Guest Blogger Angelique Cabral from CBS "Life In Pieces"

C-Sections can have Doulas,Too!!

by Angelique Cabral from CBS "Life In Pieces"

When I first heard I had a “partial" Placenta Priva and I would “possibly" have to have a C-Section, I ignored it. That wasn’t in my birth plan, or even something I had ever considered. In fact, it was so far from my birth plan that when we took our tour of Cedars, I straight up told them I didn’t want to see the operating rooms, as I would not be having a C!!

My doctor said my placenta could “possibly" still move, so I assumed it would, since everything in my pregnancy had been perfect and flawless so far, why would this be any different?

But the closer we got to my due date, and the more doctors and specialists I saw without change to my placenta, I couldn’t ignore the intuitive knowing that my placenta, although perfect and healthy, was gonna fuck me.

Now, I had hired Rebecca to be my doula early on in my pregnancy. I religiously attended her pre-natal yoga class and continued to “act-as-if” I was going to have a normal vaginal delivery. We had our first doula session, and it was beautiful and we chatted about laboring at home and having this beautiful, natural, feminine experience.

Cut to 3 weeks later when all of the doctors told me, unanimously, that my placenta hadn’t budged. It was not an option to labor. I had to have a scheduled C section. I was heartbroken and devastated that I wasn’t gonna be able to labor and get deep into my primal feminine power that I had been training my whole life for. I was also mourning because I had to have said C section at about 38 weeks, so my beautiful pregnancy, that I loved so much, was being terminated early, and not on my terms.

It was at this point that I feel Rebecca really stepped in and changed the course of the remaining days of my pregnancy. We came up with a “birth plan” and she made me feel like nothing was wrong and all of this was unfolding in perfection. She reminded me that the baby was already taking care of me, and that I was still laboring, but instead giving birth thru my abdomen.

The evening before the big Birthday, Rebecca came over to our house in the evening and created space for the baby with us. It was the most tender, special, beautiful evening my husband and I have ever had. She calmly answered all of our questions, and went thru every moment step by step so we would know what to expect the next morning. She left us that evening in a beautiful meditation, our home and hearts feeling ready for our new baby that was on her way to us.

The next morning, Rebecca met us at the hospital, right as we arrived. Her very presence put us at ease and everything felt fun and celebratory. Rebecca is such a pro, and is so well known at Cedars, that we didn’t have to worry about anything. She led the way and took charge, so we could be enjoy our daughter’s birth and not be worried about details and pedantics. She never left my side. She massaged my feet, calmed me during pre-op, was helpful and attentive with all the nurses and doctors. She was glues to me and Jason, monitoring our moods and every need. She made sure my “birth plan” was respected, she made sure my mantras were playing and that there was no side talk, delayed cord clamping etc. Again I didn’t have to worry about anything, because she was there.

My surgery went perfectly, the baby was (and still is!!) perfect and healthy in every way. Rebecca was there through it all, capturing beautiful first photographs of us in the OR, and was with us for several hours post-surgery to make sure we were stable. A lot of that post-surgery is a blur of emotion, love, tears, relief. I just remember Rebecca being there, smiling, easy and ever present, yet never over bearing or in the way. Just orchestrating as she moved thru the room, taking care of us, taking care of baby. Rebecca made Adelaide Grace’s birthday special, and made my C-section something I am so proud of and so confident about and I can’t wait to have her with us again for my next baby!!!
 

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You just never know.

You know your body in very specific ways prior to becoming pregnant but once you begin growing a human in your body so many things become foreign. Never mind the expansion of so many of your parts, how about just the change in how you can't figure out basic ways to care for yourself. Foods you may have loved forever might start to make you nauseous or you may start to crave random combinations of foods or foods you never liked before. You may also just go along eating normally and have no changes with nutrition whatsoever.   You just never know. When I was pregnant with my first child, I had an extreme aversion to mushrooms. I had no idea how much mushrooms were around in my life until I wanted to vomit hard every time I saw one, smelled one or even read the word. In the same pregnancy I couldn't get enough garlic. I would have brushed my teeth with it if I could have. You just never know!

