Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Holistic Living, Holistic Birth


Living holistically is just that; it is my essence. It is not a hobby, it is not only some of the time. It is truly my life. I understand the body to be whole. That symptoms are signs of larger imbalances, not isolated incidents to be managed with medicine. I know that true medicine comes from nutrient dense food, herbs that the Earth provides, stress management, exercise, fresh air, & sleep. This is the truth that I live by. This is the truth I embody for my family. This has been our way of life for almost a decade now. 

I know that the body was built to do amazing things. I know that the body is smart and capable. I know that the body wants to heal. But I also know that the body has to be provided with the right things to be able to perform as it should. This is how I approach the care I provide for myself, my family, and my clients. 

Holistic living led me to doula work. It fine tuned my practice. And has helped me support my clients in the best way that I know how. You need not be like minded to benefit from my care, just trust that I trust your body enough to know how best to birth your baby. 

My holistic approach to birth consists of the following:

1. Trusting that the mother knows best ALWAYS! She knows what care is safest for her baby. She knows how to move in labor. She knows what to do when handling her baby right after birth. She knows the best decisions to make regarding rearing her children. We, as a birth team, have to trust this and encourage it.

2. Babies want to be in optimal position for birth. Babies use the room they are given. They are smart & know the best way. Mothers have the capacity to do simple exercises & receive outside help to prepare their bodies for birth & encourage baby to get into optimal position. Modern day life is not very conducive to pregnancy, natural movement that includes lots of squatting & walking is pretty nonexistent for most in Western cultures. This is where Spinning Babies, Webster certified chiropractic care, women's health physical therapy, prenatal yoga, & prenatal massage come in.  Gentle & intentional movement as well as stress management and body work help prime mother & baby for the healthiest & safest birth for both. 

3. God provides so much medicine straight from the Earth. Food is the first medicine; good nutrient dense, whole food. Herbs are the next line of defense. When working with a trained herbalist and/or a functional medicine doctor, you can find safe & effective means to deal with many common pregnancy ailments. Your body wants to be healthy & vibrant. While many things are now common in pregnancy, it does not make them normal. 

4. Birth is normal, until it is not. Your body was designed to grow a baby and to birth them. The process of birth is very intentional, each piece works in harmony. We need to honor each part of labor for what it is. Many times humans feel we need to change the process, that it will fail unless we make it quicker and stronger. But there is space to honor how your body is working. Many times the solution to what ails us during birth is more time, more patience, more privacy, and more trust in the process. Our bodies give us the birth that we and our babies need. If this requires more intervention for either mom or baby's safety, many times a mother will intuitively know things need to change. They just need the space, respect, time, & information to make a truly informed decision. 

It is my hope that my unique lifestyle & approach to birth help my clients be more confident heading into parenthood. That they understand all options that exist to ensure they receive the healthiest & safest care during their pregnancy, birth, and beyond. And that they know the value of listening to their bodies & their intuition. 

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Intuitive Birth Prep Classes: Coming to Jefferson County July 2020

I am a teacher at heart. I love to help guide others. Since becoming a doula I have felt this insane pull to teach more than I could provide at prenatal meetings. I have spent years searching for a curriculum that matched my views and when that fell short, I spent months creating my own curriculum.
This class has been a labor of love. I wanted to offer something unique. And I also wanted to offer it in an area that is lacking when it comes to out-of-hospital birth classes. I grew up and still live in Jefferson County, so I wanted to keep my classes there. It is my hope that this is a resource not just for Jefferson County but for those in neighboring counties who feel that they want to include me on their journey.

