The Birth of Hannah- A Birth Boot Camp Natural Hospital Birth Story!

We are honored today to share a birth story from one of our recent online birth class graduates. As you read you will find that the end of pregnancy and the labor were not without some unexpected surprises, but because this mom and her partner had worked so hard preparing for their birth, they were still able to have a fabulous experience.
To us, that is really what it is all about- education, preparation, knowledge, and then going forward and having the best outcome possible no matter what happens.
We are so grateful to Tina for sharing her story with us! If you also took an online (or in person) class and would be willing to share your birth story with us, we would love to have it! You can message sarah(at)birthbootcamp(dot)com and we will be in touch!
My name is Tina Mitchell and I took the Birth Boot Camp online class, and gave birth on April 17th 2014 and this is the story of the birth of my daughter.
On March 25th at about 11 pm, I awoke suddenly to my first “contraction“, I’d had Braxton-Hicks all throughout my pregnancy, but this definitely felt different. I was only 37 weeks pregnant with my first child, so I knew this could be a false alarm, so I laid back down. But, when I had another one several minutes later, I decided to sit up and time them, just to make sure.
After an hour of timing them, my contractions were consistently 8 minutes apart, I texted my midwife to let her know what was going on, she told me to get some sleep and if the contractions got closer together by morning to let her know. So I went to sleep, the next morning they had completely stopped. I felt quite embarrassed at having texted my midwife over nothing, but she reassured me that this was normal.
Well it certainly became my normal, every night, around the same time, the same thing would happen over and over again. I would get contractions that were 7-8 minutes apart, go to sleep and they’d be gone by morning. After three weeks of this kind of prodromal labor, I was starting to lose my mind a little. Even though I had diligently kept a good diet and exercise routine, and had had no complications, the last three weeks were quite miserable, mostly because of the sleep deprivation brought on by the prodromal labor I was experiencing at night. As my due date approached, I had convinced myself that I would not go into labor until at least 42 weeks.
The night of April 14th, the same prodromal labor began, I started crying, not because of the pain, but because of the exhaustion. My pregnancy had been absolutely wonderful up until then, and really it was still going quite well. My blood pressure remained 100/67 pretty consistently throughout the whole pregnancy, I had no issues with my blood sugar, I was eating and exercising, I felt like I had done everything “right” and I had somehow been cursed with this terrible prodromal labor that was taking away my precious, precious sleep.
To make matters worse (in my mind anyway), earlier that day I had seen my midwife and she told me that:
a) my baby was not in an ideal position, which of course made me cry because, weeks earlier when I was first told this, I had done a Google search on what a “sunny side up” delivery would be like, coupled with the information given in the birth class and I was terrified.
b) that my baby was at least 9 lbs. I wish she hadn’t told me, and if I had to do it again, those two pieces of information are things I definitely wouldn’t want to know again.
I had had cervical exams, those didn’t impact me in the least (probably because of the class) and any amount of dilation or effacement hadn’t excited me, or worried me at all. But I also wanted to have them done, not sure why exactly but it gave me peace of mind that my midwife knew what was going on. But knowing she was sunny side up and that she was a “larger baby” brought me more stress than anything else. (Side note: Although I was receiving the advice to go to a chiropractor from both the class and my midwife, my husband and I are skeptics and do not trust any type of alternative medicine, including Chiropractic health.)
So when the dreaded prodromal labor began the night of April 14th, I didn’t even think about it twice, I went to sleep and expected it to go away by morning. When I awoke the next morning, something different happened; the contractions hadn’t gone away. I was still skeptical, I was convinced this wasn’t actually the start of my labor, I did send a text to my midwife to let her know but I was convinced they would go away. Well by noon, the contractions were consistently 4 minutes apart and quite a bit more jarring than they had been before.
I updated my midwife, who asked me to come into the birthing center, and advised to bring my bags. When I arrived, it was clear to everyone that I was in early labor, everyone but me. I was still in denial, when my midwife checked my cervix I was dilated to a 7, stretch to an 8. I was completely effaced, baby was in a -1 station. All of this information was enough to convince me that this was the “real thing”. So I labored…and labored, and labored some more. My contractions coming at 4 minutes, but this whole time I kept telling my midwife “Not that I want to complain or anything, but I feel like this should be more painful.”
She took what I was saying seriously, she didn’t just laugh it off, by around 8 pm, my contractions started slowing down, and when my midwife checked my cervix, it had gone back to 5 cm. She advised me to get some sleep, which I did and low and behold, by morning the contractions had stopped. Wonderful. She offered to break my water, but as exhausted and frustrated as I was, because I was GBS+, I knew my labor would then be on a time clock, and the baby was still at a minus station, I chose to wait. Donna’s words in the online class really helped with this decision.
So we picked up our bags, and headed home. I was completely emotionally drained and spent the day in bed. Thankfully, we hadn’t told anyone but our parents that I had gone into labor so I wasn’t answering any questions of “did you have your baby yet” from well meaning friends. In fact I had avoided telling anyone my due date for that exact reason.
On Thursday morning, I told my husband to go to work because I was never actually going to go into labor. I’ll admit, I was angry, I was frustrated, I was exhausted, and I was resentful. My husband left, reluctantly, at 4:30 that morning. His work requires him to drive our only vehicle to one end of the city, and pick up his box truck, and drive to the other end of the city, you can imagine where this is going. Yup, an hour and 15 minutes later, I went to the bathroom, had a contraction and my water broke. Fantastic.
I calmly woke up my mother, who had been staying with us, and I called my midwife. She asked me if there was any meconium in the fluid, and I knew that there was. There was a lot of meconium, and it was thick. So after discussing it for a few minutes, we decided that the best course of action at this point was to make my way to the hospital and she would meet me there with my medical files and birth plan. Of course, we had no vehicle and my husband was all the way at the other end of the city, so we called our upstairs neighbor and my mother and I made our way to Baylor University Medical Center of Dallas. She dropped us off at emergency and an orderly wheeled me to maternity.
My husband arrived shortly thereafter, and I was admitted. I kept repeating that I was GBS positive, and felt pretty ignored at this point because they wouldn’t start antibiotics. This was my first pregnancy, my water had just broken, surely I still had hours, possibly days, to go. At this point, I assumed they were probably right since the contractions weren’t any stronger than what I had experienced two days earlier. My husband was in constant communication with my midwife, everything was going smoothly , and because I was a birthing center “transfer”, I was never offered an epidural or any kind of pain medication, although I’m not sure if it’s because the hospital has a policy of respecting peoples wishes or because they didn’t have time. At around 7:30 am, about an hour after being admitted I tell my nurse that I feel like I need to have a bowel movement. The nurse told me to wait, because what I could be feeling is the need to push, so they checked me again, and sure enough I was dilated to 10 centimeters.
The resident then asked me to do a “practice push” and, according to to my husband, had a look of shock on her face because she could see the top of my baby’s head. She calmly brought down my gown and told the nurse “Can you call in the doctor. Right now,” and evidently the nurse saw the urgency on the resident’s face because she called the doctor and a level 2 NICU team (because of the thickness of the meconium) and within 2 minutes my room filled with about 15 people, between the NICU team, the doctor, the nurses and the residents (including two who were there for no other reason but to observe) and the doctor then asked me if I could stop pushing. HAHA…HA. NO. The pain was much worse than it had been and I was feeling the contractions coming one after another. Five pushes later, at 7:45 am, my 9lbs 4 oz baby was born, posterior lie, and sent straight to the NICU team.
I didn’t get to hold her right away, for the umbilical cord to keep pulsing, the immediate skin to skin, or the time to let the skin absorb the vernix. But according to the medical staff and my husband, there was a lot of meconium and it was thick, they needed to make sure she didn’t aspirate any, which, thankfully she didn’t. They sent her to the NICU where she remained for 2 hours and she was brought to my room.
My experience wasn’t exactly how I had imagined it, but I did have a fabulous natural birth, and a beautiful healthy baby, she suffered no adverse effects to the meconium, nor the GBS. I’ve been exclusively breastfeeding which has been going wonderfully. She was born where she needed to be born, and if the Lord blesses us with another child, we will absolutely stick with a midwife.
Many things contributed to my having a wonderful birth, I know that had I been in the hospital when I went into labor on the 15th, that my experience would have been much different. Without the information I received in the online class, the experience would have been a lot more confusing and a lot more scary.

