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Sweet Pea Births

Chandler, Arizona

Sweet Pea Births

...celebrating every swee​t pea their birth

Blog

Q&A with SPB: DIY Padsicles

Posted on January 17, 2017 at 6:27 AM Comments comments (0)
Birthing From Within and Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: convenient to Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale

Here is PART II of our VLOGS with guest doula, Michelle Ludwig from Modern Mama Doula Services.
 
Last week, she showed us her TOP 5 picks for postpartum.  Today she is going to share her DIY tutorial for you to make soothing postpartum “padsicles” right at home during pregnancy so that they are ready for you when you are home holding your sweet pea!



 
What you need:
-Witch Hazel ~ we both really like the Humphrey’s brand – available in regular or organic)
-Maxi-pads ~ if you can find them, get some chemical-free and bleach-free; usually available online
-Cookie Sheet
-Freezer Storage Bags
 
How to:
1) Open up all the pads and leave them on the wrapper so that they don’t stick to each other later
 
2) Lay them all out on your cookie sheet
 
3) Spray the witch hazel on to the pads until they are wet BUT not dripping
 
4) Put the whole cookie tray into the freezer for about two hours
 
5) Once the witch hazel has frozen, take them back out of the freezer and fold them back up for storage.  Place them in a freezer storage bag and back into the freezer while you wait for your Sweet Pea to make their appearance.
 
6) Use them during the postpartum period on top of the large postpartum pads you will receive in your birth kit or from the hospital.
 
They will be a little chilly at first, but after the initial freeze they will feel great on your bottom.
 
I did ask Michelle what her experience was with other “add-ons”. Some info out on the internet suggests using lavender essential oil or aloe vera gel along with the witch hazel on the pads when you are preparing them.
 
As Michelle so wisely answered, less is more. Witch hazel is an extremely effective healing agent, and it would be a bummer to find out that you are allergic to lavender or aloe vera when you are trying to heal from birth, learning to breastfeed and figuring out your mothering.
 
The witch hazel and pads are part of Michelle’s especially prepared Bump Boxes.  Along with the items for padsicles, you will also receive some hand crafted postpartum essentials that she makes herself.  You can order Michelle’s specially made with love package from her HERE
 
Would you like to interview Michelle as a doula? Please read her meet the doula feature HERE
 
Contact Michelle:
WEB http://www.modernmamadoula.com/
CELL OR TEXT 7204098977


Disclaimer: 
Birthing From Within and Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: convenient to Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, ScottsdaleThe material included in this video is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The viewer 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 and video contain information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained in this video and on our blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.
 
Birthing From Within and Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: convenient to Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale

Q&A with SPB: Braxton-Hicks vs. Labor Contractions

Posted on September 22, 2015 at 11:04 AM Comments comments (0)
Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: convenient to Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Payson

Here are some ideas to help you figure out the difference:




Here is a quick visual recap of today's video:

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

I hope this help answer some of your questions about the difference.  As always, if you have any questions, concerns, or nagging doubts - be safe rather than sorry: call your care provider :)

Disclaimer: 
Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: convenient to Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, PaysonThe material included in this blog and video is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The viewer 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 and video contain information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained in this video and on our blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.
 



What is natural birth?

Posted on September 4, 2015 at 9:37 AM Comments comments (2)
The night we started our seventh Bradley Method® class series in December 2011 played out like all other "first nights" of class. I am on edge all day long.  I get nervous before our students arrive: What if I forget anything?  Will they like our class?  Will our class run smoothly?  What if I leave something I need for class at home?   

The class went well, and we got a question that we have never gotten before: “What is natural birth – is it anything that doesn’t end in a C-section?”  

It made me pause and think for a moment.  My short answer in class was, “Well, I guess that depends on the person and their definition of natural birth.”  

I pondered that question all night.  Up until three months before that class, I would have said that we had three natural births and were preparing for our fourth.  And then we had our home birth experience, which re-defined “natural birth” for me.  It turned out to be the most natural birth experience we had.  

I can’t say our hospital births were completely intervention free since we were always poked and prodded by something or someone.  Heck, they weren’t even “un-medicated” – I was administered some kind of medication with each one.  With Puma, I had penicillin, Pitocin and an episiotomy; I had penicillin with Night Owl; and penicillin and Pitocin with Charger.  We did achieve three epidural-free vaginal births with a very supportive OB, though, and for that I am grateful.  

Otter’s birth gave us a new definition of “natural”.  Here are all the things we DID NOT experience during our low-risk home birth:
- A transfer from our home to another location during active labor
- Forms to fill out
- A wait in the triage area with other families in varying states of apprehension
- Vaginal exams to check the progress of labor
- Heparin lock for access to veins “just in case”
- Electronic fetal monitoring
- Mommy-monitoring Nurse coming in to check vitals
- Calls to the doctor to report on my “progress”
- Restriction of food or drink
- Beeping sounds and hospital smells that inhibit rest or sleep
- Time on back for the convenience of the hospital staff
- Episiotomy  

Our midwives were called when my water broke and they came to see how we were doing.  The baby was low and things seemed to be progressing, so they stayed.  To this day I do not know what the deciding factor in their staying was when our labor hit the start-stop mode…I do know I am grateful that they didn’t leave us.  I would have felt like another “failure to progress” and who knows what that would have done to my emotional state and our labor.  (Click here for our homebirth story.)  

