“Giving birth should be your greatest achievement not your greatest fear.”

~Jane Weideman


Birth is Sacred. It is powerful, and mysterious, and life changing. After your birth, you and your partner will never be the same. Babies who come into this world without medication or interference are better able to find their way to the breast and to latch on in that first important hour. They are born alert and ready to meet you face to face. Mothers who are educated about birth and trust their bodies and attendants are more likely to have a smooth birth experience, and feel empowered in doing so.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Our First Baby....! ❤❤❤

Drum Roll Please! Embrace Midwifery Care & Birth Center would like to announce our First Baby! 
Miss Willow was born after an amazing journey of strength, bravery, commitment, and love... 
I am so thankful to have a team that loves this work and is excellent at what they do!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Keep Calm & Just Be

From the SmartMoms Blog is really good advice on gaining perspective when you're expecting.  Not so much about nutritional health, but maintaining you sanity and keeping yourself grounded throughout YOUR pregnancy!  It's your experience, your intuition, your body and we fully support that outlook!

Health During Pregnancy: 9 Tips for Expectant Moms

If you’re reading this, most likely you’re already or soon to be pregnant.  And if that’s the case, I’m pretty confident this isn’t the first post you’ve read about how to maintain optimal health during pregnancy.

Beyond that, I would imagine that you have had conversations with your medical professionals about how to maintain health during pregnancy for you and your unborn child.  Here we have a few “less traditional” pieces of advice for staying in great health during pregnancy.

Tune Out the Advice

Obviously, listen to your medical professional’s advice about how to keep your healthy during pregnancy strong, but beyond that, try to turn down the volume from outside observers.  These people do have the best intentions, but you are going through a significant event in your life and should therefore be treated as such: sacred.

Take a break from the parenting blogs (I realize the irony here), put down the pregnancy books and tell your mother-in-law that you have another call coming in.  No matter what, there will always be things you look back on and wish you had known, and that’s all part of the process. Just breathe.

Tune up Your Intuition

When I was pregnant with my son, I really tried to connect with my own inner sense of what felt good and what did not.  If I was feeling tired, I slept.  If I was feeling energetic, I went to the gym.  If I was hungry for a second bowl of cereal, I went for it.  Our bodies know how to do this, and if we listen, they will tell us what we need.


I exercised throughout my pregnancy, but the only physical activity that I would come to with joy on a daily basis was walking.  My husband and I took long walks with our dog every day and I have to admit these walks were not only great for our relationship, but also prepared me for the insane amount of walking I would do during labor as well as following the birth of our son (walking was one of the only reliable ways to get him to fall asleep).

Eat Nourishing Food

I definitely indulged when I was pregnant, but I never felt more convicted to eat for healthy during pregnancy. I was keenly aware that every bite I took would nourish my son, so I wanted to make sure it was worthy.   Eat fruits, and vegetables, and grains, and healthy fats.   Consider your eating habits during pregnancy your first opportunity to show your child what a healthy diet looks like.

Prioritize the Health of Your Relationship

I know the constant advice of “Go on a date because you will NEVER BE ALONE AGAIN” gets old, but putting some extra effort into your relationship prior to the addition of a child is important.   The most stressful and trying moments of my relationship with my husband came about at 3:00 in the morning over the screams of our son.   Had we not had the foundation of a healthy relationship to fall back on, I’m not sure we would have been able to weather that storm.


I purchased a prenatal yoga video within minutes of finding out I was pregnant.   Now granted, prenatal yoga is VERY different when you are four weeks pregnant instead of 40 weeks, but there was nothing more blissful than gentle stretching towards the end of pregnancy.  Once again, listen to your intuition and only do the poses that feel good, but when they do, stick with them.   Spend hours in them if you like.


This is easier said than done, but whenever you can, grab some shut eye.   So much generative growth happens during sleep (I mean, babies sleep 90% of the day when they are newborns, and you see how fast they grow??), so allowing your body to sleep when it can not only helps you, but helps your baby’s growth and health during pregnancy.

