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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.

Motivational Tea Scrolls can be printed free, clipped, and added to each cup of herbal tea (or your favorite relaxing drink) for daily inspiration.  Various formats from quotes, tip, scripture...etc., plus new additions regularly, will keep your daily cuppa inspirational for pregnancy, motherhood, and beyond.

Add motivational tea scrolls to gifted tea blends for blessingways, baby showers, and postpartum gift boxes.  Print these out for your loved one (scrolls for mom and dad) to give them a surprise moment with every glass.

 

Belly mapping helps you understand the position of your baby so you can build awareness and confidence for a happy healthy birth.  The Esali Birth Belly Mapping guide will take you step by step through this simple process, beginning around 20-24 weeks and continued through to birth.  Learn your baby's position so you can help cater your daily routine to your body and your baby's needs.

Belly Mapping Guide Includes:

  • How to Belly Map
  • Benefits of Belly Mapping
  • Understanding the Position of Your Baby
  • Visual reference for matching your belly map with baby's position

For more information on how to use the belly mapping information, download the free Perinatal Pocket Guide.

Join the Free Birth Community!

The Esali Birth Perinatal Pocket Guide is member's only resource; a pocket doula guide for pregnancy, birth, and the first weeks postpartum.  This easy to navigate pregnancy guide can be easily viewed on your phone or printed on index cards.  The labor guide is a great labor bag reference for dads, birth partners, and doulas.

Perinatal Pocket Guide Includes:

  • Prenatal Wellness Tips
  • Baby Alignment Tips
  • Pregnancy Discomfort Remedies
  • Pregnancy Belly Mapping Tips
  • Early Labor Tips
  • Early Labor Progression Tips
  • Active Labor Tips
  • Active Labor Progression Tips
  • Birthing (Pushing) Tips
  • Birthing (Pushing) Progression Tips
  • Placenta Uses
  • Unassisted Emergency Birth Tips
  • Breastfeeding Latch Tips

 Join the Free Birth Community!

perinatal doula mentoring esali birth

Private Perinatal Doula Mentoring is the Future of Birth Education

Is doula mentoring or taking a birth class series more beneficial for birth education?  Obtaining information about the birth industry, the physiology of birth, and your options for a happy healthy birth is a well known step during pregnancy.  But, are birth class series a thing of the past?  Lamaze was so popular it is a household name for birth classes and taught in numerous hospitals across the world.  Bradley Method came in strong for empowering families to make choices that supported the birth they want.  Now birth education and doula organizations are around every corner and parents are wondering if they should take a class or hire a doula.  What differences are really being made here when we're seeing decreases in perinatal health, rises in cesareans, and more moms experience breastfeeding and postpartum difficulties despite the increase in big organization one-size-fits all approaches, even to natural childbirth.  I want to present you with the new holistic approach to perinatal care.

Perinatal Doula Mentoring is a one-on-one approach to the modern family.  Researching the plethora of options available to you as an expecting mother, or father, can be overwhelming to say the least.  Fitting in a sit-down class of information being thrown at you after you've worked an 8+ hour day, went to the gym, spent time with your family, and tried to get an hour of down time can be exhausting.  You know there are professionals out there trying to blog all the must-knows, but you just don't have the time or energy to read through every little detail and double check the studies.  You want to make your time count and you want to find the person that specializes in having well-rounded information and resources.  Perinatal Doula Mentoring is right for you, and geared towards millennials, meme-driven social media fans, and your typical modern family.

Perinatal Doula Mentoring is Individualized

Well of course I would love for you to sit through 20+ hours of birth classes and learn everything there is to learn about the basics of birth and all the remedies to labor variations and every single thing the modern birth industry might throw at you.  The truth is, psychology makes your brain lose interest on just about anything pretty quickly.  Your brain gets hyperfocused, though, on a few certain things you're experiencing right now or have been planted in your head in the past.  Perinatal Doula Mentoring means finding answers and support for those very specific questions when you need it.  After a prenatal appointment.  In the evening when a thought comes to you.  Not an hour into a birth series with five (or more) other couples, but whenever you want to ask.  Get your questions answered for your specific birth with #MOVdoula of Esali Birth.

Perinatal Doula Mentoring is Modern

Many birth series don't update their material after their initial "method" is developed.  Moreso, most birth series are focused on a standard set of information over a standard number of days and because most classes are group classes, deviating from the standard is difficult.  Perinatal doula mentoring with Esali Birth allows your one on one time with your doula to maximize on all the questions you have, and still have access to all the perinatal education series stuff in a virtual format available 24/7 so you can research and learn to your hearts content whenever and wherever you want.

Perinatal Doula Mentoring is Full Service

Many birth professionals only focus on one area of the childbearing years.  Antenatal doulas, birth doulas, birth education, postpartum doulas, lactation.  While there is a time for specific focuses, the childbearing years throughout history have been best experienced with the wise people of the culture passing down knowledge from generation to generation.  With Esali Birth perinatal doula mentoring, you're taken care of from questions and emotional care from TTC and pregnancy through labor discomfort and informed decisions as well as the postpartum stages and breastfeeding.  You have someone that you create a relationship with through the childbearing years.

