Category Archives: Monday Musings

Monday Musing: Prevention Instead of Awareness

Wordless Wednesday… The “Sterile” Cesarean…It’s APRIL. Its spring and its also Cesarean Awareness Month. Soooooo every year I ask myself. What does that mean? We already know there continues to be far too many c/sections happening in this country.  We are aware that one of every three births is a c/section. I live in New Orleans and the rate of c/section here in my state exceeds FORTY percent!!! This really is a crime against women IMO. And we are VERY aware that this is happening.  What are we doing to prevent this??

More than the high C/section rates, I am constantly amazed at the false information women are given to justify c/sections when they simply are NOT required. Just today I spoke with a woman who is hoping to find a provider who will support her decision to have a VBAC. She is fighting an uphill battle here in New Orleans.  One that she would not be fighting if she had not been misled during her second birth.

Here is her story…
At 18 years old, she gave birth to her first child. During that labor she received an epidural.  She ended up having a forceps delivery and a 3rd degree laceration. She was pregnant three years later with her second child. In spite of the fact that she easily had TWENTY childbearing years left, her OB suggested that a scheduled c/section would be safest/easier because of the “difficulty” of her first birth.  And at the age of 21, easily influenced by her doctor, she agreed and scheduled her c/section. Now she sits with me for a consultation at the age of 31 and learns that a decision she made 10 years ago is going to have a HUGE impact on her ability to have a normal birth today. As I listened to her story I wanted to scream!!!

I could go into a long dissertation about what defines “difficult”; other than the third degree she didn’t recall anything too difficult. Nothing was ever wrong with the baby who weighed in at 7# 13 ounces. As I mentioned to her… I have seen smaller women give birth to much larger babies. Her second baby, the c/section baby… was only six pounds.  And she agreed that recovery from that third degree was a LOT easier than recovery from that cesarean. I could go on and on about the many things that happened during her labor that could have increased her risk of the third degree laceration: purple pushing, forceps, and epidural, rushing to birth, lithotomy position and more. Instead I will leave all that for another day.

What I do want to say is this, whether women know it or not… The Birth Plan Myth as I call it, is alive and well. The stories THEY tell women, the lies and the manipulation THEY do, and the trickery THEY pulled on her, they continue to use today. Women are continuing to be manipulated into decisions that are not the best for themselves based on some ulterior motive of the OBs. We can speculate all day about what motivates them to manipulate. Instead of doing that, I just want to confirm with you that it happens.

In case you need convincing… Let me assure you, with faith and conviction that similar shit is still happening today. Earlier this week, I received an email from a mother concerned because her daughter’s doctor was suggesting an induction five days BEFORE her due date. NOTHING was wrong with the baby. And other than a case of TOBP (tired of being pregnant) nothing was wrong with the mother. She was a primiparous woman with a high closed cervix. There was NOT a medical indication for the induction and many indications that an induction would be unsuccessful. She was in fact twice as likely to end up with a cesarean.  The mother reluctantly accepted her daughter’s wishes and they went in for the induction. I received an email from the mother. It was not a great experience. I will leave it at that.

It angers me, saddens me, frustrates me and then it inspires me to keep on doing what I am doing. Those of us who want birth justice, who want birth freedom, who want women to birth safely in their own way… we must continue to fight. As the song goes… “We who believe in freedom cannot rest.” And those of us who believe in birth freedom must stay vigilant and continue to fight.  As we move through April, let’s not simply call this Cesarean Awareness Month. Let’s make this cesarean PREVENTION month. The fight continues!


Join me for the continuation of The Birth Plan Myth 6-part webinar series. Part II gets under way Thursday, April 10, 2014.  Over the course of two calls, I will be discussing the most common hospital interventions, what they are, why they are used, and what you can do to prevent them and to minimize risks if they become necessary. Learn which interventions can cause or help prevent an cesarean.  The series continues THURSDAY. Learn more and register.

 

Monday Musing… I am Sooooo EXCITED!!!

It’s Mardi Gras season here in New Orleans.  In fact Mardi Gras is tomorrow and I am sooooo EXCITED!! And its not because I will be participating in all the festivities.  I used to LOVE hanging out for Mardi Gras.  It was one of my favorite holidays. Yes… in New Orleans, Mardi Gras is an official holiday with three days of school closings and more.  Normally I would be getting geared up for some fun. Instead, this year, I am preparing for the launch of my newest webinar series The Birth Plan Myth Extended!  And I. Am. Sooooo EXCITED!