What Makes this Class Different?
This class is focused on YOU. It is rooted in delving into YOUR feelings, experiences, beliefs, concerns, and hopes about YOUR birth. It helps you truly understand the power of your own intuition and how to know when you are making decisions out of fear or from instinct. This class will help you understand how to truly prepare your body for pregnancy, birth, & beyond by understanding why it can be so hard to be pregnant and the habits we had long before pregnancy that could be hindering us. This class will help you understand how you think about birth, how those feelings could help or hinder the process, and if necessary how to restructure those thoughts and beliefs. There will be extensive training on how to physically & mentally cope with labor and how important a partner's support can be. The physical part will include training in Spinning Babies & other techniques that will help labor proceed smoothly or be a tool to use if you encounter stalls.
We will talk frankly about birth. My motto is: Birth is normal until it is not. For most it can be  normal, wonderful, and straight forward. For some, there may be small hiccups, big issues, or loss. This class is not rooted in glazing over the negative aspects surrounding birth. Instead we will talk about how if necessary you can use negative stories, experiences, and encounters to prepare yourself for this birth instead of letting them hinder you. Birth does not have to be fearless to be positive. This class is rooted in truly informed consent to help you make the best decision for you and your baby with all the knowledge and wisdom that you have acquired along the way. I help you understand why it is important to figure out your fears, how to process them in a healthy way, and how those fears can help you achieve a healthy pregnancy and birth.
One class will be devoted to the care provider options we have available in the area, how to formulate a birth plan that you can use as a tool to gauge if your care provider and birth space are the right fit for you, as well as interventions offered during any type of birth. As a doula who attends many home births, I will also provide resources for those who are preparing to birth at home.
I have invited other birth professionals into the space so they can share their knowledge. Each class will start off with a voluntary prenatal yoga class (extra cost) taught by a local yoga teacher. A CLC (certified lactation counselor) will be teaching the breastfeeding prep class. I have also invited a Webster-certified chiropractor to share information on why chiropractic care is so important in a healthy pregnancy and birth. Birth and motherhood need a village and it is important for me to bring my village into these classes and offer you access to as many resources as possible.
My care is rooted in physiological birth and holistic care. I know the benefits of natural movement, therefore this class will be centered on the floor. I advise all attendees to bring what they would need to feel comfortable: pillows, mats, exercise balls, bolsters, and blankets.
I see a lot of benefit in forming a community and real, honest relationships. This class will be focused on open conversation and sharing personal beliefs and ideas. To prepare, there will be a lot of things to think about, write about, or read outside of meeting times. To maintain the intimacy of the class, I will be limiting each class to 5 families.

Where Will it Be Held?
For the first session, it will be held at a quaint, in-home yoga studio that sits on a beautiful piece of property in High Ridge. The location is peaceful and away from the busyness of the city. It is my hopes that these classes are not just seen as informational but a retreat away from it all, where couples can truly relax. The purpose of my guidance is to show how amazing it can be to slow down and really savor pregnancy while listening to your body and give it the rest and relaxation that it needs. I want my class location to be an extension of my teaching.

Are There Perks?
If you have ever been a doula client of mine, you know I provide many physical resources so it is easy and accessible to prepare for birth. All attendees will receive the following:

  •  A rebozo (a traditional Mexican cloth that many women use during labor that can also be used to care for baby during postpartum)
  • A copy of Heart Centered Pregnancy Journal (this book will be a tool used in each class but can be a cherished way for you to prepare for birth as well as become a keepsake afterwards)
  • A digital copy of Spinning Babies Daily Essentials (this video has great exercises to help you stay healthy and comfortable during pregnancy)
  • Online access to my extensive resource library (this is all the material that I provide to doula clients, some of which we cannot cover in class or will be a good refresher once the class is over)
  • A $50 discount for my doula services (if you are already a client and decide to take the class, you will receive a $50 discount for the class)

What About Cost, Dates, & Times
The cost for each family will be $350. If you choose to partake in the prenatal yoga, that will be a minimal extra cost that will be paid direct to the yoga teacher. As far as the dates, the first session will start July 11. The classes will range from 6-7 weeks long (would depend on how much can be covered in each class and how full the class is). Each class should last around 2-3 hours with class time starting at 5:00 pm.

If you would like more details, please email me at magnoliabirthdoulaservices@gmail.com

There will be a minimum to hold group classes. If the minimum is not met, I will arrange for private classes to be held in your home (although those classes will not include prenatal yoga).

