Anniversary Sale!

14 years ago I began my journey into the world of doula work and childbirth education. Since then, I have been able to support 130 births as a doula, given birth to 4 children of my own, and teach hundreds of couples in my Music Birth classes.  It has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my adult life.  To celebrate this milestone, I’m offering some great discounts for the next 14 days!

Take $14 off your Music Birth Class Tuition.  ($60-$14= $46)

Take $14 off the cost of the self-study course, Music and Miracles.  ($75-$14= $61)

Take 14% off your doula deposit.

Basic Package ($350-$49= $301)

Supreme Package ($400-$56= $344)

 

Contact me for a free consultation.  I would love to help you have a great birth!

Marie Bigelow, MT, AdvCD(DONA)

All sale prices end at 11:59 pm, Saturday, September 28th, 2017.

Birth and the Atonement

As a doula and a lover of birth, I have come to see an undeniable connection between birth and the Atonement. The clarity of this relationship has only grown as I have attended more births and spoken with more women about their birth journey.

Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.

And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.

Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.

And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.”i (Matthew 26:36-39)

Sit ye here, While I go

One thing that always stood out to me about the Atonement was that although Christ alone had to perform the miracle- He wanted to bring his disciples with Him to the Garden of Gethsemane. Before he entered the garden He chose three disciples, Peter, James, and John, to come into the Garden with him.

Jesus doesn’t want to be alone for what he knows will be the hardest thing He will do in his life. It is the same in birth. Most women choose a few people to attend their birth—it may be their partner, mother, father, sister, best friend, or doula. As with Christ, they will choose people to come into their sacred space and support them in their birth.

During the birth of my two children these people were my husband, midwife, and doulas. I prayed a lot about who to have at my birth because giving birth was going to be one of the most difficult things I would do in my life, and I wanted the people there to support me physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally.  I just wanted them to love me.

Tarry Ye Here and Watch

Unlike birth, Christ’s disciples weren’t able to hold him up, tell him he could accomplish the impossible, and wipe the blood, sweat and tears from his face. Jesus asked one thing of his disciples, “tarry ye here, and watch with me.”ii

As a doula I have come to recognize the sacred space of birth and the responsibility to witness a laboring mother. Doulas are trained in comfort techniques to help women in labor but there comes a time during birth when comfort is no longer possible. At this point of labor I recall realizing that I was alone—no one else but me could give birth to my child. I had to do it alone.
Thankfully during both of my births when I came to that isolated point of labor, I was blessed to have loved ones there to witness me. Feeling their presence provided comfort to me when nothing else could; and to this day I credit a lot of my ability to have such empowering births to their watchfulness. Their touch didn’t take away my pain, but their company gave me the hope and the power I needed to keep going.

(“Nativity” by Brian Kershisnik)

These thoughts remind me of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was the only person on this Earth that could perform the Atonement because He lived a perfect life. Nonetheless, even during His greatest time of need, when He prayed to Heavenly Father to “let this cup pass from me”,iii He still had the desire to be witnessed.

Let This Cup Pass From Me

After Jesus leaves his witnesses and goes further into the Garden in Matthew 26: 39 it says:
“And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.”iv

(“Gethsemane” by Liz Lemon Swindle)

The suffering the Savior went through during the Atonement was beyond what any mortal could endure. Christ suffered for the sins, sicknesses, and pains of every person that had ever and would ever live, and He did it for one reason—love. Even when he was feeling  “exceeding sorrowful, even unto death” v  and prayed to “let this cup pass from me”vi Jesus continued suffering because he loved us perfectly.

I know I will never experience suffering anywhere close to what Christ felt while performing the Atonement but I have felt those feelings. I remember thinking during my births “I can’t do this, this is too much to bear.” I have also witnessed countless times as a doula, the look on a woman’s face when she reaches this part of her labor. I have heard them cry out for it to be over. However, like Jesus, we continue with our labor which will look different for every woman. Our birth may take place at home, a birth center, or a hospital. It may be unmedicated, medicated, or a cesarean birth. No matter what we choose or how our birth happens, childbirth isn’t easy, but we do it because we love our child just like Christ suffered because He loves us.

i. Matthew 26: 36-39

ii. Matthew 26: 38

iii. Matthew 26: 39

iv. Matthew 26: 39

v. Matthew 26: 38

vi. Matthew 26: 39

Written by Charity Wheeler, Owner of Pure Love Doula Services

  • Birth doula, Photography, Bengkung belly binding
  • Website

Charity’s love of birth began when she was preparing for the birth of her first child. She was blessed to have a doula, and following her beautiful experience knew that she wanted to help empower other women and families. Charity is now a birth doula and loves supporting women and their partners, and helping them feel confident and safe during the miraculous process of pregnancy and birth.  Book Charity before May 23rd, and receive a free belly binding!

Want to learn more about incorporating spirituality into your birth?  Order your copy of The Sacred Gift of Childbirth today!

 

10 Questions about Early Labor

Most first time moms wonder what labor will feel like, and wonder how they will know when they are truly in labor.  Many of my clients have plenty of questions regarding early labor, so I’ve compiled the ten most frequent questions I receive about early labor with their answers to help you through your early labor.