Thank you.

Hannah Amelie Mitchell, minutes after being born. 9 lbs 4 oz 21 1/4 inches long


First family picture


Recent picture.

Top 3 Things To Bring To Your Birth


When it comes to pregnancy, birth and babies it seems as though the lists are never ending. From the “layette” to countless nursery items, monthly pregnancy clothes and even various and sundry age appropriate toys the experts say you will “need”, it can all seem a little overwhelming.

In reality, there are really only three very important things that you can bring to your birth place, and they aren’t to be found on many lists, nor are they easy to pick up at the store.

What are these three important things that your birth can’t do without?

Number 1- Your Doula-

You can’t buy her in a store, but you will most certainly find that paying for a doula is well worth your money. While cost, experience, and philosophy vary, finding a trustworthy doula who can help you get the birth you want is an expense you won’t regret.

What can a doula do for your birth? Many things including: help you position yourself properly for the best birth for you and your baby, help provide support and ideas for your partner, give mom emotional support when she needs it as well as help navigate your birth place.

In fact, despite their funny sounding name, a doula is proven to improve satisfaction with your birth as well as increase breastfeeding success and lower the cesarean section rate. You can never underestimate the power of a positive and knowledgeable female emotional support in labor. And no, a friend or relative who gave birth probably won’t have the same skill set. Doulas cost money for a reason! (Check out this post for links to research about doulas and their benefits.)

Number 2- A Knowledgeable Birth Partner-

Everybody wants their partner at the birth. Who else could be your greatest support? Who else knows you better? Who got you into this in the first place?!

Everybody wants their partner there but a partner who is scared of birth, doesn’t trust you to do this, or who simply feels useless, is more of a hindrance than an asset.

So what is a girl to do? You want (maybe even need) your partner at the birth but you don’t want them to ruin everything by getting queasy or saying you sound like a cow.

There is a rather simple answer my friends: Spend just as much time preparing THEM for the birth as you spend on yourself. It probably comes as no surprise that to us at Birth Boot Camp, a comprehensive childbirth class that focuses on both people in the relationship is imperative. There are lots on classes out there focusing on moms needs- and they are absolutely wonderful in preparing mentally for birth. They are not however enough to prepare both people equally for the realities of modern maternity care and the need to fully prepare your body and mind in addition to your emotions.

