Sweet Pea Births

Chandler, Arizona

Sweet Pea Births

...celebrating every swee​t pea their birth


Preparing Your Birth Plan

Posted on January 17, 2012 at 11:05 AM Comments comments (0)
We talked about writing the birth plan in class tonight.  We had no idea what a birth plan was with our first birth; it was an entirely new concept.   Now we know that it is an important exercise for mom and coach to complete together.  This is not a static document – it is one that will go through many drafts until you and your care provider are satisfied that you have a document that you can take with you to your birth place to make your wishes regarding your care known to anyone who will be attending to you.  
In class, we offer the perspective that the “birth plan” is more of a wish list for your best birth.  These are the things that are likely to happen if both mom and baby are doing well throughout the course of labor.  The way to increase the likelihood of having your best birth possible is to practice excellent nutrition and exercise so that mom and baby are strong and well nourished so that they can better manage any variations of labor.  

We encourage our couples to take the time to explore the many options and interventions available to them during labor and delivery.  First we ask them to compile a list together.  Then we ask Mom and coach to work individually and rank the options from the most important (least negotiable) to the least important (most negotiable).  Then we tell them to come together and compare notes – what does the new list look like after they have finished ranking together?  The third step is to evaluate if the choices are realistic given their pregnancy history and the chosen birth setting.  The fourth step is to write their well-crafted wish list into a birth plan that they can present to their care provider.  

Once they are ready with a document they can take to their provider, they call the scheduler to ask for extra time on their next appointment to go through the birth plan.  Listen to the input from your care provider.  They are the person or group you hired to help you have a Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby outcome.  They have a background of training and experience that they will apply to your birth plan.  If they are open to dialogue and offer suggestions, consider their input because they are the final arbiters of what is going to happen at your birth.  

If they originally said they would support your desire for a natural birth and then they tell you no on many of the things that are important to you, you may want to consider asking around and finding another provider who is open to your reasonable requests and change providers.  We have had students switch as late as 39 weeks to find the provider who supported their birth choices.   

Side note: For our home birth, we wrote a description of our ideal birth for our midwives as our "birth plan" since all the things we had to negotiate for at the hospital were non-existent in a home setting.  We also wrote a separate plan in the event of a hospital transfer that outlined our preferences in a hospital setting.

Your birth plan will go through at least two or three drafts before you have a document that your care provider is willing to sign and put into your chart.  We suggest that you have an additional original signature plan that you keep with you at all times.  Make copies of your signed plan that you can share with your care team at your birth place and keep one in your purse and one in your car.  The goal is to make sure that should you find yourself in an unexpected situation and you need it, you have a birth plan readily available.   

Why a signed copy?  We learned from experience that hospital staff likes to do their job well.  If something on your signed wish list is not part of an approved procedure or protocol, there is a higher likelihood of having your wish happen if your doctor has given them permission to deviate from their protocol.  

Know that it is within your right to speak directly to the doctor on call regarding the information you are getting from your nurse.  If you want to do something or try something that comes up that isn’t covered under the outline of your signed birth plan, insist on speaking to the doctor and then making sure that information gets relayed to the nurse.  

Here is an example from our experience: Nipple stimulation helps the body create more oxytocin, the hormone that causes mom to have contractions.  We wanted to use a breast pump to augment labor during our third child’s birth since it had been effective in getting our second labor to progress.**  The message we got from the nurse was that since there was no hospital protocol, we were not going to get the pump we requested.  A few hours later, our doctor came in to check on us to see how it was going.  She asked if the breast pump had worked.  If it had been effective she was going to see about have other patients try that so those desiring a natural labor could use that for nipple stimulation instead of the drug Pitocin. 

I was so angry when I heard this (by the way, not a great emotion for labor).  Our nurse had decided that she knew better than our doctor just because there was no hospital procedure written down explicitly saying that this was an acceptable way to augment labor.  We lost out on our opportunity to augment drug-free; we also missed out on widening our doctor’s perspective on our amazing bodies and how it’s possible to augment without artificial hormones.  

We suggest that students put their wishes for mom on one side of a piece of paper; on the reverse side they should express their wishes for their newborn care.  Make sure that if you are in a hospital or birth center setting that your wishes are read by the postpartum team as well.  

The last step in executing your birth plan is to be flexible.  If you got the plan written and your doctor signed it, see how it’s working once you are in active labor.  You may find yourselves facing situations that come up through the course of labor that you didn’t consider on the birth plan.  Be ready to take the fork in the road – the most important evaluation tool is the Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby end goal.  

I have a great picture from an impromptu gathering of students from our last series that demonstrates five different paths to a Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby outcome.  With the parents’ permission, I hope to bring those pictures and birth paths to you on Friday.  

Expecting moms: Any challenges writing your birth plan? How are you addressing those? 

Already moms: What was your experience with your birth plan? 

**There are other ways to stimulate the nipples instead of using a breast pump.  You can have a birth partner orally stimulate the nipple, or you can use your hands.  We tried using the hand method and it was a no-go for us.  In a public setting the other method was out of the question for Coach.  Most literature on the subject suggests starting with one breast at a time, since it can be a very powerful and effective augmentation technique.  If one is not enough to get labor going, then add in both being stimulated. 

The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation. This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.  