Perinatal Doula Mentoring Creates Happy Healthy Births

Full Service Perinatal Doula Mentoring builds trust.  Trust builds oxytocin.  Oxytocin creates comfortable progressing labor.  Oxytocin balances the risks during labor and postpartum and breastfeeding.  Oxytocin is the key to Happy Healthy Birth.

Perinatal Doula Mentoring Avoids Awkward Conversations with Strangers

Perinatal Doula Mentoring can feel more relaxed as you communicate with one person well versed in the industry that knows the ins and outs of the good bad and in between of the childbearing years through a non-judgemental approach.  While traditional group birth classes create the opportunity for you to meet other families experiencing the same event and you can learn from the questions they have, they're not the right fit for everyone.  Many communities, Mid-Ohio Valley included, have great regular meetups for pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding making an amazing opportunity to meet other people with questions just like you in the same stage of life (and beyond).

Perinatal Doula Mentoring is Flexible

Learn about birth and allay your fears on your own schedule with a perinatal doula mentor that is focused on meeting your personal needs.  Day jobs can be long stressful intense hours, shift work means one person isn't available at a regular time every week, and real modern life means a lot of activities on the schedule.  Perinatal Doula Mentoring with Esali Birth is flexible, meeting you when it fits in your schedule even virtually.  Topics can be completely customized to this pregnancy, this moment in time, and the questions you want answered at this stage.  Doula mentoring can happen in the morning, afternoon, evening, weekends, randomly, and spaced out through each trimester.  Mentoring can also happen routinely, even part of the time, and we can start with a set standard and veer off the path any time a thought pops in your head.  This emergent style approach is known to be more thorough and remembered because it follows your lead for the desires you have now, creates a lower stress environment because now the Perinatal Doula Mentor is meeting your needs instead of you trying to cram everything in to meet the needs of a standard birth class.  This is how we reach more families, make bigger impacts, and improve happy healthy birth for more modern parents.

Perinatal Doula Mentoring is #StackYourLife

This flexible, emergent-style, approach can be easily blended in a Walking Birth Class approach.  No more having to sit on the floor labor breathing (but we can do that if you'd like), we can meet at the park or at the mall, over dinner, or while putting together your nursery and postpartum care pack.  We can learn relaxation, positions, and comfort measures anywhere... your own special space or normal daily life, which is more the reality you'll find yourself in during labor anyway.  You don't have to fit this extra activity in,  because perinatal doula mentoring can happen anywhere it is convenient for you during any activity you already need to do.  Then you reduce your schedule, you get your movement in, you get your social time, and you learn about birth options - #stackyourlife.  An Esali Birth Perinatal Doula Mentor can help you finish up your nesting, make dinner for your family, go shopping, walk at the park, stretch and move, take care of your kids, and do all the things you have to do during normal life WHILE answering your questions and providing you with the information you need to make informed decisions for birth.

Perinatal Doula Mentoring is Affordable

With the traditional birth class approach, couples are spending money on a birth class, then they are spending money on a doula, then they are spending money on breastfeeding consultants, then they are spending money and time to get away from other must-do activities.  Having an Esali Birth Perinatal Doula Mentor provides you with birth education, emotional support, labor doula care, postpartum care, breastfeeding guidance and birth counseling all in one package.  You improve your opportunity for a happy healthy birth by creating more trust and a stronger relationship with your birth team, and you can invest in this holistic approach without needing to research and negotiate with multiple different professionals.  Many insurances, even some medicaid, and FSA/HSA and other health spending accounts cover doula care which, with a perinatal mentor, includes birth classes and breastfeeding counseling.

Perinatal Doula Mentoring Improves Birth Team Relationships

When you meet someone that can provide you with all the aspects of perinatal care including TTC counseling, birth classes, researching, emotional support, labor doula care, postpartum care, breastfeeding counseling, and birth counseling, the trust that is created is strong.  You're more likely to reach out to someone that knows your story.  You're more likely to reach out to a perinatal doula mentor that understands multiple aspects of the perinatal stages.  You're more likely to provide details that improve the way the doula can support you through labor and all the childbearing stages.  Trust increases oxytocin.  Oxytocin increases spontaneous labor and labor progression.  Oxytocin balances the risks during labor and postpartum and breastfeeding.  Oxytocin is the key to Happy Healthy Birth.

Perinatal Doula Mentoring is for Dads Too

While many dads are highly involved in the childbearing stages in our modern life, traditional birth classes don't always meet their individual needs.  Many dads are hesitant to open up in a traditional group birth class.  Many dads really need information that caters specifically to their emotional needs during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum.  Perinatal Doula Mentoring guides dads to support mom through these stages with to the point information, but also provides them with guidance on the reality that this can be a difficult experience for dads as well and they can't just be told to be strong and suck it up for mom.  Esali Birth Perinatal Doula Mentoring helps them find resources, supports them through the labor with guidance of support techniques, shows them how to help mom, and teaches them to care for themselves as well and reach out to outside support instead of trying to manage everything.  Dad is often the main one that will be supporting in the postpartum stages, and they are susceptible to depression and PTSD as well.  In addition to this same individualized support for dads, a Perinatal Doula Mentor with Esali Birth provides Man 2 Man classes that are specific for, and only for, dads.  Whether that is one on one with a dad that has been there before, or over a beer at the bar with the guys, a Man 2 Man class gives dads the opportunity to talk about the real questions they want to ask without judgement.

