“Where can I begin? You are an amazing childbirth professional and were an incredible benefit to us in labor. You always knew exactly what to say and when to say it. Your support and reassurance throughout birth was truly meaningful to us. I can not say the hospital was supportive of my wishes or respectful during labor and I am lucky to have had you there to support me, explain what was happening and the options we had. You are an incredibly caring person and this shows through in your work as a doula. We treasure the photographs you took and moments you captured. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart.” Mama L
The top photo was taken at our 2 week postpartum visit February 3, 2013
Bottom photo taken during labor at the hospital January 21, 2013
Beginning to plan for my first ever home birth, I had my first group informational meeting at Birth and Beyond several weeks ago. It was all the way in Madison, CT from 6:30 to 8 pm on a Thursday night. Living about an hour and a half away, I was not looking forward to making the drive through New Haven traffic at rush hour. Nevertheless, I was excited to see what their practice was all about and meet other moms-to-be delivering around the same time. I left early and luckily arrived just in time. Expecting an office plaza or medical building, I was happily surprised to find myself pulling into a long private driveway leading to a cozy home nestled back from the road and surrounded by tall trees.
There were LOTS of cars there…far more than I expected. A candle lit path led the way to the lower level at the back of the house where I saw everyone entering. Inside, one of the midwives Vicki (who owned the home) greeted us all warmly. Everyone sat in a circle; there were healthy snacks on a small table and ice water with lemons. So many people came in fact, that another group was sent upstairs to speak with another one of the midwives. I felt instantly relaxed. There was a full examination room directly across from me, a large yet cozy bathroom with a medical scale, and the warm inviting waiting area. We spent the next hour or so talking about the entire home birthing process and were welcomed to ask questions. We met the other midwives, all of whom were lovely, accomplished women. Afterwards, Vicki met with each and every one of us separately to set up a file and a subsequent private appointment.
When it was time to go, all of my fears about not delivering in a hospital had disappeared. I drove home thinking “I can do this.” The Midwives at Birth and Beyond said that when I went into labor, 2 CNM’s (Certified Nurse Midwives) would arrive at my home with 2 large duffel bags each, full of all the typical things the nursing unit at the hospital would have- stitches for tearing, pitocin (used only for hemorrhaging), a monitor for baby’s heart rate, a vitamin K shot for their heel after birth, a scale to weigh the baby, etc. Birthing tubs could also be provided if we wanted to reserve one. There will be no pain killers at all, that I know and have been prepping for with my prenatal yoga and breath work. But I would be allowed to eat, drink, and move around as much as I needed for this birth- hallelujah! My first child was delivered after 26 hours of labor. 26 hours of not eating anything but ice chips and staying mainly in a bed in one position. My second daughter was induced (still not sure why, she was only 2 days late and not that big), so all I can really remember was a drug induced haze (although pain free, not worth it). After the birth they would stay for several hours, one monitoring me and the other monitoring the baby. They would also come back several times over the course of the next couple weeks to examine myself and the baby. Paperwork would be provided for obtaining the baby’s social security number. If needed, they have a relationship with an individual who performs circumcisions. And, they even offer a service that will dry the placenta and encapsulate it into a pill to be taken later as a form of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine). Supposedly this helps with healing, energy levels, and postpartum depression. Who knew?
Last week I had my final appointment at my regular OB/GYN before preparing to switch everything over to my Midwives’ Practice. It was my 20 week ultrasound and I had told myself as long as everything was healthy and normal, we would move forward with planning the home birth. Lying on the table as the tech examined my unborn little baby, I looked on as she showed me each little part which seemed to be normal and healthy from what she could see. Thank Goodness. Being pregnant a third time is a blessing in itself, and a healthy baby can truly not be taken for granted, such a gift.
After the appointment, I felt relieved and excited to move forward with my home birth, but a little nervous and reluctant to tell the doctor before leaving the office that I would need to request a records release. I had heard mixed things from women who have decided to take the” road less traveled” so to speak, many saying they experienced push back from the medical community, attitude from their doctors, grilling questions, pressure not to do a home birth, etc. I met with my Nurse Practitioner afterwards, and she could not have been more wonderful. It turns out she herself had studied a path in midwifery in the past and basically wished me well and told me she was sure I would “have a beautiful birth”. Wow! SO relieved. I asked for my records, said I would see them after the baby was born, and that was that.
Praying for a healthy complication-free delivery, I am thrilled at the possibility that my next child will enter the world right here in our home, surrounded by loved ones. Looking forward to the journey! Namaste (:
“Of course we had the midwife, we had the doula, but that’s something we really did a lot of research on and we wanted to do,” Kurková
Her active labor lasted just 2½ hours and keeping her focus on meeting her son helped relieve the pain.
“I really wanted to do it in the water because it’s better for the baby to be born in the water — from water to water — and it’s less painful for the mom,” she explains of her decision to deliver in a birthing pool.