If you can’t sleep in long stretches due to discomfort, do it in spurts.  Invest in a pregnancy pillow.   Create a space completely designated for restorative rest and spend as much time there as you can.  And if you fall asleep while watching movies, that’s okay too.


Once again, you probably already know this, but your body needs water.  Beyond the fact that it’s crucially important to keep hydrated for health during pregnancy, this sets the stage for healthy habits after the birth of your child.

If you choose to breastfeed after the baby is born, you need to doubly hydrate because your body is literally losing a large amount of liquid each feeding.  My doctor told me that with each feeding, I should drink 10 oz. of water to replace what I was losing and that this would help me have more patience with my husband/dog/cable guy etc.  It seriously worked.  I had no idea being dehydrated could have such an impact on my patience, but that was the best advice I’ve ever received.


Love the baby.  Love your partner.  Love the world.  Love yourself.  The world is a scary place and sometimes the thought of bringing a baby into it can be terrifying.  One of the best ways to maintain your sanity and mental health is to practice gratitude and take time to express love to those around you.  It may not create peace in the Middle East (yet), but it will create a happier home for which to welcome your new child.   Above all, love.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Coping With Breastfeeding Grief

Author of Healing Breast Feeding Greif, Hilary Jacobson, writes about how to heal disappointed expectations when breastfeeding doesn't work out for some women.  As a holistic lactation consultant, she works with many women who have trouble breastfeeding and experienced the same grief after her first child.

Breastfeeding Grief: Emotional Healing When Breastfeeding Does Not Work
By Hilary Jacobson

Recently, I read in a book about natural childbirth that mothers should prepare mentally ahead of time just in case a Cesarean birth is needed. The authors point out that when we accept that life is not predictable and are mentally prepared for any eventuality, a mother can maintain a positive sense of connection to her baby even without her ideal birth.

When it comes to breastfeeding, we do not advise mothers about what to do in case breastfeeding does not work out. We know that with correct information, guidance, and support, mothers usually succeed and we do not want to discourage mothers by suggesting difficulties that will most likely never arise.

Yet, where does this leave those mothers who, for whatever reason, are not able to have their hoped-for relationship?

A 2014 study from Cambridge, looking at 14,000 mothers, revealed that mothers who do not reach their breastfeeding goals are at twice the risk of postpartum depression. The head author of that study, Marie Iacovou, says, “There is currently hardly any skilled specialist help for these mothers, and this is something … that health providers should be thinking about.”

Helping mothers truly heal their emotional wounds is something I have been thinking about for a long time. As the moderator of an online group for mothers with chronic low milk supply, I have heard hundreds if not thousands of heartbreaking stories. More personally, I went through breastfeeding grief after the birth of my first child, and it was the healing of that wound that motivated my research and outreach in subsequent decades.

What I learned is that mothers need what I call a “pivotal moment” in which they feel supported with compassion and understanding, and can be directed to focus on their capacity to love their baby, regardless how they feed. If mothers do not receive a pivotal moment of compassion, but instead sense that their feelings or problems are judged, or trivialized, their grief can deepen and become entrenched.

The good news is that even if the grief/trauma has become entrenched, it can still resolve and mothers can heal. Today, scientists are discovering the remarkable benefits of mindfulness meditation for posttraumatic stress, and also the benefits of stress relief through relaxation and visualization. Scientists are recognizing, too, that the brain and the emotions are much more malleable than previously suspected. Our thoughts and feelings can be permanently redirected in positive ways, and relatively quickly, too. All of this explains why techniques used in hypnotherapy, somatic therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and coaching are frequently so effective—and they are effective for mothers, too.

To read the full article, including excerpts from her book, click here.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Orgasm During Childbirth?

It may be a rainy Monday, but we come bearing good news- at least for the lucky 6% of you! Multiple sources have credited this phenomenon of orgasm during childbirth and this doula, Bailey Gaddis has witnessed it herself! Below are tips on how to facilitate such an experience, so read on and may you be blessed!

