Preparing for birth is a unique time in a woman's life. Many women spend their lives looking outward, seeking to serve others. But in labor and birth a woman has the opportunity to be at the center for a brief moment, and to have those around her serve her, listen to her, and help her in any way they can.
Occasionally, however, those close to a birthing woman use it as an opportunity to fill their own needs or express their own fears to the mother or those closest to her. While it may seem obvious to most, dumping our own emotional baggage on a pregnant or birthing woman is actually inappropriate. Sadly, there are many who have missed the boat on this particular subject.
How many birthing women are surrounded by people (including family) at their birth that they didn't even want present? How many pregnant women must listen to the horror stories of others simply because they have a round belly and are, obviously, expecting? Birth, however, is not about making those that surround a woman happy and comfortable. A great birth team seeks to make the mother and her closest loved ones happy and supported so that they and the baby can have the best experience possible both physically and emotionally.
The Goldman and Silk “Ring Theory,” as discussed in this LA Times article, explains the idea that during times of extreme stress (such as turmoil or illness) the person most affected or at the “center” has the privilege of receiving emotional support, and the ability to “dump” outward. That is, the person at the center can ask for help, and the people outside can offer.
The idea that “support goes in, needs expressed go out” doesn't just apply to illness; it works beautifully in labor, too.
When a woman is in labor she should be at the center of the circle, the center of attention, and the person who is focused on. She can request anything from those around her. Support should always flow towards the center from the outer circles, and requests should flow outward. For example, random strangers should not act as though the birth is theirs or that their needs are more important than those of the laboring mother. The mother should not have to support her partner, doula, or family. When the focus
of support stays on the mother, the entire labor goes better and she feels safe and secure.
Remember this simple rule of birth etiquette when attending a birth. Remember, also, that very soon that laboring woman will be a mother and all of her attention will be focused outward on her precious child. We can focus our love and support on her for a few hours to help ensure that both mom and baby receive the best start possible.
The backbone of Birth Boot Camp lies in our amazing instructors. Our natural birth instructors can now be found from coast to coast and more are training all the time. We love working with these wonderful women and watching them change lives through education. Today we are featuring an interview with one of our earliest trainees about what being a Birth Boot Camp Instructor means to her. (And if you can't find an instructor close enough to you for a live, our online natural birth classes are available virtually anywhere around the world.)
What got you interested in becoming a natural childbirth educator?
During our first pregnancy we went through 10 weeks of live natural childbirth classes by Birth Boot Camp founder, Donna Ryan. She gave me and my husband accurate, up to date information. We were able to take what we had learned and decide what was best for our pregnancy and baby. We have been married for 8 years and have had three fabulous home births! These experiences inspired me to help make natural childbirth education available for everyone, because it brought reassurance and confidence for some of the most meaningful moments of my life.
There are lots of different birth educator training programs out there. Why did you choose Birth Boot Camp?
I was impressed with Birth Boot Camp materials! They have created an outstanding teacher curriculum, Student Field Manual, and extensive breastfeeding DVD built on a foundation of truth and excellence. Students benefit from the treasury of information that reflect cutting edge statistics and the very best in natural childbirth education.
What most impressed you about the Birth Boot Camp training?
During instructor training I was most impressed with the way that the Birth Boot Camp Advisory Board was determined to serve us and wanted to see us succeed! The marketing training has help me beyond what I could have imagined. I love team teaching as it gave us hands on experience in the art of communicating natural birth knowledge and content to prepare us for teaching live classes. (Part of every training is an opportunity for the instructors to teach to the group.)
How is teaching your own classes going for you? What do you enjoy most about it?
It has been very rewarding teaching live classes and it's going really well! I started teaching live classes almost immediately after certification, about a month later. Many couples have gone through my classes already.
Tell us a little about your students. Can you see how having a comprehensive natural childbirth education is positively impacting their birth experiences?
My students occupations range from Balloon Artist to Police Officer and everything in between. They have had births in hospitals, birth centers and at home. Several dads told me at the end of the first or second class night something like, "I thought this was going to be boring, but it turns out you make it fun and I actually look forward to class each week." Students have made friendships that lasted beyond class and I enjoy keeping up with my students as we formed great friendships as well. One of my amazing moms said, "Our Birth Boot Camp classes really helped me achieve such a redeeming childbirth experience in-contrast with my first three births."
We would love it if you would share (with permission) with us your favorite student birth experience so far.
Student Birth Story: Baby Axle's Birth Story (Attachment written by my student, given with permission and pictures with permission as well!)
To close, tell us how you see natural childbirth education changing lives and birth in the world.
Women everywhere are becoming more aware that they have choices when it comes to having their babies. Mothers often choose to deliver naturally because they have been educated and embrace the idea that giving birth is a normal, beautiful, and physiological process.
