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Sweet Pea Births

Chandler, Arizona

Sweet Pea Births

...celebrating every swee​t pea their birth

Blog

Labor Tools: Water

Posted on April 15, 2014 at 11:06 AM Comments comments (0)
The main topic of our Bradley Method® class on Friday night was the first stage of labor.  Through the course of class and discussing labor techniques, one of our students asked if we had used a birth tub, and was it a wonderful as they have heard.  I had to answer honestly, “I don’t know!”

What we do know and teach as part of the Bradley Method® curriculum is that water IS an effective labor tool for pain relief.  It is one of several comfort measures we discuss.  (Side note: It has many applications besides labor – think of the whole philosophy and practice of hydrotherapy.)  Personally, this is one we used effectively in all four of our labors. 

According to Penny Simkin, founder of DONA International and doula extraordinaire, “A warm shower anytime during labor is a marvelous soother and pain reliever, especially if you can sit on a stool and direct a hand-held shower head just where you want it (on your front or back). The warmth and skin stimulation reduce your awareness of the pain.” [1] (emphasis mine)
 
As far as using a birth tub: Laboring in a birth tub turned out not to be an option for us – in our first two labors, we weren’t educated enough to know that you could take a bath in labor even if your bag of waters had ruptured.  If you like baths – yes, you can!  As Henci Goer points out in her book, “The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth”, there is research that shows you will not increase your risk of infection. [2]

I think of it this way: Do you remember that experiment in science class when you put a tissue inside a glass, turned the glass upside down, and then put that glass in a bowl of water?  What happened if you pulled the glass straight up?  The tissue was dry!  Your vagina works in a similar way – there is air in the vagina that prevents things from going upstream unless they are forced (i.e, risk of infection from a vaginal exam).

By our third labor, we knew better and were thinking of using our tub at home before we went to the hospital.  However, I fell down hard in early labor so we went to the hospital to check on the baby.  Because my bag of waters had already broken, we were admitted.  Our local hospital did not have the option of birth tubs at the time.
 
When it came time for our fourth labor and planned homebirth, we considered laboring in a tub since by that time, I had heard so many positive stories about laboring and birthing in a tub.  The deal-breaker for me was finding out that we would need a fish net to scoop out any “particles” – no thank you!! I am pretty squeamish when it comes to things floating in water.  I will say that a great majority of the birth stories I hear from women who plan to labor and/or birth in water are positive ones, they enjoy the overall experience, and they would do it again.
 
Setting up the ball for Krystyna to use in the shower||Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, PaysonMy amazing husband/coach did his part by holding the shower head over my lower back and waving it back and forth in active labor – all four times.  I remember our homebirth best: as we got into active labor, we used a birth ball covered with a towel in the shower so I could rock through the contractions and have the water on my back.  As labor intensified, I made a nest with towels and did tailor sitting, and eventually lay down in a side relaxation position so that Bruss could focus the water on my hard-working uterus.  We labored that way until it was time to push.

Laboring in the shower - natural childbirth || Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Payson









Coach Bruss timing contractions || Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Payson

 










I included some links below to explore if you want to learn more about using water as a pain management tool, and also a link to Waterbirth International if you are exploring water birth.
 
Did you use water as a comfort measure? What worked for you?
 
REFERENCES
[1] https://www.childbirthconnection.org/pdfs/comfort-in-labor-simkin.pdf
[2] http://www.hencigoer.com/betterbirth/sample/

LINKS
More from Penny Simkin, DONA
http://www.birthlore.com/class/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Showers-in-Labor.pdf
 
Barbara Harpber – Waterbirth International
http://www.waterbirth.org/research-documents

Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Payson Disclaimer: 
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.  Krystyna and Bruss Bowman and Bowman House, LLC accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.  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®.





A Visit with Rhondda Hartman

Posted on March 28, 2014 at 7:30 AM Comments comments (1)
I first "met" Rhondda Evans Hartman after the publication of her second book, "Natural Childbirth Exercises for the Best Birth Ever".  As with many meetings these days, our first interactions were via email, Twitter and Facebook.  Through the course of correspondence, it was arranged for her to come visit Phoenix, Arizona.  That visit finally happened last weekend.  It was such a treat to meet her in person!  

As it turns out, my suspicion that her personality is the "real deal" was more than true.  In person, Rhondda is every bit as lovely as I expected.  In addition, she is a wealth of information about breastfeeding, the birth of the natural childbirth movement here in the US, and life in general.  As a mother to five and grandmother to nine, she is a Wise Woman with more than one book left in her if you ask me!  I really hope she and her "book shepherd" will turn her memories and experiences in the natural birth community into her next publication.  And she probably has a parenting/relationship book tucked away somewhere, too!

Here are some of the pictures from our weekend and time together.  We packed A LOT into our brief visit.  I definitely made a new friend and learned so much.  Our Bradley Method® students going forward will definitely benefit from the training sessions we had with her on the Bradley™ exercises and her lesson on mental relaxation.

Saturday, March 22, 2014
Teacher training


Meet+Greet+Book Signing

Bruss's cousin Ernie, who was a Husband-Coach back in 1964

Pictured here with Rachel Davis of Birth & Earth

Rachel, Anne (one of Rachel's students), and Rhondda with Baby L.

Anne, her mom, and Rhondda with Baby L.
Ann is a big fan - she birthed her posterior baby naturally 
thanks in part to the inspiration from Rhondda's newest book.
Read her birth story HERE.