The vision for this series came to me almost two years ago and FINALLY it’s coming to fruition.  I give thanks and I invite you to join me as I launch this prenatal education series on March 6.

I have had over 19 years working in hospitals. I have worked as a nurse-midwife, a labor, antepartum and postpartum nurse and today I work as a clinical educator providing training to nurses nationwide on the use of the newest models of electronic fetal monitors.   In each of my roles, I have worked in small rural hospitals, large tertiary care centers and every type of facility in between.  I have seen and spoken with so many women who have gotten so close to the birth experience they wanted, but still no cigar.  (As an important aside… there should be no smoking during pregnancy 0_o)

I have seen woman after woman come to the hospital, seemingly educated and empowered, yet still uninformed about what happens during a hospital birth.  I’ve seen countless others come to the hospital completely uninformed, and subjected to mistreatment and manipulation.   These experiences motivated me to create The Birth Plan Myth; a missing ingredient in the gumbo pot of Mother Friendly Care.

The Birth Plan Myth was created as an alternative to the typical prenatal and childbirth education available to pregnant women and families.  It was created as a tool to be placed into the bag of childbirth educators and doulas. It was created to give women, families, birth workers and birth advocates a unique insider’s view to what happens on the labor and delivery unit during a hospital birth. It was developed to help you navigate the maze of modern day maternity care.

I have been given a lot of information over the years and I want to tell you what I know.  I want to give you what I have.  I want to share the TRUTH of hospital birth that I have inside of me so that women can be free to birth when/where/and how they want to.  When it comes to hospital birth, it seems like women are showing up to a formal event in a pair of shorts and flip flops.  I don’t have all the answers, but I believe women deserve to know what really goes on.  I have an intense passion and a genuine desire for women and birth workers to be armed with the skills they need.  It is this passion and desire that gave birth to The Birth Plan Myth Extended.

The BPM 6-part Series

The Birth Plan Myth Extended is a 6-part webinar series consisting of two calls each month beginning March 6, 2014.  If you can join us live you will have the opportunity to participate in the question and answer segment. If you have to miss a call, don’t worry; recordings will be provided after each part of this series.

I hope you will make plans to join me. You can learn more and register here.  Want to get a glimpse of what will be shared in the series? Join me Wednesday, March 5, for a FREE preview call. Just make sure you register BEFORE the series begins so you can receive a FREE Sista Midwife Productions signature Birth Something Beautiful t-shirt!  Now do you understand why I am so excited?!  :-)

Are you pregnant or planning a pregnancy?
Are you a Doula, Birth Advocate or Childbirth Educator?
Are you preparing to birth in the hospital?
Do you support women who birth in the hospital?
Are you fed up with stories of women having traumatic births?
Have you taken a childbirth education class and still have questions about what REALLY happens on a hospital labor and delivery unit?

If you answered yes to any of these questions
The Birth Plan Myth – Extended is for YOU!

During this series, we will:

*  Discuss the biggest myths about Birth Plans and what you need to do to be empowered with or without one.

*  Help you understand the importance of creating a personal birth philosophy and vision for your birth.

*  Teach you ways to communicate with providers that will diminish anxiety, and increase confidence while helping to get the information needed to make informed choices.

*  Discuss the difference between informed consent and informed refusal.

*  Give you a more in depth understanding of common medications and interventions, including what they are, when and why they are used and what you can do to minimize risks even if you don’t want a “natural birth.”

*  Explain the most common procedures performed on a newborn so you can make an informed decision about accepting or declining these routines.

I am VERY excited about this series and I really hope you will make plans to join me. This series will bring a perspective like none other before.  I have been planning this for a while and I am about to explode with excitement!   During this series I will be honest. I will hold nothing back.  I will provide evidence and give you details of what I know from working inside the hospital system for over 19 years.

Register BEFORE the series gets started on March 6th and receive an SMP signature Birth Something Beautiful t-shirt.

This series is separated into 3 parts.
Part I is called The Myth Explained.  These two calls are designed to give you more understanding about why birth plans don’t work. We will discuss in detail ways to communicate with providers and give you the questions to ask that will give you the answers you need.   We will talk about how to research providers and hospitals and give you examples of how to write a birth letter instead of a birth plan.