I'm A Doula, and Let Me Tell You: Orgasms During Childbirth are a Real Thing!
By: Bailey Gaddis

The terms “orgasm” and “childbirth” sound like antonyms to most people. But, women have an orgasm when they conceive a baby (hopefully!), so maybe it’s not outside the realm of reason that they could have an orgasm while birthing the baby.

According to The Independent, a survey by the Positive Birth Movement and Channel Mum has reported that 6 percent of women say they have had an orgasm during childbirth. My initial reaction when I first heard about women who reported orgasms during birth was that they were lying braggarts — mainly because I was jealous I had never experienced this phenomenon.

But since I’ve become a birth doula, my “lying braggart” theory has been crushed; I’ve witnessed many women experience multiple orgasms during birth. I’ve heard them describe these births as “ecstatic overflows,” “spiritual awakenings,” “waves of bliss,” and “the longest, strongest, orgasm ever!”

I wonder if these will be the ladies that end up having six children?

This miracle outcome is not based in fantasy, but in science. Studies have shown that two of the regions in the brain (the anterior cingulate cortex and insula) that are active during orgasm are also active during painful sensations — and childbirth is often labeled the pinnacle of painful experiences.

Beyond similar activities in the brain, orgasm and childbirth both produce strong surges of blood and stimulation of the birth passage, cervix, clitoris, and vagina. And sometimes, they both involve the partner whispering sweet somethings in the mother’s ear — or, teetering on the edge of sleep.

A professor of psychology at Rutgers University, Barry Komisaruk says, “Anatomically, orgasmic birth is no surprise. In fact, the intense stimulation of the vaginal canal in childbirth may work to block pain, whether that stimulation is felt as sexual or not.”

Are you hoping for an orgasm during childbirth? Why not, right? Try out these suggestions to up your chances:

  • Substitute the term “contractions” (it sounds so constrictive!) with the term “surges” — which sends a more fluid and pleasurable message from the mind to the body.
  • Take deep-in-the-belly breaths during each surge, allowing the belly to fully rise. Breathe past the wall of pain, and you might just find a special treat on the other side.
  • Envision a spiral of energy moving from above your head, down through your body, and concentrating its power as it moves out your cervix and washes over your vagina and clitoris. Imagine that energy waking up your body’s endorphins as it moves down, and dispersing them through the pelvic region.
  • Submerge yourself in warm water as much as possible. The relief warm water provides to your hard-working birthing muscles creates space for them to focus on more pleasurable pursuits.
  • When you feel yourself at the tipping point of pain and pleasure, let out long and low groans to allow any painful energy to be released.
  • Have your partner stimulate your nipples during surges. This act pumps up your release of oxytocin, which can strengthen your surges — increasing the potential of a quicker birth, and awakened arousal.
  • Ask your partner (or self!) to stimulate your clitoris. In 1988, Barry Komisaruk and co-researchers published a study in the Journal of Sex Research, which noted that vaginal or clitoral stimulation made women less sensitive to painful stimulation.

I imagine women have been experiencing orgasmic births since the beginning of humankind, but have likely been sticking to the motto “mum’s the word.” Now that sexuality is losing a bit of its taboo status, more women are coming forward about their ecstatic birth experiences.

Hopefully, the sharing of this possibility can spark renewed hope (maybe even excitement!) in women who are terrified of the prospect of birth, and removes the belief that there is shame in a woman feeling bursts of pleasure in an experience where pain is the standard.

Maybe, childbirth can hurt so good.

Friday, May 20, 2016

A Woman's Right to Birth

We love this Letter to the Editor from a brave mother sent to The Washington Post.  It is our goal to inform and empower women with choice.  Articles like these feed on all of the unfounded fears of having a natural birth, frowning on "natural" as an inferior method, once again undermining a woman's right to choose.  We believe that birth is intuitive to all women and with the proper guidance from a knowledgable and well-trained midwife, mothers can be informed to make the best decision for their bodies.  We are one of the only birth centers anywhere that has a direct collaboration with a Registered Nurse, Jessica Jordan, who is able to provide medications on a consultation basis.  We have had less than a 1 percent transfer rate, a 6 percent C-section rate, and a 15 percent transfer rate for reasons such as pain management, or the baby being in a less than ideal position.  We are proud of those numbers and are thankful for modern medicine to bring healthy babies into this world under such circumstances.  There is no shame about it!

