Momming

Reintroducing Breastfeeding to Peach

“A wise mother knows: it is her state of consciousness that matters. Her gentleness and clarity demand respect. Her love creates security.” ~ Vimala McClure

In my quest to give Peaches the best upbringing possible I discovered the idea of extended nursing along with it’s numerous health benefits. I planned on nursing her until she decided we stop: hopefully around four years old or so.

But plans, sadly, don’t always work out.

I heartbroken when my supply dried up in the second trimester of my pregnancy with Star. Peach was only fifteen months old and I felt like I was cheating her out of this amazing gift God designed.

For those who don’t know, breastfeeding has many unique benefits for baby and momma, including but not limited to:

  • Probiotics (over 600 different strains), antibodies, and white blood cells which help in preventing allergies, skin conditions, illnesses, gut/digestive health, as well as strengthening the whole body.
  • Tailor-made milk if your baby gets sick; your baby’s saliva will tell your body exactly what he needs in the breast milk to get better. Your breastmilk can also tell what stage of growth/development she is in and will adjust its properties accordingly.
  • Helps overcome post partum depression, strengthens the bond between mother and child, provides a sense of security, as well as promotes sleep as nursing is readily available.
  • Aids in shedding baby weight and encourages post partum contractions to help the uterus retract to its former size.
  • Easily assessable, no prep time, no bottles, and it’s free!

Hearing mixed takes on tandem nursing and reintroducing breastfeeding to a babe after a dry spell, I was nervous. I went ahead and gave it a shot, though. 😉

First impression? Peaches was never going to breastfeed again.

My now 20 month old Peach was having none of it. I offered to nurse her immediately after every feeding with her sister Star, but the answer was always no. I got the impression that she was nervous about nursing again, so I started a new approach. Whenever we were nursing somewhere private and comfortable I would leave both breasts out: one to nurse little Star and the other if Peaches decided she wanted to nurse. I also gave her breastmilk I had pumped, because if she chose not to nurse again I still wanted her to get that huge heath boost. I didn’t ask her if she wanted to nurse anymore, but pretty soon she was in my lap acting interested (fiddling with the nipple, trying to hand-express milk like I do when I am too full).

I began offering to nurse her again, and within a week she said yes.

Then we ran into another issue: Peaches had forgotten how to nurse. She would imitate her sister’s latch, but wouldn’t suck. I was discouraged, but kept letting her try. When she “latched” sometimes I would express a little milk in her mouth, while other times I would make sucking sounds in an attempt to show her what to do. Peach thought the latter was hysterical.

The more she watched little Star nurse though, the better grasp she seemed to get on nursing. Peach started nursing normally right after her sister turned one month old.

And she bit. Hard.

Her teeth dug into my poor nipples, her snaggle tooth being particularly excruciating.

It was awful, but we got over it via a method I like to call, “Release, Teach, and Repeat.”

Everytime she bit me, I unlatched her, explained why, waited a bit, and then relatched with a soft “gentle, now.”

This method probably isn’t the fastest way to get a child to quit biting while nursing, but here is why I chose it:

1. We were both still nervous about breastfeeding again. I was worried she would decide she didn’t want to continue after all, while she was still getting used to the new idea.

2. I didn’t want to lose the fun aspect of nursing. It is a time for momma and baby to relax (well, at least for baby to relax) and enjoy each other’s snuggles. I didn’t want anything about it to feel forced or be upsetting.

3. While the method isn’t the fastest, I feel like it solidifies the idea not to bite more effectively than other methods. If she is not gentle, we don’t nurse. That’s all there is to it.

The last issue we have dealt with so far is novelty, which I will go more in depth on in my article, “Tandem Nursing for Dummies.” I will warn you now, though, to be prepared for lots of fussing and tantrums from your toddler when you are not nursing until the “new” feeling goes away. We have now been nursing steadily for almost three weeks, so the novelty is starting to wear off. I feel a little less crazy now there is not constant crying, whining, tugging, yelling, stomping, pulling my shirt down, etc going on in the home.

All children are beautifully and wonderfully created individuals, so do not be discouraged if what I did does not work for your son or daughter. Find out what works best for your family and go from there. 🙂

Also, I feel it is important to note you should never force a child to nurse. Nursing is, among other things, a special bond between mother and child meant to calm and solidify trust between the two. Attempting to force breastfeeding can have the opposite effect and scare your baby. I am very lucky that Peaches wanted to continue nursing as I did – some babies will decide never to nurse again after a dry spell.

It doesn’t make you less of a parent to be unable to nurse anymore. You should feel proud for trying, and confident that, whatever the outcome, you are doing what is best for your child.

I have been very blessed to get to continue nursing Peaches. My husband works incredibly hard so I can be a stay at home mom to the girls. It gives me a lot more time to experiment and try new things.