We are now enrolling for our
Spring Series
March 5, 2012 to
May 21, 2012  

For more information or to register,
please call us at
or email us at

Long Labors

Posted on January 3, 2012 at 11:35 AM Comments comments (0)
Happy New Year!  Thank you to all of you, especially our regular readers – we are now embarking on our second year of musings about pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding and parenting.  I welcome any comments you may have and suggestions on topics you are interested in exploring with me.
To close out last year, students from our fall series welcomed their child on December 31st.  They had what might be a record for longest labor from one of our students…51 hours!  This family labored for 2 days and 3 hours…our hats are off to them for making the decisions they needed to make in order to have a Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby outcome.  As a plus, they got to have a vaginal birth for mom and baby – always a “yeah!” for the options that are still available to them if they should choose to have another baby.
Which brings me to today’s topic of how to manage a long labor, what we refer to in class as “the marathon”.  We share that there is no way of knowing how long your labor is going to be until you are holding your baby and you look back to count the hours.  There are signs that may help you identify if you are having a labor or a sprint, and Bruss would say it’s the coach’s job to evaluate and help mom manage her labor.
I will reiterate – if your contractions start at 15+ minutes apart…chances are you are going to be in labor for more than 24 hours.  Looking back at our students’ birth stories, those who went into labor naturally and put off interventions when this was the case had marathon labors.  There is nothing wrong with taking longer – you are not broken, your body will not fail you.  The hardest part in my labors was waiting so long to meet our children – I just wanted to hold and nurse them already!
If your contractions start at 15+ minutes apart, here are some ideas for you to consider:
  - Eat something nutritious with protein and carbs.  Continuing eating
     until you lose your appetite; or if you don't want to eat, drink
     something with trace minerals or electrolytes.
  - Sleep, or at a minimum, get some horizontal rest.  Put away the clock
     and go back to bed until you can't ignore your contractions anymore. 
  - Evaluate your emotional state to remove any non-physical factors that
     might drag out your labor even longer.
  - Fill your mind with affirmations that reassure you that you are okay,
     baby is okay, and that you are committed to allowing your body and
     your baby to work together for the labor your baby needs. (see below
     for links)
  - Keep vaginal exams to a minimum so that you minimize your risk of
  - Stay hydrated to allow your hormones to flow effectively through your
When you see that you are setting up for a marathon, it will be so much easier if you can brace yourself for the longest possible outcome and then be pleasantly surprised if your’ baby arrives within 24 hours.  Acceptance is one of the ways to avoid unnecessary pain in labor.  Embracing your birth for what it is instead of what you thought or wanted it to be; accept that your body is giving you time to accept motherhood and time to ease into the hard work of labor. 
Besides acceptance, I would say the second key is to take one contraction at a time.  The first ones are easy.  By the time we had our fourth labor, we didn’t time them or even keep track of frequency when it was obvious we were twenty minutes apart.  By the time they start to get harder though, it’s easy to fall into the “How much longer can I take this?” frame of mind.  Coach, it is up to you to keep her focused on the contraction you are having now, and encourage her to close her eyes when it’s over.  You want a clear mind to make good decisions and a rested body for the intensity that will mark the end of your labor.  You will likely go from a tortoise start to a racetrack finish.
Mother Nature is kind in a quirky way… that is the plus side of these long labors.  All of them that we know of, including ours, have incredibly short pushing phases…this weekend’s baby was out in one push, Bryan was out in three, Angélika was out within twenty minutes of me feeling the urge to push.  Although it takes so long for body and baby to get serious…once both of them get going, the time when you meet your baby is coming soon!
Here are some things to look for that might indicate that you need to consider other options besides just letting nature take it’s course:
  - Is mom showing any signs of infection, namely a fever or is she
     shivering from chills?
  - How is her blood pressure?
  - How is her breathing?
  - Does she have a headache?
  - Has she had any noticeable swelling within a short time frame?
  - Has her energy decreased noticeably within a short time frame?
  - Is she experiencing a constant, severe pain instead of one that ebbs
     and flows?
  - Is there heavy bleeding before the bag of waters breaks?
  - Is there heavy bleeding anytime during labor?
While some of these can be helped with hydration as in several glasses of water (bp, headache, energy), all of them warrant a closer look at mom and baby from your care provider.  I am not just talking external fetal monitoring here by an assistant or the nurse.  I mean that you should insist that your primary care provider come evaluate mom and listen to your baby.
In our first labor, I did develop a fever, so we made the decision to get some penicillin to head off further infection.  When my labor still hadn’t progressed to the point my doctor wanted to see and we were getting closer to the “24 hour” deliver or cut decision, we had a dose of Pitocin which did indeed produce the kind of labor we needed to have a baby vaginally.  Did we have a true “natural birth”?  No – however, we made decisions to preserve our ultimate goal of “vaginal birth” that would allow us the chance to have a less interventions the next time we were in labor.
From our experience, I will outline these keys to evaluating decisions about interventions in a longer labor:
- Is mom okay?
- Is baby okay?
- What is our ultimate goal?
- What do we need to do to achieve that goal?
The goal of all our Bradley Method® classes is to convey information that leads families to Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby outcomes.  If your decisions take you off that path, then think about what your agenda is.  Parents who are committed to their children’s well being do not deliberately put them in harm’s way, nor will a loving coach sacrifice one person for another.  We encourage each family to evaluate their choices together, to have an open dialogue with their birth team, and then make the decisions they need to make to have a Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby outcome.
What did you do to cope with a long labor?
These are the things that helped me...
My pregnancy affirmations:

A link to my meditation and mantra with our last pregnancy & labor:
"I am safe and my baby is safe. I am well and my baby is well. I am loved and my baby is very, very loved."
Scroll down and see the “Meeting Your Baby” meditation
The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation. This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.
We are now enrolling for our
Spring Series
March 5, 2012 to
May 21, 2012
For more information or to register,
please call us at
or email us at

Coach's Pep Talk

Posted on December 30, 2011 at 10:07 AM Comments comments (0)
Coach's Corner
Bruss reveals his secret to being a great coach today...this is my first insight into his process, too.  He has been an amazing coach at all of our births - now I know how he does what he does for our baby and me!~Krystyna

We are regularly contacted by our Bradley® students as they go into labor.  For first time parents there is almost an universal excitement.  It is great to talk to the Dads and hear the excitement in their voices...the nervous, anxious energy as they start the wonderful experience of child-birth with their partner.

When I talk to the Dads as Mom's labor starts I like to give them a little pep-talk as follows:

OK.  You've been working very hard to prepare for this moment.  You have chosen a great medical team.  You've studied about labor and delivery, you've done the pregnancy and relaxation exercises, you've focused on a great diet.  You are ready.  Your job as labor coach is to pay very close attention to Mom.

Keep mental track of all the following:
- Energy level, mood, complexion color, pain level, ability to relax, ability to concentrate, hunger, thirst, fever, headache.
- Notice how Mom is doing in all these areas and note any changes.

Regarding the contractions:
- How close are the contractions?
- How intense are they?  
- Can Mom talk through them?  Or are they intense enough that she has to focus all her energy on them and can't talk or focus on anything else?
- Is there a pattern?
- Is the pattern changing?
Do the contractions (pattern, intensity...cadence) change with:
- change in position?
- walking?
- laying down?
- sitting down?
- shower?
- other?
Note all of these attributes and be aware of changes.

What stage of labor do you think you're in?  (Note: ask this question of yourself a lot)

Remember what you and your medical team decided ahead of time about when you would head to the hospital or when you would call in the midwives for a home birth.  Pay close attention to those thresholds.

Now while paying attention to all the little details about Mom's physical condition and how the contractions are progressing you have to focus on everything that you can do to support Mom as she labors.
- Keep Mom hydrated
- Make sure she has food (if she wants) for energy.
- In early first stage labor make sure Mom rests as much as possible so she has energy for later in labor.
- Help her relax through her contractions with your practiced methods.
- Don't ever leave her alone.
- Help her or be by her side whenever she's up and around.
- Take care of all the external things so that Mom can focus on the labor.

If you have any questions, concerns or intuition that something is not right contact your medical team immediately.

Enjoy the process.  The birthday of your child is one of the best days of your life.

What coaching tip can you share with our student dads?

The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation. This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.  

