It’s not a secret that I’m pretty passionate about maternal mental health. Actually, it may not be something I’ve communicated very well in the past. So maybe it is a secret and I’m outing myself! Anyway, if there is one thing that keeps me in doula work it’s maternal mental health. How we feel and the stability of our emotions have an incredible impact on how we parent. How we perceive our births and those first few months postpartum have a huge impact on us for the rest of our lives.
Postpartum is already an incredibly emotional time. Our hormones are going crazy as they transition our bodies from pregnancy to no longer being pregnant and often lactating. Our brains have just completely rewired themselves to bond with and parent this new little person. And if it’s the first baby, we are adjusting to a completely new way of life. We need the best start possible here to thrive.
My own experience with postpartum depression (or rather mood disorders) started as what I would describe as anxiety. I did not fit the descriptions of postpartum depression that I could find. I was functioning. My baby was cared for. I got up each morning and went to work. I made it to church on the weekends. I still showered. I concluded that how I was feeling must just be parenting. Except I wasn’t okay. My brain was in a state of semi panic all the time. I couldn’t breath. I was paralyzed be the 99 bajillion things in my head. This progressed to the occasional panic attack. I didn’t get treatment until my daughter was three. By then, things had progressed passed just anxiety. I didn’t realize how bad I felt until I felt better.
In my case we also had a series of very significant life events happen in the year before her birth and in the two years after. I remember constantly trying to figure out if how I felt was because I was postpartum or because of our life circumstances. Nevertheless, I needed treatment and I fell through the cracks.
My takeaway is this: Parenting is hard. Having a new baby is hard. All of this is hard and you are changed. But. BUT. Postpartum mood disorders don’t always look like depression and we do ourselves and new mothers a disservice by continuing to promote that model. It may take a few weeks but you should feel mostly like yourself (just with your heart now running around outside your body). The things you enjoy in life should not completely disappear. You should still get excited about things that you did before even if you have less time to pursue them. Panic attacks are not normal. Flashbacks and PTSD symptoms are not normal (and are terrifying common among postpartum women). These are signs that things are not as they should be and you may need outside help.
Surround yourself with support. If your family and partner don’t understand, seek support elsewhere. Support groups that are specifically for postpartum mood disorders can be incredible. One of our local hospitals here in Indy has one I highly recommend. But so can general parenting support groups like Breastfeeding USA or ICAN or MOPS. Sometimes just knowing you aren’t alone makes all the difference.
Sometime, though, you need more than just support and it’s time to talk to your doctor. If your OB is unsupportive or blows you off, find a doctor who is supportive. It doesn’t have to be an OB. Medication is not evil and doesn’t have to be forever but it can be lifesaving in the short term.
This is why I’m a doula. As women, as mothers, we deserve better. Our mental health is incredibly important and impacts every aspect of our lives. We need our struggles to be recognized and taken seriously. It’s vital to our lives and our families that this is the case. Our children deserve it as much as we do!
Exercise and movement promoting flexibility can make such a difference in how you feel during pregnancy, how your labor develops, and in your recovery. One of my own favorite forms of exercise during my pregnancies was yoga. My hips always felt better and I could tell I moved better when I was practicing regularly.
While my usual MO for yoga was a video, we have amazing prenatal yoga options here in Indy. Mimi Sosa with YogaGarden is one I wish I’d know about then. She teaches prenatal yoga in Broad Ripple and also at IU North and a mommy and baby yoga class too! You can find more details on her class on her Facebook page.
Mimi is a registered teacher with Yoga Alliance and, according to her bio, studied with Rolf Gates, Paul Grilley, Sean Corn, Shiva Rea, and Tias Little. She is certified in prenatal yoga through Lisa Matkin and Sarah Longacre. She has been teaching prenatal yoga and mommy and baby yoga for the last 15 years and regular yoga classes for 18 years. She’s also a DONA certified doula like me and an all around really great person!
One of the big benefits to taking a prenatal yoga class over staying home in front of your TV, is that you get to meet other new moms-to-be. Having some connections and maybe new friends in the world of motherhood before baby arrives is a good thing. Check out Mimi’s class, the next sessions will be starting mid-February, gain some flexibility, some peace of mind, and maybe some new friends!
