Chapter One: The Many Faces of Home Birth

First Time Moms Choose Home Birth

The Many Faces of Home Birth contains eight very different chapters that showcase the diversity of modern home birth. This is the first post in a short series on the blog to introduce you to the women and families you will get to know in the book. I also want to give you, wonderful readers, a glimpse into the book before it’s on your night stand, book shelf, or, if you’re like me, in your purse:-).

Continue reading

A Speedy Home Birth

Photo Credit: Justin A.

Many times before this child was born, I dreamed I went into labor in the middle of the night, drenching our brand new mattress with my with my earthy smelling fluid, and silently, without telling a soul, delivered my baby all by myself in my own little corner of the family bed. In my dreams, my husband and daughter would rise to the cries of our new baby and would be blissfully shocked beyond all belief that the baby had come so quickly, so peacefully. I woke up in the middle of the night for my first labor. But the entire neighborhood could tell you that. I had a team of three women and my husband calling my daughter out. It was not your textbook childbirth. 51 hours of slow progress and back labor. I also had a mountain of a recovery. If anything, my daughter’s labor taught me patience. I wanted it to be a little different this time around. I prayed it would be a little different. At the very least, I wanted an intact perineum after I delivered this new human earthside. I prepared myself with the understanding that anything could happen. I prepared my body through birthing ball exercises, positional inversions, and a daily walk with Junie up our neighborhood hill and back. I nourished it with food and drink. Dates to help ripen me, oils to moisten and expand my folds, teas to strengthen my mother organs. I prepared my mind by releasing all my tigers at the Blessingway, explaining my fears to other women, and was filled with love and support in the process. I listened to guided meditations with my family many times a week to help me strengthen my belief in myself and in the joy of childbirth. I prepared my soul by praying at my birth altar, lighting candles, and reflecting deeply on the very first woman. I also knew I needed to immerse myself in birth. I needed it over and over again. I watched youtube videos. Hundreds of them over the process of three trimesters, in order to  normalize birth. To see women powerhousing through, bringing forth joy and love and light again and again and again. One video in particular inspired me to my very core. The mama was mere moments from delivering her child, and she was wildly bright and round and beautiful. Her husband was frantic because the midwife had not yet arrived. He told her “No, don’t push! Don’t push!”, and she replied calmly “I can’t help it, Thomas. I’m pushing!”. Her husband caught the baby. It made him a new man and you could hear that in his voice. He was in awe of his woman. More importantly, however, you could hear the strength and courage in her voice. She discovered her full potential. She was a force of nature. Her body waits for no one. Not her midwife, not her husband. She was not a force to be reckoned with. Little did I know that this video planted a seed in me. A seed that would change the course of my entire life.

Continue reading

“The Many Faces of Home Birth” Book Cover Reveal and Pre-Sale!

The Many Faces Of Home Birth Book CoverI can hardly believe that “The Many Faces of Home Birth” is now available for pre-sale! Equally as exciting is the debut of the cover and a little taste of what you can expect if you decide to purchase the book. *Spoiler: 25 amazing home birth stories from several countries, several states in the US, perspectives from moms and dads, and unique circumstances that aren’t often associated with home birth (single mama, twins, over a certain age, rainbow babies, home birth after Cesarean, and so many other beautiful tales).

Click here to see all the goodness!

If you order now, the book will ship to you as soon as it releases on September 5th, 2017.

Your support of this project means the world to me, and I can’t wait for readers to experience the very real and positive home birth stories shared in the book.

A Collection of 25 Home Birth Stories From Around the World?!? Yes Please.

Untitled design (1)You know when you have a little idea that whispers to you night and day? My little idea started over six years ago while I was embarking on my first home birth with our first born. Of course I read ALL the Gaskin books and searched the Internet until my eyes bled, but I was left wishing for home birth stories that were more like me. More modern. More inclusive. Less “woodsy”.

Continue reading

The Positive Birth Book Review

Milli Hill, creator of The Positive Birth Movement, has written the most refreshing and updated pregnancy book you can currently get your hands on!

