Posts Tagged ‘Choices’

Gotta move, gotta rock, gotta sing! Comfort Measures and Coping Techniques for Labor

March 28, 2013

By Milon Nagi

At a recent Healthy Birth Choices Workshop, we gathered to hear three new moms share the comfort measures and techniques they used to cope with labor. We were also joined by Zoe Kogan, licensed acupuncturist, who took us through some acupressure points and massage techniques which can encourage labor. It was striking to hear, coming through the unique and individual nature of each story, the common themes that emerged as each woman found her way through to the birth of her baby.

Milon Nagi and Laure Sinnhuber-Giles, members of CiC's Program Committee, practice a sacrum massage used to help women cope during labor

Milon Nagi and Laure Sinnhuber-Giles, members of CiC’s Program Committee, practice a double hip squeeze used to help women cope during labor

When Vicki began to feel the sensations that led to her baby’s birth, she didn’t at first recognize them as labor – she thought it was heartburn. Having known for over a week that her cervix was already 3cm dilated, she had learned through experience that “that effacement, that dilation doesn’t mean anything until labor really happens.” She went about her day, downloading songs from iTunes for her birth playlist and, as her contractions grew closer, checking in with her midwife, who told her it didn’t sound like labor yet. “She told me, ‘Call me when you can’t stand it anymore’,” Vicki recalls.

To ease the discomfort, Vicki got into her tub. And, when the sensations became more intense, she asked her doula to come over. She remembers feeling “huge relief” when her doula arrived, thinking “I can finally relax, I’m just going to do whatever she tells me to.” Her doula, realizing that Vicki was experiencing a back labor, recommended that she stand in the shower with the hot water raining down on her back. It felt good and there was a possibility it could encourage her baby to change positions. She stayed there for 45 minutes and, in the meantime, her doula encouraged her husband to take a nap. Emerging from the shower, Vicki followed her urge to lean forward onto the bed through contractions. She moved to laboring on the birth ball to help her baby come down. Eventually, her doula suggested now may be a good time to go to the hospital. “I don’t know how she knew,” Vicki says, “she recognized from my face or something that I was ready – I didn’t even know that.”

Her doula helped her dress and they moved to the hospital. During the car ride, especially, Vicki’s music helped her to stay present and cope with her labor. She remembers laboring without a room for a while, until a nurse noticed her squatting and “corkscrew walking” through contractions in the hallway and she was finally checked and put into a labor room. Vicki recalls noticing that it was dark when they arrived (around 6am) and seeing more light as time went on. Having arrived pushing, she expected to have her baby before breakfast. Her baby’s unusual position, however (his head was tilted to one side and he was “sunny side up”) meant that it took a while for him to make his way out. With her midwife’s and doula’s support, Vicki pushed for several hours in different positions, fending off threats of a cesarean section from the attending OB (who later returned with students to observe her, impressed with her progress!) and at one point accepting some Pitocin to keep her contractions strong. Her birth team encouraged her and reminded her how strong she was, her doula massaging and shaking her tired legs between contractions. With their “incredible” support, she gave triumphant birth to her baby son, River, just as she had hoped to.

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“So Seamless” – Choosing to Birth at Home

February 8, 2013
Photo Credit: Nicole Heidbrederwww.gracefulfusion.com

Photo Credit: Nicole Heidbreder
www.gracefulfusion.com

We opened this year’s season of Healthy Birth Workshops with a full room of first and second time parents-to-be, gathered to learn more about home birth. While some were already planning to give birth at home, many more were there with questions, wondering whether home birth might be the right option for them. We were honored to be joined by four new moms who shared their birth stories and home birth midwife Kimm Sun, CNM who answered questions and shared her expertise with our expectant parents.

Since 2004, the number of home births nationwide has risen by almost a third, to just under 1% of all births in America. Research shows that women choose home birth for a variety of reasons. For some a close, trusting relationship with their midwife is a big draw. Home birth midwives often provide especially personalized care, with at least some prenatal visits taking place in your own home. Lying back on your own couch while listening to your baby’s heartbeat can be a magical experience. Other major factors include the desire to avoid unnecessary interventions and to be fully involved in decision making during labor.

When Natalie, the first speaker, was pregnant with her first baby, she and her husband decided to give birth at a freestanding birth center. At six months pregnant, however, Natalie experienced preterm labor, and was on bed rest for the rest of her pregnancy. Reflecting on her experience in the hospital, she realized how unsupported and afraid she had felt: “I felt really invisible that night.” As time passed, she began to realize how much she craved an intimate labor and birth, in which she and her wishes were honored. As she noted, “some of the things that come up during birth are really, really personal.” She was thrilled when she made it to full term and gave birth at home with her chosen midwife.

For her second baby, the decision to have another home birth “felt so natural.” She and her husband carefully prepared their home for birth, choosing candles and music to support the ambience they wanted. When her Braxton Hicks contractions started to feel different one night, she realized this was it. Her labor moved quickly – her contractions going from 10 to 4 minutes apart in the space of just 10 minutes.  However, she says, she felt calm and safe. “It was so seamless the way my doula and midwife came and honored the space that we had created in our home and the way that my husband was supporting me.”

An hour after her midwife’s arrival, Natalie gave birth on her hands and knees. Her midwife passed her new son between Natalie’s legs and placed him gently on the floor in front of her. It was their chance to meet their baby. “That stillness and that silence were so profound”, says Natalie. With no hospital staff rushing around and no distractions, “we were able to just really get lost in him and wrap him up in our attention. It was such a gift.”

Photo Credit: Sarah Tewhttp://www.sarahtewphotography.com

Photo Credit: Sarah Tew
http://www.sarahtewphotography.com

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Lessons in Childbirth Education

July 6, 2012

Thank you again to Milon Nagi – writer, blogger, workshop facilitator and overall awesome volunteer for Choices in Childbirth!

At our latest Healthy Birth Choices workshop, three sets of new parents shared their experience of Childbirth Education and spoke of how their classes prepared them for labor and birth. Shara Frederick, doula and childbirth educator, gave us an introduction to some of the main schools of childbirth education – Lamaze, Bradley, CEAMNY and Birthing From Within. While the various schools have individual approaches, all are grounded in the idea that birth is a normal physiological process.  All aim to educate expectant parents about this process and help them prepare for their own experience of childbirth. We were also joined by Dr Charles Swencionis, psychologist and Hypnobirthing instructor, who led us through a sample self-hypnosis exercise. Hypnobirthing particularly emphasizes learning to relax and decondition from fear, he told us. Fear causes tension, which causes pain. If we can relax it can ease some of the physical sources of pain in childbirth.

Michelle was planning a home birth in Queens, but, on her midwife’s recommendation, she and her husband decided to take a Home Birth class based in Brooklyn. “It was good to be among others who were also preparing for home birth and who weren’t weirded out by it”, she said. They found their classmates had interesting perspectives and questions they themselves may not have thought of. The class gave her husband “the bullet points” of what to expect and helped him feel more comfortable with them. He felt the class brought him a kind of confidence about birth that he did not get from reading books.  Once the time arrived, he said, “I just felt like we kind of had this.”

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