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For women planning a home birth since early in their pregnancy, or through a desire late in pregnancy to be in the comfort of their own home, planning for a home birth can seem exciting.  However, for families that might need to make a quick change of plans due to fear of their desired birth location, changing your birth team and environment might feel overwhelming.  Here are some tips to guide you through preparing for a home birth no matter which path led you here.

GET HEALTHY TO PREPARE FOR HOME BIRTH

Being healthy for home birth is quite ideal.  Birth at home is safe when the woman birthing at home is healthy.  There is no technique, skill, knowledge, or care provider that can make birth safer than the woman herself.  Home birth is statistically so safe because the women birthing at home have been, by default, some of the healthiest women in the population as someone unhealthy to birth at home is risked out if their lifestyle cannot change to improve their overall wellness.  Even the medications used to treat complications only buy time for the body to do what it was designed to do, and the nutrients and environment provided throughout and after the birth are at the base of healing.  This is up to women to eat well balanced, eliminate non-nourishing foods and other chemicals, and to live a movement-based lifestyle with reduced fear.

  • Eat an ample portion of dark leafy greens at every meal
  • Eat a rainbow of vegetables and fruits throughout the day
  • Drink at least 2-3 quarts of water and/or herbal tea (such as red raspberry leaf, alfalfa, and nettles) daily along with hydrating foods
  • Take supplements where you’re lacking, and be sure they’re bioavailable to your body
  • Walk an average of 3-5 miles daily (throughout the day, even if this is through your daily chores)
  • Stretch throughout the day, change positions, and get bodywork (even if this is a basic massage by someone in your family)

KNOW HOW TO DO A BASIC PRENATAL ASSESSMENT

Knowing signs and symptoms to watch for through pregnancy and birth can help you know when it is truly necessary to seek additional care.  For a detailed explanation of how to perform these basic prenatal care assessments and normal ranges, read THIS POST.

  • Your blood pressure should be balanced. You will likely feel off if it is not.
  • Your pulse should be calm. Hydrate if it is not, seek additional support if this does not balance it.
  • Your temperature should be normal during pregnancy.
  • Your baby should grow about a centimeter each week. Sometimes, baby’s position changes this measurement, but the measurement should be within 2 weeks +/- of the week of pregnancy you are currently.
  • Your urine should be clear to pale yellow.
  • Your bowel movements should be easy and smooth and a minimum of once daily.
  • You should not have swelling that doesn’t subside with rest or a change of activity.
  • Your baby should be moving well after you’ve started feeling movements and reacting to you stimulating them if you palpate your belly.

REDUCE FEAR TO PREPARE FOR HOME BIRTH

Fear causes tension.  Tensions causes pain.  Pain causes fear.  Fear increases blood pressure and pulse.  Fear increases adrenaline and stresses mom and baby.  Explore your fears and find the information that helps to allay them.  If you are preparing for home birth that you are not fully desiring, this is especially important.  (This approach is the same for preparing for any birth anywhere, as fear is one of the biggest factors outside of wellness that contribute to complications in birth).

  • Practice relaxation techniques that help you to stabilize your breathing
  • Read positive birth stories and remind yourself that birth is normally safe (even when moms are not at their ideal health)
  • Most birth variations have multiple approaches that a few basic skills, or herbs, can remedy – learn them DOWNLOAD BIRTH COMPLICATION BASIC MANAGEMENT.
  • The less we rely on others to “take care of us” or have the answers, the more confident we become. Learn – no matter where you’re planning to birth – so your fear is a non-issue
  • Learn comfort techniques like walking, swaying, rhythmic movements, birth balls, hip squeezes, how to move baby’s position, and so much more. These can be learned through Birth Classes, or in-home prenatal care.  These options are available virtually, as well.
  • Take the Esali Birth Labor & Birth Overview course for a quick run-through of expectations of labor progression and tips for pregnancy and postpartum, or the complete Esali Birth Online Birth Class for more thorough information

 

GATHER SUPPLIES TO PREPARE FOR HOME BIRTH

Basic home birth supplies can help your home birth be more comfortable and provide you with tools in case labor doesn’t take a straight forward path.  Most of the supplies you’ll need are around the house, and a few a midwife can provide.  It is helpful to have all your supplies together in one location no later than 36 weeks.

  • Prenatal Records (lab results, prenatal care notes, vital sign baselines, list of allergies, back-up provider information, and any other details about your desires that would be beneficial to anyone supporting you – including a birth guide for your desires of how to be cared for)
  • Towels & Wash Cloths
  • Package of Underpads or absorbent material to place wherever you are during labor and birth
  • Sturdy Plastic Sheet to cover and protect your bed in case you birth there
  • Nettles & Red Raspberry Leaf tea (or chlorophyll), High-Quality Grape Juice, and anti-hemorrhage herbs if you can get them (though nipple stimulation and your placenta/cord/membranes can be used in lieu of these herbs)
  • A long clean string, clean crocheted cord tie, or sterile cord clamp. DON’T cut the cord routinely after birth.  Wait until the cord is white and the placenta has been birthed!  This is only for if the cord snaps or in a rare case the cord has to be cut early.
  • Nourishing, easily-digested, foods. Fruits, soups, dark leafy greens, protein, broths.  For you and anyone that might be supporting you.

For a full list of supplies for optimal comfort, DOWNLOAD HOME BIRTH SUPPLY LIST

KNOW YOUR BIRTH SUPPORTERS FOR HOME BIRTH

There are so many people throughout our communities with wide ranges of knowledge about natural childbirth.  Many mothers that have planned home births in the past.  Doulas that have supported home birth (which is a bit different than supporting birth in the hospital).  Midwives and their assistants that have cared for women from pregnancy, birth, and postpartum – as well as provided routine checks on baby.  Have a list of people you can call for phone or video support if you plan (or need) to be alone.  Find a provider – the sooner the better.  If you wait too long in your pregnancy, a provider may not be available.  Likewise, a large part of the support a provider gives during labor is from learning about you and your baby during pregnancy.  The more time they have to do this, the more care they can provide.  If you’re considering home birth because of world changes like COVID19, waiting until the last days of your pregnancy to make a decision might decrease the safety of preparing to birth at home.  You can start receiving in-home prenatal care, learn techniques for self-prenatal care in case the home birth caseload for providers significantly increases, and learn techniques for birthing unassisted should the worst-case scenario occur.

SMILE, LOVE, & LIVE LIFE

While planning for a less-than-ideal birth might increase panic, once you become comfortable with your knowledge, these fears will subside.  Make the majority of your day focused on positivity, centering yourself, prayer, meditation, a walk in the woods, spending time with family, and going about your daily routine.  Women have birthed babies in far worse circumstances with joy and love and health over many centuries.  The health and happiness of birth is on your side.  Use the last weeks of your pregnancy to be amazed by your incredible body and how wonderfully it has been created.