Find one, preferably ours, and get your partner well trained up for a birth that is safe and satisfying for BOTH of you.

Number 3- An Excited (and Prepared) Mother!

It is often said that most people spend more time, prep and money on their wedding, a car purchase, or researching the latest cell phone than they do on their birth. This is a sad reality and it does a huge disservice to women everywhere.

No matter how perfect your doula and how supportive your partner, when it comes down to the nitty gritty of birth, some things you just have do yourself. The contractions will be yours to feel, the pressure, the emotions, the sheer overwhelming nature of it all, these are all things that mom must not only deal with but triumph over.

Mom- you are worth the investment of knowledge, time, and effort required to truly ready yourself for the adventure of birth. The time you put in before the birth will most certainly benefit you both during labor and after. You are worth the effort.

Amazingly enough, this prep work almost always yields a mother who is no longer frightened of birth but excited about it. That is incredible.


As you get ready for your baby, go ahead and read all the lists you can get your hands on. There are good things in them that can help you prepare and feel better about all the changes coming in your life.

But in your efforts, don’t forget that the three most important things you can bring to your birth place cannot be found on a shelf but through diligent effort. Your doula, your prepared partner, and your excited self are the most imperative things for you to bring to your birth place. Don’t forget them!


10 Ways to Support Dad Postpartum


When we talk about the postpartum period, we tend to concentrate on the help and rest that mom needs after the labor and birth. In our often nuclear families, the expectation is that dad will automatically do the bulk of the work that needs to be done around the house. He is also expected to take on the additional responsibility of caring for a mother that truly needs her rest so she can focus on baby.

In truth, especially for an involved Birth Boot Camp dad, the father is usually pretty exhausted himself after the birth! In addition, many fathers do not have any time off from their paid profession after the child is born.

This sometimes leaves dad with many expectations on his shoulders and sometimes no way to actually fulfill them either because of other responsibilities or just lack of knowing what to do.

As it turns out, mom is not the only person who needs and deserves support after the birth of a baby. Dad is often in need too. Here are 10 ways we can help support not just mom, but the entire family in the postpartum period. This post is designed to both help birth workers understand the needs of the father and help families prepare for some of the changes that may await them.

1. Enlist outside help.

So often I hear couples say that they don’t need any help from family or friends- because dad will take care of everything.

This may work some of the time, but frankly, it doesn’t always. Especially with our first baby we really don’t know what impact this sweet new addition will have on the entire family. Accepting help from others is often a wise (though humbling) move. Family, friends, work and church associates, all can help if you let them. Meals brought in, light cleaning, even some brief baby holding so mom and dad can shower and eat can be helpful.

If you can afford it, a postpartum doula can work wonders and is especially helpful if there is no family in town. If you have people wondering what they buy for you and the baby, don’t be afraid to ask for postpartum doula services instead of baby clothes.

2. Encourage skin to skin for dad.

Skin to skin isn’t just for mom! I have seen dad be the hero who literally calms baby’s heart rate and regulates temperature when no other hospital technology seemed able to help. Helpful right after the birth if mom can’t hold the baby or just needs to do some other things, skin to skin can also be a healing and bonding time for daddy and baby for weeks to come.

Mom will often form a tight bond with the baby through breastfeeding and this can also give dad some of that same experience, even though he has differing anatomy.

3. Remember he needs emotional support too.

Birth and parenthood can be a hard transition for dad. Depending on how their lives are changing, it can also greatly increase stress for all involved. Both during the birth and after, dad may need emotional support. Don’t be afraid to talk to him or help him find a community where he can supported. (This responsibility doesn’t lie with mom! Doulas, childbirth educators, midwives and friends and family can all step in to acknowledge the needs of both mom and dad.)

If you think that it is hard for women to find community as new moms, just imagine what it is like for dad. As natural birth teachers, one of the best things we can offer is the community within our classroom. As doulas or other birth workers, including him during the birth and after is imperative.

Don’t forget him!

4. Switch roles

Often when a baby is born mom does most of the cuddling. This is simply biologically natural and normal, but it needn’t be a 24/7 arrangement.

Especially when the baby is not the first, dad often ends up caring for other older children while mom has constant baby time. It is OK and even helpful to switch roles now and again. The older children will cherish some more time with mama and the baby will have a chance to get to know daddy- who is so important!

5. Give him jobs he is good at, have somebody else do the ones he has no stomach for.

This rule is helpful during the birth AND postpartum. Not all dads want to catch the baby and cut the cord and help with the placenta encapsulation- this doesn’t make them useless.

Give dad a job he can both do well and enjoy. Maybe this is filling the birth tub or maybe it is doing the shopping. Whatever it is, have him do that. This is where the first tip comes into play too- if dad can’t or won’t do something, ask your helpers to do that!

6. Opportunity, exposure, experience with the new baby- Mom shouldn’t hold the baby all the time!

There can sometimes be a tendency to have mom hold baby all the time. And sometimes one person in the relationship has much more experience with babies and children or simply feels more comfortable with an infant. If mom is the one more comfortable with baby and is also more quick to calm them, sometimes the other person doesn’t get much of a chance to learn.