Monica Sackandy is currently 19 weeks with her third child. “I am planning on having my first home birth and am looking to yoga to help manage the physical pain of birth, and to help release some of my fears about not delivering in a hospital.” Monica will be a regular contributing blogger on Yoga Peach and Lil’ berryand I’m so excited she’ll be sharing the journey with us. If you have questions for her, feel free to reach out and ask her! Thanks, Monica, for sharing the experience with us.
My personal journey into yoga has been an ever changing one. After giving birth to my second daughter, our town opened up a brand new, state of the art YMCA that offered free (yes, FREE!) childcare while you work out. I admit to have been out of loop with my fitness routine during the time I was pregnant with her. Anytime I wanted to work out required a babysitter for my older daughter, and it seemed impossible to stick to anything regular. Practicing yoga or working out at home was not as easy as I had thought. Whenever the kids would nap, so would I. So when the new, family-friendly facility was built, I jumped on it. I started going back the gym at least 4-5 days a week, taking as many yoga and Zumba classes as I could fit in.
Not only did I lose the 50 pounds I had gained while pregnant, but I developed a new found love of yoga and its spiritual side, and also began trying more challenging classes. Power Yoga, which had been difficult for me in the beginning, slowly became my favorite as I learned to truly listen to my body and find the full expression of each pose. There is a satisfaction unlike anything else when you are finally able to master a pose that at one time seemed completely out of reach. It is a true realization inside you that with practice, anything is possible.
Fast forward a year later, and I had completed a life changing journey in an amazing 200 hour RYT program. I began teaching Power and Adult All Level at studios locally. Noticing a lack of yoga programs in my community for pregnant women, mom and baby, and children, it wasn’t long before Little Yoga LLC was born, and I was officially a business owner. This was the first major change in my regular personal practice. I began noticing that whereas before I had frequently “received” yoga by taking a variety of classes with different instructors, I was now completely “giving” yoga by teaching all of my own classes. I developed a more regular home practice as many yoga instructors do, practicing by myself as much as possible when there would be a quiet lull in my day. As much as I enjoy the peace of a solitary home practice or the joy of teaching yoga to others, there truly is something to be said about “receiving” it. To go into a class as a student and experience what another teacher has to offer as well as the energy of a full class is a real gift that we need to give ourselves much more often.
Then came a surprise-my husband and I found out in October that we are expecting our third child! This has been the biggest change in my personal practice by far. It is true; you can practice yoga right up until your due date. However, the yoga I had been practicing had a lot of aspects not advised for pregnant women. Some of my most favorite poses are now contraindicated and will have to be put on the backburner until post-delivery. The feeling of pushing up into a Wheel, of finding the perfect balancing point to come into Crow, or inversions like Shoulder stand are out the window for the time being. Even my favorite Sun Salutation B has to now be modified, and Savasana too?! I know yoga teachers are supposed to go with the flow and not have attachment to outcomes, but I admit to feeling a little cringe of disappointment at not being able to continue working on challenging poses and to have to alter the ones I loved so much.
The beauty of the situation is that I am re-learning how my body responds to yoga as a pregnant woman. It is similar to starting over, and the “beginner’s mind” we are encouraged to cultivate in the yogic discipline. Approach each situation, each pose like it is your first time. Realize yoga is not a competition, but an ever changing journey of self discovery. One of my new favorites is now a modified Upward Facing Dog, with blocks or a rolled blanket placed under the thighs for support. The feeling of opening the heart and getting a gentle stretch in the front body is very soothing to me at this stage of the game. Vigorous Sun Salutes have temporarily been replaced with my new favorite vinyasa flow done on all fours: Cow-Cat, Cow-Dog, Cow-Child. I find myself really getting into “the zone” following this simple pattern of poses and breaths. As for Savasana, the “Sleeping Buddha” on my side with pillows for support is just as relaxing and relieving as the flat on your back version. The highly challenging poses will always be there for me to come back to, like an old friend. There is so much of yoga I still have to experience, much like life.
I am truly blessed to be able to do what I love and have it structured in such a way that supports my biggest job, being a mother to young children. I have especially enjoyed being able to take the journey of pregnancy alongside my prenatal students, and to truly share it with them. Motherhood is the greatest gift of all, and the “practice” we will have “modify” every day for the rest of our lives. I hope that yoga will help me forge through my next challenge, preparing for a home birth and becoming a mother of three. Namaste (:
Contributing Blogger: Written by Monica Sackandy, Owner and Director of Little Yoga LLC, Ellington CT LittleYogaLLC.com
“A good doula is akin to a revered yogi…the doula guides a woman through advanced childbirth poses – like stepping through her own vagina.”
“Whenever you try a potentially lethal activity like, say, scuba diving or parachuting, you are paired with an experienced instructor possessing technical expertise. The same should apply when a woman attempts to extract a baby from her loins.”
“For some time after a woman gives birth, she reportedly experiences the prolonged sensation of having been punched in the vagina by Mike Tyson.”