We are now enrolling for our
Spring Series
March 5, 2012 to
May 21, 2012  

For more information or to register,
please call us at
or email us at

Coaching Ideas

Posted on December 20, 2011 at 6:11 AM Comments comments (56)
So we have our sweet Angelika sitting in on classes with us since she is still nursing exclusively.  At eleven-weeks old she is a relatively easy baby who sleeps or coos quietly during class time.  For now, I can only hope it is a nice motivation for our students to see this sweet baby and look forward to the day when they will be holding their own sweet child.
We taught Class 3 and had our first “scenario” coaching exercise last night.  I can see that it is hard for the coaches and the moms in our class to imagine being in the midst of labor.  Most of our students start class between 20 – 26 weeks gestation.  They are enjoying their baby’s movements, having baby showers and wrapping their minds around parenthood.  The fact that this baby in mom’s uterus is coming out has yet to become a reality.  For now, they are only taking our word for it that they are going to need all the information they are learning about relaxation and motivation.
So, Coaches, how are you going to motivate mom to relax through the surges when their intensity keeps building and the frequency increases until they are back to back?  One of the reasons the Bradley Method® course is intentionally 12 weeks long so that Mom and Coach have enough time to fill their relaxation toolbox with strategies to manage labor and so that they have time to learn to work together as a team.
Here are some ideas shared about managing labor by other families who have recounted their birth stories:
Take one contraction at a time.  Mother Nature is very kind.  She gives us time between surges to catch our breath, change position if necessary and wait for the next wave of sensation to build.  These sensations build up over a period of time, and hardly ever do we have them on top of one another.  When we do have one surge on top of another, it’s probably because we are getting close to transition and we need to be reminded that we are so close to meeting our baby!
Remind Mom why she is doing this and why it’s important and worth it.  When you are still pregnant and comfortable, take the time to talk about the reasons why you are choosing to follow the course towards a natural birth.  Write them down if you think it will help you remember them during labor when things are starting to get more intense.  Keep your eye and mom’s focus on the “worth it”.  The effort and the work of labor will lead to a sweet baby in your arms and in your lives.  When you have a narcotic-free or at least low narcotic birth, you usually have a vigorous baby who is alert and who has a jumpstart on breastfeeding.
Some moms, I being one of them, put together a “play book” for coaches to refer to.  Some highlight their important pages in the student workbook, physical positions to use during different stages of labor, and maybe pull together prayers, meditations or relaxation scripts for Coach to read during labor when we need help to relax and let everything go so labor can progress.  In order to gain full benefit from this play book, make sure your coach knows where to find it and that you want him to use it.
Hold her hand, tell her that you love her.  This has always been the best “epidural” for me during our long labors.  Bruss’ constant support, his presence by my side in the fortieth hour that is just as loving and attentive as it was in the early hours of our labor when we were excited at the prospect of getting to meet our child; he is the reason why I have finished our “marathon” labors.  Even when I don’t want him to talk to me or touch me, his hand in mine reassures me that we are in this together and when I am ready to come out of my “zone” he is still there with me, working with me to meet our baby.
Praise, encourage and reassure her.  Don’t just give her a cursory pat on the back: pour on the praise – give her constant verbal support.  Praise her in front of your care team to build everyone’s confidence in her work.  Encourage us: read mom the letter she wrote to the baby about how she’s looking forward to meeting him or her.  Most of us have a hard time doing something for ourselves, but mention our children and we can do just about anything to ensure their well-being. 
Through the course of class we learn the signs and the progression pattern of a low-risk labor…as things progress and follow this low-risk yet challenging cycle, Coach can reassure mom that this is indeed, what they learned about and prepared for through the course of our classes.  Although labors must get intense in order to get to the contractions that produce a baby, it makes it do-able to relax through those contractions when your mind accepts that this is normal and many women before you have walked this path and had Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby outcomes.
If things deviate from the low-risk course and you have to make some decisions about how to manage your labor, we also teach our couples some tools to have a constructive and informative conversation with their care team.  The ultimate goal of any Bradley® birth is to have a Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby outcome.  When Moms and Coaches work together with their care team, you will always find yourselves making decisions that lead to this happy beginning to your new family.
Expecting Mommas and Coaches: What do you think will work for you during labor?
Birth Mommas and Coaches:  What was your favorite labor “tool”?
The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation. This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.
We are now enrolling for our
Spring Series
March 5, 2012 to
May 21, 2012
For more information or to register,
please call us at
or email us at