At first, they checked on us every thirty minutes.  They would monitor the baby with a Doptone to assess her heart rate, and they would check my blood pressure to see how I was doing.  When it was clear that we were both handling the labor well, they checked on us with less frequency while still maintaining a trained eye on us to judge our fitness and make sure we were still low-risk and doing well.  

They asked questions.  They let me eat.  They made sure I was drinking.  They checked in with Bruss to see how he was doing and how he thought I was doing.  They offered moral support and encouragement that everything was fine although we were clearly not going to be one of those families who can say their homebirth was their shortest labor.  In an ironic twist of fate – this happened to be our longest labor, and we were so grateful to be at home with trained care providers who allowed my body and our baby the time they needed to figure out the process and have a healthy mom, healthy baby outcome.  

So now we know what all the possibilities are when a person imagines “natural birth”.  A woman and her partner work together to welcome their child, free of interference or invasive probing, supported by a team that completely believes in your abilities and will help you welcome your baby gently and lovingly into the world.  It makes me wish that there were no pregnancy complications so that every woman could have a gentle birth.  

The reality is that the majority of our students coming through class are just like we were with our first baby.  They believe that a hospital is the safest place to give birth and that an OB is the only person qualified to safely deliver your baby.  It would be irresponsible to have a baby at home, outside of the “safety net” if something were to go wrong.  

I am so grateful that now there are many more Certified Nurse Midwives ("CNM") working in hospitals.  They provide the level of belief in the natural process that we found at our home birth, while still working at the hospital setting in which most people feel comfortable.  

If a student’s care practice does not offer midwifery care, I hope that like us, they will find a supportive OB who respects their proactive approach to achieving a natural birth and helps them find a way to have the birth experience they want in the hospital.  We have a very tender spot in our hearts for our OB.  Not only did she deliver our biggest baby without an episiotomy, she also helped us have our most natural hospital birth because she believed in our ability to birth.  

There is also another option available to families in the Phoenix area.  We now have several birth centers.  Birth centers strive to be the happy medium between home and hospital for families that want to have the "compromise option".  They can offer a more relaxed atmosphere similar to the home environment, and some provide medical options at the center that would not be present in a home birth. 

I feel it is our role as Bradley Method® instructors to help every couple achieve the best birth possible for their children with a healthy mom, healthy baby outcome.  “Natural birth” will be different for each of them based on their pregnancy and their choices.  

What can you "control" in the childbearing year?
A couple will probably have more options availabel to them in labor if the mother has good nutrition, maintains a daily exercise regimen to tone their back, belly and bottom, and does some form of exercise for stamina.  By attending classes every week they learn a new relaxation technique that they can put in their labor toolbox.  We explore many, many options available to birthing couples today.  

What can you influence during the childbearing year?
We work on communication every class so that the couple is prepared to respectfully ask questions of their care provider if they feel something they recommend goes against their dream of a natural birth, or to better understand their recommendations so that they can make an informed decision.   The choice of care provider will also play a role in the way to birth plays out - are you getting red flags during your prenatal visits? Do not ignore them - ask around and find the provider that respects your rights and your knowledge as a birthing parent of *your* child.  They may be the expert in birth; you are the only one that knows your baby.

Beyond that, the rest is up to what we would call God, or a Higher Power; some people call it Fate...whatever the belief system, we encourage our students to focus beyond the "how" of their birth story:
- What will you learn from this birth journey?
- Where will the transformation from Maiden to Mother happen for the woman?  Where will the transformation from Stag to Father happen for the partner?
- How will your partner disappoing you? How will they rise to the occassion, and maybe even surprise you?
- What was your most brilliant moment?

We look forward to sharing the information taught in Bradley Method® classes with our students.  We strive to equip them with the tools they need to assess situations that present themselves in pregnancy and labor.  When we hear that a baby is born and nurses readily at the breast, we know those parents worked together to achieve the ultimate Bradley Method® outcome: Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby.   

What does "natural birth" mean to you?

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. 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 2016 Series 

For more information or to register,
please call us at
602-684-6567
or email us at

Birth Story: Marathon Labor

Posted on January 23, 2015 at 9:45 AM Comments comments (0)
Christine & BJ Bollier 
Bradley Method© Birth Story

Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, PaysonOur goal is to prepare families to have a natural birth by teaching a mom and her loving coach to labor together.  The reality is that even with the best preparation, birth is unique, fluid and unpredictable.  Our experience as natural childbirth educators is that even if your birth does not go according to your plan, a comprehensive education like The Bradley Method® will pave the way for you to have your best possible birth with a Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby outcome.
 