  1. What are the first signs that you’re in early labor? It is difficult for most women to know when early labor begins. Some women will notice contractions, but for other women who experienced many Braxton Hicks contractions throughout pregnancy, it will be difficult to pinpoint. Some women experience flu like symptoms like nausea or diarrhea.  Others will feel antsy and energized.
  2. How do you know it’s real and not Braxton Hicks? Time will answer this question. Though Braxton Hicks contractions can be regular, they don’t increase in intensity. Real contractions will become more intense over time, last longer, and will get closer together.  It could take hours to know the answer to this question!  Braxton Hicks contractions often dissipate with a relaxing bath and by drinking lots of water.  If contractions continue to pick up if mom is resting and well hydrated, it is probably early labor.
  3. How important is it to time contractions? What’s the best way to do this? Focusing too much on contractions during early labor is usually a waste of energy and focus. Contractions can easily be more than 10 minutes apart, and women should continue to function normally as early labor can last for hours, even days.  For couples wanting to time contractions, the correct way to do so is to time from the beginning of one contraction to the beginning of the next.  So if one contraction begins at 12:00 and the next one begins at 12:13, contractions are 13 minutes apart.  About 5% of early labor is spent having contractions, the other 95% is waiting and wondering.
  4. What are some techniques for handling contractions early on? For the most part, early labor will not be very painful. Moms may feel antsy, and it may be hard to find a comfortable position, but she should not need to actively cope through most of her early labor contractions. Resting in bed, taking a shower or bath, doing yoga, stretching, or taking a short walk can help.  Distraction can also help.  Games, movies, tidying up, even finishing up the work day can be appropriate activities, depending on the woman.  Save the big comfort measures, like massage-deep breathing- and hypnosis for active labor!
  5. Is it better to rest up or stay active to keep things progressing? Activity should be minimal to preserve energy for active labor. I always remind my clients that you can’t speed up early labor, so there is no point exhausting one’s self by walking 6 miles! Early labor should be a time of resting, hydrating, eating simple-healthy food, and preparing emotionally for active labor.  It’s a great time to meditate, or even watch a movie or play a board game.  For women who already have children, it’s a good time to connect with older children with snuggles and reading books.  Some families enjoy baking cupcakes or a special treat to eat together once the baby is born.
  6. What should you eat (or not eat?) Food should be healthy, simple, and easy to digest. Steer clear from extreme pregnancy cravings!  Many women find fruit to be refreshing.  Fruits with lots of water like watermelon and grapes are popular.  Simple carbs like toast, crackers, and cereal are nice, too.  Many women get upset stomachs during active labor, so foods with onions and garlic can come back to haunt you later on.  Staying hydrated is very important.  Water is best.  Drinks that are high in sugar and stimulants should be avoided.
  7. What are some last minute things you should throw in the birth bag? To avoid last minute stress, the hospital or birth center bag should be packed before early labor. The only last minute items should be things that you need in daily life (like phone charger, toiletries) or fresh food items. Everything else should already be packed.  (clothes for mom and baby, diapers, camera, labor supplies etc) Items that women often forget are chapstick and bobby pins.  Labor is hard work, with lots of open mouth breathing.  It often leads to dry lips and crazy hair!  Some women also like to bring slippers and robes from home.
  8. When is it time to go to the hospital or birthing center? Most couples head to the hospital or birthing center too soon. Everyone is afraid of not getting there in time, but in reality, most births have more than ample time to get to the correct location. Arriving too early makes labor seem like it is lasting longer, and studies show that women’s perception of pain increases as soon as they leave their homes.  As long as the baby is moving and mom is not losing large amounts of blood, couples should stay home until they are well into active labor.  This means, having contractions every 5 minutes  that last for about 60 seconds, for at least an hour.  Contractions should be strong enough that mom cannot function normally through them.  She should actively be coping with her labor with deep breathing and other comfort measures like massage and relaxation.
  9. What are some “do’s” for early labor?
  • Do take care of personal needs. Enjoy one more nap, fix your hair/makeup/nails if that makes you feel better.
  • Eat and drink.
  • Pray/meditate
  • Smile!  Not only is today the day you have a baby, but smiling releases endorphins. 🙂
  • Alert your partner/doula/midwife.
  • Update Facebook status (kidding!)
  • Do make out with your husband (not kidding, it gets those labor hormones going!)  Oxytocin, the hormone of love is also the hormone of birth.
  • Do take time to clear your mind so you can enter active labor focused, relaxed, and free of stress and distraction.  Listen to lullabies, write your baby a letter, or finish up that baby blanket.  Thinking about your baby increases oxytocin, which is a vital hormone for childbirth.  Focusing on your baby during early labor helps your body and mind come together for a smooth active labor and birth.
  • DO TRUST IN YOUR ABILITY TO GIVE BIRTH!

10: What are some “don’ts” for early labor?

  • Don’t get hung up on time, early labor is not supposed to be short.
  • Don’t alert the world, (unless you want your labor to be interrupted with dozens of texts asking for updates).
  • Don’t eat fast food (you will regret it later).
  • Don’t go to the hospital during early labor UNLESS your baby isn’t moving, you are bleeding heavily, or your water has broken and it wasn’t clear.  (Water that is smelly or dirty is a sign that the baby has already pooped, and your baby will need extra monitoring.)
  • Don’t panic.  Your body was made to do this!

Presentations by Marie Bigelow, MT, AdvCD(DONA)

Professional Presentations

Do you run a professional or church group that would benefit from a guest speaker?  Today I am excited to announce 7 classes/presentations that I would LOVE to present to your group!  By combining LDS doctrine with scientific data, my presentations are sure to inform, engage and excite your group.  With over a decade of teaching experience and public speaking engagements, you can trust that you will be educated and entertained.  Currently, all of my presentations are available in the Treasure Valley and the Wasatch Front/Salt Lake Valley.  Contact me here for more details or to get something scheduled.

Below you will find my options.  Want something different?  Just let me know!  I’m happy to cater my presentation to your group’s needs.

 

Complimentary Presentations

Appropriate for Activity Days, Young Women/Young Men, Youth Firesides, Relief Society Meetings, etc.

Each presentation is approximately 1 hour- 45 minutes plus 15 minutes for questions/discussion.

  1. Redeeming Childbirth: Understanding God’s design for childbirth and how it fits into the plan of salvation. Also discusses how women are changed and magnified through the process of giving birth.
  1. Historical Birth: From pioneers to millennials, understanding how birth has changed for better and worse.
  1. Heavenly Mother: Where did She go and how can I find Her?

