We Are Reading: Embracing The Miracle

We are happy to bring you this powerful article by Barbara Harper. She shares about her journey as a midwife and her experiences with waterbirth. To learn more go to http://www.waterbirth.org

Embracing the Miracle
by Barbara Harper

The most important work anyone can do is to support and nurture a pregnant woman towards a conscious, gentle and empowering birth experience! Midwives and doctors, doulas and childbirth educators hold the future in their hands, as well as in their hearts and minds, each and every day. Everyone connected with birth influences the treads of our society while participating in the most creative, powerful and mystical of all human experiences.
Birth is our “source” experience in the body. When we were born we were conscious participants in our own birth. We learned and made decisions in utero and the birth affects our subsequent mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. The perinatal experience, especially the immediate time after birth, is the origin of our emotional (stress) response to every situation we encounter. The decisions we make at birth are the foundation or source for the beliefs we live by each and every day.
My personal journey working with pregnancy and birth started over thirty years ago when I worked as a labor and delivery nurse in hospitals. My epiphany began when I met and was deeply influenced by two people. The first was Dr. Tom Verney, a psychiatrist from Toronto, Canada, who came to teach a workshop in Santa Barbara, after writing “The Secret Life of the Unborn Child.” His full day workshop convinced me that babies remember everything about their birth experience, then repress those implicit memories and the material surfaces when the stress of life experiences triggers a response. The other person was a birth activist, healer, designer and educator, Binnie Dansby. Binnie helped me prepare for the birth of my second child, 25 years ago. We prepared for a gentle waterbirth and in doing so I learned about fear and how it affected women in labor.
Fear of birth is reinforced by the conditioning we receive in all forms of communication from our parents, our teachers, the images on television and movies. Fear always creates conflict. Love and fear are both right brain responses and cannot co-exist. One must leave for the other to be present. Fear often translates into anger, resentment, critical judgment or criticism. Fear stops the flow of life energy, stops the flow of Love… stops action. .. stops birth! When we feel safe and protected we see a different result.
“A thought planted in the mind and nourished by the breath, takes root in the heart of every cell in the body,” Binnie informed me. There is so much research today on the biology of the mind. Before sounding too new age about this information, know that the Judaic and Christian sacred literature is also full of example after example of intention, thought and consciousness – connecting with God and allowing spirit to move through and do the work. And there is so much information on how to break strongholds (negative thoughts and patterns of action) and reform that way of thinking.
Healing begins the very moment a life-enhancing thought (an affirmation) is chosen to replace a life-diminishing thought, no matter how you may be feeling or experiencing energy moving or not moving in the body. We may not always be able to choose how we feel, yet in every moment, we have the power to choose what to think and speak.
This lesson is most clearly illustrated with women in labor. When contractions begin to intensify and the woman begins to shout, “No,” her body tenses and everything slows down. By asking her to say, “Yes”, even through the energy surge, encouraging her to look into the eyes of her partner, doula, midwife…to open her throat and moan and sing and allowing herself to be supported, in a short time, perhaps even with the next contraction, she will experience a visible transformation. The same woman, same body, same energy will open and in a few ‘energy surges’ she will be saying, “Thank You’ to her body and opening and letting go. Personal power is the ability to choose. All of our choices make a difference.
My first waterbirth was a transformative experience on every level – from saying, “yes,” to my body, my baby and the energy; to birthing in water and experiencing an orgasm as he was born. I realized that we can, through intention, always and in all ways, create a safe, supportive and nurturing environment in which we can listen to the voice of God – to the divine. No one unveils their inner most being fully to anyone, especially themselves, until they know that it is safe and that there is someone who completely accepts them exactly as they are. Once you experience this completely and have integrated that experience into your life you can provide a loving atmosphere for others. That is when we become “be-las” instead of “do-las.”
My life turned upside down that night and the weeks following. I gave my first waterbirth class in my living room just a few weeks later. I tried to impress upon the midwives who came that by creating a scared space for birth we can honor the whole, complete, forgiving, powerful, creative consciousness within ourselves and for those around us and especially for those coming into this world. It is never too late to express and except our original design – God’s perfect design for our lives – that which we came into life to fulfill. My plan was to teach midwives, doctors and parents about the miracle of waterbirth and to expect that we could affect an immediate change in how we welcome babies into the world. It may have been a pretty grandiose plan to think that we could change entire healthcare systems in entire countries, but it is now working.
By developing acceptance, compassion, and patience and gentleness in our care for ourselves, we can take conscious evolutionary steps together, open and learn together, acknowledge new possibilities for growth, and change our minds together. We can break generational patterns and change here and now.
Ask yourself, “How would you approach birth if you were convinced that the baby is making decisions? “ I have asked this question of doctors and midwives in over 40 countries around the world. In mainland China, no one actually believed that a baby could possibly know, sense and hear what was being said during a birth. I continue to share startling revelations about prenatal and perinatal consciousness everywhere I am asked to teach waterbirth. My next stop is Vietnam, where I will ask the same questions and teach about the miracle of waterbirth, as well as the amazing truth about God’s original design for our lives.
Water magnifies our thoughts and intensifies the birth experience. Do I think that everyone should birth in water? No, absolutely not. But water is an amazing miraculous tool for support and consciousness.