Preparation for a Positive Postpartum

Posted on November 15, 2011 at 12:19 PM Comments comments (122)
Baby arrives - now what?  We all spend time planning and preparing the nursery and for the birth-day - and we may forget that there life after the big day, and that your new normal is going to include caring for a newborn child.
What can you do to prepare for the best postpartum possible?  The mom who can rest and feels capable in feeding and caring for her baby is less likely to experience postpartum depression.  Avoiding birth trauma, mental anguish and physical distress are factors that lead to a more positive postpartum experience. 
Today’s post will talk about the things you can do during labor, birth and breastfeeding to set yourself up for a positive mental and physical experience.  On Friday I will share some practical tips for making the transition to life after baby a little smoother.
1.  Have a birth experience that you are happy with.
     The start to a healthy postpartum period is to have a birth experience you feel good about.  Positive mental health is always a plus!  Begin by choosing a care provider and a birth setting that support the birth you and your coach want for your baby.  If you cannot physically, mentally and/or emotionally relax in your birthplace, you will end up with more interventions and a less than optimal birth experience.     
     You may also need to be flexible.  In each of our three hospital births, we prepared for natural, intervention-free births.  Each birth, we reached times when we had to deviate from our birth plan.  Although our births weren’t “perfect”, we felt proud of our births because we made choices together, and we felt confident about the decisions we made along the path of labor.  The teamwork we learned and the information we gained as students of The Bradley Method® helped us to achieve what we wanted: epidural-free births for our children.
2.  Do your best to avoid pain medication during labor.
     Did you know that a laboring woman produces 40 times the endorphins found in a non-laboring person, and that these endorphins help you cope with the sensations of labor?  The surge of endorphins makes the sensations of labor manageable with the support of a loving coach.  They also help you fall in love and bond with your baby (and your Coach) when the work of labor is over.  It is a bona-fide love fest!     
     Further, did you know that those endorphins are not produced when pain medication inhibits the pain-response cycle?  This can cause a harder recovery if or when the epidural wears off: the discomfort would seem much more intense without the endorphins to help you enjoy your accomplishment.
      Avoiding pain medication also ensures that the natural processes remain as intact as possible: you and your baby work together during and after labor.  Your pain-medication free baby is a more responsive baby.  You can tune-in to your baby and your body and use this knowledge for adjusting labor positions.  Effective use of labor positions might speed up your labor.  At the very least, you can ensure that you are doing what your baby needs you to do so that they arrive safely into the world. 
     The biofeedback mechanism built into immediate nursing can also help you avoid the Pitocin (a labor augmentation drug) that is standard procedure after labor to shrink the uterus.  A pain-medication free baby will nurse readily, helping your body to expel the placenta by continuing to stimulate the production of oxytocin to contract and shrink the uterus.  We were always able to negotiate to “wait and see” if the Pitocin bolus needed to be administered after the baby was born.  Since all of our babies nursed readily, it was never necessary – one more area in which we were able to safely say “no thanks”.
     Speaking of Pitocin…this is purely anecdotal:  we had two labors augmented by Pitocin when we “failed to progress”, and two labors without it.  The postpartum emotional rollercoaster was much more pronounced when Pitocin was used during labor – more tears, depression and moments of anger.  We had much calmer and happier postpartum periods when Pitocin didn’t mix into our birth story. 
3.  Prepare ahead of time to avoid an episiotomy or tearing.
     All pregnant moms reach the point when it hits you – this baby is coming out, one way or another.  Even with our fourth baby, I had this “oh my…” moment.  The good news is that babies know where they need to get out – and the majority of them don’t grow larger than the vessel they grow in can handle.
     Good nutrition with plenty of Vitamin C and healthy fats and oils will help your muscles to stay healthy and flexible.  Your perineum is a muscle – and it follows that a healthy and flexible perineum can stretch around the head that has to pass through it. 
     You can also practice perineal massage – ask your care provider what they suggest.  Some encourage you to practice stretching the perineum as you approach your estimated due date, some will have you do nothing since they massage your perineum as the baby is crowning to ease the passage of the head.  Some care providers will want you to practice and they will do a perineal massage during the pushing phase.  The point is that between good nutrition and perineal massage, you can avoid tearing or an episiotomy altogether.
4.  Breathe your baby out.
     Another way to avoid tearing or an episiotomy is to tune-in during the pushing phase of labor.  Wait until you have an undeniable urge to push to start pushing.  If you are asked to push and you could take it or leave it, you are not ready to push.  You are only wasting your energy and possibly stressing out your baby and your body.  Believe me when I say you will know – the only thing you will want to focus on is getting the baby out of your body!
     Your contractions tend to space out in frequency again during the pushing phase.  Use this time to recover your energy by practicing relaxation and doing your deep abdominal breathing. 
~ When it is time to push, push only to the point of comfort.  Ease your baby out and the skin stretches comfortably; if you push too hard or too fast, you can tear from the extra stress on the skin. 
~ Do not hold your breath any prescribed amount.  Hold it only as long as your body wants to – the last thing you want to do is deprive your baby of oxygen when they are already constricted by the tight squeeze.
5.  There is pain after labor is over and you are holding your baby.
The three major sources of pain are contractions (!), the perineal area, and breasts.  Side note: If you have a fever after labor, it's time to call your doctor.  Do not ignore any redness or swelling or pain that is accompanied by a fever.  Dizziness and fainting are also indicators of something more serious.  This is not the time to "tough it out".  If you end up in the hospital it will compromise your ability to take care of your baby and breastfeed.
     This was the most surprising to me.  I wasn’t told that you keep experiencing uncomfortable contractions every time you nurse, and well after labor is over.  The discomfort during nursing lasted anywhere from 3 to 7 days in my experience.  Since your body makes oxytocin every time you nurse, you will feel the contractions until your uterus has shrunk down to its approximate pre-pregnancy size.  They are the most uncomfortable in the two days after labor; they get less and less noticeable with time.  You can use a heating pad to dissipate the pain during and after nursing.  My placenta pills helped ease the discomfort my last postpartum period – they made a big difference.
     If you have an episiotomy, it may feel like the pain is worse than labor because it is hurting, “ouchy” pain that persists, versus the productive pain that helps you meet your baby and then stops.  Between the trauma of the cut and the stitching for repair, the skin swells and the receptor nerves are screaming at you.  It is likely you will want to take something to ease the pain. 
     A tear that needs to be repaired with stitches may also be uncomfortable.  There is a direct relationship between the number of stitches you need and the amount of pain you feel.
     I never saw the sense in having a pain-med free birth only to introduce drugs when the baby was nursing.  There are things you can do to cope with the pain and keep from introducing drugs to the baby through your breast milk.
~ Use cold compress on your perineum to numb the pain: you can make one by cutting open a newborn diaper and stuffing it with ice, or you can buy perineal compresses.
~ Use healing herbs in the peri-bottle: Did you know that even without a tear, wiping after you use the toilet is a no?  A peri-bottle is used to rinse the vaginal area after eliminating when you have a vaginal birth.  We learned about the herbs from our midwives.  Considering that hospital births tend to be more traumatic on the perineum, it’s hard to believe that our homebirth was the first time we used them.  Again, BIG difference in recovery time – I felt better within 24 hours!
~ Do a sitz bath: You can sit on an inflatable donut pillow in the bathtub, or you can use a basin designed to sit in your toilet.  Salty, warm water helps to heal the perineal area and the warmth will feel good, too.
     There is a learning curve in each breastfeeding relationship.  The biggest one is probably going to happen with your first breastfed baby.  Your nipples have to be “broken in” with the first baby – it takes a little time.  And although there is discomfort as your breasts swell (engorge) when your milk comes in, nursing should not hurt.  Many breastfeeding stories include pain, and although pain is common, it is not normal.  If you are having pain when your baby latches on, when baby is nursing, or both, get help!  La Leche League leaders, a certified breastfeeding counselor, or an IBCLC certified lactation consultant can help you identify the issue(s) and teach you how to nurse comfortably. 
     The first three weeks after birth are critical in establishing your milk supply, and effectively, the rest of your breastfeeding relationship.  If you get off to a good start, you and your baby can have a nursing relationship until you have a mutual weaning.  If you have a less favorable start, you will affect your milk supply, which then dictates the length of the breastfeeding relationship and possibly include the use of formula.
     You get what you pay for when it comes to help – LLL is knowledgeable, albeit free, peer-to-peer help.  A certified breastfeeding counselor has taken at least one professional class to receive their certification.  An IBCLC lactation consultant has the most professional training and experience from which to draw. 
     Spend the money you need spend in order to have the breastfeeding relationship you want. Some things, such as latching, are easily remedied with the help of a LLL leader.  Other things require professional help.  Among all the things on which you can spend money during the postpartum period, getting help in order to give your baby the best food possible falls high on many priority lists.
Preparing yourself before your baby arrives with knowledge, good nutrition, and exercise for strength and stamina will help you have fewer interventions during labor and hopefully avoid birth trauma.  A positive birth experience, being well rested and feeling competent in feeding baby is part of the equation for a happy new mother.  Check in again on Friday to read helpful tips about transitioning from pregnancy to new family.

The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation. This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.  

We are still enrolling for our Winter Series
December 5, 2011 to
February 20, 2012  

For more information or to register, please
call us at
or email us at [email protected]

Our Homebirth Story - Part 2

Posted on October 14, 2011 at 8:19 AM Comments comments (1)
Click here for Part 1 of "Our Homebirth Story"

My mom arrived from Chicago to relieve my aunt at around 4:00 pm on Friday afternoon.  She came in to see how I was doing.  She asked, “How are things going?” which of course started the tears again.  Being a woman of great faith, she said a beautiful prayer over us, then gave me a kiss and left the room to go take care of the kiddos.  I pulled myself together and decided I wanted to go see our children.  I missed them and one of the benefits of a homebirth is having those you love near to you.  We took a quick cruise around the house and saw the kiddos, and we decided it was cool enough to try walking outside again – maybe just one more time – to see what would happen.  

This walk confirmed our suspicions.  This baby wanted me on my side.  Nothing upright was working to progress the labor.  I lost it again – why was this happening to us?  Why couldn’t just once, my body work like a “normal” woman in labor??  

Up to this point, we had had student midwives checking vital signs on mom and baby.  I asked if we could have Wendi check me the next time just to be sure that we were both doing as well as they thought we were doing.  I wasn’t concerned about infection despite the fact that the membranes had ruptured going on 18 hours.  I had been good about taking Vitamin C every couple of hours, we hadn’t had one vaginal exam or external vaginal probing that was introducing germs “upstream” as we say in class.  My concern was simply that although I felt strong and the baby sounded good, we had been going at this since 5:00 am on Thursday morning and I wanted peace of mind that we could continue at whatever pace the baby needed.  

Bruss and I also talked about having the midwives go or stay, and we were not sure what to ask of them.  We conveyed this to Wendi when we talked to her.  I felt so bad having them stick around for “nothing”.  At the same time, I was wondering when we would call them back when our labor finally picked up.  Having spent so much time with us at our prenatal visits, they knew our birth history and knew that this had been our labor pattern in our previous births.  They assured us that they were comfortable, and happy to continue waiting patiently for baby to make her appearance.  

