2015 Recap! | Baton Rouge, LA Doula & Birth Photographer

2015 Recap! | Baton Rouge, LA Doula & Birth Photographer

2015-Review

Whoa!  What a year 2015 has been for me.  It brought me into some amazing people’s lives allowing me to complete 12  Doula Births –  7 girls 5 boys, 6 Birth Stories, 10 Fresh48/Newborn Sessions, and 56 Placentas!!

I’m a solo doula/business owner, and I’d say this was my 2 year, make or break mark with my doula and doula related services. What does that mean?  On average, most doulas do not continue past 2 years.  Either it wasn’t what they expected, realize they pay does not compare to the workload, or they find they do not have the time to commit with personal family life.  

Newborn

The start of 2015 was the end of my certification phase and the beginning of what I feel my “real” work began.  I was no longer a trying to accomplish that initial goal of becoming certified, I was certified.  This was it, I was the expert.

I grew exponentially as a doula, a business, and now venturing into being a mentor, not something I had ever envisioned doing.  Not only did I complete my  DONA, International certification, but I also obtained my  APPA certification for placenta encapsulation.

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Photography made a comeback appearance this year as well, the thing that started this whole mess 6 years ago ;), and I’ve fallen right back in love with it.  When I am behind the camera, I see my environment in a completely different manner.  I instantly become a documentarian and remove myself from the storyline.  While I keep the same on-call schedule as I do with my birth clients, it is a completely different experience for me. 

Cesarean Birth

I’ve had the opportunity to make many new professional connections this year in my local birth community, as well as worldwide.  I am so grateful for every single one of them!

 2015 also brought some pretty amazing clients, all with such different and wonderful births. First time moms and VBAC’s;  planned  and unexpected cesarean births;  medicated and unmedicated births.  I was witness to them all, and they were all beautiful.

I expanded my knowledge through several workshops and courses this year, one being a very fun and interactive SpinningBabies workshop with Tammy Ryan… we had SIX of our local OB’s attened… SIX!  We had such a fantastic group of providers and birth professionals from around the state.  Doulas, midwives, nurses, OB’s, chiropractors, massage therapists… it was great!

SpinningBabies

I received a scholarship to StillBirthDay.com University, and starting next week, I’ll be starting their intense 12 week program. It’s never something we think of when we start this work, but it is our reality and we must know how to be there for our clients in the best way possible.

There have been highs and lows, sleep deprivation, happiness and sadness, doubt and certainty. I wouldn’t change it for the world.  It was an amazing year and I hope 2016 brings me more challenges and growth!

Some things you can expect  the first half of the year in 2016!

I hope you all had a fantastic 2015 as well!!

Happy New Year!!

 

Jen

Eleanor Zamora | Baton Rouge, LA Doula & Birth Photographer

Eleanor Zamora | Baton Rouge, LA Doula & Birth Photographer

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I went into labor at church. I wasn’t even sure that I was in labor. I just felt uncomfortable. Every time I stood up or walked I had this long, stretching feeling in my uterus that made me stand still. With Dimitri, I knew when I was in labor! Ha! I hobbled down the hall to my third hour class. I was supposed to teach Young Women’s that Sunday, but someone else insisted on covering for me “just in case” (Dimitri came about two weeks early and Eleanor came three days before her due date, so she hung out a little longer than her big brother)! I sat down in class, and in the middle of the opening prayer someone from the nursery poked their head in class and said Dimitri was crying and needed me. So I waddled down the hall,stopping once or twice to brace myself for the stretching of my uterus (they did not feel like contractions at all).  

I got Dimitri and took him to Priesthood where Xave was. Xave asked if I was alright and if I wanted to go home (it was 11:30a) I told him I was fine, I was just going to sit with him in his class. He took Dimitri to play and explore on the stand and I was going to go lay on couch in the foyer. I started to stand up and had to sit back down, the stretching was pretty intense and required a lot of attention on my part. After a few minutes I beckoned to Xave that I wanted to leave. I told him that I wanted to go home after all. He helped me down the hall and I called my doula, Jen. I said, “I don’t know if I’m in labor or not, but this is what’s going on…” and she said, “You’re in labor! How do you want to do this? (Meet at my house or the hospital)” we decided to meet at the hospital. Xave and I had to find Sister Albertson to pass off Dimitri. I was so worried to leave my baby. This was the first time he’d spend the night with someone else. Then the Bishop and the missionaries gave me a blessing.