To learn more go to http://www.waterbirth.org

Barbara Harper is a former OB nurse, a midwife, Doula, childbirth educator and the author of Gentle Birth Choices, book and DVD and Birth Into Being, DVD. She is the founder and director of Waterbirth International, an organization dedicated to making waterbirth an available option for all women. She is also the mother of three grown children and one grandson. She lives and works from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

We Are Reading: Childbirth: Questions to ask your Doctor or Midwife

It is important to make an informed decision about where to deliver your baby. This article shares a list of ten great questions to ask potential settings in order to gain all the information you need. Dr. Laura Markham from Aha Parenting recommends first learning about each location and then most importantly choose the location that is best for you.

First, learn as much as you can about all your choices. There are many different ways of caring for a mother and her baby during labor and birth.

Birthing care that is healthier for mothers and babies is called “mother-friendly.” Some birth places or settings are more mother-friendly than others

Read the full list at:

http://www.ahaparenting.com/ages-stages/pregnancy/childbirth-questions-ask-doctor-or-midwife

 

We Are Reading: 50 ways to Support a Woman During Labor

We love this list of ways to encourage and support a laboring woman from Four Mamas Birth Collective, www.fourmamasbirth.com. Great for partners!

1. Greet the contraction with a big sigh.…relax as you let your breath out.

2. Every breath out brings calmness…

3. That’s the way….just like that……

4. Feel baby’s head pressing down…..let the baby come.

5. Stay soft and flexible where you feel the baby….

6. Now it’s coming down……start to rest now.

7. Great! Don’t change a thing.   You’re doing so well.

8. Join right in with your breathing….keep it going in and out….

9. Nice and easy….. use only the energy you need….

10. Drop your shoulders….. loosen your hands…..

11. Stay with your breath… each one opens the cervix more…

12. This one is almost over…..fading away….. go limp like a rag doll….

13. You really have the hang of this. You’re amazing.   I knew you could do it.

14. Here comes another….that’s it, relaxing sighs as you rise up to the top of it…

15. Just give way for the baby… baby wants to come….

16. Keep it going just like that…..easy in , easy out…….keep that rhythm

17. See it happening….the baby is coming down on the inside….. breathe it open

18.You’re a natural…….working so well….a strong woman.