 

If you would like more guidance on home birth, self-prenatal care, birth classes, education on birthing unassisted, reach out!  My virtual office is open to those outside my radius and support for my local community is available.

indie birth esali birth

Independent birth is a new term overtaking the unassisted birth world.  Many actually imagine the choice of indie birth to be one where a mother is alone during birth or without a care provider or at home or any specific set of "guidelines" that indicate you can use the trendy term.  However, independent birth is simply another way of describing a knowledgeable approach to the responsibility of birth decisions.

Take back your birth.

You already know how to birth.  You already know how to make decisions.

How do you have an independent birth?

  • Trust your knowledge and ability to make decisions
  • Trust your body
  • Birth where you want
  • Birth how you want
  • Birth with whomever you want

Yup... that's about it.  Whether that leads you to fully assisted, totally unassisted, or any level in between it is the PERSONAL CHOICE that leads you to making decisions for yourself from TTC to pregnancy routines to birth and postpartum practices that puts you in the indie birth category.  Post done....  Okay, okay, I know, you want some substance - some feel-good to give you the confidence you need to make all these decisions.

Independent Birth - Informed Birth, and Parenting Confidence

Ultimately, our birthing experience is a teetering transformation between now and life with a baby - even if you already have children, another baby brings you back to this level again of nurturing a soul for their life journey.  Birth is made to empower us with maturity and wisdom, but many cultures are taking this life phase and surrounding it with so much fear and "you have to be saved" mentalities that women and families are blindsided with even how to handle a runny nose during pregnancy or with a newborn.

Independent birth may be better described as Confident Birth, or better yet, Informed Birth.  When a family is informed, they can choose no provider, a team of providers, or anything in between.

Only you know how you feel. You are the expert on you - and you are the expert on your baby.  Truly.  The more you listen to your body, care for yourself, and make intentional decisions - the more in tune you become and the better you can communicate to your birth team (should you choose one at any point in your journey) on your needs and desires.  With knowledge comes great responsibility because then you are able to make informed decisions and be the leading role in the perinatal phase rather than someone just along for the ride doing whatever the care provider says.

Take back your birth.

You are here.  You get up, you eat, you drink, you pee, you rest, you move, you live.  You know how to be a human and birthing is just another part of being a human.

Want a test?  Go get it.  With an independent birth, you can learn the pros and cons and then make an informed decision for your personal situation.  It doesn't matter what I do, what your provider would do, what your friend did.  It doesn't matter if the studies for this year say a test will result in x, y, or z - what do YOU want?  What do YOU? feel?  What will YOUR family do with the information, the possible outcomes?  The information you receive from Esali Birth, or anywhere else, should provide you with thought provoking action.  Let the information swirl around in your mind.  Get mad at it for a moment if you want.  Then, research.  Get passionate.

Research with Dad, your birth team, anyone together.  Talk about it.  Ask questions and give thoughts.  Listen to every side.  Take that knowledge and be still while you listen to your soul speak.  Then make YOUR decision.

Don't want tests?  Don't do it.  With an independent birth, you can learn the pros and cons and then make an informed decision for your personal situation.  Not every mother has to have the routine option.  Not every (not many) mother benefits from cookie cutter care.  The cookie cutter western approach isn't exactly showing us better statistics anyway, and in fact we see more perinatal depression and higher maternal risks than many other countries - including developed - in the world.  Western medicine is great for some.  Eastern medicine is great for some.  A blend is great for some.  A different approach with each baby is great, too.  Your babies won't be the same and they will continue to require individualized nurturing their whole life - this is just a start.

Want to provide yourself with your own clinical care?  Have at it.  Journal your food, movement, emotions, schedule, and sleep patterns.  Take your blood pressure.  Check heart tones.  Pee on a stick.  Check your blood sugar.  Order your own labs (through online sources) or collaborate with a care provider willing to provide you with these services.  Pick one or all of these options.  Belly map, palpate, or just have a cup of tea with your birth team once a month and create a relationship to build oxytocin (remember that your birth team is providing a lot of their energy for this, too, though, even if it doesn't look like typical prenatal care).

Want all the prenatal care?  Go ahead.  Get all the titles and 30 years of experience.  Choose no titles and no clinical experience.  Choose yourself and your family and love.  Start with nothing, end with it all.  Start with high tech and then get back to basics.  Plan a cesarean.  Plan a home birth.  Transfer to the hospital in the middle of your birth.  Decide to stay at home.  It is YOUR choice.  Nothing is set in stone.  Love your pregnancy by knowing you can make a new decision at a moments notice.

Take back your birth.  Take back your pregnancy.  Take back parenting.  Take back your LIFE!

Learn.  Make decisions. Stop letting anyone make you feel like you don't know how to birth or take care of a baby.  This is biology! Your were MADE for this!

You were also made to seek support, guidance, love.  It's OK to want solitude.  It's OK to want a group of people laying their hands on you.  It's OK to want both at different times.  Just as a doula should provide individualized support for their clients, so should a care provider and it is encouraged for you to desire that individualized care.  Don't hesitate to ask for it if you don't feel like you're receiving it.  Others are only human, too, and their lives are happening all around them just like they are in your pregnancy.

Speak up.  Tell people what you expect, what you want, and don't apologize for it.  If people make you feel hesitant to speak up, find a new birth team or support group.

Supporting Indie Birth

It's one thing to choose independent birth, but to support others in their decisions is the real key.  As a mother, a father, an obstetrician, a midwife (home and hospital), and a community we need to support others in their ability to make their own decisions.  Most of the fear surrounding life choices comes from personal discomfort in someone making a decisions that goes against a decision we've made or the way we currently practice.  Are you a midwife that can't stand the thought of someone supporting birth without clinical experience?  How is this different than an obstetrician not supporting home birth?  Share your knowledge AND your love.  Are you a mother that had an independent birth at home with a midwife (or unassisted) and are frustrated because your friend is choosing an obstetrician or a cesarean?  Let's all take a breath and remember how we learn best.

LOVE.  We have to come to a place that not everyone wants our opinions or thoughts.  We have to come to a place where we ALLOW others to make their own decisions and take responsibility for their own lives.  When you speak truth in a kind and empathetic way, others hear.  They may not react the same way as you - but they hear you.  It may be days or years before they change their lifestyle, or they may not change it at all.  It doesn't matter.  This is our journey.  That is their journey.  Let's not, as independent or natural or whatever birth advocates, make the same mistakes that have been made for decades.  Build up your community with knowledge sharing and encourage others to keep researching and keep discussing.  Surround your interactions with dialogue that doesn't put words in someone's mouth - but that encourages interest through your respectful words so others are encouraged in an intriguing way to learn more.