Do you have a breastfeeding story to share? Please comment below! If you like this article subscribe for more. 😉

 

Some helpful information on breastmilk:

Organics Happy Family; Breast Milk Benefits

Momming

How to Cheat the GBS Test in Pregnancy

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no extra cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

There are very legitimate needs for pharmaceutical antibiotics. Severe bacterial infections can be dangerous if left untreated, even deadly. This post is not to discredit the need for antibiotics at all.

But let’s face it – they suck to take. I use antibiotics as an absolute last resort because they make me so sick. Headaches, digestive issues, the works. Antibiotics definitely “kick you while you’re down,” as my husband likes to say. Not only this, but antibiotics have a slue of other negative side effects and possible adverse reactions ranging from short term to long term. If I can avoid taking them safely, I will, especially when the need for them is mild to non-existent.

What is GBS?

With my first baby, I was not really given a clear explanation on what GBS is, other than it was common in pregnancy and nothing to worry about. Which begged the question: if it was nothing to worry about why would I need antibiotics for it if I tested positive? (Which I did test positive for it, and the antibiotics did indeed make me sick… during labor.)

Group B Streptococcus, or GBS, is a strain of bacteria that women can develop during pregnancy in their rectum and/or vagina. As your belly inflates and your downstairs opens up, it becomes more difficult to properly clean after using the potty. This can cultivate bacteria, including GBS in women who are carriers. Most women who have GBS do not know it as there can be no symptoms.

Why is it considered dangerous?

If a baby is born premature or with a compromised immune system, exposure to GBS could lead to severe infection and even death. In rare cases GBS can get into a baby’s blood stream and cause sepsis. It can also cause meningitis or pneumonia.

Other than a premature birth or an uncommonly weak immune system, GBS poses virtually no threat to a baby who is properly cleaned after birth (I mean getting all the nasty stuff off, but leaving the vernix). If a healthy baby does develop GBS it can be treated quickly and efficiently.

I am not sure about the specific rules across country, but in the state I live in I would not be allowed to give birth at home with my midwife if I tested positive for GBS yet refused antibiotics. Many hospitals will tell you antibiotics are mandatory if you have tested positive while strongly encouraging the antibiotics if you go into premature labor regardless of your GBS status. This seems a little foolish, as the dangers of penicillin, the most commonly used drug for GBS, are very real and more likely to occur than those that could be caused by GBS.

Why would I want to cheat the GBS test?

Okay, so GBS can be pretty serious for babies with rare circumstances. My top priority when pregnant, as I am sure yours is too, is to have a healthy baby. So why would I want to cheat the results?

  1. GBS is not tested for until well into the third trimester when the mother is almost full term or later. If she had a baby premature, chances are she would not have the GBS test done in time to find out if it posed a threat to her child. Since GBS poses no threat to a healthy, on-time baby, there is very little need for the GBS testing when it is done.
  2. Just because a woman tests positive for GBS does not mean she will still have GBS at the time of her birth. Likewise, just because she tests negative for it doesn’t mean at the time of birth she will not have GBS. The culture swab is not even always accurate at the time it is given.
  3. Pharmaceutical antibiotics should only be used in extreme necessary conditions as they have several harmful short term and long term possible side effects and reactions. If the test for GBS is useless as my condition could change by the time of birth, and the chances of my baby actually being affected by GBS are slim to none, why would I put both myself and my baby (the antibiotics are administered during labor) in harms way from the much more likely negative effects of the drugs?

So how can you cheat the test?

This bacteria is cultivated when waste particles stay on your privates, so it can easily be cured through cleansing and proper cleaning. My midwife recommended using Hibiclens

, which worked like a charm. Hibiclens is a heavy-duty antibacterial soap commonly used in hospitals. Using Hibiclens to treat and prevent GBS is a common practice in Europe.

Because it is very potent, you do NOT want to put this directly on your lady parts.

  • Using a peri bottle filled mostly with water, squirt a little Hibiclens in to turn the water a light pink, then shake and squirt. I would say no more than half an ounce of Hibiclens for every seven and a half ounces of water.
  • Make sure you get both your vaginal area and your rectum.
  • Rinse off with water (I just used the now-empty peri bottle and water from the sink).

I did this a couple of times right before I went in to take my test (it is easiest to remember with the Hibiclens and peri bottle within reach from the toilet seat). If you are really worried about the test, you can do this every time you use the restroom the day before and the day of your test. I wouldn’t recommend doing it any more than that though, as this antibacterial soap is incredibly powerful and can irritate the skin.

I suppose this doesn’t really count as ‘cheating’ the test, since you are actually cleansing your body of any possible GBS rather than just hiding it, but I like pretending I am a rebel. If you are still worried about GBS at the time of your birth, I would recommend doing a quick cleanse during the first signs of contractions.