19. Let it go away…..start to rest…….cleansing breath…..Nice going!

20. Meet it with your breathing…. that’s it….getting stronger now…..stay with it…

21. Let it stretch….that’s the baby’s head you feel…….coming through.

22. We’re really getting there….you’re doing beautifully…..you’re inspiring!

23. It’s coming down….slow and easy breaths now…..kiss that one good-bye…..

24. First class work!

25. You’re so healthy and strong!

26. Deep breath right from the start……yes, in and out….match it to the peak…

27. Yes, really going right with it……the circle is widening…..

28. Just a little longer…here, look in my eyes….breathe with me. …just like that

29. Going away now…… go limp and relaxed……you just rest now.

30. I’m here with you, you are alright…….we’ll do this together…..one at time.

31. From the beginning….breathe with me…….yes….yes….

32. Nice and steady…..baby’s sliding through….. heading toward your arms…

33. Stay centered…..no resistance……going with it…..being fluid like water.

34. Good open sounds……going deep inside…. to where the baby is.

35. Easing up now……let it go completely……rest for you and the baby.

36. You’re incredible!   Finding that inner strength. I knew you could do this.

37. Remember, the hardest time is the shortest. Let’s take them one at a time.

38. Deep breath….really surrender……you are safe……

39. You’re the best…working hard…..really stretching…

40. Good pain, baby pain….doing just what it should…

41. OK, it’s coming down the hill…..in the valley now…..time to rest again

42. You’re fully dilated, you can push when you’re ready!

43. I’m so excited for you! You’ll be meeting your baby soon!     What a woman!

44. Few deep breaths now….push at the top of your breath…..pressing down…..

45. That’s it…..way into your bottom….feel baby moving down and out

46. Listen to your body….follow it’s rhythm….push when it tells you to…

47. It’s going away….rest and relax now…save that energy…..

48. Here it comes….feel your woman power pushing your baby down……down

49. Let the baby come out easy now….bottom opens out….blossoming petal by petal……breathe easy…..little nudges….. here it comes!

50. What a miracle! Congratulations, you’re a Mom!

If you are looking a guide to childbirth for dads and labor companions we recommend The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin.

Birth Trauma (Postpartum PTSD) ~Dr. Katie Godfrey

Birth Trauma: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after Childbirth*

At The Catalyst Center we work to support women and their families during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum.  One of the areas in which we work is Birth Trauma.  It is reported that between 25% and 35% of mothers report experiencing a traumatic childbirth experience.  The causes of birth trauma include:

  • Medical Interventions, especially ones the mother feels were unnecessary
  • Lack of control during pregnancy and/or birth
  • Lack of support from partner and/or staff
  • Injuries experienced by mother or baby during childbirth

 Signs and Symptoms

Some women recover more quickly than others, physically and psychologically, while some find themselves struggling to move forward.  Typically the mothers who are struggling have symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  Signs of Birth Trauma and PTSD include:

  • Weepiness
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability and angry outbursts
  • Panic attacks
  • Nightmares about the birth
  • A desire to avoid the baby or anything relating to the birth
  • Feelings of detachment from loved ones
  • A sense that some other disaster is imminent
  • Physiological and psychological reactions to reminders of the birth
  • Flashbacks of birth experience
  • Lack of memory of birth experience
  • Fear of having subsequent children

Healing

 Try to not judge yourself.  Your feelings and reactions are normal for someone who as encountered trauma.  People may tell you, “As long as the baby is ok, you should feel fine about your birth experience”.  While they are trying to be helpful, please keep in mind that this just is not true.  Your birth experience matters!  As Barbara Katz Rothman said, “Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is about making mothers–strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength.”  Here are some suggestions to start the healing process:

  • Do not judge yourself.  Remember: your feelings and reactions are a normal reaction to trauma
  • Get support from family and friends
  • Join a moms group
  • Find support online
  • Get help caring for baby
  • Give yourself time to heal
  • Create art
  • Write in a journal
  • Write letters to the hospital staff (you do not have to mail them)
  • Exercise
  • Therapy, including EMDR
  • Find places to talk about your birth story
  • Body work (massage, mani/pedi)
  • Write your birth story
  • Re-write your birth story as you wish it had happened
  • Skin-to-skin contact with baby
  • Talking to baby about what the two of you experienced
  • Obtain medical records so you know exactly what happened
  • Consider talking to your doctor about medication

You do not have to go through this alone.  If you or a loved one are struggling with Birth Trauma and PTSD, please contact The Catalyst Center.  Change Begins Today!

*Adapted from: Griebenow, Jennifer J (Winter 2006). Healing the Trauma: Entering Motherhood with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  Midwifery Today Issue 80.

The Catalyst Center is here to help.  We offer individual, couple, and family therapy, as well as a Birth Circle where mothers can share birth stories.  Please contact us for more information by calling 720-675-7123 or emailing us at catalystcenterllc@gmail.com.

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Dr. Katie Godfrey is a therapist at The Catalyst Center. Her specialties include:

Ready to learn more or book your free initial consultation with Katie? Give The Catalyst Center a call at 720-675-7123.

