Prepping to Leave my Family and Hold Space for a Birth Client

Most people wouldn't realize it, but I actually have my birth clients communicate very meticulously with me through out their 3rd trimester leading into the beginning stages of labor, called early labor. 

When I meet a birth family for the first time, I reassure them that if they contact me to notify me that early labor might be happening, I won't leave my house and jet straight for them. (I like to play an unobtrusive role in my clients birth stories and wait until they are in the active stages of labor, when things are more intense). But when my clients notify me that they think labor may have started, it does afford me is the opportunity to plan my family's life out for the next 24 - 48 hours while I am away. I could potentially be away from my family and with my birth client anywhere from three to ten hours, and traveling, and I like to be prepared.

Usually this is what our kitchen counter looks like, when my client has a slower paced labor and I have a heads up that sometime in the next day or two, I will be needed.

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Both of my girls, ages 5 and 2, go to preschool five days a week. And although I have an amazing partner who wears both mom and dad hats when I am away from home, I can't help but give him a hand, throwing in what I know to be the girls favorite snacks throughout the day at school.

The fact of the matter is, our house is never squeaky clean.

I think I managed to get things tidied up in time for my daughters 5th birthday, but usually, theres piles of laundry here and there, and unwashed tupperware containers from yesterdays lunches.

But one thing is for sure, I always always make sure we are stocked to the brim with extras of everything, in case we run out and I am not at home, our girls will always have their go - to's on hand.

I figured out very early on as a mom, that everyone is happy to help as long as they are appreciated.

That includes partners and spouses too.

They could use a little nudge in the right direction through appreciate of their hard work.

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Lifestyle Photo Sessions | Preserve your memories forever

Meet my partner Lena. She is my best friend. Her family is from Germany and she is so sweet, that girl next door vibe :)

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Lena is the mother & woman who inspires me to take better care of myself. When you work in the birth world (the birth industry) you tend to do so with an overflowing heart. Wanting to give all your love and time to everyone around you, and often forget self care.

Watching Lena be so adamant about putting her family and little ones first, having that clear mind and determination of what her goals, love for her art and life priorities are, helps to inspire me everyday. First it started with me taking the time to really dress myself to feel happy and good about myself when I look in the mirror. It is amazing how putting on a flattering outfit can lift you up, in terms of making you feel good about yourself! Then she inspired me to cook more for my family. It's little things like this that really make a difference in my everyday life. The details. Lena is all about details and she puts so much love and care into everything she does. 

Lena is an amazing lifestyle photographer. She has a fiery passion for eternalizing every little moment before our kids get too big. 

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When you treasure the newborn moments that fleet so quickly when your little one doubles their birth weight in just a few short weeks, then slowly starts to smile everyday and then next thing you know, your newborn baby is an infant who is sitting unassisted, and you are just yearning to hold onto them while they are still tiny, and to remember the entire first year with your little miracle. 

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How to Hire the right OBGYN for your birth

When I was pregnant with my first baby, one of my closest friends was pregnant with her first baby as well. Back then I did not know that hospital midwives existed and so I asked her if she liked her OB and would recommend him to me. She said: "he is ok - definitely competent and knows what he's doing, maybe he's not the most talkative -- but he has great office hours that start before we have to be at work."

Back then I was working full time for a graphics developer and my boss was kind of a jerk. I knew that it wouldn't fly if I took an hour (plus travel) off every month for a prenatal visit. 

So what did I do?

I made the mistake of I prioritizing my boss's preferences over my own needs. 

Compromising on my own needs is something I learned later on down the road never to do. I did not realize it back then - that in addition to wanting a medical provider who was competent, skilled, educated and esteemed in the birth world, I also really wanted and needed a provider who would be compassionate. Someone who would make the time to sit and listen to my concerns, fears, and help me address and dispel them. Someone who would take the time out of their busy schedule to answer every question I had prepared over the last few weeks since I had seen them last.

I realized, I wanted to play a role in my pregnancies and births.

I did not only want to be the pregnant woman who's baby this person had to deliver safely.

I wanted to be an active part of the team.

The team that would help me birth my baby into this world.

I did not realize back then, that not every single medical provider is capable of including a woman as an active part of the birth team. 

The OB I chose to hire for my first birth did not include me as an active part of my own birth team, and that is why I am writing this blog post. To include as much information as possible in what to ask an OBGYN or Midwife before you hire them, so that families can make their own informed decisions and have the best birthing experiences possible. 

We all know that sometimes birth takes an unexpected turn. But how you remember your birth (whether you remember being supported and positively encouraged by your provider or not) -- that is one thing we can control by choosing the right provider we hire. 