(Paul Giamou/iStock)

Women Should Be Listened to About the Childbirth Process

As a mother who has birthed two children, I found Amy Tuteur wrong on many fronts in her May 8 Outlook essay, “The natural-birth industrial complex.” Perhaps her most egregious — and tired — assertion about childbirth is the “healthy baby and mother” argument.

Implying that women should be satisfied simply with a healthy baby-healthy mom outcome is dismissive of women and their birth experiences, especially when they are grieving events that are sad, disappointing or traumatic. Of course every mother wants a healthy baby, but when women are ignored, disrespected or violated during labor and birth, then birth may not be a beautiful experience for them.

We can set the bar higher. Birth teaches us that we are not in control, but that doesn’t mean women don’t have choices. Women are absolutely right to ask for more in terms of prenatal and postnatal care and labor and birth options. This applies to home, birth center and hospital births — because women should be respected and listened to no matter what the birth setting.

Sarah Farr, Silver Spring

To read the full article, click here.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Using a Peanut Ball in Labor

From Director of Birthwell Birthright, Tanya Strusberg, comes an amazing article on the benefits of using a peanut ball versus pillows, blankets or even a traditional swiss ball.  Specializing in Lamaze childbirth education, she is a great resource for natural birth techniques.  We utilize the peanut at Embrace Birth Center and think it's an extremely useful tool for mothers to promote dilation and increase comfort.

What is a peanut ball and why could it be helpful for me in labour?

Most people are familiar with the standard birth ball (sometimes called a fit ball or Swiss ball). They come in a range of sizes to suit women of all heights and are without doubt an essential labour tool to have.

The standard round birth ball has become a common site in a birthing suite, but the peanut ball is a relative newcomer.  In the last few years, the use of a peanut ball for labour has increased, especially for mums who choose an epidural or who need to rest. The peanut ball doesn’t slip, slide or flatten like pillows, keeping a mum’s legs properly supported and the pelvis open. The use of a peanut ball has been seen to help shorten labour. Although there has not been a large study on their effectiveness, many midwives and hospitals are seeing excellent results.

A peanut ball is similar to a birth ball, except that it dips in the middle, giving it its distinctive peanut shape. Peanut balls also come in a variety of sizes, again depending on a woman’s height, but also depending on how she plans to use it. Smaller peanut balls are designed to be used between your legs, whereas larger peanut balls are designed to be sat on, or to lean over.

Peanut Balls are typically used two ways primarily:

1. The labouring mother is in a semi-reclined position, with one leg over the ball, and the other leg to the side of the ball. The doula, midwife, or other support person pushes the ball as close to the mother’s hips as is tolerable for her. Many feel this position promotes dilation and descent with a well-positioned baby.

2. While the mother is in a side-lying or semi-prone position, the peanut ball is used to lift the upper leg and open the pelvic outlet. Many feel this position helps rotate a baby in a less-favorable posterior position to a more favorable position for delivery.

What size peanut ball should I use?

Peanut balls come in a number of sizes:

45cm – Recommended for women who are under 160cms
50cm – Recommended for women who are 160cm – 170cms (most common size)
60cm – Recommended for women who are 174cm or taller or plus size women
70cm – ONLY to sit on and straddle

For the full article along with even more great resources, click here to visit the Birthwell Birthright website.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Grand Opening Success! Take a Peek Inside

We had such a lovely time at our Grand Opening yesterday!  It was a successful event and we were so thrilled to be hosting amazing moms, expecting mothers, their partners, and their children!  It was all around joyful to be sharing something that we have been working so hard towards these past few months and seeing it all come to fruition.  Embrace Birth Center is up and running along with our Wellness Collective!  If you didn't get a chance to visit us yesterday, here's a peek at what's inside!

 Welcome to our Birth Center!  Our very own Kathryn Haines is speaking to expecting parents in the Midwives meeting room!