The more aware you are of the birth industry, the more information you have about biological birth, and the more you surround yourself with a community that knows how choices influence our experiences with a loving heart - the better your independent birth will be and ultimately you increase your experience of a happy healthy birth.  Happy increases oxytocin and oxytocin improves birth.

Information provides us with opportunity.  Opportunity allows us to make decisions and feel confident about the role we're playing and encourages us to learn all we can when we do take a leading role in the decision making process.

What are you doing to take back your birth?

 

home birth reasons Esali Birth

Home Birth on Your Research List?

While I don't encourage clients to "plan" for a specific style of birth, deciding a comfortable birth location is a part of the prenatal research process.  The fact is, we can't plan birth - we can't dictate exactly what will happen including the place we will actually birth - but we can prepare for birth with the understanding of the options at every birth location, including birthing at home (even if preparing for birth in a hospital).  When determining a laboring and birthing location that might match your birth philosophy, understanding how a birth environment influences your biology is crucial.  For many mothers, becoming comfortable with home birth is often a matter of understanding the options available to them and the safety of birth in general and home birth safety for your specific situation.  Many times, choosing to birth at home is a matter of really discovering your birth philosophy and being honest with how your current choices reflect those beliefs.

Home Birth Might be Right for You if...

  1. You are uncomfortable in a medical environment.
  2. You like to be the decision maker instead of being told what to do and want your birth team to trust your inner wisdom.
  3. You don't want an assembly line birth.
  4. You feel a provider formally signing a birth plan for you to experience a birth that matches your birth philosophy isn't the only way to achieve a happy healthy birth.
  5. You don't want medications offered as the first options for comfort.
  6. Your birth guide exceeds 1 page and want to find a birth location that better supports the biology of birth.
  7. You really can't get comfortable pooping anywhere else but home.
  8. You want to use colostrum instead of antibiotics as an eye ointment (or nothing at all).
  9. You don't want to have to decide when is the best time to leave for the birth location.
  10. You are considering "walking in pushing" or lying about your water breaking to avoid interventions in your current birth location choice.
  11. You don't want your care provider showing up just to catch the baby [as their routine].
  12. You don't want to rely on staff to relay details about your labor to your care provider over the phone as a routine.
  13. You want full comfort to build natural oxytocin with kisses, touch, privacy and intimacy as a normal part of the labor and birth process.
  14. You don't want to cut the cord until the placenta has been birthed or desire a lotus birth.
  15. You prefer your other children to be welcomed into your labor and birth space.
  16. You don't want limits on drinking or eating throughout labor.
  17. You don't want biologically unrealistic time limits for birth.
  18. You want the same people that provide you with prenatal and postpartum care to be the same people providing you with labor and postpartum care.
  19. You would prefer that you and your partner (and baby) sleep in your own comfortable bed together after the birth.
  20. You would prefer to reduce your chances of iatrogenic complications and approximately 30,000 preventable complications U.S. mothers experience.
  21. You don't feel the need to conform to your family's, friend's, or culture's perspective of maternity care.
  22. You prefer to receive attentive and regular postpartum care by phone and multiple home visits throughout your postpartum period.
  23. You are "low risk" and prefer a holistic approach to your situation from a provider comfortable with your situation and birth preferences.
  24. You are "high risk" and prefer a holistic approach to your situation from a provider comfortable with your situation and birth preferences.
  25. You believe birth is a part of the normal physiology of the body and not a medical event.

Does Home Birth Seem Like a Good Option for You?

While everyone that decides to prepare for birthing in their home has different reasons, the most important reason to prepare to birth at home is for your own personal reasons.  No one else can make that decision for you.  While there are pros and cons to all birth locations, just because a location is right for someone else (even in the same situation as yourself) doesn't mean it is right for you.  Discover your birth philosophy by learning about the birth industry in your location, through birth classes and perinatal mentoring, and learning how you can increase your birth options through health and wellness.  Then, make an informed decision being prepared for birth in any location and choosing the birth team and birth environment that's best for YOU.

Doula Bag Esali Birth

Labor Doula Bag Basics

When it comes to the basics, your doula bag should carry items for you (food, extra clothes, unique tools for supporting...etc.).  A labor bag that the parents pack should carry items for them (think toiletries, extra clothes, birth ball, food, money...etc.).  The best items in a doula bag or general labor bag really depend on the types of women and births you most often attend and the style of care you provide.  I'm mostly using my hands and my presence while supporting births, but it is nice to have a little bit of extras since they fit in the bag.  Likewise, it's not uncommon for me to attend births in the country 30 minutes from the nearest hospital and I'm usually the only other person present for a decent amount of time so I like to have a little extra tools available to me.  I would encourage you to know how to use the items well in your bag before adding them, particularly if you are adding herbs to your tool kit.  Ultimately, though, you'll probably add a lot more items to your bag when you're first starting out and eventually come to find a few tools to be your most common go-to items for the area you practice in the most.

What is the best Doula Bag to use?

I LOVE camera back packs.  I use these for my desk job also because I work from home and homeschool - which means I might be in the office, at home, or at a park and I want to throw everything in it.  For the doula bag, they just keep everything so organized and easy to access so they're super convenient all the way around with moveable hook and loop dividers.  I have a few different brand styles, but I prefer the style shown in the header image because it doesn't taper at the top and has a lot of extra compartments great for carrying cash/debit cards, keys, food, notepad, or smaller items I might want to grab from my purse.

Doula Bag Must Haves

Essential Doula Bag Items:

  • Extra change of clothes - shirt, pants, and maybe under garments.  You never know if you need refreshed or have water from a tub or amniotic fluid on you.  An extra pair of scrubs are nice too and then you kind of have uniform without bothering the rest of your wardrobe.
  • Herbs for tea and herbs, oils, and tinctures for emergency or extra supportive scenarios - I use a travel cosmetic case for herbal teas that I cycle through often for freshness - that's the little red case you see.  I use a travel essential oil mini case - that's the green zipper pouch you see.  I'll talk more about these in a minute.
  • Food Items - because you need a quick pick me up, or sometimes a whole pot of soup and it might not be available.