“Maybe the profession should consider a name change. I propose ultradoula.”
This is hilarious!! A father’s interpretation of what it is we do as birth doulas. Check out Daddy Confidential: I Challenge You to a Doula. And thanks, Keith, for explaining the roll of a doula in daddy terms and describing our roll so warm and comically!
About Daddy Confidential: “Daddy Confidential was started as a repository for tips, useful products, and commentary relevant to fathers. I work from home, which makes me an expert on… procrastination. But I’ve also gleaned some insight into raising babies. This blog is for fathers who have the inclination (if not the time) to keep informed about child-rearing. Of course, your wife would be happy to educate you, but that dynamic comes with its own baggage that we guys needn’t bother with.
I live near Boston with my wife Sarah and our son Fox. I enjoy rock-climbing, reggae, and pocket knives. I abhor anchovies, the phrase “arms akimbo,” and the name Keith.”
Julie and Eli’s birth story is one I have to share. I was so happy to read their beautiful birth story and am grateful when couples like Julie and Eli share their stories to inspire and educate. When I became a birth doula my first client ever delivered her vaginal breech baby naturally. A breech baby does not automatically mean you’ll need to schedule a cesarean section. Yes, it really is possible to have a vaginal breech birth.
At 36 weeks Julie’s baby was still breech and she decided that her body was capable of birthing her baby if they took the right steps. She felt confident in her decision to birth her breech baby. She also decided that she would allow her body to go into labor naturally. Julie and Eli’s support team were incredible. The team including the midwife, the birth doula, the supportive daddy, and amazing mama share the beautiful natural vaginal breech birth storyof baby Zara. Read Zara’s birth storyto learn about their feet first miracle birth experience.
Welcome to the world baby Zara Jade Eyre! Congratulations Julie and Eli, and thank you so much for sharing your birthing story!
Those who are interested in self hypnosis for natural childbirth and its influential power on the way we think, feel and behave are strongly encouraged to research and consider the following two options; Hypnobabies and Hypnobirthing.
As a birth doula I’ve attended births using both Hypnobabies and Hypnobirthing, both of which create a calm and comfortable birthing environment, remove fear and create confidence. I also attended a birth this summer where mama used Hypnobirthing for her second birth and Hypnobabiesfor her third birth, where she was able to compare both methods of birthing. Self hypnosis often reduces or removes the feeling of pain; many laboring mothers referring to the feeling as pressure sensations throughout labor. Active labor time is also often greatly reduced when using self hypnosis for childbirth.
While the two programs significantly different, self hypnosis for childbirth is helpful in preparation for a calm and comfortable childbirth. According to the Association for Psychological Science article in Health News Digest, regular practice of hypnosis alters a pregnant woman’s brain and creates positive change preparing her for a more positive birthing experience. Science supports hypnotic relaxation and breathing, visualizations and positive suggestions in order to encourage a pregnant woman’s brain to produce more oxytocin, in turn enhancing pregnancy, confidence for birth, a peaceful labor, and often a much shorter than average birthing time.
“HypnoBirthing is a childbirth method that focuses on preparing parents for gentle birth. In HypnoBirthing classes, you will learn proven techniques in a well-thought-out program of deep relaxation, visualization, and self-hypnosis. All of these are designed to help you achieve a more comfortable birth. HypnoBirthing encourages a calm, peaceful, and natural pregnancy, birth, and bonding experience for families.”
Is it true that I will experience a pain-free birth with HypnoBirthing?
“HypnoBirthing does not promise painless birthing, though many HypnoBirthing mothers do report having a relatively pain-free birth or one that they were able to manage easily. When the cause of pain–fear that constricts the birthing muscles—is eliminated, birthing can be accomplished in a shorter period and much more comfortably. A relaxed mother’s body will produce more endorphins, nature’s own relaxants. HypnoBirthing mothers may still experience sensations of tightening or pressure; but most describe their birth experience as working with their body through the sensations, and thus avoiding the excruciating pain that is frequently spoken of by women who choose other methods of preparation for birthing.”
This morning on Labor Day September 3, 2012, thousands of people gathered as part of a national movement for Improving Birth’s National Rally for Changeheld in close to 100 major cities, in all 50 states across the country. The National Rally for Change is to encourage and insist maternal healthcare providers practice evidence-based maternal care, to reduce the long-term effects of unnecessary inductions and interventions when they are not medically necessary for the patient, and to provide informationso they each woman can make informed decisions.
National Rally for Change is not a protest. It’s an awareness campaign event to educate, raise awareness and encourage a change in US maternal healthcare.
This is so important. It may seem rather obvious that most medical procedures should be reserved for medical indications, because almost every medical procedure comes with risks of complication. Risking complications can only be justified if the medical benefit outweighs the risk. Unfortunately, the standard of maternity care in most hospitals in the USA today surprisingly is not based on reliable research and conducts far more inductions, cesarean sections, and other medical interventions which are not medically necessary.