In an effort to meet the challenges of these times and ensure that families are able to have access to childbirth education in the wake of COVID-19 restrictions that have left many hospital classes cancelled, I am continuing to offer my one-on-one virtual consultations and now I am proud to be part of the team providing childbirth education via the Soshe app.
What do I get in a virtual consultation package?
The basic package includes:
90 minutes of face to face time on Zoom. (We will determine your priorities before our call.)
Relevant to your needs handouts, checklists, guides, etc. in printable PDF’s
Up to 6 weeks postpartum of text and email support
Prices for my virtual consultations start at just $125 for 90 minutes with options to add more. You can register by clicking on this product card.
Find me on the Soshe app
Currently, you can sign up for the online childbirth class at Soshe for $49 (a $300 value). Soshe is proud to offer free registration for those who can’t afford to pay. We have classes starting April 6 and April 23, with more planned to follow.
If you have any questions at all, please feel free to message me directly. I look forward to supporting you, and hope to bring some peace and calm to your life as you prepare for the arrival of your child.
I came up with these Tips for a Positive Birth Experience for prospective students when I first started teaching. Many expecting parents think that taking a childbirth class is just ‘learning how to breathe’. While breathing effectively is important to having a positive birth experience, there are many other factors that will contribute to how you feel after all is said and done.
Tip #1: Become an Informed Healthcare Consumer
If you are anything like I was when we found out I was preggers, you assume that you need to find an OB/GYN who takes your insurance, and then you’re good to go. I didn’t know it at the time, but there are a number of care providers who can attend births, and OB/GYN’s are just one type.
Provider types who attend births
Midwives (Certified Nurse Midwives, Certified Professional Midwives, Certified Midwives, Lay Midwives, Direct Entry Midwives, etc.)
Learning the different models of care that these types of providers will give you could change your mind about who you want attending your birth.
AND THAT’S JUST FOR STARTERS
To increase your chances of a positive birth experience, you not only need a provider/model of care/birth place that aligns with your birth intentions, but you also need to be informed about common interventions. This means understanding the risks, benefits, and alternatives of each test, exam, or other thing they want to do to ‘intervene’ in your pregnancy, labor, birth or postpartum period. It especially means having a good grasp of the evidence supporting (or not supporting) the intervention. I know this seems like A LOT to consider, but it’s not as difficult to manage if you have a well trained, certified birth professional to help you. Knowing the evidence for interventions will significantly contribute to having a positive birth experience, especially if you end up needing one of those interventions.
They key word here is “supportive”. Your birth team consists of anyone in the space where you plan to give birth. Yes, it’s your partner, a doula if you choose to have one, and any family or friends you may wish to invite. Your birth team also includes your care provider and the nursing staff.
Player 1: Your birth partner. If you have a significant other and they are your chosen birth partner, you chose them for a reason! All the lovely things you share together in your everyday life are going to come into your birth space and will help you both navigate this precious time. You may find that your partner wants to give you more support, but they are unsure how to do so. This is an excellent time to explore childbirth preparation options together. (virtual consultations, group classes, DIY, etc.)
(If you are planning to birth without a partner or support person, please message me. )
Additional Players: If you find that your family or friends are not 100% on board with your birth intentions, it may be best to limit their access to you during your birthing time. Their negativity can detrimentally affect your mindset, the energy in the room, the dynamics with the staff, or worse. Birthing time is a vulnerable time and you have to trust that everyone you are allowing in the room has your back and believes in you/your baby, so that you can focus on bringing your bundle earth-side. Active labor is not the time to manage relationships.
Tip #3: Be Your Own Birth Advocate
The trick with this tip is that you have to do the majority of the advocating before you ever set foot in the hospital. Interviewing care providers, asking questions during prenatal visits, developing your birth plan, getting your team prepared . . . it all sets you up for the big day. The goal is to enter the hospital with everyone understanding exactly where you stand on routine interventions. AND, you and your partner must walk in knowing your rights as a birthing person.
Tip #4: Consult a Certified Birth Professional
Why does certification matter? It matters if you want to cut to the chase. But if you have the time to vet someone who is not certified, that works, too! There is a baseline of information that birth professionals should know, and having certification helps you find those people easier. You want to make sure that the person you are talking to has received adequate training/experience to educate you AND they are staying up to date on the current practices and evidence. We expect our doctors and midwives to be informed, and so should the people we go to for childbirth education and birth support. Your friend or relative who has supported others through their births will be a wonderful person to have on your birth team, but will they be able to help you advocate for yourself when it comes to ensuring evidence based care is provided and making informed decisions about interventions? Certified doulas and childbirth educators have the knowledge and training you seek, and asking around in your community is another way to find knowledgeable and experienced birth pros who may not be certified but are just as qualified.
A positive birth experience is most likely to occur when you feel safe, supported and loved. Feeling safe means you have communicated your birth intentions and can comfortably put all your trust in your birth team, leaving you to focus on the important job of giving birth.