Perinatal Doula Mentoring is More than Education

Moms need more than just information on the birth industry and knowledge of how to make informed decisions.  Perinatal Doula Mentoring can support you with the information you've been given at prenatal appointments, and through symptoms you may be experiencing.  An Esali Birth Perinatal Doula Mentor can help you with stretching, movements, and active techniques that prevent labor discomfort as well as remedy these individual circumstances.  More than a basic prenatal yoga class or a standard set of exercises, perinatal doula mentoring can help baby get into a good position through abdominal massage, belly mapping, Spinning Babies techniques, and knowledge gained through experience of many mothers that have come before you.

#MOVdoula Perinatal Doula Mentoring

While group birth classes in a traditional, yet more comprehensive than other birth classes, will always be an option, Perinatal Doula Mentoring is the way most birth education is happening now with Esali Birth.  (Although, this same exact approach can be used with group classes, too, especially when it is a group of people that already know each other and want to receive care together for even just a few sessions).  Moms don't have time, and are often overwhelmed, with mom group variety answers, their friends' and family's advice, and all the blog posts and books thrown at them every time they have a twinge or fear.  Let's move past all the overwhelm and meet you where you are now with all the information and resources when they are needed.  With 10 years of experience, let me answer your questions without telling you to do more work than you already are.  You know you need to research, that's why you're asking the questions.  With the knowledge of traditional birth classes vs. the real support I can provide through Perinatal Doula Mentoring, let me give you all the same information on a schedule and in a location that caters to you.  Think of it as pampering, or just a super educated best friend.  Let #MOVdoula do the work so you can just breathe and just enjoy your Happy Healthy Birth.

Miscarriage is estimated to occur in 50% of pregnancies, and at one time, mothers were often unaware they were even pregnant when this was experienced.  With advanced technology and early-detected pregnancy kits, the awareness of pregnancy loss often happens much sooner.  Among all the difficult moments families experience pregnancy loss experience, one that is so common to doula care is a pregnancy loss when the mother doesn't yet have established prenatal care.

For obstetricians and hospital based care providers, it is typical for mothers to be refused an appointment until after 6 weeks gestation.

For many home birth midwives, it is typical for mothers to not receive prenatal care until 20 weeks gestation.

What are mothers doing on their own without support who are experiencing early pregnancy loss, or simply need questions answered, prior to this time?  The amount of contacts I receive from mothers who are stressed because they can't find a care provider that will provide care to them based on them as a person, rather than them as a gestational age, is astounding.  Many of these mothers go on to finally reaching the point in their pregnancy where someone will provide prenatal care to them, but quite a few are either experiencing some sort of symptom that has them alarmed or just need more love and guidance during the early parts of pregnancy.

At 6 weeks gestation, it is common for moms to experience some of the most intense emotions of a new pregnancy, including, but not limited to:

  • High Anxiety
  • Hormonal Fluctuations
  • Spotting
  • Bleeding (or threatened miscarriage)
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Nausea (sometimes severe)
  • Fatigue
  • Influences of nutrition, including caffeine intake and even alcohol, tobacco, and drug use
  • Plethora of questions and What If's

By 6 weeks gestation, the baby has gone through a dramatic developmental growth, though only :

  • Neural Tube that will direct the growth of the entire nervous system
  • Beginning of the arms & legs
  • Beginning of facial features including the beginning of eyes and inner ears
  • Liver & Kidneys
  • Lungs
  • Heart, which begins beating around 5 weeks

I'm Experiencing a Miscarriage at Home

If you're experiencing pregnancy loss, especially before a care provider has scheduled a visit with you, what can you do?

Call for Support

Get in touch with someone, anyone, that can help support you emotionally, and physically as needed.

  • Doula - You can get in touch with me through this website or at www.facebook.com/EsaliBirth
  • Bereavement Doula
  • StillBirthday.com
  • NowILayMeDownToSleep.org
  • SufficientGraceMinistries.org

What Will I Experience During Early Pregnancy Loss?

Gestational age influences your experience quite a bit.  Emotions will play a significant role in the intensity of labor that you may feel as well.

  • You will feel crampy, at minimum, and typically will experience stronger contractions the older your baby is
  • It is OK to feel sad no matter how early you experience a pregnancy loss
  • It is also OK to not feel sad, just be sure you're expressing your emotions and not holding them in
  • Rest, nourish yourself, have people care for you while your body heals and lochia (postaprtum bleeding) subsides.  You are not likely to experience any breastmilk prior to about 20 weeks gestation.

What do I do During Early Pregnancy Loss?