Herbs (Red Case) Whole or Tinctured (not essential oils)

  • Red Raspberry Leaf - If its early in labor, I do tend to make a cup of tea for mom or whomever else.  It's emotionally calming, it's nutritive to the whole body, and it is far from clinical.  This can also be used for immediate postpartum.  Red Raspberry Leaf is a wonderful tonic (nutritive) herb which can be light on the stomach while also providing necessary nutrients for labor.
  • Nettles - Same as above while packing a bigger punch.  Great for reducing bleeding postpartum as well.
  • Dandelion Leaf - supports the liver and good for postpartum, especially if mom needs a bit of encouragement to pee over the first week.
  • Chamomile Flower - Soothes muscle tensions, especially in the digestive area helpful for nausea and support sleeping.
  • Separately, though usually blended together (steeped prior to birth if we might be wary of postpartum hemorrhage - stressed mom, long labor, tired mom...etc.) - Equal parts Shepherd's Purse (this is an oxytocic herb that helps to contract the uterus in case of hemorrhage), Yarrow (this herb helps the blood to clot in case of a hemorrhage or vaginal tear), and SWEET/True/Ceylon Cinnamon (NOT Cassia - cassia/kitchen cinnamon thins the blood too much due to high concentrations of coumarin which are not high in true cinnamon).  Cinnamon is helpful for women that may have a very cool constitution (thin, pale, often chilled extremities).  This is a nice postpartum tea blend as well.
  • Black Tea or Instant Coffee - for a quick pick me up drink for the birth team.
  • Doula Power Energy Tincture - for  a quick pick me up and mood balancing needed for long labors and for functioning after a long labor for the birth team.

Herbs (Green Case)

This is a case that holds 8 miniature dropper vials that I mostly use for essential oils though I also have some tinctures.  I also have a roller ball of olive oil for massage and diluting essential oils and a general salve tin for tear healing or as a lip balm - which is better than a stick of lip balm because I can more easily put it on a cotton swab or whatever is available to not contaminate the jars.

  • Olive Oil - for diluting essential oils and general unscented massage (I prefer olive to coconut because it has a longer history of medicinal use and I don't have to purchase something that has been processed in order for it to remain one consistency).
  • Lavender Essential Oil - For calming and anxiety related relaxation as well as rest support.
  • Rescue Remedy (Tincture) - For calming support (though I honestly haven't seen much benefit from this myself).
  • Peppermint Essential Oil - To help ease nausea during labor.  To help if the mom has to pee, especially postpartum thus reducing risks of postpartum hemorrhage from a uterus that can't contract efficiently.
  • Lemon Essential Oil - Uplifting when the birth environment gets a little too drab and everyone needs a pick me up to keep things going. Also helps with nausea during labor.  This can also be blended (equal drops) with peppermint and lavender for allergic reactions and itching (like with medication reactions or cholestasis).  (FYI - Though some people put this in their water for flavor, it isn't a great practice because it can't properly dilute and irritates the stomach.  Likewise, you don't get vitamin C from the essential oil so it doesn't help in that regard either).
  • Chamomile Essential Oil - For muscle tension (also helpful for a newborn that has tight muscles making it hard to breastfeed) and rest support.
  • Valerian Tincture - For anxiety and rest support.
  • Shepherd's Purse Tincture - For oxytocic needed (contracting the uterus) postpartum hemorrhage (NOT for induction or during labor).
  • Yarrow Tincture - For flowing blood postpartum hemorrhage.

Sometimes I may have pre-blended tinctures for scenarios like hemorrhage and after pains relief - but all of these mentioned can be used along with other techniques so it isn't necessary.  I just like having something available if I'm the only one at the birth or out in the hills of WV.

Food Stuffs

  • Protein bars, of the healthy kind, are well worth it for their compact nutrition.  I found these wonderful sprouted - fruit only sweetness - protein bars that are wonderful from Thrive Market.  It is really nice having something good for me, no condensed whey or soy protein, and that won't make me crash like a sugar-loaded bar will do.
  • Honey sticks - because sometimes they just taste good in tea or coffee and I just don't like white sugar that's often available.  They can make nasty herbs taste better.  They can also be a great pick me up for the Mom (and baby) that might be getting low on blood sugar - or anyone else that might need this pick me up as well.  A uterus doesn't work well when it doesn't have a healthy source of glucose (common in a long labor), which may increase risks of hemorrhage so this is a simple way of keeping something in the system even if mom doesn't want to eat (typical during labor as the body needs to focus on getting baby out, not digesting food).
  • Cucumbers or coconut water for natural and healthy electrolyte balance without overloading the body with salt (which may cause water retention, but not necessarily hydration and electrolyte balance).
  • Sometimes I grab a box or jar of soup if I have it available - and it has been glorious when I have this for a long labor or where nourishing food isn't available.
  • Gum or Mints - Because you never know how coffee or protein bars might make your breath smell to a laboring mother or anyone else for that matter.
  • Lip Balm - If you use a swab this can be used by multiple people (you and mom...etc.) without unecessarily sharing germs.  A blend of St. John's Wort, Comfrey, and Calendula in olive oil and beeswax makes a nice healing skin salve for various scenarios such as perineal tears and postpartum nipple damage issues.

Doula Bag Optional Items

  • Flex Straws - Making staying hydrated much easier for mom so she doesn't have to tip a glass back.
  • Tennis Ball - for pressure and massage so the hands don't get tired.
  • Birth Ball or Peanut Ball - for sitting with a moveable pelvis, for leaning over in various positions, for sitting on behind a squatting mother, and the peanut ball for propping the legs more easily in side lying positions.  These are common tools, though most clients these days (as well as birth locations) already have these or clients prefer to walk around - so carrying one around that needs stored or blown up is just not my thing.  A ball can easily be taken to selective births as needed.
  • Infusion Glass - This is not shown, but I usually strap a water bottle and Libre Tea infusion glass to the front of my bag for hydration and making tea or fruit infusions.  I don't have to worry about finding a tea ball or making a paper tea bag - plus no leeching from plastic cups.  Grab on of these in the Esali Shop!
  • Baby Wrap - About a size 4 woven wrap - for rebozo work, comfort relief, repositioning baby, wrapping around a pelvis for hip squeezing, and postpartum babywearing if it looks like the parents need some extra support... or postpartum belly wrapping if the mom needs extra abdominal support.
  • Yoga Strap - used similarly as a baby wrap, but a little easier to maneuver.  Myself or Dad can hold this up around the back over the shoulder in the front - up on a bed or other piece of furniture - and mom can hold the bottom like a birth rope for a supported squat that's easier on our arms and better for relaxing her bottom.  These are great for stretching the lower back and hamstrings and various parts of the pelvic region during prenatal appointments or to help a funky birth position.  Depending on the birth location, there might be something this can be hooked around to be used just like a labor rope.
  • Battery tea lights - because they can feel relaxing, and why not?  Many birth locations don't allow real candles, or we don't want to worry about one being knocked over or forgotten to be blown out.  They can allow that calm and dark space oxytocin prefers while giving the birth team a little bit of light to maneuver around.
  • Note pad and pens for taking birth notes, especially if I'm going to be the only one there for a while.  I'm not focused on this because supporting mom is my priority, but there are times this is helpful not only when relaying information to the rest of the birth team, but also for processing a birth during postpartum and having a really good understanding of the order of events with the family.
  • Some print out cards of tip reminders for positioning in case I'm tired - or the rest of the birth team needs something to reference (great for dads and family members).
  • Hair ties - because my hair is crazy long and its common for my tie to break.  Also because the mom might need one herself and may have forgotten one in her bag or lost it.
  • Digital camera and phone charger - I often take birth photos when doulaing.  It isn't my main focus, but it is something I offer.  I also want to be sure my family can reach me for emergencies and keep a phone charger on hand.
  • Surgical gloves - because sometimes I check baby's tongue ties postpartum to foresee any breastfeeding issues if things aren't feeling OK to mom.  I don't like to do this too soon because I don't want to mess with baby unnecessarily, but commonly used during postpartum visits.
  • Feeding Tube - just in case someone offers the Mom a nipple shield I have backup available.  I also use this bag for breastfeeding and postpartum consultations and like to keep those on hand for a finger feeder as one of the least invasive ways of mom getting a break from nursing without damaging the latch with other artificial nipples.  When they are needed - its nice to not have to wait 2 days to get them by mail.  I also keep some Dr. Jack Newman breastfeeding guides in here as well, though not pictured.  My doula support includes breastfeeding support and postpartum care, so having these items come in handy.

