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Birth baggage, we all carry it even when we're planning a first birth.  We've seen a movie, read a book, heard someone's birth story.  We've listened to our mother or father tell our own birth stories.  Perhaps we even have suppressed memories from our birth that we don't even know we're remembering and reliving.

No matter where we've been, our baggage wasn't lost so let's start the unpacking process.

Birth Baggage Personalities

Your birth baggage probably has a personality.  Personality characteristics have been studied since ancient times - even before Hippocrates and our memories play into the personality characteristics that we show.  They can also help us to find a way of unpacking this baggage.

Dominance Birth Baggage

Do you feel like your birth memories are dominating your every choice?  Do they make you angry and frustrated?  Do you feel like, "If I make this ______ choice, this ______ experience will happen?  Do you feel as though your decisions are better than others?  Do you feel as though someone else's decisions are better than yours?

If this feels like some of your reactions, your birth baggage may be dominating your pregnancy rather than allowing you to enjoy this experience.  Maybe you've experienced birth trauma or someone close to you experienced birth trauma.  Maybe someone's story really hit hard because their situation was so similar to yours.  We must understand that birth is a journey.  We can make choices that support our health, but what we experience and choose is neither better nor worse than anyone else - only the experience we have and how we are influenced by that experience for our future.

Influence

Do you feel like you made choices that other people made in their birth, hoping for the same outcome?  Do you look at professional birth images and yearn for that experience the image seems to create in your mind?  Or, do you feel like others made your birth decisions for you?

We can often let others influence us into making decisions, especially in a culture where we doubt our own abilities to make health decisions.  We need to work towards building our confidence in our own abilities.

Steady

Are we passive on making new or different decisions for our birth?  Are we unwilling to change providers or birth locations even when we feel our current choices aren't supporting our birth philosophy?  Are we putting off making decisions?  Are we comfortable in certain birth choices just because they are the common routine in our modern culture?

The norm can feel easy at first.  Making decisions different than those around us can feel almost counter-intuitive at times so we must really look at the evidence and branch out to find multiple perspectives on the approach to health and maternity care.

Conscientious

Do you feel as though you must plan every aspect of your pregnancy and birth to avoid complications?  Do you assess all the details, all the studies, all the scientific tangible evidence?  Do you feel any deviation from your plan would be difficult to experience or a "failure" of birth?

We cannot control birth.  We can influence our experience, but there are no guarantees with birth.  In many ways, we have to come to peace with that uncertainty.

 

How to Unpack Your Birth Baggage

We may be able to determine our birth baggage personality, but the real task comes in unpacking.  Ever went on a trip, came home and just lived out of a suitcase for a few weeks never really decluttering our living space?  Next trip, do we do the same thing?  Do we pack less?  Do we deal with our baggage immediately to make the following weeks a little lighter so the transition to coming home is a little more feng shui? How do we learn from this?

Pack Less - Reduce the baggage you take into birth so you have less to deal with when you get there (and home).

This can be a literal translation into not over packing the labor bag - but we need to reduce the emotional baggage we take into the birth so we can enjoy the experience and focus on the labor and birth, and not losing some piece of ourselves in the process.

Accept that birth baggage exists.  In a culture where birth trauma is so prevalent, it might not only feel wrong to believe you've experienced trauma, but it may be hard to accept that positive birth experiences exist and are thriving.  It may also feel frustrating to have prepared well for a previous birth to have still experienced birth trauma... even from what may have felt like a positive birth experience.  Women are often told, "at least you have a healthy baby" with total disregard for the health, especially emotionally, of the mother.  Fathers, and all birth partners, absolutely experience birth trauma as well and it may be even more difficult to realize this trauma when so many of these negative experiences occur every day.  We must believe that birth should be a joyful experience and that we are meant to experience pregnancy, birth, postpartum and parenting in a positive, energetic, and joyful way.

Get birth counseling.  If you're feeling any of these emotions that don't allow you to simply enjoy your pregnancy and birth and feel confident about your experience - then there is some piece of emotional hindrance on your experience.  Find where those feelings are coming from and confront them, talk with a therapist, chat with your doula, take a perinatal education course, and join a birth group that allows you to work through your previous birth story.  Finding a community of like-minded people allow us to feel safe sharing our experiences.  Finding a community of positive birth supporters that believe in the biology of birth helps us to feel confident in our body's abilities to gestate, birth, and heal.