I cannot tell you how many women tell me that their doctor dismisses their concerns and fears, and tells them that we'll cross that bridge when we get to that point. That they'll answer their questions when they get closer to the birth. Doctors who are rushed during every prenatal visit. Mothers who wonder if this is normal or if they should be worried.

Mothers who wonder if anyone ever changes their OBGYN during pregnancy? Would that make their doctor mad? What if no one else is available and they've left their doctors practice? What if the grass only seems greener on the other side of the fence and they regret their decision to leave their doctor? They've already paid all their fees, what do they do now?

If you don't know that something exists, (like episiotomies or perineum massage), then how can you make an informed decision about whether this is something of importance on the day you birth or not? 

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31 QUESTIONS TO ASK AN OBGYN OR HOSPITAL MIDWIFE BEFORE YOU HIRE THEM:

Question #1

The most important questions are going to be the Questions to Yourself. Because no matter how recommend a medical provider is, they won't be the right one for you unless they meet your personal criteria. As an innately wise woman, I urge you to consider the following:

How did the things she/he said make you feel? Did she/he let you feel heard and not rushed? Did their personality help you to feel connected and instantly safe and supported?

Take note of what feelings may rise from your instincts.

Those feelings will always be 100% right.

They will become unavoidable during birth. It is impossible to hush the roar of your maternal instincts without compromising your peace.

The following questions depend on your preference of birth plan. Some may interest you, write them down or print out this list. Others you may naturally skip if they do not apply.

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Question #2

Are you open to birth plans?

Question #3

What hospitals do you have privileges at?

Question #3

How many vaginal checks do you do during pregnancy and during labor? Should I get them, how necessary are they, what are the benefits/downsides and when do I need to have them done?

Question #4

Under what circumstances during pregnancy would you recommend an induction? How can an induction affect the outcome of my birth (vaginal / cesarean). What type of inductions do you do?

Question #5

What percentage of your patients use a doula? What % get an epidural?
 

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Question #6

Under what circumstances during labor would you recommend to administer medications such as cervaidil or pitocin?

Question #7

How do you handle past due dates?

Question #8

What is your percentage of vaginal births? / percentage of c-sections?

Under what circumstances during pregnancy would you recommend a scheduled cesarean?

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Question #9

How many people are in the practice?

Who is your back up Midwife or OB?

Who is the OB covering doctor? How is he/she during labor? When can I meet them?

Question #10

What is your opinion of doulas? Are there specific doulas you prefer to work with/would recommend?

Question #11

Delivery & Cord Clamping

What are your feelings on the dad catching the baby, or me catching my own baby? Will you deliver the baby? Or will you assist me in birthing him/her/them?

What are your feelings about delayed cord clamping? How long do you delay for?

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Question #12

Do you continue to see clients with Gestational Diabetes, or do you refer them to an OB?

Question #13

Do you routinely administer Pitocin post birth as a preventative measure against post-birth hemorrhaging?

Question #14

Are you planning any vacations, trips, major surgeries, or other events 3-4 weeks before my due date, or up to 2 weeks after my due date that would interfere with your attendance at the birth?

Question #15

How do you feel about hypnobirthing? Are you experienced with delivering babies for moms who are using hypnobirthing?

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Question #16

What is your percentage of NICU transfers?

Question #18

If I change my mind about an unmedicated birth, how will you respond?

Question #19

What positions do you feel comfortable delivering in? (on back, squatting (using a squat bar), on all fours (knees and elbows)?

 

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Question #20

How does it work if I am GBS positive - how often do you administer antibiotics during labor and do you do specific procedures with the baby after birth

Question #21

Do you do IV/Heplock? Are you ok with laboring tubs, (or hydrotherapy by standing in the hospital shower), eating small snacks during labor?

Question #22

What are the pros and cons of vitamin K shot and eye ointment

Question #23

Do you offer or suggest taking specific childbirth preparation courses?

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Question #24

During labor, how close together should my contractions be before I head to the hospital?

Question #25

If my water breaks before labor (contractions) even begins, how long can I labor at home for before I am required to go to the hospital?

Question #26

What happens in the event of pre-term labor before 38 weeks?

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Question #27

Under what circumstances, if any, do you perform episiotomies? Do you recommend doing perineum massages throughout pregnancy leading up to birth?

Question #28

How long will you and/or your support team stay with mom and baby after the birth?

Question #29

Is breastfeeding support offered?

Question #30

Is your practice VBAC friendly?

Question #31

Do you deliver breech? [Most babies will move into delivery position a few weeks prior to birth, with the head moving closer to the birth canal. When this fails to happen, the baby's buttocks and/or feet will be positioned to be delivered first. This is referred to as “breech presentation.”]