Stipend Presentations ($50-$100 depending on distance traveled.)

Appropriate for expectant couples, doula groups, childbirth educators, parent support groups etc.

Each presentation is approximately 1 hour, 45 minutes plus 15 minutes for questions/discussion.

  1. What is an empowered birth and how can I have one? Evidence based decision- making will also be discussed.
  2. A doula’s role to educate and still provide unconditional support. Finding the line between judgement and trained support.
  3. Make or break: How those you invite to your birth will influence it for good or bad.

Tuition Class (outside of Boise)

3 hour Music Birth Class, $75/couple.  Minimum of 2 couples.

As a one-night comprehensive class, Music Birth is perfect for busy parents-to-be, a great refresher course for experienced parents and an empowering class for all parents who want to have a safe and comfortable birth. This class teaches moms how to become deeply relaxed, support people how to effectively encourage and comfort the birthing woman, and is the only class that teaches how to effectively use music during birth.

Class tuition includes 3 hours of professional instruction, one signed copy of my book The Sacred Gift of Childbirth: Making Empowered Choices for You and Your Baby, Music Birth Class Manual, Playlist sample CD and Imagery practice CD.

Presentations by Marie Bigelow, MT, AdvCD(DONA)

Poor Advice I Followed and Now Regret

New moms are bombarded with unsolicited advice.  It can feel overwhelming, condescending, annoying, and make you really doubt yourself!  Having no younger siblings, I didn’t know anything about babies when I became a mom!  Like many women, I learned as I went.  And 12 years later I’d like to share some of the worst advice I was given.  Advice that I followed and now wish I hadn’t.  And just for fun, I’ll throw in some unsolicited advice of my own now that I’ve had 4 kids and have surely become an expert by now.  🙂

1: Share your baby.  I remember shortly before giving birth to my first child, my dad encouraged me to share my baby with the family.  He pointed out that I would have soooo much time with her, and I should be willing to share her.  Having never been given poor advice from my dad, I followed this advice and happily passed my baby around as much as I could.  I now see that I should have held her close more and not have been so eager to make others happy with her presence.  (  can also see that he was possibly planting a seed so he would get more time with her….  It’s sweet and I love my dad, and I loved watching him be a grandpa to her, but I do feel like I missed out on her parts of her babyhood.)

My advice:  Sure my time with her was ample, but only for a handful of months.  I initially felt like she would be a baby for much longer than she really was, and before I knew it, she was crawling and wanted little to do with me.  My arms still ache to hold her as a baby.  So my advice is to mainly share your baby when it benefits you, not when it benefits others.  If someone would like to hold your baby so you can rest, shower, or eat- then that is wonderful.  If someone wants to hold your baby while he/she is content and snuggly in your arms, think twice about how fleeting babyhood is.  It’s ok to be selfish when it comes to your own baby.

2: Don’t sleep with your baby: Co-sleeping is a hot topic, and it was even more polarized 12 years ago than it is now.  There were no voices of reason when it came to co-sleeping back then.  There was one message, and that was you should never sleep with your baby.  If you do one of two things will happen: 1: they will become totally co-dependent on you forever for everything, or 2: you will roll onto your baby and they will die.

It’s always in my nature to do the “right” thing, so I fought my baby for months, insisting she sleep alone in her crib.  I wasted hours upon hours of sleep, on my feet, shh-ing her back to sleep, only to have her wake up the second I placed her back in her crib.  By about 4:00 or 5:00 am each morning I would give up and co-sleep until 9 or 10.  Then each morning I felt like a miserable failure and vowed to never co- sleep again.  Only to end up reliving the same torturous night again and again.

Everyone told me it was dangerous to co-sleep.  11 years later I’d like to argue that the real danger is a mother who is pushed to the brink of delirium due to lack of sleep!  No one told me that my rest was important.  The only message given to me was that the only important thing was teaching my baby to sleep alone.  And all that meant was that neither of us slept.  For about an entire year.  And it was dreadful.  And I almost lost my mind.

My advice:  Let your baby tell you how they want to sleep:  Due to extreme fatigue and baby number #2 arriving less than 16 months after baby #1, co-   sleeping happened constantly because I pretty much fell asleep every time I nursed.  I would nurse for 5 hours straight at night and not even realize it.  But then baby #3 came along and he was totally content to sleep alone.  So we hardly ever co-slept.  I enjoyed the freedom of watching TV at night with my husband, going out with friends after he was down for the night, and even started attending more births as a doula.  But then baby #4 came and he wanted to sleep in my arms.  So I cut back on doula work and slept with him most nights because by then I had learned that nothing is more important than sleep.  If your baby sleeps well without you, then don’t feel guilty for having them sleep alone.  Enjoy it.  If your baby wants to sleep with you, then tuck them into bed with you.  Enjoy it.  Don’t do drugs.  Don’t go to bed intoxicated.  Chances are you won’t only not kill your baby, but you just might get some sleep, too.  (Get more sleep tips here!)

3: Stop nursing when you get pregnant.  At my first child’s 9 month well baby visit I mentioned to our pediatrician that I was pregnant and we would be adding a new baby to his practice.  He asked me if I was still nursing and I told him I was.  He looked me in the eye and said “No, you’re done nursing.”  So what did I do?  I went home and weaned my baby, of course.  Again, wanting to do the “right” thing, I obeyed the advice I was given, assuming it was doctrine, because it came from a doctor after all.

My advice: Decide for yourself.  I think my big takeaway with this experience is that I wasn’t the one who chose when to stop breastfeeding.  I hate that I blindly obeyed a doctor, especially now when I know many women who have continued breastfeeding after becoming pregnant.  My big regret is not being an active participant in the decision making, not the decision itself.  My milk supply was dwindling by that point, and weaning would have probably happened on it’s own in the next month or so.  But that decision was mine to make.  No my pediatrician’s.