Part II is all about interventions. We will discuss the some of the most common interventions used in hospital birth including Induction medications, epidurals, internal and external fetal monitoring, and more.  We will discuss the risks and benefits of these interventions and help you understand how to minimize risks when an intervention becomes necessary.  We will cover informed consent and informed refusal and I will discuss the realities of hospital birth while giving you suggestions on how to “pick your battles” so that your birth space can remain sacred and you can avoid birthing in a battle field.

During the final part of this series My Baby and Me, we will discuss in detail the most common newborn procedures performed in the hospitals. I will provide you with information about why they are done, and tell you what the current research says about them.  I will give you a peek inside the newborn nursery and tell you what can happen when you decide not to “room in” with your newborn.  The series will end with a call that will give you the keys to creating an empowered birth.

Want to know more??
Get a sneak peek of the information I will be sharing during this series.  Join me Wednesday at 1PM OR 8PM CST for a FREE preview call as I give you a glimpse into this series.  During this preview call I will give you a few nuggets from each part of the series that you can put into action now!!

The Birth Plan Myth Extended is going to be a dynamic series.  I am proud and excited to be able to share this information. If you find this is not for you please forward this email to someone you know can benefit from the information I will be sharing.  I encourage you to get registered TODAY.  As an added incentive, if you register before the series begins, you will receive a signature Sista Midwife Productions, Birth Something Beautiful t-shirt.

I look forward to hearing you on the call!

In Birth and Love
Nicole

Monday Musing: The more things change…

There has been a LOT of racial shit poppin off in the birth world the past few weeks.  I have been trying to put some words down on paper to talk about some of it and I just kept coming up with a blank page.  I’ve grown tired of tryna get the words perfectly written.  Sooooo imma start with this… The more things change… The more they remain the same.

Black and brown women (people) worldwide… historically AND in present day medicine have been and continue to be mistreated, abused, used as experimental subjects without consent, misled, lied to and used as teaching fodder.  From forced sterilizations and unsafe hormonal contraception, to surgeries without anesthesia, from syphilis to HIV, from antibiotics, to immunizations, we have been the people who have suffered continuously over generations while providing the European patriarchal medical system with the information they need to make claims, decisions and money for themselves all without regard for human dignity or the lives that have been negatively impacted.  As “medical advancements” have been made on the backs of black and brown people, they have not even received an acknowledgement for their participation in the “research”.   That makes sense though because if they were actually acknowledged for their unauthorized and unwilling participation, that would be evidence of their mistreatment and the lies told in the name of “advancement in medical research.”

I could continue to rant in this direction but instead I will try to get to my point from where I started… Like I said… there has been a lotta racial shit poppin off…

Let’s start with AUGUST – Breastfeeding awareness month was coming and going without much fanfare or controversy until a group of WONDERFUL Sistars decided to declare August 25 – 31st Black Breastfeeding Week.  The week had barely been announced, and within hours there were TONS of nasty, racist, degrading comments being made on face book, asking among other things why there needed to be a “Black Breastfeeding Week.”  That set off a number of (v)blogs, more face book posts, tweets and comments. I didn’t address it cause honestly… I see it as a waste of my time to constantly have to educate other folks about the necessity, value, and reason for something that is so obviously necessary.  Women who are open to and interested in working with Black women around breast feeding “get it” and those who don’t.. well… they don’t and so it is.

SEPTEMBER  is Infant Mortality Awareness month.  The birth advocates and birth workers I know and work with who are passionate about eliminating perinatal disparities, are keenly aware of this and talk about it. A few years ago a movement started that uses LABOR Day as a time to talk about “improving birth.” The first time I saw this campaign I blogged about the fact that there is NO mention in this campaign about September being infant mortality awareness month. “Improving Birth Rallies” are held nationwide and they have pretty strict rules about the signs and messages that they believe should be held and displayed at these national rallies.  Some in the Black community understand that you can’t improve birth while IGNORING the facts of perinatal disparities. I attended the local rally in New Orleans and I did NOT carry an “approved sign.” I carried a sign inspired by Sista Midwives  Jennie Joseph and Claudia Booker that said “Black babies die 2 to 3 times more than White babies WHY?” As I held my sign some seemed confused, some nervous and uncomfortable while others were intrigued.  Over in the Improving Birth camp they feel like having signs that say anything outside of their approved messages dilutes the impact.  I say having diluted messages dilutes the impact.  While I have not seen anything directly from them that speaks to race they definitely operate from a place of privilege that does not include the need to discuss or bring to the improving birth movement issues/words/signs that don’t affect THEM.  I carried my sign proudly. The nervous looks and energy I got….. priceless and telling.