It is important that both partners have chances to hold and cuddle the baby- even if they don’t do it “right” every single time. It can take patience and persistence to learn to comfort a baby, but hands on experience is really the best teacher.


Babies can make the whole family tired! It’s true! Bring in your people or take turns getting some rest so that both mom and dad can have an occasional nap or longer stretch of sleep. As birth workers, helping the family find people who can do this or giving them some tips on working it out together can be a lifesaver.


Everybody needs to eat postpartum. Everybody! There just might be some truth to the old saying, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” When people get hungry, they often get grumpy too. If everybody in the house is running on empty food and rest wise, this is a recipe for disaster.

Order out, plan ahead, fill your freezer, let people bring things, and ask if you need to.

9. Give dad a break! Literally and figuratively- forgive him and also give him time to just do something else.

I know that I personally spent a fair amount of time resenting my husband postpartum after the birth of my first child. It wasn’t really his fault- he didn’t have any idea what I needed and I lacked the ability at that time to communicate it. As time went on and more children were added and I gained communication skills, it became easier to ask for what I needed. Still, it is so helpful to just forgive some of the mistakes and forgotten things. Not everybody remembers to mop the floor or separate the whites properly.

Dad too may sometimes need a real “break” where he gets out of the house or watches a movie or does whatever it is he needs to do to relax. Mom needs this time too! Take turns and let each other have a break.

10. Paternity leave

This is kind of a “political” statement, and not something we all have access to. But it is worth while to mention.  Perhaps more demand for both adequate maternity and paternity leave the more available it will become. So many countries have much longer and even paid breaks for mothers and fathers. This provides support for the family when they need it most as well as expressing a society wide respect for the importance of family.


Dad may need support just like mom. Birth workers and others should also “look” at him, talk to him, acknowledge him and his need and valuable contributions. The importance of not just the mother but her partner through the birth is something that is deeply important to our philosophy at Birth Boot Camp, and that value doesn’t end with the birth.

Thanks so much for the invaluable advice in this article given by our many experienced Birth Boot Camp instructors (and their significant others). They are amazing and you can probably find one near you. If not, check out our incredible online birth class option!

Choosing To Support Natural Birth- One Doula’s Story


Today we are pleased to share a guest post from one of our amazing instructors, Tashina Benning-Witter, who both teaches and works as a doula in the Sacramento, CA area. Tashina does something a little different- she has started to take clients who are only planning a natural birth and are willing to take a comprehensive birth class in order to achieve this. This is something that she has shared with us and which has had an incredible positive impact not just for her, but mostly for her clients. Her story is beautiful and her deep belief that women need somebody to truly support their desire for a natural birth is something that sets her apart. We are so glad to have her be part of our Birth Boot Camp team, and excited to share her words. Enjoy!

Somewhat recently, I did something as a doula that I was sure would incite some negative feelings in either the birth community or in my clientele pool; but it was a transition I needed to make to better serve my families.

I made the decision to only take on doula clients who were planning a natural birth and were willing to do the work necessary to get one.

Why did I make this bold and maybe even risky decision? Well, it was years in the making. Let me start by saying that natural birth can be incredibly intimidating and isn’t something I’d want to sign up for without a thorough education, support, and preparation. Birth is definitely intense enough to scare you if you did not prepare at all for it.

I know epidurals can be merciful tools that all birth workers are glad exist and are relatively safe. I know C-sections can save babies. With that being said, education before the birth can prepare mom not just for the birth she wants, but for the unexpected.

I found a passion for birth and doula work after the birth of my first child in 2007. I had an amazing doula present. She supported me and hung in there for what I still consider an insanely long, difficult active labor. It was hard. I had a posterior baby and back labor from another planet that made me cross eyed. Though many challenges followed, she was there and through her set of skills, I was always able to feel very positive about the experience overall. The impression that birth left on me was strong and carried me confidently into Motherhood.

I would be that kind of doula.

My fundamental belief was that every woman deserves and needs a doula, especially to birth in our hospitals. I wanted to be that doula for all women and all births. I wanted to offer them what I had at my birth; a gentle, encouraging voice without opinion, judgement or agenda who held my hand through the trenches.

But, after doing this for years, I finally reached a point of no return. I had seen enough disappointing, eventful, dramatic, scary births where Moms and babies reacted poorly to interventions, drugs, the experience and the overall atmosphere the hospital set up for birth.

For years, I encouraged women to make their own decisions, inform themselves, seek out information and choose the best and safest route for birth for themselves and their babies. I thought that encouragement was enough.

It wasn’t.

They did what they knew to do. Like all doulas, I spent several hours on two or more prenatal visits cramming childbirth education, processing fears, going over birth logistics, hospital policies, and strategizing a labor day plan.

I support Moms in all of pregnancy, like most doulas. I bond with them, work with them and give all I have to their planning. But…there were only so many hours to give and so many ways to educate in two visits. I suggested birth classes but did not require them. I suggested so many things when they expressed a desire for a certain kind of birth, but I did not see a way to make it happen. They generally had births that directly reflected their level of commitment or education about birth.  Most of the women who had a ‘I’ll try and see what happens’ resulted in medicated, high-intervention birth and on occasion, C-sections, thereafter.