Rhondda autographs her award-winning book at Saturday's event

Sunday, March 23, 2014
Meeting a fan of her first book at church




 












Chihuly Exhibit at the Desert Botanical Gardens 
Reuniting with Bruss' cousin Barbara (Ernie's wife) who took Rhondda's classes as one of Dr. Bradley's patients in 1964

Fall 2013 SPB Class Reunion

Teaching the postpartum exercises to some of our alumni students

Monday, March 24, 2014
Lunch Date 

Rhondda's friend Schotze, Bradley™ mom of 4, was personally trained 
by Dr. Bradley to help other couples achieve a natural birth

Teacher Training
Two more area instructors take advantage of Rhondda's visit to receive information from the creator of The Bradley Method® exercise program

Leading the "Relaxation" portion of our class on Monday evening:

The Bradley Method® instructors personally trained by Rhondda:




It was such an amazing weekend.  Thank you, Rhondda!  We are so pleased to announce that Rhondda has agreed to come back in November to be our Keynote Speaker for Bradley Day 2014!

You are welcome to contact me if you would like an autographed copy of Rhondda's newest book.  We have a limited amount available at the weekend's special price!

Do you have a favorite "natural birth how-to" book? If so, what is it?
Please leave us a comment - it will be moderated and posted. 

Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, PaysonDisclaimer: 
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.  Krystyna and Bruss Bowman and Bowman House, LLC accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.  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®.



Special Event with Rhondda Hartman

Posted on March 17, 2014 at 1:53 PM Comments comments (0)
I am thrilled to be able to officially announce that Rhondda Evans Hartman, a pioneer of the natural birth movement in the US and award-winning author, is paying us a special visit in Phoenix, Arizona this weekend!

You may have seen THIS mantra on here a few months ago (artwork by our very talented student, Jon Garza)


Rhondda's philosophy on birth is exactly what we teach in The Bradley Method.  Her exercises that she designed for Dr. Bradley's patients are the ones that we are still teaching in classes today.  Here are the details on her event. Please feel free to "pin", tweet or share so we can give her a warm AZ welcome!

Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Payson Disclaimer: 
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.  Krystyna and Bruss Bowman and Bowman House, LLC accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.  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®.




It's Not A Plan, It's A Journey

Posted on January 28, 2014 at 7:09 PM Comments comments (0)
It feels so cliché to say, “the journey” these days – the words have been overused and applied to just about everything from meaningful life events to car commercials.

When it comes to your child’s birth, those words are just about right.  Some of us travel a long road through fertility hurdles to achieve pregnancy, then there is the journey through the trimesters and different milestones of pregnancy, and finally, the act of birthing that leads you down to the new path of parenthood.

Our current class has just started working on their birth plans.  When we teach that class, we give them a long list of options to consider, and talk about what they are and what their choices around those items might be.

Then we tell them to do their homework and that in actual labor, they will need to be flexible.  At the end of the day, the birth plan is not a blueprint.  It is an outline of the wishes you want for your birth if things stay healthy and low-risk from start to finish.

Our experience after the birth of our four children, and as instructors, has taught us that the real importance of writing a birth plan is the process: you and your partner sitting down to learn about your options in birth.  Whether you are birthing at home, a birth center or a hospital, we always recommend Henci Goer’s Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth.  She very clearly defines interventions, offers the pros and the cons, and shares the research to back up her position.

We encourage both parents to be involved.  Coaches, this is not one of the details to leave to Mama.  If she writes it alone, and you have no idea why she prioritized things the way she did, then how on earth can you make a decision about your child’s birth if and when she gets to a place where she will not or cannot speak up for herself anymore?  It is vitally important for both parents to know the priorities in birth for those times when decisions need to be made and Mama needs a voice to advocate for her and for Sweet Pea.

Write your birth plan, and consider it as a work in progress.  You will have a discussion (or two or three) with your care provider to get their input on what is realistic given your birth space and your care team.  Once it’s representative of what you want and what your care team can provide, print several copies and keep at least one in the vehicles you drive.  You can read in more detail about birth plans HERE

Then do everything you can to control the things you can control about pregnancy and birth.  I outlined them in yesterday’s post.  In a nutshell, they are eat well, exercise, education about pregnancy, birth and normality in birth, avoid harmful substances, and practice relaxation every day.  You will learn all about those things in a Bradley™ class.  Realistically, The Bradley Method® is not for everyone.  Whichever childbirth preparation method you use, seek training in all of those areas to keep your pregnancy as healthy and low-risk as possible.

You do everything right.  You arrive at your Birth-Day.  The unexpected happens and your birth includes several interventions, maybe even a cesarean birth.  Did you just fail your Bradley™ or other childbirth class?

NO.

Your stellar nutrition built a strong, healthy baby.  It has made you a stronger mama.  As I heard in my Bradley Method® training from an obstetrician: the physical trauma of a cesarean is equivalent to a fatal car crash.  The only reason cesareans are not fatal is because trained surgeons in a sterile operating theatre perform them, and all precautions are taken to deliver a healthy mom and a healthy baby out of the operating room.* Your good nutrition makes it possible to withstand and recover from the physical trauma: whether it’s flushing drugs out of your system and/or surgery. Your body and immune system are much better equipped than someone who paid no attention to nutrition in pregnancy.

Your exercise regimen will also improve your physical profile.  This physical strength will also be an asset if you are recovering from interventions and/or the trauma of surgery.