Suggestions for Family and Friends of Postpartum Moms ~Dr. Katie Godfrey

Postpartum Depression, Anxiety, Obsessive Compulsion, and Trauma:

Suggestions for Family and Friends

 Postpartum depression threatens the mother’s and partner’s health, relationship, friendships and careers, as well as the baby’s welfare.  Dealing with issues of day-to-day living becomes a special challenge.  With patience and understanding, you can give invaluable support and assist a depressed mother’s recovery.  Here are some suggestions:

  • Encourage her to seek the help of a physician and/or psychiatrist.  An evaluation is important, and medication may be very helpful.  There are some medications that are considered safe during breastfeeding.  Consult your physician.
  • Encourage her to seek therapy.
  • Let the mother express her feelings of anxiety and fear freely.
  • Encourage her to exercise and take time for herself.
  • Encourage the mother to join a PPD support group.
  • Help her develop a schedule with one or two simple tasks.  Notice when she makes an effort.
  • Don’t take her criticism personally.
  • You are justified in being frustrated with her attitude and actions, but be sure to direct your anger at the situation and her illness, not at her.  She is doing the best she can in her current condition.
  • Be aware that you can get depressed yourself, and may need help as well.  Talk to a friend, physician, or therapist.

**Adapted from Postpartum Education for Parents

The Catalyst Center is here to help.  We offer individual, couple, and family therapy, as well as a Birth Circle where mothers can share birth stories.  Please contact us for more information.  Change Begins Today.

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Dr. Katie Godfrey is a therapist at The Catalyst Center. Her specialties include:

Ready to learn more or book your free initial consultation with Katie? Give The Catalyst Center a call at 720-675-7123.

Signs and Symptoms: Birth Trauma

Signs of Birth Trauma

  • Insomnia
  • Feeling “weepy” or tearful
  • Depression
  • Anxiety and Panic
  • Irritability and angry outbursts
  • Nightmares about the birth
  • A desire to avoid baby or anything relating to baby
  • Feeling detached from baby or other loved ones
  • A sense that a disaster is imminent
  • Physiological and psychological reactions to reminders of the birth
  • Flashbacks of the birth experience
  • Lack of memory of the birth experience
  • Fear of becoming pregnant again, or of giving birth again

Birth Trauma is a Post-Traumatic Stress response to a childbirth experience that did not go as planned. It can be related to medical interventions, lack of control during pregnancy and/or birth, lack of support from partner and/or birth attendants, or previous traumatic experiences.

Birth Trauma Reactions are treatable and curable, and can affect mothers, fathers, and partners.

If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, please contact your health care provider or reach out to the therapists at The Catalyst Center.

You are not alone. We can help.

www.CatalystCenterLLC.com

720-675-7123

300 South Jackson Street, Suite 520

Denver, CO 80209

The Catalyst Center is a group practice specializing in the prevention and treatment of postpartum depression, anxiety, and trauma reactions.

Thank you to Dr. Katie Godfrey for help compiling this information!

Signs and Symptoms: Postpartum Anxiety

Signs of Postpartum Anxiety

  • Chest pains
  • Nausea
  • Racing or pounding heart
  • Shortness of breath
  • Hot or cold flashes
  • Irrational fears
  • Feeling agitated, restless, or irritable
  • Inability to sit still
  • Excessive concern about baby’s health or own health
  • Being on “high alert”
  • Appetite changes: often rapid weight loss
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep (other than baby waking)
  • Constant worry
  • Sensations of choking or trouble breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Trembling, rapid heart rate, numbness, or tingling sensations
  • Excessive worry or fears
  • Racing thoughts

Postpartum Anxiety is treatable and curable. It can occur during pregnancy or anytime in the first year of parenthood. Mothers and fathers are both susceptible.

If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, please contact your health care provider or reach out to the therapists at The Catalyst Center.

You are not alone. We can help.

www.CatalystCenterLLC.com

720-675-7123

300 South Jackson Street, Suite 520

Denver, CO 80209

The Catalyst Center is a group practice specializing in the prevention and treatment of postpartum depression, anxiety, and trauma reactions.

Thank you to Dr. Katie Godfrey for help compiling this information!