Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Awesome OBs in Sugar Land, TX

As a doula serving in Houston and Sugar Land, I have the opportunity to meet many OBs and midwives in our area. The OBs at Caritas Women's Care have provided such wonderful care to my clients that I am beyond delighted to share that they've moved their practice to Sugar Land! The childbirth classes that I teach here in Sugar Land are based on the Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative, and everything I have witnessed from these incredible OBs has been nothing but Mother-Friendly care.

Image Credit: www.facebook.com/CHIStLukes


Here is what a few of my former clients have to say about these awesome OBs:

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Welcome to Sugar Land, Dr. Karges, Dr. Jamelka, and Dr. Hernandez! 
We are so glad you are here!



Monday, October 19, 2015

5 Things I Learned About Birth During an Orchestra Audition

Yesterday I auditioned for the second flute spot in the Lake Charles Symphony Orchestra. I've spent the past three weeks preparing for this audition. I knew right from the start that I wanted to try to relate this audition journey to birth somehow. I've wanted to make a video for awhile now, and I finally found the perfect opportunity to try my hand at it. I hope I can do more of these in the future. And yes, that is me playing the flute in the background. 


1.       It takes a lot of preparation

I’ve been playing flute for years. I have a Master’s Degree in flute performance. I've spent MANY hours in a practice room preparing for future auditions and performances. I haven’t been able to practice so much since I’ve become a mother, but I practiced as much as time would allow to prepare for this audition. I wouldn’t haven’t have had a shot without preparation.

2.       Affirmations help

Right before I walked into the audition room, I said to myself, “I am strong! I am capable! I can do hard things! I can birth this baby…I mean play this flute…with confidence!” And it really helped to affirm the good things that were happening while I was playing. I thought, “Yes! Nailed it! Oh, that went WAY better than I expected! Oh, that was great! You’re doing so well!” On the way to the audition, I kept thinking to myself, “I can be happy no matter the outcome.” Which leads me to….

3.       I can still do “everything right” and not have the outcome I want

I did everything I could to prepare for this audition. It wasn’t easy. I had to practice in ways that I’ve never had to before. I practiced with a baby attached to me most of the time and often had a toddler running around my feet. But I did my absolute best to prepare, and I did my best at the audition. Elements out of my control kept me from winning the audition. I did better than I expected, but I didn’t actually get the spot. However….

4.       I can still be happy if things don’t go as planned

My biggest worry about this audition was not that I wouldn’t get the spot, but how I would feel if I didn’t get the spot. I was so worried about being upset, angry, or feeling like I wasted my time, but I feel none of those things. I am so glad to learn that I actually AM capable of still being happy even if things don’t go as planned. That is a big deal to me to know that I’ve made progress on something that I’ve struggled with for many years.

5.       I can do amazing things when I set my mind to it


No, I didn’t win, but you know what? I’m still amazing! I prepared for an audition and kicked the audition’s butt! (Shout out to my Birth Boot Camp DOULA trainer and her client who kicked labor’s butt!) I had so many moments of frustration preparing for this audition. I got angry many times. I wanted to quit. I allowed the negative voices in my head to camp out and attack my confidence. But I stayed the course and accomplished something that makes me feel very proud of myself. I didn’t win the race, but I feel amazing that I finished it!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Why We Love Our Houston Area Midwives {Part Two}

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We have amazing midwives in the Houston area. When I asked for help writing this post in honor of National Midwifery Week (October 4-10, 2015) about why we love our Houston Area midwives, I was so overwhelmed with responses I needed to write two posts. You can read Part One here.

"I love my midwife because she sincerely cared and informed me so I can have the birth I wanted. Thank you Shannon Stellhorn."
-Liana Rodriguez

"I love both of my midwives because they were always the calm in the storm, reminding me to find my own inner strength!!"
-Meleah Ekstrand

"I love my midwives because they trusted my body and my intuition. Their faith in me made my 2VBAC of a 10 lb 3 oz baby one of the most enjoyable and empowering moments in my entire life. Thank you, Alyson Kuntz-Butler and Patricia Wilkinson Ghaly of Magnolia Blossom Birth Center."
-Angela Fagg, Houston area doula

"I love my team of midwives. They helped keep me on track emotionally and physically during the pregnancy, assured me that I could do it both times...got me back on track when I was overwhelmed and scared...they made me feel safe. Love y'all, Natalie, Melissa, and Chelsea!"
-Rebecca Greer