Those are the basics.  Sometimes I might add a few extra items - usually a different herb or extra food item or something specific the mom may have requested.  Maybe an extra camera battery, but nothing too extreme.  The bag is mostly my personal convenience and comfort items rather than items I ever really use much.  I might throw in a book I'm reading for a time where mom is sleeping or wants some privacy.

 

What's in YOUR Doula Bag?

Vaginal Birth by Location Rates Esali Birth

Vaginal Birth Location

Vaginal birth location is influenced by many factors.  U.S. Women can expect an approximate 94% chance of vaginal birth when planning to birth at home.  Only approximately 68% of women planning hospital birth will have a vaginal birth in the hospital.

Amnesty International reported in 2011 that cesarean births were at an all time high in the U.S. of 32.9%.

The CDC told us in 2015, 32% of women birthed by cesarean a decrease from prior years.

Improving Birth tells us 33% of women across the U.S. have a cesarean birth (27% of those are first time mothers).

CesareanRates.com documents 32.2% of women birthing by cesarean in 2014.

What influences vaginal birth rates?

At home, 11% of mothers can expect to transfer to a hospital, leaving 89% experiencing vaginal birth at home.  However, of the 11% that transfer to a hospital, 53% will still greet their baby by vaginal birth, the remaining percentage transferring for third stage, postpartum, or newborn care.  Altogether, this equals to approximately 94% of women planning to birth at home will birth vaginally, even if hospital transfer becomes necessary or desired, as the Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA) explains in their report of the 2014 home birth transfer systemic review.

The approximate 32-33% overall cesarean rate includes mothers that planned a home birth; however, less than 1% of women in the U.S. plan to birth at home, making little difference in the overall cesarean rate.

In many hospitals women are:

  • Required to birth within 12 hours of being admitted or from the time their amniotic sac ruptures or receive a cesarean
  • Not permitted to eat or drink throughout labor
  • Restricted on mobility during labor
  • Unable to choose their birth position
  • Expected to dilate at textbook rates
  • Monitored by a team that relays information to the provider to receive instructions on care
  • Not given a quiet, calm, or dark environment necessary for oxytocin production and labor progression
  • Directed through pushing strength and time
  • Not adequately supported through the basics of breastfeeding

At most home births, women are:

  • Provided with patience to labor as their body needs
  • Intermittently monitored to not disturb the laboring mother
  • Encouraged to push when they feel the urge to do so
  • Encouraged to eat and drink throughout labor
  • Personally monitored by the care provider for early signs of distress

Birth Location Considerations

  • Planned vaginal birth at home birth is considered as safe as, often with less intervention than, hospital birth for healthy women and babies
  • Increased risks in home birth are created when families that are expecting to birth in the hospital are not prepared by their care provider or educated on unassisted birth
  • Cesareans can be life saving for both mom and baby when utilized when necessary
  • Planned cesareans, in some situations, may decrease postpartum depression for some mothers unable to heal from traumatic birth experiences
  • Cesareans, in some situations, may influence neurological disorders in the child due to reduced oxytocin from induced, augmented, or excessively long difficult labors

How can I increase safety and prepare for birth in all locations?

  • Families educated on the birth industry and influence of care providers and birth locations are the ones choosing home birth.  Get educated.
  • Increase Dad's confidence with information specific to the birth partner's role in all birth settings.
  • Take an independent complete perinatal education series to learn about your rights in birth, options for birth, health and wellness, labor physiology, breastfeeding, postpartum care, and parenting basics
  • Schedule perinatal mentoring sessions for one-on-one guidance through the childbearing years, guidance for your specific situation, and confidence building for the whole birth team
  • Prepare for unassisted birth so that you are ready for all situations, even if you are not planning to birth alone.  Then, every choice you add on top of that will [should] only enhance the birth experience.  Panicking during an unplanned birth scenario is an important aspect of the increased risk during unplanned home births and unplanned unassisted births, even when families are preparing to birth at home.
  • Take responsibility in your perinatal choices by selecting a care provider and birth location that supports the biology of birth and breastfeeding, builds confidence and trust, and respects your rights and desires for you and your baby's health
  • Prepare your body and mind for a more holistic approach to birth with the FREE Esali Birth Prep 10-Week challenge, increasing physical and emotional health and increasing options available to you no matter where you birth

Birth isn't amazing.

Birth is normal.

Birth is a biological function that in some ways we've glorified beyond necessity.  Or maybe it is necessary right now, but what will it do to future generations?  What is it already doing right now?  Being positive and believing in your body is important - and our culture has taken that away due to the fear we've instilled in children for oh so many reasons.  Humans simply grow up in fear.  However, in some ways, we have tried to make women so unafraid of biology that we've told them to trick their mind into believing birth has made them superhuman.  But, that's not true.

Birth doesn't make you superhuman.  Birth is normal.

Do we tell our best friends, "WOW, that is amazing!  I could not have a bowel movement at home! You're so brave!"?

Do we say, "You did so well feeding yourself today!"?  Not to most adults, no.

Do we pride ourselves for the deep full breath we take in the afternoon as the sun warms our face?  Do we applaud our heart for every beat it makes?  We can feel blessed for these things.  We can give thanks for these things.  We can be amazed by these things - but these thing are our design.