Your education about natural childbirth will fill your toolbox with information to use as you labor.  Your education about normalcy in birth will help you identify when things have started to change out of healthy and low risk, and give you the tools to make an informed consent decision after having a dialogue with your care provider.  I am happy to say that very few, if any, of our students feel like their interventions happened “to” them.  They agreed to interventions or surgery after exhausting all their tools, all their questions, and coming to the shared decision that their Sweet Pea’s birth story was meant to be that way for the best Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby outcome.

Your avoidance of harmful substances means that your baby is having the healthiest start possible.  That is a gift you can celebrate no matter how they enter the world.

Your daily practice of relaxation is a great habit that will serve you well into parenthood.  Finding stillness may help ease your remorse about the variations in your birth.  They are great tools to use and fall asleep when your baby is sleeping: really, do it! Everything else can wait while you bond with your baby and catch some rest between marathon nursing sessions as they grow in their first month.  As your children age and start to explore their boundaries, deep breathing and calmness are phenomenal tools to have at your disposal – trust me on that one!!

However your birth story goes, remember and treasure all the things that went well.  These are the things that your birth plan cannot capture.   
  • Did you and your partner labor well up to the point your wish list deviated? 
  • Did you get to preserve some elements of your natural birth: low lights, immediate skin-to-skin, breastfeeding soon after birth? 
  • Did your child benefit from delayed cord-clamping? 
  • What did your Sweet Pea look like – smell like – feel like? 
  • When did your eyes lock in instant recognition? 
  • How did it feel to kiss this amazing creation of love and miracles? 
  • When did you and your partner share a kiss of joy as you welcomed your newest family member?

Remember that The Birth Plan is not set in stone.  It is a piece of paper that outlines your wishes after your long journey through conception, pregnancy and labor.  You cannot capture all the wishes, hopes and dreams on one side of 8.5x11 inches of paper.  You can record what you want to happen as long as your labor and delivery stay healthy and low risk. 

The rest of the journey is up to you.  We hope it will be an empowered, deliberate journey to the Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby birth of your Sweet Pea.

*The risk of complications for pregnancy and surgery increases with each cesarean.  If you had a cesarean, we encourage you to seek education about the possibility of a VBAC.  ICAN is a great place to start.

Disclaimer: 
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.  Krystyna and Bruss Bowman and Bowman House, LLC accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.  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®.

Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Payson

Winterize Your Body

Posted on November 8, 2013 at 8:27 AM Comments comments (0)
The Winter months are upon us in the Northern Hemisphere...and not every pregnant or breastfeeding mama wants to get a flu shot.  Whether or not the flu shot is for you, here are some practical immunity-boosting tips from our favorite chiropractor that don't involve shots, sprays or otherwise:
 
It is that time of year...getting ready for winter. We prepare the pool for winter, the car, the furnace, even our grass changes. We prepare the cabin and the toilets up north for winter. Doesn't it make sense to prepare our bodies for winter?
 
As the weather switches from warm to cold, nature goes through a preparation for the change. At this same time our bodies also have to go through a physiological change. Through the summer our bodies did not have to spend much energy on making or storing body heat. Now, it has to spend more energy on the making of body heat to keep all the systems at the correct temperature.
 
It's important to understand that our bodies are a "closed system" in terms of energy. What this means is that our body only has so much energy available internally to do all of the functions of the body. If the body needs more energy in one area it has to take that energy from another area. For example, when you get sick you often feel tired. This is because the body moves energy to the immune system, and away from other less important functions which are then shut down or minimized. Eat a large meal and watch your energy level drop...as the body takes energy to digest the meal, the available energy for other functions drops.
 
So it is this time of year for our bodies. As the hypothalamus in the brain changes the body's physiology for body heat maintenance, other areas have less energy available to do their jobs. This is one of the reasons behind the cold and flu season. When the immune system has less energy available you are more vulnerable to virus and bacteria. It's not that there are more virus and bacteria necessarily, because they are around us all the time. It's when the body is unable to fight the germs that we manifest as sick. This is truly the main factor for illness. It's why when three people are exposed to the same virus, bacteria, etc., one gets sicker than a dog, one is a bit sick and one has no apparent symptoms. The internal environment of the body to fight has a major factor to whether your exposure to a pathogen turns into an illness.
 
So, what do you do? (For those of you with children, this also applies to them as well!)



 
The most important factor is maximizing your body's internal forces. There are many ways to do this. Here are four:
 
1.     Slow life down. We keep the same hectic rate in life, non-stop. When you are at full potential the body will try to adapt to the pace. But throw another stressor into the mix and watch the body get down and possibly sick. At this time of year, if you don't have to - DON'T. Another shopping trip? NO. Another late night when you don't have to - DON'T. Spend some family time away from the TV. Read a relaxing book. Listen to some relaxing music. Take a walk.
 
2.     Watch the foods you eat. With less fruits and vegetables available in the winter it is very important to make good choices. Your food is the raw power for all functions. Put high quality food in for high quality performance. Do you have to eat on the run? Try the salad instead of the burger (with vinaigrette, not the blue cheese). Drink water instead of soda or coffee. Put down the candy bar and have an apple instead. Processed foods as well as sugars are hard on the body. Eat less of them. It is that simple. We should eat 7-14 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. If you can't (or won't), I suggest JuicePlus every day. (Order at DoctorRoss.JuicePlus.com or in the office).
 
