Posts Tagged ‘mother and baby’

8 Tips to Prepare for a Drug-Free Birth

Friday, April 27th, 2012

A growing number of pregnant women desire to have a drug-free, intervention-free birth. While there is ample information available regarding the benefits to both mother and baby of having a drug-free birth, information on how to optimally prepare for an unmedicated birth seems less accessible or tangible. Subsequently many pregnant woman are unsure how to prepare for the birth they desire and are left to “hope things work out”. Or they fall under the “trust birth” spell, that proclaims simply trusting the process of birth and your body are the magical answer to the mysteries of birth. While trust is an important part of the equation, there are additional ways a woman can actively prepare herself mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually for the birth she desires.

1. Develop a Positive Support System – Immerse yourself in the natural birth community to the greatest extent possible. Talk with women who have given birth without drugs to hear their stories and experiences. These women can offer an abundance of wisdom regarding birth beyond what any textbook can provide you. Surround yourself with caring, compassionate individuals who support the birth you desire. Avoid circles/conversations that convey messages of doubt, negativity, anxiety, or trauma around birthing without the use of drugs. Fill your heart and mind with empowering birth stories that make you feel excited about your upcoming birth.

2. Select a Supportive Care Provider – The maternal health care partners that support you during pregnancy and birth have a big impact on your experience! Therefore I encourage you to be highly selective in the care provider you choose. Take time to interview several different care providers to find one you are comfortable with and will provide the type of care you desire (and deserve!). Also don’t be afraid to switch providers at any time during your pregnancy if you start to have doubts about your care provider. I have even heard remarkable stories of women switching care providers during labor because they did not like how they were being treated by their care provider. If you are unsure how to find a care provider start by asking for referrals from friends who have had positive birth experiences. Although keep in mind that each woman’s needs during pregnancy and birth are highly unique so what was a good fit for a close friend may not necessarily be a good fit for you.

3. Take Good Care of Yourself During Pregnancy – Eating well, exercising gently, staying well hydrated, getting proper rest, and minimizing stress during pregnancy all have a direct impact on childbirth. Something as simple as getting ample fluids can help prevent some potentially serious medical conditions during pregnancy. Know that pregnancy is a special time in your life that requires extra special care; remember YOU are the sole source of nurture/nutrition for a new life. Make caring for yourself a high priority because in doing so you are also caring for your baby.

4. Watch Videos of Drug Free Births – Sadly in our modern society most of exposure to birth is from TV shows or movies that don’t depict birth in an authentic way. Yet we cling to these depictions because we are hungry for information about birth. Even reality TV shows don’t accurately portray birth as they are carefully edited to ensure an element of drama and suspense. Instead hop on youtube and search for natural birth videos to see what birth really looks and sounds like.

5. Take a Childbirth Education Class – Attending a childbirth education class can be an invaluable tool to preparing for childbirth. In addition to better understanding the mechanics of labor, you will also learn various pain coping techniques. Research the various approaches available (ie- The Bradley Method, Hypnobabies, Birthing From Within, Lamaze, etc) and pick one that best suits you.

6. Practice Relaxation Techniques throughout your Pregnancy – There are many different effective relaxation techniques women can use to cope during labor, however you need to learn and practice them in advance. Make the time to practice frequently during the course of your pregnancy, particularly when you experience any discomforts associated with pregnancy.

7. Hire a Doula – A doula is a non-medical labor, birth, and postpartum support person. A doula is educated and trained to provide a laboring mother physical and emotional support. There is a strong evidence base of positive birth outcomes when a doula is used. Check out DONA International for more information about doulas.

8. Avoid Artificial Induction – Statistics demonstrate that artificial inductions leads to higher rates of intervention including use of pain medication and cesarean. To the greatest extent possible allow labor to start spontaneously. If for some reason you do need to be induced consider starting with the least invasive methods.

What tips do you have for a pregnant woman who desires an unmedicated birth? 


When Breastfeeding Ends…

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

The first time I nursed my second son

The breastfeeding relationship between a mother and baby is a special and unique connection. Every mother and baby has their own breastfeeding story.  Nourishing a baby with mother’s milk is a dynamic journey onto itself and no two adventures are ever the same. However one universal element is that breastfeeding eventually comes to an end for mother and baby. It may happen in very different ways and under very different circumstances, but there will be an endpoint in each breastfeeding relationship. For some families it is a mother-initiated process while for other families it is a child-led process; either of which can be gradual or abrupt. Sometimes a polarity exists between the two approaches and subsequently conflict, tension, and judgement arise. However if we can suspend judgement (or better yet extinguish it all together) about what is the “right” or “wrong” way to end breastfeeding and simply recognize whatever the process is for each family, it all falls under the definition of weaning. When we can find commonalities in our experiences, we approach others with a greater love, sensitivity, and compassion. And more often than not, a weaning mother needs compassion from others because it can be an emotional process for her regardless of circumstance.

Obviously the hormonal shift that occurs during weaning largely contributes to the mixed emotions many women experience during this time. Additionally mother’s often feel ambiguous about the changes in the physical and emotional connection they have with their child. On one hand woman will commonly express feeling glad to ‘have their body back’ while simultaneously ‘missing’ breastfeeding. If breastfeeding ends sooner than a mother felt ready to be done, it can be an especially emotional time. Know that it is OKAY and very NORMAL to experience sadness and even grief when breastfeeding comes to an end. It is a time of significant transition in your role as a mother and the connection you share with your child. Because it is such a pivotal event, you may want to honor it as such. Doing so may help you process and reconcile the varying emotions you have about weaning. Below are some special ways you might mark the end of your breastfeeding relationship:

Last picture I have of my middle son nursing

Take pictures– Nursing photographs are usually strikingly beautiful; they demonstrate a bond that is often hard to express in words. Even if the pictures are just for yourself and you never intend to show anyone else, you might be grateful to have them as a memento of a special time in your and your child’s life.

Journal – Much like writing a birth story, writing a breastfeeding story can be a therapeutic process. It is an opportunity to reflect and discover. Through journaling you might come to accept, understand, or cherish your breastfeeding journey in a new light.

Write your child a letter – When my older two sons weaned I wrote each of them a letter explaining the joys and challenges of our breastfeeding relationship. I also bought them each a children’s book about breastfeeding. The book I gave to them upon weaning, however the letter I am saving to share with them when they are older.

Have a celebration – A rite of passage, even weaning (or perhaps especially weaning), is worthy of a celebration! Celebrate the fact that you nourished your child with your milk (and be PROUD of however long it lasted for you and baby)! Celebrate the opportunity to find new ways to bond/connect with your child! Celebrate your child growing and changing! Celebrate your body and its amazing abilities. How you chose to celebrate will be unique for your family. It may involve a special meal or a special activity.

What was your experience with weaning? What emotions did you experience? What activities did you to do mark the end of breastfeeding for you and your child?