Write Your Birth Story – Before the Baby Comes

Photo by Lonely Planet on Unsplash

A couple years back, I was reading the excellent book by Cynthia Gabriel, “Natural Hospital Birth” and came across her suggestion for readers (pregnant people) to write their birth story in advance of their birth. It was brilliant. I thought, ” . . . but OF COURSE! This can help us manifest the birth we are hoping for because it’s like a long, detailed affirmation”. The more I pondered this idea the more I realized that our pre-written birth story can serve as a tool to help us examine if our birth team (doctors, midwives, partners, doula, friends, family, etc.) is going to help or hinder our birth plan. Who wouldn’t want to iron out all of the potential wrinkles in the birth plan? I know, I know, you’re thinking, “no birth ever goes according to plan.” Humor me for a minute.

Do you plan a wedding? Do you plan a birthday party? Do those things ever go exactly according to plan? No, they do not, but plan them, you do. Birth plans are useful tools, even if you don’t actually give them to your provider. They provide us an opportunity to consider the information about many interventions we may encounter during birth. If you have the right provider, they will be welcoming of your birth plan and will recognize that your values and preferences are an important part of evidence based care.

Now that you know birth plans are useful, and you love the idea of writing your birth story to test the viability of your birth plan . . . Are you like, “WHERRRRRE do I even start?” I can help you!

Part One

Set aside a morning or afternoon in your schedule and devote a good chunk of quiet time to really dig into your heart and intuition about how your birth story unfolds. Listen intently as your deeply knowing self relays the story to your conscious self about your birthing day. Ask questions if you get stuck, or use the prompts below for a jumping off point. Once your birth story starts coming to you, you may feel it flowing faster than you can write.

Here are some writing prompts to help you get started on your dream Birth Story:

The first time I knew I was in labor was when . . .
My support person was able to help me by . . .
When my labor began, I was . . .
When my labor began, I felt . . .

. . . and some more prompts for when you are writing about being in your birth place. Think about active labor and transition, as well as the pushing stage and delivery of the placenta while you consider these prompts:

When we arrived at the . . .
When I settled into my chosen birthing space, I felt . . .
When I felt the next one come, I . . .
The people who were around me were . . .
The staff at the birth center was . . .
My care provider helped me when . . .
My baby was . . .

Don’t forget the Golden Hour: the magical first hour after baby is born. How do you see your first hour after birth being spent?

After my baby was born, I . . .
When I held my baby, I felt . . .
My baby’s eyes were . . .
My baby’s body was . . .

Feeling my baby skin to skin, I noticed . . .

And finally, think about your postpartum care. We are still being cared for up to 4 days after we give birth in a medical setting. The baby is out, and you are now two (or more!) people instead of one. Consider how your baby is being cared for, as well as yourself.

After the golden hour, I decided to . . .
I asked for something to eat, it was . . .
My partner was . . .
The staff was . . .
My baby was . . .
When we were discharged, I felt . . .

Part Deux

Now that you have written your dream birth story, reflect on whether the actors who compose your dream ‘birth team’ represent your current reality.

About your birth partner: Is your partner capable of supporting you the way you envision? If not, what might help them provide the comfort and advocacy skills you will need from them? Childbirth classes? A virtual consultation with a birth professional? Would it be best to have a doula join your team to support both you and your partner with these things? Be honest with yourself and your partner about their abilities and your needs and work towards a solution that you feel good about – one in which you are making a conscious agreement. As you consider your options, keep in mind that sacrificing your birth experience for your partner’s comfort is not an option. You don’t get to have a do-over, so remember that even though your partner’s feelings matter, yours are more important in this situation. They won’t be the ones carrying around this life-changing physical/mental/emotional/spiritual stuff around with them their whole life. If they need help understanding this, please consult a couples counselor or marriage therapist. It is that important.

About your care provider: If your birth story is representative of the social/midwifery model [see table below] but your provider is giving you something that looks more like the medical model . . . how can you change your reality to more closely match your birth story? Bring these into alignment and your birth experience will be more likely to resemble your birth intentions. You may need to change care providers to get the care you are seeing in your birth story. Your doula or childbirth educator can help you find a provider who aligns with the model of care you want.