  • Call your support person(s), doula, family, friends, faith leader or spiritual counselor.
  • It is very common for early pregnancy loss to occur on the toilet without anticipation and you may not have had the chance to catch the baby.  If this occurs, you can create a ceremony with dim lights, candles, and notes on tissue paper to flush with the baby or afterwards if you have already flushed.  You may also choose to bury notes, even under a tree, as a memory.
  • Visit the Sufficient Grace Ministries Homebirth Miscarriage Guide for a very detailed lists of items you may wish to have on hand and ways that you can support yourself during this time, especially the older your baby is when you experience.

What Can Providers Do to Support Families During Early Pregnancy?

Yes, there are time restrictions in obstetrical practices.  Yes there are distance and financial restrictions in home birth practices.  Hopefully you will find some of these options to be of benefit to you for your care:

  • Provide prenatal care for moms no matter their gestational age
  • If you are a home birth provider who usually doesn't get reimbursed for this stage of pregnancy, change your service options.  You can offer a more robust perinatal package, or you can offer counseling and support services in addition to your typical prenatal care that often only begins after 20 weeks.  Explain the difference.
  • Connect with a doula network, or provide early pregnancy support in your office.  Doulas are great options to fill in these spaces when they can't fit into a provider's schedule.
  • Offer phone and messaging support, or virtual (or in-person) support groups for moms in the beginning stages of pregnancy.
  • Create a prenatal literature and a website that fills in the gaps for your clients (or potential clients).  Get in touch if you need support developing this material.
  • Encourage your clients to reach out to you for questions, and build this into your package, so your clients feel comfortable communicating with you prior to your standard prenatal schedule.

Remember, most of the perinatal experience, from healthy to happiness, revolves around how a mother is treated.  This isn't just during labor and birth, it is from the first moment a family connects with a provider.  All the moments matter.

 

If you are looking for answers for pregnancy loss or general pregnancy questions, no matter how far along in your pregnancy (or if you aren't even pregnant yet or if you've already experienced miscarriage), please get in touch.  You can find me here on this website or facebook.com/esalibirth is a great way to directly connect with me as well.

 

 

Pregnancy safe herbs are easy to find.  If you're pregnant, this may be the first time you've tasted the herbal waters as you look for ways to improve your nourishment or find a warm alternative to your morning cuppa.  Learning more about how to safely select and use herbs in pregnancy and throughout the childbearing and parenting years was a strong drive for me completing The Science & Art of Herbalism course through Sage Mountain.

Are Herbs Safe for Pregnancy?

That's a general question for such a broad range of herbal choices.  So, the general answer is, yes, most herbs are safe for pregnancy.  Herbs are food - they're not pharmaceuticals.  That is, they are a whole plant - and we're not talking about essential oils, here.  We're not talking about extracted constituents from an otherwise safe herb for pregnancy.  We are talking about the whole herb, and like food, whole herbs are designed to provide the body with nourishment so the body can work optimally.  The more you move away from whole herbs, the more you have to think about in terms of type, dosage, and quantity.

What are Herbs Safe for Pregnancy?

Generally, you're looking for tonic herbs, as in toning to the body.  This doesn't mean toning like muscle-contracting, it means toning as in providing the body with optimal nutrients.  In addition to toning, using herbs that have a long history of herbal use will be a great place to start.  These tonic herbs are typically drank as a tea or infusion steeped for at least 5 minutes, and up to overnight, drank 1-3 times a day.

Tonic herbs that are considered generally safe for pregnancy include:

  • Red Raspberry Leaf (Rubus idaeus)
  • Strawberry Leaf (Fragaria vesca)
  • Nettles (Urtica dioca)
  • Oat Straw (Avena sativa)
  • Hawthorn Leaf & Berries (Crataegus spp.)

What are Herbs Safe for Pregnancy Specific Conditions?

While tonic herbs are herbs that can be used generally through all trimesters to nourish the body, there are some pregnancy-specific conditions that herbs can be used to treat, and these are intended to be used topically or as a tea drank 1-3 times daily  as needed.

Morning Sickness

  • Peppermint Leaf (Mentha piperita)
  • Ginger Root (Zingiber officinale)

Anxiety & Sleep

  • Oat Straw Tincture in Milky Stage (Avena sativa semen)
  • Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
  • Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
  • Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora)

Stretch Marks & Topical Skin Health

  • Calendula (Calendula officinalis)
  • St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum)
  • Comfrey (topical only) (Symphytum officinale)

When are Herbs Safe to Use During Pregnancy?

When to use herbs during pregnancy is really dependent upon your personal health.  Most herbs have far less side effects than commonly prescribed pharmaceuticals; however, we can still choose what we put in and on our body with knowledge and a few things to keep in mind.