 

You may enter your pregnancy with a regular workout routine that you are dedicated to and that may continue without missing a beat. You may even feel like you want to do more to take care of yourself in this way. You could also begin your pregnancy fit and healthy and suddenly you have no energy, desire to do anything even close to movement for the good of your heart or your baby. You may arrive at 8 months pregnant and realize this and suddenly decide it is time to start a prenatal yoga class to "prepare". You just never know.

You may take childbirth education classes, hypnobirthing, baby care and prenatal yoga and end up with a short labor and an easy delivery. You may have a long labor, easy delivery and taken all the recommended classes and feel amazing immediately after birth. You may tear a little even though you have squatted, walked , eaten fiber and done perineal massage. You may end up delivering by cesarean  after doing all of the above. You just never know.

The thing to take away from this is, enjoy that you will be surprised everyday while you are pregnant. Enjoy that you will expand, change, grow and transition into a person that will be called Mama, mommy, mom and Mother. Enjoy that your body has wild ability to do this primal gift. Enjoy that your body is intelligent, powerful, brilliant and knows how to recover from such a thing. Enjoy that you are full of your feminine energy right now and that you will birth your baby. Enjoy that you just never know how it will all go. 

 

 

What's a Dad to do?

This is for your partners to read. 

I am in full support of the partners of all new Mommy's. You have a pretty big job ahead of you too. While breastfeeding and caring for baby appears to look natural and lovely, it is hard work. I know you know that and I also know that you may not know exactly what to do to be helpful

Every new mother is overwhelmed, even if she is over the moon about being a mom. Nothing in either of your lives has ever been or will ever be more consistently requiring you to be present than being a parent. You have a different kind of partnership now, one that both of you don't quite know how to manage so be patient and let's look at some ways that can make this transition more seamless. 

COMPLIMENT:

Every new Mother appreciates hearing how well they are adapting to Motherhood. This is that simple. " Honey, you are such a natural at caring for our baby" can go a long way. There are going to be plenty of times that Motherhood gets messy, overwhelming and exhausting so be mindful of your timing as timing is EVERYTHING.

FEED:

Every new Mother neglects her own needs while figuring out how to care for baby. If sleep is already interrupted and there is not proper nutrition, that can lead to a very cranky person, postnatal or not. Little snacks brought your partner while she sits and feeds, can do wonders for her overwhelm. Notice how long she has to sit and feed, track, change diapers, change clothes and then go to the bathroom for herself before she can get some food. A cut up apple with peanut butter, almonds, crackers and cheese, trail mix, a simple sandwich cut into small squares are perfect for her to get a little fuel.

DO ONE THING:

Do one thing, everyday to care for your baby. Take on all diaper changes, laundry, outside time, tummy time, baths or massage and make that your sacred time with baby. Be willing to admit that you don't know how to care for a baby. If this is your truth, ask your partner to show you how to do one or two things and get really good at them. This will give you private time with baby while giving your partner a guaranteed break and trust me to be guaranteed a break feels like the biggest gift ever to a new mom.  Stick to this and add duties and ritualsthat give you more time with your baby and more time for your partner to get back on her feet.

MAKE NEW FRIENDS BUT KEEP THE OLD:

You will start to meet other new Dads at some point in the first year of Fatherhood. Take a courageous step and extend an invitation to a new Dad or two to have coffee or meet at the park. While free time is sacred and the first thing you may want to do when you get some, is nothing. Carving out even one hour a weekend to bond with other Dads can give you a sense of community and support. Your partners will begin to be surrounded by new Moms and we women thrive on these connections because it helps us remember that we are not alone.  You don't have to feel alone in your new role either. Your old friends may have kids but if they don't your time with them will change. While you may still cherish your relationships with old friends, new parents will be simply an opportunity to expand your circle to include people going through the same transition in life.