It is my hope that all families that trust me to provide my knowledge surrounding birth feel prepared to birth the way that they know is best for them. In my 4.5 years of birth work, I have served many different types of families and witnessed many different types of births. I have cried with women when they lost their birth plans and I have celebrated with many when they rocked a birth that was truly theirs. The one thing I hope all my clients and class attendees take away from their birth is that they held the power all along, that they used their unique intellect and God-given intuition to make the choices that only they could make given their circumstances. Birth is a rite of passage, it creates mothers, fathers, new families, and new identities. I would be blessed to help you on your journey!

Monday, February 4, 2019

Boundaries: A Must Read for Preparing for Birth

This book is not written for birth. So why would I recommend it?
Birth is about you. It is about getting what you need for your family. Birth requires mamas to dig deep, to use their power to bring their baby earthside. What is needed for birth is a space in which mamas feel respected. That includes ensuring the people in that space respect you enough to allow you to birth in complete confidence.
You need to consider who you want to include in your birth space, who will be truly supportive of what you know you need during this most powerful yet vulnerable time. Reading Boundaries will help you gain the confidence and insight you need to determine if your care provider, medical staff, your doula, any family members, and even your partner fully support you.
As women, many times we feel we need to accommodate others. We feel the need to please others and not cause an uproar. Leaving a care provider who does not serve us, is uncomfortable. Telling your mom and sister that you do not want them to be there could cause a riff in your family dynamic. And standing up to your partner, to ensure you birth where you know you need to, can cause a lot of stress on a relationship. But birth is not the time to blur your boundaries, it is the time for you to establish strong boundaries and to ensure people support you in setting them.
During prenatal meetings, I help couples determine the birth that is right for them. This is the perfect time to decide who will help and hinder the birth that mamas know they need. It also opens up the conversation between partners, in case they unknowingly do not see eye to eye.
Once you have decided the type of birth you want, you will need the confidence to discuss this with your care provider and birth place. You will need to be confident enough to ensure that they not only understand what you want but that they will help you achieve it.
This also goes for your family. Birth is not a social affair. If you feel a certain friend or family member will support you, that is great! But if you feel that certain people will not support you, then you will need to be able to voice your needs to them.  If they still do not support what you need, then you need to be strong enough to let them know that you cannot have them in attendance, even if they feel entitled enough to be there during one of your most private moments.
You will also need to ensure that the doula you have hired, if you have one, honors your wishes. A truly supportive doula knows that only you can make the decisions that are best for your family and they will not have an agenda that they plan on pushing onto you. If you have yet to hire one, ensure that you ask how they support families during the type of birth that you envision and how they support you if things would happen to change.
This book helps you understand what your boundaries are and why you are the way you are when it comes to your current boundaries. It then helps you use this information to understand how to set healthy boundaries in your relationships that bleed into your birth as well as other aspects of your life.
I will say this book is rooted in Christianity but I would not let that steer you away if you are not Christian, the principles still resonate true. Setting boundaries helps you live a life that is healthy for you and your family.
Pregnancy and birth are important in preparing you for parenthood. It helps you decide what is important to you and your partner and how you will raise your family. It is important to understand that you do not need to please others in raising your family and Boundaries helps you understand how to approach this with others in your life.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Does a Birth Plan Set You Up for Disappointment?