Here we have everyone gathered in one of our birthing suites, along with our examination room and our sitting area at the front entrance.  The photography you see around the office are all works of local photographers you can work with for your very own pregnancy and infancy portraiture!  The collection shown here is of actual births we've performed in Richmond.

This is one of our amazing birth suites, built with maximum comfort in mind.  A space for your family - a retreat - with extra deep soaking tubs, plush linens, and private bathrooms!

We are very excited about this little tree!  We will be hanging snaps of all the beautiful babies we deliver on its branches!  Blue for water babies, green for earth babies!

Our Wellness collective features Green Baby Planet, who focuses on safe, natural and eco-friendly products for your little ones!  We also offer prenatal yoga classes!  There is still room available in our collective, so if you'd love to contribute to this wonderful community of support, please contact us.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Educating, Empowering & Encouraging Women from Pregnancy to Motherhood

Think about the first mother that ever walked the planet.  Then think about the second, the third, and so on. All helping the other give birth from having lived through it themselves. Soon there was an abundance of mothers and babies who now make up the more than 7 Billion human population on this earth. Wow, what a thought.

Women have been giving birth since the dawn of human existence and we truly feel in our hearts, is an intuitive experience.  All women know instinctively how to give birth. Midwifery has been practiced throughout the ages before there was medicine or hospitals.  It has been practiced all over the world with varying traditions and expressed uniquely through local cultures. We believe that giving birth is a sacred experience not only for the mother and her family, but the community.

Advances in medicine, technology and science have led us to the practices we use today. Ultra-sounds find the position and the sex of the baby.  We now know how to keep mothers healthy during their pregnancies with lots of heavy prenatal care bibles. There are vast hospital wings dedicated solely to pregnancy.  But with all of this technology, we believe the advantages of using a midwife is giving the human, emotional, intuitive and physiological profoundness of birth it’s proper reverence.

We nurture the deeply connective mother and child bond through safe delivery practices that don’t separate you from your experience. Instead, we give you the power of choice by giving you all of our knowledge.  We want to honor your traditions and listen to your wishes. We empower mothers!

Embrace midwives are highly trained, with a low tech, high touch mentality.  Our goal at the Embrace Birth Center is to educate, empower and encourage women from pregnancy to motherhood!   

Monday, May 9, 2016

Pelvic Floor Therapy Demystified

I wrote this article several years ago during the period when I saw a pelvic floor therapist. I still discuss pelvic floor therapy regularly and with everyone (yes neighbors too) with the hopes that more women will seek out this amazing option. Ask an Embrace Midwife for a recommendation or check out the links below!

-Kathryn Haines, CPM

Pelvic Floor Therapy Demystified

My amazing pelvic floor was not so amazing after carrying three babies.  After my second baby, I managed to control and then stop occasional loss of urine by doing kegels. When I experienced urine loss after my third birth, I assumed that it was only a matter of time before I was dry again. As the months and then a full year went by, and I continued to change pad after pad after pad, I became concerned. A bottle of tea tree oil and vinegar by the toilet helped keep the odor away but there is something very discouraging about being incontinent when you are thirty-five.

At a visit with my local midwives (midwives are my go-to for well-woman care), Mairi and Erin asked if I had any other questions.  I disclosed my incontinence and they said suggested I see a physical therapist who specializes in pelvic floors.  A few weeks later I sat sheepishly in Pat Strott-Wheatley's office, marveling over the fact that I had been so busy taking care of my three little ones, my husband, and the house (not to mention midwifery!) that I had forgotten to take care of myself (sound familiar anyone?).

In the first visit, Pat mentioned that most people were able to stay dry 85% to 90% (or more) of the time upon faithful completion of pelvic floor therapy.  The first week began with writing down everything I ate and drank as well as each trip to the toilet.  The next assignment was to go to the toilet every hour in an attempt to stay dry.  I was shocked to realize that I often couldn't even go one hour without leaking and I found it humorous how hard it was to pee every hour.  Days at the pool were the most challenging. My eldest swims but not well enough to leave alone in a pool and of course I couldn't leave my three or one year old alone.  So our daily routine went something like this.  "Ok (for the fourth hour in a row) everyone, out of the pool (grumble, grumble, grumble, why mommy), mom has to pee!" Writing down the times I peed was another roadblock.  Do you know how hard it is to pack for a family of five at the pool?  Adding my "Bladder Diary" to the bag with the suits and swimmies and lotions and shampoos and plates and snacks just did not happen. Somehow I made it through the week.