I reached out to Milli Hill with a long lost hope that she would respond to my little email about being a contributor for our upcoming book, The Many Faces of Home Birth. I couldn’t believe her willingness to be a part of the project especially as she was working on finishing up her own book. I stalked all things The Positive Birth Movement and anxiously awaited the release of her book, The Positive Birth Book. 

On March 16th, the book was released and magically showed up on my Kindle! I spent the evening reading through Milli’s engaging and entertaining words. After three home births we are done having kiddos, however, the desire to learn and know as much as I can about birth never fades. I still get excited when I get to read any birth story or when I get to hear a positive perspective regarding birth- any birth. That is really the soul of Milli’s heart. Milli’s goal is to help all women experience the birth they wish to have. I love that! The goal isn’t to try to get every woman to have a home birth; the goal is to provide women with resources and information that is positive, accurate, and welcoming. When women have choices and resources to explore and plan the birth right for them and their family, everything about their perspective on birth changes. The fear fades and excitement takes over.

One of the greatest aspects of The Positive Birth Book is the overwhelming feeling that you are about to be welcomed into a group of women who are empowered by their birth choices, confident in their choices, and supported for those reasons. Because at the end of the day, it’s YOUR birth. No one else is going to be pushing that baby out or having the Cesarean. It’s all about you and your birth team.

Isn’t it exciting to know that YOU are in charge. Never before have women had the opportunity to be so educated about their births. Never before have I heard women sharing so openly and honestly about birth. Please join in the conversation, no matter what stage you are at in your family planning- it’s never too early to get educated and it’s never too late to share your wisdom:-).

Love,

Shantel

 

 

A Mother and Daughter Midwifery Duo

Dear Readers,

I am thrilled to introduce you to my wonderful midwives, Mary and Pita. The narrative below is written by Mary! If you would like to hear more about their wonderful care and my experience with both Mary and Pita as my midwives, check out my home birth stories here and here. As always, I’m so happy you are here, and I hope you enjoy!

Best, Shantel

Midwife Blog Home Birth Mary and Pita


I have been involved in the birth field since 1973.  First as a Bradley instructor attending births and then as an apprentice midwife.  I started out in Long Beach, CA and then in 1976 moved to Washington State.  Before becoming a Bradley instructor, I worked as a civilian employee for the US Army as an ammunition clerk at Ft MacArthur in San Pedro , CA. I had to keep track of all ammunition used by the 6th Army Reserves and National Guard.  Before computers.  Gah!  I was also a long distance telephone operator for Ma Bell, and I worked for LA County as a dispatch operator for the LA County Sheriffs Dept.  Never in a million years did I ever expect to be a midwife until I had my second baby, Pita, in 1973.  Even then I just wanted to tell people that the Bradley Method works and that there is a better way to have a baby than to be drugged up and managed.  Knock ‘em out, drag ‘em out was how Dr. Bradley put it.  Through the birth classes I taught, I attended so many births.  Mostly the births I attended were in the hospital as a doula/photographer, but also home births.  There I met midwives and doctors that did home births.  In 1970 and on it was an uphill battle to change the way things were done.  Most births were medicated, you had to stay in bed, no food or water for the duration of labor, IV’s always, episiotomies always, spinals or epidurals always, hands strapped down, legs strapped into stirrups, no husbands in the delivery room, and no rooming in.  You got your baby 24hrs AFTER delivery and only to feed them every 4 hrs.  If they got hungry before that, the nursery would give formula.  Oh, and everyone got a high soap suds enema at the beginning of labor and a shave.  Glorious right?!  The only way things changed was that women were being educated about birth by going to childbirth classes and learning about birth.  Then the moms would request the most outlandish things like no medication, having their husbands with them at birth, no episiotomies, etc.  When we found a Doc that would oblige these mom’s, everyone would switch providers to get what they wanted.  After a bit of time and mothers requesting these things and taking their money elsewhere, the hospitals got the hint and slowly started to change their thinking.  By the time I left Long Beach in 1976, it was totally changed to a more natural approach.  Almost all of those routine procedures were gone.

