Pregnancy is a state that puts new strains and pressures on every part of our body, including our pelvic floor. For most women, the pelvic floor is a part of our body we don't think about until it stops working or until we have to push a human through it. I highly recommend you take some time to listen to this fantastic podcast discussing how we can all support healthy function of our pelvic floor through pregnancy and postpartum recovery. Some of the topics covered are Kegels or no Kegels, squatting and how to do it right, and the reason you should stop wearing all shoes with heels.
Atlanta Birth Center is open!
Expectant moms in Atlanta finally have the option of choosing to give birth in an independent, free-standing birth center. The midwives of Atlanta Birth Center will be delivering babies in the center beginning this month. With close proximity to area hospitals, the birth center is a great place for moms who want the high touch care of home birth in a setting that allows for rapid transfer in case of emergency.
The birth center is currently staffed by three full-time midwives, who will receive additional assistance at births from several area nurses and midwives. Every birth center birth will have at least two medically trained care providers present to handle whatever needs might arise for mother and baby.
Birth center care is geared toward mothers who want high levels of support, and low levels of intervention. The midwives are prepared with medical equipment to support unexpected emergencies (such as postpartum hemorrhage), however, should a mother require pain medication, including epidural, higher levels of medically managed care, or cesarean delivery, a transfer to the hospital would be done.
Transfers will go to Atlanta Medical Center (a 5 minute drive, 10 in traffic), and urgent transfers to Emory University Hospital Midtown, which is directly across the street from the birth center.
Most low risk mothers will be able to use the birth center, however, there are a few conditions that cannot be handled at the birth center, including pre-existing or ongoing hypertension, pre-existing diabetes, and twins. There may be other high risk complications that are not appropriate for birth center delivery. At this time, the birth center is not an options for mothers seeking a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean).
Atlanta Birth Center is located in the heart of downtown Atlanta at 1 Baltimore Place, Atlanta GA.
Take the photo tour of Atlanta Birth Center here.
To find out more, visit their site: Atlanta Birth Center.
Something about expecting a baby makes us mamas want to nest. Maybe getting our home turf prepared makes us feel like we’ll be prepared for what’s coming. And while decorating the nursery is fun and regarded by many as a rite of passage, freshening the paint and choosing a crib set won’t truly help you get ready for what lies ahead.
There’s some other practical things you can do with that pregnancy energy that can make your babymoon easier. One of those things is getting a nursing station (or two or three) set up and stocked before your baby arrives.
If you are planning to breastfeed, good for you! You are giving your baby the best nutritional start possible. For you first time moms out there, I’m going to let you in on something. For the first four to six weeks of your baby’s life you will probably feel like you spend all your time feeding your baby. Having a comfortable breastfeeding station can be a lifesaver.
You should create at least two nursing stations, one for sleeping, and one for daytime feedings. If you have a large house, you may want multiple daytime nursing stations.
Three things to know about nursing:
Make your nursing station:
A night time breastfeeding station should have all the same items as a daytime station, but be designed for maximum rest. It is optimally a place you can either lay down to nurse (propped up on your side with pillows behind your back) or recline with pillows under both arms so you can doze while your baby is feeding. Make sure your baby has a place to sleep close by, either in the bed with you or something right next to the bed. Then add these night time necessities:
The "No Warm Body" Rule
So much of the birth process is not hard and fast rules. There are many elements of labor and birth that are out of your control. This can be a hugely difficult realization for those of us who are control freaks (guilty). The good news for all of you who HATE the thought of giving up control is that there are things about your birth that you should exert control over. While this may be unwelcome news for you free spirits out there, bear with me--putting in some forethought may very well free you up to go with the flow even more during your labor.
Here’s a very important rule: No warm bodies.
In a nutshell:
When choosing companions for your labor and birth, don’t invite anyone who will contribute only a warm body to the experience.
That means anyone who has tried to invite themselves to your birth.
That means your single friends who think your labor might be a great time to get together and socialize.
That means nursing students in a teaching hospital who are there for observation.
That means your best friend who’s “never seen a baby born.”
That also means your baby sister who’s never been pregnant, and who you plan to show how it’s done.
That means your older children.
That may mean your mom.
Anyone who would be present at your birth only as a spectator is likely to be a hindrance to the natural process of labor. The truth is that when you are giving birth, you will need support. You are not putting on a show, you are having a baby. It’s really hard work. You will sweat, and you will only appreciate those people who will wipe the sweat off. You will probably say you can’t do it. You will need the people who will look you in the face and say with conviction “Yes, you can.” You will be in pain. You may throw up. Don’t invite anyone if you aren’t okay with them seeing you at your worst.
When I was pregnant with my second child and planning for a much desired VBAC, I made my choice of labor companions based on who would be useful to me. I wanted people who could support me through the process, but I didn’t want anyone coming who didn’t have a role to play. I chose carefully and selectively, and I didn’t regret those decisions.
One of the biggest problems I’ve seen with birth “observers” is that their presence can slow labor down (not what you want). You know that phrase “a watched pot never boils”? Yep, applies to labor too. Ideally, your birth companions are working almost as hard as you are to keep you going.
Caveat: (There’s always a caveat for rules, isn’t there? Especially in birth…) A few women out there are social birthers, who appreciate being surrounded by a gaggle of women while birthing. However, even if you are one of these women, it is critical to carefully evaluate who will be helpful to you and who may potentially disrupt your labor rhythm before giving out invitations. It's okay to have many people at your birth if that's what you need. If they're coming for any other reason, you may want to reconsider.