"I love my midwife because she talks to me like a person. She puts my mind at ease by putting herself in my shoes and sharing her knowledge with understanding and respect. When I arrive to an appointment, they know my name and my story, and they're really good at pretending to care. (Just kidding!) Patricia Wilkinson Ghaly and her team at Magnolia Blossom Birth Center are lovely people, and I'll never be able to show them enough gratitude for their big part in my 2VBAC."
-Jill Solis

"I love my midwife because until I met her, I was sure I was too weak to give my baby and myself a peaceful, natural birth. Because I was so afraid after two invasive, damaging hospital births that had taught me not to trust my own body. I love her because she never doubted that I could see it through my long pregnancy, that she never let myself wallow in my fears and worries. I love her because she trusted my body even when I didn't, and believed my body when it was time to deliver even when I still doubted. I love her because she supported me through my worst contractions and didn't let me give up. When I got scared, when I was exhausted in every way, when I was positive I couldn't push anymore, she raised her voice when I needed it and told me to NOT STOP. And somehow she helped me find the strength inside to finish what I had started. I love her because I delivered my 10 pound 6 ounce baby boy without any tearing or damage. I love her because she wasn't even surprised that I had been able to do it. She knew I could, and I did. I know what I'm capable of now because she helped me realize it. Because of her help and guidance, wisdom, and support, I had a beautiful birth I won't look back on with regret or fear. I'm forever thankful."
-Tara Porter-Duke

"In a moment of feeling completely discouraged, she knew I needed her to be there with me to keep me moving and believing in myself. Because we had spent so much time together before the baby was born, she knew what to say and what NOT to say to keep me focused."
-Helenita F., attended by midwife Holly Shearman

"I love my midwife because she helped me feel empowered, respected, and at peace during my birth."
-Katy Wentworth

"I love my midwife because she supported my VBAC and never doubted my ability to VBAC."
-Jennifer Lankford Rico

"I love my midwife because she makes me feel safe. And she will be one of the few people present to witness my baby's first minutes in this world--how very momentous, and how very impossible not to love those special people, including her."
-Holly Milkowski, Houston blogger, Mama's Milk, No Chaser

"I love my midwife because she is so skilled, intuitive, smart, understanding, and kind. I never felt like a name on a list. I felt so well cared for, as if I were a friend of her, that she would do anything she could to help."
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-Anne Lanham, attended by midwife Holly Shearman

"I love my midwife because she is a friend. She believed in me and helped me bring my beautiful baby girl earth side at a home water birth."
-Krystal O,, attended by midwife Shannon Stellhorn

"I love my midwives because: My first midwife gave me the confidence that I could wait to have my baby, and I could birth without tearing. And I didn't need a c-section just because I had been in longer for longer than 12 hours.

The 2nd midwife helped my husband help me. Giving us more of a bonding experience while having a baby.

Our 3rd midwife gave us the courage and understanding that we could birth by ourselves. (She missed the birth.)

Our 4th midwife gave me tricks and the opportunity to learn about my baby that was so laid back that I had to have her listen to my baby almost every day. She never got upset. She never showed that she was frustrated. She was always there within minutes to put my worries to rest. Then she came when most others were hunkered down during a blizzard!

Our 5th & 6th babies' midwife lived just around the corner from us, and I loved having her apprentices being able to come and help me out! I loved how she encouraged me to study midwifery!

Our 6th midwife (8th baby) was a life saver, literally! Because she didn't blink an eye when I had complications that my OB insisted should have killed my baby. That baby is healthy and doing great!"
-Cristina Bennett

"She listens to me!"
-Emily Jones

"I love my midwife because she was always there for me. She empowered me and supported my decisions. She is so very knowledgeable and kindhearted. I felt 100% safe in her care. She believed in me and knew the right time to suggest necessary interventions so I could still accomplish my VBAC. She has an innate intuition about birth. So thankful for my midwife being the calm in the storm and helping me accomplish my VBAC. I couldn't have done it without her."
-Roseana Hinds, attended by midwife Shannon Stellhorn

"She trusts my body as much as I do!"
-Ashley Musil, Houston area midwife

"I love my midwife because she saw me through the two hardest times in my life. Jaymee Jamison Boughton, miss you sweet friend!"
-Elizabeth W.