Learn about the birth industry.  Birth classes are so much more than breathing and comfort measures.  True, they may start out with the idea of learning tools to reduce discomfort, but a quality perinatal education series helps you to navigate the birth industry to confidently make informed decisions.  Research quality evidence-based information with a wide variety of perspectives.

Unpack Your Baggage Soon

The sooner you unpack your baggage, the more quickly things can get back to a new normal.  If we let the emotions sit, they sit and stew and tend to keep piling on as they get mixed with new emotions - like tired nights with a newborn or little help as our culture thrusts us back into home duties and work so quickly after birth.  If you feel uneasy or disappointed at all after a birth, talk to someone.

Write Your Birth Story.  Get it out, and quickly.  Get it out before you retell the birth story so many times that emotions twist the experience.  It is inevitable that the emotions surrounding us when we retell our birth story will continue to ingrain the memory's feelings for long term retrieval.  By writing, or recording, our birth story in some way soon after the birth - we keep our immediate memories whole.  We can then process our birth story as we continue to share, but keeping in mind that we must continue to find 2-3 positive aspects that we bring into our story no matter how the rest of the story makes us feel.  If we only focus on the negative, we will soon find ourselves unable to remember the positive.  Recording our birth story, even if we discard our recording, also allows us to move these memories to a more long-term space in our mind rather than constantly recalling the traumatic events (even the seemingly minuscule thoughts that are so fleeting).

Share Your Birth Story.  Find someone that understands birth trauma, and share your birth story.  Go back to that group you created prior to birth and share your story and allow yourself to heal - no matter what your birth looks like to anyone else.  All that matters is a healthy happy family - not just one member we get to bring home.  A mother must have a support team that understands her needs and is in an emotional place to provide her with the support she needs as well.

 

just breathe Reflection Journal Prompt - Week 3

Reflect: My previous birth experience (or someone else's) makes me feel ________. Reflect about how you can make decisions that can positively influence your birth.

#TheOxytocinMethod works because it address your life individually. It isn't a specific "birth method" that offers a cookie cutter approach to birth. It teaches you to build your confidence through self-exploration and life choices that support biology, and oxytocin - the hormone needed for spontaneous labor progression and a happy healthy birth.

 

So, come on in to Esali Birth... unpack your birth baggage and stay a while.

At Esali Birth, we go far beyond "what to expect" in birth.  While "birth class" is often what people call it - that's simply because it is a term that has been around for so long.  Additionally, people think of the word "doula" as someone that only supports moms during labor - and that is not completely accurate, either.  Ideally, your care provider is the one that not only educates you and supports you and provides breastfeeding guideance, but reality these days doesn't really offer the opportunity for providers to have the time to do so.  This is where a birth educator comes in and then often a separate doula after that and then a separate lactation counselor after that.  However, reducing the amount of people not only in the birth itself, but overall during the perinatal journey has many values.  No matter what you want to call it - someone that provides a continuum of education and support from pregnancy through labor and into postpartum not only has the value of trust, but the value of knowing your personal journey.  Even more than a standard series, I LOVE focusing on individualized education - because just like your care provider for birth, the information you receive prenatally is specific to your needs.  Working with couples in private mentoring sessions allows me to focus on not only your questions, but techniques that are specific to your pregnancy, birth, and postpartum.