There are few things I’ve seen that make as big of a difference in labor and birth as chiropractic care. At one point, after a series of very long births, I considered only taking clients who were being seen by a chiropractor. I didn’t make that change but I do strongly suggest to all my clients that they see one. It makes that much of a difference.
Prenatal-specific chiropractic care during pregnancy helps address all the aches and pains that are considered normal. That low back pain? This will help. Having trouble with your pubic bone? This won’t solve it but it will help. Previous tail bone injury? This may make a big difference for you. Adjustments also help promote balance in the pelvis to provide baby with the most room to move around possible. This in turn encourages baby to move around and more easily move to the best possible position for birth as the time approaches.
In addition, continuing care after your pregnancy can help your body regain its normal balance as you adjust to no longer being pregnant. Your body make a big change in those 9 months of pregnancy and then a pretty quick one at birth. It takes time to heal and recover. Chiropractic care can aid in that recovery.
If you are looking for a chiropractor or would like to speak with one more about the services they offer, we have an abundance of wonderful chiropractors in our community that treat pregnant women. Here are a few that I highly recommend in no particular order:
Shrout Family Chiropractic in Carmel with Dr. Melissa Shrout & Dr. Tracy Reichert. They have a float tank too!
Rangeline Chiropractic in Carmel with Dr. Hilary Hushower
Sacred Spines with Dr. Kristen Hartwell. Her office is located inside Sacred Roots Birth Center on the west side.
Mommy & Me Chiropractic with Dr. Stephanie Muir located on the Southside.
Indy Kids Chiropractic in Castleton with Dr. Kristin Huber
Pala Chiropractic with Dr. Shawn Pala in Noblesville.
Himsel Chiropractic with Dr. Jared Himself in Noblesville.
Chiropractic during your pregnancy can make you more comfortable and shorten your labor. Even if this is something you’ve been skeptical of in the past, I encourage you to try during your pregnancy. Find someone you like. It could make a big difference in your comfort level now and birth later.
First and foremost, know that going past your due date is totally normal! Average first time babies come 8 days after their due date (so a lot come later than that too!) and second babies come an average of 3 days past their due date. Totally normal. It’s even not that unusual for a second baby to come later than the first baby. That’s particularly difficult because you expect things to be similar the second time around. I know this is not what you want to hear. You want to have your baby here and in your arms and for all these pregnancy symptoms to be behind you. But. Sit back. Relax. Your baby will come. Your body knows what to do. You will actually go into labor. I promise. Unless there is a complication, there’s no big rush! Babies come when babies come.
But…there are few things that can help things get rolling or at least give you something to do that might help so you don’t feel quite so frustrated by the waiting game.
These are all options to try that “can” get things moving. These can help increase the hormones in your body that prepare it for labor and bring about birth. Ultimately, until baby is ready and your hormones have reached that necessary peak baby’s not going to come. Be patient and if you have any questions or concerns related to your specific situation always talk to your care provider.
It's Small Business Saturday! As usual, I've got some great deals for you! This year, I am offering 25% off 20 hour packages of postpartum care and private GentleBirth Classes for the price of group classes. Both of these great deals are a $150 value! Offers are valid until December 31st which means classes need to be booked by then, and postpartum care contracts and deposits must be in by then. If you're having a spring or summer baby, this is a great offer to take advantage of!
Offers are valid until December 31st which means classes need to be booked by then, and postpartum care contracts and deposits must be in by then. If you're having a spring or summer baby, this is a great offer to take advantage of!
Anyone else have a crazy summer? For some reason this post was much harder for me to write than my last and then some big, intense personal stuff happened too. But I’m back!!
As a follow up to m last post, 6 reasons to Get an Epidural, I wanted to write about the reasons NOT to get an epidural. I know, you’ve been told your whole life how miserable birth is and how you’ll be begging for an epidural before you even walk in the door. Just stop. Birth is different for everyone and it really truly isn’t always miserable and you really truly can do it if you want. ( Looking for childbirth classes to help eliminate fear?) Sure, there are real, compelling reasons to get one but there are also real, compelling reasons to avoid one if possible. Here’s 5:
1) Recovery. A natural birth, without an epidural and all the extra fluid that comes with it, almost always has an easier, quicker recovery. After that baby comes out, you are nearly back to your normal self. You can take care of your baby right away, you can use the bathroom and shower as soon as you’re ready. It really is amazing how much added recovery comes just with an epidural.