  • Tonic herbs are generally safe during all trimesters
  • The second trimester is typically the safest for using stronger herbs as there is an increase of risk of miscarriage in the first trimester and an increase of preterm labor in the third trimester
  • Avoid oxytocic and anthelmintic herbs unless under the direction of your care provider
  • Be cautious of most emmenagogue herbs, especially during the first and last trimester
  • Be cautious of introducing new herbs if you have a history of miscarriage
  • Be cautious of strong laxative herbs (yes, this includes castor oil)
  • Be cautious of herbs with high volatile oils (i.e. essential oils), particularly avoid internal use of essential oils.  In moderation, these herbs in whole form are generally considered safe during pregnancy when they do not fall under other caution categories
  • Be cautious of bitters and avoid strong bitters
  • Be cautious of your personal allergies to plants
  • Use 3 quality sources for reference (not google and not "this is good for this" lists and not random people in mom groups) and make an educated decision based on your current situation

Let thy Food be thy Medicine

There are so many herbs safe for pregnancy.  This list is just the tip of the teapot when it comes to all the herbs you have for nourishment, calming, and pregnancy-specific conditions.  The bottom line is, start learning and finding your quality resources and choose foods, and herbs, that are generally nourishing throughout the day so that you are being provided with optimal nutrients more than just a few cups at a time.  If you are looking for personal guidance choosing herbs during the childbearing years, get in touch.

Other Resources for Herbs Safe for Pregnancy:

  • Herbs for the Childbearing Year - Susun Weed
  • Herbal Healing for Women - Rosemary Gladstar
  • AvivaRomm.com
  • Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine - David Hoffmann, FNIMH, AHG

I'm sure you heard of one or all of these if you've made it to this page:

  • Belly Mapping
  • Pelvic Alignment
  • Optimal Fetal Positioning
  • Back Labor
  • Prodromal Labor
  • Posterior
  • Long Labor

I'm sure you're probably asking one of these questions:

  • What is belly mapping?
  • How to belly map?
  • How to flip a breech?
  • How to VBAC?
  • How to get baby in a good position?
  • How to avoid back labor?
  • How to avoid a long labor?
  • and so on and so forth...

Become a FREE member at EsaliBirth.com and get a FREE BELLY MAPPING GUIDE

Pelvic Alignment & Fetal Position

The position of your body, you guessed it, creates the position of baby's body.  From fetal development to their ability to move through your pelvis and soft tissue, alignment matters.

  • Move in a variety of [aligned] positions throughout the day
  • Go to a physical therapist who is restorative exercise savvy, or otherwise doesn't tout kegels as the only way of get ready for birth.
  • Get aligned - not just by a chiropractor, but all the soft tissue as well
  • Learn aligned body movements
  • Get abdominal massages regularly to loosen up the tissue and encourage baby to be in an optimal position

Stomach Sleeping and Pelvic Health

If you're a stomach sleeper, chances are your pelvic is out of whack.  Actually, if you're a side sleeper, this is likely the case as well, especially if you favor one side or the other.

  • Stomach sleeping rocks the top of the pelvis forward making it more likely for baby to be in a funky position and you to experience back pain
  • Stomach sleeping, because of the aforementioned issue, can contribute to pelvic floor health, and sneeze peeing
  • Sleeping on your back with a flat back position can also tilt your pelvis, so be sure you keep that curve in your spine and your ASIS aligned with your pubic bone (horizontal plane to your sleep surface, which shouldn't be overly squishy)
  • Don't use a pillow too much.  Not totally specific to pregnancy, but this raised position can contribute to back pain, future neck pain, headaches, and upper body health - which is connected to your mid and lower body health, e.g. the pelvis.  You may need to slowly wean yourself off a pillow (and try not to get this started in your kids, either)
  • Alternating positions throughout the night, and using body support pillows, can be helpful during pregnancy, especially if transitioning from a padded pillow and squishy sleep surface to a sleep environment that encourages your body to do most of the supporting.

Fetal Position & Comfortable Birth

Now that you see that your pelvic and body alignment contributes to fetal position, what's this mean for the birth?  Everything.  Your stress levels, your movement, your nutrition will all influence your body's ability to release, move, and let baby move through the pelvis and soft tissue.  Discomfort during birth is most often due to stress emotionally (increasing adrenaline and tension), and tension and misalignment of the pelvis and soft tissue.

  • Fetal position can influence baby's ability to move through the pelvis
  • Birth in a biologically supportive environment that allows a lot of patience and a lot of instincts and movement
  • Get aligned and physical therapy support
  • Learn how to belly map and determine baby's position
  • Use movements and techniques that support a good position in baby
  • If you sit, sit up on your sitz bones and move your legs in a variety of positions
  • Get out of the heels (evening the seemingly 'flat' ones)
  • Walk, aligned, a LOT - Strive for 3-5 miles daily on average
  • Belly dance, or just move your pelvis a lot
  • Vary your positions all throughout the day
  • Use straight leg stretching positions, don't overdo the bent legs
  • Stretch daily, hamstrings, back, pelvis...etc.
  • Do a side-lying release (both legs) at least once a day
  • Release tension and stress to allow your body to flex and be mobile

Fetal Position & Breastfeeding

Baby is growing inside of you, in whatever shape you're putting them in.  Ever used a cookie cutter to let a cucumber grow in?  It will take the shape - really neat heart-shaped cucumber slices!  Cute for cucumbers, not so much for postpartum comfort.