Biology works when it is nourished with physical, emotional, and spiritual means.  Birth is normal biology.

The ability to hike Mt. Everest is through determination and preparation and is a feat above what we were intended for - accomplishing this is great for those that desire it, but for those that don't or can't, no big deal.  Birth is normal - it is something that happens with normal healthy living; no practice necessary.  Healthy choices and healthy lifestyles, yes - but not anything above normal biologically living (you know, before screens and grocery stores ruled our lives).

The ability to slam dunk a basketball might be encouraged by physical stature, but is created by practice, interest, and learning techniques to do so.  Birth is normal; no techniques need to be learned.

Digesting your food well is determined by your nutrient balance, hydration, and movement.  Digestion is normal - environment changes the function.  Though we may realize our body's abilities when we nourish it well, each function is a normal part of its intended biology.  Birth is normal - the environment changes the function.

Sometimes, when we glorify the biological function of the body, instead of the nature of what truly is amazing, women start to doubt themselves more or believe they have failed at some certain part of birth if it didn't go perfectly as planned (especially if they didn't learn healthy habits until late in the pregnancy or if their birth team wasn't conducive to a biological birth).  Of course, you can't plan birth.  You can create the conditions that allow the ability of birth to go as biologically intended - just as you can create the conditions for all parts of biology to function smoothly.  But you can't plan birth.

Conception is fascinating.  The fact that humans can create other humans is incredible and evenso, conception is normal.

The moment of birth can be empowering.  And yet, the rise in hormones that should occur after birth is designed for survival - for a mother to desire to care for this child and the child to be able to be soothed and nourished by their mother.  Birth is normal.

Birth may feel amazing.  Birth may feel empowering.  Birth may feel superhuman.  But birth isn't amazing - not in the way that it is perceived that it takes a unique woman to be able to do it in a certain way.  Birth is normal. Your body can feel amazing in birth.  That's normal.  Your body may feel empowered through birth.  That is normal.  Your body may feel superhuman.  That is normal.  Your body may also feel tired and intense and disappointed and unsure.  That is normal.

The fact that our body is designed to experience normal biology in such a profound, empowering, and spiritual way - that is amazing.

Normal is relative to the conditions, including the culture, that a person lives in.  Birth experience is not wholly something we can create, only influence - but something we are intended to experience however that experience plays out.  Biological intention is present in all humans and we must support that intention physically, emotionally, and spiritually the best way we are able to do at that time.  We are neither successes nor failures at biology - there are too many factors at play.  However, we can be amazed at that biology as a whole and its intended design and find that the journey of every birth story is amazing.

Our whole body's existence is amazing.

Let me start off by saying that little curse word - IF - is OK.  That question, "What if?" is OK.  There is NOTHING wrong with doubt.  There is NOTHING wrong with curiosity, questioning, and fear.

NOTHING.

If you are one of those individuals out there that wants to make a family feel ashamed for their doubt - you're only further increasing their fear.   If you aren't supporting those that aren't making the same decisions as you, then you are a part of the problem.  If you believe you know everything - you've learned so little.  There is a difference between knowledge and wisdom.  YOU are also on a journey, and that is OK too - but let these words be a stepping stone for you also that might help to move you into another stages of cultural change.

OK... this

................is me

..........................stepping off

..............................................my soap box.

Why ARE we asking that question, "What if?"  I could sit here and list all sorts of questions, like:

  • What if you were among the majority?  The majority of women that don't have complications...
  • What if your birth was average?  You meet your baby, take your baby home, and dodn't have many issues...
  • What if you birthed in a way that was empowering?  Empowered you to be fiercely protective of this little new human...
  • What if you rocked it?

Right... I could list all those situations that are *more* likely to happen than any of the ones you're concerned about, couldn't I?  But that's not helpful right now, is it?  It's not, because while you may feel positive - if you're not able to talk through your fears, they still have the potential of controlling you.  They are likely there for a reason.  What might they be?  What are you thinking?  What IF:

  • my baby dies?
  • I die?
  • it hurts?
  • my baby gets hurt?
  • my baby is born sleeping?

And, those are the common ones, right?  Those are what almost every parent thinks at one point... especially in most modern-western cultures.  We'll get to that in a minute... but lets list a few more...

  • What IF - *I* make a choice that is different than most other parents and any one of the above scenarios happen?
  • What IF - someone blames ME instead of a surgeon for anything that seems "off" in a home birth? (As if someone *should* be blamed at all).
  • What IF - I could have done more?

I would bet, those last three are the REAL what if questions you're thinking.  What if I look like a "bad" parent?  What do I know, they have birthed more kids than I?  What do I know, I'm not a surgeon (the midwife's not a surgeon)? [Let me interject your thoughts here and say, no, a midwife isn't - but they ARE the specialist in normal physiological birth...]  What if I look "wrong?"  What if someone ELSE thinks a different choice would have made a difference?

I talk a lot about ways to prevent these situations from happening - from birth environment to nutrition and lifestyle - in my series classes and mentoring sessions.  I talk a lot about modern birth practices that increase these risks like hospital practices - when someone else actually thinks its a better practice... even when current recommendations go against that practice.  However, I'm not going to talk about that right now.  If you're interested in prevention - look me up, we can chat worldwide online through real-time classes or you can sign up for a local series or mentoring session.  But, what about all those cases where prevention doesn't change a thing?  Those are rare indeed - but, you're thinking about them, so let's explore.

The thing is, our CULTURE doesn't talk about death.  We're scared of it.  Mothers are told "just be happy baby is 'healthy?'"  It doesn't matter what the provider did to you or how you feel, the most important thing is they are alive and you are alive.  Except, that's not true... and if you think that's true - let's chat about that.

Are we that intimidated by this thing that happens to EVERYONE on the planet?  Why is that?

We can butcher a mom and cause lifelong complications within the family, just to "save" someone?  Don't get me wrong - I get it.  I get that feeling of thinking this, right here, is better.  But until we embrace all that happens in life - we not only can't get past our fears - WE CAN'T HELP THOSE ACTUALLY EXPERIENCING THIS.  We can't help them with the BEST prevention... and we can't help them experience these parts of life with healthy support and awareness.  We will keep feeling awkward around anyone that has had a miscarriage, had a still birth, experienced SIDS, lost a child, lost a mother, lost a grandmother, or had to deal with a complication.  Advocates will keep saying things like, "If you only would have _________, that wouldn't have happened."  Oh my gosh, really?   So, NOT OK for a hospital provider to say, "If you only had your baby in a hospital, ______ wouldn't have happened."  But totally OK to say, "If you would have had a home birth _______ wouldn't have happened."