At my second appointment, I was hooked up to a computer that measured how strong my kegels were, determined the extent to which I was relaxing between kegels and made sure I was using the appropriate muscles.  I learned that while I kegeled well under the watchful eyes of Pat, at home I was not adequately relaxing between kegels.  I was so focused on getting my kegels in that I was contracting beautifully, but not fully relaxing. Remember, biofeedback works!  A hand on the belly reminds you to relax.

I also watched a movie on the amazing pelvic floor.  Did you know that the urge to pee lasts 14 seconds and instead of rushing to the bathroom when you feel the urge (this makes you leak) you should first take a breath and kegel? Pat sent me home with new homework, pee every hour and a half and add pelvic floor exercises, three sets, contract for 8 seconds, relax for eight seconds.

Visit three, PROGRESS! The pelvic floor exercises were working!  I was able to stay dry peeing every hour and a half and during a conference where I just couldn't slip out to pee, I found myself doing extra kegels and staying dry for about two hours!  I noticed a few leaks that occurred when I had my morning latte and Pat suggested that I switch to half-caff (a painful switch but I am adjusting and you bet I will NOT be drinking half-caff at a birth.)  I was hooked up to the computer again and the program detected that I had greatly increased the strength of my kegels in just one week!  More homework.  Pee every two hours and kegel four times a day, contract 10 seconds, relax ten seconds.

Week four. I forgot my sensor today and so I am scheduled for a final session in one month (probably a good thing as I will not slack on my kegels).  The good news, when I kegel regularly (and appropriately!) I no longer leak!  I will need to kegel for the rest of my life, and regularly (at least one set four times a day) but staying dry is worth the effort.  And there are other benefits too!  Developing strong pelvic floor muscles helps alleviate constipation and leads to better sex (among other things).  If you are kegeling and it isn't working, I HIGHLY recommend visiting a physical therapist who specializes in pelvic floors.  They will make sure you are kegeling properly, offer advice on how to kegel more effectively, and suggest things in your diet (like caffeine) that might be adding to the problem.

A disclaimer, I made a dramatic improvement in a short amount of time (four visits over the course of less than two months).  This is because I had rather strong pelvic floor muscles at the start.  It can take several months to see improvement and you have to be very diligent about doing your homework.  If I don't kegel regularly, I leak, it is as simple as that.

I would love to see all midwives talk about the correct way to kegel (equal emphasis on relaxing as well as contracting) with their clients prenatally and post-partum.  My gut feeling is that there are a lot of women out there who are incontinent and don't realize that a physical therapist can help you learn how to stay dry.  I am a convert! Check out these websites to find a great pelvic floor therapist: https://hermanwallace.com/practitioner-directory, http://www.womenshealthapta.org/pt-locator/.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Just Some of the Benefits of Water Birth

“Do you perform water births?” is one of the most frequently asked questions we get and what the majority of mothers that come to us are looking for.  We recommend that all our mothers at least consider laboring in water, but are happy to deliver earth babies as well! When you think about the environment your baby has spent the last 9 months in, that warm, amniotic fluid— giving birth in water seems natural.  It makes your baby’s transition from that environment into the loud and bright outside environment that much easier.  The decreased sensation of gravity also makes positioning for the mother less strenuous in water and promotes.  Some of the well-known benefits of water birth include:

— Decreasing pain 
— Decreasing length of labor
— Conservation of energy
— Reduces perineal trauma
— Relaxes and soothes mother to get in tune with her natural rhythm

Our new Birth Center will be opening this Tuesday, May 10th, with our Grand Opening Event and Open House on Sunday, May 15th!  It will feature 2 beautiful water birth suites that meet all of the American Association of Birth Center guidelines, extra deep soaking tubs, private bathrooms, showers and queen-size beds.  All of the comforts of home.