  • Funky fetal positions can mean difficult birth
  • Difficult birth can mean difficult breastfeeding and healing
  • Baby's muscles can get tight and not allow baby's head to turn and jaw to move as needed
  • Tight muscles can cause pain, problems sleeping, problems eating, colick...etc.
  • Tight muscles can mimic tongue tie
  • Funky breastfeeding positions and shallow latch can cause painful breastfeeding, cracked and bleeding nipples, and make moms want to stop breastfeeding
  • Osteopathic manipulation, cranio sacral therapy, and other body work methods postpartum REGULARLY can relieve tension and with adequate support, breastfeeding can become enjoyable and long term
  • Bodywork MUST continue even with a surgical tie release

How to do Belly Mapping

So, now that you know the importance of fetal position, how do you monitor baby's position daily to know if you need to work to keep baby in a good position or move baby into a better position?  After about 20 weeks, you can begin to palpate and feel baby through your belly.  This will be much easier as baby grows, but its good to get an idea of what you're looking for early on if possible.

Belly mapping allows you to know how baby is positioned, but also gets you intimate with your body and improves your ability to listen to your instincts.  While prenatal appointments can really help with this, the more confidence you have in your own abilities, the less you feel at the mercy of others and the more this improves your ability to make confident decisions during your birth.

  • Be in some place quiet
  • Pull up your shirt
  • Get a skin-safe marker or natural earth paints (or just a piece of paper with a belly drawn on it)
  • If you're using a piece of paper, hold the circle up to your belly, place a dot for a belly button, and note which side is the left side, and which side is the vaginal opening
  • Now, on your belly (or piece of paper) you can draw quadrants and segment your belly into four segments with a large plus sign.  This will show two quadrants above, and two quadrants below
  • Now, listen and palpate.
  • If you've recently had a prenatal, or own a fetoscope, you can easily determine where the heartbeat is most easily found.  Draw a "heart" wherever this is most easily found.
  • Feel through your uterus at the lumps.  Draw a circle for the largest hardest lump you feel on your belly (or on the same place on the piece of paper).  This is likely the head.
  • The next large lump, draw an "m", this is likely the bum.
  • A long hard place can be indicated with a long half circle line, indicating the back.
  • If you feel big kicks, write a "k" for the feet or knees.
  • If you feel tiny wiggles or tickles, write a "w" to indicate the hands.

Now, look at your map.  You may notice you feel a lot of kicks and wiggles in the front of your belly, and can't feel much of the other lumps.  Baby's back is likely aligned with your back.  Maybe they're sideways or they change every day or every moment.  Are you noticing this?  Great!  Now you can understand the position your baby is in, get a good idea of how they may be influencing your comfort levels, and determine if there are methods to improve comfort and position if needed.

The position we're looking for ideally is "LOA" - Left Occiput Anterior.  This means the baby's occiput (back of their head) is towards your left side, and a little anterior (towards your front).  Your belly map would look a little similar to the image below.  Anything different from this is a good indicator that some stretching, releasing, bodywork, walking, varied movement...etc., can be helpful.

 

Become a FREE member at EsaliBirth.com and get a FREE BELLY MAPPING GUIDE

What position is your baby in?  Need help determining?  Have questions where to go from here if your baby isn't in an LOA position?  Get in touch - some one on one doula mentoring can be really helpful in providing you with physical and emotional support for belly mapping and optimal fetal positioning.

 

A doula perinatal mentor is like your best friend.  Remember that love you had growing up with a friend that would listen to all your stories, ideas, and imaginary worlds you snail-mailed to each other?  Remember when you were sad, and she gave you a hug?  Remember when you had a question, and she'd help you find the answer?  A doula is your best friend through the childbearing years with an inside scoop about the modern birth industry and your amazing body.  Not every doula practices the same way, but an Esali Birth Perinatal Mentor strives to encompass all of the needs of the childbearing years through knowledge, skill, and networking.

What does a doula do?  What DOESN'T a doula do?