In the meantime, this birth also confirmed our choice to have a homebirth.  We had been in labor for 36+ hours now.  If we had been in the hospital, we would have been subjected to multiple vaginal exams by now.  If we had gone home and then returned after our water broke, we would have had a very hard time leaving again without signing a multitude of forms when it was clear that labor was not progressing.  I had declined the GBS test since we made an educated decision to take supplements that supported a healthy vaginal track, and I was confident that Dr. Ross’ KST check confirming that I was GBS negative was accurate.  Under medical care from an OB, I would have had to have the GBS test and had I tested positive, I would have been pumped with penicillin and IV fluids every four hours.  By now my hand would be swollen at the hep lock site, and my feet and face would be puffy and uncomfortable.  

At home, we were allowed to have the gentle birth we wanted for our child.  We listened to my body and followed the cues, however unbelieving that "this" was our labor.  We were able to sleep and eat to keep our energy up.  Our baby was monitored with a Doptone monitor every hour for a few seconds, which let us go back to the position we needed to be in for her more quickly.  Our midwives were supportive and encouraging that we were doing well and to keep going like we were going.  

Bruss kept in touch with Andrea and Dr. Ross via text throughout the day and night – they were our doulas by text!!  As they made suggestions he would try them if we hadn’t tried them already, as they gave us words of encouragement he would convey them.  

I would say I finally “accepted” the birth around 8:00 pm.  Bruss had given me wonderful assurances that this was the labor our baby and I needed every time I had started to cry.  He assured me that he was ready to labor just he and I – it had also become clear that having all the people around was starting to stress me out.   Despite the fact that a doula would be there to support us, he wasn’t willing to call in another person to add to the group of people in the house already.  

We decided to watch a movie and both proceeded to fall asleep.  The midwives continued to come in and monitor us through our sleep.  I was still getting up every 45 minutes to use the restroom.  One thing we did REALLY well is stay hydrated.  We found that we still had the contractions when we stood up and moved from the bed to the toilet.  As I accepted that this was our labor, I remember reading birth stories about women who slept through labor until they woke up in time to push.  I figured that we might as well give it a try – who knew – maybe this could be our birth story since short and sweet was definitely out!!  

It was my perception that the contractions were every half hour.  I could sense that I was moaning in my sleep, yet they didn’t feel so strong that they woke me up until it was time to use the restroom.  The midwives told me later that they had watched and felt my belly when I was sleeping, and I was having contractions about five minutes apart in my sleep.  

Somewhere between 10 and 11 pm, I could no longer sleep through contractions.  We decided to use the shower again.  We put a birth ball in there and let the water wash over me.  You know what happened – the contractions spread out again.  Since our baby was CLEARLY happier with labor when I was lying on my side, we set up a layer of towels in the shower and made a towel pillow.  I lay on my side, and sure enough, they contractions started getting hard again.  Although they were uncomfortable, I was happy to bear with them since I knew these were the type of contractions that were going to get us to the point of meeting our baby.  

Before we knew it, the shower stopped working as a relaxation tool, too.  I had a strong need to void, but I couldn’t do it anymore.  We decided to move back to the toilet to see if I could void in the toilet.  It didn’t take me two seconds before I declared that this baby was coming out *now*.  The birth stool that had been taunting me for 24 hours was finally going to be put into use!  

We got on the birth stool. I asked our midwife Wendi if this was really it.  She asked me to try pushing and if I didn’t feel any pinching, to go for it and work with my body.  The next contraction came and I could push without pinching – so we did.  This is the one time when we could have used an extra pair of hands.  Since we didn’t have them, Bruss got behind me and supported me in a dangle position off of the stool so I could bear down and also use more gravity behind the push.  Trying to be mindful that we were capturing this on video for possible use with future students and for our children to see, I made every effort not to yell out too strongly.  

We asked one of the student midwives to go wake up our children and my mom since it was clearly time to push.  Squatting didn’t feel as good as it had with our other children.  After a few pushes in the squatting position, I felt like it would be best to move to my hands and knees, so there we went.  Bruss ended up on the floor with me, and as a contraction came, I would lean all my weight on him and bear down.  This is the first time I have been clearly conscious of the baby moving through my vaginal canal – it was amazing.  I could feel her crowning, and I remember that Night Owl looked at my bottom and said, “I see the baby!”  I told him to talk to her and tell her to come out, which he did!  A couple more pushes and I could feel that we had delivered her head.  Before I knew it, I was holding our lovely little Angélica in our arms and overjoyed with the wonder of the work we had done together.  

We pushed a total of 20 minutes – the most amazing 20 minutes of our birth.  My mom and Night Owl got to watch the majority of the pushing phase.  Puma came in just as Wendi was passing Angélika ("Otter") up to my arms.  Our photographer who we have known for six years got to capture the birth of our new family.  Our midwives were there supporting and loving on the whole process, one of whom was able to capture the birth on film.  It was a room full of love and joy.  

We marveled at this new creation that was now part of the Bowman family.  We looked at her face, her belly, her fingers and toes.  We checked to make sure that we were indeed holding the newest little sister…and we were!  The senior student cleared out Otter’s stomach and nose with a little tube syringe.  She had taken in some fluid and was having a hard time getting her breathing started.  Within a few minutes of skin-to-skin contact with mom and some massage stimulation, her breathing assumed a normal pattern.  She got her full measure of blood – her cord stopped pulsing, we delivered the placenta, and then we cut the cord and got in bed.  It was probably an hour from the time we delivered to the time we all got settled in bed for the first time.  

The whole process was amazing.  It was beautiful to allow Otter the birth she needed.  The old mantra of “Trust Birth” was proven true once again.  Why had our labor started and stalled for two days?  Our little miss had the cord wrapped around her belly twice.  Although Wendi assured us it was not constricting anything vital, it is not something she has seen very often in her 11 years as a licensed midwife.  Our baby and my body knew that Otter needed to ease her way out so that her wrapped cord stretched as needed and supported her through the passage from her safe home inside my womb to her new home outside with us.  As a good friend said to me the day after, hindsight is always 20/20!!  

At our first postpartum visit Saturday afternoon, Wendi asked us if we had any favorite parts in our birth.  My first answer was holding the baby!!  We also liked the lack of time-driven pressure – we got what we wanted: the birth our baby needed.  It was amazing to have our children be part of the birth process.  They had gotten to come in and check on me, encourage me with kisses, and I hadn’t had to leave them to go to the hospital for three days.  Night Owl got to watch his sister's birth – and now we get to hear his version of events.  His godfather came to visit this weekend.  He asked NIght Owl to tell him about the birth, and this was his answer, “My mommy screamed and the baby popped out!”  Clearly, I wasn’t as low-key as I had hoped, yet it hadn’t scared him and he is delighted to tell people about his experience.  

So we are now *officially* home birth advocates.  We are incredulous that it took us four births to get here.  It has been a great way to close the chapter on our childbearing years.  We are forever grateful to the women at Freedom and the Seed who so lovingly tend to the families in their care.

The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation. This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.