You are a Dad now, you have made a huge transition in your life to be the protector and solid provider of all things male. Stop each day and remember that you have been given this gift.  May you grow happily and enthusiastically into your new role in your family. 

Mantra, affirmation and code words

Last night I finished watching "Birth Story", a documentary on life at the farm with Ina May Gaskin. I cried throughout the film as watching a birth, whether live or on film, is always the most magnificent human experience to witness. Life on the farm looks simple. Simple lifestyle with profound contributions to society. I sat humbly in my bed and listened to every single word so intently. I was listening for inspiring words, statements, advice, suggestions and wisdom. Besides the birth, I think I was moved to tears at the simplicity of the words spoken. Ina May spoke few words at each prenatal visit, while training others and when attending a birth. The Words she did speak had a clear purpose, intention and meaning and that left me in awe. There is so much to say about birth, pregnancy, breastfeeding, new family life etc., and yet when fewer words are spoken more might actually be understood and certainly more will be felt. Through the screen I could feel the warmth and wisdom in each room we entered with Ina May. 

 

When you are preparing for your birth, have conversations with your team and ask them to keep the talking and questions to a very bare minimum. You can ask them to use short clear sentences, mantras and/or affirmations to help you stay calm, relaxed and in your sacred space. You can type these out or make index card size, colorful art pieces to bring for your team.  Here are some suggestions. 

* I am a strong and capable woman

* every contraction is a wonderful part of my birth story  

* my body was made to do this

* I will meet my baby soon

* me and my baby are here together  

* I am relaxed and strong

* I am present and calm

 

These are just a few suggestions. Feel free to use these or make your own.  

 

Code words are not just for emergencies. If you want some private time with your partner, you can ask for that. I suggest to my clients that they choose a word that they can say to each other that indicates that they can ask nurses, Dr., doula, etc to step out for a few minutes to let them connect. If mommy and baby are fine, take an opportunity to do this. This is a nice time to say things that you might not feel comfortable saying to each other in front of people. This private time can be used to have a let down of emotion, to get clear about what is going on or to just have a make out session which can help you relax into your labor and delivery.  

Help, I need somebody, not just anybody.

The lyrics continue to the the great Beatles song, "Now I find I've changed my mind and opened up the doors." This is a true to life, soundtrack tune for labor and delivery. You will need help, and not from just anybody. Ideally your partner is there to support you but not everybody has that. Same as a doula, not everyone hires one but in my opinion, everybody should. Why? To have the eyes, ears and heart of another woman looking out for your every need during your birth makes it a whole lot more relaxing. I could even say that to have a doula present at your birth, you will feel more empowered. When you make the decision to have specific people attend your birth, you have taken control of what you need. 

Now that you have chosen your birthing team, what do you want them to do? You get to ask for whatever you need. When I hold a prenatal visit with my clients, I ask the mother-to-be to start asking me and her partner for what she thinks she might need, knowing very well that it may change when out comes time for the real deal. 

Now is a good time to start experimenting with asking for certain types of touch, words to be used or not used. I have had clients that were as specific as asking their partner not to wear a certain shirt or shoes that they have always disliked. It is so helpful if you can start this process before it is game time. You may already have some fear or worry about what you think you might say or need while in labor, all the more reason to start practicing asking for what you need now. At one birth I attended the mom-to-be was very specific in where she wanted each of her team members to sit or stand. She wanted her husband to the right of her, sitting in a chair, out of sight but within arms reach. She wanted her best friend to sit directly ahead of her so she could see her friends face. She wanted me, as her doula, to hold her left hand. We each took our positions with pleasure, though I wondered if the husband was ok being placed in a tight corner, out of the sight line of his laboring wife. If we hadn't had conversations about this potentially happening, it might have been more difficult but this husband was a gem in following his wife's wishes. 

Here are some ideas of things to start thinking about related to what your think you might need. Ponder these ideas by yourself for a few days and then share your process and ideas with your partner and birth team, most importantly with your doula. 

* I really like it when my partner calls me........