In my experience, regret tends to come more often when we do something because someone else told us to do it, instead of us deciding for ourselves that it is the best thing to do.  Over the years I have also been given an abundance of good advice that I have incorporated into my mothering, and I feel good about it because I thought it over and felt that it rang true to myself and my beliefs.  Bottom line is, you are the mom and you are in charge!  You get to decide what works for your family, because no one else is as in-tune to your family’s needs than you are.  So don’t doubt yourself.  You’ve got this!

If you want more information on how to make decisions, check out my book The Sacred Gift of Childbirth: Making Empowered Choices for You and Your Baby.  Learn how women all over the country are using scientific data, LDS doctrine, and personal revelation to make birthing decisions that are right for them and prevent personal regrets.

Written by Marie Bigelow, MT, AdvCD(DONA)

Spiritual Birthing: One Woman’s Journey

How does a woman find the strength to birth her baby?  Where should she search for that strength, and what will she need to do in order to receive it?  There is no one answer to these questions, for as we seek for strength, we will find it; even in ways we couldn’t have imagined.

Preparing for Spiritual Strength

Towards the end of my third pregnancy, I felt an urgency to prepare spiritually for his birth.  I delivered my first baby with an epidural and the next without any medication.  I knew I wanted another natural birth with my third because I had a very bad experience with my epidural, and never wanted to experience a birth like that again.  Although I felt extremely prepared to cope with the intensity and pain that comes with childbirth, I also desired to have a more spiritual experience with my third birth.  I knew that I could take my birth process beyond the physical experience, and I could thrive and gain a deeper understanding of my Savior and His sacrifice.

One day I was reading a blog post written by a birth doula.  She had been studying about Eve and her life experiences, specifically childbirth.  After thinking about how Eve had no earthly help except Adam, she wondered if it was part of Eve’s eternal mission to continue helping women on Earth with this important life event.  This doula decided to take her question to the Lord.  At the next birth she attended she felt Eve’s presence very strongly in the delivery room.  This doula had a distinct impression that Eve attended any birth that she was invited to.  Though our doctrine does not teach this, I was intrigued by this idea.  Could I receive help and strength from Eve, just by asking for it? I figured it was worth a shot. I began praying and telling my Heavenly Father that I was willing to accept help from Eve and was inviting her to attend my birth.

Seeking strength from both sides of the veil

Throughout my whole labor and delivery I never felt Eve’s presence.  I was waiting to feel her but never did.  At first this was slightly confusing and disappointing, and I thought maybe I hadn’t invited her in the right way or that Heavenly Father hadn’t understood my true desires.  But I later saw that there was just a greater plan for this birth and the experience I would gain from it.

My husband has always been a wonderful support to me throughout labor and delivery, but this time I expressed to him my personal desires to be more mentally present and open to the promptings of the Spirit.  I also wanted him to be in the right mindset as well.  He was very accepting of this and was extremely present, physically and mentally, during the birth.  I am very blessed that he met my every need, (even my midwife commented about how lucky I was to have such an amazing birth partner!) I felt so supported and strengthened.

But after a long and trying first half of labor without much progress, I knew that something wasn’t going quite right.  I was tired of being hooked up to monitors (even intermittently) and felt that I needed some alone time to just listen to my body.  My midwife unhooked me from everything and I got into the shower in a dark, candle-lit bathroom.  With my husband just on the other side of the glass door I knelt over the stool and let the warm water run down my back.  I had a contraction that was much more intense than the previous 16 hours had been and I knew this was the beginning of my baby’s arrival.

In the quiet solitude of that warm and peaceful bathroom I pleaded with the Lord for extra strength.  As soon as I had uttered my plea, I felt a warmth that was not coming from the water of the shower.  It came from within my body and I knew that my Savior was with me, holding me up and helping me understand the depth of His love for everyone, and teaching me why He suffered in the garden for me.  He loves me so much, and as I felt this love, I received a renewal of strength to “suffer” for my baby because I loved him! Not only did I gain a greater testimony of my Savior but also of prayer and that the Lord will respond when we need the answers the most.

In the excited moments after my son’s arrival, I had another amazing experience.  It was an “out of body” experience that I can only describe now as a vision.  As I pushed my baby out, I was surrounded by 4 of my ancestors.  My grandmothers were standing by my right shoulder, embracing each other; and my husband’s father and grandmother were by my left shoulder.  The veil was so thin I felt as though heaven was touching earth.  I felt their love for me and my desire to bring children into this world.  I will always hold this moment close to my heart.  Overcome with joy and gratitude, I thanked my Father in Heaven for blessing me with family members who strengthened and comforted me more than I could have imagined.  I was hoping to find strength in Eve, but Heavenly Father knew what I truly needed.

Inquiring of the Lord

My experience was unique to me.  It was what I needed at the time to have the spiritual birth I desired and to bless my family.  Through my experience my husband was able to feel the love of his earthly and Heavenly fathers, and other family members have felt comfort as I have shared this experience with them.

In Alma 34:27 it states, “Let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto him continually for your welfare”.  This scripture reminds us that our Heavenly Father cares about our welfare.  CONTINUALLY!  He is our Father and His love for us is beyond what we can measure! He doesn’t just care about us when we are on a mission serving him 24 hours a day, or when we are the Relief Society president, or when our husband gets called into the stake presidency.  He thinks about each of us individually and constantly.  And since He cares about our welfare at all times, just imagine how much more He feels when we are making a body for one of His choice children!  If we remember to pray to Him always, then we will be in a position to receive the help or revelation that we need.

