doula

Birth Like A Badass Part 2: Speak Up For Yourself!

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Contributed by Ashley Brichter who is a Childbirth Educator, Lactation Counselor, Postpartum Doula and Mom of Two

If you haven’t heard Serena William’s birth story, her daughter was born via unplanned c-section, and the morning after Serena nearly died due to a blood clot. Luckily, she suspected a the clot when she began feeling short of breath, and immediately pressed her doctors to give her a CT and heparin drip (a blood thinner). She knew her body and advocated for herself and saved her own life.

You would not expect in our first world nation that you would have to advocate for yourself in this way, but we know, among other things, the gender bias in health care is real and women are at a proven disadvantage when it comes to our healthcare system. Women commonly face being misdiagnosed or undiagnosed with it comes to gynecological issues. When doctors cannot pinpoint the cause of a woman’s pain, it often goes untreated and unquestioned. Black women are even more at risk of negligence. A recent NPR / ProPublica report showed Black women are 12 times more likely than white women to die during childbirth regardless of socioeconomic status.

It is an unfortunate reality that childbirth is not always on your side. It is always responsible to arm yourself with information, work with trusted providers, and consider a doula, but ultimately you should never trust anyone more than yourself. It’s so important to listen to your body and your intuition and to find the courage to speak up.

We’re passionate about making you the best advocate you can be during your labor and birth process which is why we’ve teamed up with Ashley Brichter of Managing Overwhelming Moments. Learn more with Ashley during her Childbirth Prep Weekend + Breastfeeding and Newborn Care at FPC.

The upcoming Sept 28-30th class is perfect for parents expecting in December and January.

Birth Stories: Erin

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I wrote this on a Thursday, in the odd hours of the morning while I rock my son back to sleep. Thursday’s were important markers of time during my pregnancy. Thursday’s were when my gestational weeks rolled one into the next. Thursday was the day my cat died unexpectedly when I was 35 weeks pregnant. Thursday was the day I was induced at 39 weeks. 

My son is nearing 8 weeks old. 8 weeks it has taken me to process my birth story and realize the particulars are not what matters. The exact details don’t need to be shared or even truly remembered in detail. What matters is this: 

At the end of a wonderful and easy 39 week prenatal visit with my midwife Shar, baby’s heart rate and position were checked along with my fundal height and blood pressure. All normal. Except it wasn’t this time. My blood pressure was elevated. My midwife encouraged me to go to the hospital for additional monitoring so off we went a few hours later to Metropolitan Hospital. It continued to be elevated after several hours, even with meditation and relaxing music. The on staff midwife suggested I stay to be induced but I chose to sign myself out AMA. Soon after leaving, however, both of my midwives called to urge me to return. We discussed the risks involved with elevated blood pressure and what that meant for my planned home birth (it risked me out). After lots of tears on a long call with my doula, Lindsey, I ate dinner, packed a bag and returned to the hospital. 

I had planned for an unmedicated birth at home. Even in all of my transfer scenarios I had not planned ahead for this one. Being a doula I knew that inductions could take a while. I came prepared with an eye mask, music, essential oils, and items for my birth altar.

My story is a long one, and one I don’t think is necessary to share. The short version is this. It took 3 days for my son to be born. Labor didn’t follow a typical arc. It started and stopped over and over. My doula stayed with us almost the entire time. We labored during the intense moments and chatted or rested during the quiet ones. We ate guacamole and pita chips. I was obsessed with pineapple. The hospital had wireless monitoring and wonderful midwives who support physiological birth. They allowed me to be in my space without pressure and with respect to my choices. I declined routine cervical checks and IV fluids. I moved around, walking the hallways or rocking on my birth ball. 

63 hours after arriving at the hospital, my son was born. Almost 2 hours of pushing and he came out face up (direct occiput posterior) and eyes wide open. He was a tiny little guy, 6.5lbs and 20” long. He latched for his first of many feeds in the first hour, after we both had some time to adjust to our change in conditions. 

I’m so grateful to every midwife and nurse who supported me in my birth experience. I was continually respected and supported in every decision I made. And I was allowed to make my own educated and informed decisions without pressure, which was vital to me. There were tears and laughs. Somewhere along the way my mantra became the very unzen “fucking hell” that I repeated as each new contraction began in earnest. 

Birth looked and felt like nothing I had ever imagined for myself. I had prepared for long. I had prepared for challenging. But I had not prepared for this. I’ve learned that no matter how prepared, healthy, fit, educated you are that birth happens how it happens.