I had began wearing the emotions of disappointing births for weeks thereafter. Watching an OB prance into a room and declare a C-section at 7 pm (the end of a shift) after a long day of interventions over and over again finally became too much for me. I was officially heartbroken over the current state of maternity care and birth care.

Finally, it happened. The birth that would change my stance forever. I left the birth, sad and irritated for the last time. Surrounded by a family who mentioned epidural about 10 times before five centimeters, a spouse who kept reminding her she didn’t have to ‘suffer’ and no formal education to back her wishes up despite my urging in pregnancy, it simply seemed easier to cave and forget the goals she had so happily subscribed to only 12 hours ago.

Following her epidural, pitocin and the interventions that accompany it, the baby’s heart rate dropped suddenly for one reason or another. Things went downhill from there culminating in a very hard birth and difficulty breastfeeding. It was a birth that I had seen so many times, but it hurt my heart to a greater degree this time. I went home with weight on my shoulders and so many things to reflect on.

I was frustrated that no one, except for me, in that entire mix of people, felt compelled to encourage Mom and support her wishes and lift her up to make them happen.

These medicated births are on auto-drive. Doctors are great at the medical management of labor, nurses in LD units are great at them, and hospitals know how to keep providing them, and women know how to keep demanding them.


That’s where I decided I needed to make a very distinct exit. Looks like the medicated arena is packed. You know what’s empty, in comparison?

The natural birth arena.

More than 90% of women, if not more, in many local hospitals are having medicated births. A c-section rate of about 30% is now normal.

I want to help the minority accomplish a natural birth.

How many doctors know how to labor sit? Labor support? How many have seen a natural birth from start to finish? (Hint- absolutely no requirement that they see one in medical school, residency, or anytime thereafter). How many Labor and delivery nurses receive full on natural birth or labor support training? Yes, they serve you in labor and are kind, and usually respectful, but their priority (and their job) is not to comfort you through hours of natural labor and birth.

Now, I love LD nurses, all nurses in fact. My amazing husband is an incredibly hard working RN and I have countless RN friends and even many clients that are medical professionals. But labor support is not their first priority.

MY job is labor support.

That’s what doulas are for. We hold the space for you. WE know what this moment and hour and day mean, because we KNOW you.  We don’t provide medical services, we do provide physical and emotional support. I know this, I am okay with this, I know my place and I want to be great in my role.

In the time that followed, with all of my epiphanies, I confidently did what I knew would change everything for my clients, their babies, their birth stories and my practice. I changed a lot about how I practiced.  Vehemently believing that all women with any birth plan deserve a doula is part of my soul, and I hold steadfast to that, but, believing I personally can serve all women in all kinds of births in the most excellent way-  I cannot do that.

I see a need and I want to meet it, and that’s helping women have a natural birth.

Medications are necessary sometimes and when they are needed I am all the way there for my client. But now my clients are planning and preparing for a natural birth.

It is no secret in the natural birth community- what makes the difference in birth outcomes;  preparation, classes, and a supportive doula and/or partner.  My client’s birth outcomes have been amazing since this shift (almost all vaginal births) and rarely does a client need medications or many interventions.

These things – preparation and birth classes- are things I now INSIST upon as part of our doula/client relationship.

My clients are having incredible birth experiences,where they feel supported, educated and empowered, even if things don’t go as planned. They are giving their all to this amazing event.  They are doing the same in breastfeeding and parenting matters.  Their birth is positively affecting them as women for years to come.

In truth, this change has benefited my clients far more than it has benefited me. These families are happier with their births because of their education and preparation than they ever would have been without their effort.

While the way I practice and my goals as a doula and my personal choices are not for every doula (and shouldn’t be, because we need a diverse set of birth workers), I have felt nothing but positive about the shift. In making decisions about the way in which we practice in our birth work, I would encourage all doulas to simply follow their hearts to what they believe because we naturally excel at things we love. For me, this is the right path and I stand to try and encourage and support natural birth when at all possible.

Tashina Benning-Witter is a DONA trained birth doula and a certified Birth Boot Camp Instructor in the Sacramento, California area.  She is the proud Mom to two boys, 7 and 1 and has given birth in a hospital and at home. She feels incredibly fortunate to do the work she is so passionate about and is inspired by her clients every day in their determination, grace and love for their babies. They all challenge her to be better and more committed to their journey into Motherhood.  She loves being a part of an amazing birth community that is full of incredible women who work in birth by passionately trying to educate, support and love the pregnant women and families in their area. You can contact her at  tashinabenning@ or visit her website at

Tashina Benning Web



Down With Anti-Nutrients!- Tips For Feeding Your Family Healthier


Today we are featuring a guest post from one of our many incredible instructors, Maggie Butterfield.  Maggie is passionate about nutrition because she has seen the difference it makes in the health of her family. A proud VBAC mother, teacher and much more, we are proud to call her one of our own. Enjoy her post, and if you are in the Tulsa, Oklahoma area, call her!

What exactly is an anti-nutrient?

“Hmmm…I would never feed that to my child!”

“She eats well most of the time.”

“We’ve had such a hard time getting over this illness! I guess it is just that time of year.”

Lies. All lies people. I want to shout it from the rooftops “THERE’S A BETTER WAY!!”