Do you have a different way to cleanse GBS, or any thoughts on this article? Be sure to comment and thank you for reading!

Some extra sources:

Information on Penicillin

Dekker, Rebecca. “Evidence on Group B Strep in Pregnancy.” Evidence Based Birth, 15 Jan. 2018.

What Are the Risks of Group B Streptococcus (GBS) Infection during Pregnancy?” NHS Choices, National Heath Services UK, 12 July 2015.

Home Remedies, Momming

Fighting Rotavirus and Other Gastro-Intestinal Infections

“I prayed for this child and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him.” – 1 Samuel 1:27

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no extra cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

My sweet Peach, like every toddler, has started sticking her hands in her diaper to tell me it needs changed. She is quite the helper, you see.

The problem is I do not always catch her bouts of helpfulness before the hands previously in her dirty diaper inevitably end up in her mouth. This is not good. It is pretty gross, actually.

Rotavirus is a very common infection in toddlers and infants caused by such shenanigans. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, fevers, and abdominal pain. A toddler or baby can pass this onto the adults (and other children) in his or her life by touching things we use after touching her or his fecal matter. It is also very common for parents to get rotavirus from changing the diapers of an infected child. To say this infection is irritating would be an understatement.

While the rest of the world seems to have been fighting the flu this winter season, the Baten Linares household fought rotavirus. Peaches got it, passed it to her granmomma, and then on to me. We are not sure if daddy got a small case or if his two days of suffering were just coincidental timing, but either way our family was miserable for weeks as it all played out. During this disgusting chapter in our lives, I have learned several things about gut-related viral infections.

Probably the biggest lesson for fighting rotavirus is there is nothing you can do. The infection has to run it’s course naturally over a period of one to two weeks. Vitamin C can actually make rotavirus worse, as this immune booster also loosens stool. This is the last thing you want when your baby already has bad diarrhea. Viral infections cannot be treated with antibiotics, so those are out too.

There are some homeopathic remedies that I am just now learning about which can aid in pain relief and recovery. As I am only in the beginning stages of learning about homeopathy myself I do not want to accidentally spread wrong information by making recommendations. Perhaps I will write another blog post about it sometime in the future when I am more confident in my research and have started using homeopathy for my family.

The most important thing to remember when dealing with rotavirus, or any sickness that involves copious amounts of puke and poop, is to keep the infected hydrated. Dehydration is dangerous for everyone, but it is especially worrisome in toddlers and infants because it is so easy for them to become dehydrated. If your baby is lethargic and has not been able to hold down fluids for 8 hours or food for 24 hours please take them to the doctor’s office or urgent care immediately. You baby will need IV fluids.

After vomiting Peaches did not want to drink anything, more than likely because her throat was sore and her tummy hurt. We got her to drink using hydrating teas. Her favorite was the Traditional Medicinals Organic Throat Coat with added lemon and Echinacea, but we also gave her Organic Nighty Night Tea and Organic Ginger with Chamomile Tea (both also from Traditional Medicinals). Each sippy cup had a small spoonful of local honey mixed in the tea for added sweetness. I found these three not only tasted good enough for her to want to drink despite hurting, but they helped sooth the symptoms – providing much needed relief.

Despite needing to let the infection run it’s course, there are things you can do to make the experience less awful for your baby. I found having Peach sleep on an incline (two fluffy pillows behind her back did the trick) made her less likely to get sick during the night, and seemed to help alleviate some of her stomach pain. We also had a humidifier with peppermint essential oil going every night. Keeping towels, wet wipes, and a full sippy cup beside the bed was a huge help as well.

Avoiding foods such as gluten, dairy, citrus, meats, and other products that promote loose stool or are hard to digest can help make the vomiting and diarrhea less severe. The most recommended diet for gastro-intestinal infections is called the B.R.A.T. diet, although as long as you are making sure your baby is only eating things that are easy to digest and pass the effects should be the same. The B.R.A.T. diet is recommended by pediatricians because the foods used are low in fiber, fat, and protein.

B – Bananas

R – Rice

A – Applesauce

T – Toast

We also gave Peach frozen organic fruit pops. They forced her to eat slowly while also keeping her hydrated.

I recommend investing in a good probiotic for your child as well. Since probiotics are made to aid in gut health, they are naturally great for gut-related infections. Peaches takes the Probiotic Gummies by Nutra Kids, which is the only reliable organic probiotic for children I have been able to find. If you have a probiotic you like better, or anything else you would like to comment on or suggest about fighting gut-related viral infections, please tell me about it in the comments! I would love to hear what you all think. 🙂

Home, Momming

What I Wish I had Known Starting Cloth Diapers

Pregnant, I was on a mission. A mission to save as much money as possible.

I am talking driving around the military base looking for curbed baby items I could take and wash up, buying bundles of baby clothes for as little as 10 cents a onesie, setting my Facebook app to notify me whenever someone posted a new item for sale on my baby yard sale pages, etc. I was in deep. No one could stop the madness. My baby girl would have the best for less.