Interesting.

Oh... I've been there - I know how easy it is to default to that response.  Years ago in my birth advocacy infancy (as it so often happens) - I believed that - but eventually you have to wake up.  If you stop learning (even when what you learn isn't what you would do) - you stop helping others.

Let me tell you something, though... there is not one blanket statement or gesture that will cover the comfort bases for everyone hurting in this world. Not at all.  We can give all these lists of "what not to do/say to someone who is _______" - and that's just so general.  I've hurt before, so much.  Was it your hurt?  Maybe not... maybe...  Everyone has deep hurts in their life and everyone experiences sadness.  What we need to do is acknowledge they exist and stop tiptoeing around scared we're not going to be PC.  When someone hurts, there isn't too much anyone can do other than be available and over life help.  The closest friends and family are not only the ones that person wants to be comforted by and will open up to - but also some of the only ones that just know the person well enough to be "forgiven" if they say the "wrong" thing.

So, mothers - if you are someone that has these strong fears of "what if" - especially when that involves others judgement on you for a choice you want to make.... or your personal judgement... that is a great place to start exploring.  Talk to other parents that *have* experienced this part of life.  Sit in support groups.  Find your support group and open up to them - and if they aren't to a place where they (no matter what their choice would be) can't support YOU with whatever choice you make - then they aren't a good part of your support group.

We don't HAVE to agree.  We don't HAVE to support each others' choices.  We DO need to support each other.  We need to STOP believing we know it all.  Knowledge can be all kinds of "evil" - humans are so stuck on thinking when they know a lot (or a little) about a subject, they couldn't possibly learn anything new.  It is oh so common and widespread in this generation, too.  Its that same fear - "what if I have to tell someone I thought I knew when there was actually another way?"

But, was there? Because I can bet you THIS right now, THIS is what you ARE supposed to be experiencing.  This way is the way it was supposed to be.  You're on a spiritual journey, and that's OK.  Take what you learn and apply it (as a parent and as an advocate) and chug along until you learn something else... then apply it however it fits into your life.  Embrace that it is OK and sometimes we just CAN'T know what "could" have been.

Be a shoulder to cry on to those providing info., and those needing info.  Be someone to hug.  Be that person that brings a family a meal without asking when they need help.  Be someone that just sits there so the family isn't alone.  Be that positive light in their life.

Tell someone you're scared and hurting.  Tell someone your "irrational" fears and thoughts.  That's half the battle.  Then surround yourself with those that uplift you and nurture you and provide wisdom.

YOU can handle ANYTHING.  You can.  Find the people that love you - truly love you - in this life, and keep them close to you in some way - and when you need them, they'll arrive.

Most new childbearing families feel a sense of comfort birthing in the US from a perceived belief that our developed status makes us less prone to less than ideal outcomes.  Reality, however, is not quite so...

What we know:

  • The U.S. has the worst maternal health statistics of ALL developed countries (we rank 61st). Yes, even though we spend more per capita on health care and many [hospital] births are off the charts expensive.  Home births can be expensive, but relatively they are much lower costs.  Many women find that the cost of a home birth is lower than insurance deductibles.
  • 99% of births are in a Hospital, attended by nursing staff focused on monitors and obstetrician that are not present for labor.  Shouldn't this increase our safety if women are birthing in a hospital believing they are receiving the best care?  However, it can be quite difficult to really tell what is happening in labor if someone is only focusing on monitors, "observing" a laboring mother from a completely separate room, or getting feedback from phone conversations.  This does not happen at a typical home birth, I can assure you.  Quietly knitting in the corner, possibly - but ever listening, observing, noting, and providing calm energy.
  • Countries with better health statistics have midwife-attended labors and births with home birth as an accessible option supported by obstetrician.
    Yes, European countries have a model of maternity care that encourages midwives for normal healthy births collaborating with obstetrician for higher risk births and surgical birth.  Only 8% of births are attended by midwives in the US, and many of them have also never seen a home birth but rather learned from Obstetric and medically managed births.
  • Studies show home birth is as safe as, with less interventions, than hospital birth.  We have to start with the idea that providers actually understand the biology of birth.  If they've never seen a normal non-intervened birth, then they can't adequately compare what is normal and what is managed.  At most home births, a quiet and calm midwife with experience in home birth will watch and let mom do her thing in peace and love with her family.  She may support emotionally, palpate, suggest positions, and listen to heart tones - but she starts with a perspective that birth takes time, mobility, and love.  If we go to medicine every time something isn't matching an outdated and limited-study chart, then we're seriously diminishing the birth safety for mothers from the get go.  Once that first intervention starts, it often snowballs into many others and sometimes, walking out the front door is that first intervention because moms no longer feel calm and confident.
  • Hemorrhage is the leading cause of maternal death. This is true just about anywhere, but what people don't realize is how much a medically intervened birth increases this risk.  Environments that don't support biology such as taking baby away from mom, medications surrounding birth, and anything that decreases oxytocin such as bright lights, noise, chaos, too many people in the birth room, and staff demeanor, will increase adrenaline which is an antagonistic hormone to oxytocin.  Oxytocin is the hormone that contracts the uterus.  A contracting uterus after the birth (which is also increased with baby being skin to skin and nuzzling the breast) clamps down on the capillaries and stops bleeding.  This is only ONE influence, which happens in practically all hospital births, that increases risks of hemorrhage.  The other significant issue is postpartum care which is virtually nil in hospital births.  With a home birth, midwives see the mom multiple times after the birth, call often, and meet with mom 2-3 times within a 6 week period for a normal birth.  Most moms birthing by cesarean only have one appointment after 6 weeks.  A lot can happen during postpartum such as hemorrhage and eclampsia.  Care needs to continue for moms with adequate breastfeeding knowledge and support and postpartum healing care.  This would also decrease postpartum depression, which brings us to our next point.
  • 10-20% of US women suffer from postpartum depression.  This doesn't cover prenatal depression... but why is this happening?  We've created a culture that believes baby blues are a normal part of postpartum, for one.  That many mothers are sad that it is literally believed to be expected.  This is ridiculous.  When a woman is designed to have a flood of happy hormones pour over her throughout birth, immediately after birth at higher levels than orgasm, and every single time she breastfeeds - what in the world would make postpartum such a depressing time?  Let's think about the fact that 42% of women are induced and another 47% are augmented (sped up) both often with synthetic oxytocin (pitocin or syntocinon) which doesn't cross the blood-brain barrier and as such doesn't have the same psychological effects as natural oxytocin.  Let's think about the 99% of women birthing in environments with bright lights, a lot of noise, and often chaos immediately after birth all of which decrease natural oxytocin.  Let's think about all those babies whisked away, screaming like crazy, handled like a rag doll, and jammed with all sorts of needles and suction devices and touching people that have no business touching the baby before mom.  Let's think about the majority of hospital birthing women that receive a routine injection of pitocin post birth to "prevent" postpartum hemorrhage (never mind the fact if the prior labor care was biological, natural oxytocin and immediate bonding/skin to skin would work as it should).  Let's think about all the supplements and pacifiers not only at home, but given away in the hospital to reduce breastfeeding.  Let's think about all the providers that know next to nothing, or completely wrong, breastfeeding information.  Let's think about all the moms that go home and are expected to do it all, even some going back to work in 3-6 weeks before they're ever physically healed, let alone psychologically.  Let's think about all those women that are expected to milk their breasts with a machine instead of having their baby with them as nature designed.  Let's think about the lack of support women have during these stages when other countries literally pamper the mom for 4-6 weeks with food, love, and most of all encouragement to lie with her baby and rest and nurse.  Let's think about what we're causing, not what to expect because we're unwilling to change practices.  Let's think about the 33% of women birthing by cesarean, likely 1/2 of those being preventable through proper care, that have doulas and dads holding their baby on their breast to nurse because they're so medicated and tired they can't hold their arms up.  Let's think about these cesarean birthers that are healing from birth trauma and major surgery that are told, "all that matters is a healthy baby" who are not just suppressed on telling their story, but never routinely counseled to process their birth.  Home birth midwives STILL meet with their hospital transfer patients during postpartum when their care was transfered because they get what a mother needs.  Where is this care for most of that 33% of women?
  • More women are birthing unassisted because of their fear of trauma from birth attendants and hospital policies. While I am among the few that support unassisted birth because I support autonomy and I believe in the body's ability - I am appalled that many women are choosing this not because they feel empowered to do so and are truly at peace with all birth scenarios, but because our maternity system is failing.  It is increasing their fear of harassment, bullying, birth rape, safety for mom and baby, and ultimately parental confidence.