Our Homebirth Story - Part 1

Posted on October 11, 2011 at 11:39 AM Comments comments (1)
Bowman Family home birth storyOur labor started around 5:00 am on Thursday morning (9/29/11).  I was running around trying to get Brussito’s birthday breakfast table together, when I had a contraction that made me stop in my tracks and grab onto the edge of the bed.  The contractions kept coming throughout the morning.  Since my water had not broken yet, which is how our other three labors had started, Bruss and I decided it was best if I went back to bed to get some sleep.  We called our chiropractor, Dr. Ross, to see if he would come by for a home visit and help us evaluate what was going on.
Dr. Ross got to our home around 11:00 am.  I told him, “I’m having contractions, the dogs are acting like I’m in labor, the kids are feeling/acting funky – all signs are pointing towards that direction, but my water hasn’t broken yet…what is going on?  Do we start making the calls to family, doula, photographer, midwives, or do we hold off?”
So Dr. Ross did a KST check on me, and adjusted a few places, and decided that since everything he adjusted for was centered around the cervix, that yes, I was probably in labor.  He told us that it wasn’t likely to be today.  Maybe late night today or early morning hours Friday.  He told us to call him if we needed any more adjustments or KST checks.
He left me with the parting thought that having my bag of waters intact was actually a good thing.  (Yes, even Bradley® teachers need to be reminded of the basics!)  He reminded me that the intact waters would protect the baby and the extra pressure would help dilate my cervix without any additional work on my part.  I realized that for once, I might get to experience this benefit and hoped that meant we might really have a shorter labor this time.
At this point we called my Aunt Gloria who was on-call to come take care of our children, and our photographer who also has kiddos so that she could make arrangements for her family and start getting things ready to come over and document our birth.  We told them there was no rush since our labors are slow to start and my water had not broken yet. 
We also contacted our friend Andrea, who was on-call to doula for us if Bruss felt like he/we needed support through our birth.  When we first found out we were pregnant and started talking about labor, Bruss was thinking that he did not want a doula this time.  Since Andrea is “technically” our former teacher turned friend, he didn’t feel like he would have a doula there, just help from a good friend.
So we went it alone for most of the day.  I tried to rest and relax as much as possible, and remember the Bradley® mantra, “Don’t pay attention too soon,” which means that parents should go about their day, eating, drinking and resting instead of timing contractions and getting worked up about their labor.
Bowman Family home birth storyBowman Family home birth storyIt was hard to let go and relax since my mind was on our three older kiddos.  I kept wondering, what are they doing?  Why is Bryan crying?  How is the house holding up?  Luckily, since it was Brussito’s birthday, there were lots of new things to entertain them and overall, they did fine without our full attention.  Bruss split his time between me in our bedroom and our kiddos on the other side of the house.  I was in our room, trying to sleep and just accept that if this was labor, I needed to let go and relax instead of running around the house trying to get it in perfect order in anticipation of people starting to arrive.
The benefit of not having my water break yet was that I got to make food in early labor, something we encourage our Bradley® students to do when we teach class.  Why food?  So that they have goodies to take with them to their birthplace for the staff; or in our case, to have food at home for our midwife and her students.  I had all the fixings together to make our favorite crock-pot lasagna, and I actually got to prepare it!  The goal was to have enough for dinner and for the midwives to snack on when they came to our home – and this is one thing that went as planned!
After having a light lunch and making the lasagna, I went back to bed.  I did not feel like things were progressing as I had hoped, but then again, we know our labors are slow to start and quick to finish, so I figured we were fine and it was still possible we would be meeting our newest family member by Friday morning.
When my aunt finally arrived at 5:00 pm, Bruss and I decided to go for a turn around the neighborhood to see if we could get our labor going. Walking has been shown to speed labor as well as Pitocin, and it also helps avoid unnecessary pain by naturally opening the inlet of the pelvis to ease baby down.  We found that we our contractions got more regular as we walked – yeah!  This is what we wanted!!
We stopped back at home after our first walk to refill water and use the restroom.  I thought that maybe I had a high leak in the membranes, since I was getting a tiny little trickle of fluid – literally like a teardrop – with some of the contractions.  I couldn’t tell if it was a high leak or just sweat…another “not knowing” emotional hill for me get over.  After our second walk, we actually noticed that contractions seemed to slow down, so we figured it was a good time to take a break and have dinner.  Bruss had not gotten any rest during the day between taking care of me and the kiddos, se we made the call to Andrea to come relieve him while he took a nap.  We also called the midwives to let them know that we were in early labor.
Bowman Family home birth storyIn the meantime, my aunt had made Brussito’s birthday cake, and we all gathered around to sing Happy Birthday and eat cake.  The senior student at the midwifery practice returned our call and suggested that we go to bed and rest.  Andrea had arrived and suggested we take a walk before going to bed just to see if we might get labor going since I had rested most of the day.  Wanting to meet our baby, I went for the walk!!
So Andrea and I went on our walk with Brenda, our photographer.  Again, the first time around things seemed to progress; by the second time, things slowed down significantly.  Andrea commented that it looked like it was going to be another slow to start Bowman labor and that yes, indeed, it was time to go to bed and conserve energy.
Bowman Family home birth story - side-lying or sleep imitation positionWe got back to our house, and I went to bed frustrated.  Interestingly enough, I noticed that I had contractions when I was in side-lying position.  I was blown away – never before had we used the side-lying in our labors.  This was a new experience for me!
Although Dr. Bradley® recommends the side-lying or “sleep” position for active labor so that a mom can completely relax through the intense uterine activity, this had never appealed to me.  I am a mover – with our other labors, I had always been walking or squatting or stair climbing between contractions to progress, and then when a surge hit, we would stop, chant and relax through the contraction.
They were not so intense that I couldn’t sleep, so Bruss came to bed with me so that he would be available if I needed him, my aunt got the kiddos to bed, Andrea went home, Brenda found a place to camp out, and the Bowman house settled down to sleep and wait.
At midnight, I got up to go to the restroom and, water works!  My water broke and we squished our way to the restroom.  There was no mistaking this gush – my water had officially broken.  And unlike our other labors, contractions started coming on right away, so we called our midwives to come over and evaluate mom and baby and see about our labor.
Andrea came over again and we started walking around “the track” in our backyard.  Bruss would call out the time as I had a contraction so I could know how long we had been having one, and Andrea would remind me to breathe through the contractions.  It started to feel good to squat and lean forward when we were having them.  They seemed to come on every three to five minutes.  And then some of them were back to back – and then they stopped again.
Our midwife Wendi Cleckner was the first one to arrive around 1:30 am.  When we went in for a potty break, she was already set up in the bedroom and she checked the baby with her Doptones monitor.  Lo and behold, she found that our baby’s heart was nice and low, a little above the pubic bone.  This was another point of excitement for me.  With our hospital births, we always started with the heart tones being found a little below my belly button – this was good!  With her heart so low, I guessed she (the baby) was already down and applying pressure to open my cervix.
We went out for another walk around the track.  Again, the more we walked, the more labor slowed down.   Grr!!  Around 4:00 am, we decided it was time to go back to bed, and that Andrea would go home to see her family and get her girls off to school.  Brenda decided to stay since her trip home meant going to Glendale and back.  The midwives found places to camp out around our home and we…went back to bed.  I was starting to get discouraged.  It was clear that this baby was not arriving in the wee hours of this morning.
We slept a little longer.  Our next wake-up was around 7:00 am.  Despite having been asleep, I was having more contractions again.  Bruss had a quick breakfast, and I drank a mango smoothie.  We went back to our regular routine of walking – we just couldn’t figure our why it had not gotten our labor jump started yet, and figured it was worth another try.  Since it was daylight, we walked around the perimeter of the backyard instead of just the loop around our pool. 
So we walked and talked.  We tried to figure out if there was anything physical, mental or emotional that we needed to deal with for our labor to progress.  We commented on the benefits of having a homebirth:  No IV’s, no fetal monitoring that tied us to the bed for 20 minutes every hour, no vaginal exams, no nurses starting to fret that we were “failing to progress”, no one talking to us about making decisions to augment our labor.  The only pressure was self-generated: I felt bad that all these people were sitting around waiting for our labor to do “something” so that they could do their job.
Friday progressed like Thursday: we would walk, get some contractions and then notice that labor slowed or stopped.  By 10:00 am, Bruss wanted to stay inside since it was getting hot, so we would sit on the birth ball in our bathroom and rock back and forth to imitate the hip action that walking produced, staying upright and trying to work with gravity to encourage labor to progress.  As labor stalled, we would lie down for another nap.  By 2:00 pm, I was emotionally spent.  The first set of tears came.  I was disappointed in my body.  We had been so hopeful that eliminating the hospital transfer would make for a smooth, progressive labor, and one that was shorter than 24 hours.  It was clearly not our lot to have a “butter birth” as they are known in the birth community.
So we went back to bed – again.  Again, we noticed that when we were in bed, the contractions became regular.  Bruss and I talked and agreed that clearly this baby was going to be another teaching moment for us, so that we could be better Bradley® teachers to our students.  We accepted that walking was not the key to her labor; this baby clearly preferred me to labor on my side.
We also noticed that the contractions would be most intense when we changed position.  When we got up to go the bathroom every 30 – 45 minutes, we would have a more intense contraction right by the bed.  When we got to the bathroom, I would have a couple of good contractions on the toilet.  Then they would stop, Bruss and I would clean up, and we would go back to side-lying position on our bed again.  And so we repeated this new cycle.