When we think of feeding our children, we are tired. Let’s face it, as moms, we are worse for the wear. From wiping noses and vomit or being up all hours of the night–yep, that’s us. Tired and looking for anything that will help us maintain our sanity. It’s no wonder we turn to the convenient to appease our always “Mom, I want a snack!!” little stinkers. Can I buy it in bulk? Check. Is it in an easy open package? Check. Do my kiddos like the way it tastes? Check.

What are anti-nutrients you ask? If you can buy it in a box, bag or drive through, chances are, it’s chocked full of these stinky anti-nutrients. Think of the 7 dwarfs of nutrition- white flour, over-processed meats, artificial flavors, white sugar, chemical food dyes, dough conditioners and preservatives. A good way to know is by turning the package over and reading the ingredients.

Anything over five ingredients can pretty much guarantee one or all of these nutrition stealing dwarfs are present.

According to Dr. Lendon Smith, author of Feed Your Kids Right, the body gains very little in the way of nutrients from these substances, and that it often will use up more nutrients then it gains in its effort to digest and process them through the body.  In other words, you may be better off if you didn’t eat at all, rather than put your body through this kind of abuse.  Dr. Smith discusses that the elimination of these anti-nutrients in the diet delivers a healthy immune response to the body in and of itself. Just by eliminating these foods in our household, I have seen our health improve tenfold.

Another fun fact from a trusted expert, author and nutritionist, Adelle Davis candidly expresses in her book, Let’s Have Healthy Children, that all children deserve to be beautiful, and can be IF their nutritional needs are met. Wait what? Beauty can come from nutrition? (Side note-have noticed this too, esp with my prior very acne prone skin.)

She proves that health, intellect, and the beauty (physical development) of children goes beyond genetics, and can be largely determined (or changed) by what they are fed. You don’t say Ms. Davis?!?!

Now that the experts have spoken, that’s all fine and well, but how can it be done? We are busy, we work outside of the home and are on a fixed income. We are limited to what we can afford.

I always ask people if they would rather pay themselves or the doctor? It may sound funny but it is a reality that most Americans are not ready to face. So, how can the everyday mom feed her kids the very best? A simple and perhaps dreaded word-Planning. I plan everything that goes into the mouths of my children. I’m intentional about it because we have had to learn the hard way (as I do much of the time). From ear infections, fevers and rashes and my own personal journey fighting against autoimmune disorders, I am uber-passionate about what we eat.

Living in 2014, we have so many resources to help us with this seemingly daunting task. Baby steps are key.

Here are some simple tips to help you get started:

1. Have your kiddos help you plan meals and snacks. This way they can feel involved and include their favorite foods (with a healthy and delicious twist) on the shopping list.

2. Go to a local farmer’s market with your family. Pick out some fresh, local produce or some grass fed dairy or beef and cage free eggs. There is something special about meeting the farmer and buying something local that makes it taste better and gives your kids pride about the food you buy.

3. Give yourself grace. It takes time. You will learn how to tweak things each day and as you continue to learn, you will feed your kids in an exceptional way.

Also, some of our regular snacks:

-GMO free plain popcorn with raisins

-Carrots (or sugar snap peas) with hummus

-Apples with almond butter mixed with maple syrup and cinnamon

-Ironman Coconut Bars (

-Protein Popsicles (Arbonne protein powder with almond milk, maple syrup and cinnamon—frozen in popsicle molds)

-PB Oatmeal Banana Bars (

-Any kind of frozen fruit (my kids love it! They especially like frozen mango with pineapple!)

-Organic Cheese Sticks

-Grain-free granola! (

- Trail mix (pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, almonds, dried cherries-yum!)

 Here are some of my favorite blogs about real food:

Here’s to eliminating anti-nutrients!

1. Denise Thompson, BANT blog &

2. Let’s Have Healthy Children by Adelle Davis, REVISED AND UPDATED. Mass-market paperback. Signet books, 1972.

3. Feed Your Kids Right by Lendon Smith M.D., Mass Market Paperback. Dell, November 15th, 1981

Photo credit: hermanturnip / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Maggie is a Birth Boot Camp Instructor in the Tulsa Metro Area. She is passionate about Jesus, her husband, kiddos, birth and food! Her husband and her currently serve as ministers in Green Country. As a former classroom educator, she loves taking that love of instruction and educating women on how best to take care of their bodies through nutrition and natural childbirth education. You can find more information about her classes and philosophy at

Maggie Butterfield-webYou can also see Maggie on youtube talking about why she teaches Birth Boot Camp! Check her out-


Placenta Encapsulation: Mother Nature’s Gift for Postpartum Wellness


At Birth Boot Camp we are surrounded by simply amazing and talented instructors. We love them and the skills they bring to the table. One of our most recently certified instructors is Carmen Calvo who teaches in Baltimore, Maryland. She is a placenta encapsulation specialist (and an excellent writer) and a mother of two. Today our guest post is from her and we think you will love it! Feel free to ask questions in the comments and share with your friends. Basic information on placenta encapsulation is also included in the Field Manual that comes with your birth class.

Having a baby can be a joyous occasion, but for some it can also be the cause of hormonal imbalances, which can result in a mother feeling emotions ranging from “the baby blues” to more serious forms of clinical depression. Mood imbalances are not uncommon among new mothers. In fact, 80% of new moms experience “the baby blues” and up to 20% suffer from postpartum depression.