With this penny-pinching hysteria, I decided we would cloth diaper. The average new parents will spend anywhere from $378 to $675 on disposable diapers in the first year of their child’s life alone, according to What to Expect. Ridiculous, right?

Looking back, I had no idea what I was doing. The cloth diaper industry has changed so much since my mother did it with her kids she was just as clueless as me; my husband didn’t even know cloth diapering was something people still did.

Despite the odds, we prevailed. Months of getting pee and poop all over yourself changes a person. Lessons learned to share now so hopefully no one else has to go through the same *shudder* experiences my family did beginning their cloth diapering adventure.

The most important tips I have learned for beginning cloth diapers:

Learn to Change a Cloth Diaper First

Easy, no?

No.

There are two kinds of cloth diapers: those you fold n’ pin and those you snap in place. Before wasting your money on high quality prefold cloth diapers, you may want to make sure you actually have a talent for folding origami around a wiggling newborn and pinning it in place without sticking yourself… or the baby.

I do not possess such a gift. Thankfully, the snap-on cloth diapers can be done by someone even as uncoordinated as myself. After a little practice, of course.

Many natural baby stores (some organic grocery stores too) will hold classes to teach proper cloth diapering techniques, including actually getting the diapers on your baby. If you can’t find somewhere close to you that does this, YouTube also has some great tutorials.

I have seen people practice cloth diapering on their cats or dogs for a more realistic feel, but a baby doll or stuffed animal can work too if you want a less eventful experience. If you are lucky, maybe you can find a friend willing to let you practice with their baby.

Whatever you do, make sure you know how to put the diapers on correctly before changing your baby for the first time. A cloth diaper that is incorrectly snapped or pinned will leak and be uncomfortable for your child to wear.

Diapers Need to Be Prepped Prior to Use

Do not, I repeat, do NOT put a new diaper on your baby and expect it to hold anything. You will be left with a huge frustrating mess.

Since I bought the majority of my cloth diapers from other military moms, I figured everything to get them started working would have already been done. I remember sitting on my couch crying because I thought I had wasted all this money on worthless diapers. I started Googling what I was doing wrong, and discovered in order for cloth diapers to be properly absorbent they must first be prepped with a hot wash in the laundry machine.

How they are prepped depends on the material used. Microfiber products need one to two washes to be ready for use. Most snap-on diapers are made from microfiber/polyester. Organic fabrics such as bamboo, cotton, or hemp will not be completely absorbent until four to six hot washes. While detergent is not needed for prepping, it is recommended for the first wash.

Pocket Diapers – Pocket Diapers – Pocket Diapers

Did I mention pocket diapers? These diapers are by far the easiest cloth diapers to assemble in my opinion. They are also the most common type of snap-on diaper.

There are snap-on diapers available which are just the cover for you to lay an insert on. These, I have found, leak more than pocket diapers while the leg holes tend to be a lot tighter (probably to make sure the inserts do not slip out). This can be an issue if your baby is blessed with thunder thighs, as mine is. Others come with more complicated, specific inserts that snap like the diaper itself. I do not recommend these either. If you lose the special snap-on inserts, the diaper becomes virtually useless. I like knowing no matter what diaper I pick up the inserts will all fit the same.

Pocket diapers look similar to the covers except the inside has – you guessed it – a pocket for the inserts inside. Some come with flaps to help prevent the inserts from escaping, but this is more of an extra precaution as all the pocket diapers I have found are made with the fabric bunched at the top of the bottom to hold everything inside.

I am lazy, so I use the pocket diapers like covers because I don’t want to take the time to fit the inserts inside the pockets or dig them out while soiled. It’s easier when cleaning poop as well since the inserts rinse faster than the diapers.

Doing this when my daughter was a newborn caused problems because the insert would get moved around or fold up due to her keeping her legs crossed. It would be like she wasn’t wearing a diaper at all. Pee (or worse) would go straight through, usually when we were about to go out. Moral of the story: use the pocket at least until those little legs start getting more active. It keeps the insert flat.

Size Matters

Do not put a diaper meant for older babies on your newborn. No amount of pinning will get the diaper to stay. Your spouse will give you weird looks as you try to tug and tuck the diaper into place.

I am not sure why I thought the sizes were suggestions that day, although it probably had something to do with the fact I had gotten no sleep the night before…. or that whole week…

Anyway, be aware sizing is a little more complicated for cloth diapers than disposables. Dependent on weight (same as sposies), brands can sometimes effect how the diaper fits. The smallest prefold diapers go from about 4 to 10 pounds, while the largest size is from 30 to 45 pounds (approximately). For snap-on diapers, there are 5 main sizes to know:

Newborn – Made to fit newborns and premies. 4-10 pounds.