This story is a great example of making your wishes known, persevering through a long labor that stalled (The Bradley Method® calls “the stall”, aka “failure to progress”, a “Natural Alignment Plateau” or "NAP"), and making decisions as the labor progressed for a Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby birth experience.  Even with an intervention they did not initially want or anticipate, they were able to have the vaginal, unmedicated birth they had prepared for.
 
One of my favorite quotes from the video is Christine’s statement, “I was tired, but I was never scared, because I knew what to expect.”
 
 Link to video: http://youtu.be/PmlPITHsFio

Here is a quick summary of their labor:  She started with contractions around 15 minutes apart on a Thursday morning.  They went to their doctor’s appointment that afternoon and decided to go home and let their labor progress. On Friday, they were timing contractions throughout the day.  When they got to five minutes apart, they decided to go to the hospital because of the impending blizzard (they live in Payson, AZ).  By the time they were all checked into their room, it was 2:30 am on Saturday.  By Saturday evening at 6:00 pm, they hit a NAP at around 8 cm dilation.  They made the decision to accept an amniotomy (breaking the bag of waters) at 10:00 pm.  Their son was born on Sunday morning at 3:30 am.
 
When the Bollier's time their labor, they call it 36 hours from the contractions that were 6 minute apart  on Friday afternoon to the time when he was born on Sunday morning.  They both stayed awake for the whole of that time, save a few cat naps that happened between contractions when they were both exhausted.  It is good to note that they did sleep on Thursday night when contractions were still in the "putsy-putsy" stage.
 
I am so glad she talks about how she experienced contractions – that’s a big question mark for first-time moms.  Christine says she felt them as rhythmic and internalized them – she says she could have painted you a picture of the contractions.  I love that perspective!
 
HIGHLIGHTS
Birth plan

  • They did their work throughout and after Class 7 when we talk about writing the Birth Plan. 
  • They got great ideas, and then took it to their care provider and asked her, “Is everything realistic on here?”  She went through it line by line and said it was all in-line with what was possible in a hospital setting. 
  • Care provider signed off on plan, put it in file, sent it to hospital to give the staff their a heads up on their desires for their birth. 
  • When it was “go time”, they arrived at hospital with several copies of plan and 3 dozen cookies.
  • Everyone who walked into the room was offered cookies and a birth plan

 
Changing the Plan

  • “Going in, we knew there might be a possibility that things were not going to go to plan.”
  • Came to terms with making an adjustment
  • Once the bag of waters was broken, contractions completely changed and things progressed quickly
  • Christine reasoned with herself, “This isn’t going to be how I planned it, but if I give up one thing, the birth can still happen unmedicated like I want it to”

 
Christine’s Insight:
Q: What did BJ do as a Coach that helped you the most?
A: He kept me from freaking out when it had gone on for so long.  
As she explains, he kept her on track through the exhaustion. BJ kept her calm with reassurance; he also pointed out the progress they had made. 

Loosely paraphrasing: [The hard part] wasn’t the pain – it was the exhaustion.  I knew the pain was purposeful because I was getting a baby.  [Contractions] came in bursts and they were not constant - it wasn’t miserable pain or constant pain from an injury that hurts all the time. Looking back a year later, [a contraction] was such a short period of time.
 
BJ’s nuggets of wisdom
Education & knowledge quell fear – having notes at my fingertips kept me from getting scatterbrained while I was watching (coaching) my wife through labor.
 
Postpartum advice for the husbands: Don’t be proud – just say yes.  Don’t be too proud to accept help – it’s a gift.
 
On the lighter side, you’ll hear the inauguration of the term “The Splash Zone” – now that we know our student’s perception of watching all the birth videos from the first row of chairs, it’s what we call that front line when we show birth videos in class - lol.
 
QUESTIONS FROM THE CLASS:
Q: Were you both awake the whole [36 hours of progressive labor]?
A: Yes…If I had it to do over again – we would rest throughout labor.  You’ll hear it in class that you should rest.  Seriously – REST.  After the baby is born, you are playing catch-up with sleep.
 
Q: What can you tell us about breastfeeding a newborn?
A: Get your hands on reading material, borrow books, have phone numbers of support people you can call, have a good structure around you to encourage, inspire, and inform you.
 
Invest in good bras – wear a tank top with shirt underneath at this age (son is about 11 months old in this video), after the infant stage the nursing cover is not staying on!
 

Did you have a long labor?  What labor management tips would you share with first-time parents?
 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®.


 

Birth Story: Penelope

Posted on January 9, 2015 at 9:12 AM Comments comments (0)
Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Payson
It’s birth story day!!  This week I am sharing a birth story from our Fall 2012 class.  In today's video, Courtney is talking about her family's birth journey with our Winter 2012-13 class.  Jake was working, so Courtney shares his words of wisdom for coaches, too.

