Stock Photography - A Perk at Birth Boot Camp
One of the things that business owners struggle with most is having an eye catching website with engaging images. For those certified with Birth Boot Camp, it is not a struggle at all. Our founder, Donna Ryan, makes it a priority to seek out and invest in quality stock photos for instructors and doulas to use at NO additional cost.
How amazing is that?
Donna, please know that the ladies of our organization are so thankful for this benefit that is not found anywhere else in the industry. You make us shine!
I recently had the opportunity to work with Kelsey Aycock of Copper and Pearl as she shot beautiful birth photos that have now been added to Birth Boot Camp's large selection of photos to choose from. They came out so wonderful, and I am thrilled to already have them on my website, and see them on the sites of my colleagues.
If you are in the Abilene area and interested in having someone photograph your birth, or just the "golden hours" immediately after birth, Kelsey is your girl! She has a calm, quiet presence, which is a must-have quality when it comes to birth photos. From the bottom of my heart, Kelsey, thank you for providing such quality work to the women of Birth Boot Camp. You are appreciated!
Guest post from local Abilene Mom, Tali Mullins
I'm not even kidding - when I say that the doctor told me moments after Elijah's birth that apparently my uterus knew how to birth babies. It was so fast and easy that to me, "long labor" is anything over about 8 hours. Which is ridiculous, I know.
I really didn't think he'd come on his own. I had no reason to think he would because my first, Asher, didn't and everything was almost identical, down to my weight gain and physical advancement in the weeks up to his debut. I kept thinking I might be "leaky" but it's been warm so I'd just been sweaty. My mom's water never broke spontaneously, and apparently the movies and tv shows are wrong when they say that's the first sign of labor for the majority of women. Most women have their water broken by the doctor in the delivery room. In fact, my best friend and I mercilessly mock shows and movies where the woman's water breaks and they rush to the hospital and the baby is born seemingly moments later. We may have to change our mocking some now.
I won't say I had any premonitions or anything, but I felt very strongly about making sure the laundry was done Monday night before going to sleep, so much so that I got up and put a load of towels in the dryer at 11pm. My husband, Austin, was up reading for a bit after I fell asleep so I'm not sure how much sleep he'd actually gotten when I woke him up around 1.20 am with the announcment that my water had broken the last time I'd rolled over. He jumped into action, grabbing me towels out of the dryer (mostly dry at that point) so I could attempt to get out of bed and to the bathroom to make sure I hadn't actually just wet the bed. Within ten minutes I was having low level contractions. The first one came while I was on the phone with Mom, asking her to come watch Asher while we went to the hospital to check it out.
She got to the house around 1.45, giving us time to get our bags together (mostly...it's hard to think at that time of night with such a rude awakening) and make a vague attempt to clean up both me and the floor. We got to the hospital around 2 and were taken right to the triage area of the maternity wing where they confirmed my water had broken and I was in labor. (To that I say "duh.") About thirty minutes later we were in the labor and delivery room. I was still talking and yes, even smiling for pictures and the contractions were intensifying. Elijah's heart rate didn't change much during contractions and the nurse said she thought he was probably sleeping through them. I don't think that's fair.
They checked my advancement in L&D and discovered that he had his hand up on his head, making him breech. She tried tickling his hand a bit to get him to pull it back but it wasn't working and wow was that unplesant. She sent for the doctor immediately and by the time he got there, Elijah had moved his hand and we were just a little while from pushing. The next few contractions were hard enough that I was pushing involuntarily.
We finally decided we were ready (I say "we"...I was already there before they were) and I started pushing. I'm not even kidding when I say it was about 7 or 8 pushes and this tiny little blue person was out. Austin could see his head at one point which gave me a bit of a burst of strength to push an additional time on that contraction. Time of birth: 3.23am. Two hours and three minutes after my water broke.
"Birth plans are cursed." If you work in birth in any capacity, I can almost promise that you've heard this phrase at some point. I have long been intrigued by the notion that a piece of paper could hold so much power. If we're being rational, we can probably agree that this is one of the biggest fallacies and misused phrases in the birth world. So, let's stop saying birth plans are cursed.
First off, I want to address why I believe we say birth plans are cursed.
