Birth Story of our Christmas-time Baby

Birth Story of our Christmas-time Baby

As we enter into the Christmas season again, I have to think about the year we were anticipating our own Christmas baby, and what a delightful time of year it was to cozy up inside with a newborn! Our little Tirzah had quite the dramatic entrance into the world, and it almost makes me laugh every time I recount it…

By the time I was expecting my fifth baby, I knew to expect lots of contractions and discomfort, and this pregnancy was no exception. Thankfully my blood pressure was staying within normal limits, and everything else was proceeding smoothly. But after several nights with contractions and signs that labor could be imminent, I was getting TIRED. Once you loose that much sleep and feel heavy and uncomfortable all the time, you start to wonder how on earth you are going to make it through labor yet! One night I was pretty sure it was the “real deal”, after being up for hours with regular contractions, only to find everything stopped once the birth team was here and the pool was filled! Funny that it took the fifth child to experience that “false run”, but after not calling the midwife soon enough last time, we were trying to not repeat that scenario—only to send everyone home after a couple of hours!

My previous baby had come after an extremely intense labor, and I was trying hard to not allow fear to overcome my anticipation of this birth. Lynelle, my good friend and birth assistant, had told me that I really should try the birth pool this time around, and even offered to take care of all the set up and prep to make that happen. So we had set up the pool in the office, and had everything ready to go, and I was really hopeful that it would make a difference in the intensity, especially at the end.

Everything set up and ready go for round #1!

Fast forward a couple of days: after getting a good night’s sleep, I woke up on Saturday feeling like this baby needed to be encouraged to come. I’ve taken Castor Oil before, but every time I thought about that option it made me want to puke. So I figured there had to be an alternative: enter the Midwives Brew! I had read about this recipe (used often by European Midwives), but had always figured that the small amount of castor oil combined with the other strange ingredients wouldn’t actually be effective. But by this point I was willing to at least TRY it and see! My husband was on board (he was ready to see me up at night nursing a baby instead of up at night with contractions!), but I warned him that I really didn’t think it would work.

Mid-morning, I took my youngest for a little “mommy date”, and we headed to Wegman’s for a few groceries and the ingredients for the brew (see this post to find out what those are!). I had fun picking out a few things that I thought would sound good to eat or drink IF I was in labor later on, and we had a pleasant little outing. Once I returned home it was about lunch time, so while Joel fixed lunch, I blended up the brew, and sipped it down before eating a little lunch. While not the best flavor I’ve ever tasted, it wasn’t nearly as bad as downing large amounts of castor oil in juice!! My stomach felt a little funny, but eating some food and then chewing some gum seemed to settle things.

strange blend of ingredients!

This was the weekend that one of our little local Victorian towns always holds an event called “A Victorian Christmas”. That event combined with the opening of an exhibit of an Underground Railroad station in one of the museums there had made me want to take the children out for awhile if we were still waiting on a baby over that time. Since Joel had a Bible Study planned at our house for the afternoon, it felt like a great opportunity to take out the older children for some educational distraction and let me get a chance to think about something other than baby waiting! Since all I had been experiencing for two hours was some minor stomach discomfort, I decided to head out around 2:30pm, despite my husband’s slight misgivings. Laughingly I joked with him that if I called him he’d better answer the phone, as it might mean I needed him to come pick me up!

Bellefonte is about 10 min from our house, and we parked and went through the historical museum, only to find out that it did not contain the Underground Railroad Exhibit like I had thought. The curator pointed us up the road about half a block to the right museum, and the children and I headed that direction. Right as we hit the steps (around 3:30pm), I felt a slight “pop” and had a thought that perhaps my water had broken. But I wasn’t sure, and decided since we were RIGHT THERE we might as well go in. I felt a bit of dismay when the museum volunteer cheerily told us that the exhibit was on the top floor…UP THREE FLIGHTS OF STAIRS!! We started up the stairs when I felt my first real contraction, and I immediately thought that we’d better not stay long. The children were oblivious, of course, and thoroughly enjoyed exploring, while I tried to act like nothing was amiss as the contractions quickly started getting stronger and harder. I hurried them through the exhibit and back down the stairs, stopping briefly in the bathroom where I confirmed that indeed my water had broken. As we headed outside, my children excitedly discussed the next place we would go…and  I seriously informed them that we needed to get home NOW. They looked at me puzzled, and I told them I thought baby sister was going to be coming, to which my 6 year old son replied “how do you know? Your water hasn’t broken yet, has it?”. That made me laugh in spite of the situation, and when I told him it HAD, they all got really serious!

The half-block walk back to the car seemed to take forever, as the contractions were definitely picking up in speed and intensity. Once we pulled out and started on the road, I called Joel. The first time he didn’t answer, but then when the phone rang the second time he figured he’d better pick up! I told him that labor had begun, and to please have all the Bible study men out of the house by the time I got home and figure out where the boys were supposed to go…and to pray I could drive home safely! Next I called my friend Lynelle, as I knew that she would need to get a babysitter for her children, and I really wanted her free to get the pool started if things continued. Once I was finished with this phone call I knew I couldn’t make any more calls and drive, as things were just too intense. It was all I could do to stay focused on driving! I kept praying a policeman wouldn’t pull me over, as I had no bandwidth to explain why I was headed home instead of to the hospital!

I reached home, and our friend Daniel had his van running so he could pull out with the boys as soon as I arrived with Matthias. I pulled in the garage around 4:20, and had a massive contraction that made me unable to even get out of the vehicle. I heard Joel on the phone—he had called our midwife to see if I had called her yet (I hadn’t!! She was next, but I couldn’t make another call after I talked with Lynelle!), and she said she’d be on her way. I still remember running inside to the bathroom, trying to focus on relaxing, and coming to grips with the fact that at this rate I would not be having a water birth, then Joel calling through the door “the pool is warm and half way filled if you want to get in!!”  He had so sweetly started filling the pool, turning on the music, and getting things ready the minute I called home! I told him he’d better call Lynelle and Priscilla (our friend who was going to come help with our girls and take pictures), and they’d better hurry, and I still remember the relief of settling into the warm pool.

Just a minute or so old! Pink all over except for her slightly bruised face which was caused by her speedy birth!