"I love my midwife because she makes me feel as if she is a partner in my care decisions rather than a dictator over them."
-Tonya Newman

"I love my midwife because she informed, encouraged, empowered, and fully supported me the entire length of my pregnancy and birth."
-Kimberly MacRae

Houston families love their midwives! You can learn more about midwives and how they can help you have an AMAZING birth in childbirth classes throughout the Houston area.

THANK YOU to all who contributed to this post and to the midwives who helped during these amazing births!


Why We Love Our Houston Area Midwives {Part One}

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Houston area families have many options available to them when it comes to deciding how they want to welcome their babies into the world. One of the many decisions families need to make is who will attend them during their special day. We have a thriving community of talented and caring midwives in the Houston area, and we are excited to tell anyone and everyone who is willing to listen how much we love them. When Sarah Clarke, Curriculum Developer over at Birth Boot Camp, asked instructors why we love our midwives in order to write a post celebrating National Midwifery Week, I asked her if I could write a Houston edition. I asked for testimonials in two local pregnancy boards, and there was no shortage of enthusiastic responses. There was so much love shown to our local midwives that I had to break the responses up into two parts. Read Part Two here.

"I love my midwife because she made me feel worthy, loved, and empowered! She will forever be my friend."
-Tamie Fugleberg, attended by midwife Shannon Stellhorn

"I love my midwife because the model of care made me feel like a person, not a file, and she held space with me while I labored and never questioned me."
-Kimberly Ramos, Houston area doula

"I love my midwife because she truly cared about me as a person, as a woman, as a mother, and as a patient. And I love my midwife because I delivered my own baby and she was happy and delighted to attend me as I gave birth- exactly what birth attendants should do!"
-Camille Parker Grow

"I love my midwife because she has given me back my right to birth as I please and has filled me with so much knowledge. She is more than a midwife; she is family and love."
-Candice Shaunesey

"I could go on all day... Because she listens to me! Because she believes in me!"
-Michelle Mallory

"I love my midwife because she listened to me. I love her because she trusted in my instincts and intuition. I love her because of her faith in the process of birth. I love her because she treated my husband and I like people and not lab rats. I love her because she gave me options. I could go on all day. Shannon Stellhorn is amazing, and I am so grateful to have had her for my daughter's birth.
-Jasmine Theriot

"She respected what I needed."
-Sara P.

"I love my midwife because she trusts that I am a responsible, smart adult that is capable of making the right decisions for me and my family."
-Holly L.

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"Because she acknowledges not only the whole me but also my family. She involves the soon-to-be older siblings and takes the time to truly be present in both the prenatal care and the birth."
-Melissa Nealy, Houston La Leche League Leader

"I love Shannon Stellhorn because she believes in me and my body and respects my birth!!"
-Amy E.

"I love my midwife because she cares. Because her care goes beyond the physical and into the holistic. I love my midwife because she practices with heart and evidence AND she knows I make every decision after education. I love my midwife because she is about family, and mine matters to her. I love my midwife because the way she poured into me has allowed me to pour into others. I love my midwife because I can NOW describe myself as beautiful, powerful, worthy, smart, whole, capable, loved."
-Andie Wyrick

"I love my midwife because she treated me like a person, not a baby incubator. I love her because she empowered me to have a healing VBAC and supported me and believed in me every step of the way. She still does."
-Maureen Knight, attended by midwife Shannon Stellhorn

"I love my midwife because she took the time to not only care for my growing baby, but my emotional and mental well-being and even after the birth has still made sure I'm doing well."
-PJ King Barnett

"I love my midwife...because she supported me through my whole labor. She stayed in the room with me while I labored (I've never had a provider do that before). She went out of her way to make sure I was comfortable. She helped me manage my breathing techniques when times got hard. She brought snacks and drinks to make sure I stayed hydrated. She empowered me to birth the way I wanted to. We both have a lot of the similar views on pregnancy and birth. Glad to call her, not just my midwife, but my friend."
-Paula D Holland

"She provided quality education, mental and emotional support, and gave me space to listen to my intuition. She facilitated a birth experience that my heart knew was possible. And for that I am forever grateful."
-Caitlin Crowell, attended by midwife Kellie Moeller