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.
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 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!
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.)
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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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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.
Now that I am a Certified Childbirth Educator, I can look back on my childbirth preparation experiences with a more critical eye. Let me first say, I don’t believe that there is one method that serves everyone, but rather, certain methods resonate with certain people. You like vanilla, I like chocolate . . . you get the idea. But how do you know what is a good fit for you? Let me explain.
For my first baby, I took classes through the hospital, and I didn’t remember much of anything helpful by the time I was in labor. Those hospital classes did not teach me any coping skills. I was going to “try” to go natural (lol). I ended up getting pitocin and thought I had to stay confined to bed. None of the nurses there told me it would be easier for me to get up and move around. (Maybe they didn’t know because they only ever saw medicated births?) So, I didn’t. Culture had me believing that I was supposed to stay in the hospital bed, even though no one ever actually said that to me. Given that I was in tremendous pain, had no coping skills and my husband was equally at a loss to help me, I requested the epidural. While the epidural was very effective in relieving my pain, I felt disconnected from my body and the birth experience. I was an observer; just another person in the room waiting for a baby to emerge. I knew if I was going to do this again, I’d need to seek out a different kind of class to have a better birth experience.
Fast forward to my second birth: we took a birth preparation class that was 12 weeks long. It was a popular method that celebrates husbands. We got a lot out of the class and I think it did a great job preparing us. But there were weeks we *really* didn’t want to go. I think if we were not already parents, we probably wouldn’t have taken that class. The things that drove me to do it were a.) a “night out” without our oldest, b.) I really needed support from my instructor in navigating things with my care provider (another story for another time) and c.) I was determined to have a natural birth. Long story short, I coped with all of my labor at home and in the car. I don’t think my husband actually did any of the physical support he learned in that class. Most of what I did to get through labor in those three very intense hours was primal and instinctive. The main thing I got out of that class was that my body was made to do this. The class convinced me that I could give birth without interventions. (and I did!) I appreciated that my husband learned how to identify the different stages of labor by observing my behavior. He knew I was further along than I thought I was and thus, contacted our support people to come before I probably would have. I believe the classes were a good investment of our time and money.
Third birth: To prepare for our first homebirth, I read a book on self-hypnosis for labor which was accompanied by a CD. (The book is also available in class format with instructor, which we did not take.) I was confident in my laboring skills after my second birth but I felt like maybe I just got lucky to have a 3 hour labor last time, so thought it wise to add some more tools to my toolbox. It was a little weird for me, to be honest. I didn’t get into it, even though I love “new-age hippie” stuff. Maybe self-hypnosis just didn’t resonate with me at the time, or maybe it was the scripts, or the voice on the CD. I could not “connect” with them. I also don’t believe calling contractions “surges” made them any less painful for me. So, did it help me during labor? What that book helped me do was understand that I had to be in a different part of my brain. I suppose I inherently knew this already because I made the effort to plan a homebirth; I couldn’t see myself laboring like I wanted in a hospital having had the previous experiences I had. I think the birth hypnosis book most helped me engage in the idea of seeing contractions in different ways; waves, colors, etc. to help cope with them and brought me to understand the value of birth affirmations.
Fourth Birth: By the time I was pregnant with my youngest child, I had already been a Childbirth Educator for several years. I knew that all of my laboring instincts would kick in and that I could trust the process. I had another homebirth and added a doula this time for good measure. My doula was able step in and provide physical comfort/support while my husband took care of setting up the birth space and preparing supplies. It was SO NICE to have someone 100% dedicated to my physical and emotional needs while Chris managed other equally important aspects of the birth setting. The thing that stands out most to me, though, about coping with my fourth labor is that I had been able to turn inward and completely surrender to the will of my baby and my body. I didn’t have to use my thinking brain to remember things to do . . . it was instinctive. After reflecting on that birth, I came to the conclusion that the practice most closely associated with how I “turned inward” is known as meditation.
A pregnant mother practices meditation to prepare for birth.
I had never taken any classes in meditation until long after my fourth birth. But when I started meditating, I knew instantly that this place in my brain seemed familiar. It was just where I had been during the deepest, most divine part of my birth experiences. After researching, I understand now why practicing meditation is so profoundly useful for pain relief during labor.
I believe that the efforts I made in preparing for birth during my pregnancies helped to get me where I needed to be for labor. These classes and books gave me tools I may not have had otherwise. Because I had experience with several approaches to childbirth preparation, I was able to make the informed decision to become certified by an organization (CAPPA) that doesn’t teach/promote/utilize a specific method, but rather draws from evidence based practices as well as the varied experiences and expertise of many mothers and birth professionals. Coupled with my training, I am able to draw upon my own experiences and knowledge to teach expectant couples a wide variety of tools to help them through their birth journeys. I firmly believe that a well prepared birth team has the best chances of having a beautiful and positive birth experience. Now that I am also an Evidence Based Birth® instructor, I am able to offer even more support in the way of preparing families for navigating birth in a medical setting.