2) Mobility. This is a big one. A birth without an epidural gives you freedom of movement. You can walk, you can stand up, you can use the shower or the tub. You aren’t tied to as many machines. You can change positions as you feel the need. You are NOT CONFINED TO A BED. Being able to change positions during the second stage of labor, when you’re pushing you baby out, can mean the difference between a vaginal birth and a cesarean. Now, a good labor and delivery nurse and your doula can do lots to help you change positions even with an epidural, but you are more limited.
3) It’s close to the end. There’s a point in labor, sometimes called transition, when every woman doesn’t think she can do it anymore. Often, that’s when things go very quickly. If you have any doubt all about getting one, get a cervical check first. You may be much closer than you realize and it’s possible that the baby may arrive just after the epidural kicks in. If you think you can push through, do! If you won’t regret an epidural at this point, that’s okay too.
4) You don’t need one. Everyone experiences labor differently. Everyone’s labors proceed differently. Some women are quite comfortable until very near the end. How you expect it to be is very often how it is. If you don’t need one, don’t get one! Birth is a natural, normal process and while it’s not usually easy, it also isn’t necessarily torture.
5) You don’t want one. Having a natural birth may be very important to you for a variety of reasons. You may be concerned about the particular medications used, the potential risks, etc. You may feel like women have been doing this since the beginning of time, etc. It doesn’t matter why, YOU know that it is not the right decision for you. Plan and prepare but if you don’t want an epidural, don’t get one!
All births are incredible. It’s the beginning of a new family! I’m always so amazed at the strength of the women I serve whatever their birth choices. Epidural or no epidural doesn’t matter to me. What matters to me is you being part of your care and feeling good about your choices!
Looking for childbirth classes? Or planning a VBAC? Click these links!
Hey. I know you. I know you planned a natural birth. I know you wanted to avoid as many interventions as possible. I know not following your plan makes you feel like a failure. It shouldn’t. Really.
1) You’ve been up a reeeeaaaalllly long time. Labor can be long. Labor often begins at bedtime or in the middle of the night after an already really long day. It’s not too long and you find yourself having been up for 36 hours and EXHAUSTED. Sometimes you need a nap. It’s okay.
2) It’s really intense. Sometimes labors can be fast and quick. And sometimes they start out with a bang and you don’t have time to catch up. They talk all about labor that starts with contractions slowing getting closer together. Sometimes, contractions start 3 minutes apart. Sometimes it’s just a lot more intense than you expected.
3) $&%# happens. Sometimes there are complications or your water breaks without labor and you need to be induced. Yes, it’s absolutely possible to birth your baby without an epidural even when you are induced and yes, some women say they didn’t notice a difference between natural labor and induced labor. But sometimes it’s just plain harder and longer. I have to say that if I had pre-eclampsia and were stuck in bed on a mag drip as well as a pitocin drip, it’s unlikely I’d power through. If you did, that’s amazing! If you aren’t or weren’t able to, it’s okay.
4) Your past. Sometimes there are things that happened to us in our past that make birth difficult. If you are finding yourself having flashbacks or associating what’s happening during the birth of your child with something in your past you’d rather not and an epidural will help that, it okay to make that choice. It need not be anyone else’s business either.
5) You changed your mind. Truly, it’s okay to change your mind. Sometimes it’s harder than you expected. Sometimes you don’t have the emotional energy that day to do it. Sometimes you don’t need to have a reason.
6) You want one. Maybe you didn’t plan a natural birth. Maybe you planned all along to get an epidural. That’s cool too.
There might be other reasons too. We are so fortunate to have the interventions available to us that we do! Are they overused? Probably. But there are really good reasons to take advantage of what’s available sometimes too. Doulas, at least ones worth having, don’t go away (except maybe to nap at the same time you do) after you get an epidural. A good doula continues to offer that support you knew you needed during your birth. Of course, there are lots of reasons to not get an epidural as well and I’ll post about that soon!
Looking for childbirth classes? Or planning a VBAC? Click these links!