You just found out you are expecting. You have prepared and spent a lot of time deciding on your care provider, birth place, whether to hire a doula, and who you want at your birth. And more than likely you have thought of writing a birth plan. While considering a birth plan, have you heard "You are only setting yourself up for disappointment when things do not go the way you planned." Does this mean you should not write one?
I suggest looking at this in a different way. Do we tell women not to plan their dream wedding in case their groom does not show up? Do we tell women not to apply for a college in case they may not get in? When we look at it in this light, it sounds ludicrous to tell people to never plan for anything simply because there is a chance the plans may not go just as we hoped.
Birth is unpredictable, like anything in life. But planning for it ensures that you have a care provider and birth place that supports the type of birth you hope for. Planning helps ensure you know all of your options and that you made choices based on knowing all risks and benefits. And that if things do not go as planned, you were apart of the choices that affected your birth. And those choices were the best for your unique situation.
Planning also helps you be as proactive as possible. For example, if you know you really do not want to be induced, you may learn instances in which women do face induction: pre-eclampsia, choleostasis, large baby due to gestational diabetes, or because a care provider does not support you going past 41 weeks. Knowing this information may help you seek out nutritional advice on how to prevent medical conditions that require induction. And discussing your birth plan with your care provider may help you learn that your birth provider induces simply because of gestational age, which may lead you to look for a care provider who does.
As a doula, I explain to clients the importance of planning. The process helps you discover how you want to feel during your birth. It helps you discover how important every aspect of birth is and even if you cannot get certain things on your birth plan, there are ways to accommodate for those losses.
So what if you do plan a certain birth, you find a care provider who completely supports what you want, and you still end up with a birth that was not what you envisioned? Just like anything in your life, we process it. Disappointment is part of life, it is inescapable. But there are resources to help you get through this unique loss. It could be as simple as talking to a friend or family member who was in the same situation or maybe you will need more help. There are peer groups, like ICAN, professionals who are trained to deal with PTSD surrounding birth, and classes specifically meant for helping women process their births. It is quite normal to be happy to finally have your baby in your arms but upset how your birth went. This does not make you a bad mother, it makes you human. As someone who has seen a variety of births, who has supported many families in this process, fear of disappointment does not justify not creating a plan. You deserve to feel respected and supported during your birth and planning helps you get what you deserve.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Revamped Doula Support Program

What can you expect when you hire me as a doula? This blog post is all about the changes I have made to my program to help you better prepare for birth and postpartum. I love to provide a wealth of information to my clients so that you feel you have all the tools necessary to make the decisions that best suit your family. I believe that educated decisions can only come from weighing all risks and benefits and applying them to your unique situation.
First off, my support is rooted in holistic care. I am immersed in holistic living. This means I believe true health and healing come from within. My advice is rooted in diet, stress relief, good quality sleep, exposure to nature and exercise, regular chiropractic care, as well as herbal and homeopathic support when necessary.
The information I provide to clients is shared in electronic files. I have carefully chosen articles and created handouts and information sheets included in these files. The information is broken down into chunks:
  1. Birth Plan Creation: I provide resources that I believe are important in creating the birth that you know is right for your family. The information provided includes a sheet that I compiled of all of the choices you could face in labor and birth along with risks and benefits of each choice. We use this sheet during our first prenatal meeting. I encourage all clients to take their birth plan to their provider. I also provide resources to help you process your meeting with your care provider regarding your birth plan. This will help you ensure that your care provider and birth place are exactly what you need to provide support for the birth you know is best for yourself. 
  2. Physical Prep: I believe to accomplish the birth that you desire, you need to start working towards it as early in pregnancy as possible. The information I provide on physical prep is rooted in nutrition, exercise for optimal positioning, chiropractic care, stress relief, and choosing beauty and cleaning products that are non-toxic.
  3. Mental Prep: Our society does not talk about birth in a positive manner. I believe mental preparation is incredibly important because birth is managed by hormones which react sensitively to stress. The information included in this section helps you to change your mindset about birth and to help ensure that you go into your birth with as little fear as possible.
  4. What to do During Birth: This section contains information on what I suggest doing during labor. I created a document on coping techniques to use in every stage of labor complete with descriptions and images. This document is what we use during our second prenatal meeting. This section also contains information on how partners are an integral part of birth and how they can best support moms.
  5. Breastfeeding: This section contains information on how to prepare for breastfeeding. I created a document about issues to watch out for and what type of help you should seek for each type of issue. I also include information on how partners, chiropractic care, and CLCs & IBCLCs can provide support during breastfeeding. Lastly, I have also created a document on nutrition that supports a healthy breastfeeding relationship.
  6. Postpartum Prep: Prep for the postpartum period is just as important as preparing for birth. It can be hard to find the support you need to fully heal and recover from birth as well as bond with and care for your new baby. The information contained in this section is to help you know what type of support you need and how to find it. It also contains information on signs of baby blues and postpartum depression and nutrition support  that helps best to prevent and/or manage these issues, as well as when to reach out for professional help.
  7. Resources: This section contains suggestions on resources you can use during pregnancy and the postpartum period. I am greatly connected in the birth community and all of the resources listed are either people I have used myself, people I know, or ones who come highly recommended to me. 
I also provide clients access to an extensive lending library. I give each client two books to borrow throughout their entire pregnancy. These books are referenced often in the handouts I have created: The Natural Pregnancy Book and What to Eat When You're Pregnant. I also lend out the Spinning Babies Daily Essential DVD to help you stay comfortable during pregnancy as well as get and keep baby into optimal position.
While my support is rooted in holistic care and I understand the importance of a physiological birth I also understand that interventions were created for a reason. I help families understand when interventions can help in their particular situation and how to use them smartly to get the birth that is safest for them. I am not a doula that supports only unmedicated, vaginal birth but one that supports clients in whatever type of birth that they know is best for them. My goal is to ensure that clients feel completely supported and respected by their entire birth team. And that no matter which type of birth you experience, you feel you were truly apart of all of the decisions that were made and feel powerful and in control.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Follow Your Gut