NOW…  getting to the issue that inspirited me to really wanna write… this foolishness with Midwife International, a company that says their mission is “to improve women’s health and birth outcomes by providing excellence in midwifery education.”  When you view their FB page and/or website things sounds wonderful:  An opportunity to learn while giving; An opportunity to experience and evolve.  The reality is unfortunately much different.   Based on NUMEROUS complaints and feedback from individuals and international organizations who have had direct experience with Midwife International, their motive seems to be reputation, status, and profits. Anything but the well being of mothers,  communities, and midwifery education.

There has been quite a bit of dialogue about this situation specifically in the online community. Blog posts and open letters have been written and widely circulated yet Midwife International goes on as if nothing has been said.  Their face book page says nothing about the allegations. Their website has a small blurb

“Midwife International is grateful for the strong network of students, preceptors, clinical partners and community members who have stood behind us through all challenges. We acknowledge and regret that in some instances there appears to have been unclear or inadequate communication regarding student programs in Uganda, Cameroon and Cambodia. However, we expressly deny accusations of profiteering, exploitation, bribery, blackmail, secret agreements, non-payment, blatant disrespect or racism.

Furthermore, Midwife International is not willing to cause harm to the midwifery community by having a public dialogue about these accusations, and will be taking action to resolve the issues raised through the appropriate channels, in private. We have no doubt that the truth will prevail.

Meanwhile we will continue to work alongside our partners to host student programs, serving our mission to improve women’s health and birth outcomes by providing excellence in midwifery education.”

Wait! WHAT? You have been publicly accused by More. Than. One. person and organization.  You have been accused PUBLICLY online of “profiteering, exploitation, bribery, blackmail, secret agreements, non-payment, blatant disrespect or racism” and that’s all you have to say?  GTFOHWTBS.

Via the internet, folks have been calling for MI to say something, to pay monies back, to stop admitting students until they deal with the allegations. They have not shown signs of doing ANY of that. They are moving full steam ahead.  Birth advocates are calling out members of their (MI’s) previous advisory board; asking them to speak out about this issue. Many of them remain silent.

To be honest and to provide full disclosure….. I have had not had direct contact with this organization. Most of my information about the allegations come from this website: http://ethicalmidwifery.org  Regardless… I know the more things change…

Exploitation of Black and Brown people for medical knowledge and research is nothing new. We do it here in America as well.  MANY of our nation’s top training programs use inner city hospitals as their clinical training sites and the women and families who use them are often meant to feel like they have no choice but to accept substandard treatment from unsupervised medical students, and residents.  I have seen THIS first hand.

Okay… I don’t wanna go on and on. So while this seems to be unfinished… Imma stop and invite you to Join me THIS SUNDAY, September 22nd  for a discussion about this issue as a part of a the upcoming  Roots and Bush online birth conference  Bonus Hour- Midwife International and the Continued Abuse of Black Bodies & Resources for White Learning: Bringing to light the current happenings with the organization called Midwifery International and what the Black community at home and abroad can do to stop the misuse of Black bodies for “catches” and money.  Guest Panelists include:  Claudia Booker, Asiila bintal Garner, Pilar Ma’at, and Shauntee Henry.

Learn more here:  http://intensehigh.wordpress.com/roots-n-bush/

If you care…. Make plans to join us! #FistUP… The Struggle Continues

Roots N Bush

Monday Musing – The Universe Conspires

“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
~
Paulo Coelho ~ The Alchemist

yes, Yes, YES…. I love it when the universe conspires in my favor! I think it happens more times than not for most of us and yet we don’t receive it because we shift the universal energy in another direction and before the blessing can fall from the sky, we send our lives on a detour away from our dreams without even knowing it. Let me tell you what I mean.