Here is their backstory: 

  • Courtney was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes via blood glucose test (usually administered between 24 – 28 weeks of pregnancy)
  • High Blood Pressure was measured at office visits from 36 weeks on; whenever she checked her blood pressure at home, it was normal
  • Midwife recommended induction at 38 weeks due to risks of having gestational diabetes (large baby, possible stillbirth) – Courtney negotiated for more office visits, more monitoring, and extra ultrasounds to “buy” two extra weeks of pregnancy


How their birth journey progressed:
  • Courtney and Jake agreed to induction on her due date with prostaglandin gels
  • After about 12 hours at the hospital, the couple was told that labor had not progressed enough so they agreed to an amniotomy (artificial rupture of membranes)
  • Baby was born vaginally with no other interventions at 11:56 pm


In Courtney's own words:

 

Video Highlights:
Note: Looking back, Courtney was so grateful she advocated for a longer pregnancy.  One of the biggest concerns about gestational diabetes is that babies are larger than average.  At birth (40 weeks gestation), their baby weighed 6 pounds, 9 ounces and measured 21 inches long.  This is clearly *not* a baby that would be called “large for gestational age” when you consider the average birth weight for a term baby is about 7.5 pounds.

Which labor tools worked for you to manage the intensity?

  • Changing positions and moving around: we the used birth tub, knees on bed and arms draped over back of the bed, side lying position
  • Being surrounded by people who support your choices is probably the most important thing: husband spoke up and asked people who were in the room to leave; midwife was amazing; everyone on staff who walked in the room acknowledged reading and supporting their birth plan
  • Peppermint oil for nausea – helped control the pace of her breathing
  • Unspoken communication with a loving coach – even though it felt silly at the time, the practice in classes and at home paid off because he knew what she wanted with the wave of a hand.

 
What would Jake (husband) say if he were here?

  • Be prepared for everything
  • Expect everything to not go the way you want it
  • Try to predict what she needs so she does not have to say it


Some images from their birth:
 
Courtney & Jake's Birth Journey
Courtney & Jake's Birth Journey
Early labor after induction with prostaglandin gels. They are using the labor position we call "The Prom Dance".
Courtney & Jake's Birth Journey
Using the deep tubs available for laboring at Mercy Gilbert Medical Center
Courtney & Jake's Birth Journey
Courtney & Jake's Birth Journey
Courtney & Jake's Birth Journey
The awe that hits many couples after Sweet Pea arrives...we hope that you are supported in your birth choices so you can feel awed by your birth journey, too.
 
PostScript:
Courtney and her husband Jake were the last couple that enrolled in that class series with a last-minute phone call, “We really need to get into this class!”  You would be hard-pressed to find a birth worker who would say no to them!!  It is so humbling to hear that saying yes to them when we had a full class already made a big difference for their birth. I praise God for His wisdom and His incredible design.

 
What did you learn from your birth journey?
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®.

 

Let Go and Give In

Posted on May 20, 2014 at 9:27 PM Comments comments (0)
There is one concept that has become so clear to me – it has taken me almost four years of teaching The Bradley Method® to really “get” the beauty of the method we teach.
 
The catch-phrase of Bradley™ classes is: Relaxation is the Key to Labor.
 
Why:  Relaxation is the tool The Bradley Method® teaches to allow a mother to immerse herself in her limbic brain center – the one that deals with her emotions.  What she is feeling is crucial to the progression of labor.  She must let go, give in, and allow her baby to come out.  

A mother must feel safe enough to allow herself to be vulnerable.  
In order for labor to progress, a woman must SURRENDER to the process happening within her without trying to control it.
 
What she feels influences her endocrine system, which in turn will make the hormones she needs for labor to progress *or* the hormones to inhibit labor until mother feels that she is in a “safe” place.  The brain receptors will accept either oxytocin to promote labor or adrenaline to inhibit labor - never both at the same time.

Her feelings also influences the autonomic system, meaning all the things that happen without conscious effort: heart beat, breathing, digestion, etc.  If she feels safe, her heart rate and breathing will be calm and allow her to enter a state of deep relaxation and embrace the sensations of labor and work with her bofy.  If she feels frightened or defensive, her heart rate and breathing increase, inhibiting her ability to relax and give herself over to the process of birth, and she will fall into the fear-tension-pain cycle.
 
Dr. Sears says it another way:
“In a satisfying birth you must surrender to your body, yield to your urges, tune in to yourself, open up, and let baby come out”
~The Birth Book, page 137
 
So how do we get to the maximum state of deep relaxation? Dr.Bradley identified six factors that were common among the mammals he observed in labor. (Husband-Coached Childbirth, 5th Edition, Pages 57-61)

ONE: Darkness and solitude
ONE: Darkness and solitude
The beginning of changing states from conscious to limbic brain center.
TWO: Quiet
TWO: Quiet
Keeping outside noise and distractions to a minimum allows a mother to continue into the limbic state and altered consciousness.
THREE: Physical Comfort
THREE: Physical Comfort
Follow your instincts and allow the sensations of labor to guide you into the most comfortable position for each contraction
FOUR: Physical Relaxation
FOUR: Physical Relaxation
Relaxation of uninvolved muscles during labor – difficult for human mothers to imitate if the mental and emotional relaxation has not happened yet. Practice during pregnancy can help her when she needs this skill during labor.
FIVE: Controlled Breathing
FIVE: Controlled Breathing
The only breathing "taught" by TBM is deep abdominal breathing. As labor intensifies, the Coach can help the laboring mother go back to her breath.
SIX: Closed Eyes and Appearance of Sleep
SIX: Closed Eyes and Appearance of Sleep
This allows the mother to turn inward and focus her energy into "The Zone"


A good foundation in methods and techniques for physical, mental and emotional relaxation is part and parcel of applying the six needs for a natural childbirth.  