Small – 10-17 pounds.

Medium – 17-27 pounds.

Large – 27-35+ pounds.

One Size – Made to fit babies 8 to 35+ pounds. (Birth to Toddler)

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Not All Inserts Are Created Equal

Most diapers will come with an insert at the time of purchase. These inserts are usually microfiber. There is a reason these come free.

They stink. Literally.

Don’t get me wrong, microfiber inserts are extremely absorbent. This fabric is used in a lot of athletic gear specifically because of it’s ability to suck up moisture and dry quickly. They are also the cheapest inserts. However, since microfiber fabric is made from polyesters the material is not as breathable as other types of inserts. This can cause rashes in babies with more sensitive skin. Being less breathable and quick to dry also means it is bad about clinging smells.

There is nothing worse than opening what should be a simple wet diaper and getting blasted in the face with the stench of death… Okay, maybe not death, but it comes close.

All inserts will need a special wash every once in a while to remove the build up of ammonia in the fabric, but microfiber seems to need this significantly more.

Other insert materials include cotton, hemp, and bamboo. You can also get inserts that have layers of different fabrics, such as bamboo inserts that have a couple layers of microfiber inside to give the insert some extra absorbency. This keeps costs down, as 100% organic inserts are more expensive.

I have not tried hemp inserts, but I am very interested in how comparable they are to the other materials. If anyone has any experience with this using hemp, please leave me a comment!

I do have cotton and bamboo inserts. Both of these are more breathable than microfiber. Cotton inserts can still cause diaper rashes in babies though because they do not dry as well. Since cotton is not as absorbent as other fibers they need to be changed more frequently. Bamboo inserts are not only absorbent and breathable; they also naturally keep your baby’s area drier to prevent rashes.

I wish I had invested in more bamboo inserts than microfiber. As it is, I use my limited supply of bamboo at night or during big outings where I know Peach will have to wear the diaper longer. I have also learned that as a baby grows they pee and poo more (duh), so I put two inserts in her diapers at a time now.

There is Nothing Wrong With An Emergency Disposable Stash

I felt so guilty about wanting to buy disposables for those hard days, but there is no denying they are much easier than cloth diapers. Traveling via airplane or long road trips are stressful enough without dragging around a bag of wet/dirty diapers. Using disposable diapers on occasion is still saving money. Don’t feel like less of a parent for needing a break.

Final Thoughts:

Cloth diapers have been such a wonderful experience for my family. Really. Not only have they saved us a big chunk of money, but since we kept a hold of all our newborn sizes we now have to spend $0 on diapers for our upcoming star.

Well, I may get some more organic inserts… and a couple new pocket diapers. The designs are so adorable! Cloth diaper companies make the snap-ons so cute I don’t have to feel guilty about letting Peach walk around without pants on in warmer weather.

Cloth diapers have other benefits besides being money savers, too! They save your baby’s sensitive skin from the endocrine disruptors found in disposable diapers: harsh chemicals causing hormonal imbalances linked to cancer, infertility, respiratory issues, developmental disorders, obesity, and cognitive disorders. Dioxins, highly toxic by-products of the bleaching method disposable diapers use, in particular have been linked to Toxic Shock Syndrome, a deadly condition, in women from tampon use as well as being a known carcinogen. Other chemicals such as dyes and inks used in disposable diapers have been linked to allergies. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want those things on my baby if I can help it.

An approximate 3 million tons of disposable diapers are added to landfills around the United States each year. These do not decompose over time; can you imagine how many tons of diapers are in landfills in the United States right now? Talk about a massive stench.

The best part about cloth diapering though, I have to admit, is how they give babies the funniest, most precious bubble butts I have ever seen. My husband and I always get a kick out of watching Peach toddle around with her cloth diaper on. It reminds me of those vintage cartoons of the little babies with big tushies. Now I know: it was their diapers.

Sources:

Gilbert, Steven, and Nick Thorp. “Diapers.” Toxipedia, Atlassian Confluence and Zen Foundation, 2 July 2010.

Heid, Markham. “The Truth About Tampons.” TIME, Time Inc, 27 July 2016.

Murkoff, Heidi. “What Babies Really Cost.” What to Expect, What to Expect, 4 Oct. 2016.

Momming

Going with the Right Midwife for You

Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him. ~ Psalms 127:3 NLT

After a lot of research and thought, you have decided to go with midwifery for your pregnancy.

Great! ….. So now what?

Choosing the Place

First, it’s time to decide on where you want to actually have your baby. When I used to think of midwives, images of women at home with their families pushing out babies in a bathtub or squatting on the bedroom floor came to mind. Midwifery, however, is all about customizing the birthing experience. Midwives can attend hospital births, deliveries at birthing centers, or home births. I recommend deciding where you want to have your baby first, as some midwives only attend hospital births and some only attend birthing centers or home births.