As a doula, I tell clients constantly to follow their intuition, instinct, and gut feeling. But what does that mean? How do you know what to do? This is a personal story of when I followed my intuition as a mother.
About a year ago, I was at work on a Saturday morning. My mom called and asked to take my boys out for the day. Since they were just sitting at home, bored, I told her that was perfectly fine. I called my boys to tell them to get ready. My teenager begged to stay at home. Normally I would have made him go, as I think it is super important for kids to spend time with family. But I had this nagging feeling in my gut and told him it was ok for him to stay home that day and that just his younger brother would go.
A few hours later, I received a few missed calls from my mom and then my sister. Before I picked up the phone I knew something was wrong (another gut feeling). My mom along with my youngest son and my sister's son had been in a bad car accident. They all walked away. The kids were in booster seats in the back seat, which was untouched. They came out with just seat belt burns on their necks. My mom had injuries from her seat belt as well, which after some time, we discovered were more serious and required surgery.
The other driver, involved in the accident, t-boned my mom's SUV while my mom was traveling 60 mph. The impact was so hard the SUV flipped on its side and skidded down the side of the highway. My mom and the kids walked away because the other driver hit the passenger side seat. There was absolutely nothing left of the seat. That seat would have been where my oldest son would have been sitting had he gone with my mom that day. I am sure that my oldest son would not have walked away from that accident or possibly would not have even survived. That strong feeling I had earlier that morning, to not let my oldest son go with my mom, saved his life.
You are given your children for a reason. Only you know what choices are best for them. We live in a society where we are told to constantly second guess ourselves. We hire others to make decisions for us and for our family based on their education and expertise. But these professionals do not have the most important factor, your intuition.
What does intuition feel like? It is a feeling that starts in your belly, it can feel like butterflies. Many times, it is a decision that you make without thinking; the knee jerk reaction you have to a situation. It is a feeling that you just cannot explain.
There is never a need to explain your gut feeling. It is yours alone. Others may never understand why you do what you do. And that is because they are not you. They do not know what you have experienced in your life, they do not know your children as intimately as you do. No one can ever judge another because no one has ever walked in your shoes.
Intuition is provided to everyone. We just have to be quiet enough to listen. And we also have to be brave enough to follow it. Some times the decisions we make, based on intuition, are not popular; they are not what everyone else is doing. It can be hard to stand up to family members, paid professionals, and even your own partner. But that nagging feeling will not go away easily. It can only be suppressed.
This story is one of many I have experienced in my fifteen years of being a mother. Some are not quite so shocking. Some of these decisions have completely changed our lives. There are times I have chosen not to listen to it and then regretted it. Hindsight has proven to me that I need to follow the gut feeling every time. Mothering can be difficult. Intuition is your God-given tool to make it a bit easier.