Rachel Johnson is a Birth Boot Camp instructor in Fort Worth, Texas. She is due to have her third baby at home any day. She took her first childbirth class from Birth Boot Camp founder Donna Ryan. As a passionate teacher, she has guided many couples on their journey to a joyful, natural birth experience.
For more information about her Fort Worth natural birth classes click here.
We have the privilege today of sharing a birth story from one of our students.We are so grateful to them for sharing such a private event with all of us and so glad that they had a great birth.Education really does make a difference!
The Birth of Axle
I think my biggest fear about giving birth was what kind of birther I would be.Would I be loud, scream, yell, cry, or sing?I wasn’t afraid of the pain, and I have to give props to my Birth Boot Camp natural birth classes and my midwife for that.I was born to give birth and I could do it!I met a lot of women and doctors that said I was lying when I said I wasn’t afraid, but that wasn’t the case.I was scared to have a newborn, I was scared to be a mom, but I never was scared to give birth.
My pregnancy went well.The first trimester was a little rough with all the morning sickness, but after changing my diet and no longer eating anything with gluten, dairy or pork everything got so much better.I didn’t really crave much other than plums and Simply orange juice (no other brand would do).I was with a doctor my first 16 weeks, and then transferred to a midwife once we had our gender sonogram.I was a little nervous about this since I grew up with a PICU nurse as a mother and only thought of midwives as old fashioned.But my husband was pretty supportive in using a midwife and after watching “The Business of Being Born” I knew it was the right choice for us.
When we first met our midwife Terry we knew that she was the one for us.After going to a doctor for 16 weeks and only getting answers if we had questions, she poured into us that first meeting.We learned so much, and never asked a question.I mean, come on! We are first time parents; we have no clue what to ask.After being with her for a few short hours, I had no doubt about leaving the doctor and had our files transferred to Edenway Birth Center.
This was the best decision I have ever made (besides asking Christ in my heart and marrying Cody).Edenway is a family, and we loved/love it.I quickly learned however that a midwife or at least my midwife is a lot harder than a doctor.I had to keep a food diary, pee on a stick that pretty much told the midwife if I lied about being good, and had to stay in a certain weight.I had to stay active, drink tons of water, take vitamins, and eat right.All of these are on the top of my “I Hate” list. But I did it!I’m a walking testament that a very borderline preclampsia momma can take it all the way to deliver the natural way.It just takes A LOT of discipline.I didn’t start out that great, both Cody and Terry had doubts and both were Army Sargent’s getting on to me and keeping me in check.But I was willing to do whatever needed to be done for my little man.
So enough about the pre story, let’s get into our birth story.
Axle Festus Scholz was 12 days late!And even though physically I could have gone for months more (seeing a chiropractor makes all the difference!) mentally- every day I was starting to freak out a little more.I never wanted him to be early, but never even thought he could be late.At 10 days, I started really getting worried. I knew that on day 14 I would have to go to a doctor and no longer could legally use a midwife.I started freaking out.On morning of day 11 I got contractions that unfortunately went away after taking a shower.Later that day Cody and I went to the midwife's house and started to use a breast pump to encourage contractions (only under a midwives supervision is this ok).We did this for about 2hours, and then we went home.
My contractions never stopped after we left but I went to sleep like I was told…until about 10:30pm when I woke up out of dead sleep screaming!Oh did it hurt!But it was a slow processes.After Cody helped me a little with the pain, I remembered that contractions on the toilet were supposed to really help (Birth Boot Camp tip) so I took my phone and blanket and headed to the bathroom.It worked!Between texting my midwife and a friend Paige, who also was in labor at the same time I finally decided to head to Edenway (the birth center) at 3:30am.
From 3:45-9:30am I labored at Edenway, mostly in the bathtub which was amazing.At first the pain was so intense I wanted to and did throw up, but it got easier the more I took deep breaths remembering that keeping my chin on my chest was the key.Labor honestly wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, but don’t get me wrong it hurt and it was hard.I think I did pretty well for a first timer, and was mainly quiet with deep moaning when I really needed to.I was so in my head that I never heard anyone say a word, which is pretty funny since there were 12 people in the room with me. During the birth there was about 3 times that I remember not wanting to finish. Like I had a choice!One of the things they kept trying to do was give me sugar to help with my energy, but I kept saying “no sugar, no sugar” it sounded so gross at the time which is funny since I do love my sugar.
I had by far the best birth team.Cody, Terry and Melissa were amazing!Melissa was a God send and truly was the reason I believe my birth was such a great supportive experience.We had worship music playing in the background, and Terry knew every time I was in a place that I needed her to just pray.Two times I remember thinking, “God, I need you” and then I would just hear Terry praying and everything in me would go calm.