What might a prenatal mentoring session look like?  That really depends on your goals, and where you are in your childbearing journey.  We may:

  • Talk about birth history and the birth industry and how that will influence your health and happiness - do you know how the business of birth changes your options and safety?  We'll talk about the safety of birth in the US, too.
  • Process a previous birth (or even a birth story you've heard) to reduce fear and move on to enjoying your perinatal experience - Do you know how this can affect the comfort and health of your birth?  We'll talk about that, too.
  • Work on body techniques to eliminate pregnancy discomfort and help position baby for the best birth possible - Do you know techniques you can do at home to reduce these discomforts and why misalignment changes even things like vaginal birth and VBAC?  We'll talk about that, too.
  • Discover nutrition that will increase your health, your baby's health, and reduce chances of things like rupture of the membranes before labor due to nutrition - Do you know about whole foods and herbal therapies?  We'll talk about that, too.
  • Find a birth team to best support your needs - Do you know what is available to you from home to hospital?  We'll explore your options.
  • Develop a relationship that carries into trust in birth so I am not only your "labor doula" - but a connected part of your team that knows more about your history, who you are, and what you desire - Do you know what a doula can do for you AND Dad?  Let's discuss that, too.
  • Build confidence in you AND dad so you can work together through the perinatal stages and become empowered parents - because confidence is key and I want you to walk away from a mentoring session with a smile and an energy excited for birth.

Wow, and that's just the tip of the iceberg!  Overall, we're not only working towards your goals in birth - but in creating the happiest birth possible because a happy birth is a healthy birth.  One on one sessions - virtually or locally - help you have that special time to focus on you and a guide along the way to provide you with information and resources that support you holistically without having to spend hours and hours in parenting groups and blogs trying to filter through the information.

Interested in a session or series?  Get in touch!

Birth Mentor as a Pregnancy Resource

Birth Classes for #ALLtheBirths

Not your typical What to Expect class - I don't teach you how to be a good patient.  I don't just cover unmedicated vaginal birth or just medical birth.  My passion is preparing you and your support system for biological birth, which includes everything from unassisted birth at home to fully medicated and emergency unexpected experiences.  I nurture you into a confident consumer excited for pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and parenting - no matter where you choose to birth or where your birth journey takes you.  Take back your birth, improve your health, and get ready to take the first step into an empowered parenting experience.

Perinatal mentoring provides a mother and her support team with educational and counseling support during pregnancy and prior to conception.  It is never too early (or late) to start birth classes, join a birth series, or schedule a chat and counseling session.  The sooner you start learning about the birth industry and birth physiology, the more time you have to make changes if desired to wellness, care provider and birth location.  The more time you have to learn about the normalcy of birth, the more confident you will feel as you reach the end of your pregnancy.

Perinatal mentoring is available locally in and around the Mid-Ohio Valley as well as through scheduled online classes with me in any time zone compatible to EST, as well as through self-paced online birth classes anywhere in the world.  I have locations I can hold classes or we can meet in your home.  We can set time aside for a long walk while we chat or even while helping you with nesting and designing your nursery.  If you just wish you had someone to do walk this journey with you that also has extensive resources, knowledge and total understanding that this is an amazing, sometimes overwhelming, time of your life - let's connect!  I'd love to help you alleviate your fears and work towards your happy healthy birth.

Standard 10-Session Series

Providing antenatal doula support in the form of information and mentor sharing to reduce birth fear, increase body mobility, and provide choice options is a significant focus of my services.  This doula service provides 20 hours of support online and/or at a location of your choice (within 30 minutes of my home) or at one of my standard class locations.  This is a complete 10-session Esali Birth series with everything from healthy pregnancy and tests to labor, birth, breastfeeding and postpartum covering everything from completely unmedicated and unassisted birth (by choice or unplanned) to changes, birth guides, medical and emergency birth.  The self-paced Esali Birth Online Class is included with this option making review easy, or sharing with a birth team member overseas or a conflicting work schedule.  This also provides us with the opportunity to use in-person time for answering any questions that come up and not worrying about missing any important details.  Mid-Ohio Valley local clients receive access to my lending resource library.  See below for outline or contact for a private custom series.

  • $300 Private Sessions
  • Sliding Scale for Group Sessions depending on group amount

6 Session Series

This option is the same as a standard 10-session series with a few topics removed and a few combined.  The self-paced complete Esali Birth Online Class is included with this option which makes the few topics that are removed easily filled-in with self-paced web learning.  Mid-Ohio Valley clients receive access to my lending resource library.  See below for outline, or contact for a private custom series.

