Birth & Beginnings: childbirth conversations

Hello mothers and mothers-to-be! This blog focuses on pregnancy, childbirth, children, and parenting. Along with providing helpful information and resources, it is also a place to discuss choices and trends in these areas. The blog will inform and encourage mothers as we share and learn from each other. It is not a place to say that one opinion is better than another; instead it is a forum for camaraderie and for sharing personal experiences. So feel free to read, respond, and absorb information on a daily basis as together we traverse this world of motherhood.

A New Year - 12/31/2009 9:58 pm

The First step is Resignation - 10/12/2009 11:06 pm

Take the Risk! - 7/16/2009 8:02 pm

So you’re Pregnant, Now What? - 6/27/2009 12:49 am

Kid Event - 6/1/2009 10:56 pm

Traveling - 5/30/2009 10:21 pm

mommy blog - 5/18/2009 12:37 am

Events - 5/2/2009 10:28 am

A New Year

Hello All, this has been a long so many ways. Yet the joy of family and the many beautiful births I attended, have left me with lasting moments of perfect peace. Choas all around, and I choose hope to anchor my boat in the storm.

So with that being said, I am starting a new chapter. I have decided to start working on writing a childbirth related book. I will not be extending my contract with the ADN another year for several reasons. I may host another blog at some point in the future, as I really enjoy passing along information and also listening to you and your conversations. Thank you for sharing.

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The First step is Resignation

What do I mean by that? A good friend and I were talking recently about life and difficult circumstances and how things are easier to handle when we're not fighting them. It's kind of like turning in the same direction as the skid marks.

My birth mindset, often relates situations in life to labor. So many times I see moms who are trying to fight the labor, or who are striving to make it happen. In labor, the first step is resignation. It's not an "I give up" mentality, it's a "I will go with this" mentality. It's not trying too hard, but it is just being, and accepting, and agreeing with what your body is doing.

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Take the Risk!

Well, I know we've talked about about VBACs before, but I just have to say that there is a lot to overcome with a VBAC and it is possible! I recently had a client who flew into Anchorage from a different part of Alaska. She wanted to VBAC where she would be supported. This is key in a VBAC. With her determination and education in hand, she went into a lengthy labor.

Fears while in labor can prevent progress. Sometimes it is good to vocalize any fears that are on your mind while you are birthing your baby. This gets them out and on the table, and then you can make peace with them. The fear of a big baby is often common or the fear that your body can't do this, or even the fear of getting stuck where your last labor turned into a Cesarean. All of these must be worked through either in advance or during birth. Not only did this women work through all of these fears and every negative voice that told her she couldn't do this, but she pushed that out a baby close to ten pounds in less than twenty minutes!

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So you’re Pregnant, Now What?

It is overwhelming trying to figure out all the choices that need to be once you find out that you are pregnant. Especially with the first pregnancy, most women do not know exactly what steps to take. Two of the biggest factors in your birth experience will be: where you birth and who your provider is. Yet both of these weighty choices must be made early in your pregnancy.

Do you want a hospital, home birth, or birth center birth? Or do you want a doctor, certified nurse midwife, certified direct entry midwife, or a lay midwife? It is a good idea to find out which direction you are leaning towards, and then start to set up interviews. Whoever you pick as your provider should support your goals for birth. You can also ask friends that you trust for good recommendations or do on-line research such as visiting

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Kid Event

The kid's drumming circle is led by a fun-loving drum teacher who provides encouragement and a steady beat. Drumming circles encourage creative expression and creativity through music in a safe and welcoming environment. So kids can bang and whoop and make some noise- it’s encouraged at GrassRoots. Drums provided. Free and open to the public.

GrassRoots Fair Trade Store
1300 W. Northern Lights - in between REI and Title Wave
(907) 854-2786

The Kid's Drumming Circle is every other Saturday - the next few dates are June 6th and June 20th.

Jordan Hanson, who works with Grassroots, was kind enough to provide a review of last week’s drumming circle, as I was out of state and unable to experience it with my children. Below is the review:

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Well, I just arrived back in Alaska from my annual trip to Florida. What an incredible adventure. This was the first year that I’ve ever left my son…it was a full week! I was so nervous about how he would do without mommy around. My husband took the week off from work in order to take care of our son. They went camping and bowling, and did guy stuff while I was gone. I know that my two and a half year old son, really missed me, but he did surprisingly well.