Do take the time to practice relaxation techniques every day as you prepare for your birth.  A course in The Bradley Method® will offer couples 11 different relaxation tools for their toolbox to address physical, mental and emotional relaxation.
 
As much as you are spending time to plan Sweet Pea’s nursery, finding the best gear for them, and taking care to find the best care pediatrician, invest time in preparing yourself for their Birth-Day.  Barring any true complications [1], your ability to relax and embrace your labor will allow them to have a healthy, low-risk start in life.

Need more convincing?  Here are some excerpts from a position paper printed in the New Zealand College of Midwives Journal [2] that makes a case for the importance of an empowered birth experience in which a mother is allowed to labor according to nature’s physiological design.
 
About the hormonal process of birth:
“It has been known for some time that hormones influence the functions of organs within the human body but scientific advances have led to an understanding that neurohormones are also intricately intertwined with emotions (Pert, 1997). Hormones are chemical substances (messengers) secreted into the blood or body fluid that exert a physiological effect on other cells in the body (Blackburn, 2007). They facilitate the maintenance of an optimal internal environment, initiate corrective and adaptive responses to any deviations from normal physiology and direct human behaviour. Neurohormones are hormones which are synthesised and released from neurones; as such they are secreted within the brain to work both on the neurones in the brain and on different sites within the body via the blood stream (Douglas & Ludwig, 2008). These hormones have subsequently been found to influence behaviour because they have an effect on how the body adapts physiologically (Cacioppo & Berntson 2006).
“Integrating contemporary scientific knowledge with women’s descriptions of their feelings during labour improves our ability to theorise, and to comprehend the complexity of the physiological, emotional and physical changes that occur during labour and birth. This mind/body/behaviour concept supports health professionals and women to a better understanding of labour physiology. Midwives need to explore ways of maximising and enabling the instinctive drives that support the woman’s physiology. This may include reviewing the birthing environment to ensure the woman can go into ‘The Zone’. There are simple but key environment enablers such as keeping the lights low, staying quiet during contractions and not making eye contact. Ensuring women maximise the limbic brain connection is about supporting them to ‘disconnect’ with others during labour whilst also maintaining the usual physical and emotional midwifery care.”
 
On the rite of passage encompassed by pregnancy and birth: 
“Pregnancy and the process of labour and birth are designed to bring about behavioural changes which culminate at the birth in maternal attachment and mothering behaviour. The hormones that are necessary for social and maternal bonds are also those responsible for the initiation and continuation of labour. As such the process of pregnancy, labour and birth is not just a physical process but also a transitional process in which the woman is prepared (biologically and emotionally) to become a mother and exhibit maternal behaviours. The feelings and behaviour women exhibit during labour may be strong indicators of normal labour physiology and that labour and birth are proceeding normally.”
 


Do you have a favorite relaxation technique that helped you during pregnancy and/or birth?  
Please leave a comment - it will be moderated and posted.

[1] There are true complications of pregnancy and childbirth.  When the benefits outweigh the risks, those are the times when medical intervention is desirable and appropriate for a Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby outcome.  A comprehensive childbirth course like the Bradley Method can help you have a healthy, low-risk pregnancy and learn the communication skills to navigate those situations. It is possible to have a healthy start in spite of complications.

[2]Dixon, L., Skinner, J., Foureur, M. (2013). The emotional and hormonal pathways of labour and birth: integrating mind, body and behaviour. New Zealand College of Midwives Journal, 48, 15-23. http://dx.doi.org/10.12784/nzcomjnl48.2013.3.15-23
 
 
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®.

 

Info Sheet: Choices in Childbirth Education

Posted on May 16, 2014 at 6:00 AM Comments comments (0)
What! A Bradley Method® teacher writing about other kinds of childbirth education??  Yes, absolutely!

Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, PaysonThe Bradley Method® is designed for families who are planning to have One Mama who wants to prepare for a natural birth + One Coach who is invested and wants to be the main coach for the mother, and in some cases we train assistant coaches as well. There are so many other dynamics and variations in mothers and in their pregnancy.  Today’s information sheet will look at the different childbirth preparation options and offer links to find out more about the different courses offered if The Bradley Method® is not the right fit for you.
 
Why would I do an information sheet on this topic and allow other educators to "brag on" their classes?? It is because I believe that there is no “one size fits all” childbirth education class.  If one method were perfect, there wouldn’t be so many options out there.  

Each method speaks to the people who are attracted to the principles offered in that course.  When we do presentations about natural childbirth and our classes, we offer an evaluation guide so that families can weigh any method against their own values and desires for their birth.  Just like individuals are unique, they must find the education that fits their personality, timeline and budget.