A few years ago I realized that I was turning to the Lord, in particular, to decide when my husband and I should have children and when I felt I needed extra help parenting our oldest.  But I never thought to include Him in my decisions in between; pregnancy and the birth!  Just as the Lord cares about if, when, and how we choose to have children, He also cares when, where, and how we give birth.  Once I realized this, I was able to change everything about how I feel during my pregnancies and each birth.  I now have confidence in how I choose to give birth and there is no room for fear.   If you are feeling trepidation during your pregnancy, go to the Lord!  If you are unsure about your birth plan, go to the Lord!  He will bless you with comfort, knowledge, reassurance and anything else you need.  “But behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.” (D&C 9:8)  Do your own research, pray and be willing to follow and the Lord will guide you toward which path is right for you.

Just like Heavenly Father knew me and what I needed most, he knows you! Think of what you would like your pregnancy, birth, or postpartum experience to be like and then go to Him in prayer with your requests. But be open! You may have the experience you are wanting or something even better!  I never would have dreamed that I would have the experiences I did, but I’m grateful that I was ready to feel whatever He saw fit to bless me with.  It changed the way I see my family and it changed the way I view birth!

 

Written by Marissa Mason

Birth doula serving Hayward, CA

(760) 987-9009

My name is Marissa Mason.  My wonderful husband, Brandon, and I have been married for 7 amazing years and have 3 wonderful children.  We are excited to be welcoming our 4th baby in August.  Brandon is attending Life Chiropractic College West and will graduate in June as a Doctor of Chiropractic.  I am thrilled to be at the beginning of my journey as a birth doula. I’ve helped two mothers, so far, meet their beautiful babies and achieve their dream births. I look forward to helping educate and empower women for many years to come and aid them as they achieve their ideal birth outcomes.  My family is currently living in the San Francisco Bay Area as my husband finishes his schooling and we plan to move back home to San Diego upon completion.

Want to learn more about preparing for a spiritual birth of your own?  You’ll love this book.

Finally!  A resource that discusses the spiritual and scientific truths regarding childbirth.  Learn the benefits and risk of all types of births, and learn how to make safe and informed decisions regarding the birth of your child.  In addition, learn to trust in God’s divine design of childbirth, and discover the many ways He blesses and magnifies the birthing woman.

Labor Playlists: 7 Helpful Tips

Are you wondering what your labor playlist should include?  Most women want to incorporate music into their births, but are often confused about what type of music to listen to.  Luckily for you, I have a degree in Music Therapy and am going to give you some advice on compiling your perfect, labor playlist!

  1. Music that is beautiful. For your labor music to be most effective, you need to love listening to it.  Set aside time to truly listen and find music that you enjoy and look forward to hearing at your birth.  It needs to be a lovely distraction that will be easy for you to want to focus on.  Enjoyable music is subjective, and will vary from person to person.
  1. Music that relaxes you: My clients often want to listen to music that pumps them up, but this is usually the opposite of what you want during labor.  Relaxation is key to a successful birth.  Not only does being relaxed make contractions less painful, relaxation also helps labor progress in a timely manner.  So pick music that is simple and helps your heart rate slow down, your breathing become rhythmic, and helps you feel at peace.  Find pieces that are simple and free flowing, and with just one or two instruments.  Something that reminds you of a peaceful stream.  My favorite: Kelly Yost, Piano Reflections.
  1. Music that energizes you. This may sound like a contradiction to number two, but hear me out.  Labor can be long, and often occurs during the night when we are tired.  If you find yourself exhausted during your labor, then you need to find music that helps you wake up and become reenergized.  It still needs to be relaxing, but can have a stronger beat and more instrumentation.  The music should be rhythmic and entertaining enough that listening to it invigorates you and helps you stay motivated.  My favorite: Chris Botti, Italia.
  1. Music that inspires you. Though lyrics can become bothersome as labor progresses, music with a positive message can help keep your mind optimistic and your heart happy.  Music with religious significance or positive messages can do wonders for your mental health during labor!  My favorite: “I Surrender All” and Sia, “Unstoppable”.
  1. Music that makes oxytocin. Oxytocin is the hormone of love, and also the hormone of labor!  So turn on some tunes that turn you on!  Too weird?  Turn on some lullabies.  Music that makes you think about your baby will help your brain make more oxytocin, helping your labor progress.  It also reminds you that your discomfort has a purpose. My Favorite: John Legend, All of Me
  1. Music that matches how you feel. As labor gets more intense, make sure your music does, too.  Music is most supportive when it matches how you feel.  Transition feels a lot different than early labor, and the music you listen to should reflect that.  Think full orchestra, movie soundtrack.  Trade in your free-flowing relaxation playlist for music that has a lot more tension and release in it, with a lot more instruments.  My favorite: Out of Africa soundtrack
  1. Music that makes you feel like you. Sometimes labor can be long and frustrating.  Have some tunes on hand that always lift your spirit and make you happy.  Don’t listen to them for too long because they probably won’t be appropriate for all of labor.  But it’s ok to take an emotional time-out and listen to something fun and upbeat to help you get your game face back on.

Adding the right music to your labor can make your birth less painful and more relaxing.  Practice relaxing and breathing slowly as you listen to your music.  This will help your body automatically relax when it hears your labor music on the big day.

Want more information?  Music Birth classes are offered monthly in Boise, ID.  I also offer a self-study course, Music and Miracles, which includes one copy of my book The Sacred Gift of Childbirth: Making Empowered Choices for You and Your Baby, Music Birth class manual, Playlist CD, Imagery CD, and a 30 minute phone call with me (Marie Bigelow, doula, music therapist, author, childbirth educator).

Written by Marie Bigelow, MT, AdvCD(DONA)

Author of The Sacred Gift of Childbirth and owner of Sacred Gifts Birthing-

Music Birth Childbirth Education and Doula Services

Giving Good Gifts: Observing the 4th Trimester

“Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2: 10 & 11 

Who doesn’t love Christmas?! A joyous but stressful time filled with the hustle and bustle of celebrating and gift-giving. It reminds me of another joyous time in our lives, (often filled with exhaustion and stress…) having a baby. Mindfulness and careful preparation can lighten the load for either event. If you prepare and keep in mind the reason for this season in your life, slowing down can be a great blessing and gift to you and your family.

