Saturday, December 29, 2012

Essential Oil Recipe: Woodsy Labor Blend

Is it just me, or do other doulas and midwives ever get mamas who just aren't relaxed by the aromas of lavender, jasmine, and vanilla? They feel more at ease by "woodsy" scents and the smells of cooking herbs. It's always important to know ahead of time what scents your client does and does not like and feel relaxed by if you are planning to use aromatherapy for her labor. Then you can even prepare a special blend just for her, and if she's like one of those woodsy-scent-lovers I just mentioned, this Woodsy Labor Blend will be perfect! 

Woodsy Labor Blend
  •  42 drops Ylang Ylang (Shh, don't tell - it's the secret ingredient!)
  • 120 drops Pine
  • 100 drops Sage
  • 20 drops Sweet Basil (Trust me. It does the trick.)
Add essential oils to glass mixing bottle. Close the bottle and swirl it a few times. Lightly diffuse into the labor room for all your outdoorswoman mamas!

This recipe will fill a 30 ml bottle about a third of the way full - most likely all you'll need and more for one woman's birth. But you can for sure multiply the recipe if you want to yield more of the blend!

Also, be sure to wash your hands after preparing this blend (and anytime after using essential oils). The oils will undoubtedly get on your hands, even if you don't realize it, and consequently get on everything you touch after that - not a good thing!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Jesus, I am in complete awe of You this Christmas.

Thank You for humbling Yourself to the point of birth.

So many people talk about how Christmas is really about how You came for the purpose of humbling yourself to the point of death, and how amazing that is. And that is so true. But I am infinitely more amazed at You humbling Yourself to the form of a baby. 

I can't believe that You, the Son of the Most High God, started out as one cell - just like me. And You spent the first ten months of Your life (give or take) inside a bag of amniotic fluid, which was inside the uterus of a poor teenage girl. And You got Your nutrients from a placenta, through an umbilical cord. And You kicked Your young mommy from the inside and made her have to pee a lot, but You also gave her a big, beautiful belly with that gorgeous navel stretched to its max. She probably had at least some of the common pregnancy symptoms - morning sickness, sore boobs, mood swings, bloating, stretch marks, swelling, cravings, hypersensitivity to smell, fatigue, leaky boobs, weight gain. But I bet she worked really hard while You were growing inside of her. And it's likely she had the nesting instinct while journeying to Bethlehem - I don't know how that would have manifested itself, but I know it probably happened.

And then Your body signaled to Your Mommy's body (two separate entities, yet physically attached) that it was time for her to birth You. So maybe her water broke, maybe she lost her mucus plug. Contractions got started up. All while just getting into Bethlehem.

And You, the Savior of the world, succumbed to the weight of these contractions. Each surge brought You further down in Your mommy's womb, and then, her pelvis. Her movements helped you to get in the perfect position for Your birth. She moaned, swayed, breathed, and labored. According to today's primip stats, this could have lasted anywhere from 12-24 hours, but we really have no idea.

And then it was time for You to be born. You humbled Yourself right down to squeezing through a birth canal. Your naked mommy probably hollered some around this time, and maybe even cussed (you know, since she was sinful and everything). She probably pooped, too. We don't truly know where this happened, but it was somewhere with animals around, we know that. Maybe a cave, maybe a field. Nothing glamorous by any stretch. There was no inflatable birthing tub, no Hypnobabies CD, no epidural. But your mommy managed.

And Your head appeared and Your mommy vocalized louder at the ring of fire, and in one holy moment, You entered the world. Through a vagina. Covered in blood, amniotic fluid, vernix, and maybe even meconium. You. The King Jesus. 

And Your midwife probably caught Your naked body (or maybe Your daddy, or maybe even Your mommy), and placed You on Your mommy's chest. And that same bogus oxytocin thing happened, the same one that happens with every mommy and baby. And You screamed and cried to signal to everyone that You were alive. And You rooted, just like any other newborn, and eventually found Your mommy's breast, and sucked a marble-sized portion of colostrum. After that, Your mommy placed You in a feeding trough - yes, a feeding trough - doesn't sound as pretty as "manger," does it? And that is where you laid.