We had to go home to get our bags and then we could go to the hospital. The stretching turned into noticeable contractions like when I was in labor with Dimitri. I did not try to time them since with Dimitri they were about a minute long and a minute and a half apart right away when I went into labor and these felt just as close. I couldn’t talk much and really had to focus, moan, and find my groove. I did try calling the hospital to get in contact with Dr. Dickerson, but the operator lady said they’d call him when I arrived and could prove I was really in labor. I was so aggravated!!! And worried that I’d have the baby and he’d miss it!  Contractions with Dimitri started at 9:30p,  we arrived at the hospital at 11:00p and he was born at 1:55a. They say your second labor is faster than your first, but I didn’t know how fast it was going to be!

Xave took the long way and traffic was terrible!!! I was so aggravated. I kept telling him to put on the flashers and honk at people!!! Haha! Didn’t they know I was having a baby?!?! GET OUT OF THE WAY!!! Xave kept telling me to put the rebozo around my eyes so I could relax, which would have been nice in theory, but it was easier to see so I could prepare my body for turns, potholes, etc. Riding in a car during contractions isn’t the funnest thing ever. Xave went in and grabbed our bags and decided to stay in the car since I was pretty focused.

We arrived to the hospital around 12:30p and Xave was like, “Where do I go?”…again, sooooo aggravated! “That’s why I brought you to an appointment and pointed things out so you’d know while I was having a baby what to do and where to go!!!” I was in the middle of a contraction when a sweet nurse brought out a wheel chair. I finished the contraction, sat down and started on another. Xave grabbed our stuff and we went in. The nurse wheeling me told the nurse behind the counter that I was in active labor and the contractions where coming back to back. The nurse behind the counter asked for my info, and even though I had preregistered, none of it was in the system.  So I had to sit there and register and sign stuff until the wheeling nurse said, “Can’t her husband sign that stuff for her?”  I kept asking the nurse to call Dr. Dickerson. She said they would after I registered and went through triage to confirm that I was in labor!!! (My next birth will be at home!!!)

Xave wheeled me to triage waiting and put the rebozo over my head. I was pretty mad. Everyone was going slow and the tv was blaring something obnoxious. Then Jen arrived! Hooray!!! By the way,  the contractions felt I was scared I was going to have the baby right then and there in the waiting area! The triage nurse brought me back and said she’d step out while I changed. I was in a dress and sandals from church…I didn’t even have a pony tail holder, so Jen gave me one! :) 

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The nurse came back and said she’d check me whenever I wasn’t having a contraction. I told her to go ahead and check because they weren’t stopping. She checked me and said I was complete on one side and had a small lip on the other side. I asked if she called Dr. Dickerson and she said they would. She left saying she needed to find someone to help wheel me up. It seemed like forever! Who do you need?!?! My husband and doula are here–they can help you!!!

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We made it to a room and I needed my gown off! I was standing next to the bed, swaying and the nurses were asking me about running an IV and were strapping a monitor around my stomach. GET AWAY FROM ME!!! Read my birth plan and leave me alone! (Haha, I sound really mean in my head when I’m in labor, apparently.)

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Someone asked if it was too bright in the room (maybe Jen). I nodded yes and they turned off the lights. I kept hearing the nurses talk about Dr. Dickerson. “They can’t get ahold of him.” I was so worried! They waited too long to call! They haven’t gotten in contact with him! He’s going to miss it! I started feeling the faint need to push. The nurses asked if I was pushing and I said a little. They told me I couldn’t push standing by the side of the bed, I needed to get in the bed to push because no one was here to deliver the baby. So Xave and Jen helped me in the bed and I got on hands and knees. Some time after that Dr. Dickerson arrived!!! Yea!!!

I was using the peanut ball in hands and knees, rocking forwards and backwards trying to get comfortable. I had Xave putting pressure on my lower back and rubbing my back. Jen was giving me sips of water. I was moaning through the contractions. Jen noticed that I was moaning high pitched and suggested that I moan a little deeper. She also told me when I was tensing my shoulders, etc. Once she put her hand on my shoulder blade and it felt sooo good! Her hand was so soft and so cold! I was so hot and sweating!

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Someone suggested changing positions. I wanted to try squatting, so they pulled the handle on the bed up and lowered the back half of the bed so I could squat…and then helped me transition to squatting position. It was nice to lean against the bar, but I soon caught a cramp in my right hip.

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Jen suggested laying on my side, so we did that. It was nice because I actually got a little bit of rest between contractions. I was able to relax. Jen was holding my knee up and suggested using the peanut ball, which was awesome. I didn’t want to get out of this position. I was done being in labor and just wanted to lay there and relax, haha.25w

Dr. Dickerson spoke up and suggested leaking my water bag to help things speed up a little bit. I thought about it for a minute. I really didn’t want to. I was scared that it would make the contractions worse, and I didn’t think I’d like that very much. But then I figured, why not? This isn’t going to last forever anyway. It’ll be over soon. (That was what I kept telling myself in my head: “This will be over soon!”) So I said yes! I don’t remember the contractions getting any more intense in feeling. However, every time I had a contraction, it felt like I was peeing on myself because the water would gush out. This was neat to me because I do not recall my water breaking with Dimitri at all.  Then Dr. Dickerson piped up again and suggested changing positions again. I knew we needed to, but I so desperately wanted to just stay and rest in side-lying.