Then came Vancouver, Washington.  April 1976.  I started doing public film showings at the library.  I showed the Bradley film, “Childbirth for the Joy of It” and the Brewer film, “What Every Pregnant Woman Should Know”, which people loved, and the Navy Training film that showed a normal hospital birth and all that that entailed, and also scared the bejeezes out of everyone.  What a contrast!  I was discouraged when I moved to Vancouver because the only hospital that was offering maternity care was doing everything that I fought to change in California.  They thought I was a lunatic.  Maybe I was, but I was sick to death of how the birth scene was here.  I started teaching Bradley classes and attending births and at one home birth I met the coolest lady ever, Hazel Woodward.  She was a direct entry midwife, which I had never heard of, and she told me about a midwifery school that had started in West Linn, Oregon.  I applied and was accepted and graduated from there.  Some of my class mates were Gail Hart and Patricia Edmonds among other like minded women.  Our teachers were midwives, naturopathic doctors, and chiropractors.  Some of these had been catching babies for 50 yrs or more.

What a wealth of info they had.  Way before water birth caught on, we were taught by Dr. Babnick, who was at least 80 then, to put women into a hot bath to help with labor. We got them out to births, but we learned so much from those good hearted, wise teachers.  How to not interfere with the normal process of birth.  How to listen to mothers and how to feel baby’s position with our hands and not ultrasound.  How to get baby to turn into a better position before birth to avoid problems in labor.  Dr. Jack taught us to not be afraid and to go with what we see, not the what if’s of fear based decisions. We learned herbal remedies and properties of the plants. Homeopathics also.  It was a great education and made me hungry for more.  After I graduated from midwifery school I apprenticed with Hazel for a year and then started on my own from there.  I’ve been catching babies in SW Washington and the Portland area since then.

Continue reading

Conceiving Naturally With Acupuncture

I like to say my acupuncturist helped get my baby into me and helped get my baby out of me! I won’t hesitate to go back to see her when my husband and I are ready to try for our next baby.

conceiving

Missy is so kind to share her experience with acupuncture and her pregnancy journey. Enjoy!

I was diagnosed with PCOS at age 33 in 2012. At the time, I knew I wanted children, but was not in a relationship, so I decided I would do everything I could to get myself in the best shape I could to be ready to conceive once I was in a position to do so. I began taking Metformin and started a workout program. I lost about 20 pounds, but still had long, irregular cycles. My husband and I got married in 2014 and were immediately open to getting pregnant. As I was already 35, I gave us 6 months of no interventions to try to allow nature to take its course. After 6 months, I was going to return to the doctor who had said I would probably need Clomid to conceive.

Around this time my trainer mentioned that his wife had used acupuncture in their efforts to conceive. As I was hoping to avoid more invasive fertility treatments, I was willing to give it a try. I met with the acupuncturist and after reviewing my history, we developed a plan. I saw her twice a week in the beginning, and then after several weeks we went to once a week. Although I didn’t know it at the time, I conceived after about 6 weeks of treatments (after my first period I had after I started treatments). I continued treatments until I realized I was pregnant (approximately 11-12 weeks of treatments). Unfortunately, I lost my first baby between 6 and 7 weeks. After consulting with my acupuncturist and midwife, we agreed I could resume treatments after my first cycle post-miscarriage. I conceived again on that first cycle. I fully credit acupuncture with helping me get pregnant twice in 4 months.

After an uneventful second pregnancy, I sailed past my due date and was at 41+3 when I had reached my breaking point. I thought to seek out my acupuncturist again and see if she did anything for induction. She mentioned she had an induction protocol and could see me that night. I conferred with my husband, who said “What’s the worst that could happen?”, and I left immediately to see my acupuncturist. She told me that if the session worked, I would most likely wake up in labor the next morning, but that it could take several sessions. I went to sleep that night around 2 a.m. (not my smartest idea) and woke up in labor at 5 a.m.. I had a long but steady, 20 hour hard labor and gave birth at home to my 9lb 8oz baby girl in May 2016. I fully credit acupuncture with jump starting my labor, although I know it would not have worked if my baby wasn’t ready.

I like to say my acupuncturist helped get my baby into me and helped get my baby out of me! I won’t hesitate to go back to see her when my husband and I are ready to try for our next baby.