To be continued...check in on Friday for Part 2 and read about when we finally got to meet our baby!

The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation. This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.

Now enrolling for our
Winter Series
December 5, 2011 through
February 20, 2012

Limited enrollment
Call us at
or email us at

In Their Own Words - Chelsey and Bryce

Posted on August 19, 2011 at 5:54 AM Comments comments (577)
We had the pleasure of hosting a class reunion at the beginning of August for the families that we taught in the Spring of 2011.

Here is first installment of one of the birth stories we heard that day.  Chelsey and Bryce share their experience in today’s video segments.

Below you will find an explanation from Chelsey about what they liked about the classes and the class information that they found useful during their labor and delivery.

We were so happy to meet their healthy young man, Brody!  They made the best of their scheduled induction and ended up with the goal we emphasize throughout the class series: Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby.

Our Bradley Method® Class Experience
~ By Chelsey Bloomfield

The Bradley® classes really laid the foundation for a positive birth experience for us!

We started out not knowing the slightest thing about the whole birthing process... In fact I tried to avoid thinking about what would inevitably come so that I wouldn't be scared or freaked out by it. We were looking into getting a doula because I was terrified of the whole doctor and medical aspect of it, and I was scared that I would get pushed into doing something that I REALLY didn't want. I started looking into which birthing classes I wanted to take because I am a very education oriented person and we figured that it would help put some of my fears to rest. When we were comparing prices we realized we could only afford one thing, a doula vs childbirth classes... and when we signed up for the Bradley Method® classes I knew we had made the right choice for us!

The Bradley Method® outlines from the very beginning how to prepare your body for natural childbirth. I loved that the nutrition and exercises were a central aspect of the classes. Other classes merely focus on teaching you breathing techniques or ways to relax during labor, rather than preparing your body and mind for the entire process ahead of you.

I also loved the background information on what is happening to your body throughout pregnancy and the different stages of labor!!! By understanding what to expect, and how the entire process worked; that information really put my mind at ease.  I felt calm and prepared when I was in the hospital because I knew how the natural process worked and everything my body was going through.

During Labor we really used all of the relaxation techniques.  I specifically found massage, deep breathing, and mental relaxation the most helpful.
The abdominal breathing was the most useful because it gave me something else to focus on instead of the pain or pressure, and it really put me in this state of total relaxation that is quintessential for natural labor.

Also during labor, we relied heavily on the things we covered in Class 8 when we discussed variations and complications.  Since we ended up being induced and having other complications due to my high blood pressure, it was nice to have the tools and understanding to make the right decisions for us, so that we could end up with a healthy mom and a healthy baby.

In the end it all turned out well! The Bradley Method® gave us all the tools we needed to be able to communicate and work together as a team to bring our baby into the world.

My notes on Chelsey & Bryce's Birth Story
I want to thank Chelsey & Bryce for agreeing to share their birth story out on the internet.  I was especially touched by her praise of her husband when she talked about how she couldn't have done it without him.  That is the true testament to their teamwork and we are overjoyed when we see a couple bond over such a moving life experience.

A comment about inductions...and I will state, as per the disclaimer below:  I am not a medical professional, this is NOT medical advice.  What follows below is simply my anecdotal observation about inductions after teaching several couples.

As I have written in a previous post, there are many factors that go into determining your estimated due date.  So far, three of our couples have been induced.  Of those three, one ended up in a cesarean birth, while the other two did have a vaginal birth.  In listening to their birth stories, I am starting to think that inductions only progress to a vaginal birth when the body is already SO close to starting labor, that the medical intervention serves to "push" mom into a process that was almost ready to start. 

In reading other internet sources on the subject, it seems that other natural childbirth bloggers and/or websites have come to the same conclusion.  As we teach our students: research, research, research and ask questions when your care provider suggests that you interfere with the natural process.  There are no guarantees that what they are asking you to do will work, so if you do decide to go forward with an intervention or procedure, make sure you do so with true informed consent.  Your care provider is not a "mean" or "evil" person - they want a healthy baby for you, too.  It is understandable that their practice history or medical malpractice insurance may skew their approach, however, give them the benefit of the doubt and work together to have the outcome everyone wants: Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby.

Onto another part of their story, this couple did a couple of things that were key to their mostly-natural labor...First of all, Chelsey slept!  Never underestimate the power of sleep in aiding you to physically, mentally and emotionally navigate your labor.  The first thing she did after they induced her was get a good night's sleep - they didn't pay attention too soon.  Yeah!!

The second thing they did well:  they handled the "failure to progress diagnosis" brilliantly.  As you will hear in part two of the video, Chelsey's cervix held steady at a "4" for most of the time after their induction although her contractions kept increasing in intensity.  Once she passed the "5" mark (cervix is half-way to the point of being open enough to push), she progressed from a "7" to a "10" in less than two hours, and they were happily holding their baby in their arms 25 hours and 44 minutes after their induction started.

I was very impressed with this couple's ability to communicate with each other.  Their knowledge and confidence in the natural process allowed them to progress to their epidural-free birth because they were successful in getting their birth team behind their choices and supportive of minimal interventions and vaginal exams.  They also invited Chelsey's mom to be their assistant coach, and she was able to reassure them that based on her own birth experiences, Chelsey's body was working and that they would be meeting their baby sooner than later despite the staff's concern that Chelsey was not progressing.

Great job, team!!

The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation. This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.