Essentially, it's tied to the fact that people working in birth really do care about birthing women. We all care about the family's wishes. We care about the way families are treated and made to feel. And, of course, we care about outcomes that include healthy moms and healthy babies.
When we care deeply about the work that we do and the people we serve, there is a sense of grief when things do not turn out the way the family had planned. Their disappointments become our disappointments, because we are invested in helping them achieve their goals.
According to Brene Brown, what happens when things don't go our way is that we have to blame something so that we can maintain some "semblance of control" in a world where uncontrollable things happen.
In birth, so many things just happen... and there is no one to blame. But, our human nature makes us blame something in order to help us wrap our minds around the situation and find reasoning for things that just happen. Even if it means blaming a piece a paper with the words "Birth Plan" at the top.
It is very easy to blame an inanimate object. I mean, it's a lot easier to blame the birth plan than it is to blame a real life person with actual feelings. It satisfies the need to blame without hurting anyone, right?
ARE BIRTH PLANS REALLY CURSED?
Most rational people would agree that, in reality, the notion of there being a real "curse" is just absurd. But, we use the phrase "birth plans are cursed" or "the curse of the birth plan" in order to satisfy our need to blame - even though (or especially because) no one is at fault.
Here is what I can tell you with absolute certainty - birth plans are NOT cursed. We do not live in a fantasy world where hobbits toss gold rings into firey pits to save the world. And, we do not live in a world where a piece of paper has the power to send a woman's birth plan into a spiral.
A piece of paper cannot cause any of the following:
premature rupture of the membranes
stubborn cervical lips
And some may disagree with this notion, but they don't cause stubborn, dramatic patients either.
A lack of birth plan will also not prevent any of these things from happening.
If we believe that planning and preparing for childbirth in some way leads to problems, then we must also believe that NOT planning for birth creates positive outcomes and experiences. If that were the case, then the things on the list above would almost never happen... because really, how many women actually walk into the hospital with a birth plan?
The truth is, these things can just happen. Sometimes there is a discernible reason. Or several. And sometimes (or a LOT of the time) there isn't. It just happens.
I suggest that we stop saying birth plans are cursed. Blaming the birth plan doesn't do much, but allow us to discharge our emotions, and discourage women from being educated. A birth plan can be powerful, but it is not a birthy horcrux. Let's discharge our emotions through love. I believe that love is spelled E.M.P.A.T.H.Y.
Empathy is always the key. Let's empathize with the women who researched birth and did their very best to put together a plan to help themselves and their babies have a happy birth day. Validate their feelings. They are allowed to feel the way they feel when birth doesn't go as planned. Wanting to make healthy, safe choices for your family should not be viewed as a curse, but as the most loving of gestures.
Birth plans are not cursed. When they are reasonable, flexible and well thought-out, they can be wonderful communication tools to help families have positive birth experiences. Let's stop saying birth plans are cursed.
Our baby has a name!
What's in a name?
When choosing a name it was important to me to pick something that honored my family. This whole project is about families, after all. It's about bringing preparation, health, wellness and memories. And for that reason, I wanted to choose a name that would be meaningful to my own family and also encompass the heart of the house being a home for our entire community.
So, how did I choose The Den, and why is it meaningful?
Like I mentioned before, it all ties back to family. And my crew is the Wolfe Family. We're a quirky, fun group, so naturally we always enjoy a good play on the surname. If there's a family business, you can bet we incorporate some Wolfe pride into the name.
My father in law, Charlie Wolfe, who has been our main source of support for this big adventure is the founder and CEO of WolfePak Software here in Abilene where he's done business for over 30 years.
Wolfe & Company, in operation for more than 40 years, is home to several of the people we love most. Bobbie Wolfe, my husbands grandfather, has truly committed his life to Abilene and to his family - he even officiated our wedding ceremony seven years ago.
Then there's Howlin' Dyes, owned by my favorite sister in law, Corrie Wolfe. You've likely seen her wearable art all over town - from Thursday nights at the local Art Walk, to her frequent set ups at local attraction, Play Faire Park.
When my husband and I decided to create our own "baby business" we knew we had to go with a name that shared both our love for our family and our love for the good people of Abilene.
Thus, The Den | a Wellness Place was born - a gathering place for business owners who are focused on making people feel healthy, loved and welcome!