The Gift of Being Prepared

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

Jesus Christ’s birth has been foretold and testified of by prophets since the beginning of time, and is a necessary part of our Heavenly Father’s plan for our happiness. In the pre-existence, a plan was presented to us. We chose to follow that plan, and if we persevere in following that plan, we are promised blessings now and in the eternities. Similar blessings are yours if you take the time to plan the important events in your life. This goes double for childbirth.

Most people are now familiar with the term ‘birth plan’. A birth plan helps you prepare for your birth and helps you communicate to others what your needs and wishes are.  I also think women should create a postpartum plan.  Adding a postpartum plan will help when you are being bombarded with the unfamiliar. It will remind you of what you need to be be doing (or not doing) for yourself and baby, as well as empowering other loved ones who want to support you during this special time.

If possible communicate with your husband about ways he can lighten your load during this time, and let any visitors help out around the house. Make a list of chores you are comfortable allowing others to do. Things like dishes and sweeping would be easy suggestions, even things such as food preparation and laundry can be included… depending on your comfort level and your visitors’ willingness. If you have older children consider if they would benefit from some extra care and attention and enlist others to help you fill those needs. Allowing others to serve us isn’t always easy, and we often forget that serving blesses both the giver and the receiver. Be sure to give others the gift of a chance to serve!

A doula would be a great resource to assist in understanding what sort of things to include in a postpartum plan. Your birth doula will be there to support you for an hour or two after baby is born and can help you protect that invaluable time for bonding. Some doulas are even trained as postpartum doulas whom you can hire to help out at home after baby comes. This is a great option if you don’t have a lot of close family or friends around who have extra time to lend a hand. Benefits of a postpartum doula can include anything listed in the above paragraph as well as breastfeeding support, running errands, and assisting in newborn and self care. A Doula will also have a good list of local resources such as care providers and support groups that she can help refer you to for additional support.

The Gift of Rest

After your baby is born, I suggest taking a page from Mary and Joseph’s experience. They were only visiting Bethlehem when the “days were accomplished that she should be delivered.” Yet we know that they remained in Bethlehem for at least 40 days.  And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;’ Luke 2:22. We find an explanation of this law in Leviticus Chapter 12 (verses 1-4)  that gives us a better time frame. “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days;… And she shall then continue in… her purifying three and thirty days…”  For further clarity the bible dictionary notes : “Uncleanness referred to being ceremonially or ritually unclean and should not be taken to mean that…. the bearing of children was morally evil. These regulations… were introduced in the law of carnal commandments (of performances and ordinances) of the law of Moses; being fulfilled by the Atonement of Jesus Christ, they are no longer required of the believers.”

The word ‘carnal’ can simply refer to that which is earthy or natural. I think we can take the word ‘purifying’ and equate it instead with healing, opposed to some sort of “cleansing”.  I tend to think that the Lord gave this law to protect this essential time of healing for mothers and babies.

Even today, many cultures understand this important concept and observe this postpartum period in various important ways that we seem to have forgotten in American culture. Places like Mexico and the Netherlands as well as Vietnam and China use this time to have other caregivers around to do household chores and take care of mom- giving her a chance to focus on resting and caring for baby.

There are science-based reasons why this is an important time for babies and mothers. The World Health Organization has supplied recommendations for postnatal care of infants and mothers with the preface that “The days and weeks following childbirth – the postnatal period – is a critical phase in the lives of mothers and newborn babies. Most maternal and infant deaths occur during this time. Yet, this is the most neglected period for the provision of quality care.” It may also be noted that observing this time could even help to keep postpartum depression at bay.

Momentum is growing to encourage families to take better care of themselves in the 4th Trimester and consciously reserve at least the 12 week period directly after childbirth as a time of healing and bonding. There are many things you can do to prepare before baby is born. The way you take care of yourself before birth as well as the environment and procedures involved in delivery can continue to influence your postpartum period.

The Gift of Bonding and Development

Behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.” Matt 2:1-2

After the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ, the Wise Men celebrated by bringing him gold, frankincense and myrrh. These thoughtful gifts held both symbolic and practical meaning and would serve the family well. The gifts we give new families should support the mother’s healing and the infant-mother bond. The greatest gift we can give others and ourselves is the the time to enjoy the gift of bonding with a new baby.

Birth is a big transition for everyone in a family, especially for babies. They are busy adapting to the change of environment that comes from leaving the womb as well as continuing to develop in some major ways. One of the reasons we use the term 4th trimester is because, even at term, human babies are born in a very helpless and immature state. It is an important time for development of the brain. This helplessness does not make them subhuman in fact I would argue that it’s more of a superhuman state. They are developing at an impressive rate and their experiences during this time can have a powerful effect on that development. A lot of this learning is done through sounds and touch, especially that of the mother. Next to breastfeeding, this is the best gift you can give your baby.

Taking this time to be with your baby helps to facilitate the rest that you need. Parenthood is a marathon. You can think of pregnancy and birth as the training stage and the postpartum period as the rest and recovery stage. It isn’t simply resting but knowing what to do to recover.  Taking care of your exhausted body for the long but satisfying road ahead is the best gift you can give to yourself.


Remember the old adage “you can’t pour from an empty cup. ”  When you make taking care of yourself a priority, you increase your capacity to care for others. So, remember to celebrate the birth of your baby by giving the gift of a peaceful 4th trimester.  

 “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2: 13-14  

 

Share with us: What was the best thing that you did for yourself and your baby in the 4th trimester?

Merry Christmas from my family to yours!!

Written by Karrie Green.  

Wife and Mother of 4.

Owner of Green Touch Doula Care

Madriella Certified Birth and Postpartum Doula, Pre Certified Birth Arts International Birth Doula

Serving women in southern MN and northern Iowa.