Once I got in the water, the intensity and closeness of the contractions subsided, and I had a chance in between to catch up Joel on all that had transpired. Lynelle and Priscilla don’t live far, and arrived within a few minutes, and I still remember us all laughing in between contractions as the craziness of how fast things were happening! It wasn’t long before I felt the pressure of Tirzah’s head descending, and Lynelle was ready to help in anyway she could. Priscilla called our girls in, and they all clustered around the pool, quiet with excitement and anticipation. This time around I didn’t want anyone to touch me (other than squeezing Joel’s hand!), and I have never experienced the awareness during pushing as I did with this birth. It was an incredible experience to actually breathe her out and catch her myself—something I don’t think I could have done without the help of the water! I pulled her up to my chest, she cried right away, and we settled back in the warm water, both amazed at all that had happened. It was 4:42pm, only 20 minutes after I had arrived home!!

Sisters!

My girls were so delighted to help welcome their little sister, and their eyes shown as they stroked her head, and I thoroughly enjoyed the chance to sit back and relax and catch my breath. Being in the warm water seemed to decrease my usual after-birth shakes, and we had a long chance to connect and rest. Rose Marie arrived about 20 min later, and since I hadn’t delivered the placenta yet, daddy and the girls took baby sister to the other room while I transitioned to the birth stool where the placenta came easily. I was feeling good enough (and minimal blood loss!) that I showered quickly, and then cozied up on the couch while our midwife and friends did all the baby checks, and Joel popped a pizza into the oven. Eventually Priscilla went to bring the boys home to meet their sister, and we had a lovely evening rejoicing in our new gift. I had never had a daytime baby, and I couldn’t believe how good I felt and how I was hardly even tired! After everyone had some supper and everything was cleaned up and taken care of, I took our new baby upstairs, and we cuddled up together for the night-so thankful for the amazing experience, and still in a bit of unbelief!

Our Fantastic Birth Team!!
A Mother’s Journey with Tongue Ties

A Mother’s Journey with Tongue Ties

If you’ve followed my blog for long, you’ll know that tongue & lip ties and nursing challenges are a passion of mine, especially after having experienced challenges with all of these factors with several of my own children. I’ve also been in contact with many moms who are struggling with nursing issues or fussy babies, and so many times there is a connection to either a tongue or lip tie (or both!). Recently, a mom shared her story in a Facebook Group for Moms that I’m part of. Her story touches on so many of the factors that I have seen and/or experienced, that I contacted her and asked for her permission to share her post with you all. I am so grateful, as Tanisha covers many factors to consider in her story, and I think it will be beneficial for many moms who might be struggling. If you are struggling with nursing issues, I really want to encourage you that you aren’t alone, and that there are answers out there!! And if you resonate with this story, I would love to hear about your experiences! It can help other moms when they can hear first-hand what worked for others in similar situations.

~Kelsey

Now on to our guest post, written earlier this year by Tanisha Gingerich:

**Shared by the author’s permission**

I thought I’d make a post for whoever it might concern, about our journey so far with tongue and lip ties. They are becoming increasingly common it seems, and I thought sharing my experience might be a good way to bring awareness so that any other moms going thru something similar can benefit from (or add to) what I’ve been learning.

A week post partum, I was scabbed from nursing, and in a lot of pain every time I fed Micoma. She was gaining well, so we probably could have made it work (a lactation consultant can help you and baby work past a multitude of feeding problems), but I knew from experience that although I could “make it work,” my milk supply was going to tank around 4-6 months. Ties can also cause speech, dental, and sleep issues down the road, along with a host of other problems.

So in the interest of short-term pain for the long-term good, I took Micoma in at a week old for a consultation and ended up getting her lip and tongue ties lasered right away so we could begin the healing and retraining process as soon as possible before bad nursing habits were formed.

I cried and prayed over her before they did the 3 minute procedure, and sobbed compulsively while they swaddled her and used a laser to cut the ties open. The woman doing the procedure was a mom too, and was so compassionate and kind with Micoma. Then they left us alone in a cozy room to nurse, and I heaved more sobs as I comforted my baby. Being able to hold and nurse her was probably just as healing for me as it was for her.

Her latch was instantly better. Over the next few days I had to continually remind myself of the long term good, as I did stretches on her wounds. To my relief, the stretches were done in under 30 seconds, and Micoma always recovered quickly… I soon realized she was screaming louder over getting her diaper changed than she was over the oral invasion, so that made me feel better. I told her all the time how brave she was, and gave her every comfort to guide her through the rough patch.

That first week dragged on for me. I hated having to keep stretches in my mind every 4-6 hours even thru the night—got kind of sick with dread thinking about it. I kept Micoma on Tylenol the first 2 days, and again on day 4 when there was a flare up of discomfort. Other than that though, she continued to eat and sleep very normally (not everyone has it so easy, some babies will hardly eat for a day or two, and cry all the time. Thankfully Micoma nursed for comfort, and seemed to tolerate gracefully any discomfort she was feeling). At one week we had a follow up appointment and they said everything was healing well and there was no reattachment. I was so relieved.

By the second week all was routine, and the scars were nearly healed up. Sometimes she wouldn’t even wake up when I did the stretches so I knew they weren’t painful. Currently we have just passed the 3 week mark, which means I can de-escalate the stretches rapidly and they will disappear in a few days. Hooray! One hurdle over. Now on to the next. I had a lactation consultant come at week 3, to help me teach Micoma new nursing/sucking habits. I learned so much!

First of all, babies begin practicing how to suck from week 12 in utero. This is how they build the oral strength they need for nursing. Unfortunately, when a part of their tongue is tied down, they are unable to fully lift and tone those muscles.  When they are born and begin nursing, the restrictions to their lip and or/tongue, make it hard or impossible for them to latch correctly or suck efficiently. As a result, nursing is laborious for them. You may hear a “clicking” noise or notice milk dribbling out the sides of their mouth, these are telltale signs. They frequently fall asleep while nursing, just from the strain it, and are unable to properly empty the breast. This can obviously cause low-weight issues, milk supply issues, and severe frustration to the baby. The baby will often resort to chomping or some other measure in an attempt to get milk, resulting it a lot of discomfort or pain for the mom.

But even after ties are released, there is still some work to do. Baby’s latch will probably be better right away, but you’ll need to help hertone her oral muscles and relearn how to suck correctly with the new range of motion in her mouth. I was given a series of simple tongue exercises to do with Micoma every day… they are more like games, and activate her reflexes to get her tongue moving, especially in the places she’s not used to lifting it.