In preparation for the trip, my good friend came over to help me write a “social story” that daddy could read to him while we were away. We wrote a story about mommy, sister, and grandma getting on a plane and flying to Florida and what we would do while we were there. We also wrote down the fun things that Cai would do while he was here. Then we put colorful clip art in the book and some real photos of me and his sister as well. On the last page we listed the days of the week and how many days were left until we would arrive home. He was able to check off each day and see how it was getting closer and closer to seeing us again. It was a success, although there’s some residual from the “daddy schedule” and just from the emotions of being without mommy. I still think it was needed and both daddy and son had a good time together, while I got out of the state for a while and have some daughter/mommy bonding.

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mommy blog

There are still literally thousands of topics to discuss regarding birth and I want to keep covering these. However, I also want to include blogs that have to do with real life and the reality of childbirth and of parenting young children. So, I am going to start blogging more often about life as a mom, childbirth educator, and doula. Talking about birth, postpartum, and being a mom will be available for you to comment on or simply read. So get ready for some semi-unedited real life experiences and please share yours as well.

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The Anchorage Baby Fair is today from 10-4. On Monday at 5:30 p.m., there is a showing of orgasmic birth. Let's participate in community events!

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Your labor was how long?

There is no telling how long it will be. As a doula, I have attended births lasting only an hour all the way through to 40 plus hours. Of course it is next to impossible for many woman to know exactly when they went into labor because the contractions kept coming on and off and eventually stayed steady. I have even known of some women who simply wake up and they were having their baby, without labor.

Every woman is different and each body is different. Since labor is thought to start when a change in hormones occurs, it can be difficult to peg down the exact start time. The most difficult concern that the laboring mom faces, is the question of "how long will it take"? The best advice that I can offer is to not think that way if possible. When you find yourself thinking that, change to "just stay in this moment". If you lose your concept of time and hide the clocks, it may help as well.

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Teething Hurts

Is your baby acting fussy, irritable, irrational, and generally not like their loveable self? It could be teething. Sometimes, the hardest part for a parent is to realize that they are actually in pain, and not just having a bad day. Once you know what’s going on, it is easier to help them.

There are all kinds of remedies for teething pain. I personally love the homeopathic Hylands teething tablets, but they don’t work for every child. Sometimes a dose of Tylenol will help, while other children respond better to Motrin (only use after six months of age). There are many different teething gels as well. Sometimes something cold like a frozen juice pop or a teether ring that has been chilled will help to numb the gum tissue. Older infants can chew on teething crackers made of arrowroot or on zwieback toast.

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Recovery after Birth

The process of recovery can take anywhere from a few days to months after the birth of your baby. It is good to be prepared as much as possible. One thing that you can not always anticipate is the emotions that will inevitably rise and fall with the hormone changes in your body. Also, the dads experience a wide range of emotions too. If the mom is well taken care of, the emotions are easier to sort through.

Physically, there are a lot different things going on in a woman’s body after the birth of her baby. She will want to cleanse vaginally using warm water, rather than toilet paper. Sitz baths are wonderful for the perineal tissues and for loosening tight stitches a bit. Ice packs on the perineum help to bring down swelling as well as green cabbage leaf compresses. Also, if you’re experiencing breast swelling and painful nipples, you can use warm washcloths or black tea bags on the nipples. Drink lots of water and have water bottles near all the places you will be nursing your baby.

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How Will Labor Begin?

Whether there is a pop and a gush, like in the movies, or you simply feel “crampy” sensations….it could be the start of labor. Labor is thought to begin when there is a change in hormones. Much to a pregnant woman’s dismay, there is no for sure sign of when exactly it will start or how long it will last. However, there are some signs to look for that will tell you if you are in labor.

The contractions will continue to come, regardless of what you are doing. So change your activities level up every hour or so to see if they still come in a pattern. Take a walk, shower, or take a nap; but keep an eye on your watch so that you know approximately how far apart they are and how long each contraction lasts. When labor has actually begun, the contractions will gradually get closer to together and grow in intensity. Drink lots of fluids to ensure that you are not getting contractions due to dehydration.

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Children and Change

Changes are difficult for families in general, but they get really sticky when your children are under the age of 3. We have been moving for the last week, and the kids are feeling it. Chaos and drama are regulars in our family at the moment. Even though our 5 month old is handling it fairly well, she has symptoms of being upset. However, she is thrilled to be around mommy and daddy no matter where we are living. Our toddler on the other hand is having a difficult time to say the least. The whole world seems to have turned topsy-turvy for him, and every day we are simply helping him to process the changes. Lot’s of hugs and one-on-one time seem to help, as well as a fabulous book on “moving” that I checked out from the library (Good ‘ol mister Rogers to the rescue).

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Finding the Right Pediatrician

Finding the right pediatrician can be time consuming, so be sure to start this process early on in your pregnancy. It is good to have already settled on which doctor will be your child’s doctor, prior to birth. This way they will be ready to visit the newborn or have you bring your baby in during the first few days following birth, so that they can evaluate their health.