A Critical Analysis of the Medical Model as used in the Study of Pregnancy and Childbirth
by Edwin van Teijlingen
Sociological Research Online, Volume 10, Issue 2

About your birth place: where are you in your birth story? The hospital? A birth center? Home? If your birth place aligns with the type of care you are seeking, awesome. But if you find yourself dreaming of birthing in the woods and this is not your plan because you feel safer in the hospital, then the birth setting you have planned is leaving something to be desired. Your deeply knowing self wants to be left alone during birth, as much as possible. How can you arrange your birth place so that you can feel undisturbed, as in your dream birth? What can be done to protect your birth space? Your childbirth educator and/or doula can offer many suggestions to help you piece together a birth plan that more closely resembles your birth intentions revealed by your birth story. If you need help finding a certified childbirth educator or doula, you can search here and here.

Jenn D’Jamoos is a CAPPA Certified Childbirth Educator, Certified Health Coach and Evidence Based Birth ® Instructor. She offers childbirth classes and workshops in Southeast/Central Michigan, as well as virtual birth planning consultations online. You can learn more about her here.

Book your virtual consultation with Jenn to plan your Dream Birth now.

CH-CH-CH Changes . . .

Photo by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash

Hello Friends!

Today I updated my website to reflect that I will no longer be teaching private childbirth preparation classes. However, you can still catch me for limited group childbirth classes or a virtual consultation!

I am making this change to focus on some other business pursuits as well as to free up some time to spend with family. I couldn’t totally let go of teaching in a private format though, because I truly LOVE it so much! So, I have made virtual consultations available. These consultations will be ultra-customized to my clients needs. We won’t need to spend any of our consultation time catching up on basic info like due date, prior birth experiences, etc. because you and your partner will fill out a pre-call questionnaire that I will review in advance of our consultation and then plan out our call based on your answers.

NEW Virtual Consultations

My virtual consultations will be right up your alley if you are:

  • Pre-pregnant and want hands on help with planning your ultimate birth experience (which involves healthful choices during early pregnancy)
  • Newly pregnant and exploring your birth options (OB or midwife? Hospital or Home?)
  • Pregnant again and want a better experience than last time (VBAC, unnecessary interventions, etc.)
  • Coming up quickly on your due date and don’t have time for a full childbirth class (you had every intention but time just got away from you!)
  • Need a thorough discussion about your options as you are working on your birth plan (What is necessary to include, what’s not. How to get staff to take it seriously, Which things can be decided on later, etc.)
  • Want to have a solid toolbox of comfort measures/coping techniques as you are heading into your birth experience (tried and true techniques used by birth pros)
  • Have a partner who needs instruction on how to advocate for you (building bridges with hospital staff)
  • Would like a better understanding of any aspect of labor, birth and postpartum (from basic birth fundamentals to “things they don’t tell you”)

On the other hand, my virtual consultations are NOT for you if you and/or your partner:

  • Need in-person instruction of comfort measures
  • Need to touch/feel educational tools for optimal learning
  • Do not have a reliable internet or cellular connection
  • do not plan to utilize the information provided in the call
  • are not willing to make changes to your current plan (if needed) in order to increase chances of a better birth experience

How do I make an appointment?

Good question! You will need to purchase the consultation through my store (linked below – choose the 90+30 virtual consultation) and then I will follow up with you via email to have you complete the pre-call questionnaire. Within the questionnaire I will ask you for your ideal days/times for our call and then we will firm up our appointment via email.

That’s it! Please do not hesitate to message me if you have any questions about my consultations. I’m happy to answer them!

Welcome to the Earth Mama Birth, LLC store! You can pay for your virtual classes, consultations and in-person workshops through this store. I will follow up with an email after your purchase to get any necessary details before our meeting/class/workshop. Thanks so much for supporting this woman-owned small business!

Featured Products

Dates: eat them up, yum

So your midwife said to start eating dates because you are approaching your due date (and some evidence shows that they can shorten pregnancy), and you’re looking at the giant container you bought from Costco and wondering how in the world you are going to get 6-10 of those suckers down the hatch every day? Have no fear, I have collected some recipes for you to make the task less daunting and maybe even delicious and fun.