"I have birthed at home with two different Houston area midwives for three births and am preparing for my fourth home birth in January, and I loved working with both of my midwives. I love my midwives because they gave me all the information I would need to make evidence-based decisions regarding my prenatal care and delivery. I was spoken to as a person, not a number to be hustled through, and my emotions and time were valuable to them. I never felt anxious, leery, or in the dark about the information or procedures they offered/recommended. They encouraged, listened, explained, taught, and cared for me and my babies. They believed in my body's ability to do its work, and I trusted in their ability to recognize a problem beyond their scope of care, should it arise. Thank you, Natalie Wommack and Shannon Stellhorn for being part of my births!"
Rosie Kratti

"I love my midwife, Chris Duffy, and then student/now midwife, Ashley Musil, because they only brought what was necessary: trust, skills, compassion, and love."
-Jenna Keehnen, Houston HypnoBirthing Practitioner

"I love my midwife because it was finally MY birth. I made the choices. I had options. She helped give me the birth I'd always desired! I felt so comfortable and free around her."
Veronica Davila, attended by midwife Bernadette Olivier

"She believed in me!"
Abby M.

You can learn about midwives and why more Houston families are choosing to have midwives attend their births in local childbirth classes. Choosing a care provider who is supportive of the type of birth you want is the most important thing you can do to have an AMAZING birth.

A huge THANK YOU goes out to all those who contributed to this post and the midwives who helped during these amazing births!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital Birthing Center Tour

A few years ago I attended a tour of the Birthing Center at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital just in case I needed to transport to a hospital during my home birth. I ended up having a quick and peaceful home birth, but I am still glad that I took the time to see what area hospitals were like. Here are my impressions from a few years ago. Please let me know if any changes need to be made.

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I signed up for a tour by calling the number provided on the website. I was able to speak to a Labor & Delivery nurse, who told me the days and times that tours were given. All I needed to do was show up during one of the designated times, and someone would show me around. I did not need to register to take a tour.

When I arrived, a nurse showed me a Labor & Delivery room. I noticed the bathroom had a tub with a shower, so I asked if they could be used during labor. She said that the tub or shower could be used during labor as long as the care provider was okay with it. The monitors at the time were not water proof, so she mentioned that the shower could only be used while the monitors were off.

How your baby will be monitored during labor is an important question to discuss with your care provider long before your big day. There are two options when it comes to electronic fetal monitoring: intermittent or continuous. Unless your doctor agrees with intermittent monitoring, continuous monitoring will be used. If Pitocin or any pain medications are being used, you must be on continuous fetal monitors.

A wonderful reason to have water proof monitors is, not only can you use continuous
monitoring in the shower, but if you are hooked up to Pitocin, you can still get in the shower. A few hospitals in the Houston area allow women to labor in the shower while hooked up to Pitocin because they have water proof monitors.

Upon admission, you will be given an IV with fluids. Discuss with your care provider ahead of time if a saline lock is an option. This allows for more freedom of movement.

Everyone except the partner/spouse must leave the room when an epidural is being administered. Most hospitals in the Houston area require everyone, including the partner/spouse, to leave when an epidural is being administered, so this is a rare treat.

There are some birthing balls available, but it would be best to bring your own to be sure one is available during your birthing time.

There are no squatting bars available.

There are mirrors available to use during pushing. Some women are motivated by being able to see the progress they are making during the pushing stage.

You will stay in the same room for labor, delivery, and recovery. You will be moved to a postpartum room for the remainder of your stay.

In the event of a Cesarean delivery, your baby will spend some time in the nursery. Only one support person is allowed in the room with you during a Cesarean delivery.

Babies who are born vaginally will be placed directly on your chest for immediate skin to skin contact. Immediate skin to skin contact is unlikely to happen during a Cesarean delivery. However, check with your care provider as more places are beginning to offer more Family-Centered Cesarean deliveries.

Most women will deliver in the supine position with their feet in stirrups. Sometimes women have support people to help hold their legs instead of using the stirrups. If you are interested in giving birth in any position other than the supine position, discuss options with your care provider ahead of time. Although it is possible, birthing in other positions is not typical in most Houston area hospitals.

No matter what kind of birth you are planning on having, you will need to be prepared to advocate for yourself. Birth Boot Camp classes are a wonderful option for preparing couples to have an amazing birth. I teach the 10 week childbirth classes in Sugar Land on a regular basis. Check my website for upcoming class dates.