The other day I was texting with a friend a number of wonderful things happening in my life right now.  One of the texts I sent said… “The universe is conspiring in my favor and knowing that the window only stays open for so long I know I have to slide through it while it is open…”  While that IS the text that I sent, what I was about to send was a text that said… “The universe is forcing my hand…” Fortunately, before I could send that message, I realized that THIS statement/text  could have, in an instant, blocked my blessings for many years. This same type of blocking, self sabotage may be happening to you.  Why was I saying “forcing my hand?”  The things happening in my life are wonderful things I have wanted, envisioned, prayed about and meditated on… and now I wanna say I’m being forced?? Seriously??  The nerve of me!! LOL

I am certainly not a “Secret” guru nor a great student of the Law of Attraction but let me say this… No one,  and I mean NOBODY can prove to me that the laws of the universe, including the Law of Attraction are not in affect for us, ALL of us, all the time. The Universe does, and will continue to conspire for us in our favor bringing to us what we ask for and affirm, no matter if its “the Universe is conspiring in my favor”  OR  “the Universe is forcing my hand.” The latter sounds a lot less pleasant sending a message to the universe that I don’t like it and don’t want it.

“I remember the point in labor when I knew I just had to LET GO…”
I hear this all the time. Women who are having an empowering un-medicated birth often will say in that moment of realization, when they let go of  controlling the outcome, and shift to having faith in things happening the way they have envisioned it… That’s a beautiful space to be in and that’s when Birth… Magic… Blessings happen.

Whew… I’m happy I changed that text message :-).  It can be a scary, revealing, empowering, exciting, spiritual, transformational, thing to experience the truth of the Universe….  When we Let Go and Let God… things happen in our lives and we move into the space to “Birth Something Beautiful”

Wanna know what has me so excited right now?? Check out this information about the upcoming Birth Herstory (#BirthHerStory) conference.

From the official website: “Birth Herstory is a FREE online annual conference uniting women of colour in celebration of Black History Month.  Join us on the Full Moon Monday February 25th 2013 and be inspired to grow and learn from one another in the area of pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding and motherhood!

13 amazing women have committed to sharing their expertise in a wide range of subjects all centered around mothering the beautiful woman of colour! Hear speakers such as Shafia Monroe, Nicole Deggins, Darline Turner, Kimberly Seals Allers and Latham Thomas share their best secrets to empower you to create the journey to motherhood of your dreams!

If you want to feel inspired, get information your care provider may not provide, feel like you are understood, and be part of this amazing community…then sister you’ve got to join us!”

This type of conference… featuring Black women talking about birth, sharing wisdom, and giving birth love…. I always knew there was someone else who saw the same vision I saw and Tanya is her!! I’m so excited about this conference and I hope you will join it. While the conference is free you must register.

You can’t force birth. You can’t force the timing of your dreams, desires, and blessings.  All we can do is speak it, believe it, scratch that….  KNOW it and then put in the work towards it and when it is time… we have to take a step back, Let Go and Let Birth and in that space… magic happens.

Monday Musing… Being Off Time

The following is a post that could be considered late… delayed… or even post dates.  And yet in the end it’s right on time…. Close your eyes for a second, and imagine its December 31, 2012.

Tomorrow, per the Gregorian calendar, is the first day of 2013. Many people see this as a time of new beginnings, new birth, and recommitment.  There was a time when I made New Year’s resolutions and made plans each January to do something different in order to move my life along towards my goals.  These days I generally do resolutions/recommitments around my birthday. This year my birthday came and went quickly, with little fan fare, and as a result, with little resolution or recommitments.  I think subconsciously something about turning 40 had me in a strange place.  But I digress… Fortunately, I see each day as a new day, each week as a new week, each month as a new month and a new time to renew, to recommit.   There is, as they say, No time like the present so why do we wait until December 31/ January 1st to make changes in our lives???

Sooooo… THAT’s how my 2013 New Year’s post started 4 weeks ago.  As you can see it’s now 4+ weeks later and I am JUST getting around to posting on my blog.  One of my goals for 2013 was to get better with my blogging.  I wanted to post this in a timely manner.  I wanted to start 2013 off on time, with a blog post about time.  And in spite of my best efforts, here I am in the second month of the year FINALLY getting this post completed.  This brings me to the point of my post then (on December 31st) and now.  TIME, as we know it, is really all a farce designed to help us TRY to control that which is really out of our control.

I mean think about it… Our years, our days, our clocks have all been MANipulated.   The calculation of leap year has changed drastically over the centuries, every year we spring forward and fall back, and if you go to a country that is not based in Christianity, the years are completely different and it is NOT 2013.  When it comes to time, it all depends on who you ask, where you are and what you believe.  Who decided that THIS should mark MY new year?