Now, to back up a bit, there are two kinds of ties—lip ties and tongue ties. I’ve also heard of buchal ties (cheeks) but know very little about them at this point. A lip tie is easiest to spot (example of one in comments) and if a lip tie is present, a tongue tie is almost always present too—they tend to go hand in hand. Keep in mind that some care providers are not trained to look for *posterior* tongue ties (these are in the back of the mouth and not as obvious as anterior ones), so those often get missed. Ties vary in severity (where they are attached and how drastically they are affecting function of the lip/tongue. Sometimes it may be negligible).

Next thing I learned, tongue tied babies are notoriously “tight.” The tongue sits at the very top of the spine, and if there are restrictions in the tongue, you will see restrictions all the way down through the body. Sure enough, Micoma is very tight in her shoulder/neck area, has over compensated for it in her lower back, and has tight hips. Once again, I was given a series of simple rhythmic motions and stretches to loosen those areas up and bring everything into alignment. She has a bit of a “C” shape curve when she lies down, that’s another common sign of tongue-tie related tightness. (Pic in comments) I wish I would have known this with my oldest daughter Verona. She was incredibly C-shaped, and these stretches would have loosened up her uncomfortably tight muscles.

Looking back, both of my children before Micoma had ties of some kind. I always had to use a nipple shield with Verona, and I remember Benny getting so angry when I nursed him. My supply going down around 4 months was another telltale sign. Both children despised tummy time, which was most likely because of how tight they were in their neck and lower back. I suspect “ties” is some of why they slept so poorly and aggravated colic symptoms early on… In-efficient nursing brings more air into the stomach and causes gas discomfort/excessive spitting up. And in a very strange twist of fate, if the tongue cannot reach up to the top of the pallet and rest there while sleeping, the top of the mouth becomes domed, crowding teeth and restricting airway. This can lead to mouth breathing, sleep apnea, and dental issues.

Verona’s lip tie comes all the way down between her teeth, which is why she has a gap between her front teeth. Neither of the children seem to be having difficulty eating, speaking, or maintaining good dental hygiene and structure other than that. So I’ll just keep an eye on them, and only resort to doing anything about theirs at this point if I see it’s going to cause them major problems down the road. But I do grieve the suffering we all went thru with months of screaming colicky baby, and the eventual loss of breastfeeding bond. That pain far surpasses whatever me and Micoma went through the last month in laser-correction and recovery.

So for that reason, I would support moms in pursuing tie-releases if you feel it would be beneficial for your baby. As with everything child-related, there is controversy surrounding the issue—whether ties are really a thing, whether they’re a big deal, clipping or lasering, stretches or no stretches. In my case, I saw enough consequences in my last 2 children that I was willing to believe ties affect quality of life enough to warrant a minor surgery. Lasering has a lower rate of re-attachment and requires no stitches, so I went that route. And the stretches I did because Micoma tolerated them well and I was determined not to let the fibers re-attach while they were healing… and I grilled my caretaker about whether it was necessary, and she says she does see a fairly high rate of reattachment if stretches are not done. Albeit, I did the bare minimum I thought I could be get by with, and with good results. That was my story, you get to write your own. Decide what’s best for your child, whether that’s therapy to work past a tie, or a surgery to correct it, or whatever and don’t let people throw a lot of shame or fear onto you for it.

Currently I am pumping a few times a day and using an SNS (supplemental nursing system) several times a day to stimulate my supply and simultaneously get Micoma the extra food she sometimes can’t get herself. I’ll keep working with Micoma’s body and tongue to get everything loosened up and toned… hopefully within a month we’ll be at a place where she can keep my supply up on her own. In the mean time we’re not goning to go many places this month, just stay home and focus on the task at hand.

Many people take their children to chiropractors pre and/or post tie release for body work. It helps with nursing if your baby is aligned properly. For the time being, since I have bodywork I can do at home with her, I am skipping that… see if I can get by without it. Cranial Sacral therapy is another thing highly recommended… I don’t know, it could possibly be a legitimate thing with babies since their skulls are still un-fused and somewhat mobile, but I have heard of enough occultist ties connected to this practice done in adults that I plan to avoid it all together.

This post was not meant to diagnose or treat any illness. It’s my personal story and some things I learned along the way, left here for people to sift thru and take whatever is for them.

If, btw, you decide lasering is the right option for you (and you are local to central PA), I had a good experience with Dr. Katherman in York. Her office felt like such a warm and caring place to me, and she was on call at all hours if I had questions later. Also, do yourself a favor and hire a lactation consultant. You won’t regret it! Do a bit of research first and find one that people you know have had good experiences with (there are a few bad eggs out there). Again, I had a wonderful experience with the one I found, and I’ll link her website for reference.

Dr Katherman: https://www.cdepa.com

Jessica, Lactation Consultant: https://bornandfed.com

The cost to get two ties lasered was $750. I am going to turn it into my insurance sharing plan, but I do not know yet if they will cover it. The lactation consultant fee for an hour and a half session was $175. So it is a good chunk of change. But when compared to the potential costs of not doing it, it is a very reasonable investment.

I hope that’s everything. My mind is still kind of whirling from all the things I’m learning, so this was my way of processing it. Hoping it will be helpful to someone else.

P.S. Out of curiosity, I asked both the doctor and lactation consultant if ties have become more common recently or if they’re just being diagnosed more, so we’re more aware of them. They both said ties are becoming increasingly common. I don’t think even my mom’s generation would have seen very many, so this seems to be a rapidly developing problem. Presumably, Western diet and lifestyle as well as the declining quality of foods (grown from nutrient-depleted soils) plays a role. There seems to be evidence to support that lack of folate and other B vitamins in the early stages of embryonic development contributes to ties forming—or the presence of the synthetic B vitamin folic acid commonly in prenatals and fortified foods. And others say there are indications that genetic mutations (the MTHFR gene) play a role. But no definitive studies have been done, that I know of. Everything is speculation at this point. Someone gave me two articles so I’m linking them below. My midwife gave me some resources to dig into and I’m hoping to do more research to see if this plague is avoidable.

Connection to MTHFR gene: https://www.checkupnewsroom.com/a-pediatricians-goes-in…/

Connection to regular folic acid intake: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31835174/

I maintain a decently healthy diet and take quality supplements including methylated B vitamins so it’s hard to believe that was the cause of all 3 children having ties. Except that I was under exponential stress the past few years, and as I understand it B vitamins are created in the gut… if you have bad gut health or are under stress, B vitamins do not form well. So that could be a factor. Like I said, I’m going to keep digging and see what answers I can find.