3.     Take some vitamins. Extra vitamin C daily is great. A few thousand milligrams a day as an adult is fine. If you get loose bowels back off a bit. (It is water soluble so any extra will go out with the urine.) If you are sick, Echinacea helps to boost the immune system. There is a great liquid for kids with the brand name "Herbs for Kids". Read the label for amounts. "Kyolic" brand garlic is great. It is often called nature's penicillin. Double your JuicePlus if getting sick. Also, take the much overlooked essential fatty acid supplement, Omega 3 fatty acids (The good fats). Vitamin D3 is also important in the winter (we have D-Dots at the office). Investigate other immune system boosters.
 
4.    SLEEP. Most Americans are sleep deprived. We are too busy to slow down and sleep. Sleep is the time that the body recuperates and repairs from the damages of the day. If we don't slow down and sleep we never let the body get caught up. Is it any wonder we keep getting sicker instead of healthier? Run a humidifier at night to increase moisture and help keep mucous membranes moist.
 
Take a few precautions and get proactive and you will be amazed that you don't have to be a victim of the "cold and flu season". Let's stay healthy together and make a healthier community and a healthier world!
 
About the Author:  Dr. Kevin Ross is a Tempe chiropractor with a family and pediatric wellness practice. He has completed over 160 hours of pediatric chiropractic continuing education, and is trained in the KST Technique. Any questions on natural health and additional ways to build the internal power of the body can be answered at (480) 730-7950.

What do you do to boost immunity during the winter months? 
Please leave us a comment - it will be moderated and posted. 

 
Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, PaysonDisclaimer: 
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.  Krystyna and Bruss Bowman and Bowman House, LLC accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.  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®.


 


Natural Birth Choices

Posted on October 1, 2013 at 11:36 AM Comments comments (3)

Welcome to the October 2013 Carnival of Natural Mothering! 

This article is a part of the Carnival of Natural Mothering hosted by GrowingSlower, Every Breath I Take, I Thought I Knew Mama, African Babies Don't Cry, and Adventures of Captain Destructo. This month's topic is Natural Birth Choices. Be sure to check out all of the participants' posts through the links at the bottom of this page.


October prompt:
"After the recent rumored natural birth of the future King of England, lots of people have been talking about the reasons a mother may pursue this type of birth. What does a "natural birth" mean to you? Why did (or do) you want a natural birth? What "natural" choices were you able to have, even in a birth that required medical intervention?"
 
Pregnant the first time and sharing our intentions for a natural birth, we would get the "wink-wink sure you do", or the "you don't have to be a hero - take the drugs", and the worst, and most motivating, "just wait - you will be begging for the drugs".
 
My initial motivation behind a natural birth was my intense fear of having anything in my spine.  As a dancer, I grew up believing that my back was sacred, and my study of yoga confirmed that belief.  Why in the world would I take a chance with a huge needle in my back when I knew women had been having natural births for eons??

We were so blessed to have one of our friends tell us, "If you really want a natural birth, you need to take Bradley™ classes."  I will be forever grateful for the person who gave us a point of action instead of an eye-roll!!

So off we went to Bradley™ classes and learned about having a natural birth.  Although we only made it to 9 out of 12 classes, we tracked our nutrition, didn’t do the exercises due to complications with our pregnancy, and after a 28-hour labor, had our first vaginal birth with penicillin, Pitocin, and an episiotomy.  At the time, I was grateful for the vaginal birth because the OB on call really wanted to “help me out” and roll us into the operating room for a cesarean.

With our second, we knew enough to sign up early enough for classes to complete a whole 12-week session.  We loved the classes, tracked our nutrition, did our exercises this time and had our easiest and shortest birth.  The only intervention this time was penicillin every four hours after we checked into the hospital because I was Group B Strep positive.

We went on to have two more children (links to all our birth stories are on the “About Us” page).  When we had a homebirth after three hospital births, we felt like we only had one truly natural birth, although all four were born vaginally and epidural-free.

Now I believe that a “natural birth” is one where the mother is left alone to follow her instincts, work with her body, and tune-in to the work she and her baby are doing.  Obviously, the childbirth method we teach encourages partners to become coaches in the process.  It is their role to facilitate the natural birth by advocating for the MotherBaby, making sure that her needs are met and that their birth plan is honored as much as possible by the people attending the birth.

My journey as a childbirth educator involves a lot of reading.  As I learn more about birth, the natural process and what a truly natural birth looks and feels like, I am even more motivated than ever to equip our students with the tools they need to have as few interventions as possible, where ever they choose to birth.

Scientists are proving out what Dr. Bradley hypothesized after reading Childbirth Without Fear by Dr. Grantley Dick-Read, and his own observations growing up on a farm in Kansas.  You do not need to interfere with childbirth.  You need to educate parents about the birth process since so few of us have seen an uninterrupted vaginal birth and don’t have a point of reference for true natural childbirth.  Birthing spaces need to facilitate natural birth choices in birth settings.  You need to keep babies skin to skin with their mothers and keep your hands off the MotherBaby.  Breastmilk is the best first food for babies.

Why do we believe in natural birth? As a generation and a society, we are waking up to the idea that birth is important (enter Ina May Gaskin’s book, “Birth Matters”).  Welcoming our children gently, with love and intention is important.  Maybe a mama is roaring at the time of birth (I was with our last!), however, the welcoming is loving, transformative, and deliberate.  It is an experience where the child and mother have fully participated in the process to birth together.  In The Bradley Method®, it is an experience in which most mothers are proud of their achievement and are happy to have done it as a team with their Coach.