1.) Do several interviews because you will be working closely with this person and need to find someone who you can trust.
2.) Ask questions about controversial subjects such as immunizations, breastfeeding, circumcisions, or other matters that are important to you as a parent.

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Pushing out a Baby

Firstly, I’d like to de-bunk the myth that pushing a baby out is like pushing out a bowling ball or a watermelon. On the contrary, you are not pushing out an in-flexible object. The five bony plates in the infant’s head have not yet fused into place, at the time of birth. Therefore, the head will essentially fit perfectly through the vaginal opening. Also the design of the vagina is made to expand and stretch accordion-style so a baby can get through. By utilizing proper positioning (non-supine means less pressure on the perineum), warm compresses, and gentle massage of the opening, you can minimize or prevent tearing altogether. Also, after the baby has crowned and the head stops slipping back after each push, you may want to “breathe the baby out” instead of forcefully pushing the body out. Just focus on breathing and allowing your body to ease the baby into this world. It can be tricky switching mentalities from a very active pushing stage up to that point, so it may be beneficial to have your partner remind you to gently “cough” or exhale by blowing to push the baby out at the very end. The most common comment I hear from women in the pushing stage is “I don’t know how to push”, so it’s a good idea to take some time to read up on this stage. This stage of labor is often enjoyable to women because they are so involved and actively working the baby out.

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New Year

It’s a new year mothers and mothers-to-be! If you are pregnant and due in 2009, you are surely happy to enter into the year of your baby’s birth. My husband and I joke that we’re having babies on the even years, so perhaps 2010 will bless us with a new little one. Yes, that’s right…we are thinking about another baby. I can’t believe it. No sooner am I through my pregnancy and postpartum, than it starts to sound like a great idea to me to have another child. However, I know a lot of Alaskans who are happy to have one child for life and that seems to work well for their families.

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Maternity reports

Childbirth connection just released the 2008 “Evidence-Based Maternity Care” report and the 2008 “New Mother’s Speak Out” report. Click here to view either report. There were interesting findings in both reports. I especially enjoyed the “Listening to Mothers” results that were compiled into the report for “New Mother’s Speak Out”. It is nice to know that many mothers struggle in these same areas, especially when women often experience a feeling of being alone in their dilemmas during the postpartum phase. It is also beneficial to recognize in advance what the problem areas may be, so that you can anticipate them during your current pregnancy. For example the report talks about the challenges mothers faced when returning to work, getting exercise, and continuing breastfeeding. I believe that these reports serve as a thermometer of sorts, to take the current social temperature and find out where we stand on these maternity issues.

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Christmas Chaos and Joy

What fun it is to have little ones at Christmas, and what a crazy event! My 4 month old daughter squeaked and crinkled her toy happily and my two year old romped around the room with his red toddler sled! It was joyous, but it was only a matter of time until we reached meltdown. Kids at this age tire quickly and when they're done, they're very done. Still, even with the schedules being off and kids being tired, it was so enjoyable to revel in family time. Making memories that are worth treasuring forever was a perfect way to spend the evening. Many blessings this Christmas to you and yours!

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Contraction Counting

When I was pregnant with my first child, my husband and I anxiously waited for the big event. The question “Is this it?” haunted me day and night. It seemed like every contraction was a reason to pull out the stop watch or second hand clock and start documenting. After hours on end of this time-consuming pattern, the contractions would then disappear, leaving us frustrated. This went on for nearly two weeks, prior to the start of labor.

Nonetheless, it’s important to be aware of how often your contractions are coming, even if timing them can really take it out of you in the weeks leading up to labor. When timing contractions, be sure to time them from the start of the contraction through to the start of the next contraction. This will give you the answer to “how far apart are they?”. Also time how many seconds a contraction is lasting from beginning to end to know the duration of each contraction. Contraction Master is a website that can help you track contractions, if you don’t want to physically write the information down.

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To Ultrasound or Not

Ultrasound is used for many reasons throughout pregnancy. Although it has been proven to be safe in many studies, some are still concerned about its potential effects on the un-born baby. Some parents are choosing not to have an ultrasound at any point during their pregnancy. Others want at least the standard twenty week ultrasound to check the anatomy of the baby.

Although insurance companies would not cover an ultrasound solely for the purpose of determining a baby’s gender, many parents want to know in advance. Now that 3D and 4D ultrasound are readily available, some parents even want to purchase memory kits including CDs and DVDs of their baby in utero. Many parents will bring their baby’s ultrasound picture with them during labor and birth to provide an inspiring focal point. Others will show their children in the future, the real-time imagery of their life in the womb.

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