When my students show up to their 1st Lamaze class they are typically in their 3rd trimester and fairly close to meeting their baby. This is per my request because most of what we talk about needs to be fresh on the couple’s mind when they go into labor and bring baby home. The downside is I often find myself wishing they had known some pertinent information much earlier in pregnancy or even prior to conception. This led me to compose a list of 10 things to know BEFORE pregnancy that I talk about now in Pregnancy Prep Workshops.
Movement & Alignment
Understanding safe and effective movement during pregnancy is worth learning if you may ever be pregnant. Ann Taylor Lashbrook of the Beyond Movement Center helped me realize that preparing our bodies for pregnancy and birth begins long before conception. Ann Taylor says foundational strength training and movement practices done even years before conception will benefit you during pregnancy, birth and postpartum. However, if you are already pregnant and haven’t been educated on your bodies proper alignment it isn’t too late. She can teach you some foundational movements in early pregnancy or check out her YouTube channel for hundreds of videos. The image above is from Jillian Nicol and is the best illustration I’ve seen on doing a proper squat. This movement is often used in birth, but unless mom is executing it correctly it can be ineffective. Remember the goal in a squat is to open your outlet by keeping your tail untucked (image A) vs curling your bottom in and closing your outlet (Image B). If you are doing squats in labor be sure to do them correctly!
5 years ago I stumbled upon the art of placenta encapsulation and I was curious to say the least. I did some research and found the closest specialist was (at the time) 130 miles away. I wrote her and asked if I could come visit and without hesitation she invited me into her home. With no lack of generosity she welcomed me to Louisville and showed me her set up, explained the process, lead me to credible training and spoke of the ins and outs of the business. When it was all done I went straight home to Southern Ky and signed up for the Placenta Benefits training. That woman, Katherine, started me down this path with her graciousness and hospitality for which I’m very thankful.
When reality sets in.
The training was detailed and took a few months to complete and as a newly trained placenta encapsulation specialist (PES) I was ready to take on four to five local clients a month. That goal felt justified as I considered how many people birth in Southern Ky every month and I’m only asking for a handful to sign up for my services. The following year I encapsulated a whopping 1 placenta in Southern, Ky. The rest were in Nashville under a successful doula and childbirth educator who didn’t have time to provide postpartum products for all her clients. The reality of what I had taken on started to set in. The next year was a little better, but still only 10 local clients in an entire year.
Sorry to break it to you, but you probably don’t REALLY know what a Doula is if you’ve never hired one before. When I sit down at a birth consultation with a couple who is new to the doula world I always ask a simple question, “Do you know what a Doula is?“. When mom solely follows me on social media and set up the appointment I will specifically ask Dad this question. I get just a few different answers.
Some people have NO CLUEwhat a Doula is.
The first answer I get is, “no”. I’m positive most have an idea but are nervous they’ll get it wrong; saying “no” feels easier. Of course I realize some people honestly don’t know. A few times husbands have admitted to me they had never even heard the word “Doula”until their wives said, “We are going to meet a Doula tonight”. I am NEVER offended by someone not knowing the specifics of my job, because I’m aware it isn’t a common career choice. Personally I hadn’t even heard the word Doula until I was 25 years old and had already been through a pregnancy and loss. Therefore if you answer no there is absolutely zero judgement and I’m happy you’ve taken the first step to learn what a doula is.
I’ve planned to tell my birth story for two and a half years and for the first time today I truly feel ready. There were times I thought I’d never publicly share the details of my birth because I didn’t want my truth to negatively effect my relationship with medical professionals, my network, my family, my students and clients. There are people close to me that have only heard the truth of my birth in the last couple weeks and still some friends & family who won’t know the full story until they read this blog. I wrote a version of this story that shares every detail and it is a novel! So I decided to get it down to something readable and honest. I realize this short version will leave a lot of questions and I’m prepared for that.
Reasons I’m Sharing My Birth Story.
For my own healing. I’m doing some deep work to prepare myself for a possible 2nd birth in the future and being able to get my story out has helped with that healing. Since I got it on paper all I could think about was sharing it and sending it out to the universe and saying, “This is my truth”. This is how a violent attack, loss of autonomy and lack of consent hurt me. This is how it made me grow. Now I’m moving on and planning a birth without violence.
For other victims of Obstetric Violence. A week after my birth my midwife sent me a blog from a birth worker in another state who had experienced 2 traumatic births. Her words helped get me through the first months of my daughter’s life. I want my story to be that for someone. Even just one person and it will be worth sharing.
To start a conversation. I don’t often hear conversations about obstetric violence that are building bridges. My trauma will be used as a means to create lines of communication, understanding and change. I’ve waited long enough, healed enough and had guidance to share my story without hysteria, hate and judgment. Instead I share my story to say, “Not all nurses and Doctors are this way. Let’s create relationships that relieve tension and protect the mothers we serve”.
So you can have a personal look into what drives me, why I created the My Sunshine Birth Services Networkand why I’m so fiercely dedicated to passing legislation that will improve maternity care and hospital transfer protocol.
Lastly my students and clients ask me all the time to tell them my birth story. This story is on my website now under the About Me section so I can lead them there and keep the conversations in class and prenatal from becoming about me. Because in the end my birth story matters, but when I’m your educator or Doula it is about YOU!