  • $200 Private Sessions
  • Sliding Scale for Group Sessions depending on group amount

3 Session Series

This option is great as a refresher birth class or if time is limited.  The Esali Birth Online Labor and Birth Overview course is included with this option as a great self-paced birth refresher course thoroughly covering the end of pregnancy, labor, birth, birth partner tips, and postpartum. Mid-Ohio Valley clients receive access to my lending resource library.  See below for outline, or contact for a private custom series.

  • $100 Private Sessions
  • Sliding Scale for Group Sessions depending on group amount

Mentoring & Single Sessions

1-hour single session mentoring allows you to custom cater classes to your personal needs in multiple sessions or just one session.  Mentoring sessions are great for pre-conception, prenatal, herbal counseling, and postpartum mentoring and are catered to you specifically to answer all your questions, alleviate your concerns, and offer educational guidance for options available.  This option also allows you to pick and choose topics to cover for a custom pre-conception or birth series.

  • $30 Private Session

All classes focus on Health AND Happiness and are catered to both Mom AND her birth partner/team.  It is ALL about navigating the birth industry, reducing fear, gaining knowledge, creating health and wellness, and doula 101 - a completely holistic and wholesome format.

Mentoring provides complete perinatal (pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum) education, giving parents the information and resources to obtain the birth they choose with knowledge of how to positively achieve a beautiful and powerful birth experience and includes:

  • Perinatal/Childbirth Physical, Nutritional, & Emotional Health
  • Natural Labor & Birth Techniques including various methods of Relaxation
  • Labor & Childbirth Stages, Signposts, Positive Positions, & Labor Practice
  • Perinatal Routine Interventions & Alternative Education
  • Birth Preparation (Guide/Plan/Wishes) & Support (Doulas & Birth Team)
  • Breastfeeding & Newborn Care
  • Medical Benefits, Risks, & Alternatives for Perinatal Choices
  • Priorities & Realistic Expectations for the Perinatal Period
  • Emergency Childbirth & Assisted Deliveries
  • Variations of Normal Birth
  • Postpartum & Newborn Care
  • Positive Birth Stories & Childbirth Videos
  • 10-Week, 3-Day, & Pay-Per-Class Education Options
  • Payment Plans & Scholarships
  • Online/Virtual Perinatal Seminars & Courses
  • Community Involvement, Support, & Educational Workshops
  • Lending Library, Handouts, Positive Videos, & Much More!

Insurance Reimbursement

My doula services, including antenatal doula mentoring, labor doula, and postpartum doula care may be reimbursable by your insurance company.  Fees are required to be paid in full and you must submit your own claims; however, I will provide my NPI number and supporting information to help you with your claim submission.  In many cases, a well-written letter explaining how you believe doula support reduced costs for your birth, as well as persistence, will provide you with a reimbursement.  Please contact for any questions.

Birth Class Topics

Standard 10-Session Birth Series

(Topics with an *asterisk are included in a 6-session series)

Introduction

  • Esali Birth Overview
  • Creating a Relationship
  • History of Birth

*Choices

  • Care Providers
  • Birth Locations
  • Health & Wellness

Pregnancy

  • Conception
  • Gestation
  • Prenatal Routines

*Comfort

  • Hormonal Patters in Labor
  • Spontaneous Labor & Birth
  • Relaxation, Low/No-Pain Labor, Doula Support

*Labor

  • Labor Signs
  • Birth Team & Birth Environment Influence on Labor
  • Transformation of Labor (Physical & Emotional experiences in labor)

*Birth & The First Hours

  • Moments of Birth
  • Placenta Birth
  • Quiet, Calm, Dark & The Safety & Health of the Newborn's First Hours

Techniques

  • "Doula 101" & The Labor Bag
  • Relaxation Techniques
  • "Spinning Babies"

*Variations

  • Changes to Biological Labor & Birth
  • Planned & Unplanned Unassisted Birth
  • Emergency Birth, Assisted Birth, Cesarean Birth & Recovery

*First Weeks

  • Postpartum
  • Breastfeeding
  • Newborn Care

*Finally Family

  • Fertility Awareness
  • Birth Guides
  • Review Q&A/Discussion
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Tell me your story. I'd love to help you have a happy healthy birth!

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