Probiotics: A Key for Fussy Babies?

Probiotics: A Key for Fussy Babies?

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Note: I am sharing this post from my own personal experience, in hopes that it might encourage another mom and perhaps give you some ideas as you research options and solutions for colic and fussiness. This is not to be taken as medical advice, but rather an introduction to provide you with a foundation for further investigation and research.  I also want you to keep in mind that this post deals with just ONE aspect of what can cause extra fussiness in an infant…there are often a multitude of factors that can be part of any situation, so I’m just tackling this particular aspect in this post! The products that I mention are ones that I have used myself, and I am not receiving any incentive or gain by recommending these!

As I was preparing to welcome our fifth child at the end of last year, I was resuming my usual research into how to help prevent excessive fussiness in infants. If you’ve followed my blog for long, you know that all of my babies have tended to be fussy and “high maintenance”. Nursing challenges have been part of that, and so have issues with sensitive tummies (I’ve ended up needing to go dairy free at some point in my breastfeeding journey with each of them!), but there’s always been this underlying fussiness that has not tended to improve until they reached 6 months or older. This has presented a number of challenges, as it really takes away from the joy of adding a new baby, if the baby needs constant juggling, bouncing and soothing!

While reading anything I could find on how to help soothe fussy babies, I came across this article that talks about a study that showed b.infantis linked to reducing inflammation in infants.

Shortly after reading the article, I saw a post on a Mommy group that I am part of, where a friend of mine recommended an infant probiotic, noting that it had made a world of difference in the temperament of her baby.  Earlier in the year, I had a client who told me how her  youngest baby has been her happiest ever, and credited a nightly bottle of goats milk kefir as part of what made a difference.

I also kept running into articles such as this one on babies needing L. reuteri, and others that talked about how different probiotic strains can help with colic such as this one: Can Probiotics Soothe Colicky Babies?  Then there is this article that, while encouraging people to purchase their company’s products, has some good information on why fermented foods and probiotics are essential components of health, and in particular infant health:  Introduce Babies to Probiotics.

I found it interesting to think about how years ago our typical diets contained more fermented foods (think about the sauerkraut and other fermented products that were a necessity in the days before refrigeration), and how antibiotic usage is so much more common these days. We are still figuring out what all the possible long-term effects are caused by frequent antibiotic usage over the course of our lives, and how these effects may come into play on our children. Here’s some interesting data looking at long-term effects of antibiotics on our micro-biome: Long-term impacts of antibiotic exposure on the human intestinal microbiota.

After reading and researching these articles and more, I decided that it was worth trying for my baby, as it obviously couldn’t hurt! There are many different products available on the market, and it can be hard to determine which one is best. I was searching for one that specifically had the strains B. infantis and L. reuteri, and would also be easy to give (with five children I knew that I wouldn’t make it happen faithfully if I had to be mixing and syringe feeding anything!). I ended up trying Humarian Probonix that my friend had recommended, and I started giving baby Tirzah a few drops beginning on the third day after birth. I gradually increased it to the 6 drops recommended, and she’s been getting that daily ever since. Occasionally I will give her another brand/type, but the Probionix drops are by far the most convenient. While there may be many other factors at play, this baby has been my happiest by FAR, has had regular diapers, hardly any skin issues, and has not had nearly as sensitive of a tummy as my other babies. I have to think that regular probiotics have been one element in helping her, so I wanted to share this in case it can help another mom out!

There are plenty of other brands out there, such as Envivo, Love Bug for Tiny Tummies, and Mama Natural has a whole blog post devoted to discussing the pros and cons of these and other probiotics specifically for infants here. By reading about them, comparing ingredients and determining your own needs, you should be able to find something that can work for your baby. And if you’re looking for more info on the benefits of cultured foods for baby, there’s a great article here.

Have you given your baby probiotics? Do you feel like it’s helped? What else have you found beneficial for fussy babies? I’d love to hear about your journey! And if you end up using probiotics for your infant, I’d also be interested to hear what brand you used, and whether you saw it make a difference.

2019 Year End Update

2019 Year End Update

img_3054.jpgDear Friends & Clients of Gentle Delivery,

As we come to the end of the year, I have to think about how blessed I have been to work with so many families during 2019 and to experience the special privilege of being involved as you welcome new life into your homes and families. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to participate in these sacred times!

I’m also grateful for the women who have served alongside me as assistants.  Due to a variety of reasons (maternity leave, relocation, etc.) there were a number of faces to the assistant role, and I am thankful for each one! I also enjoyed getting to involve several students who were completing their requirements for certification, and I’m grateful for those of you who allowed these young ladies to participate in your care. A big thank you to Kristina, Marcile, Hannah, and Lynelle, as well as to my back-up midwife, RoseMarie, whose willingness to cover several times made it possible for me to enjoy some quality away-time with my own little family throughout the year.

It’s always fascinating to see how a year plays out and the variety that it can contain. Baby sizes ranged from 6lb 10oz up to almost 9 lb. Families served were expecting everything from baby #2 to baby #7, and I especially enjoyed serving several families for the second and third times-it’s special to be able to work with families for multiple pregnancies, and to see the older babies growing up! As usual, there were fast births (one little lady didn’t wait for me to arrive!) and those who took their time, and smooth pregnancies & births as well as those who experienced numerous complications—we were so thankful to see God answer specific prayers for the health of these moms & babies who are all thriving and doing well now.

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One of our recent playdates!

I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to continue connecting with clients during our quarterly playdates throughout this past year. If you haven’t joined us, please consider it! You can watch the Facebook page for updates, or email me to be put on the update list. It’s a great way to stay in touch and meet other moms and homebirth babies who are in similar stages of life!

My own family is doing well, and the children are growing up so quickly, making us want to treasure this time we have while they are young. The biggest event in our lives this year was welcoming Tirzah Raquel into our home on December 14! Once she IMG_0933decided to make her appearance she came quickly, and we were once again thankful for Lynelle’s help as there was no way our midwife could arrive in time. I had really hoped to try using the birth pool this time, and was so grateful for how this helped the intensity! (I’ll post her birth story on the website sometime this next year, so be sure to follow so you get the notification, or watch the Facebook page!) We are thoroughly enjoying time to relax and recover as we adjust to adding a fifth child, and our older children are thoroughly smitten with her. It’s so special to see how much they love having a baby sister to snuggle and love on.