What a Doula Does

  1. Tells you her personal abilities to support YOU through whatever stage of birth you're experiencing
  2. Doesn't pretend to be superwoman, but offers you love and guidance through your personal birth experience
  3. Massages your feet, hands, face, and whatever will make you feel better
  4. Walks with you prenatally providing informational and emotional guidance
  5. Provides education and support that encourages you to make informed decisions
  6. Seeks to build your confidence so you can become aware of your personal power, knowledge of yourself, and capabilities as a mother or father
  7. Understands the birth industry and hurdles you may have to cross, and helps you navigate these paths
  8. Offers physical guidance to improve your overall health for a happy healthy birth
  9. Offers nutritional guidance to improve your overall health for a happy healthy birth
  10. Helps you find area professionals that can support you through happy healthy birth
  11. Helps you find area professionals that can support you through postpartum and parenting
  12. On call 24/7 (not just after 37 weeks and not just for active labor)
  13. Helps you find answers to questions and may perform many hours of research for clients
  14. Looks over your food journal to help see where you could improve from timing of eating to what you're ingesting
  15. Finds time for you and your family's needs
  16. Goes with you to the grocery store to help select healthy balanced food items
  17. Help you prep for postpartum by blending herbal baths, stocking your pantry, and packing your labor bag
  18. Reviews your birth guide (birth plan) for language, efficiency, and necessities to help you communicate with your birth team
  19. Networks with area professionals to help maintain a positive image in the community that will reflect on your birth experience
  20. Leads birth comprehensive birth classes that help you become aware of ALL your options for ALL births
  21. Leads perinatal comprehensive classes that help you become aware of ALL your options from pre-conception through postpartum and early parenting
  22. Can drive with you to long distance prenatal appointments to chat about what you want to talk about, and help you reflect on your prenatal appointment after it has occurred
  23. Provides consistent support prenatally, even when you are choosing to birth without a doula or with another doula
  24. Provides consistent support prenatally for mothers includes those experiencing PTSD from Previous Sexual Trauma while working with your therapist to ensure you have the best support team available no matter when you have your baby
  25. Supports #ALLthebirths because a doula is supporting YOU
  26. Supports the birth team's interaction with the laboring mother to improve her experience and memory of the birth
  27. Guides you and your birth partner on positive communication skills to improve your labor experience
  28. Provides physical support during labor for comfort
  29. Provides physical guidance during labor to help a baby move into a more comfortable position
  30. Provides emotional support during labor for comfort and birth progression
  31. Communicates with the staff about your needs for quiet and privacy during labor
  32. Doesn't flinch when your water breaks all over their shoes and the doula is in the middle of counter pressure for your comfort
  33. Helps you roll from side to side during a medicated birth and you have little feeling from an epidural
  34. Holds your baby on your breast during the first hours after a cesarean when you're a little in and out from the medication
  35. Cares for older siblings whether at a home birth, during the hospital, or when you need childcare during a scheduled cesarean
  36. Meets you at your home, in the woods for a walk, and at your labor facility to support you whenever you need support
  37. Watch your labor signs to help provide information that helps you decide when to transfer to your birth facility
  38. Encourages you to listen to your amazing body and all the signals it is providing you to move, breathe, and dance with your baby
  39. Helps comfort you through transferring to a birth facility
  40. Can drive you to your birth facility while your birth partner supports you during transfer to a birth facility
  41. Help setup a birthing tub for hydrotherapy
  42. Help tear down and cleanup a birthing tub after a water birth
  43. Get in the birthing tub with you to provide back pressure and position support
  44. Is comfortable with birth fluids near and on them
  45. Helps you find the labor noises that opens your cervix and brings baby down
  46. Reassures your birth partner that all these noises are expected and opening the cervix, bringing the baby down
  47. Help cleanup the house after a home birth
  48. Rotates and wiggles your hips to help baby move through the pelvis
  49. Dances with you during birth for emotional and physical support
  50. Offers birth ball use guidance
  51. Offers peanut ball use guidance
  52. Tells you how amazing you are to build your confidence, and oxytocin, in pregnancy and birth
  53. Tells your birth partner how amazing they are to build their confidence, and oxytocin, in supporting you through birth
  54. Takes the lead on supporting you as you desire
  55. Guides the direction of your birth partner so they can support you in a leading role
  56. Works alongside your birth partner
  57. Holds your hair back and a bag for vomit
  58. Provides support even when there are shift changes at your birth facility
  59. Turns down the lights to help oxytocin build to its fullest potential
  60. Encourages privacy to build oxytocin for labor progression and an enjoyable birth
  61. Encourages intimacy to build oxytocin for labor progression and an enjoyable birth
  62. Reminds you to listen to your body for positions and movement
  63. Reminds you to listen to your body for needs of rest and relaxation
  64. Reminds you to listen to your body for pushing birthing
  65. Reminds the facility of your birth guide
  66. Reminds you to speak up for your desires
  67. Reminds you of your human rights during labor and birth
  68. Reminds you that you CAN birth vaginally when others are telling you that you don't have a choice
  69. Reminds you that you CAN choose a cesarean when others are telling you that you don't have a choice
  70. Fills up your water bottle, adds a little cucumber and fruit for electrolyte balance
  71. Reminds you to take sips of water for hydration
  72. Reminds you to eat light balanced foods, broths, and fruit as desired during labor
  73. Reminds you to communicate with your provider and staff for your wishes
  74. Reminds you that, "No Thank You" and "Not Right Now" are powerful words in the labor space
  75. Gets cooling wash cloths for your face and neck
  76. Gets warm towels for perineal support
  77. Provide hip squeezes to allow comfort and room for the baby
  78. Uses a rebozo for comfort and encouraging baby to rotate through the pelvis
  79. Works with the rest of the birth team and the staff to ensure you have all the perspectives when needed
  80. Answers the phone at 3 am to help you find calm in the early hours of labor, and breastfeeding
  81. Shares area contacts for perinatal services such as breastfeeding or osteopathic therapy
  82. Makes you a cup of tea and a sandwich while you're nursing your baby
  83. Brings your family dinner so you all can rest during postpartum
  84. Listens to your birth story and encourages you to feel all the feels
  85. Helps you wrap your baby for a more hands-free and connected postpartum
  86. Guides you on breastfeeding latch and positions for more comfort
  87. Guides you on when to seek more support for any issues that may arise during postpartum or parenting
  88. Go-to for perinatal-related information and support
  89. Connects the dots between birth choices and birth experience to help you process and understand your birth experience
  90. Checks in on you in the days after birth to ensure you are holistically supported
  91. Offers LOVE - hugs, tears, laughter and love