Renovations are still in progress - you wouldn't believe the difference already! As always, keep an eye out - I'm sharing the entire "pregnancy" with you guys. I promise, it'll take WAY less than 9 months!
I always say that every difficult process in life deserves a doula.
Bad hair cuts.
And now, renovations!
Honestly though, I really shouldn't complain. My husband has been a pretty good doula so far. One of the main reasons people hire a doula is because they know birth. Well, the hubs knows bureaucracy and contracting - he may not know it all, but he knows enough to hold my hand through the process and make me feel confident.
I also have some of the most encouraging friends, family and colleagues! Truly, I have my dream "birth team" with this project!
The "labor" has begun. The foundation crew worked all of last week to make repairs and prevent our babe from falling in on herself! B&B House Leveling and Foundation Repair were great to work with. They even let us stand in the kitchen while they jacked up the house to see if we could feel it move. It wasn't quite Six Flags, but it was pretty neat!
We spent part of the weekend working on paint colors. I am TERRIBLE at "seeing" colors and what goes with what. When we built our house a few years ago, I cried tears. Actual, real life tears - over PAINT COLORS.
This time is different, though. This time I had the help of my dear, sweet friend, Shanas Harris of The Balanced Life. She has held my hand through a lot of planning. AND, her mom is a certified paint doula! Did you ever know there was such a thing? Well, there's not, but if there were then you'd hire Shanas' mama. I cannot wait to get this place freshened up with paint. Of course, we have to get approval from the city since our baby is a Historic Landmark.
This week is already shaping up to be super exciting! Demo - it is the week for DEMO! I'll eventually show you guys the official before and afters, but for now, you get to just see the mess. Check out this video of my new friend, Kendrick from Harris Accoustics. He and Lionel worked HARD at gutting this terrible bathroom for us. I should probably take them some cookies one day soon!
It is definitely fun to see things happening! Check out the bathroom by the end of demo day 1.
This blog wouldn't be complete without bragging on my husband a little more. He spent his Saturday ripping old, cracked concrete out of the ground and replacing the flower beds in the entryway of the house. It is looking more inviting already!
And last, but definitely not least, here is a video of my husband looking for a surpise under a thick layer of sheet rock! Can you guess what we were looking for?? Can ya? Can ya?
Shiplap! We were looking for shiplap! Admittedly, I watch way too much Fixer Upper. And I looooove me some shiplap!
We could only ask ourselves one question in this moment.
What would Chip and Joanna do?
Well, that's all for this week, folks. I'm excited to see demo progress and get to the point where we're ready to put humpty dumpty back together again! Stay tuned for more updates, and feel free to follow my Facebook Page to check out some sneak peeks.
You heard that right, we're expecting! Well, not in the same sense as my Birth Boot Camp students and doula clients. But, we are expecting something grand!
I'm so excited to announce that I will be operating out of a new location. We closed on this beautiful house, a historic landmark, TODAY! There's a lot to be done before it officially opens, but I'm so excited for the adventure. We start the renovation process this week!
Located on Grape Street near Hendrick Hospital, the space has several bedrooms that will house various wellness professionals offering counseling services to massage therapy and more. And of course, I'll be teaching my Birth Boot Camp classes to pregnant couples and running my doula business from the facility. It will be so wonderful to have all of these great services in on location in Abilene!
We'd like to share our new "baby" with the community, so we'll have space available for other classes catering to the needs of Abilene families. If you need a place to teach, you've found your home! Parent centered support groups can also find a meeting place here. Additionally, the location will be available for anyone planning a fabulous baby shower or bridal shower. This lovely venue will be perfect for your event!
I truly cannot wait for the day that we are up and running and sharing coffee around a beautiful farm table. It's happening. Something WONDERFUL for Abilene moms and their families!
I plan to share this journey with you along the way, so stay tuned. You'll hear about the the process of renovations, information about the professionals who'll be practicing here, and so much more! In the meantime, here are just a few pictures - feel free to share your style and decorating opinions in the comments!
I am so excited to share a birth story from one of my past students. They took one of my Birth Boot Camp class in 2016 and I could not be more excited for them!