Coconut Date Rolls

DIY LaraBars

Dates wrapped in Bacon

Smoked Almond Stuffed Dates

Stuffed Dates Eight Ways

13 best recipes using dates

Date Cookies

Date Brownies

No Bake Raw Vegan Brownies (with dates)

3-ingredient brownies (Whole 30)

Vegan Vanilla Date Smoothie

4-ingredient Green Smoothie

Do you have any favorite date recipes we should include? Leave a comment!

When to Take a Birth Class

Short answer: The earlier, the better; but keep reading and I’ll explain why (even though you may not like what I have to tell you.)

Plan on starting to look for a childbirth class around your 16th week of pregnancy.

The best way to figure out when to FINISH your class is to count backwards from your guess date (which you may call your due date) about 8-10 weeks. That will put you around your 30th-32nd week of pregnancy. Yes, that’s when you want to have your class completed, not when to start it. So if you are looking at a 6 week class, you should aim to start it around your 24th week. Longer classes you will want to start even sooner. Many classes are announced 4-8 weeks before they start. This means you will want to start searching for classes in the beginning of your second trimester, around your 16th week. There are a few reasons for this.

  • Your baby may come earlier than expected. You definitely want to know what preterm labor looks and feels like (this is something you will learn in class). Your care provider can certainly tell you about this but most of my students have never been provided this information as part of their routine prenatal care. You will want those labor coping and advocacy skills to help you through labor whenever it happens.
  • You may need extra time to find the right class. Once you have done your homework and decided on a class format or style that is a good fit for you, there is a chance that the class may fill up quickly or be offered at a time that conflicts with your schedule. Your instructor will be more able to accommodate you if you contact them early. I have had clients contact me in their first trimester which allowed me to plan my group class around their schedule.
  • You need time to alter your plans based on information you learn.Many pregnant people choose their initial care provider based on previous history, who is geographically closest to them and/or who takes their insurance. But not all care providers or birth settings are going to give you evidence based care or the model of care that best suits your birth intentions. Nobody wants to think they hired the wrong doctor or midwife, but during your class there is a good chance you may conclude that your chosen care provider is not a good fit. Some people will tell you that you can switch providers any time you want – even while you are in labor – but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. And, it’s better to get the type of care you want as early in pregnancy as possible.

All of this begs the question, “What should I look for in a childbirth class?” Well . . . that’s entirely up to you. Birthing classes come in a variety of flavors. You will find private and group formats, as well as in-person or virtual classes, and now even a hybrid class (meets in-person AND virtually) is available through Evidence Based Birth®. You will find everything from one-day workshops to 12-week classes. There are also a number of methods offered so be sure to research the options in your area (and a little beyond) to see what works best for you!

The hospital childbirth class near you may not be the only or best option, but it’s probably the least expensive. However, you may find yourself compromising on quality. If you want an out-of-hospital class but cost is an issue, be sure to reach out to the instructor you want and let them know you are interested in the class but cost is a sticking point. There may be payment plans available or a work/study option.

Childbirth Classes classes in Brighton, MI
Childbirth Classes in Ferndale, MI
Evidence Based Birth® Instructor Directory




The Inside Scoop on the Evidence Based Birth®️ Childbirth Class

This past December I took the training to learn how to teach a new childbirth class developed by Rebecca Dekker PhD, RN, APRN, founder of EvidenceBasedBirth.com. As you may know, I have been an Evidence Based Birth®️ Instructor for several years now and have incorporated EBB learning modules into my classes in some form or another. This new class is different from what I have been teaching in that it is completely designed by Evidence Based Birth®️.

There are many things I love about this curriculum as an instructor but the most important aspect to me is that it is appealing to the newer generations of parents-to-be who desire a different structure to learning.  Rebecca thoroughly researched Millennials and Generation Z to discover how they learn best and what they like and don’t like about childbirth classes or the idea of them. The end result is a class that features:

An Evidence Based Birth®️ Instructor demonstrates comfort measures for the birth partner.

Two In-person classes for rehearsal of comfort measures and birthing time. This is something that is lacking from online-only courses. There is nothing that can replace having hands-on instruction from an experienced birth professional.

Four zoom meetings. This hybrid format means that students are not coming to in-person classes for six weeks in a row and can enjoy four classes from the comfort of their living room in their fuzzy pajamas or from somewhere else like work or out of town (or work out-of-town!).

