Chosing your best care provider

A recent client’s experience with her obstetrician and place of birth got me thinking about how parents choose who is going to attend the birth of their children and where it will be. Some people plan before they even become pregnant. Some people just take the first name that they come across.

Most typical ob practices have anywhere from five to eight doctors. There may be one in particular that you see regularly, but who attends your birth is left up to the on-call schedule.

A private family practice pretty much guarantees that you will have YOUR dr. at your birth, which is nice. However, as with most doctors, your appointments will consist of LONG waits and short visits. Pee in a cup, get weighed, take vitals, measure belly, and listen to heart beat. Any questions? No? Bye!

A midwife appointment can be anywhere from her office to your home. It can be as long or as short as you want. She *typically* makes an effort to build a real relationship with you. Does this post sound biased? Yeah, to me, too.

No matter who a family chooses, they should take in to consideration the principles of the Mother Friendly Childbirth Initiative.

It seems pretty simple-things like:

  • Birth is a normal, natural, and healthy process;
  • A woman’s confidence and ability to give birth and to care for her baby are enhanced or diminished by every person who gives her care, and by the environment in which she gives birth; and
  • Interventions should not be applied routinely during pregnancy, birth, or the postpartum period. Many standard medical tests, procedures, technologies, and drugs carry risks to both mother and baby, and should be avoided in the absence of specific scientific indications for their use.

Unfortunately, in our area (Upstate SC), there are only 2 obstetric practices that follow those principles.  The list of midwives is over 5 times as long.

Go to Upstate Birth Network for more information about our local Mother Friendly providers.

This is one of the most important moments of your life! Make sure the people involved are there for YOU and your best interests.

New Parenting Classes



New and expectant parents, super-doula extraordinaire Julie Byers is teaching a Natural Baby Parenting Series. The first class was last week, but there is still time to sign up for the rest of them. The next one (Breastfeeding)  is Nov. 22 at 6pm.

They are being hosted at Natural Baby  in downtown Greenville. Click on the link below to register!

Breastfeeding, It’s Not Just Great for Babies

I’m sure everyone knows that October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We are seeing pink everywhere.  But, there is something that isn’t really talked about for some reason or another. I guess it’s too risque. Please.

Yale researchers did a study in 2001 (TEN YEARS AGO) that showed if women breastfed their children for at LEAST 24 months, their risk of getting breast cancer decrease by 50%!!!!

My theory (which I’m such isn’t unique to me) is that the LACK of breastfeeding or early weaning increases your risk. Because breastfeeding is physiologically NORMAL, it would make sense that those who do are more likely to NOT develop breast cancer (and ovarian, uterine, and cervical!).

Pregnant mamas, I would say that the first thing you need to do is make sure that the facility you give birth in is designated as “Baby Friendly.”

The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) is a global program sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to encourage and recognize hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for lactation based on the WHO/UNICEF Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding for Hospitals.

Unfortunately, at least for those mamas who are local to me-as of October 5, 2011, there is not ONE is South Carolina. Now,  I suspect our birth centers probably fall into this category, they just haven’t been designated.

So, the next best thing I can suggest is to build a GREAT support group. The Upstate has two very active La Leche Leagues-one in Greenville at Natural Baby and the other is in Spartanburg at Labors of Love.

For those moms who are breastfeeding, bravo! It can be very difficult given the views that society has imprinted on us. And the next time someone makes a comment, removes a picture (cough facebook cough) just remember, you are doing the VERY best thing for yourself and your family.



The moon is most happy

When it is full.

And the sun always looksLike a perfectly minted gold coin

That was just Polished

And placed in flightBy God’s playful Kiss.

And so many varieties of fruit

Hang plump and round

From branches that seem like a Sculptor’s hands.

I see the beautiful curve of a pregnant belly

Shaped by a soul within,

And the Earth itself,

And the planets and the Spheres –

I have gotten the hint:

There is something about circles

The Beloved likes.



After your baby is born, she will be covered with a white kinda cheesy looking substance called vernix caseosa. This protects the baby’s skin in utero from being in constant contact with amniotic fluid.

In typical hospital births, the vernix is immediately wiped off of the baby. This is standard. However, you can choose to leave it on and then massage it into your baby.

Vernix works is not only a great moisturizer,it’s also an effective cleanser, anti-infective agent, anti-oxidant and a wound healer.

If you plan on having a hospital birth, be sure to talk to your HCP to let them know that you do not want them to wash the vernix away-in fact, you might even want to let them know you don’t want them to give her a bath at all! You are well within your rights to bathe your own baby at your own pace. Not only is a baby massage a great bonding experience, you will be stimulating their skin, muscles and circulation.



Upstate Birth Network

This is a really cool program that I am proud to be a part of.  We are a group of birth professionals and advocates that serve Upstate, SC. We provide free one-on-one consults to help you plan your birth, host monthly blessingways which focus on POSITIVE birth stories and provide great information for expectant and new families, and all kinds of other cool stuff.