IMG_2695    As 2020 begins, I’ll be taking some time off call to concentrate on my own newborn, and to do some traveling as a family. But I’m already looking forward to the anticipated arrival of babies as we head towards the summer months. In closing, thanks again for your support, and blessings as you head into the New Year!

~ Kelsey Martin for Gentle Delivery Midwifery Services

Preparing Well for Postpartum Recovery

Preparing Well for Postpartum Recovery

The longer that I am a mom and midwife, the more I have come to realize how important it is to adequately rest and recover after giving birth. But this does not “just happen”…it takes some serious thought and planning!! Why is it that we spend hours and hours preparing for pregnancy and birth, yet no time or focus is given to what happens AFTER the baby arrives? With this in mind, I’m hoping that these questions and comments will help families to come up with a plan on how to cultivate an intentionally restful and healing postpartum period. I’d encourage you as a couple to sit down and talk about these questions, and figure out what you could do to be better prepared emotionally, mentally and physically for the initial 6 weeks after giving birth.

If you want to read more about some of my own favorite items to have nearby during the initial days postpartum, check out the link here

Reading and Preparation:

Let’s start with some book suggestions. We spend lots of time reading books about pregnancy and birth, right?!? So why not read about how to care for oneself postpartum? Here are some titles to get you started. I’ll note that I don’t endorse everything these authors share, but I do appreciate the way they help me to think through our thoughts and expectations surrounding postpartum adjustments and recovery.

Some Facts to Consider:

As you talk about your expectations for postpartum, it’s good to think about some facts, especially for the dads who wonder if it’s really necessary for mom to spend so much time resting! I love to show the new parents the placenta after the birth, which is generally the size of a small dinner plate. Picture a wound of the same size on the inside of mom’s uterus. Seriously! That’s the wound that needs to heal, and even though the uterus continues to contract and get smaller over those first days/weeks, there is a still a significant amount of healing that needs to happen inside. Add to this any amount of blood loss, any stitches/tears, the length of labor, swelling, and the amount of work it takes to push a baby out, and you can quickly see why it’s important for mom to take care of herself! All of a sudden the reasoning behind “not lifting anything heavier than your baby” makes complete sense, doesn’t it? Along the same note, almost anyone recovering from any type of surgery is usually given a two week minimum recovery time…new moms need AT LEAST that long!

As the postpartum days progress, mom’s body is going through a lot of changes, which include a drop in hormones from the expulsion of the placenta and baby, and a surge of more hormones as her body transitions into producing milk. Keep this in mind those first days…mood swings and emotional roller coasters are NORMAL. But it sure helps if you are expecting that as part of those initial days. And it’s good for husbands to know that this is a normal part of adjustment. Mom needs rest, understanding, and sometimes NO MORE VISITORS!

Another thing to remember is that you won’t be getting a lot of sleep those first few weeks. It’s good for baby to eat every 2-3 hours to establish good nursing habits and milk supply, but it does not contribute to a restful mom. Keeping life low key, and expectations to a minimum can really make a difference in allowing this time to be as stress-free as possible. Along the same lines, nourishing foods and lots of liquids are also hugely important in helping to establish a plentiful and healthful milk supply.

Lastly, try to view the postpartum period as a 6 week MINIMUM. I understand you may not be able to take that much “time off” of your normal home duties. But the longer you can rest and care for yourself in the initial weeks, I can promise you the better off your long-term postpartum experience will be. These initial 6 weeks your baby needs you as much as he needed you when he was inside, and this means an unpredictable schedule, lots of nursing, skin-to-skin time, and lots of cuddles. A slow re-entry into normal life will be beneficial to everyone, and lowering your personal expectations of this time can be a life saver!

Initial days postpartum:

  • Consider staying in bed for several days, getting up only to use the restroom, and perhaps joining the family for one meal a day. This can be beneficial for several reasons: visitors don’t stay as long if you’re in bed, you can sleep when baby does, and it reminds everyone that you are recovering!!
  • Prepare your room or a special corner ahead of time to make it a pleasant place for recovery. You’ll relax better if you find your space enjoyable and refreshing. Think about getting some special reading material or audio books together ahead of time to enjoy while you spend hours nursing your new baby. And don’t forget to have some comfortable clothes to wear that promote easy nursing access and yet allow you to rest well!
  • Limit visitors, and the amount of time that they stay. This can be dad’s job: remember that even if your wife loves people, new moms find extra company more draining than they initial expect. Short 10 or 15 min visits are sufficient, and this allows mom to not be separated from baby too long (since many visitors want to hold the new baby the entire time they are present).
  • Have nourishing snacks, foods and drinks gathered ahead of time: a new nursing mom is ALWAYS hungry and thirsty that first week!
  • Remember that your body is going through some major changes and may need some help: have some ibuprofen, nipple cream, icepacks, heat packs, hemorrhoid balm and magnesium available in case you need them.
  • Consider some ways to have meals taken care of: freeze some ahead of time, or ask a friend to organize a meal train or signup list where friends can bring food. It can be nice for the entire family to have meals provided for the first days/weeks as the whole family adjusts to the new baby.
  • If you have older children, it’s a good idea to think about how to implement the “no lifting” rule…sometimes it can be helpful to invest in a step stool that the older sibling can use to climb up beside mom so that she isn’t tempted to lift him or her up.

First Two Weeks:

  • An old midwife’s adage is “5 days in the bed, 5 days on the bed and 5 days around the bed”. While many moms balk at this amount of recovery time, it’s not a bad idea to consider! Mom will continue to bleed for around 2 weeks, and the longer she rests oftentimes the shorter the time she bleeds.
  • Continue to follow the “no lifting anything heavier than baby” rule until at least 2 weeks to maximize the uterine healing that needs to happen.
  • Keep stressful visitors to a minimum-this may mean telling well-intending friends and family that they need to wait to come see mom and baby, especially if that entails a lengthy visit of several days. Sometimes it’s hard for people to remember that mom is recovering and needs to spend time with baby, so this is NOT the time to be socializing and holding a newborn for hours on end.
  • Consider getting some household help these first weeks (longer if possible!). This would preferably be someone who can come and keep up housework, prepare food as needed, entertain older children if present, and take care of household duties so that mom can rest mentally as well as physically. As you consider this possibility, keep in mind that this works best if it is someone that mom feels completely comfortable with-sometimes this is a family member, but sometimes it is someone totally unrelated, and even hired for this express purpose. Talk honestly about what type of person would work best in your family situation. After my fourth child was born, we were blessed to have a girl who was willing to come spend 2 days a week with us during the first three weeks. This was sufficient time to catch up laundry, clean the house, and keep after work that wasn’t getting done, as my husband had a flexible work schedule the other days of the week. I found it much easier to rest when I knew the house wasn’t falling apart while I rested!
  • As you feel your energy increasing, start slow…remember that the sooner you jump in to “normal life”, the sooner everyone else will expect you to stay that way!
  • If people offer to help, take them up on it! An offer to babysit can mean an extra nap for mom, and many friends are more than willing to run get your groceries if they know you need something. Don’t turn any offers of help down!