Having a homebirth

Posted on July 30, 2011 at 9:14 AM Comments comments (26)
Why a home birth?
We are planning a home birth for our fourth child early this fall.  
Personally, I have always been a big proponent of hospital births.  With our first three children I was always adamant that my preference was to deliver in a hospital setting.  The overriding reason was the safety net.  If something goes wrong I wanted for Krystyna and our babies to be as close to a medical team and an operating room as possible.
What changed?
We took Bradley Method® classes for our first two births and then soon after the third birth Krystyna became a certified Bradley Method® instructor.  Together we have helped educate numerous couples in the process of pregnancy, labor and staying healthy throughout pregnancy and beyond.
The key here for me is that the Bradley® education combined with our experiences have proven time and again that birth is a normal, natural process.  Like all things in life there are things that you can control and some things that are beyond your control.  We’ve learned, and now we teach, others to maximize those things that are in your control to give the highest probability for a great outcome.
What’s in your control?  
Great diet, exercise throughout pregnancy, rest, low stress environment, ability to relax, knowledge about pregnancy and the birth process, making sure you’re ready to be parents and are accepting of the baby’s arrival *before* going into labor and accepting of things beyond your control.
What’s not in your control?
There are a lot of things not in your control, some benign but some that would affect a potential home birth such as pre-term labor, high blood pressure, poorly placed placenta etc.
Three Positive Birth Experiences:
We have had three natural delivery, hospital births without pain medication.  The babies were all on the big side.  Our second birth was the largest at 11 lbs 1oz.  Interestingly, this birth was our easiest so far!

Hospital Experiences:
Our experience with the medical teams for our first three births was almost all positive.   I don’t think that’s due to luck.  I’ve always been of the opinion that you have a strong influence on your environment good and bad.  We sought out great OBs that supported our desire for natural birth.  Additionally, we were very fortunate to attract some really great nurses for our deliveries.  
I’ve always been a firm believer that you bring your birth experience with you.
That being said, being in a hospital is not the most comfortable, relaxing environment for most people and that was certainly true of us.  In every birth so far our labor progressed nicely at home and then either stopped or slowed when we relocated to the hospital.  
Transport, paperwork, triage, blood draw, bright lights, noise, internal checks, unfamiliar surroundings and people, transfer to LDR room, new nurses, more checks, shift changes....on and on....
We’ve found that being secure, relaxed and comfortable are *key* aspects of Mom progressing through a natural birth.  Hospitals are not really the best environment for this.

Very Positive Experience with Midwives:
Our experience with our Midwives has been *very* positive.  
In all honestly the interview with our Midwife was the single event that tipped the scales for me to favor a home birth for our fourth.
She was professional, highly educated and experienced and had a higher level of personal interaction than with traditional OBs (even though our OB is/was great).
There were two big factors in the interview that helped make the decision.
(1) Once you go into labor the Midwife and her team (Midwives-in-training) are there with you until you deliver.  This is much different that the hospital setting where you get the nurses on staff for @ 98% of your labor and the Dr. shows up to catch.  Interesting note:  In our third birth we delivered at the same time as five other Moms and right at shift change...talk about a zoo!  The Dr. and team almost didn’t make it to the birth.
(2) The discussion around what to do in case of emergency.  We discussed this at length.  The net of the discussion is that Midwives are highly trained and are more attentive/attuned to the Mom (they’ve worked with Mom throughout the pregnancy) than nurses in a hospital setting who are likely meeting the Mom for the first time and also have numerous other patients to care for.   So, Midwives will be able to tell if and when something is not right very early on and are highly likely to transport early in the event that something is not quite right.   We live one mile from the hospital and our local fire department so a transport would literally be 10min from the time of the call and we would be go directly to the ER...this may be quicker than an internal transfer if the staff was busy and took more time to diagnose the emergency situation.

So these are the reasons that I’ve become comfortable with our having a home birth.  There is one more that contributed to the fact that we are actually having a homebirth ourselves – I have gotten “over myself”.  Krystyna has been gravitating towards a homebirth after our first hospital experience.  After our initial interview with our midwife, I realized there was no reason left why we ourselves couldn’t have a homebirth.
Check back in about ten weeks and we’ll let you know how it goes!
The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation. This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.


The Bradley Method® aka Relationship Enhancement Classes

Posted on June 13, 2011 at 11:36 PM Comments comments (3)
Class Benefit:  Your Relationship Is Strengthened
We find ourselves at the end of another series – again!  A 12-week series sounded like a long time to us when we were first enrolling as students, and I know that it sounds like a long time to some people who call to inquire about classes.  However, now that we are teaching it seems like these classes fly by and before we know it we are teaching our last class of the series.
This week is the last class of our Friday night Spring Series.  One of the gifts of teaching is seeing our students grow – no pun intended!  They come in with a general idea about what they want for their births, and at the end of twelve weeks we get to see them working together as a team to achieve their desired birth outcome.   It is great to watch the coaches transform from being bystanders in their partner’s pregnancy; to having them know that they are important and see them taking an active role in the birth of their children.
As Bradley® class students, we had an unexpected, unadvertised benefit: we learned to have better communication as a couple.  We definitely emphasize teamwork now that we are instructors.  Sometimes they are couple-to-couple interactions, and sometimes we practice positive communication with care providers.
I suspect communication is a cornerstone of the Bradley Method® because Dr. Bradley and the Hathaways, founders of the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth® realized that they were doing much more than teaching childbirth preparation classes.  Being able to talk to your partner openly and honestly is important for the birth-day, certainly.  Even more importantly, we have a lifetime of commitment to that child whose birth we are preparing for.  That beautiful child deserves the best of us as parents.  Being able to talk together and dialogue with your partner is definitely a good foundation for a healthy relationship that creates the security and love we provide to our children.
We learned it was important to share our thoughts with our partner, not just assume that they know we are thinking.  We learned it was okay to talk about our fears.  We learned how to plan and goal-set together, and then the ultimate accomplishment was achieving that goal. 
Although we always deviated from our plan, we feel that the birth outcome we had with our children was the end result of our communication and teamwork.  Hence the saying we have that we have had the pleasure of four honeymoons throughout the course of our marriage: our time in St. Lucia in newlyweds, plus the sheer elation that has filled the first few weeks after each birth.
Most importantly, we learned the value of praising our partner.  It is so easy to find fault and criticize when we are tired and uncomfortable.  It takes effort and focus to try to remember to praise our partner on a regular basis.  Noticing the little things does seem to make us better partners, and when our loved one praises us, it encourages us to keep giving our best effort on a daily basis.
Given the fact that mom will probably reach a point in her labor when she is tired and/or cranky, it is important for her coach to know how she likes to be praised, which words are meaningful to her, and how to encourage her if she gets to the point where she wants to give up their plan.  The coach also needs to know when the mom is really ready to change the plan and be willing to deviate and support the new plan, all the while encouraging her and helping her reach their goal of holding their child with a Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby outcome.
We understand that sharing words in front of other people is hard at first.  However, speaking out loud and affirming your love is an important thing to learn to do.  Bruss is a man of few words, however, he became confident in telling me just what to I needed him to say when I needed him the most.  He grew unafraid to talk to me in front of other people, and given that our first three births were hospital births, I needed him to be able to communicate with me whether we were alone in the labor room or the room was filled with our care provider and their medical team.
As we prepare to say a temporary good-bye to our Friday Spring Series (we will get to see them with their adorable babies at our class reunion), we do so with the knowledge that besides learning about labor and childbirth, two more couples have been offered the opportunity to learn about each other and grow together as they prepare for one of life’s momentous occasions.  It is our hope that they will take this knowledge and build on it as they welcome this child and any subsequent children to their family.

The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation. This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.