I felt the very first contraction of my life at exactly midnight on June 21st. About 30 minutes after I had fallen asleep I woke up to a sudden intense pain in my lower abdomen. I had taken Birth Boot Camp natural childbirth classes, read books, and watched so many movies that explained the "early labor" signs that went on for hours and sometimes even days that this is what I was expecting. I had never felt a single contraction up to this point and wasn't even sure that's what this pain was as I was expecting something pretty mild at first.
This pain was not very mild. It was 1 day before my due date so I assumed this was the big show anyway and started timing my contractions. They were immediately between 3 and 8 minutes apart. I woke up my husband and texted the midwife that this was probably it and I just wanted to give her a heads up. She told me to try to get some rest and if I couldn't to take a warm bath or try a rice sock. I attempted to go back to bed, but the pains were too strong and I quickly accepted that I was not going to get any sleep this particular night.
By about 1:30am I was running a warm bath and trying to conquer the quickly intensifying contractions. It helped quite a bit, but you can only stay in a bath for so long. I got out of the tub and tried to lay back down in bed. The contractions were getting closer and longer and I was growing more and more worried about making it to the birth center (about 1.5 to 2 hours away from my house) before a screaming child made his way into the world.
My husband was still trying to sleep and I was worried my moans would disturb him so I moved to the kitchen to make myself a rice sock and camp out on the living room couch for awhile. The rice sock was making my pain worse somehow, so I slumped on the couch doing whatever I needed to in order to get myself through each contraction until my husband walked in and said, "do we need to call the midwife?". I nodded my head yes knowing that this labor was moving much faster than I had anticipated and we needed to get on the road ASAP.
We loaded up our bags, called Kelly (the midwife) to let her know we were on our way, and jumped in the car at around 3:30am. My husband had to dodge a few deer and talk me through some pretty intense contractions, but he got us to the birth center safe and sound probably by 5:30am (at this point I was not at all concerned with the time).
As soon as we got inside, Kelly checked to see my dilation, station, etc. I was 7cm dilated at this point so I was quickly helped out of my pj's and into the birthing pool. The warm water felt SO good and between that, my husband holding my hands and Kelly applying back pressure during my contractions, I was getting through each contraction relatively well. I remember Kelly asking if I wanted some juice and in the middle of all my pain I still asked, "what kind?" before accepting. I heard everyone laugh, although my silliness wasn't registering at that point and I was just happy it was grape.
I don't remember the exact order of things, but at some point I felt a small "pop" and heard Kelly ask if my water had just broken. It had. Then she told me I would start feeling "pushy" soon and to just do what my body said to. Almost immediately after she said this, I felt exactly what she was talking about and started to push. I pushed for awhile, but didn't really feel like anything was happening. I was getting a little discouraged at how long it was taking (which in reality wasn't long at all) and worried that I wasn't pushing hard enough.
I guess Kelly could sense this so she kept asking how each pushing contraction felt. Once Fox was down far enough to feel the top of his head, Kelly told me to reach down and feel him. At first I was apprehensive because I was so focused on what I needed to do in order to just deliver him, but when I felt his wrinkly little head it was such a motivation knowing he was so close. In a few more pushes, his head was out.
I did feel a burning/stretching sensation, but it wasn't unbearable. And then in (I think) one more push, his entire little body was delivered and he was in my arms. It was the best feeling ever! I could not believe I finally had my baby boy in my arms and I actually did it. It was such a fantastic feeling to know I was blessed with this beautiful little boy and this amazing husband and we were now a family of 3.
It was 8:40am and I was one happy mama. My birth experience was truly amazing. I had a short labor for a first time mom, but it went by even faster. I never felt the dreaded transition and never felt like I couldn't go on (although I did get a little discouraged toward the end). I was supported by so many great people. I am so thankful for the experience I had because I know not every birth is so amazing.
I do think it's important to add that I did tear when Fox was born and this was the worst part of my experience. Tearing was not something that was even really on my radar leading up to the birth, but I did know that it was a possibility. It wasn't until I was trying to pee before my herbal bath that Kelly informed me I most likely tore and that's why peeing burned SO badly.
After the herbal bath, she checked the degree of my tearing and prepared to suture. This was more painful than the entire birthing process as I had third degree tearing in 4 different areas. Kelly informed me that she could not suture this level of tearing and I would have to be transported to the hospital for surgery. I was obviously devastated that I would have to go to the hospital and be away from my brand new baby, but I knew it had to be done as this was the worst pain I had ever felt in my life.