Do you recommend trying to turn the baby if the baby is in breech position during labor or in the last few weeks of pregnancy or do you recommend a cesarean birth?

 

Follow this link to read 20 Questions to Ask a Doula

Big Sisters & Their Newborn Baby - Birth Story in Florida

As a birth photographer and birth videographer in Boca Raton, Florida, I feel so honored and blessed to be able to witness while documenting, the most intimate, precious moments between big siblings meeting the little person they have been waiting to meet during their mom's whole pregnancy.

I'm not sure what is sweeter and more moving, whether the bond between mom & baby or watching a mom as she gazes on her older child meeting the baby for the first time...

In that moment, mom's 'baby' is no longer the youngest, she watches this magical transition into the 'big sibling role' as the older child says "hello" for the first time to their new baby sibling.

It is so sweet to watch as these big siblings automatically and naturally as if born with an innate maternal instinct, immediately love on this new little person. 

I hope you enjoy this 'meeting story' of these big sisters meeting their darling baby sister Ainhoa, for the first time. 

I only take two - three families for birth stories each month in Broward and Palm Beach counties, and reserve their birth stories several months into their pregnancies. I do travel for birth stories as well to Naples and Tampa, Key West, and even northern Florida. I will travel out of the state of Florida - and have had birth clients in New York and Washington State and even abroad for certain birth stories (inquire for details).

If you are expecting and would like to hire me for your birth story, it is never too late to get in touch with me. Birth is unpredictable and sometimes plans do change and babies are born early and I may have an opening last minute, as I did with this special family in south Florida. 

The Invisible Breastfeeding Community, Mama You are Not Alone

Breastfeeding moms you’ll want to read this one.

When it comes to being mothers of young children, we need to stand in solidarity and offer our support, and put our own personal agendas and prejudices aside and offer non-judgemental support.

Each of us makes decisions daily that someone else may not agree with. But we are being good mothers who sacrifice, love endlessly, and fight for our baby cubs.

**Disclaimer: Please read this blog post and reply with kindness. Hurtful comments will be banned. This mother (and other moms who I know in my community as well as nationwide) have received more than enough judgement and negativity and do not need to receive anymore through my art work. This image is being shared FOR those mothers, who feel alone, who feel like they should have to hide, for those who have no one to stand up on their behalf and say "yes, you are a great mother, and this bond you have is beautiful, selfless, kind, proper and sacred” so I will stand up for them.

Below you can read the mom's thoughts on extended Breastfeeding and how she feels about publicly talking about it, it was her side of the conversation as we discussed whether or not to share this image online. The following written message was shared onto this blog with the approval from the mom who wrote it:

 

“I am conflicted. On one hand, I don't want to share a picture in a way that my family would see it. They thought breastfeeding beyond a year was self-indulgent, even bordering on obscene. Some of my family unfollowed me on FB when I posted sweet nursing pictures during breastfeeding week when my daughter was 2. I do not want to deal with their criticism again. There are some fights you just can't win.

On the other hand, there is nothing wrong with a 5 or 6 year old who still wants to nurse. Many 5 and 6 year olds nurse, but no one talks about it. And no one will talk about it if no one starts talking about it. BUT, I don't know if I want that conversation to start with me.

After about age 3 or 4, nursing is not demanding like it is with an infant or a toddler. It's not as much about nutrition, as it is about soothing comfort, intimacy with your little one, and habit. By the time your child reaches age 3 or 4, it's very different. You don't need as much outside physical and emotional support. Your child can understand waiting to nurse if you want to be discreet. Nursing my daughter has been easy these last couple years.

I guess if you have a way to share a picture that won't show up on my FB wall, then go for it. I'm sure there are mothers who will benefit. I'm sure there are mothers whose children would like to continue nursing but are cut short because the mother thinks she is supposed to wean by a certain age. I admit I thought it was weird too, until I saw a couple of my La Leche League co-leaders allowing their children to self-wean. Seeing them opened up my eyes, for sure. Children WILL wean on their own. Many awesome kids (like mine) still nurse and you'd never guess it. In the end, it's nobody's business - it's between the mother and her child. Each woman should have the freedom and the courage to follow her own breastfeeding path.

I don't know if I've shared any words of wisdom... What I have learned is that mothering is the hardest job: it takes great courage for a mother to stand up for her beliefs and stand up for what feels right for her and her child. But every time she does it, she works her mothering muscles and she gets stronger. And in the end she becomes a warrior."

-Christine, nursing her daughter (age 6)