HISTORY:
Once upon a time, birth was a community event.  Children were born at home; families and neighbors experienced birth with all of it's beauty, goopiness, noise (or lack thereof) and rare complications (most complications of birth happen at a rate of 2% or less).  Birth happened to us and around us - it was part of life and living.

Then birth started to move to the hospital.  Parents went away to have babies, and came back with siblings.  Children were no longer privy to what happened during birth.  And birth changed - it became medically managed because true, uncomplicated childbirth has a very hard time showing up when you take a mother to a place where she has to birth with an audience of strangers.  We began to lose our knowledge and trust in birth - many of us have never experienced a live birth until it happened to us.

Hence, the "birth" of childbirth education classes: to teach mothers and their partners how birth looks, sounds, and is likely to proceed if it is allowed to happen as nature intended.  Little by little, hospitals and care providers in the hospital setting are open to the idea that interfering with birth is the problem, not the process of birth itself.

PROS
Most courses will cover provide some, if not all, of these benefits:

  • You learn about your body and how it works in labor; develop confidence in your body's ability to birth.
  • It is a bonding experience with your partner - although they may never experience pregnancy, they learn how they can play an active role in your pregnancy and birth 
  • Learn positions and techniques for labor
  • Learn comfort measures and pain relief options (natural and medical) 
  • Learn about interventions and how to evaluate them
  • Learn how to advocate for mother and baby with positive communication techniques
  • Learn about variations and complications of childbirth
  • Learn how to embrace your birth experience, even if it deviates from your plan


CONS

  • You are an educated consumer - some care providers are not as excited about that as you might imagine.


A closer look at the choices in childbirth education 
Note: this section will be updated as I receive first-hand descriptions of the courses from educators in our area who teach these classes. 
 
In our area (Phoenix, AZ), most childbirth education courses run between $250 - $350, regardless of length.  Most courses are 3-6 weeks long.  If you do the math to figure out the cost per hour, that makes our 12-week Bradley™ course the best value for the money! However, budget is only one factor when considering a childbirth education course. 
 
Here are some questions you can ask when you are considering which class is best for you:
 
Asking these questions first will pre-qualify any classes you may be considering:
- Do you have a class that fits my due date?
- Is it offered at a convenient time, place, and location?
- If not, do you offer private instruction?
 
If you are a good fit so far, consider asking these questions next
- What are your qualifications, training and experience?
How many children have they had using this method, how did they receive training in the method (reading, correspondence course, in-person training (who was their trainer?), webinar), how many courses/couples have they taught?
- Who do you work for?
Are they independent or paid by a third-party? Are they representing information or are they promoting an experience?
- How do your methods and techniques work in labor? What are your method’s natural birth rates?
Most educators have a statistics sheet from their organization, or they may have an account from their students.
 
To ensure the best quality of instruction, it might be important to know if the childbirth educator you are considering is a current affiliate with the certifying organization, or if they were just trained and never completed their certification.  For example, we must carry our most recent affiliation certificate with us when we teach.  We are required to re-certify every year.  Someone thinking about Bradley™ classes would want to know if the class is a Bradley Method® class, providing the most current workbook and updated information (our organization publishes updates to our course outline every year), or is it a class “just like Bradley™” taught by a former instructor who no longer has access to the most current information and might only be teaching their favorite parts of what the method offered them?
 
Here are descriptions of the most common childbirth education methods.  Each of the websites listed below has links to find an affiliated instructor in your area for that “brand” of childbirth instruction.  
 
The Bradley Method®
Teaches about the process of a healthy, low-risk natural childbirth and views birth as a natural process. It is our belief that most women with proper education, preparation, and the help of a loving and supportive coach can have the best birth possible while striving to have a natural birth. The Bradley Method encourages mothers to trust their bodies. Families are encouraged to have a healthy, low-risk pregnancy based on the foundation of nutrition, exercise, and the avoidance of harmful substances. As part of a comprehensive education couples are taught the stages and physiology of labor, comfort measures, and how to use natural breathing + relaxation techniques during pregnancy/labor. (See our course outline HERE)
12 classes @ 2.5 hours each
 
Lamaze
Ferdinand Lamaze was a French obstetrician who in the 1950s developed a method of childbirth preparation using behavioral training to reduce pain and anxiety in labor.  Modern-day Lamaze focuses on six Healthy Birth Practices.  From their website: “The Lamaze Healthy Birth Practices help simplify your birth process with a natural approach that helps alleviate your fears and manage pain. Regardless of your baby’s size, your labor’s length and complexity, or your confidence level, these care practices will help keep labor and your baby's birth as safe and healthy as possible.” 
 