A flipped classroom style of learning. Students learn content online and then participate in guided discussions during class time while getting their questions answered.

PRIZES! Who doesn’t love getting prizes? Incentive is a driving factor for lots of people to accomplish their goals. Prizes make it fun for the birthing person and partner alike to get those practice sessions in.

Bonuses! There is so much bonus content in this course that I simply can’t compare it to any birth class I’ve ever seen, and more is still being added! With all of the information available on the Internet it sure is nice to have curated content from a trusted source at your fingertips.

The feedback from couples who have taken the Evidence Based Birth®️ Childbirth Class has been outstanding. They report feeling a sense of accomplishment from having invested the time and effort in preparing for the arrival of their child.  They also feel confident walking into the hospital for their birth. Couples who have taken this course benefited from an empowering birth experience and knew how to speak up to get the care that they wanted and deserved.

I’m very excited to offer the brand new Evidence Based Birth®️ Childbirth Class for the first time starting January 20th and am offering $25 off any level registration. Just use code INAUGURAL25 to get the discount. Follow this link to register by January 13th. https://ebbchildbirthclassbrighton.eventbrite.com.

To see classes available worldwide from other AMAZING Evidence Based Birth®️ Instructors, visit the calendar of events here.

What to Do if Your Care Provider Pushes Back

Pretty much the last thing we need during labor, right?

Say you are in labor and your care provider (obstetrician or midwife) says they are going to use an intervention.  You do not wish for this intervention to be performed, but they push back and tell you that it’s hospital policy, or *only* tell you the risks of not doing the intervention; or worse, they don’t say anything and start making threats.  What can you do?

First let me say, as a laboring person you should not have to worry about getting non-evidence based care.  Planning ahead and choosing a birth setting, care provider and model of care that aligns with your birth wishes can go a long way in preventing this situation from transpiring, but unfortunately it can *still* happen even with all the advance planning in the world.

That being said,  here are some steps you can take:

  1. Ask for the provider to walk you through the informed consent process.  Your provider has a legal and ethical obligation to provide you with this process for any/all interventions.  They must discuss with you the benefits, risks and alternatives to the intervention.  This must include the benefits/risks of the alternatives, as well.  They must also disclose what would happen if you did nothing.  They must answer any question you may have.
  2. Ask for some time to discuss the matter with your support person/people.  This may include your partner, your doula, or any other person whom you have invited into your birth space.  The person you talk with doesn’t have to be knowledgeable at all, really.  The goal is just to see if you can buy yourself some time.  If you are dealing with an emergency situation, you won’t have time to talk.  If they give you time to talk, you know it’s not a real emergency.
  3. Give your consent or refusal.  If you give your consent and change your mind later, you can tell them you’ve changed your mind.  it’s okay, it’s not a contract.  You can revoke your consent.

If your provider makes threats or is combative and difficult to speak with despite your best efforts, you can ask for a new provider.  You have the right to switch care providers (yes, even while you are in labor.)  You can ask for another OB or midwife in the hospital to attend your birth.  If you are in a birth setting where they do not have another provider available, you can ask for the patient advocate or chaplain.  These individuals can serve as a mediator of sorts, to help facilitate communication between you and the care provider.  This may seem extreme, but the alternative is checking out of the hospital against medical advice (AMA) and heading to a different hospital.  It’s probably the last thing you want to do when you’re in labor, but it has been done.

This, of course, begs the question . . . What kind of threats could they make?

I’ve heard of providers threatening to call CPS on families who refuse to cooperate with their plan.  This is mostly an empty threat because a.)  CPS understands that you have the right to informed consent and refusal and b.) even though CPS is obligated to respond to the call, it doesn’t mean that anything will come of it.