I love my job! This is truly my calling. I love working with new, expanding families. I love being part of their transition. This is such an amazing, sensitive time of life. One that the mother remembers forever. Not one birth is the same and each is an honor to attend. It is way more than just a job for me.
This week marks the 4 year anniversary of the first birth I attended. That mother will always have a special place in my heart. I learned so much that day about birthwork, about motherhood, and about myself. I was her only support person. This was her third high risk pregnancy and her third induction. We both thought it would be pretty straight forward and easy. We were wrong.
I spend 25 hours with her walking the halls, holding her hand, wiping her tears. Then her birth started to mirror my own first birth as a mother. When her baby’s heart rate dropped and her room filled with medical people, I was there. I was with her in the OR and took pictures and held her hand. She was terrified and I, being new at this, wasn’t sure what to do and I truly didn’t know if I would be okay. But I was and so was her baby.
Here's a recent photo of that beautiful baby girl:
"Esmae" Story and photograph were shared with my former client's permission.
My very first birth as a doula, I held another’s hand and walked with her through my own worst (and best) day and came out the other side. I knew without a doubt that I could do this work and do it well. That day left me with a feeling of coming home.
Birth almost always is normal and straight forward and and proceeds as planned. And sometimes the situation has a mind of its own. As a doula, I join you on the journey and do my best to make sure you and your partner have what you need through whatever comes.
Have I got a treat for you! This coming Saturday, from 9am-noon, at Founder’s Park in Carmel, I’ve partnered with Paola Williams of Paola Williams Photography to bring you Mom to Be! Paola, a talented local photographer, will be offering mini maternity sessions, Mimi Sosa of Yoga Garden, an amazing yoga instructor and doula, will be there talking about her fabulous prenatal yoga classes, and I, doula and childbirth educator, will be there talking about planning a positive birth.
This is a unique opportunity to talk with us about what we do and how we might enhance your life either Saturday, or sometime in the future. Come! Get some great pictures taken. Celebrate your pregnancy! Start thinking about a plan for your birth and the beauty of motherhood that come after! This is a low-key, fun, rather informal event and if you already have kids, they can play at the park! If you are interested in the maternity sessions, I’d suggest you arrive earlier so you can sign up for a time slot.
This is an outdoor event and will be postponed if we get crazy Indiana weather so if you’re questioning, check out the event on my Facebook page. Also, please note that the intersection of Hazel Dell and 116th is closed so the park is only accessible coming from the north down Hazel Dell. This happened AFTER we chose the location of course. ;) If you need to be rerouted, message me and I’ll be happy to help you figure out how to get there. See you Saturday!
I am so excited to announce GentleBirth: Confident VBAC! As any of you who have read my blog in the past know, VBAC is near and dear to my heart. Women consider or pursue VBAC from a variety of past birth experiences and for a variety of reasons. They make different choices too, and should all be encouraged to make the right choices for their unique situation from a place of information.
There are so many misconceptions out there about vaginal birth after a cesarean, some even perpetuated (either intentionally or unintentionally) by care providers. 70-80% of women who pursue VBAC, will be successful and 99% of moms will have no issue with their scar in labor. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology’s, more commonly known as ACOG, guidelines say that VBAC is a reasonable option for most women with one scar and even for many women who have had two cesareans but fears, misinformation, and barriers persist.
If you are considering a VBAC, this 4-hour course is for you! It covers recent research, risks/benefits, questions for your care provider, barriers, and how to increase you odds as well as a review of labor and comfort measures and finally, a hypnosis session at the end. But maybe more importantly, it also covers some of the emotional work that needs to happen as women face birth again. A one month subscription to the GentleBirth app to add to your birth toolbox, whether your ultimate decision is VBAC or not, as you prepare is also part of the registration fee.
The first class will be offered on July 8th, 1-5pm in Fishers. Subsequent classes dates will be found on Fireweed Doula's class page and on my GentleBirth page where registration is handled. Please, if you or someone you know is considering a VBAC, this is a class not to miss!
Next class will be February 3rd, 2018!!
Adina Nelson, CD(DONA)
I am a birth & postpartum doula and chlidbirth educator practicing in North Idaho.
She was there every step of the way for me and my husband...I thank Adina for everything she helped us with. She truly is a special person and we will be forever grateful for her! ~Erin