Hypnobirthing
Also called the “Mongan Method”. It is a childbirth education curriculum that emphasizes self-hypnosis.  This method believes in trusting Nature’s way of birth and the simplicity of birth.  Only a few key techniques are taught because the premise is that repetition instead of variety is what gets best results.  
5 classes @ 2.5 hours each
 
Hypnobabies
The curriculum is adapted with permission from Gerald Kein’s “Painless Childbirth Program” techniques. Instead of using simple relaxation, breathing or guided imagery, hypnosis scripts are used as the primary tool for pain management.  Hypnobabies scripts are written to train the inner mind that contractions in labor will be felt only as pressure, tightening, pushing, pulling and normal baby movement sensations.  Scripts are meant to be listened to daily during pregnancy and through the process of labor. 
6 classes @ 3 hours each
 
Birthing From Within
The premise is to understand the power and life-long impact that "birthing from within" offers all participants in birth, therefore mothers/partners prepare for birth as a Rite of Passage.  One intention is to co-create holistic prenatal care that is informative, transformative, and builds a foundation for birthing in awareness in our birth culture, whatever the birth location or outcome or events of the birth.  Another intention is to prevent or minimize emotionally difficult births (for parents and professionals) through compassionate, honest preparation.
 
BirthWorks
From their website: “believe that the knowledge about how to give birth is born within every woman. Therefore, birth is instinctive and what is instinctive doesn’t need to be taught. We help women to have more trust and faith in their own body knowledge that already knows how to give birth. This is a unique approach that is empowering and transforming in nature.”
 
Independent Classes
Many doulas and former childbirth educators will do a one- or two-day intensive program, or they are available for private childbirth classes.  I have a running list of these options for the instance when we get a call from a family that doesn’t have twelve-weeks for a full Bradley Method® course.  Your area Bradley™ teacher may also keep this kind of list, or call a doula in your area to see if they or any of their colleagues teach private, non-branded childbirth classes.
 
Hospital Classes
Most hospitals that have labor and delivery units will offer childbirth classes.  In general, they are taught from the “this is how we do labor and delivery” and “how to be a patient” perspective.  You may hear about the most used options (epidurals) and common interventions in the hospital setting.  It is very rare to have these classes include preparation for true natural childbirth.  It may be beneficial to take this class to understand the birthing culture in the hospital if you are having a hospital birth.  It may give you a truer picture of what your hospital birth could be like than you will get from your care provider.  You are a patient in the hospital for the entirety of your hospital stay – they only show up for the last few minutes of your labor.  If you hear/see too many red flags, then you can consider other options: does your care provider have privileges at other hospitals? Maybe you want to take a closer look at birth centers in your area, or consider changing to a home setting?
 
The bottom line is that there are several options in childbirth education and preparation.  Choose the method that speaks to your heart – and get the information from the people that are passionate  about and currently affiliated with the method that they teach.

We wish you all the best as you do the research to find the best method of education for your Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby Birth-Day.


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®.

The Uterus and the Fear-Tension-Pain Cycle

Posted on May 13, 2014 at 12:23 PM Comments comments (0)
The woman who taught my Doulas of North America (DONA) training course was kind enough to allow me to post this to our blog.  She is an accomplished doula, doula trainer, and author. Besides her passion around childbirth, she is also a dedicated state representative for District 16 in Arizona.  She sent this message to an SPB student who she knows through her political career.
 
GUEST BLOG POST
by Kelly Townsend, CD (DONA)
 
There is a psychosomatic approach to childbirth that is often ignored in the United States.  Over in Sweden and other parts of Europe, Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology is pretty big, and it’s no surprise that they also have the best maternal and fetal outcomes over there.

The thing is, the uterus is affected like the heart is during stressful situations.  When you are startled, your heart beats faster, right?  Much the same, when there is any stress, fear, tension in the muscles, etc., it sends a message to the sympathetic nervous system that there is danger present (not really, but this is the response to fear during birth) and the body goes into an effort to "protect the baby." 


The myometrium is the muscle of the uterus.  It is one muscle with three distinct layers, each with its own responsibility. 
  • The outer layer contracts and opens the cervix, and pushes the baby out. 
  • The middle layer supports the blood vessels. 
  • The inner layer contracts the uterus back down after the baby is born. 
Image source: http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/myometrium 

BUT – the inner layer also becomes rigid during times of stress.  Like the heart beating faster, the inner layer fights the outer layer and tries to stall the birth, protecting the baby from whatever is causing the mother to worry or be tense.  Thus, labor takes longer. 
 
This is the only time in the human body when there are opposing muscles working against each other.  All other muscles work in tangent, one relaxes while the other contracts (think biceps and triceps).  When opposition happens within the uterus it slows down labor, and it also causes pain. 
 
Try this example: Have someone try to extend your arm while you are making a muscle.  If they have any strength, it would start to hurt after a short while because you have resistance on your muscles. 
 
Just the same, the uterus starts to hurt quickly after this process starts.  So then contractions become painful.  And the laboring woman gets scared and tenses up because it hurts.  And that tension continues the inner layer's resistance because the "danger" is intensifying.  It’s not really danger, it's the fear+tension. Since the body doesn't know the difference, it causes the inner layer to get rigid.  And so begins the vicious fear-tension-pain cycle.

