Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Labor Whispering in Sugar Land, TX

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I am pleased to announce that I will be offering Labor Whispering sessions in Sugar Land and the Southwest Houston area beginning in 2016. 

So what is Labor Whispering?

I'm glad you asked. 

Labor Whispering is a birth modality developed by our very own Urban Curandera, Rowan TwoSisters, that unveils and addresses common blockages that can prevent labor from beginning in a timely manner. This is important because nearly everyone will be faced with the induction decision at some point during their pregnancies. In a perfect world, we would all go into labor on our own exactly when our bodies and our babies decide. The reality is that many Houston area care providers and hospital policies dictate, and reasons out of our control may necessitate, a medical induction of labor if labor does not begin within a certain time frame. 

Labor Whispering is NOT:

An induction technique. I am not a medical care provider. It is not my place to try to start the labor process. 

An opportunity to try to force a body into labor that isn't ready. 

Crazy doula voodoo magic. Yes, I've been asked by a nurse to try some of my "Crazy doula voodoo magic" before.

Just for hippies. Shout out to fellow Labor Whisperer and Doula, Lourdes Resendez, for reassuring us that Labor Whispering is not "Hippy dippy doula magic" and creating a super cool free printable. 

Labor Whispering IS:

An opportunity to address "unfinished business." Nursery not ready? Car seat not installed? Forgot to take a childbirth class? Haven't discussed "that thing" with your partner or care provider yet? Those things can hold a baby in. These things and more will be addressed at your Labor Whispering session. 

A chance to relax.  You will be enveloped in a nest of pillows and massaged by me, your partner, or both! Your choice. We want your muscles, mind, heart, and spirit to relaaaaaaax. We will encourage your own natural labor stimulating hormones to flow. 

A time to dig deep. We are going to "go there" and talk about anything and everything that might be keeping baby in. 

An opportunity to learn. Learn about yourself, your partner, exercises for optimal fetal positioning, and relaxation.

A chance to release. Blockages, tears, tension, you name it. This will be a chance for oxytocin to flood your system with wonderful loving feelings. Let the oxytocin and tears flow. 

Labor Whispering sessions take place in the comfort of your own home and last around two hours. 

Cost: $200

Trained Labor Whisperers are all over Houston. Find a Labor Whisperer near you. 

Book your session today!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Birth Boot Camp Class 1: Defining the Mission

A ball of yarn and a roll of TP walk into a birth class...
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The current Sugar Land Birth Boot Camp series began on November 2nd. Class 1 is all about answering the question, "Why Natural Birth?"

While Birth Boot Camp classes are beneficial for anyone having a baby, these classes are geared toward couples planning a natural childbirth. In Class 1, we spend a significant amount of time exploring reasons why couples want to have a natural childbirth. Reasons vary widely. Commons reasons I hear are:

  • More fulfilling
  • Fear of needles
  • Desire to avoid major abdominal surgery
  • Healthier for mom and baby
  • Research supports it
  • Their friend, mom, sister did it
  • They just want to

Couples learn about the history of childbirth in the United States during the last 100 years, common drugs used during labor, as well as natural pain relief options. They discover tools they already have for dealing with stress and discomfort.

We dove right into birth videos by watching two different types of births from the documentary, Orgasmic Birth.

Welcome to Birth Boot Camp! Follow along for sneak peeks from all ten weeks of class.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Birth Boot Camp Class 5: Deployment

"All the cool BBC instructors have these babies from IKEA!!!"
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Finally! The class everyone is waiting for.

Last week was the fifth class in my current Sugar Land Birth Boot Camp series. Class 5 is all about LABOR: pre-labor, early labor, active labor, and transition.

What are signs that labor is getting closer (besides the fact that you are approaching or passing your due date, duh)? How can you tell that these are "real" contractions? When is a good time to leave for your birth place or call your birth team to join you? What are the signs during labor that your baby is close to being born? All of these questions and more are answered in Birth Boot Camp Class 5.

We had a special treat last week. Thomas Billings, a Gottman Educator in Houston, came to speak to the class about the Bringing Baby Home workshops that he offers. There are two things I wish I would have done before having my first baby and one of them is take a Bringing Baby Home workshop. I want to take one now, even after having my third baby.

The Billings Family
We ended the labor discussion with the dads playing "Transition Charades." They got to experience a little taste of what their partners will experience in a few weeks. There is always a ton of laughter during that game.