After cuddling Fox for a while longer, we headed to the hospital and learned that I had to be admitted so they could perform the surgery the next morning. The surgery went well and I was able to head home to enjoy our new baby and start the recovery process.
I am so thankful for my husband, Kelly, Hailie, and the staff at the birth center for everything they did to help us achieve an amazing birth and recovery.
Over the last few years, I have seen some great changes occur in our Abilene hospitals while working as a doula, supporting moms and dads. When I first started a few years ago, it was not often that moms were allowed very much freedom of movement during labor, immediate skin to skin with their babies, or respect given when parents wanted to decline some of the routine birthing or newborn procedures.
Today, I can honestly say that I'm seeing families allowed more autonomy in their choices. Changes are evident. Of course, there's always room for more improvement, and something that's been on my heart that needs change is access to VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) for moms in the Abilene area.
Almost weekly, I hear from a mother who is doing some heavy research because she just wants to avoid another cesarean - if possible. The options for VBAC in Abilene limited. Very few providers in our community will support a moms choice for vaginal birth after she's had one cesarean, and almost no one will offer support if the mother has had MORE than one cesarean. Some moms choose homebirth as their best option. Even though I personally loved my homebirth (and fully believe that it prevented an unnecessary c-section in my case), I know that it is not the right fit for every mother.
So, what are families to do when they feel they have run out of options in Abilene? Well, more of them are traveling longer distances to get the care that they want. It is not uncommon for Abilene women to travel to the DFW area to get the best shot at a safe VBAC, or a Family Centered Cesarean if a repeat c-section becomes needed.
As a Birth Boot Camp DOULA, I have built some pretty great relationships with birth workers both near and far. Today, my friend Sydney Williamson is joining us on the blog to provide information about VBAC birthing options for women in Abilene who are considering making the trip out of town to give birth. She is a doula in the Dallas Fort Worth area and is also a VBAC mom herself.
Hi Sydney, and thank you SO much for being a great resource! Can you share a little about yourself and why you became a doula with our readers?
Hi! Thanks for inviting me to chat about this. I'm a mom of two and doula in Fort Worth, and I'm passionate about breakfast foods and supporting families' transition into parenthood. ;) I feel like that sums me up pretty well!
I wanted to become a doula after I was in a rut pursuing a nursing degree, I wanted to be an L&D nurse but something wasn't fitting. I wanted to connect more with families and support them to reach their goals, especially through pregnancy and postpartum. So I took some time off, then got pregnant with my first baby, had a cesarean, and stepped away from anything birth related for a bit to heal from my cesarean. I supported the births of friends, and the doula spark was in there. When I became pregnant again and realized what I was up against planning to give birth after a cesarean, the fire was ignited and I knew my career would be supporting families to reach their goals in birth and parenthood.
If a mom were traveling to DFW for a VBAC, what birthing locations or specific providers would you encourage her to explore?
Fort Worth would be the closest option, and two of my very favorite providers are super VBAC supportive certified nurse midwife (CNM) groups that deliver in really great hospitals in Fort Worth.
Grace OBGYN & Midwifery (gracebirth.com) catches babies at Texas Health Harris Southwest hospital, and they're amazing. They have an office at Texas Health Resources Willow Park, so that's even a bit closer for all the office appointments, families would just be driving in to Fort Worth for the birth.
The UNT Midwife group (nurse-midwife.com) is my other top pick, and they deliver at Texas Health Harris Fort Worth, which is in downtown Fort Worth. They're really wonderful, I actually had both my own babies there! One was a family centered cesarean, and the other was an out of hospital transfer VBAC.
Speaking of family centered cesareans, both of these hospitals really strive to practice family centered care, so if plans change they still provide a respectful and compassionate birth experience for families. They support delayed cord clamping, immediate skin to skin, breastfeeding, and lots more that families look for. They also have nitrous oxide which is a fantastic option for pain management!
There are also licensed certified professional midwives (CPMs) in Dallas Fort Worth who support VBAC, one of my favorites is Michele Massey at Gentle Beginnings in Hurst, about another 20 minutes from downtown Fort Worth. The postpartum stay at a birth center is shorter than a hospital delivery, so that's something to consider as well.