Weeks 3-6:

  • This is when it can get hard to remember to rest. Even though you feel much better by now, remember that you need to go slow, and say no to anything extra in life, even if you FEEL energetic. Your baby still needs lots of time to nurse, and your body is still going through significant changes. One day you feel on top of the world, and the next you are in the dumps…all of this is part of your body learning to regulate it’s hormones again! There are supplements you can take to help with this-check with your midwife if you experience lots of these swings.
  • Start slow with exercise. It’s best to wait the full 6 weeks before engaging in anything specific to rehab, but I do encourage moms to get out in the fresh air and start taking slow walks if they are having minimal or no bleeding by week 2 or 3. Put baby in a stroller or in a carrier, and stroll. Don’t push yourself, just give yourself the chance to get some sunshine and fresh air.
  • Make sure you are taking your prenatal vitamins and consider adding some extra Vitamin D and Evening Primrose Oil to help with hormonal balance.
  • Try figuring out a way to get just a little bit of time to yourself each day…perhaps your husband can take care of the children while you slip out for a short walk, or perhaps you can meet up with a friend for coffee (and let her hold the baby!), or even get a chance for a short nap by yourself. These things can help with managing the mental load, and can be a big step in preventing postpartum depression.
  • Find a friend you can talk with and share with as you go through the many adjustments during these weeks. It’s always reassuring to be reminded that this stage of life doesn’t last forever, and you will sleep again someday!
  • Continue to get help with basic household duties as you can, and don’t turn down the offer of food!
  • Consider trying to get some intentional time as a couple: the unique stress of this period, combined with mom’s unpredictable hormones, interrupted sleep, and all the other factors can add some significant stress on your marriage. Getting away for an hour (with baby in tow) to concentrate on your relationship can really help you to navigate this time and grow stronger in your relationship.
  • Eat nourishing, healthy foods, and don’t worry about weight loss while your body is establishing milk supply!

 

In closing, I’d love to hear what you would add to this list? What was most helpful to you when you were anticipating the arrival of your little one? What helped you recover? Please share your tips and input!

Interview: 10 Year Anniversary of Gentle Delivery, Part 1

Interview: 10 Year Anniversary of Gentle Delivery, Part 1

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The year 2019 marks ten years since I started my practice as a midwife, after having spent several years studying, training and preparing to serve families in this way. I still remember the excitement of catching my first baby as a graduate midwife in January of 2009, after having moved home from TX (where I completed my academic training & clinical experiences here in Dec. 2008), and I cannot believe how quickly ten years have passed! Since that birth, I have been privileged to catch babies and care for moms & families in four different states, I’ve moved crossed country, married, and have had four babies of my own. All of this has certainly helped to mold, shape and broaden my experiences and skills, and I am so very grateful to each of the families I have been privileged to work with.

In honor of reaching 10 years, I thought it would be fun to see what questions some of you might have, and I was delighted by the questions that were thrown out on the Gentle Delivery Facebook Page. Here is Part One of a series in which I’ll start answering these questions…and I would love to hear yours, so if you haven’t left a question yet, feel free to do so below in the comments!

  • How and why did you get started in the field?

The “how” is the fault of my mother, who pursued homebirth after two negative hospital experiences, back when birthing at home was not such a popular idea. After her first birth at home with midwives, she went on to use them for care with the rest of my siblings (there are 7 of us!), and I grew up with the idea that having babies at home is a normal experience, and much preferred over the standard hospital setting! The midwives became close family friends, and were certainly heroes one would aspire to be like, in the eyes of a 7 to 14 year old girl growing up watching these women serve, care for and love on our family.

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My 11# 8 oz cousin!

The “why” part is two-fold: one, I had a dream of serving God on the mission field somewhere, and thought that having a skill to offer would be an amazing way to connect with and become friends with women, while hoping to make a difference in an area where women were at high risk during pregnancy & birth. I was interested in pursuing midwifery with this dream/idea in mind, and several friends and relatives knew of this interest. My dear aunt then invited me to be present at the birth of her son, and I still treasure the memories of the time I spent with her and my uncle while we waited on my cousin to make his appearance. This not-so-little cousin of mine still tops the record as the largest baby I’ve ever witnessed being born, and it required a great amount of skill on the part of the attending midwife to not only deliver him, but also to help him breathe and recover from his rocky transition. While this was not your typical smooth, low-complication normal birth, I learned a tremendous lesson through this experience: a skilled midwife can make a difference between life & death, and that this is a serious responsibility to consider. After this birth, the thought that kept playing in my head was that I never wanted to be in a situation surrounding birth and wish I had learned what to do to help. It also helped to solidify that this was something I wanted to pursue, but it also gave me the reality check I needed as I began.

In light of the fact that my original dream was to work with women in another country without access to good maternity care, I do find it a bit humorous how God has taken me down a completely different path as I serve women in a very prosperous, beautiful little university town in Central Pennsylvania!

  • What changed in your approach / practice as a midwife from before you had children to after you experienced birth first-hand?

This is a good question! I find that I have a totally different perspective on the intensity of labor…there were times I seriously wondered if I could actually do it when I was in labor myself, and experiencing that has certainly helped me to understand what moms are going through. I also don’t look down on anyone for getting an epidural after experiencing labor myself! Before I had children, it was like “why would you do that?!? Don’t you know the side effects??” but once I was in labor I totally understood why that option would be considered! I’ve also found myself trying to be more sensitive to each mom’s individual preferences, spoken or unspoken, as I found out in my own labor that just because someone thinks they are helping, it’s not always the case. I think it’s helped to soften my opinions, too, as I’ve realized on a different level how many things are actually outside of our control. For instance, while not specifically about birth, I always thought that any mom could nurse if she tried hard enough. Well, I learned the hard way that trying hard isn’t always enough, and nursing has been a complete battle for me, which has taught me that each mom must figure out what actually is right for her and her baby, and that might look different than what you anticipated. So maybe the simplest answer to this question is that it’s helped me to grow in empathy!