Cody was a surprise, I knew he would be good but I never could have thought he would have been as helpful as we was.In class he always joked around, never took anything really serious and truly felt as if he learned nothing from going.But I must tell you otherwise!He was so great at reminding me to breathe, to relax, and breathe some more.Between him and Melissa they had battle wounds for days and neither complained.
I mainly labored in the bathtub, with a small portion on the toilet, but then when it was decided I needed a new position I moved to the bed.That’s when Axle came.Cody was lying on the bed with his back on the wall and I was on all fours with my hands on Cody’s ribs and that’s how I pushed.Yea, definitely not the pretty water birth I had hoped for but none the less that was the reality.
It was in that position that I decided my son was coming with the next push.I knew that if I pushed after the contraction was over then most likely I would tear, but I was ok with that.I took a deep breath and pushed as long as I could even after feeling the contraction stop.And out came my little bundle of joy with his hand over his face.As I felt him dropped I screamed for the first time, and in all my wisdom yelled “oh Sh**!What was that!?!” and then out he came.
I was so shocked, I honestly couldn’t believe it.I was just standing on my knees not moving, not believing what just happened. There really was a baby inside of me, and now I’m holding him!All I could say was “it’s a baby”… I know I know, of all the things to say. Haha.
Once Cody cut the cord and we took a nap as a family, I looked up at Cody and told him I was ready for another.And I am, when God allows.To this day I don’t remember the pain, which is pretty cool that my body can make my mind forget.I tried and tried to remember, but it’s gone.Only the joy of having Axle remained.
My only complaint was that I truly didn’t understand just how much of a marathon my birth really was.No matter how many times I was told to work out and be ready I wasn’t anywhere close.I was so tired, and was falling asleep through both labor and after.For my next birth, I will be fit.I will be healthier and I will most defiantly use a chiropractor and Terry!
My placenta came out later than most and needed a shot of Pitocin.I love to joke that I was given Pitocin after my birth.My aftermath from the birth was 2 hemorrhoids and 4 tears, one with stitches which was a little banged up on the inside.But at my 6 week checkup, I looked really good and everything was back to normal.
I loved my natural birth and 100% will do it again, and hopefully the next one is my beautiful water birth.Axle weighed 8lbs 2.5oz and was 22inches long, with tons of hair on February 21st 2013 at 9:35am.Total amount for labor from start to finish was 14hrs and 39mins, with 2hrs of pushing.
Good nutrition in the 3 months leading up to when you conceive can help you get ready to create a safe and nutritious haven for your unborn and rapidly developing baby. The first 3-8 weeks of pregnancy are vital for fetal development. This is often before you even know you are pregnant! So planning and getting your body in prime condition is very important. Good nutrition habits can also increase fertility, meaning it may help you to get pregnant faster.
Women with poor nutritional status have been linked to a number of negative outcomes, both for the mother and the baby. This includes decreased fertility, gestational diabetes, neural tube defects, autism, obesity in later life, an increased risk of pregnancy complications, low birth weight babies, and a number of other risks. Wow! That’s a scary list. There is good news, though. There are small things you can do now, to be the healthiest you.
Start taking a prenatal vitamin at least 3 months prior to conception
You may not be getting enough of the proper nutrients in your diet. The right prenatal vitamin contains important nutrients that you need and may not get enough of in your diet. Look for one that is natural, meaning it doesn’t have any additives or fillers. Beware of nutritionally deficient prenatal vitamins.
Lose (or Gain) Weight
Underweight women are more likely to give birth to low birth weight babies and increases the risk of birth defects. Being underweight may also negatively affect your menstrual cycle. Overweight women have increased risks for complications in pregnancy such as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, and can see a reduction in fertility.
Focus on Key Nutrients
Folic Acid intake is linked to neural tube defects and 70% of cases likely could be avoided with proper folic acid intake. 800mg a day for at least 4 weeks prior to conception and continuing through pregnancy is recommended.
Iron - in order to avoid a deficiency during pregnancy, stock up now! Eat high iron foods, make sure your prenatal vitamin has iron, and get a blood test if you are unsure of your levels. Lots of women are at risk for iron deficiency anemia. If you are deficient you can increase your intake by eating the lean meats, chicken, and iron rich vegetables.
Essential Fatty Acids - These play a key role in brain development, so make sure to eat plenty of these good fats. Sources such as nuts, avocado, and fatty fish will give you plenty of tasty Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats.
Iodine - Insufficient iodine levels may lead to fetal brain damage and may also increase the risk of miscarriage. 150 μg per day during preconception and 220 μg per day when pregnant are recommended.
Zinc - Adequate levels of zinc can help increase fertility and is also important for your baby’s development. Oysters, roast beef, and peanuts are all rich in zinc.