What if a mother has had multiple cesareans?
If a mom has had multiple cesareans Dr. Frederick Cummings is THE guy. He's the doctor who believes women can deliver vaginally even when every other provider has said no. He only takes those special circumstances who don't have great chances of being supported in a vaginal birth elsewhere- so VBAC after multiple cesareans, twins, breech, etc. He catches babies at Denton Presbyterian hospital, so it's a bit further of a drive, but well worth it for those that he may be their only option to have their VBAC supported.
I just checked my GPS and it says that the drive from my house in Abilene to Fort Worth is 2 hours and 13 minutes. What would you say to a mom who is worried about her birth location being so far away?
I think every family has to weigh their goals and priorities against their options, and decide what compromises they'll make. The stakes feel even higher with a VBAC- I know what it's like to feel like a doctor doesn't believe you can do it, to have friends or family tell you what you want is unsafe, or to feel like you have a scarlet letter on you because you had a previous cesarean birth. I consulted with an OB for my own VBAC that was almost an hour from my house, and told him I was pretty concerned about making it to the hospital on time. He told me if the hospital was in Houston (4 hours away) I'd probably still make it in time, haha! He was right, because generally labor starts out slow, and gives you time to get where you're going. Not always! But I think most families will have plenty of time when they realize they're in labor to make a 2ish hour trip to Fort Worth.
A big concern with traveling out of town to give birth is working out the logistics - getting to appointments, childcare during the birth for older siblings, etc. Do you have any tips for working out these logistics?
For the appointments I think just don't schedule them when you'll be driving with rush hour traffic. And get into a good podcast ;)
Within DFW some women travel an hour plus to get to their birth place, and I commonly hear of families checking into an inexpensive hotel near the hospital in labor. That could be an option. There's a network of moms and moms groups that I could help an Abilene mom reach out to, and I think lots of local women would want to support another mom in her goal for a VBAC, if they could help by offering childcare I think they would! There's also the option of hiring a "sibling doula" or sitter/nanny for the birth.
With your knowledge about options in the Fort Worth area, would you recommend that a mom make the trip? Why or why not?
I would, absolutely. I tell my clients to give birth where what they want is standard. It can be done, but walking in somewhere and fighting for a birth plan that the hospital doesn't support just rarely has a positive outcome, and families shouldn't have that kind of stressor on what should be a beautiful and sacred time welcoming a baby to their family.
Again, I think families have to weigh their goals against their options, and decide what their priorities are and what compromises they'll make. If VBAC is a big priority and they don't have options near them, Fort Worth is an awesome place to have a baby.
I already know the answer to this, but I want you to share with our readers today - do you think it's helpful to hire a doula specifically for a VBAC?
Yes! Absolutely. I really really do. Especially if a family is planning to travel to DFW- having someone connected to those resources is huge. But for anyone planning a VBAC anywhere, I think it's beneficial. Just feeling validated, listened to, having someone to ask those questions and voice those concerns for me was huge when planning my VBAC. For the birth, having someone there contraction to contraction who is 100% in your corner and supporting you in your goals and helping you reach them- it's just worth a doula's weight in gold.
Are there any final words of wisdom that you'd like to share?
You can do it! Build a birth team that supports you and your goals, and treats you with respect and compassion so that no matter what you have a great birth because you felt heard, loved, and listened to.
Looking for a doula in the Dallas Fort Worth area? You can visit Sydney's website HERE or visit her business page on FACEBOOK.
April is Cesarean Awareness Month. The fact that this life-saving surgery has its own awareness month shows that the use (and overuse) of the procedure is on the radars of many. Women are increasingly looking for ways they can avoid major abdominal surgery when it comes time to welcome their new babies. It's one of the reasons I decided to become a Birth Boot Camp Instructor and DOULA.
Unfortunately, when a woman voices a desire to have a vaginal birth instead of a cesarean, she is often met with mixed opinions about whether or not this is something she should even plan or hope for. Just as there are wild myths out there about why women want cesareans, there are also plenty about women who would like to avoid them - and here are just a few:
I DON'T WANT A C-SECTION: MYTHS & TRUTHS
Women are afraid they won't love their baby if they have a cesarean.