  • What is one “bucket list” experience you haven’t had yet but hope to in your midwife career (e.g. delivering triplets, delivering a breech birth, an en cual birth, etc.)?

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Newborn exam on a baby that I caught during my first year of practice.

To be honest, I don’t mind the un-eventful and un-exciting ones these days!  All midwives know that at some point they will attend a breech birth (usually a surprise baby that turns between that last appointment and birth, or when the head is mistaken for a butt), and I experienced my first surprise breech two years ago (I was called to cover for another midwife, so it was a REAL surprise!), so that one is off the “bucket list” with plenty of  gray hairs to prove it. I’ve missed several babies that didn’t want to wait for me to arrive (even if I was driving fast…my brother used to say he thought it would be fun to drive for midwives, so he’d have an excuse to drive FAST!), and I had the special privilege of catching twins & assisting with several sets. Two things I would love to witness yet would be an en-caul birth (I still haven’t had a baby born before the membranes have ruptured…though I’ve had plenty that ruptured JUST before birth, providing me with a shower of fluid!), and I’d like to top my current highest repeat client number of three babies for the same mama. One downside to moving across country (and then moving across several counties a few years later!) is that you don’t get to continue care with the mamas you might have started with. Up until recently, two had been the record I had been able to deliver for the same family, and I finally caught my third baby for the same family in 2018. If we can stay put long enough (and I can convince my clients to keep having babies-ha!), maybe that record will be higher eventually…though I’m guessing that not of all my clients want to help accommodate my wishes on that one!

So, after reading these, what are your questions?? Feel free to let me know, and stay tuned for Part Two of this 10 Year Anniversary Interview. Thanks for sharing & adding your comments!

2018 End-of-year Note

2018 End-of-year Note

Recent & current clients received this letter in December. I’m posting it here to keep readers and followers current with Gentle Delivery as we head into a New Year:

Dear past & present clients of Gentle Delivery,

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Many of my #bornathome babies from 2018!

As the year draws to a close, I want to express my appreciation to each of you for allowing me to work beside you as you have welcomed new members to your family, or are anticipating new arrivals. It is such a privilege to be included in these beautiful times of life, and I am grateful to each of you for your continued trust and friendship.

In 2018 we welcomed many more boys than girls, with the smallest arrival being 7#1oz, and the biggest being 9#12oz. An interesting note is that about 75% of our babies were born in water this year! Lynelle continued to assist me with births this year, until she welcomed her own little boy in September. Since she has been taking a break, I’ve been grateful for the help of several other ladies including Kristina (who has been working with a local doula agency for some time) and Hannah, a midwifery student from the Lewisburg area. My latest birth was assisted by Rose, a long-time friend and soon-to-be licensed CNM!

I also continue to appreciate the help of my back-up midwife, Rose Marie. Having her available to cover when there is a special occasion, or being able to travel knowing that clients have someone local to call in case of emergency is a gift I don’t take for granted!

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Thankful to have such an array of great assistants and back-ups!

Another new feature that I was excited to add this year was connecting with an actual insurance biller who specializes in billing for midwifery care. This will hopefully result in better coverage and faster payment for those wishing to utilize insurance. More info is available at Napier Midwifery Billing.

I’ve enjoyed seeing many of you at the playdates we held every few months! This has been a great way to connect other local homebirth-minded mamas, and will hopefully help to build relationships in the community. I hope to facilitate more of these throughout 2019, so stay tuned for details.

My own family continues to keep me busy, with my oldest two being in 1st & 2nd grade. They attend a small co-op type school each morning, and I’ve enjoyed spending time helping out with some classes there, too. The two preschoolers are trying their best to catch up to their older siblings! We enjoyed several family trips this year, and are trying to treasure this time while our children are little. My husband, Joel, continues to work full time for All-Nations Bible Translation, and he’s been busy this fall finishing up his graduate work online. I am thankful for his support and help in making midwifery work feasible, as without his flexible work schedule and willingness to babysit, there would be no way I could keep up with midwifery responsibilities!

I’m looking forward to meeting a number of new babies already in the new year, and it looks like 2019 will be a busy one! May your new year be blessed, and thanks again for your interest in midwifery and home birth options in Centre County and beyond!

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The Martin Family – Fall 2018

Natural & Nutritious Formula Options: Resources & Info for Families Needing a Healthy Alternative to Breastmilk

Natural & Nutritious Formula Options: Resources & Info for Families Needing a Healthy Alternative to Breastmilk

Before I had children, I would have said that breastmilk is the absolute best choice for feeding a baby, and that a mom should try everything possible to breastfeed…and that if you tried hard enough, you would be able to succeed. However, once I entered the realm of motherhood, and actually experienced the things I had only previously read/observed/seen, I have learned that ideals are not always reality. My youngest baby just turned 10 months old, and I have once again faced the challenges of tongue-ties, latch issues, lack of sufficient supply, colic, fussiness, food sensitives, and more. Some of those subjects will be material for future posts, but I mention them to give you the background as to what inspired this post. As we have worked through these challenges, my husband has encouraged me that perhaps the things we learned will benefit others, so this is an attempt to do just that!

If you’ve struggled with nursing challenges, you totally understand the emotional roller coaster that is included. For some reason, the inability to feed and nurture your baby via the way in which you were designed to nourish him cuts deeply into our mother-hearts. As we tried one thing after another, I also felt like I was mourning a loss…I WANTED to nurse my baby, and I wanted to feed him the best, and know that I was nurturing him both emotionally and physically. I mean, breast milk is the best, right?!? And on top of those emotions (and who is not hormonal and emotional when you have a baby, aren’t sleeping, and are worried about your baby’s health?!?), there are all the questions about what to do, and if you’re going to supplement, what are you going to use??

This is where I want to help! While I know it can take a while before you can look at your situation objectively, there ARE other options available by which you can feed your baby and know that you are giving him something that is actually going to help him thrive and will meet his nutritional needs. I think that moms in the midst of feeding challenges have enough on their plates that they don’t need to add sorting through all the supplement information on top of it. My hope is that I can give you some pointers, and put some information at your fingertips in order to simplify your quest to figure out what is best for you and your baby.