What about those of us who can’t have a vaginal, unmedicated birth, you say?  I say, “Blessings, mama”.  I know many warrior women who will not be having vaginal and/or unmedicated births because that is not what works for their bodies.  To those women I say, “Take the best from the natural birth principles and apply them to your situation.”

  1. Conceive your children with intention.  Prepare your body to have the best pregnancy possible by de-toxifying and eating well before conception.  Make their prepartum home as hospitable and welcoming as possible.
  2. Have an optimal pregnancy.  Eat well, exercise, and connect with your baby by communicating with them with mental images and words, stories and song.
  3. Take the best of the best from natural birth: delay interventions as long as possible.  Once your baby is born, place them skin-to-skin with mama if possible, or partner is that is not an option.  Initiate breastfeeding as soon as possible.  
  4. You can still have a cesarean that honors the mother, the baby and the family.  Read more about that HERE.

I am glad that someone as high profile as the Duchess of Cambridge brought the dialogue about natural birth to a wider audience.  I hope that she is forthcoming with the details in the future so that more people are open to the message that natural birth is possible and accessible to families in all walks of life.

Since I am writing this post two years to the day after it was taken, I thought it was appropriate to share in this post:




Bloggers, visit GrowingSlower to sign up to be a part of next month's carnival. 

Can I eat and drink in labor?

Posted on September 10, 2013 at 7:48 AM Comments comments (0)

We had a great question come up in class on Friday, one that bears writing about because at least one student every session plans to give birth at a hospital where they are told to have a good meal before they come in, because their food will be restricted or prohibited once they check into the labor and delivery department. 

To begin with, even having to ask that title question begs another question: why are we asking permission?  The female body, left to it’s own devices, will naturally shut down appetite as the serious work of labor progresses.  Dr. Bradley teaches to eat to appetite if you are hungry, drink if you are thirsty.  Even after mom is no longer asking for water, Dr. Bradley admonishes coaches to keep mamas hydrated so that the labor progresses with ample hydration to circulate all the hormones that keep labor on track.

As students of natural birth, we know that as labor gets harder and moves closer to birth, the body shuts down appetite because it needs to focus on the work of labor, not digestion.  If labor is prolonged, maybe mom will want literally “a bite” of something: a bite of banana, a bite of cheese, a bite of fruit, a couple of nuts, etc.; definitely not a full meal.  Since we had long labors, we found that clear broths or simple soups (thin tomato soup in my case) were a great compromise.  Although I wasn’t hungry, the liquids gave me a few calories to lend some energy to continue to labor, while also meeting my hydration needs.

Science confirms that hospital policies need to catch up with evidence-based care.  Here are excerpts from the Cochrane Review, plus two other articles for you to consider as you decide what is best for your family.

From the review, “Restricting oral fluid and food intake during labour” [1]
In some cultures, food and drinks are consumed during labour for nourishment and comfort to help meet the demands of labour. However, in many birth settings, oral intake is restricted in response to work by Mendelson in the 1940s. Mendelson reported that during general anaesthesia, there was an increased risk of the stomach contents entering the lungs. The acid nature of the stomach liquid and the presence of food particles were particularly dangerous, and potentially could lead to severe lung disease or death. Since the 1940s, obstetrical anaesthesia has changed considerably, with better general anaesthetic techniques and a greater use of regional anaesthesia. These advances, and the reports by women that they found the restrictions unpleasant, have led to research looking at these restrictions. In addition, poor nutritional balance may be associated with longer and more painful labours, and fasting does not guarantee an empty stomach or less acidity. This review looked at any restriction of fluids and food in labour compared with women able to eat and drink. The review identified five studies involving 3130 women. Most studies had looked at specific foods being recommended, though one study let women choose what they wished to eat and drink. The review identified no benefits or harms of restricting foods and fluids during labour in women at low risk of needing anaesthesia. There were no studies identified on women at increased risk of needing anaesthesia. None of the studies looked at women's views of restricting fluids and foods during labour. Thus, given these findings, women should be free to eat and drink in labour, or not, as they wish.

From the Science Daily article, “Restricting Food and Fluids During Labor Is Unwarranted, Study Suggests” [2]
"There should be no hospital policies which restrict fluids and foods in labor; nor should formal guidelines tell women to take specific foods, such as energy drinks," states one of the study's authors, Gillian ML Gyte, M.Phil, of the department of women and children's health at the University of Liverpool in the U.K.

She and her co-authors point out that prior research has shown that many women in labor do not feel like eating, but for others the notion of long hours without any food or drink can be anxiety provoking.” …

"Our study found no difference in the outcomes measured, in terms of the babies' wellbeing or the likelihood of a woman needing a C-section," said Gyte. "There is no evidence of any benefit to restricting what women eat and drink in labor." The researchers also emphasize the value of allowing women to make choices regarding these matters. 

From the Science Daily article, “Eating and Drinking During Labor: Let Women Decide, Review Suggests” [3]
Throughout much of the last century, eating and drinking during labour was considered dangerous and many maternity units operated "nil by mouth" policies or restricted what women in labour were allowed to eat and drink, regardless of women's preferences. This was largely due to concerns about possibly fatal damage to the lungs caused by "Mendelson's syndrome," where particles of regurgitated food are inhaled under general anaesthetic during Caesarean sections. Recently, however, attitudes have begun to change and in many maternity wards, particularly in the UK, women are now allowed to eat and drink what they want during labour…

"Since the evidence shows no benefits or harms, there is no justification for nil by mouth policies during labour, provided women are at low risk of complications," said lead researcher Mandisa Singata, who is based at the East London Hospital Complex in East London, South Africa. "Women should be able to make their own decisions about whether they want to eat or drink during labour, or not."…

"While it is important to try to prevent Mendelson's syndrome, it is very rare and not the best way to assess whether eating and drinking during labour is beneficial for the majority of patients. It might be better to look at ways of preventing regurgitation during anaesthesia for those patients who do require it," she said. 