This kind of thing happens every day. Mommies grow babies and go into labor and give birth through this amazing process. But it happened to You, too. That's what blows my mind.

There are so many things I don't understand about Christmas. How God incarnate could be a fetus and then a newborn dependent on His mother for everything, I can't explain. But You did it.

And that's what we celebrate on Christmas. Every believer - the midwife and doula believers and the Christians who had three c-sections and the sons and daughters of God who just (wrongly) think that birth is weird, gross, and improper - we all come together and celebrate it. Birth. But not just any birth. YOUR birth.

So next time I hold a newborn baby, I'm going to think of You. I've certainly done it before, and have never been able to wrap my mind around it. I probably never will be. But I like imagining You as one of those babies that I hold in my arms, sometimes. You were probably cute, too. <3

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I want to have a natural birth, but am planning to have my baby in a hospital. What should I do?

As new of a doula as I am, I get this question a lot - whether it be from clients or from pregnant friends who for whatever reason have decided to go the natural route. I got this question from a friend in a Facebook message today, and decided to edit my response slightly to offer to anyone who may be in this situation!

First of all, congratulations on the life growing inside of you and your decision to have a natural birth! Birth is freakin' awesome and will change you in more ways than one. And your decision to have a hospital birth is just as valid and special! Contrary to popular belief, it IS possible to have a natural hospital birth, and there are some important things to do in order to increase your chances.

1. Get your hands on The Business of Being Born, if you haven't already. It is a wonderful documentary that will really confirm your desire to go natural. Here's the website and you can get the movie on Netflix or Amazon.

2. Consider getting a doula. A common misconception is that doulas only do home birth, but that couldn't be further from the truth - in fact, most doulas do most of their work in hospitals! Your doula will meet with you and your partner a few times before birth to build a relationship with you, learn how to support you, and help you sort through all the pregnancy, birth, postpartum, breastfeeding, and parenting (and other) worries. Then she'll join you in labor and offer you emotional support and physical comfort. Also, a big part of her job will be to make sure that your wishes for your birth are carried out whenever possible. She will NOT speak for you, offer medical advice, or do anything clinical (and if she says she will or does it that's a big red flag), but will help you to find your voice in pregnancy and birth and will make sure you are making informed decisions on every aspect of your care. I personally think that everyone should have a doula, whether they are planning a natural birth or not, but they are so especially important when planning a natural birth. If you have any questions about doulas or need recommendations for ones in your area, feel free to ask me. :)

4. Develop a birth plan. If you choose to hire a doula, she will help you with this. I recommend it be as short as possible while still making your wishes known - I usually have my clients do a one-pager with a "Yes, please" column and a "No, thanks" column. Each column has bullet points such as "Dimmed lights in my hospital room," "Freedom to move, eat, and drink," or "Skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth." Your "yes, please" column should have a lot more than the "no, thanks" column - whenever possible turn a negative into a positive. For example, your "Continuous monitoring" in the "no, thanks" column can easily be changed to "Intermittent monitoring" in the "yes, please" column, and etc. Give your birth plan to your doula and your care provider as soon as it's finalized, and discuss it with your care provider to get a gauge of his/her thoughts on it.

5. Read these books:
  • Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin is written by the "pioneer of modern midwifery" and is just chock full of awesome stuff. Warning/disclaimer: I don't fully endorse everything in the book, and a lot of it is pretty darn crunchy, so be prepared if that has a possibility of catching you off guard. But it's still REALLY valuable and worthwhile to read.
  • Natural Hospital Birth: The Best of Both Worlds by Cynthia Gabriel will give you lots of tips on how to have the greatest possibility of the natural birth that you want in a hospital setting.
  • Your Best Birth by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein is written by the creators of The Business of Being Born and will help you think through all the possible considerations of interventions in your labor. Your doula will do this too, but sometimes it's helpful to have it all in one book.
  • The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin will help your partner prepare for the big day by learning about your labor and how to support you in it.
6. Most importantly, remember the sacredness of this journey and that your body was designed to do it. This doesn't mean that you are perfect and won't need intervention, but don't believe for a second that you definitely WILL need intervention either. Whatever the outcome is, you will almost certainly be warmly greeted by a cute, squishy, suckling little baby at the end of it all, so look forward to that as much as you can!