Time, as we know it, truly is an illusion and it creates stress in many lives. It created stress for me as I felt like the time had passed for me to write a New Year’s post. But then I remembered that this is perfect timing. There is no deadline here.  Sometimes we have to learn that OUR time is not DIVINE time and its divine time and order that really make the difference.  Sometimes we have to learn to be patient, to wait, and to take things as they come.  This does not mean that we don’t move or take action.  It just means that sometimes we have to understand that OUR time is not the ONLY time nor is it necessarily the right time.  Sometimes we need to slow down and sometimes we even need to sit and wait. This is a lesson I am learning right now.  I used to live by the clock. I remember hearing the adage:  “To be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late, and to be late is unthinkable.”  I said it. I believed it.  And I lived by it.

These days I am learning that sometimes it’s okay to be off time.  What about you?? Do you ever get caught up in the web of time? Does it ever create stress in your life?  It’s okay to slow down. It’s okay to stretch out deadlines and watch things as they unfold.   It’s okay to take a break, to take a nap, to have a moment of silence and to enjoy the calm before the storm.

As with all things… birth has a lesson to teach us about time.  Babies come when they are ready if we allow them to.  Other blessings in our lives move in much the same way. When we force the process we often end up with a mess.  We have to learn patience. We have to have faith. We have to learn to keep a watchful eye while allowing things to unfold as they may. We have to be vigilant, ever ready to move when the time is right.  And sometimes… as any midwife knows… all you can do, need to do, have to do, is sit on your hands and allow time to tell.

Some may think this is late in coming but ummmmm Happy New Year!!??!! LOL
Here’s to a great year where every day is a new day to start anew and to Birth Something Beautiful.

Monday Musing – still no lights / Our babies are dying

So this evening I sit using my cell phone to write a quick post for an evening Monday Musing.  I am using my phone and will post this without ever seeing it on a computer screen. This is not something I normally do but since I still have no power since Hurricaine Isaac *SCREAMING* its my only option. Yes I could go to a friends who has power but they are dealing with their own mess and that’s not really the issue. I had plans to write a really nice post about the fact that today all across the country women protested for women centered care for the Improving Birth Rally as a part of Empowered Birth Awareness Week.

My post was not going to be really about these rallies directly  but was going to be more about the fact that this is the beginning of Infant Mortality Awareness Month and most of the women participating in those protests don’t even realize it. I applaud the organizers for their work they have done to empower women to have better birth experiences. Their work helps all women and were it not for Isaac I would have participated here in Louisiana.  Mother friendly care can have a positive impact on infant mortality.

I know that some of the women who participated nation wide may have known but as I purused the facebook pages and websites…. Not one word. Not one solid word about the fact that its Infant Mortality Awareness month.Not one slogan for a sign that mentioned the connection between infant mortality and quality care.

Am I fully surprised? Not really and that’s the unfortunate part. It brings me back to some posts that asked the question “when will you care?” When will you care that the United States ranks behind 40 other nations when recent infant mortality  stats are compared.  When will we get a national rally to save OUR babies who die greater than twice the rate of white babies???  When will you care??

I would link to it… but since I’m on my PHONE.   WITH. NO. POWER and no real internet access….! I will invite you to search for it in my archives *_*

Its a real question.though When will you care? And if you rallied today… Honestly… Did you know it was Infant Mortality Awareness Month?

Monday Musing ~ Educating at the Baby Fest

Over the weekend I participated in a Family and Baby Fest in Texas.  I was a featured speaker and had a booth where I was able to interact directly with event attendees.  It was wonderful making new contacts, meeting new people and most of all speaking with women about their pregnancy and birth experiences.

I spoke with a LOT of women who shared various stories of pregnancy and birth.  The stories I heard reminded me while we are making strides, we still have a LOT of work to do as we help women feel empowered during their pregnancy and birth experiences.  We have to continue to support women in their birth choices and makes sure that we continue to shatter the myths and bring truth to women so they can Birth Something Beautiful™.  I decided to share three of  the many stories below:

Mom #1
I overheard this mom say to my friend who was helping with my booth… “I was SLASHED open three times and I am all done with having babies.”  My heart sank. I could hear the pain in her voice.  She did not say she had three c/sections.  She did not call them operative deliveries. Instead she said she was “slashed” open. We spoke and she shared her story…