So what is a couple to do when the hospital has a policy that restricts food and drink during labor?  Do you feel confident in your choice to eat and drink?  Do you want to circumvent the system by bringing in “Coach’s Food”?

That is a very individual choice.  You can labor at home as long as possible and follow your own cues if you want to prolong going to the hospital where your intake is going to be restricted.  You can pack some “Coach’s Food” and circumvent the system by snacking out of the coach’s cooler.  You can do neither and go with the system.  You can also talk to your care provider, bring in the scientific literature, and see if they will sign off on a birth plan that allows you to eat and drink in the hospital in spite of the policy.  Their hands may be tied, and it may not be a possibility, however as the saying goes, you won’t know unless you try.

Did your birth place have a policy that restricted food and drink?  What did you do; how did you handle it?
Please leave us a comment – it will be moderated and posted.

[1] Singata M, Tranmer J, Gyte GML. Restricting oral fluid and food intake during labour. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013, Issue 8. Art. No.: CD003930. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003930.pub3.

[2] Health Behavior News Service, part of the Center for Advancing Health (2013, August 22). Restricting food and fluids during labor is unwarranted, study suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 10, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130822141954.htm

[3] Wiley-Blackwell (2010, January 22). Eating and drinking during labor: Let women decide, review suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 10, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100119213043.htm

Disclaimer:  
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.  Krystyna and Bruss Bowman and Bowman House, LLC accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.  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®.Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Payson


Rally to Improve Birth 2013

Posted on July 16, 2013 at 6:59 PM Comments comments (0)
Did you know that there is a national organization advocating evidence-based care and humanity in childbirth? 

I first became aware of ImprovingBirth.org when they held their first rally last year.  In order to bring awareness to the maternity health care crisis in our country, the organizers chose the date of Labor Day for the national event.  This year, they are truly nation-wide – there is at least one rally planned in all 50 states, and as of today, it looks like they are up to eight international locations.

What maternity health care crisis in the United States, you ask?  Here is a look at the numbers.  In the world:
  • We are 34th in maternal mortality rates:  33 countries have lower maternal mortality than we do.
  • We are 38th in neonatal mortality rates: 37 countries have lower neonatal mortality rates than we do.
  • We are 41st in infant mortality rates: 40 countries do a better job at keeping newborns alive than we do.
  • We are 66th in birth weight: 65 countries do better than us when it comes to birthing babies at healthy birth weights.
  • We are 33rd in the breastfeeding: 32 countries had higher rates of exclusively breastfeeding at six months.

So do you know why I find this so infuriating?
“ Despite the poor international ranking, the International Federation of Health Plans recently reported that average U.S. payments for vaginal birth were far higher than all other countries reported, including Canada, France, and Australia (7).”


















Are you motivated to stand with women, children and coaches to rally for change? 
On September 2, 2013, from 10 a.m. – 12 noon local time, cities across the states are going to host a Rally to Improve Birth.  The rally is not to promote one kind of birth over other kinds of births.  It is not about bashing care providers and birthing facilities.

“It’s about women being capable of making safer, more informed decisions about their care and that of their babies, when they are given full and accurate information about their care options, including the potential harms, benefits, and alternatives.  It’s about respect for women and their decisions in childbirth, including how, where, and with whom they give birth; and the right to be treated with dignity and compassion.”
-Rally To Improve Birth

What is the message that Improving Birth is striving for?  Here are some of the messages they hope to get across that day (hint...ideas for rally signs):
  • Lower the C-Section Rate
  • Respectful Maternity Care 
  • Question Your Induction
  • Informed Consent is My Right 
  • Evidence-Based Birth

You can click HERE to find your local rally (readers in the Phoenix, AZ area - local info at the bottom of this post):
http://rallytoimprovebirth.com/find-a-rally-near-you/

If you can’t stand side-by-side with the families attending the rally, you can still participate.  All the rallies are 100% volunteer organized – even a donation of $10.00 can help buy water to hydrate all the mamas, babies, coaches and care providers standing under the hot sun on Labor Day to bring awareness and change to the maternal healthcare system.
Donate HERE to the national organization:

Donate HERE to the local Phoenix Rally:
http://rallytoimprovebirth.causevox.com/phoenix

HERE is a story from an "eye-roller" at last year’s rally, to a supporter at this year’s rally.  I would like to think that these stories are few and far between.  Unfortunately, I know they are not.  Due to my involvement in the birth community at large, I have personally heard stories from several women who felt completely violated by their care providers and the current standard of care.  We can make a difference.  We can stand together and insist that it is time to humanize birth again, to use evidence-based care, and to involve the birthing family as partners in their birth story. For more information, please visit their main website:

Readers in the Phoenix, AZ area
Here is the info on our local event:
September 2, 2013
10:00 am to 12:00 pm
Tempe Beach Park
54 West Rio Salado Parkway
Tempe, Arizona 85281

To stay up-to-date on the local event, visit the Facebook Page.



Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, PaysonDisclaimer: 
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.  Krystyna and Bruss Bowman and Bowman House, LLC accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.  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®.


Labor Is More Than Dilation

Posted on April 30, 2013 at 5:50 PM Comments comments (0)

As we close out Cesarean Awareness Month, I want to share this link to a post that I wrote about "Failing To Progress".  So often, these are the words of doom to a couple that is working towards a natural labor.  

There are other things that are going on when a woman is in labor.  The more birth stories I hear, the more convinced I am that labor is about surrender.  That concept is not measurable, nor is it graphed anywhere.

Please take a minute to revisit the post about "Failing To Progress or Naturally Aligning" before you go into labor.  You may be glad you have another point of reference for the dreaded FTP!!

I hope to bring you a CBAC story later today, maybe tomorrow.  I look forward to sharing these words from a mama as she goes through her healing process.  

Blueprint for a Vaginal Birth

Posted on April 26, 2013 at 7:35 PM Comments comments (0)
While there are no guarantees that the kind or amount of preparation you do will lead to a vaginal birth, there are things you can do to increase your opportunity to have the vaginal birth you want for your baby.

If I could write a blueprint for having a vaginal birth, I would follow the Five-Point Plan outlined in our Bradley Method® classes.  Here are five things you can do throughout your pregnancy to decrease your chance of a cesarean when you go into labor:

1.  Exercise
Have you ever heard of a person signing up for a race on the day of the event with no prior running experience?  Have you ever heard of an athlete being signed to a team without any previous training in that sport?  No.  You would not participate in an athletic event without at least three months of prior training.  Labor is like an athletic event.  You will have the best outcome possible if you are free to move, walk, and engage your body in different physical positions.  A body that is ready for that event will perform much better than a body that starts labor with no preparation at all. 
The Bradley Method® asks students to consider THESE exercises to tone the back, belly and bottom, the most active muscle groups in labor.  We also ask all our students to find some kind of stamina-building exercise that they can do on a regular basis.  Each mama is encouraged to at the very least walk 20 minutes per day.  There are also other exercises that are safe for a pregnant mother that do not cause excessive strain on the mama by bouncing up and down on the Kegel muscle: swimming, jogging in a lap pool, water aerobics, and prenatal yoga are all forms of exercise that former students have found beneficial to build their stamina for labor.

2.  Good Nutrition
Coach Bruss tries to impress on the coaches that they have a vested interest in ensuring that their partners are eating a healthy, whole food diet.  The benefits for the long-term health of the growing baby will last their lifetime.  The mother will benefit in pregnancy and labor if she is well hydrated and well nourished.  You can read more about the details of what we teach in Bradley™ classes HERE.
In the event that the MotherBaby do have a cesarean birth, the well-nourished pair has a better chance at recovery and establishing breastfeeding.  Barring additional complications from surgery, Mother can withstand the trauma of labor and her milk should come in without too much delay if she has been well nourished.  Her good nutrition made strong, healthy, stretchy tissues, so she may also have a better recovery healing from the physical rigors of a cesarean.  Baby has been afforded every opportunity to have all the right nutrients for growth while in-utero, and they are likely to be born at their best health possible. 

Anecdotally, I can share that most of the babies born via cesarean to our students have had lusty appetites when they are reunited with their mothers!

3.  Education
You and your partner are going to live with your baby for the rest of your lives.  The decisions you make and the information you learn during your pregnancy will help you make the best decisions possible when it comes time to make choices for your birth.

When time allows, take a comprehensive childbirth education course. 
We love the Bradley Method®, which is why we took it twice and then became certified instructors.  We both wanted to work together to bring our children into the world so it made sense for Bruss to train as my coach.  We felt the topics covered in the twelve weeks would help us to be as knowledgeable as possible about the process of labor and how to handle the work of labor.  We liked the focus on communication, exercise, nutrition and relaxation every week.

If “one size fit all”, there would not need to be any other types of childbirth preparation course.  The reality is that what works for me, may not work for you, and what works for you, may not work for your best friend, etc.  There are several other methods to prepare women and/or couples for birth.  Along with a link to The Bradley Method® main page so you can find an instructor in your area, I have listed some of my colleagues in the Phoenix area who teach other methods at the end of the post,.

I also recognize that sometimes classes are not possible due to timing or resources.  Read THIS about the natural alignment plateau.  I also put a suggested reading list at the bottom of this post – you can read as much or as little as you want.  I did list my top three choices if your time is limited and you really want to do your best to be ready for your birth.

I will close this section with a parting thought: you would not save up your money for the vacation of a lifetime and then hand over that savings to a travel agent and say, “Book it” without any further investment in the process.  Your child is priceless.  Take the time to read, form a community and really be confident in the choices you want to make for your birth, and the options you are willing to consider if your birth takes a different course than you prepared for.

4.  Take Responsibility
Piggyback on the last idea: you are the ultimate arbiter of your pregnancy and labor.  You can inform yourself and make the best decisions, or you can be completely casual and careless, or something in between.
There are resources like the Environmental Working Group that provide lists of safe products and foods for families.  We spend a whole class talking about harmful substances, environmental hazards, and alternatives to them in our Bradley™ series class on Pregnancy.

You can also take responsibility for your pregnancy by taking care of yourself physically and emotionally.  Avoid stress and overwork.  Instead of popping a pill, what do you think about going to see a chiropractor, getting a massage, or going to prenatal yoga classes to ease the discomforts of pregnancy?