“As the middle of 7 children I was introduced to birth and breastfeeding at a young age, even being in attendance at my younger siblings births. I was always fascinated with my mother’s pregnancy books especially the pictures of baby developing in the womb. After my own birth experiences I felt a desire to help empower other families but didn’t know how to go about it. I was very happy to have finally figured it out when I discovered my calling as a doula!”  Karrie

 

 

Give the gift of a great birth!  The Sacred Gift of Childbirth is the perfect book to give this Christmas.

Breastfeeding: Friend or Foe?

Breastfeeding Bond
Breastfeeding is so special. It can be a source of comfort, love and bonding. It is beautiful, good for baby, and good for momma.

But what about when it’s not?

For some women, myself included, there can be endless obstacles, problems, challenges, heartache and tears! This is my story, and includes a few major “obstacles” I experienced after the birth of my third child. We had a beautiful natural birth. It was only 4 hours long and he was delivered safely, all on his own. We chose to not find out the gender, so when he was born I swooped him up quickly and held him tightly to my chest as I cried tears of joy! I pulled him away and announced to my hunny that we had another son! It was a picture perfect birth.

Immediately following birth he latched on and began to nurse. I nursed my first two children exclusively for nearly a year. So I figured breastfeeding would be no problem for me! I was an expert. During this first feeding, it felt awkward, uncomfortable and painful. I asked my midwife to check his latch because it seemed different, she told me it looked great and to continue because “it’s always tender at first” (very true). I also asked the pediatrician to check the latch and she did as well.

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Every time I nursed it still hurt. ‘Maybe I should call the lactation consultant,’ I thought. ‘But I’m a third time mom, this is like riding a bike! I’m fine.’ Wrong! I decided to be humble and ignore my embarrassment and eventually called for the Lactation consultant to come in. She checked the baby’s mouth and tongue for ties (what the heck is a tie??) and did not find any. She then evaluated the latch and said it was good. (okay, great! I’ll try again, thank you very much!)

Well guess what? Nothing improved. Even though I saw 4 doctors and 3 lactation consultants. None of them could help. I spent 3 long months trying figure out nursing. I would cry through every – single – feeding. My nipples had begun to crack and were very sore and painful to touch. When my son was 2 weeks old I was burping him and his spit up was completely red from the blood of my nipples. I never had baby blues with my others, but I had it now! I wanted to be happy and enjoy my baby, but I began to resent feedings. I was so weary of him that I went to great lengths to keep my older children quiet just so he would sleep longer and I wouldn’t have to nurse.

I was so mad at myself for feeling that way. I wanted to enjoy my baby. I wanted to love nursing like I did with my first two. I felt like a failure each time I saw a different professional and they told me nothing was wrong. I thought maybe I had post-partum depression and if I could just be happy it wouldn’t hurt to nurse. I was angry at my baby. I was angry at my breasts, but mostly I was angry at the professionals that couldn’t help me. I lost faith in their abilities.

My husband was so sweet and supportive, but he had a hard time understanding why I wouldn’t feed the baby formula. The problem was, I knew how to nurse and I knew I could do it! I had already successfully nursed two babies! I just didn’t know why this baby couldn’t do it! Together we prayed, fasted, and he gave me several blessings.

Seek Help

My sweet sister also had a nursing baby at the time, and one day offered to nurse my son. We spent the whole day together and she nursed him several times. At first she said it was good- felt normal- but by the end of the day she was in pain as well, and said she couldn’t do it anymore. Heaven to my ears! I knew it wasn’t my fault! Her confirming that it felt different gave me even more hope and a desire to seek answers. I decided to share my story on social media and got the response from several women that my son MUST be tongue-tied.
I thought they were crazy. How could seven different professionals say this was not the case, and ten moms who never even looked at my son be SO SURE that it was the case? I didn’t care! I listened to them and saw a specialist the next day.

At the initial appointment with the tongue-tie specialist, I watched a video describing tongue-tie, the effects in the baby and the mother, and the process of diagnosing it. I cried through the WHOLE video. My son had every – single – symptom. And I had EVERY – SINGLE – SYMPTOM. When the nurse came back to the room after the video she asked if I had any questions about the video. I immediately said, “YES! How long until the doctor can fix this!?” I felt so relieved. The doctor diagnosed my son with a 4th degree tie. I asked my doctor in tears why no one else could see it. I explained to him that I had seen SEVEN different professionals and none of them diagnosed my son properly. I had to endure pain for six long weeks! I was so angry at each one of them for being so neglectful. My doctor explained that 4th degree ties are very uncommon and hard to see unless you have been specifically trained in the area. He explained that many women who have breastfeeding problems switch to bottle feeding, so birth professionals no longer encounter problems like this, thus losing the opportunity to learn from it.

The days following the tongue-clipping were so much better! My nipples healed within days and nursing began to become lovely, just as I hoped it would be.


What is a tongue-tie?

“Tongue tie’, ‘Ankyloglossia’ or ‘short frenum’ are the terms used when the lingual frenum is short and restricts the mobility of the tongue.” (http://tonguetie.net/background/) In other words, a tongue-tie is when the tissue that connects the tongue to the floor of your mouth is too short for the tongue to extend out past the teeth. A tongue-tie can cause many problems in a developing child such as breastfeeding difficulty and speech and language development.

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Sometimes it seems our bodies have to go through heaven and hell. It’s hard. Sometimes there are obstacles. Don’t give up! Don’t stop trying! You are beautiful.

Your body is a gift. A gift that can keep on giving! Trust in your body and your instincts.

You are strong, Momma

Your body gives and provides life.

Your body sustains life.

Your body is beautiful.

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Bio

I am Clarissa Baxter, mother of four. This experience helped me substantially when my fourth child was born. As soon as my baby entered this earth and I pulled her up to my chest- I could see she had a tongue-tie. The very next day an ENT (ear, nose and throat doctor) came to my hospital room and clipped her tongue right there. She was diagnosed with a 1st degree, meaning at the very front of her tongue.