Birth #1 – She had an unscheduled c/section due to slow progress.  She received a call a few months later from a friend, who was a Labor nurse on the unit working the night of her birth. This friend told her flat out… Her c/section was done because the MD was in some sort of mood.  The MD came to the unit and basically decided all of the women who were still in labor at that time would have c/sections. There were three of them one after another.  Her friend told her she probably would have delivered vaginally with a more patient doctor and a little more time. Her second birth was within 14 months of her first. She was told a VBAC was too dangerous because her deliveries were too close together.  Her third birth was a scheduled c/section because no one in her area supports VBA2C.  (A vaginal birth after two cesareans)

She shared with me the physical and emotional pain she has endured during, between and after her c/sections. She shared how her feelings have been discounted. How she was called crazy for wanting to attempt at VBA2C. She is still in pain. It made me sad. I gave her information for International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN) and hope that she will reach out to them to share her story with others and to provide her with a space of healing.

If you are still healing emotionally and physically from a cesarean section, I encourage you to reach out to the ICAN chapter in your area and even consider going to one of their conferences.  You are not alone.

 Mom #2
I was speaking to this mom about the fact that women often have more choices than their doctor may tell them about. She informed me that she was having a scheduled c/section so she didn’t really think she had many options/choices. I informed her that indeed there ARE things that you can request even if having a planned cesarean.  I talked to her about the gentle cesarean and making a birth plan for her upcoming c/section.  I asked her about the indication for her c/section.  The conversation follows below. Note:  it is not verbatim…

Me:  So why are you having a cesarean?
Her:  Oh I have to get an ovary removed so my doctor just figures I should have it done all at the same time
Me:  *Blank Stare* Huh?  Just so you know that is NOT an indication for a c/section … I don’t understand is this your first baby?
Her:   Yes my first baby… That’s what my doctor told me.  I also had major back surgery years ago so with both of those things my doctor really just felt like this would be best.
Me:  Ohhhh so  you wouldn’t be able to get an epidural if you wanted one?
Her:  Oh no… I checked on that and I was told getting an epidural would not be a problem.
Me:  So wait… You can get an epidural if you want one and so basically the only reason your doctor is telling you that he wants to do a c/section is because he wants to remove an ovary?
Her:  Nodding in agreement
Me:  Well I don’t want you to think I am trying to undermine your doctor but you REALLY need to ask some questions about this. Ovary removal is NOT a major abdominal surgery and it is definitely not  a reason for a c/section. C/sections come with a number of risks for you and baby and if you don’t need one you don’t want one.  You REALLY need to ask your doctor about this. This is the very reason I do pregnancy coaching as a part of my work.  I want to help women know when, where, and how to get to the TRUTH about what their doctor is telling them.  What your doctor is telling you is not all true. Getting an ovary removed and having a history of back surgery is NOT a reason you would need a cesarean.  You have to question him.
Her:  *Blank Stare*   WOW… you have given me a LOT to think about
*Walks away slowly, visibly disturbed by the new awareness*

I think this conversation pissed me off the most on Saturday afternoon. I felt so bad for her and really hope she challenges her doctor about this.  Removing an ovary during a c/section if the c/section is REQUIRED is an okay thing. Telling a first time mom that she NEEDS a c/section because she also needs an ovary removed is NOT okay.

Mom #3
This is the mom I am most happy about. She spoke to me about her desire for a home birth. She told me how she tried to find a home birth provider but was unable to do so because she has Medicaid. Medicaid does not cover home birth and she cannot afford the out of pocket cost (approximately $4000.)  She was well informed and shared stories of the reactions of the various doctors she has been interviewing. The ones she found so far are NOT supportive of natural birth.  One practically told her  “You can’t do that here” As she described the natural birth she wanted.

Earlier in the day I had been speaking with the wonderful women of the Beaumont Breastfeeding Coalition and KNEW that they would be able to help this couple.  I introduced this couple to soon to be midwife Amy of the Coalition and she immediately told them about a birth center about 1.5 hours away that accepts Medicaid.  Being a first time mom we assured her… she has PLENTY time to get there once labor started.  It felt good to do this. To connect a mom in need to a viable option that will allow her to Birth Something Beautiful™.

This last conversation happened near the end of the Expo.  It was a wonderful way to end the event. I spoke to many moms that day.  I hope something I said moved them into action to ask questions, to seek answers, and to learn the truth about childbirth in America.

Have you been to any baby expos lately? Did you learn something new or help a mom find a solution? Share your expo story!