If you are deciding on a class that best suits you and your partner, there are many factors to consider including your schedules, your birth intentions and your birth philosophy. The vast majority of out-of-hospital group classes are going to be great for most couples, but there are sometimes limitations with scheduling and availability, so be sure to explore your options around your community and even a little further out from home. You might find a perfect fit just a little bit out of the way and it could make all the difference for you, your baby and your birth.
We all know births don’t go according to plan, right? I’d love to see a shift away from calling the birth plan a birth plan and more towards something that allows for sharing our ideas about how we want our birth to go without the “commitment” of a plan.
The Problem with Birth Plans
One of the problems with birth plans is that they can be perceived by hospital staff as a setup for failure or disappointment. The joke is sometimes bandied about that the birth plan is a ‘ticket to the OR.’ I don’t think anyone who is planning a vaginal and/or unmedicated birth wants to invite that presumption to their birthing space. A slight change in our language can help hospital staff see what we hope for our birth experience while also showing them that we understand the situation is fluid.
I’ve also heard people call the birth plan their “Birth Preferences”. While this does acknowledge that birth is no place for a rigid plan, I think that the word ‘preferences’ is too non-committal for the hospital staff because preferences are perceived like this: I would *prefer* to have black olives on my pizza, but it’s okay if I don’t get them. Using preferences for your birth: I would *prefer* that you don’t stick your hand in my vagina, but it’s okay if you do.<—- That doesn’t work for a lot of reasons. But, the main reason I really don’t like the word “preferences” is because it gives the power to someone else.
Why We Should Call Them “Birth Intentions”
Showing up with your Birth Intentions conveys a few ideas. First, that you the birthing person are, in fact, the person with the power. You are asserting your autonomy. Second, it creates a space where you can say what you want about your birth without feeling guilty or disappointed if things go differently. Third, naming your birth intentions clarifies for your birth team what you expect to happen, unless you deem otherwise. Intentions are hopeful versus dictatorial (plans) or submissive (preferences).
So let’s say a few birth intentions together, shall we?
My Birth Intentions
i intend To receive my child skin-to-skin immediately after birth and remain this way for as long as we desire.
i intend To keep the umbilical cord attached and intact until it appears white, allowing my baby’s blood to return to their body from the placenta.
i intend To remain undisturbed during active labor unless I specifically ask for support or interventions.
i intend To labor and birth in any position that my body tells me.
Now, create your own Birth Intentions. You can do something as simple as changing the title of your document from “Birth Plan” to “Birth Intentions”. But, because I’m a fan of the law of attraction, I highly recommend trying to phrase your intentions in such a way that you are inviting them to happen. This has a way of shifting our mindset if we are in need of reclaiming our power.
I’d love to hear your birth intentions so please share in the comments if you’d like . It feels empowering to put them out in the world and inspires others to create their own.
If you are more of a do-it-yourselfer, you will LOVE writing your own birth mantras for meditation. What could be more tailor-made for your birth than mantras that resonate with the very soul who composed them?
When we are in labor, the goal is to get through each contraction and rest in between them. But, if we let our fear get the best of us, we end up suffering during the contraction as well as in between contractions, because we get caught up in anticipating the pain. “Mantras are sacred words that have spiritual qualities when uttered. They are used to connect with the Divine and protect the mind from sources of suffering,” writes Jillian Babcock in an article for Yogapedia titled, “The Sacred Meaning of Mantras”.
The goal of repeating mantras (or affirmations) and centering your meditation on a mantra is to get into a part of your brain that is very primal. This part of the brain called the “mammalian brain”, when accessed during birth, can most easily be done when the birthing person feels safe, supported and loved. When you are in your mammalian brain, your birth experience is more likely to unfold just the way nature has designed. The cascade of hormones that helps your body relax and open is unleashed from that place inside of us that is pure animal instinct. To let go of rational thinking and submit to the will of your body and baby; that is the goal.
But how do you get there? Seems like a strange place to be for someone who tends to overthink things, who overprepares for everything . . . who is a perfectionist. You can start by journaling your thoughts and fears. This is followed by looking over your journaling after a week with ‘girlfriend eyes’ and determine what negative beliefs need to be replaced with positive ones. Those positive thoughts become your mantras and the script for your guided meditation. Give yourself time, though. The process of writing your mantras and changing your negative beliefs into positive ones takes around 6 weeks.
According to Nikki Novo, writing for Miami Racked, “The idea is that if we continue to repeat a positive mantra over and over again, eventually it will override a negative belief our mind has grown accustomed to.” She goes on to give a step-by-step guide to write your own mantra. You can tweak this to use in your labor. Click here to access the guide.