* I really like it when my partner touches me......... 

 * I really want my partner to......

* I don't want my partner to say.....do..... 

* I want to hear the words....... 

 *I do not want my partner to.....

* I am afraid that..... 

 * I am most anxious about.....

* When I am having a hard time with pain, I want my partner to...... 

 *When baby is born, I want to.......

*I am excited about..... 

*I think my partner is anxious about.... 

* I think my partner is excited about,....... 

*I want to sing this to my baby when he/she is born..... 

 

 

Time to Deliver

You are going to have some signs of labor. This much we know is true. What will those signs be? It could be nausea, yes, more nausea. Your signs could be that your water breaks, or your mucus plug comes out, or you start having contractions In a regular, irregular pattern. Whatever signs your body gives you, you are headed in the right direction. Practice surrendering now! Do your best to let go of needing to know and just listen and feel your process. You will know when it's time to go to the hospital. If your water breaks, it is important to let your Dr. know. Once your water breaks, you usually have a good 12-24 hours and sometimes more, before you meet your baby. Within 12 hours after water breaks, your Dr will want you to go to the hospital. You may go in and have an exam just to discover that you are under 5 cm dilated. At that point you may or may not decide to stay at the hospital. A good general rule to follow for gauging when to go to the hospital is, 4-1-1. This means the contractions are 4 minutes apart, lasting for 1 minute and tracking so for 1 hour. 

Once you have been admitted in to the hospital, your practice of surrendering takes place. You will want to be as informed as possible about choices, hospital protocol and interventions but you will also need to remember to surrender to the process happening in your body. Making sure your support people are tuned in to you as you start to get set up in your room, will allow for you to surrender. 

All along your labor and delivery, you will have moments in which you can rest. This is not the kind of rest you are used to but it is a break between contractions, in between pushing. Welcome these breaks and completely relax all parts of your body, close your eyes.  We don't know how any birth is going to happen so trust yourself, communicate what you are thinking and feeling. Your doctor, nurses and any other birth professionals will know how to listen to what you are saying and guide you on your way to your baby's birth. 

You will give birth, it will be amazing, it will change you forever. You will tell your birth story more than any other story you tell, so enjoy every moment and know that each moment is part of your greatest story ever to tell.

Trimesters, Trimesters, one, two and three!

First trimester-( the first glorious 12 weeks) 

The first 12 weeks of your pregnancy are filled with excitement. Whether that excitement comes in the form of joy, laughter, wonder, happiness, tears and even vomit! The way I see it, when your body does big things, like start the process of growing a human, it is exciting to see how your body responds. Some women feel great during this first 12 weeks, others do not and then there are all the feelings I between those two that are where you might be. Maybe you feel a little bit great and a little bit awful. Either way, you are pregnant!!!!! That is the excitement of the first trimester. Now in more practical terms, you may be feeling many or all of the following:

 *mood swings

* nausea

*increase in appetite

*breast tenderness and size increase

*constipation

*sensitivity to smells, tastes, light and loud noise

*tired to the point of needing to pull over, lay down on your office floor and/or just put your head down for 10 minutes.  

 

It is important to keep a healthy and nutritious diet during your whole pregnancy. The best way to get relief from nausea is to eat little bits of food throughout the day versus having three big meals with snacks in between. Saltine crackers or Anya cracker with a bland taste work wonders in soothing your sensitive tummy. More recently the ever so popular sour flavored, gummy candies have worked great as well.  

 

These first 12 weeks are also very sensitive in that you may not be ready to announce your bigs news. Keeping this secret may be more challenging then dealing with the tiredness, hunger and breast tenderness. You may wish to wait to share with your loved ones until you have had a doctor appointment and a heart beat has been confirmed.