Some of the most important choices for you to make intentionally revolve around your birth plan.  Do you have a provider that supports your birth choices?  What is their primary cesarean rate?  Are you at a birthing facility that supports your choices?  What is the facility’s primary cesarean rate?  This information is public record – you can find it.  If not, you can contact an advocacy group like Childbirth Connection or Improving Birth to help you uncover that information and find the most vaginal-birth friendly providers and birthing places in your region.

Especially if you choose a hospital birth, you can also explore your feelings about hiring a doula.  Learn what a doula’s role is in birth, how to hire one that best suits what you anticipate your needs as a couple will be, and then plan it into your budget.  Some doulas work on sliding scales, and they are willing to trade and barter – all birth workers want to help you in any way they can.  Realistically, couples in all birth places can benefit from a doula – read up and see which choice is right for you.

5.  Relaxation
Relaxation is the key to The Bradley Method®.  Dr. Bradley believed that a well-trained mother who was accompanied by her loving coach could do anything that nature intended.  With the knowledge of the progress of labor, she doesn’t have to be afraid of “what comes next”.  A well-trained mother welcomes the sensations of labor with the knowledge that this is a journey she must take to grow as a mother. 

Bradley™ classes teach strategies for physical, mental and emotional relaxation to have as many tools as possible to break the Pain-Fear-Tension cycle.  We teach our couples various positions for labor so that a mother can follow her instincts and get into the best position possible to achieve maximum relaxation. Both she and Coach know the roadmap.  They also know that their course may be a sprint or a marathon, or maybe something in between – their role is to accept the labor and follow mama’s instincts about what she needs and when.  Once she is completely relaxed and able to surrender, labor can progress beautifully and unencumbered to an unmedicated, vaginal birth.  

In closing:
As I mentioned earlier in the post, sometimes you do all the right things and yet, you are still being presented with a situation that looks like it may lead to a cesarean.  HERE is a good post that covers how to handle different labor scenarios that may present as a reason for a cesarean. If mom is okay and baby is okay, you can think about asking for more time.

What if you do everything right and you still end up at the operating room?  
Read HERE to learn about your options if you want to maximize your cesarean experience to capture the essence of a vaginal birth.  Again, you must educate yourself and prepare.  Consider writing a cesarean Birth Plan B so that your provider is well aware of what you want to happen before you are in labor and so that when you ask for these things, they are not forgotten.  A natural approach to a cesarean takes more time than a standard cesarean.  By discussing these things in pregnancy, you are not going to ask them to change their “game” without fair warning.  

All of our students come to class with the intention of having a natural, vaginal birth.  There are times when they have made the choice to have a cesarean for a Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby outcome after laboring and using the tools they learned in class. They had the skill set to help them identify that despite doing all the things they could, the cesarean was the birth that their baby needed.  The overwhelming majority of them have been grateful for all the preparation and the communication skills they learned.  Unlike families who felt railroaded into their cesareans, couples who prepare for their births choose to have cesareans that ensure a Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby outcome and they have a degree of peace with their birth to help them on the road to healing.

I know gratitude for the process doesn’t take away the feelings of not having the birth they planned and prepared for.  Barring the rare complications, having an empowered pregnancy does give them the best possible chance of a VBAC next time.

If you did everything right and still had a cesarean, I encourage you to accept your birth.  Your baby had a reason for needing a cesarean, and assuming you hired a capable, experienced care provider that you trusted, they knew that knew that was the birth you needed.  Seek support from other women who had cesareans through the ICAN organization in person or on-line.

Lastly, there is a group of women who will always need a cesarean.  They may be high-risk, or they may have high-risk pregnancies.  To those women, I say, “You are strong.  You are lionesses.”  Cesarean births are no joke, and to be willing to undergo them again and again for the love of family, you are the ultimate examples of a mother’s love.  Thank you.

What do you think – would you add or subtract anything from this list?
Please leave us a comment - it will be moderated and posted.  *I think* that the amount of traffic you so generously generate has led to a lot of spam posting.  In an effort to keep the spam to a minimum, I am taking the time to moderate comments now.

Reading list:
Top Three-Four, especially if you are not going to take a class
Natural Childbirth The Bradley™ Way – Susan McCutcheon, AAHCC
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth – Ina May Gaskin
Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth – Henci Goer
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding – La Leche League, International

Other very informative books:
Husband-Coached Childbirth – Dr. Robert Bradley
Exercises for True Natural Childbirth – Rhondda Hartman, RN, AAHCC
The Birth Book – Dr. William Sears and Martha Sears, RN
Active Birth - Janet Balaskas
A Child is Born – Lennart Nilsson
What Every Pregnant Woman Should Know – Gail Sforza with Dr. Tom Brewer
Metabolic Toxemia of Late Pregnancy – Dr. Tom Brewer
Children at Birth – Marjie and Jay Hathway, AAHCC
The Baby Book – Dr. William Sears and Martha Sears, RN 

Main Page for The Bradley Method®

Other Childbirth Preparation Classes:
Hypnobirthing: Marinah Farrell (4-6 week course)  480-528-1689Hypnobabies: Noelia Waldo (6 week course)  (480) 295-0895
Birthing From Within: Alejandrina Vostrejos  (6 weeks) 480-206-1985
 
Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Payson Disclaimer:   
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.  Krystyna and Bruss Bowman and Bowman House, LLC accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.  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®.