By the way, the no warm bodies rule applies after the baby is born also. Especially for the first two to four weeks, you will be sore, milky, elated, cranky, sleepy, and confused. You need people who can bring dinners, fold laundry and entertain older children. Put off anyone who you feel like you need to straighten up the house for. People love newborn babies so much (who wouldn’t?) that they often forget what that sweet baby’s parents are going through.
This book is my new favorite resource for breastfeeding. The authors unravel so many of the misconceptions about breastfeeding that can leave new mothers with sore nipples, inadequate milk supply, and ready to give up on breastfeeding altogether. They discuss the biology of breastfeeding in language that every mommy brain can understand, laying out the reasons why certain actions, especially in the first couple of weeks, can make breastfeeding work better and set mothers and babies up for long term successful breastfeeding. The best time to read this book would be in late pregnancy, but mothers at any point in a breastfeeding relationship could benefit from the information in this book.
These days, many pregnant women have at least heard of doulas, perhaps because a friend used one or because they have read about doulas on the internet or in a book. More people now understand what a doula does (provide physical, emotional and informational support during pregnancy, labor and birth), although my husband’s grandma still thinks I deliver babies. (The discussion usually goes like this: “Grandma, I don’t deliver babies, I provide support to the mama as she is delivering her baby.”)
Unfortunately, it is still very difficult to be reimbursed by your health insurance company for doula care, although some people have been able to negotiate with their insurance to cover at least some of the cost. This leaves most expecting parents paying for their doula out of their own pocket, at a time when there are many other extra expenses, both for medical care and baby gear. It’s easy to decide that doula care would be nice, but it’s simply a luxury you can’t afford.
Even if your budget is tight, there are some really excellent reasons to consider prioritizing hiring a doula, including the three listed here.
1) You will remember your birth forever.
For most women, the birth of their children will be the single most remembered event of their entire life. They will spend more time telling their birth story than any other story from their past. My mother and grandmother still recount details surrounding the birth of their children. Because of the long-lasting impact of these memories, it’s worth investing in creating a good memory before and during your birth. Women who use doulas tend to have more positive memories of their birth, even if they faced unexpected challenges, both because of the emotional support doulas provide, as well as the opportunity to know their options and fully participate in decision making.
2) Doulas reduce your chances of having medical interventions during your birth, including surgery.
Several studies have been done showing that doulas reduce the usage of all kinds of medical intervention during birth, including epidural use, pitocin use and cesarean surgery. Avoiding these interventions when possible reduces both potential health complications for mother and baby and health care expenses. As labor is happening, a doula can help you ask your care provider questions to identify necessary--and unnecessary--interventions. She also helps you do things including movement and position changes that facilitate labor progress, reducing your chances of “failure to progress,” which can lead to many interventions. Emotional support from a doula often reduces stress levels which, when high, can inhibit your body from effectively laboring.
3) A doula is typically the only person who can offer both continuous support during labor and knowledge of birth.
Your care providers are trained in medical care of birthing women, but will not be present to provide continuous labor support. Your partner is probably going to be with you throughout labor providing support, but likely does not know the ins and outs of birth. However, a doula has extensive knowledge of the birth process and is present continuously throughout labor and birth providing you and your partner with support. This matters because there are many moments in labor when expecting parents need reassurance that everything’s normal or ideas for how to cope with the challenges of labor. If you have a doula, she will already be there every time those moments happen.
Labor Bag Must Have: Pillow
Hospital pillows are pretty horrible. They are usually flat, and they are covered in an impermeable plastic that does not breathe at all. When you’re giving birth, they’re pretty great to stuff between your legs, but one way to make your hospital birth feel a little more homey is to bring a pillow from home. It doesn’t have to be your favorite, but pick one that feels comfortable tucked behind your head. Labor’s rough enough without feeling like you’re laying your head on a slightly stuffed garbage bag. Put at least two pillowcases on it, preferably colored ones so you can easily tell your pillow from the hospital supply. Then after your baby’s born, you can take the top pillowcase off (it will almost certainly be sweaty) and have a fresh pillow ready for your postpartum stay. Ahhhh...good night!
My first birth wasn’t at all what I wanted. Everything I had carefully planned went completely out the window. My baby and I were healthy, but I felt disappointed that my birth was so different from what I envisioned. Is there any chance that my second birth can be different?
Yes, absolutely! There is a lot you can do to give yourself the opportunity to have your ideal birth this time around. Of course, like everything in birth, no one can guarantee that you will have a specific birth experience. The process of birth is too unpredictable for that. However, there are several steps you can take to stack the deck in your favor.
The Quick and Dirty Guide to Having a Great Birth: What you really need to do during pregnancy
The story of modern life is that everyone's busy, and when you’re expecting a baby, you’re often both too busy and too tired to do everything. Yet the things you do to prepare during your pregnancy make a tremendous difference when the big birth day finally arrives. So here’s my cut-to-the-chase guide to the top five steps to take during pregnancy to improve your birth experience.
What to wear during labor
If you’re giving birth in a hospital, you wear a hospital gown, right? I mean, don’t you have to? Actually, no!
There’s nothing wrong with opting for the standard hospital gown if that’s what you want to do, but the fact of the matter is, you can wear whatever you want. Nurses in a hospital have a routine they are accustomed to, and part of that is instructing you to gown up. However, you always have the right to speak up and express your preference for wearing your own garments from home. Most nurses in most cases will not have a problem with this, and you can simply change into (or keep wearing) your choice of clothing.
Check out this link for more about why you may want to consider wearing your own clothes.
What are some things to consider when choosing your laboring outfit?
Doula, mother, crunchy minimalist, Christ follower.