Finally, we wrapped up the class with a beautiful birth video, a relaxation activity, and P.T. & Chow assignment.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

It's okay if you didn't breastfeed

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Can I let you in on a little secret? 

I get lonely sometimes. 

Ok. A lot. 

I miss having the freedom to just go out with friends at the drop of a hat for a hot chocolate and good conversation. I miss feeding my soul with good friends who love me, uplift me, and think I am cool at a moment's notice. I miss having a grown-up conversation without it being punctuated with, "Stop that! Don't touch that! Mommy's talking. Where did you bonk? Stop hitting your sister!" I have some really awesome friends that it has been way too many kids long between visits. 

I miss friends.

I've always been a little different from my friends, though. When we went out for coffee, I ordered hot chocolate. When we went out for drinks, I ordered cookies and milk. True story. I didn't let the fact that we made different choices stop me from loving the heck out of them. I'm like a puppy. If you're nice to me, I like you. That's pretty much all it takes. If you show an interest in me, I'll want to keep you forever. Although I'm past the days of following people home. Mostly.

Things changed for me when I became a mom. Making friends became harder. There have been too many times when I am getting to know someone, feel like we are hitting it off, and they look at me sadly to say something like, "Well, I didn't breastfeed." Or, "I didn't have a natural birth." Or, "I could never have a home birth."

It seems like sometimes people feel the need to offer an explanation to me. Almost like, "Yes, we are having a great time, but there's something you need to know about me before we take this to the next level. 

I didn't breastfeed."

It's okay that you didn't breastfeed (have a natural birth, home birth, etc.). Actually, it is more than okay. It is so okay, it is unbelievable how okay it is. In fact, I don't really care. Unless you are hurting about it. Then I want to listen, listen, and listen some more. I want to be a safe space while you share your hurt. I don't want to offer any advice. I probably wouldn't have any, anyway. I may ask you if I can hug you, but that's really all I've got. 

There's no need to offer me any explanations. I'm not judging you.

Passionate. Yes. Judgmental. No. 

If you want to get me on a soapbox, mention vaginal exams. But if you loved yours, more power to you. Rock on with your fabulous vaginal exams. 

I promise I know how to be passionate about something without judging you for choosing differently. 

Let's be friends! Even if you didn't breastfeed. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Birth Boot Camp Class 4: Countdown to D-Day

"Shoots & Gladders"
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Last week was the fourth class in my current Sugar Land Birth Boot Camp series. This class is all about the final preparations before giving birth.

Following the weekly Comfort Measure Moment, the class broke into groups to learn about common tests and procedures during pregnancy that have an impact on birth. They were each assigned a different topic to share with the class. Topics included:

  • Group B Strep Test
  • Ultrasounds
  • Vaginal Exams in Pregnancy
  • Induction

Read more: What is Group B Strep (GBS)?

Class members shared information about what these tests are, why they are offered, risks and benefits of the tests, and alternatives.

Read more: Evidenced Based Birth has several articles about common pregnancy tests which include links to research

Read more: Many women receive a diagnosis of Low Amniotic Fluid Levels after having an ultrasound later in pregnancy. This diagnosis can lead to an induction of labor.

After learning about all of the tests and procedures, class members played a variation of "Chutes & Ladders" to see how much they could remember. I called this game "Shoots & Gladders."

How to Play "Shoots & Gladders"

Players take turns spinning the spinner and answering questions when they land on a space that contains a "Shoot" (Chute) or a "Gladder" (Ladder).

What is a "Shoot?"

Example: "Shoot! You forgot how many women test positive for GBS, so now you feel like the only person in the world with a positive GBS status. How many women test positive?"

A wrong answer meant that the player had to fall down the chute.

What is a "Gladder?"

Example: "You are so glad that you are prepared to know some of the common diagnoses after ultrasound that can lead to both necessary and unnecessary interventions. Name 2."

A correct answer meant that the player could climb the ladder to a higher level.

The winner of the game won a prize!

After the game was over, we continued with the weekly birth video, relaxation activity, and P.T. & Chow assignment.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Demand Better Treatment in Birth

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I moved to Houston in the fall of 2009 to attend grad school at the University of Houston. My husband followed a semester later. We decided to make Houston our home, so we needed to take care of some paperwork in order to become official Texas residents. At the beginning of my final semester of grad school, newly pregnant, we needed to get some business taken care of that required the ever-dreaded visit to the DPS. I had to go by myself that day. I called ahead to make sure I had all the required paperwork. I didn't want to be sent home for something only to have to wait in line again.