TIPS:

  • Don’t buy the line about “it’s hospital policy”.  Yea, it’s the care providers obligation to abide by hospital policy, but it’s not yours.  Hospital policies are not laws, therefore you are under no obligation to follow them.
  • Recognize their humanity.  Something that will make any situation a lot easier is to acknowledge that the people you are dealing with are just trying to do their job.  They are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents . . . just like you and your family.  They have job stress, life stress and family stress just like you.  Acknowledge this to them.  Say, “I understand you are just doing your job [say their name] and I appreciate that you are being thorough, but I do not consent to this.”
  • Start off on the right foot!  Right when you get to triage and then again in L & D, introduce yourself, or have your partner/doula introduce themselves to the staff.  Read their name tag, say their name when you introduce yourself, shake their hand.  Thank them for supporting you/your partner.  Ask them about their life outside of work, their job, their kids, anything . . . make small talk and tell them things about you outside of your exciting journey to becoming parents.  Bring a little treat for the nurses station.  You don’t have to go over the top, it can be candies or cookies or whatever.  Gifts of food are a way to show them that you are thoughtful and kind.  It’s a way to humanize them and yourself.  Write your names on the gifts so they remember you/who they are from.  You are building a little relationship with the people who are supporting you and you want them to consider your feelings/wishes/preferences if push comes to shove.  This is more likely to happen if you’ve already made an impression that you are kind and thoughtful.

Do you have any other tips for handling a situation where your care provider disagrees with your choices during labor?  Please leave a comment.  Thanks!

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List of labor interventions

(not an exhaustive list)

Drugs or measures used to induce or augment labor such as:
Misoprostol (Cytotec)
Cervidil
Prepidil
Foley Balloon
Membrane Stripping
Pitocin

Practices used to gather information about the mother or baby’s condition:
Cervical checks
Electronic fetal monitoring (both internal and external)

Procedures/medication used to manage pain:
Epidural, Spinal, CSE (combined spinal-epidural)
Oral or IV Pain Medications

Measures used to mitigate side effects of interventions:
IV fluids

Actions used to move a poorly positioned baby:
ECV or Breech Version
manual rotation of the fetal occiput

Practices to expedite birth:
Episiotomy
forceps or vacuum assisted birth
Cesarean

 

Refer-a-friend promotion

I am thrilled to offer the chance to win a $25 Amazon e-gift card to YOU when you refer a friend who registers for my upcoming Birth Prep Weekend workshop on October 27th & 28th in Brighton, MI.  Just have your friend mention your name and email address when they register!  Drawing will take place on October 28 and winner will be notified via email.

Thanks and good luck!

FOR EVENT DETAILS AND TO REGISTER:  https://birthprepweekendworkshop.eventbrite.com

Baby Announcement Etiquette in the Social Media Age

During many of my childbirth preparation classes, one of the things we discuss is how and when to announce the birth.  This was obviously not a huge concern before the advent of social media, but given how effortless it is now to share our thoughts, feelings, experiences, excitement and whatever we’d like without a second thought and with vast numbers of people simultaneously, we have begun discussing this as part of our postpartum preparation.

I begin by asking my students if they have put any thought into how they plan to announce the child’s birth.  Some of them say they will call the people closest to them, others say they haven’t really thought about it, and there is almost always one person who says, “If anyone announces it on Facebook before we do, I’m going to be really upset!”  So, we talk about ways that we can bring this concern to our friends and family ahead of time in an effort to circumvent the problem.  Enter:  the Social Media Etiquette discussion.

I have suggested that expectant families create a graphic to post during their pregnancy so that friends and family understand the importance of announcing the birth in the manner that they choose.  If you don’t see anything posted to this effect, play it safe!  It’s always best to assume that the couple prefers to be the source of the announcement if you aren’t sure.

You may also be asked at the baby shower to refrain from posting anything about the birth until it is officially announced.  If you spend a lot of time on social media or are a “Facebook Stalker,” You may find that the parents are all of a sudden very quiet on social media and think you have figured it out; but whatever you do, DON’T post “Congrats!” on their wall because other people can see that.  (Pro Tip:  This feature can be turned off in Settings.)  Some couples might be okay with an email, message or text, but if they haven’t had the baby yet, and especially if the pregnancy has gone beyond the estimated due date, you run the risk of stressing them out.  There are few things more annoying in late pregnancy than hearing, “Have you had the baby yet?”  Stress is not good for mom and baby, so just . . . be . . . patient.

The babymoon (the period of time after the baby is born and for several weeks afterwards) is a time when mothers and babies are adjusting to life as a dyad; it is both sublime and intensely difficult.  Some of the kindest things you can do to show your support is to bring them a prepared meal (don’t stay too long!), offer to do some cleaning or run errands and … save the big news for them to share.