Catch Your Baby! One of the Benefits of Using a Midwife

Have you ever seen a mom catch her own baby? It is a sacred event. If you are pregnant, consider catching your own baby. Midwives LOVE to catch babies but consider this, it is your baby, and your birth, do you want to give up the extraordinary opportunity to let you or your partner's hands be the first to enfold your baby? If you need help, your midwife is at your side.

Photo Credit: Monet Nicole- Birthing Stories

Monday, May 2, 2016

A Letter to our Midwife

We originally found this article in the Huffington Post, and we really love the way that it represents the point of view of a new mommy and her opinions about her midwife. We've talked time and time and again how this is supposed to be a beautiful experience between a mother and her child. A moment to be shared with your loved ones if that is your desire but most importantly it should be an experience that is safe, loving and comfortable. Hear what this new mom has to say about her midwife below. 
"This is my heart-felt thank you letter to the midwife who in my mind, showed the world how it could be done. I write this is in the hope that it will be shared with midwives and parents everywhere, to remind everyone how birthing is messy and painful and scary but also amazing and wonderful and sacred... and a human experience!
A Letter to our Midwife
As our daughter nears her first birthday, I want you to know something.
I don't know if you get letters like this everyday or even whether you think you deserve them.
But I have been thinking a lot about you and how you helped us safely deliver our baby into this world all those months ago and I wonder if perhaps, I could have written a letter like this for the birth of our first daughter.
I don't know if midwives like you are rare or if all share the same grace and understanding. But here is what I am truly thankful for, as a mother, as a woman and as a human being.
Thank you for speaking to me throughout the whole experience of giving birth with compassion, kindness and love. You made me feel at ease. You enabled me to feel strong and powerful. You reminded me how capable I was, how amazing my body was... how I could keep going, even though the pain was great and I was tired.
Thank for asking me if I wanted to be checked internally on our arrival. Yes, it might have been necessary but being asked made me feel relaxed and in control and that my body belonged to me.
Thank for you agreeing to a calm, peaceful and natural birth and for honouring all of our requests, even when the same music had been played on repeat for four hours and you asked, quietly, would I like to change it. And when I replied 'Nooooooo'! you simply kept playing the CD.
Thank you for taking care of my husband as he took care of me by asking him if he was ok, whether he wanted a drink and did he want a rest after rubbing my back for an hour and for you to take over.
Thank you for being in the background and leaving me and my husband to birth our baby... and for stepping in, calmly at every moment needed.
Thank you for not batting an eyelid when I asked my husband to repeat a prayer continuously during the most insanely intense part of the whole birthing experience... and for saying 'How lovely!' when I whispered a prayer into our babe's ear straight after birthing her. I felt as if you wholly respected and honoured our wishes and our faith.
Thank you for keeping the lights low, the pool warm, and the ambience calm and serene in the birthing room... I felt like we were in a unique and sacred space. Giving birth is sacred and special as well as off-the-scale painful! And you completely honoured every single need and request.
Thank you for restoring my confidence and validating my previous birthing experience where harsh words had been spoken, where I felt trapped and confined, disrespected and dishonoured.
Thank you for speaking in the calmest of tones throughout and for telling me... yes! That is supposed to happen! (on numerous occasions!)
Thank you for looking deep into my eyes and telling me... You can do it. I know you can. I believe in you.
Thank you for the aftercare... for laughing at my ramblings whilst having stitches afterwards and for laughing at my inappropriate comments when I couldn't help myself (gas and air... such fun!)
Thank for to the midwife who stepped in to join you and to rally together to realise the final moments of baby arriving into this world, for leaving the cord until it stopped pulsating to cut it without me not even asking... for offering to take photos of us all in our postnatal bliss.... thank you SO much! Thank you for enabling me to leave the birthing centre feeling in charge, feeling loved, feeling empowered and strong and able and completely wonderful!
You may not realise this but I think of this event frequently and it has left me feeling on top of the world.
This is how birthing can be... no matter how it happens, whether or not the mother has pain relief or a C-section, whether her feet are in stirrups or whether she is down on all fours... this is how it should be. A human, loving, supportive, wonderful experience.
Thank you.
Victoria shares her full birthing story on her positive parenting website Mama Baba Do.