A hospital birth with a midwife offers more of the modern approach to birth rather than the holistic delivery most choose midwives for. The highest certification of a midwife in the United States is a Certified Nurse Midwife, which in a hospital setting still requires a doctor’s presence. Essentially, your midwife would be more of an advocate for your birth and a personal nurse, while also getting the nutritional and emotional counseling midwives uniquely provide their clients. She (or he – while uncommon, male midwives do exist) would step in on your behalf to ensure you are getting the birthing experience you desire. That is, as long as there are no complications that require a deviation from your birthing plan.

Some hospitals will employ midwives in their labor and delivery triage. However, just because the hospital does not employ midwives does not mean they will not allow a midwife to attend your birth. If this is the way you want to go, check with your local hospitals to see how they feel about midwives attending deliveries. They may already have a list of midwives they work with.

My darling Peach was born in a Naval hospital, but we had a midwife who monitored the beginning of our birth. She worked at the hospital, and was the only person on staff who listened to my husband when he was trying to find someone to help me. Due to hospital negligence my daughter and I would have died if it hadn’t been for this woman. If I could go back in time, I would have had a midwife from the very beginning instead of an OB doctor.

A home birth is what I have chosen for my upcoming daughter’s arrival. Although I touched on some of the specific benefits of home birthing in my post, “5 Reasons to Choose a Midwife,” here are some of the main reasons women may prefer a home birth:

  • Familiar Setting – Being in your safe space to have your child can take some of the stress off of delivery. This helps with relaxing and keeps blood pressure as well as heart rate from spiking due to anxiety. This translates into an easier labor with less risk for tearing, hemorrhaging, etc.
  • Sounds and Smells – Tying in with being in a familiar setting, many mothers are put off by unfamiliar hospital surroundings. Abrasive noises such as whirring machinery, staff movement, and other patients, coupled with the typical sterile smell hospitals have is not something most ladies look forward to when imaging their birthing experience. At home you can light candles, have the smells from the kitchen wafting in, or simply enjoy the fresh air. Favorite music or TV show can be playing in the background during contractions, or you can opt for complete silence.
  • Family, Friends, and Attendants – Hospitals typically have a limit on how many guests can be in the delivery/recovery rooms with you along with what hours they can be there. On the other hand, delivering at a hospital can mean sharing a room with a stranger while having dozens of hospital staff walking in and out. Delivering at home, you only have the people you want there. You can have as many or as few people in attendance as you want. Typically a midwife will have an assistant with her (or him) in case both mother and baby need care at the same time, so the instances of indecent exposure to non-family members can be limited to two people in a home birth.
  • More Control – Home births enable ladies to have more authority over what happens in their delivery experience. Since a midwife is much more likely to adhere to the mother’s wants than a doctor, based on midwifery ideology, women have more say in what happens to them at home than in a hospital room. Furthermore, women have recalled times in their hospital births where doctors and nurses performed unnecessary and unwanted procedures on their babies the mothers did they consent to.
  • Lower Risks – In 2014, a group of medical professionals used data from Midwives Alliance of North American Statistics Project 2.0 to determine how safe home births are. The International Journal of Women’s Health published a study comparing the safety of home births with midwives from all over the world. Other studies have also been published in the Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health. The results? Home births with midwives are actually safer and end with significantly less intervention than births planned at the hospital with an OB. Midwives are trained professionals, able to identify life threatening complications that need the medical care of a doctor, but will do everything to avoid intervention otherwise.

If you don’t want to give birth in a hospital, but are afraid or unable to deliver at home, a licensed birthing center may be the ideal place for you. It is the perfect blend, in my opinion, of the home and hospital setting. While the sights, smells, and noises are more friendly and comforting, birthing centers also have access to more medical equipment to monitor the mother and baby. The delivery remains more natural/holistic than a hospital birth while having a professional setting. Family and friends are typically welcome, rooms are more personal, and staff are less invasive. Even some licensed physicians work at birthing centers. Birthing centers also cost about the same as a home birth, which are both considerably less expensive than delivering at the hospital (always a plus).

Even if you choose to give birth somewhere other than a licensed birthing center, you may want to contact your local center for birthing classes. Many birthing centers also have support groups available where you can connect with other mothers who share holistic values.

It is important to note that, no matter where you choose to have your baby, life-threatening complications could still call for a trip to the hospital. Some hospitals will not allow midwives to attend you with the rest of the staff, so they will be treated as visitors or even asked to leave. Always have a backup plan prepared with your midwife should something go wrong at the home birth or birthing center.

