electrodes to see how he can handle the pain of labor. This is really fun to watch! It's also fun to see how they have him try distraction techniques (self-hypnosis), positioning, sitting on the birth ball, and even taking in "gas and air" (laughing gas for those in the US). It's worth watching!

As a side note, I can't imagine how well non-pharmacological pain relief methods would work on simulated labor. Unfortunately for the man in this video he didn't get to experience any hormonal interplay or rise in oxytocin which provides a natural buffer and feelings of well-being. It just isn't the same as real labor.