Every woman deserves to birth the way she wants, but unfortunately a lot of the time, we don’t even know that there are options! I know when I had my first child, I didn’t know that there were midwives in Spartanburg. I just thought you go to the hospital and that was that.  I imagine how different things would have been had I had access to the kind of information that is out there today.

Please check out the website and see how we can help you on your most wonderful journey.


Why I became a doula…

2003 I was in the hospital giving birth to my second daughter. Everything was going smoothly. I went in at 4 cm and was progressing nicely-or so I thought. My OB thought she should move things along by artificially rupturing my membranes.Sure, I thought-anything to have my daughter sooner!

Well, things sure did speed up, just like they were “supposed” to. Then, we realized that every time I had a contraction, Virginia’s heart rate would drop. But, if I laid on my side, she was fine. Of course, I was in bed the ENTIRE go of it.

Fast forward to pushing:

All I remember hearing is “Here’s the head… we have a cord. Prep the OR.”

Me: What?! Why is she saying that? Just let me push one more time, I can get her out.

OB: “Your baby will die unless we do a c-section NOW.”

Me (freaking out hysterically crying).

OB climbs on top of me and holds Virginia inside of me as we are rolling to the OR.

Everything is a blur at this point. Somehow I get a spinal or epidural in the midst of all of the craziness. I just remember 3 things. 1-my arms were strapped down. 2-I couldn’t breathe. 3-the anesthesiologist was the ONLY person in the room who cared about me at this point. He was a lifesaver.  I wish I knew his name.

In the end, Virginia was perfect. She nursed immediately.  I remember nursing her in the hallway waiting for my room.

I on the other hand, was not okay. It was not right what happened. I KNEW something went wrong. My recovery took months and I was not in a good place.

So, I started looking things up on the internet. The medical term was prolapsed umbilical cord. That’s where the cord presents itself either before the baby, or (in our case) along side the baby’s head. And guess what the number one cause of prolapsed cord is? AROM (artificially rupturing of membranes). Breaking the water. I was so furious.

I don’t exactly remember how I came to find that with the help of a doula, I probably would have had a natural birth. All I remember saying is I will NEVER birth in the hospital again. And I knew that I had to take my negative experience and turn it into something positive. I knew it was my purpose to help empower other women to be able to have the knowledge to protect themselves and to make informed decisions regarding their births.

My one minor public breastfeeding incident

As the mother of a 10 month old who still gets 95% of her nutrition from breastmilk, there does come a time when I have to nurse her in public. I have never had one negative experience. Even people who I thought were going to be appalled actually commented on how great it is.
The other day I was at a local inflatable play place with my 8 year old and my baby. The baby invariably had to eat, so I took her in to the adult section (couches, recliners, and a TV). Well, all was well until I noticed this woman very obviously glaring at me. Then, she turned towards her neighbor and hid her mouth with a magazine to (I assume) talk about how horrible of a person I am.

I, of course, did nothing but continue to feed my child. In my mind, I had all kinds of lovely things ready to say to her in case she dared mention that I either 1-go to the bathroom, 2-cover up, or 3-complained in any fashion.

Remember, mamas-anywhere you and your child are legally allowed to be, you are legally allowed to breastfeed. AND, no one can force you to cover up or remove yourself.  SC Code of Laws

SECTION 63-5-40. Breastfeeding.

(A) A woman may breastfeed her child in any location where the mother and her child are authorized to be.

(B) Breastfeeding a child in a location where the mother is authorized to be is not considered indecent exposure.




Pregnancy Teas

*note: this is not intended to be medical advice, and this picture is bad, sorry.

One of the things that I like to suggest to pregnant mothers, is to start drinking a pregnancy tea blend. Usually starting in the second trimester.  I use a blend of Red Raspberry Leaf, Stinging Nettles, Oat Straw, Alfalfa, Dandelion Root, and Lemon Balm.

Red Raspberry Leaf (RRL) can help tone the uterus, and contains lots of vitamins like C, E, A, Bs, as well as magnesium, potassium, and all kinds of other goodies. I first learned about drinking RRL from this natural healing book I found at a thrift store. It was clearly written in the 70s. It’s full of all kinds of hoovy-groovy anecdotal advice about EVERYTHING.

Nettles are high in vitamin K. This is an EXCELLENT addition to your tea if you are planning on refusing the Vitamin K shot for your newborn. Increasing your own Vit. K will help give your baby a boost.

Oat Straw is high in calcium and magnesium. This will help with anxiety, irritability, and restlessness.

Alfalfa also contains Vitamin K, in addition to chlorophyll, and trace minerals. It’s important to increase the concentration of alfalfa during the last trimester and continue on during postpartum because it can decrease postpartum hemorrhaging, and increases your milk supply!

Dandelion Root contains calcium and iron. It’s a great addition to a tea because it aids in digestion and helps strength the liver.

Lemon Balm is calming. It can relieve irritability and insomnia.

If you are local (Upstate SC), a great place to get these herbs is at Earth Fare in Greenville. I believe they buy them from Frontier Herbs.

Mixing up a batch of Pregnancy Tea is a free service I provide for my mamas.  If you would like to buy a jar, just let me know!