In a study by The National Institute of Health, it was determined that the mid-pregnancy levels of Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone (CRH), a stress relieving hormone, may be an indicator of postpartum depression. CRH is typically produced by a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, however, during the 3rd trimester, the placenta produces so much CRH that the mother’s levels increase three fold.

This increase is thought to get her through the stress of labor and delivery. One result of the placenta secreting so much of this hormone is that the hypothalamus discontinues production of CRH completely.

Once the mother delivers the placenta, her hormone levels can go back to baseline within 5 days, resulting in a huge hormonal shift. It may take a few weeks after delivery for the hypothalamus to get the message that the baby has been born and mom is in need of CRH. It is during this gap between birth and when the body regulates itself that women typically experience the onset of postpartum mood disorders (PPMD).

Many antidepressants are a contraindication with breastfeeding, leaving some moms with the painful task of choosing between their own mental health and giving their baby the best start by breastfeeding.

Fortunately, there may be a holistic, more natural way to lessen a mother’s risk factors for PPMD. Placenta, used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine, may benefit a new mother’s postpartum recovery. After delivery, the placenta retains many of the hormones that postpartum women are lacking. It is thought that by ingesting the placenta, also known as placentophagy, a mother can return to homeostasis more quickly. Typically considered medical waste in Western culture, the placenta can be used medicinally and has been reported to have a variety of benefits, including reducing one’s risk for postpartum depression.

Placenta consumption may be unappetizing for some, but the process of placenta encapsulation can take the “ick” factor out of placentophagy. Placenta encapsulation, the process of turning your baby’s placenta into capsules, can be consumed like any other supplement or vitamin. The process, performed by a trained professional, takes about 2 days and consists of cleaning the placenta, gently steaming it using Traditional Chinese methods, and preparing it for dehydration. Once the placenta is dried, it can be pulverized and made into capsules.

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By ingesting the placenta and her own hormones, a postpartum mom may be able to experience:

Enhanced lactation: Prolactin, a hormone contained in the placenta, is necessary for milk production. In one study of 210 women, 86% had an increase in milk production when given dried placenta vs. a dried beef alternative.

Increased energy and less fatigue: It’s no surprise new mothers are tired. Their sleep schedules are often interrupted, they are nursing their new baby around the clock, and they are adjusting to their new role as a mother. However, fatigue may also be due to iron deficiency in postpartum mothers. It has been identified that iron deficiency can play a role in the onset of PPD. The placenta is loaded with natural iron and can be very beneficial to postpartum moms. Since the iron contained in the placenta is in its natural state, it is more easily absorbed by the mother.

A balanced mood, decreased risk of PPMD: By reintroducing mom’s hormones, she is more likely to avoid the severe hormonal fluctuations many postpartum women face. The placenta is full of hormones, minerals, and vitamins; even after parturition. Prolactin, oxytocin, estrogen, estriol, CRH, and thyroid-releasing hormone are only a few of the beneficial hormones a mother can consume when ingesting her placenta.

Decreased postnatal bleeding: Placenta encapsulation may help a mother’s uterus contract back to normal size more quickly, which can hasten postpartum bleeding. Placing a piece of raw placenta between a hemorrhaging mother’s gum and cheek can be a very helpful tool for controlling excessive bleeding after birth.

While the anecdotal evidence of the benefits of placenta encapsulation is overwhelming, research on placentophagy is still very much in its infancy. It is, however, encouraging that interest in the topic is growing. Last year, University of Nevada, Las Vegas released a scholarly report on placenta consumption in postpartum mothers.

The findings were that 96% had a positive experience consuming their placenta and 98% would do it again if they had another baby. A peer reviewed placebo vs. placenta study is currently taking place at UNLV and the results should be reported in the next 2 years.

Hopefully, when the study is published, we will be able to gain a deeper understanding of how placenta encapsulation benefits a postpartum mother.

To learn more about placenta encapsulation or to find a specialist in your area, visit

Carmen Calvo is a Certified Placenta Encapsulation Specialist and Birth Boot Camp Instructor in Baltimore, MD. Shortly after the birth of her second child in 2011, Carmen started The Nurturing Root and began offering placenta encapsulation services. After achieving a balanced and well postpartum experience through placenta encapsulation, Carmen felt inspired to help other women in her community achieve the same. You can email her at or visit her website at

Natural Birth Matters To Adoptive Parents – A Guest Post By Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew


One of the founding principals behind Birth Boot Camp’s dedication to natural birth education is the belief that birth actually matters. To families this is clear, especially after the baby is born and they see the lasting impact it has made on their life. But the importance of birth does not end with those who will give birth, it is shared by all of us. Today we share a guest post by a woman and mother who, while never having given birth herself, understands this beauty and power. Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew is author of the book, Hannah, Delivered. It explores the depth of influence that birth has over our lives and the lives of our children. Today, we are honored to have Elizabeth share the story of her own experience with natural birth as an adoptive parent with her partner.

Birth matters.  

I’d been working on my novel about a homebirth midwife for five years when my partner and I decided not to get pregnant. We wanted a child, but my partner’s cancer history and busy creative lives convinced us to go with adoption.

I was disappointed.  I wanted to have the experience of pregnancy, not the way some women do with a fierce biological need but rather out of curiosity: How would it feel to hold another living being inside of me? Not getting pregnant was also a setback for my novel. I’d hoped that first-hand experience would make me more qualified to fill 350 pages with stories about pregnancy and birth.