How to fix it?  Well, first: what do you do to counteract the heart beating fast?  Slow deep breaths!  Hence, this is why we breathe deep and slow from the abdomen during birth to enter a state of deep relaxation.  Childbirth classes will tell you that this is important, but during labor, if the woman doesn't know why it is so important on the inner layer of the uterus, she can be tempted to throw it out the window.  So it is a fantastic incentive to remain very relaxed and calm, with tranquility as the goal.  

Second, the positions she uses and the environment she is laboring in can influence her feeling of safety.  She can use upright positions, total relaxation, the tub, soft music, dim lights, etc., whatever it takes so that she can feel safe.
 
And let me say this now, if she doesn't feel safe where she is – whether it be on a physical, mental or emotional level, that inner layer is one heck of a fighter and will stall the birth.  My hunch is it can even prevent someone from going into labor. 
 
A woman has to be safe and secure in order for that inner layer to relax so the outer layer can be relaxed.  Something as simple as a loved one not being in town yet can keep that inner layer rigid.  And something as emotional as prior abuse, or some kind of relationship conflict with the husband or other family dynamics; really any emotional "hurdle" that has to be overcome can cause a mental hold on labor and delivery.  

If you are Christians, I can also provide you with a ton of spiritual ideas to help in this area.  There are scriptures and/or prayers during birth that help. 

Anyway, as the coach your job is to help her stay as calm and secure as possible.  Use as few words as possible during active labor/transition, because hearing and absorbing words takes effort and that distracts from her staying in a tranquil state.  Instead, tell her before hand if she tenses muscles, you will gently touch them and that is a signal to her to release the muscle.  Tense muscles = tense inner layer of the myometrium.  So a wet noodle kind of approach if at all possible.  

If you find that labor is slow to start, ask her if there is something that she is worried about or not yet ready for.  And then at the end of the day, ask her to tell you when she is ready to surrender to the process.  That word surrender - it is the one word that sums up childbirth on her part.  Many things you cannot control during birth, but that is the one thing you can control and that is surrendering.  Kind of paradoxical.

Blessings to you and happy birthing!
 

You can check out Kelly’s book on Christian Childbirth HERE.

What has been your experience with your uterus, safety and surrender in childbirth?
Please leave us a comment - it will be moderated and posted.

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



Recharge Your Birth

Posted on May 12, 2014 at 1:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Here is an affirmation to remember and use in many labor situation: whether you have a sprint where your brain is running to catch up to your body, or a marathon where energy conservation is key, or anything in between.  There comes a point in most labors where the mother needs to focus on gathering energy so she can get past the tiredness and have energy to finish the labor and push in the second stage of labor.

In my mind, energy was vortex-shaped and I needed to center that vortex on our birth.  However it plays out in your mind, envision any tiredness in your body being exhaled out.  As you inhale, breathe in the energy around you - maybe it will help to imagine it as a bright yellow or white light filling your body and squeezing out all the tiredness.

This is how I start this affirmation:
Inhale "With each breath"
Exhale "I exhale tiredness"
Inhale "I breathe in energy"

then

  • Exhale " I exhale tiredness" and push your breath out to the bottom of your belly
  • Inhale "I breathe in energy" and fill your abdomen and lungs with light and breath

and repeat until you are in a deep relaxation and/or it stops working.  You can start over with this one, or maybe it's time to try a new affirmation to center your intentions.  The whole goal of these affirmations is to build positive energy as you work through labor to have the birth you need for a Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby outcome.

Since it works in reverse of how we think of breathing (inhale-exhale) every time I start this centering process, I start with the first phrase to get on rhythm with the exhale-inhale pattern of the affirmation.


What are phrases that help you find energy when you need it?

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

Monday Mantra: Gift of Birth

Posted on May 5, 2014 at 2:18 AM Comments comments (0)

A couple of birth stories have really brought to mind a mantra that was so beneficial to Bruss and I when we were laboring with Otter:

"We will give our baby the gift of the birth that she needs."

It was so important to us that we have undisturbed time, free of the pressure of "the clock" for things to happen, free of vaginal exams that have always been difficult for me due to past trauma, and most of all - we wanted to be free of any interventions.

Believe it or not, even though we were birthing at home, there were things our midwives were prepared to offer us to help "speed things up". We asked the two most important evaluation questions, "Is Mom okay? Is Baby okay?"

Once we were assured that we were both laboring beautifully with no signs of distress, we politely declined and kept on the course to birth - no interventions, no exams, no time pressure.

We knew that the best Birth-Day present we could give her was an undisturbed birth.  Although it took a heck of a lot longer than we had anticipated since we were laboring out of the hospital (my labor always slowed when we transferred from our home environment to the planned hospital births), we were happy to give her just that: time, patience and the birth that she needed.

How this mantra applies to your story is going to be unique and individual.  I would love to hear what you did to give your baby the birth that (s)he needed.

What did you do to give your baby the birth that (s)he needed?
Please leave a comment below - it will be moderated and posted.

Want to read Otter's birth story? It's in two parts - startHERE


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®.