It was such a relief to know that because of my hard work, learning and knowledge that I was able to take care of a problem the second time around before it even became a problem. In addition, my daughter was the first baby to ever have her tongue clipped in that hospital. The head nurse came to my room to thank me for insisting that a doctor come to my aid to help my nursing baby. She said that I was the first mother to ever do that and that it created a “buzz“ around the maternity ward. Throughout my stay in the hospital I had several nurses come to my room and thank me as well. I felt very proud to have helped the hospital in a small step to becoming a baby-friendly status hospital. Several of the nurses invited me to attend the breastfeeding support group to share my story and hopefully help other mothers.  I have always had a passion for labor; birth and breastfeeding, but feeling the reward of being helpful really lit a fire under me. This led me to enroll in an online doula course and become a certified labor and birth doula. I am now on my way to becoming a midwife and hope to help many more women in the future.

 

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Written by Clarissa Baxter, CNA, CLD(CBI)

  • Birth Doula, Certified Nurse Assistant, Childbirth Instructor, Midwifery Student at Midwives College of Utah
  • 480-338-2851
  • clarissajbaxter@gmail.com
  • Serving San Lorenzo, CA

Empowering the Next Generation of Birthing Women

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Have you ever heard someone quip that showing a birth video to teens in health class is “a good method of birth control”? Like… to scare them away from ever wanting to experience something so terrible? I can see their logic, sort of.

Most of us don’t want our teens having babies at this stage in their lives. We hope they will use this time to learn, grow, get an education, and invest in their futures. (Futures that we do hope will include some grandchildren for us, am I wrong?)

But do the possible short-term benefits of this fearful outlook outweigh the long-term consequences of such conditioning? I’m sure, like me, you have heard girls and women express that they never want to give birth because it’s so scary and painful. The fear they experienced while watching that birth scene in the movie stuck with them.

So this begs the question…

How do we undo the negative conditioning?

How do we reverse the cycle? What does the next generation of birthers need from us to have more positive birthing experiences that they will look forward to, and not dread?

First, we need to point out to our daughters that media portrayals of birth are not the norm and are extra dramatic to add to the plot of the movie. 

I know my children have heard it a hundred times, but still I speak up and set the record straight whenever we see a media portrayal of birth that is sensationalized.

Second, we need to educate ourselves about the natural process of birth.

It is natural to fear things we don’t understand, so gaining a personal understanding of birth is key to helping the next generation understand it.

Yes, labor is work! But it doesn’t have to be torture. There are pains in this life that are healthy to fear, and that we should avoid: falling off a ladder, getting burned, or hitting your thumb with a hammer. We need to teach our daughters to differentiate between danger and discomfort. But childbirth is a healthy, natural function of the body. It is not something we need to fear and tense up about. The discomforts of childbirth are different than getting burned, or injured in some way. The pains and surges are the body’s way of working hard, aiding the baby’s descent, and telling you how to move to find and facilitate the easiest exit path for your baby.

Understanding the normalcy of birth, and learning ways to work with our bodies, can make a noticeable difference in how we regard the sensations we experience during the process of birth. This understanding also makes labor less frightening to the young woman who has never given birth before, and empowers her to view birth in a healthy, confident manner.

Next, we need to share positive stories with the younger generation so they know the wonderful possibilities of childbirth.

If all they hear is negative, they will assume that negative experiences are the only possibility for them.

My first four births were good experiences, but I believe could have been much better if I hadn’t been so tense and fearful of the pain. I hadn’t studied yet about different labor positions or healthy pain management techniques. I’m sure I told others how painful and difficult those births and recoveries were! ~Thus perpetuating the fear!

I remember going to a baby shower for a friend who had just had a peaceful water birth. While all the other women shared more of the horror type birth stories, she talked about how she labored privately, in the dark, on her hands and knees and the baby slipped out without too much pain. I wondered…

How could anyone experience childbirth, without fear and excruciating pain?

I continued to meet with this friend and absorb her trust in the birth process. She helped me so much! I wanted to have what she had! I studied every natural birth book I could get my hands on. I knew birth could be so different than what I’d previously experienced. I went on to have three natural births with trust and relaxation.

Wanting to empower my own family members with a healthy view of childbirth, I invited my children to attend the water birth of their little sister.

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After this experience my oldest daughter has had many opportunities to tell her friends that she doesn’t fear birth, and that she looks forward to that special time in her future! Also, when relatives came to town to see my new baby, I let my niece watch my birth video, and afterward she exclaimed, “I’m so glad I saw that! Now I’m not so afraid to give birth.”

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Lastly, we need to help young women appreciate and understand their divinely designed bodies and trust their innate capability to give birth.                                                            
In an age where our bodies are critiqued and objectified at every turn, we must fortify ourselves and our daughters with truth! We are wonderfully made! We must stop criticizing our reflections in the mirror, and learn to speak kindly about ourselves- and others. We need to tune-in to our bodies and understand how we function. When those around us complain about their periods or post-partum bodies, we can listen, and then add how grateful we are for the ability to conceive and carry a child and bring them into the world. We can talk openly about the rewards and marvelous blessings of giving birth, and not just focus on the challenges. We can breastfeed and nurture our babies confidently, knowing that young women around us are watching and learning. These fundamental changes will help the next generation to have a healthier view of their bodies and their capacity to give birth.

Questions to Ponder

* What do you think would have helped you to have more positive views of birth growing up?

* Who was most influential to you in your beliefs about birth?

Resources I Recommend

A great resource I recommend for helping you with the four items I discuss in my article is the book The Sacred Gift of Childbirth.

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Written by Rhonda Cazier, birth doula and mother of 7

Serving women in the Boise, ID area.

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