But even I could see these weren’t good enough reasons to pursue extraordinary pregnancy measures. Instead, two college kids in a predicament found my partner and me in a fantastic variation on Internet dating and chose us to be their baby’s parents. We moved into a time of intense paradox:  We were expecting a baby, but birth parents change their minds all the time, so maybe not. We bought diapers and infant clothes but said no to a baby shower. I was determined to breastfeed, so I ordered illicit drugs from Canada and pumped every two hours for an entire month. I tricked my body into thinking it was pregnant, all the while I prepared my heart for disappointment.

My partner and I walked directly into our fear. We chose to trust the birth parents even though we hardly knew them—even though they were so young they hardly knew themselves. We chose to have faith in our love for this couple and their unborn baby.  Loving them was worthwhile, regardless.

With hindsight I see that this same exercise of faith in the face of fear is what initially inspired me to write about natural birth. Natural birth requires that we honor women’s bodies—that women’s bodies hold wisdom that’s worth heeding, despite how uncontrollable birth is, despite the dangers, despite the more predictable outcomes of a medicalized birth. One midwife I interviewed called natural birth “feminism’s final frontier.” I think she meant that if our culture embraced a woman’s inherent capacity to give birth, women’s power and wisdom would finally achieve its rightful place in the world. As a character in Hannah, Delivered says, “Accepting natural childbirth is fundamental to a culture’s ability to love women. If we loved women, we’d trust our bodies.”

What amazes me is that this is true inside the hospital and out; it’s true regardless of the outcomes of any particular birth; it’s true whether or not you’re pregnant, or even female. Loving and respecting and trusting women’s bodies, including their inherent capacity to give birth, is worthwhile.  Regardless.

Abby, our birth mom, chose a hospital with a low C-section rate, a fabulous team of nurse midwives, and a birth tub. When the time came for Abby to push, she asked her boyfriend, Emily, and me to be there. At one point the midwife suggested that Abby leave the bath to use the toilet.  Abby said, with impeccable manners, “Please, can I stay?” and then gave a mighty push. The midwife reached into the water and pulled out a milky infant. I cried, Emily cried, and Abby said, “Congratulations, mommies.”

Gwyn is five now, and she loves the water. She’s just learning to float. In one rare moment I watch her relax on the water’s surface, and I’m filled with joy that she’s learning to have faith in her body. This is what I want to pass along. This is why I’m a natural birth advocate.

Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew is the author of Hannah, Delivered and Writing the Sacred Journey. You can connect with her at and on Facebook.


What are people saying about Hannah, Delivered?

“Unflinchingly honest, a gripping novel that explores the emotional and spiritual dimensions of natural birth.” — Jennifer Margulis, author of The Business of Baby

“Hannah, Delivered knocked my socks off.  I haven’t read anything that so details the struggle of direct entry midwives in the USA.  This is…a book about the birth of the spirit, the journey of one woman, who could be any of us, as she accept her own truths, her own relationship to the power of the 90% of the universe we cannot explain by science. If you are a thoughtful person, you will love it.” — Patricia Harman, author of The Midwife of Hope River, The Blue Cotton Gown: A Midwife’s Memoir, and Arms Wide Open: A Midwife’s Journey.

“Hannah, Delivered documents Hannah’s trajectory from midwife wanna-be to solo practitioner with grace, veracity, heart, and passion.” –Peggy Vincent, Baby Catcher:  Chronicles of a Modern Midwife

You can find a review of Hannah, Delivered, here.

Koehler Books   In bookstores May 1, 2014 and on Amazon.

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Dr. William and Martha Sears Talk About Birth Boot Camp

We are so excited to finally share this news with the public. After reviewing the Birth Boot Camp materials, Dr. William Sears and his wife Martha love Birth Boot Camp!

When creating this curriculum, the Sears’ philosophies were at the root of the principles to be taught, from key components of having an amazing birth to helpful parenting techniques that benefit the entire family.

The Sears’ have written over 30 books about pregnancy, birth, and parenting and are considered the nation’s leading baby experts. Birth Boot Camp Instructors are required to read several Sears books, including their newest book, The Healthy Pregnancy Book.

“Birth Boot Camp truly does empower couples to get the birth that is right for mother and baby. This course equips you to both prevent common health problems during pregnancy, and if they do occur, how to complement natural home remedies with medical treatment. Birth Boot Camp prepares a laboring mom to recognize her unique internal signals of the hormonal symphony playing inside her body to grow and birth a little human being. You will also learn how to work with your birthcare provider to have a satisfying birth and a healthy mother and baby. We are pleased to recommend Birth Boot Camp.” 
~Martha and William Sears, Authors of The Healthy Pregnancy Book and developers of the health program for expectant mothers called LEAN Expectations.

“This is an excellent format for couples to learn about childbirth and beyond, and to prepare to have a safe and satisfying birth.
I am excited to share it with our son, Matt, and his wife, Kristin, expecting their first child in early September. I am thrilled that Birth Boot Camp combines the best from all the approaches to childbirth preparation that I have taught and we have written about.”
~ Martha Sears, RN, Childbirth Educator, LLL Leader, and Lactation Consultant