Top 10 Reasons a Birth Center Birth is Not For You

We were blessed to work with Dr. Poppy when we were in Missouri! Here is an article she wrote as a guest post for the Unnecesarean: 

10 Reasons a Birth Center is Not For You
(and why you may be Wrong!)

  1. “A hospital is the safest place to give birth.” The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has stated that a hospital-based or freestanding accredited birth center is a reasonable option for low risk women.
  2. “What if an emergency happens, a hospital is prepared for emergencies?” Birth centers are typically equipped with oxygen, IV fluids, medications to slow bleeding and providers are trained in CPR and neonatal resuscitation. True emergencies are very rare, although most birth centers are located in close proximity to hospitals should a transfer become necessary. Most birth center transfers are non-emergent (mom develops risk factor during prenatal care, dysfunctional labor, maternal exhaustion, etc).
  3. “My insurance requires me to go to the hospital to give birth.” Insurance often covers birth center births. Since the cost of a birth center birth is approximately 50% less than a low risk hospital birth, you get more bang for your health care buck. Cost savings are significant for patients without insurance.
  4. “My husband, family, friends or in-laws would be upset if I didn’t deliver in the hospital.” Most people aren’t aware of the beautiful surroundings, safety features, and low cost of birth centers. Tours of facilities and researching your options can help you to determine if a birth center is a good fit for you. Remember, your birth is about YOU, not what makes other people feel better.
  5. “I’m not a hippie, why would I deliver at a birth center?” Increasing numbers of highly-educated, professional people choose to have their babies in a birth center as well as many non-professionals and non-hippies. With so much information available online, women of all kinds are seeking out high quality prenatal care and empowered birthing options.
  6. “I’m high risk, I can’t deliver at a birth center.” Some people ARE truly high risk (moms who have diabetes, hypertension or history of cesarean section*). However, each pregnancy is different and there are many women who would qualify for a birth center birth (miscarriages, infertility, advanced maternal age, etc.).
  7. “Isn’t continuous fetal monitoring better for my baby?” Continuous fetal monitoring has not been shown to be a benefit over intermittent fetal monitoring in low risk women.
  8. “The hospital has pediatricians for my baby.” Pediatricians don’t attend low risk births at the hospital. Birth center providers are trained in newborn assessment and resuscitation.
  9. “There are lots of people checking on me in the hospital.” Many women appreciate the midwifery model of care and the time spent during longer prenatal visits (30-60 minutes vs 10-15 minutes) as well as the continuity through birth and post-partum. Some families get annoyed with constant interruptions by multiple people in the hospital for vital signs, dietary, housekeeping, nursery or lab draws at 6 AM.
  10. “I can’t have an epidural in a birth center.” True. But you CAN have increased mobility to move around in labor: walking, standing, birth balls and birth tubs help provide many women pain relief in labor.

ACOG has acknowledged that birthing in a hospital-based or freestanding accredited birth center is a reasonable option for low risk pregnant women. They have recently released a statement with the American College of Nurse Midwives affirming evidence-based models of care and the need for collegial relations and collaboration between obstetricians and midwives.  (Joint Statement of Practice Relations Between Obstetricians and Gynecologists and Certified Nurse Midwives/Certified Midwives, Feb 2011, Reaffirmed by ACOG Executive Board July 2014)

Dr. Poppy Daniels is an OB/GYN who works with midwives at the Family Birth & Wellness Center in Springfield, MO, www.familybirth.com. You can follow her at “Dr. Poppy” on Facebook and @drpoppyBHRT on Twitter.

- See more at: http://www.theunnecesarean.com/maternity-care-digest/top-10-reasons-a-birth-center-birth-is-not-for-you.html#sthash.kIoXZhoQ.dpuf