Choosing the Person

Once you have chosen where to have your baby, it is time to think about who is going to attend your birth. To understand what type of training your potential midwife has, here is a breakdown of the classifications:

  • A Certified Nurse Midwife, or CNM, is someone who started as a registered nurse and then continued their studies further into child birth and midwifery. This is the highest level of certification a midwife can have and is usually accompanied by a doctorate or masters degree. Certified Nurse Midwives can attend births in any state as long as they have the proper licensing.
  • A Certified Midwife, or CM, is someone who started with a degree in something relating to midwifery but not necessarily medical. This degree could be in some form of Psychology or Sociology with a focus on Women’s Studies. Certified Midwives then do the graduate-level training CNMs do.
  • A Certified Professional Midwife, or CPM, is someone who doesn’t have a degree prior to studying midwifery. I think it is interesting that CPMs are the only midwives who must have extensive experience in home births prior to obtaining their certification. Certified Professional Midwives are classified as independent practitioners.
  • Other certifications for midwives include Direct-Entry Midwives, or DEMs, and Licensed Midwives, or LMs. These certifications are usually obtained through informal study or hands-on experience. CMs and CPMs are sometimes categorized under DEMs depending on who you talk to, although they do receive formal study. All midwives in the United States, with the exception of Certified Nurse Midwives, must obtain a separate license for each state they wish to practice midwifery in. Not every state accepts all classifications of midwives, and each state has unique requirements for obtaining a license to practice.

When I chose my midwife, I planned free consultations with all the midwives in my area just in case I didn’t feel like I clicked with the first midwife I contacted. I highly recommend this route, as the midwife I chose was actually number three in my line-up.

My midwife and I share a similar belief system and love of family. While I didn’t think beliefs would be that important when choosing a midwife in the beginning, being able to freely talk about faith during such an emotional time is relaxing for me. My midwife is also older so I view her more like a mentor. Some women prefer to have a midwife closer in age to them to feel more connected, but I personally like the wisdom and motherly feel my midwife provides.

When choosing your midwife, make sure you not only feel comfortable with them but that they know what you are wanting for your birth from the very beginning. It is always a good idea to have a list of questions and topics prepared to ask your midwife. For example, I do not vaccinate, which is a hot and touchy topic for many. I wanted to make sure the midwife I chose would not pressure me to vaccinate myself or my baby. I also wanted to make sure I could have a water birth along with being allowed to use the placenta immediately.

Your comfort and health are the most important aspects of childbirth, as a healthy baby often requires a healthy mommy. I hope your journey into pregnancy and parenthood is wonderful, and good luck!

 

Sources:

American Association of Birth Centers

American College of Nurse-Midwives

Midwives Alliance of North America

Bernhard, C, et al. “Home Birth after Hospital Birth: Women’s Choices and Reflections.” Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2014.

Cheyney PhD, CPM, Melissa, et al. “Development and Validation of a National Data Registry for Midwife‐Led Births: The Midwives Alliance of North America Statistics Project 2.0 Dataset.” Wiley Online Library, Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health, 30 Jan. 2014.

Cheyney PhD, CPM, Melissa, et al. “Outcomes of Care for 16,924 Planned Home Births in the United States: The Midwives Alliance of North America Statistics Project, 2004 to 2009.” Wiley Online Library, Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health, 30 Jan. 2014.

Zielinski, Ruth, et al. “Planned Home Birth: Benefits, Risks, and Opportunities.” International Journal of Women’s Health, Dove Medical Press, 8 Apr. 2015.

Momming

5 Reasons to Choose a Midwife

“A woman, as long as she lives, will remember how she was made to feel at her birth.”  — Anna Verwaal

When I told my sister I was going to have a midwife for my second birth, you could hear the anxiety in her voice through the conversation.

I don’t blame her; the last home birth she saw resulted in a 45-minute drive to the hospital. They had to perform an emergency cesarean because the baby was in a rare position due to a third trimester ER ultrasound that disturbed the infant. The mother screamed while under the gas and the doctor started cursing in the middle of the operation.

That was how I arrived into the world. 😊

So why am I, of all people, recommending midwifery over the modern OBGYN though my mother’s attempted homebirth with me ended so traumatically?

Several reasons.

  1. Midwives are a much more intimate choice than OB doctors.

Where an OBGYN will see you on a set schedule, run a couple tests, and then send you home, a midwife wants to get to know you and establish a relationship. Midwives often become lasting friends and mentors to their ladies. Depending on the hospital a mother may see many doctors: passed around to whoever is available at the time. Often the doctor a mother chooses for her pregnancy is not the same doctor who delivers her baby. A midwife plans to be with you from pregnancy all the way to postpartum care. Building trust and having compatibility are essential parts of midwifery.

  1. Midwives put more store into ‘mother’s intuition’ than modern doctors.

When the baby is coming, when it is time to push, whether something is wrong, etc are all things a midwife is more likely to listen to the mother about than an OB. This is due to the belief midwives hold that birthing is a natural process and should be treated as such. Childbirth is something that we women have been doing for thousands of years with only the assistance of our families or the village wise woman, after all. It is common, however, for doctors to feel they know more about what is going on with the mother’s body than she does because they have been to school for it, despite the fact all doctors will tell you pregnancy is anything but predictable. Maternal gut feelings are something midwives take very seriously.