Monday, August 20, 2018

How I Somehow Linked My First Floating Experience with Birth

Today I "floated" for the first time. If you are not aware of what this new phenomenon is, you float in a low level of salt water in complete silence and darkness, either in a small room or pod. For all my fellow 'Fringe' obsessors, think the sensory deprivation tank without the ability to enter someone else's mind or LSD.

The tank is supposed to provide a new level of relaxation. I would like to say my experience was super zen and calm. But it was kind of a clumsy mess and I spent a lot of the time, oddly thinking how my experience paralleled birth. Because that is what sensory deprivation does, right?! #doulalife #birthobsession

Because I am a wuss and I envisioned being in the pod as floating in a watery grave, I chose to do the room. For brevity sake, use my amazingly accurate drawing to envision what the room looks like:
When you first enter the room, there is light and music playing. Ten minutes into your float, they both go away, leaving you in complete darkness. Now as a 34 year old, who still runs up the basement steps to escape imagined terrors, this was absolutely terrifying. I instantly turned on the light. Five minutes into it, I knew I was robbing myself of the experience (plus I could save myself $65 and hang out in my own bathtub). So I turned out the light and freaked out again. I fumbled for the door, I left it cracked for a while. And then slowly closed it, but kept myself tethered to the handle on the door, so I could at least know where it was and keep my bearings.

The moment I let go of the door handle, I panicked again. I finally had the thought that this was insane. My obsession to control everything was ruining my experience. I have to admit that I am a recovering type A person. I have done so much work to heal myself. I meditate regularly, have a robust library filled with self help books that teach how to relinquish control and trust in the process, and I am knee deep in crystals and candles. I love yoga and massage. And yet I could not enjoy this experience that so many claimed help them relax. I am a zen-person failure!

And so I let go of the door handle and floated to the middle of the room. I had no idea where I was, where the door was, and could not see anything; a control freak's worst nightmare. Yet, after a while, I began to love it. I trusted that I was safe, there were four walls to contain me, I was not just blindly floating out into the unknown.

During this epiphany, I began to think of how this experience related to birth. Birth is a full submission to the process. Birth is floating into the middle of the room, without tethering yourself to the door or turning on the light. It is receiving help and reassurance from your support team but knowing that you have to dig deep inside yourself and trust your body and baby.

The four walls of the room, represent your birth support team. They are your anchor to the Earth, they help contain your safety. And just as I felt the need to periodically to touch them, to reassure my bearings, I kept pushing off of them into the "unknown." A good support team knows when to help and when to step back and let you intuitively do the work that only you know how to do. They provide you reassuring words, compassionate touch, and information when needed. But they know you need to delve deep into the birth process and let you propel yourself into the unknown of birth once you received what you need. A good support team merely supplies you with a safe space instead of control of your birth.

The light, the door, they signify the need for control in birth, the need to constantly intervene. When I turned on the light or opened the door, I needed to "see" that I was safe. But that was because I did not trust that I was safe. I was so afraid of the unknown that I constantly had to intervene instead of enjoy the experience. Constant monitoring, frequent vaginal exams, controlling the way women birth, all provide a satisfaction for our curiosity but many times do not improve a healthy birth.  Of course in times of emergencies, this information can be valuable (like I would want to see the door in case of a fire). Otherwise, the need for constant information impedes on the process of birth.

The point of my story: delve into the unknown of birth. Prepare yourself with a birth team that supports and respects you. Go into the experience with love, not fear. You may be amazed at how much you enjoy your experience when you truly let go. And its wise not to shave your legs an hour before submerging yourself into a tank of salt water;)