 

Now, make no mistake - all of this is real and true, but in most communities, we are certainly blessed to have the ability to choose home birth with experienced attendants.  Likewise, the relative risks are overall low in childbirth - not at all like it was when birth first moved into the hospital and providers were increasing risks of birth by causing illnesses simply from not washing their hands.  We've come a long way and have a lot of methods available to us to make birth safer.  The key, however, is to use those methods when needed and not as a form of defensive medicine or our of fear for lack of biological understanding.  There are so many great resources to help you learn more about birth in the US such as www.improvingbirth.org, www.primalhealthresearch.com, and www.childbirthconnection.com.

Feeling confused?  Looking for options?  Seeking the desire to free your mind of birth fear?  Schedule a mentoring session with me and let's talk about your situation and your options.  Let's talk about your health to maximize your birth options and let's talk about how to navigate this birth industry for the happiest birth possible, because a happy birth is a healthy birth.

Well, hello there!  While we've seen a lot from each other through "Esali Birth," I wanted to take a moment to say a personal hello from me, Danielle from the Mid-Ohio Valley, and share a basic service and price list for all of you looking for perinatal support through the childbearing years in the Mid-Ohio Valley.

If you're new to Esali Birth you may not know my story which I love sharing throughout the many times we may meet on your journey.  Mostly, I am a modern gal living in rural WV that loves to intertwine instinctual, historical, knowledge with only the most beneficial parts of our modern world.  I wear many hats in my family and life and love the diversified options I have in this beautiful world.  I also love supporting families during the childbearing years from the most basic loving hug to the scientific ins and outs of childbirth.  Whatever you need in this moment is what I strive to provide.  Sometimes that is advice, sometimes it is research, sometimes it is nutritional guidance, and it is always understanding of your personal journey which is ever changing.

My services range from pre-conception counseling to childbirth education and doula support.  I have a variety of herbal blends available and custom blends that can be created for your specific needs from soothing foot soaks and beverage tea blends to body balancing while transitioning from medicinal birth control and perinatal support.  See my service menu below for a basic list of options in the Mid-Ohio Valley.

While I do require services be paid in full, I provide my NPI number and guidance for my clients to submit claims to their insurance to help cover doula education and support fees upon request.

Want to learn more?  See me chat with Marilee Marrow on Moms Everyday and visit my Support Page.  Find me on Skype @esalibirth for my online [free] "Office Hours."

Have questions?  Get in touch!

[rev_slider_vc alias="parent-classees"]
photo from freedigitalphotos.net

Birth guides, or birth plans, are lists that lay out your priorities for labor and the immediate postpartum. Whether at home or in the hospital, these can become great communication tools for your birth team (which includes your birth partner, doula(s), assistants/nurses, and your provider). What is important to keep in mind, however, is that a birth guide should only be used as a reminder and only *after* you’ve carefully selected your birthing environment and birth team.

A birth guide cannot fix choices that don’t support your idea of a healthy and happy birth.

What does a birth guide include?

  • Introduction – Brief information about you and often accompanied with a box of cookies for the nursing staff. Baking homemade cookies are a great early labor activity.
  • Labor Wishes – Include priorities such as your wishes for natural or medicated birth, ability to move and eat as you wish, and suggestion preferences from the birth team (including staff/provider) on how to birth your baby.
  • Birth & Newborn Care Wishes – Will you allow the cord to stop pulsing on its own? Will you avoid vaccines or eye treatments? Have someone remind the staff that they are required to ask your permission before performing any procedures on you or the baby. Sometimes, this is overlooked. Will you allow the placenta birth to come naturally?
  • Emergency & Cesarean Birth – Do you want to watch your baby being born? Which hospital would you prefer to be transferred to in case of an emergency? Which hospital would you prefer your newborn transfer to in case of an emergency?

There is a lot to think about, so start taking notes now. Find a provider (if you wish) and birth location that matches your belief of safety, health, and happiness for your baby and your family. Then, narrow down your priorities and consider alternative options for when birth takes a different course. This is why Esali Birth likes to refer to this as a birth “guide” and not a “plan.” You can’t plan biological birth – but you can prepare for it!

Keep your birth guide to no longer than a page, and only list simple bullet points that are easy to read and understand.  Remember that if you're birthing in a hospital, the team probably has multiple other mothers they're working for and a lot of paperwork to complete.  Take a hospital tour to get to know some of the staff before hand and know more of what to expect from the facility so you can better judge your choices.  If you're at home, your birth team likely has taken a lot of time already to understand your vision for birth. If you exceed a page, you might want to consider changing your location and/or care provider to better match your wishes.

To learn more about all the options you have for birth, and in depth details on how your choices influence your baby and your birth, take an Esali Birth perinatal education class locally or online!

 

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