 

Second trimester- ( weeks 13-26 aka the weeks of turning the corner) 

 

In these weeks, you may start to feel like you recognize yourself and your life again. You may have new bursts of energy that make you feel on top of the world. Your news may be out and spreading and along with that you may start getting more attention from strangers. Strangers, let's talk about them. I think strangers that want to touch your belly, tell you what they think the sex is based on how you are carrying and tell you their birth story really do have good intentions. If you think about it, birth and babies make everyone remember that we all once started out the same! That said, boundaries are still and will always be an important part of this process. If you can find it in you to laugh off the lack of the strangers boundaries and clear their lingering energy around you, you will survive this very exciting time.

Some things to know about your body in this trimester:

* your energy may come back, in spurts but it will return

* weight gain. Embrace it! you can't grow a baby without gaining some weight (please seek extra support if you have dealt with or are currently dealing with eating disorders)

*Blood pressure lowers while blood volume increases

*change in body temperature. typically you get hotter and more sweaty

*leg cramps, feet cramps and varicose veins may start showing up

*active dreaming and overactive fear, doubt and worry. It is these things that make me want to scream from a mountain top, get support! Surround yourself with other pregnant women, new mamas, mentors and talk about all of these things with them and your partners.

Third Trimester- (27-38 weeks)

You are close now! In these weeks you may go back to needing more naps and rest in general. Your body is carrying more weight now as baby has grown a lot. Your joints, hips, knees and ankles all need strength to support the extra weight. This is a good reason to start if you haven't already, 'some exercise. Yoga being my favorite of course, followed by walking and swimming. You have probably been feeling baby move a lot now and you probably look forward to those little flutters that remind you of the amazing thing you are doing.  Braxton Hicks contractions are something new to you now, or not. They are the "false", or wake up contractions that are usually a symptom of dehydration.

What to expect in these weeks:

*abdominal muscles seperate

*back ache

*stomach is high making it clear that small meals, snacks are best

*swelling may be in feet, ankles and hands

*carpal tunnel syndrome

*Nesting takes over! The need to make space for baby and start getting ready to bring baby home.

This is the scoop on your weeks of growing baby! The next step is labor and delivery. My next blog will inform you of what to look for, when to go to the hospital, what you need to take with you and how to stay in control of your experience while also doing the biggest surrender of your life, besides letting your little ones grow to be who they are meant to be.

You can reach me by email for more information and to schedule private or semi-private childbirth education classes.

 

 

 

Dear Lookers, Seekers and those awake with Curious Minds,

Welcome to my first blog. I am excited to sit and offer some insight and wisdom to you. I am gearing up for a busy birthing season. June and July are going to be nice and full of bellies, babies, hormones and helping. I do this job for two reasons. First, I am a born caretaker. I come from a long lineage of women that took great care of their men, their children, their church community, their neighbors and themselves. I know nothing better than how to serve another human being. I love knowing that my clients are looking to me for strength, calmness, wisdom and comfort. When I know I am helping women feel more trusting of the whole birthing process, I feel grateful that I know how to selflessly serve another human being. The second reason I do this job is to witness the moment a couple become parents. In my opinion, it is the most profound thing they will ever do together and it makes them bonded for LIFE. This event is bigger than their wedding day, it is the story they will tell a thousand more times than the story of their wedding day. I love to be there to see the love bond happen and the look and sounds of absolute amazement that two people created one! ( sometimes two! or even three!) I know that as my busy months start to get closer I will do my usual preparing and over preparing to make sure my everyday life is kept up. I know that I will also start to do my usual clear and vivid flashback show of my own two births. The two days I swelled with love and amazement that I had become a parent.

The day you give birth will stay with you for your whole life. Every time you tell the story you will melt in your own heart and relive one of your most powerful experiences. The depth, emotions and roller coaster of your story is the best story you will live to tell not matter how you give birth. When unexpected things happen, when you surprise yourself with strength to push or to make a decision to surrender to other options you didn't consider or didn't want, you will tell those parts of your birth story with more self honor because you will survive.

The day you give birth, you will magically remember the nurses names. You will remember one or two things they said that you liked or didn't like. Yes, we do that anyway, but you will remember amidst a flood of hormones and emotion, sweat and moans. That is the amazing thing. That is one of many.