When I was pregnant with my first daughter, I went to the Labor and Delivery Triage for three days in a row at 37 weeks for pain that was unlike anything I had experienced thus far. I knew they weren’t contractions, but no one would listen to me at the hospital. I was even mocked for thinking I knew what pregnancy pains should and should not feel like by the nurses on staff. When I finally brought my husband with me he tracked down a midwife who was the only one to take us seriously. If it hadn’t been for this woman it is very likely both my Peach and I would be dead.

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  1. Midwives do not pressure unnecessary medical intervention nor procedures.

Midwives take a much more holistic approach to health than modern doctors. The use of essential oils, herbs, and vitamins are promoted over the use of pharmaceuticals. Proper diet, exercise, and staying hydrated are all very important to maintaining a healthy pregnancy. Often times if the mother is experiencing problems her midwife will offer specific exercises or stretches to do for the problem or go over the mother’s recent diet to see if anything is amiss.

It has been my experience, as well as the experience of many women I have encountered, that doctors are notorious for insisting on medical intervention, medications, and procedures that are both unneeded and expensive. In a delivery setting, many mothers have experienced doctors administering Pitocin or other medications without their permission. Others were told the medication was necessary when, in fact, it was only used to speed up the natural process, causing a much harsher labor on the mother. Epidurals are often pressured. Forceps, vacuums, pulling on the baby or placenta are all incredibly dangerous yet doctors have been known to do these interventions with mothers having no complications requiring them. It is common knowledge most doctors will insist on a mother who has had a cesarean in the past to have one for all her future children. This takes a horrible toll on the mother’s body and is, in many cases, scheduled due to greed – not necessity.

A midwife’s purpose is to offer her assistance and advice when needed or as the mother wishes. A midwife will not force her care on a mother unless there is risk of a life-threatening complication. Midwives have set fees for their care regardless of how much or how little they assist in the birth, so there is no temptation for a midwife to try and pick pockets.

Having children with no unneeded medical intervention is much easier on both mother and baby, allowing for a much less stressful birth.

  1. Midwives are trained to notice the signs of complications that require medical intervention.

Unfortunately, not all pregnancies go as planned. I would wager a bet no pregnancies go exactly how we envision them, but I digress. Diet, exposure to toxins, family history, exercise, or just rotten luck can all be reasons for severe complications. Although midwives are of the belief childbirth is natural, they are also aware of danger signs: quick to act if the mother and child need to be taken in. The primary concern of a midwife is a healthy mother and child, after all.

My midwife, as many midwives have, has a doctor she works closely with at the local hospital specifically in case medical intervention is needed. Despite the birth ending in the hospital, midwives will do their best to be advocates for the mothers to the doctors and nurses on staff.

  1. Midwives let you do you.

Want to eat a hamburger during your labor? Go ahead! Want to deliver laying down, on all fours, or squatting in a bathtub? No problem! Want to watch TV, go for a walk, or have the family over to celebrate the birth? You do you. Have your baby in the comfort of your own home, in a birthing center, or (if your hospital employs midwives) at the hospital. Have as many (or as few) people attend your birth as you want.

Want to spend some time alone with the lights off listening to classical music, or cuddling with your husband? That is fine. Want the midwife by your side at all times just in case? That works too.

Midwifery is a practice that stresses the individuality of mothers and their babies. The whole experience should be tailored to what is best for the mother and baby.

I think modern medicine is a fantastic tool when needed, but if the same or better results can be obtained using natural/holistic alternatives then modern medicine becomes unnecessary.

Momming

The Journey Begins

Enjoy the journey and try to get better every day. And don’t lose the passion and the love for what you do. — Nadia Comaneci

Daughter. Sister. Wife. Mother. Friend.

Stay at home mom. Aspiring author. Hobby herbalist.

Christian. Crunchy. Holding life together with glitter glue.

How would you describe yourself?

Labels are something I am sure everyone has apt experience with. I have found labels can be both uplifting and devastating. How we choose to define ourselves effects every aspect of our lives.

As I sit here and try to write an attractive, attention grabbing introduction I find myself having troubles pinning down exactly how to describe my blog. As an extension, how to label my life.

In a world where food is a phone call away (#deliverypizzaaddict), toxic chemicals are everywhere, and living organically is advertised as a “rich hobby,” it seems silly for a small town woman with a tight wallet to be taking on the challenge of holistic living for her family. Nevertheless, here I am!

I hope this blog is not only interesting, but informative as I share with you my journey into the world of healthy and organic living.22310573_1842648642732176_6890859048335209620_n