I can't say that a doula is right for everyone.  I can say that when you have a relationship built with your doula, the ability for better support during labor grows.  A doula is that best friend willing to be by your side through every experience, day or night, weekday or weekend, holidays and spur of the moment.  If you're looking for labor options, a doula perinatal mentor can be a beacon of light through the childbearing years.

Let's chat about how you can be supported through pregnancy, labor, and postpartum.

Choosing the best care provider for your birth is an individual choice.  Having a friend or family member that liked a care provider won't tell you what that care provider can do for you.  The best way to choose the best care provider for your birth is to interview at least one home birth provider and one facility provider.  If you can get to know multiple providers to really understand the way they practice, this is your ideal.  Trusting your provider for their skills and experience and feeling comfortable communicating with them as you would a friend will enable the highest levels of oxytocin flowing in your birth space, rather than nervous adrenaline suppressing your labor progression.

Why are You Hiring a Care Provider?

If your answer to this is, "Because I'm pregnant," or, "Because I need myself and my baby checked regularly to make sure nothing is wrong," then there is a chance you haven't dug deep into the understanding of birth physiology nor sought a provider that works for YOU.  These two types of answers illustrate a belief that birth is risky and that any provider with a midwifery or obstetric related title provides quality care for YOU and for support of biological birth.  Not all providers practice the same.  They shouldn't, either.  We're not looking for cookie cutter providers any more than we're looking for cookie cutter births.  But we are at a time in history where we have access to a LOT of traditional and modern knowledge that can be (and IS being) blended to provide families with holistic support of the entire perinatal period.

Use the table below as a guide to help you find the best care provider, doula, birth team, birth location and birth environment for your #happyhealthybirth.

Thoughts and questions to ask yourself and to research about your chosen birth environment Biological Birth Supportive May want to seek other support
I am excited to see my provider at my prenatals YES NO
My provider listens to my questions and thoughts and engages in respectful conversation with me and is willing to provide me with the birth I desire, or kindly recommend I seek the care of someone else should our views not align YES NO
My provider encourages me to research recommendations and make informed decisions about my pregnancy, birth, and postpartum and does not push any recommendations as required YES NO
Many mothers birth in upright, forward leaning, all fours, or squatting positions with this provider YES NO
My provider knows how to use physical and emotional support including quiet, calm, and dark environments, water therapy, a peanut and birth ball and this is a standard part of their birth support YES NO
My provider doesn't use induction or cesarean as a treatment for "big babies" YES NO
Many baby's have their cord clamped and cut after the placenta birth with this provider YES NO
My baby will be skin to skin with me as a standard practice through postpartum YES NO
My provider takes all the time I need to answer all the questions I have, or schedules time for this specific purpose, and suggest holistic therapies to remedy any fears YES NO
My provider works with fetal positioning guidance during pregnancy to reduce labor and birth complications YES NO
My provider encourages balanced meals and provides information on eating balanced rather than prescribing a standard Rx prenatal to cover nutrition.  If prenatal vitamins are recommended, they are whole foods (with folate, not folic acid) and test to determine specific areas of deficiency are encouraged to know what supplements would be beneficial for you. YES NO
My provider believes the body is capable of laboring, birthing, and healing during postpartum and doesn't use medical technology as a standard means of practice for normal pregnancy and birth during any part of the perinatal stages YES NO
My provider actively refers to other providers and specialists for areas they feel would benefit from another perspective or for care they are unable to provide YES NO
My provider does not get aggressive or sarcastic at the mention of home birth YES NO
My provider understands the influence of birth practices on breastfeeding YES NO
My provider uses emotional and physical guidance during labor to increase oxytocin, decrease fear, and naturally support the physical movement of the baby through the pelvis during labor YES NO
My provider ensures I am provided with (and know resources for) breastfeeding support immediately after birth and the first days and weeks after birth YES NO
My provider doesn't use "at least you have a healthy baby" as a justification for birth experiences YES NO
My provider checks on me, or has someone on their team that checks on me, multiple times throughout the first six weeks postpartum YES NO
My provider's backup, and any staff working with or for my provider, practices in the same way as my provider YES NO

Of course, the ideal is a YES to all of these, right?  At least much more than the majority. Are these the only priorities?  No, of course not... and there are many other factors that will play into the quality and care of a provider.  These may not even be a priority to YOU for THIS birth.  However, this is a general overview of how to get to the deep down of how a provider practices.

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