I arrived, required paperwork in hand, pulled my number, and proceeded to wait. And wait.....and wait. My turn finally came. I walked up to the woman behind the counter to take care of my business.

Guess what.

I was missing something.

I insisted that I had called ahead to confirm that I had everything that I needed. She was about to quickly and nonchalantly dismiss me. After all, I was just one of many that day. Suddenly, unfamiliar with pregnancy hormones, I burst into tears. I blubbered something about, "Dadgum HUSBAND's business" and, "Pregnant," and the lady said, "Girl, you gotta take care of yourself. Hang on a second." She proceeded to walk to a back room for a few minutes. When she came back, everything was magically taken care of. I don't remember what she did, but I remember she mentioned a system where she could look up the information she needed from me without the "required" paperwork that I was told over the phone that I didn't actually need. (I have since learned to Just. Bring. Everything.)

I was thankful that she was able to help me without sending me back home, but I couldn't help but wonder, "Why did I have to cry first? If she could have just helped me the entire time, why was she so willing to send me back home first? Why not just provide that customer service in the first place?"

Fast forward a few years to an experience I had at the dry cleaner. This time I had a toddler in hand, and I was pregnant. Again. My husband urgently needed his suit pants dry cleaned. I had accidentally washed them in our home washer, and now they were a shrunken, wrinkled mess. They were ruined. I was hoping they were salvageable enough to be repaired at the dry cleaner for one last needed hoorah the very next day. I called around and finally found where I needed to go. When I arrived, the man behind the counter insisted that he couldn't fit me in. Not even for just one pair of pants. There was absolutely no time. I remained stoic. I breathed. I tried to persuade him, but he was immovable.

I walked back to my car, where I proceeded to burst into tears. I don't know how long I sat there just crying away, when I heard a tap at my window. It was the man behind the counter. He said, "Give me the pants. I can fit you in." I thanked him, and I asked him why he was helping me. He said, "Because you are crying."

Why, if he could have helped me the entire time, did he make me cry first? Why not just provide that customer service in the first place?

Have you ever noticed that people don't seem to take you seriously until you get crazy first? Or is that just me?

My husband and I talked about this just the other day. Why do our kids insist that we get crazy before they take us seriously? And why do we do that to each other? I said to my husband, "We both do it. Think of all the times that I try to be nice and try to be nice and try to be nice before I finally just hit you in the face with a frying pan." Bonus points if you get that Family Guy reference.

Fast forward to last night's Birth Boot Camp class. In a previous class we discussed how continuous electronic fetal monitoring increases the c-section rate without improving fetal outcomes. One of my students told me that she discussed this with her OB, and he agreed. They know this is true, but they insist on continuous electronic fetal monitoring anyway. Why? Because it is easier.

At this point, I had to mention that women who insist on better treatment in birth tend to get it. They won't get it if they don't ask. It is an unfortunate truth that people will just "do what they always do" or do what is most convenient, regardless of whether or not it is in the best interest of their customer. If the customer doesn't ask for, or demand, better treatment, they won't get it.

Do you want your insurance company to pay for your home birth? Be the squeaky wheel. Keep going up the chain until you get to someone who knows what they are talking about. Those first few gatekeepers are just that. They are there to keep you OUT and keep you from getting what you want.

Demand better treatment.

Do you want to have intermittent monitoring rather than continuous monitoring? Discuss it with your care provider beforehand, and insist on it during labor.

Demand better treatment.

Do you feel like your care provider is fighting you every step of the way?

Demand better treatment.

Demand with your wallet, and take your business elsewhere if you need to. If your care provider does not want to support you in the type of birth you are seeking, you will not change his or her mind. Choose are care provider who supports the type of birth you want. They are out there!

Demand better treatment. You and your baby deserve it.

Want to learn more about all of your options for having an amazing birth? Take a Birth Boot Camp class! There are Birth Boot Camp classes all over the Houston area.

Learn more about Improving Birth and how women are demanding better treatment in birth all over the U.S.

Learn more about why consumers need to care about demanding better treatment in birth.