Vitamin D - Insufficient levels of Vitamin D have been linked to preterm birth, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and prenatal infections. Get your levels checked to see if you have a Vitamin D deficiency and if so, get a good supplement to increase your levels. Check out www.grassrootshealth.net for information on what your levels should be and how to get them there.
Quit Smoking/Taking Drugs
This one is super important and can impair fetal growth. Smoking and drug use also have a negative effect on fertility. Quit now before you start trying for a baby.
This is a good chance to minimize your alcohol intake. Drinking can decrease fertility and increase the risk of complications in those vital first few weeks of pregnancy.
Start weaning yourself off those morning cups of coffee (this one is hard!). More than 200-300 milligrams of caffeine per day may reduce fertility by 27 percent. Caffeine also impedes upon your body's ability to absorb iron and calcium, which are needed for fetal development.
If you don’t already have an exercise routine in place, now is the time! Exercise insures that your body is in tip top shape to handle the stresses of pregnancy.
Mimimize Environmental Pollutant Exposure
Try to avoid chemicals found in paints, paint thinners, paint strippers, strong cleaning products, and insect and weed killers. They can store up in your body and be passed on to your baby leading to a higher risk of asthma, ADHD, and cancer. Eat organic to avoid pesticides and watch what fish you eat to minimize your exposure to mercury.
If you are already pregnant, it is not too late to make these changes! Remember, this is the start of your baby's journey through life. Providing a place for them to grow where they are exposed to all the nutrients they need will set them up for a healthier life.
My name is Vanessa Wells and I started True Nature Nutrition in 2011 with the goal of providing nutritional consulting services to the North County area, and online. I have a Bachelor's degree from the University of Auckland. After a few years of working in an office, I returned and completed my Graduate Certificate in Human Nutrition (BS in Nutrition without all the 101 classes) and am working towards an MSc in Human Nutrition. I realized that my "dream job" was not in an office building. I love discovering how interesting and important nutrition is in life, and the impact that food has on the environment.
Then my daughter was born and my eyes were opened to the world of healthy eating for life. Giving your child the best health in life begins before they are even conceived and good habits start to develop in the womb. The foundations for a lifetime of good nutrition is laid in the first few years of life. It's my goal to help women give their children the best start possible, with healthy eating for the whole family.
What is the difference between the midwifery and the medical model of care?
One of the first decisions that a woman makes, after her discovery of pregnancy, is her choice of care provider. In most countries, there are two basic care providers available- the obstetrician and the midwife. There are many factors that contribute to which provider will work best for your birth. A basic understanding of the common differences in their approach can help you make the best decision for your family.
Midwifery model of care-
Most midwives, whether working out of a hospital or attending home births, practice what is known as the “midwifery model of care.” The basic midwifery approach to birth and the pregnant woman tends to be more holistic. This means that they look at all factors which may contribute to the health and safety of the woman and her birth. Emotions, living situations, nutrition, and education should all be addressed by someone providing the midwifery model of care.
At the time of birth, this care provider will be aware of and trained to spot things that may go wrong, but will, overall, consider childbirth a natural process that frequently proceeds normally and safely.
Those trained in the midwifery model of care routinely refer out to an obstetrician when they observe that the pregnant woman needs to be cared for by someone with a deeper knowledge of pathology.
“The application of this woman-centered model of care has been proven to reduce the incidence
of birth injury, trauma, and cesarean section.”
Medical model of care-
A practitioner using the medical model of care, as is common among western medical doctors, tends to approach the patient from a problem solving approach, searching for the defect or dysfunction and trying to fix it. Unlike the midwifery model of care that seeks to understand the whole person and prevent unnecessary intervention or surgery, things are viewed from a pathological model searching for the problem and a solution.
Obstetricians, who provide the bulk of medical care for birthing women in the United States of
America, frequently approach their patients and their pregnancy and birth from this angle.
Which is right for me?
When choosing your care provider, there are many factors to consider. One would be your own philosophy towards birth. Do you view birth as a normal life event or as a pathology or disease?
Assessing your own beliefs will help you choose a care provider that best matches your own needs.
Another thing to consider is your own health and wellbeing. If you or your pregnancy are high risk, for some reason, then choosing an obstetrician who approaches birth from the medical model of care and who is versed in your risk factors in particular may be the choice that works best for you and your family.
It is also important to realize that not all midwives use the midwifery model of care and not all obstetricians use the medical model of care. You may be able to find an OB who views birth as a normal, healthy life event and approaches it with minimal interventions. You will also find midwives who have come to view birth as dangerous and pathologic and who have high intervention and cesarean section rates in their practices. Interviewing your individual care provider and asking for experiences from other mothers, doulas, and your childbirth educatorwill help give you some idea of their practice and philosophy.
Take your time and research your care provider. Your birth and your baby are worth the effort!
Citizens for Midwifery- “Midwives Model of Care” brochure