As I spent time researching different options available, here are the three categories that I would recommend checking out:

  1. Weston Price Foundation Home-Made Formula: (find info here) This is what I used with my second child, who had similar nursing challenges and needed to supplement. At the time of his baby-hood, we lived in a rural area and had access to organic, raw milk from a dairy I trusted. He did really, really well on this formula, and I liked the fact that I knew exactly what was in it, and that it was REAL food. It took a bit to get the rhythm down and purchase all the ingredients, but once the pantry was stocked it didn’t take long to whip it up, and was actually a low-cost option long term. When he reached 6 months he used this formula exclusively until he was eating table foods, and was healthy and happy.  Once I used this, I figured my quest for a good supplement was over, but I didn’t count on the individual baby involved! My current baby could not tolerate it made with the milk I had available, and was also unable to tolerate it when made with goats milk. So the research continued as I tried to figure out how to help THIS baby and his own personal needs…
  2. Mt. Capra Goat Formula: (Info here) As I was continuing to research my options, I came across a number of recommendations for this formula. While it is not made using raw milk, you still assemble it yourself according to a specific recipe, thus allowing you to know exactly what it is in it, and still sticking close to the “real food” ideal. There is a kit available to simplify the process of acquiring all the ingredients, and the Mt. Capra website supplies high quality resources. After my baby didn’t tolerate the goat’s milk, I decided against the investment needed to try this, but it still looks like a really good, healthful option, and I’ve heard that there are many happy, thriving babies using this formula!
  3. European Formulas: I eventually stumbled across the realm of imported baby formulas from Europe. I’ll warn you, they aren’t cheap. And they are powered (that part still bugs me if I think about it long-what about feeding your children REAL food?!?). But they have been a literal answer to prayer for me and this baby. One of my big objections to using traditional formula is the fact that most of them are sweetened using corn syrup solids. Corn syrup!?!? We don’t even eat that ourselves, so why would I feed it to my little baby? And then there are the issues of soy, additives, and the list goes on. So I was amazed when I realized that there are several options of formula available that are made from organic milk, sweetened with lactose, have pre/probiotics, and are soy free. Instead of repeating information about these formulas myself, I’m going to include some links where you can see the brands available, along with their features and ingredients:

I will admit, too, that while powdered formula might not fit my ideal, it has been a helpful simplification to our life! My baby actually really liked the taste, and I happily observed that his diapers were hardly different in texture/smell than the usual breastmilk diapers. At 10 months (he started using formula exclusively at 7 months) he is a solid little guy that is SO much happier than he was before. There are several different suppliers in the US, and I have been happy purchasing from www.buyorganicformula.com.  Their customer service has been excellent, and my order always arrives promptly, and I’d highly recommend checking out their site. If you sign up for their mailing list, they will frequently send you coupon codes that can be quite helpful!

My happy fellow at 9 months!

My hope is that my experience and time spent searching can help to lift the load for another mom wading through her options! May you be encouraged today, and remember that you can still have a special bond with your baby AND know that you are meeting his/her nutritional needs even if you need do it in a different way than nursing.

I’d love to hear your thoughts-and what worked for you. Please feel free to comment with your own resources, experiences, stories and information-it’s great when we can help each other this way. Thanks for your contribution!

Postpartum Home Visit in Pictures

Postpartum Home Visit in Pictures

In January, I received a request from a photo-journalism student at Penn State, who wondered if she could photograph me and some “cute babies” for a project. The day after she emailed, little Brielle made her appearance, and Brielle’s family graciously gave permission for Baidi to join us at their home for the second half of their home postpartum visit. Baidi was absolutely tickled to get to see a brand new baby, and gave us all the gift of numerous photos of our time together. For those of you who have wondered what a typical postpartum visit looks like, here’s your peek!

Generally, this visit takes place sometime between 24-48 hours after delivery, as the required tests need to be performed during this window. First mom gets attention, and we talk about how things are going, any issues/concerns, and make sure her physical condition is within normal limits. Then mom or dad checks over the birth certificate info I bring (double checking spelling and any details) while baby gets checked over.

If baby is happy, we start with the pulse oximeter screening for congenital heart defects, a newer requirement in PA for all babies.

Then comes an exam, where baby’s heart rate & respirations are listened to, skin/cord/eye condition are noted, and overall condition is assessed.

Next, baby is weighed in preparation for the newborn metabolic screening (current weight must be listed along with birth weight). Here you can see daddy holding the baby while the blood samples are collected-our hope is to keep the baby feeling safe & secure throughout the experience!

Lastly, baby is snuggled and we go over any other questions or concerns. All the necessary paperwork is gone over and a copy of the newborn exam and newborn screen info is given to the parents for their pediatrician. And all of this without the family needing to leave their own home!

A big thank you to Kelly, Daniel & Brielle for their willingness to share this experience with  you!

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And thank you to Baidi for your great photos!

Topics for 2018 & a Give Away!

Since my fourth child arrived in  May, I’ve been pretty quiet on this site! But now that baby has reached 6 months, and life is settling into more of routine, I’m thinking about the new year. Here’s where I need your help: I would LOVE to hear your ideas of what you would like to see covered in future blog posts! I’d like to realize my goal of one post a month throughout 2018, but I could use some input as I try to sketch out a plan for the next year. I often try to post about topics that are relevant & beneficial to my clients, and for families who are considering midwifery care and/or healthful, natural living. So send me your ideas, and topics you would like to hear more about!

And here is your incentive: each person who submits an idea (either in the comments below, or on our Facebook post with this same title) will be entered into a drawing to receive a copy of one of my favorite pregnancy/birth related books that was published this year. The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Gide to Pregnancy & Childbirth is a wonderful addition to your pregnancy and birth library. Think of it as a “natural version” of the old “What to Expect” favorite. “Mama Natural” covers everything from nutritional needs, what is happening to baby & mom each week of pregnancy, how to prepare for natural birth, pros and cons of multiple caregivers and birth locations, and so many of the questions that moms wonder about during pregnancy. I think you’ll love it, and if you don’t need it yourself, you just might have a friend that would enjoy it!

So here’s the details: submissions can be entered until midnight on Sunday, December 10, and a winner will be announced on Monday, December 11 (unless a baby changes my schedule-I’m a real life midwife, so there’s always the possibility that I may have to announce the winner later!). Entries can be made below in the reply/comments section, or you can enter by leaving a comment below the facebook post with this headline. I’m looking forward to finding out what you all want to discuss, learn and/or find out more resources about in the next year. Thanks for helping me out!

Feel free to share this with friends, so they can enter too!