This myth is mostly derived from limited dialogue. Are there some women who are worried they won't love their baby if they have them in an operating room? Quite possible. However, what I usually hear from women is that they want an easier start to the bonding process. If possible, they want the opportunity to put their energy into bonding and breastfeeding in the early days, instead of their recovery process.
Recovery experiences vary greatly from woman to woman, no matter the mode of delivery. But, generally speaking, the recovery from a straightforward vaginal delivery tends to be much easier than a primary cesarean.
Women don't want an ugly scar.
Pregnancy and birth change us a whole lot. Inside and outside. Even if a woman doesn't have a cesarean scar, it's likely that her body has changed in other ways - saggy breasts, stretch marks, the glorious postpartum hair loss. Heck, my feet grew a half size with every baby I had! After all of the changes, what's another marking of motherhood? Sure, maybe it's not the change a mom wants to see on her body, but it's one that is embraced and part of the beauty of becoming a mother.
Women are not quite as concerned about the external scar as they are with the effects that it may have on them internally. A cesarean brings greater risks of infection, blood loss, injury to other organs, and pain caused by scar tissue. The scar itself is the least of the average woman's concerns.
They think moms who give birth vaginally are better than moms who have a cesarean.
Motherhood is the hardest job in the world and the easiest one to get down on yourself about. I have yet to meet a woman who wanted to have a natural birth because she wants to be "better" than some mom who had a c-section. Maybe those women do exist somewhere, (my friend Kristi Keen wrote a great blog on this!) but I've been fortunate enough to not run into one.
I don't see moms facing off about their births (unless it's in the comments of some Facebook click bait, but those threads are usually full of crazies anyway). In the real world, I see moms looking out for each other. They aren't in any kind of competition. They are doing this mothering thing together - organizing meal trains, offering encouraging words, donating breastmilk, sharing formula samples and coupons with friends who can use them, looking after older siblings so the new mom can go cry in a parking lot somewhere. THAT'S what real moms are doing these days.
They think they will get a trophy for having a baby come out of their vagina.
I really don't know how this myth got started. For real. I have never ever heard of anyone getting a medal, a trophy or a blue ribbon for having a baby come out of her vagina. NOR have I ever heard of a mother expecting to get one. To be honest, though, every mom deserves a dadgum award. And a bottle of wine. And some coffee. And a maid. And maybe a nap or someone to entertain the kids so she could poop alone and in peace for once. Or maybe we could just not mock them or be condescending when they are trying to prepare for something as big as childbirth. It's not polite.
They are overly concerned about the "experience" and don't care about the health of their baby.
My fellow childbirth instructor, Laura Simpson, does a great job debunking this myth. "In most circumstances, cesarean is actually more dangerous for both mother and baby, as well as future pregnancies and births. It's not about the experience, although the emotional part of unmedicated birth is indescribably wonderful. It's about wanting what is physically safe *and* emotionally satisfying for most mothers and babies."
My good friend Jillian Blakeman (who also teaches fabulous childbirth classes) makes a great point. "People thought we were prioritizing a certain experience over safety. The reality: We want a big family and had multiple family members who were told to stop having children after two cesareans." The impact of a cesarean can reach farther that we might anticipate. It's a common procedure and generally considered safe - but the lasting effects can't be ignored.
I want to make it abundantly clear that I believe the health of the mother and baby holds supreme importance at birth. However, this is not the only important part of childbirth. How mothers are treated and how they are made to feel throughout their birth stays with them forever. They will never forget the day they gave birth - their emotional well-being matters.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, April is Cesarean Awareness Month. If you know someone who's preparing for a vaginal birth, especially a VBAC, give them some encouragement. Tell them they CAN do it. If you know someone preparing for a cesarean, give them some positive encouragement, too. Motherhood is tough. Let's give moms the support they need instead of flinging around silly birth myths.
What's better than getting to hang out with Abilene's most awesome expecting moms and dads to teach them about natural childbirth? Hanging out with them after their babies arrive, of course! I'm late in posting this, but we have a fabulous class reunion a few weeks ago! All of these couples had amazing births. I also had the privileged to be the doula for all 3 of these couples! I hope we get together again in the future. In the meantime, I'll enjoy watching their babies grow up on Facebook <3