They helped me into hands and knees again… and I ended up scooting to the end of the bed and let my butt hang off the edge like a frog pose (is that a real thing?). One of my main concerns pre-labor was tearing again this delivery. I had a second degree tear with Dimitri from ‘torpedo pushing’ and it took over 10-weeks to heal. So I really wanted some coaching on pacing myself while pushing.  But then when I was pushing, I mentally decided that I didn’t care if I tore or not…I just wanted to be done!  I enjoyed this experience because I could feel her moving down and out, I did not have the sensation with Dimitri. Someone told me that she was crowning and I was able to put my hand down and feel her little head! I wanted to with Dimitri, but I could not move my hands from holding my legs while I was on my back. I felt frozen with him.  Jen got the perfect picture of this, which I just love… It looks like Dr. Dickerson is looking underneath a car or something, haha. It cracks me up every time I see it! And the nurses faces! hahaha! One nurse looks disgusted…like, ‘ewww!!!’ and the other one has this look of awe, like complete majesty at birth and life, etc.

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SO I PUSHED HARD AND LONG WITH EACH CONTRACTION AND at 2:28p ELEANOR CAME!

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Everyone helped me flip over and they put Eleanor on my stomach. Hooray! The hard part was over! I was so happy to have my baby girl! I did have more warm feelings towards her than I had towards Dimitri.  When Dimitri was born I thought I would be instantly in love with him because that’s what everyone always says. But that was NOT my experience. He was yucky and I was tired and hungry.  I loved him, theoretically as my baby, but I was not ‘in love’ with him. That took some time. But with Eleanor, I was happy that she was there. I wanted to hug her and talk to her and nurse her. It did take mental effort to remind myself to talk to her and praise her for her hard work and job well done in the delivery. She had a beautiful little swirl of hair from a circular cowlick right in the middle of her forehead. I was shaking and my teeth were chattering, I guess from all of the adrenaline. I was so hot and sweaty during delivery, then I was freezing to death afterwards! Everyone wrapped us in wonderful, warm blankets. Mmmm.

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The placenta birthed and Dr. Dickerson sewed me up, I had another second degree tear… but he must have done a great job stitching me up and I think my placenta pills helped because I healed in about 3-weeks!  I was so hungry, too, and Jen pulled out her handy dandy doula bag and gave me a granola bar. Mmmm. Doulas are awesome. Get you one! 😉  Eleanor did not want to nurse right away, and I was eager to bathe in the bathtub because I knew there would only be a shower in my recovery room. So one of the nurses helped me to the bathroom for a nice hot bath, and Xave held Eleanor while the other nurse(s) weighed her, etc. Then Jen took a few pictures (which are perfect and priceless! I wish I had known and hired her for Dimitri’s birth). After my bath I came out and Eleanor was hungry and ready to nurse. So we got to snuggle and nurse. It was sweet and amazing. I felt more confidence this second time around. It was nice to kinda know what to expect. And I’m happy that we hired a doula! Jen texted me and checked up on my very consistently, and I think that’s what meant the most to me–that I had someone who cared about how I was doing and feeling, etc.

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P.S. Placenta pills are AMAZING!!! I will always get them from now on!

The only thing I would have changed about the experience: – I wasn’t crazy about riding in the car. – The bureaucracy of the hospital and checking-in, dealing with nurses, etc…I loved Xave, Jen, and Dr. Dickerson.  I’m sure my nurses were sweet and wonderful, but next time will be a home birth. – I wish I had gotten a picture with my delivery crew and a picture of me, Xave, and Eleanor.


Sondra contacted me on January 1st and we set up to meet a couple days later.  I still remember meeting Sondra and Xavier at one of our local CC’s Coffee House.  Their son Dimitri was with them and was the typical one year old, completely uninterested in what we were talking about 😉 .  We went over her previous birth, what she wanted from this birth, and minor complications unrelated to the pregnancy that she was experiencing.  She assured me it wouldn’t affect labor and birth, but I couldn’t wait to get home and Google (Hi, my name is Jennifer and I’m a chronic Googler).  Later that night she and Xavier had hired me as their doula (yay!).

We started our prenatals in February and I really enjoyed our time together, especially with Dimitri being my little helper.  Sondras first came two weeks early and fast into the world.  As Sondra approached that 2 week early mark and she didn’t have signs of labor, I started to become nervous, but I didn’t share that with her.  On Tuesday, April 7th, Sondra texted me to let me know that she was nearly 5cm dilated at her regular appt that day.  She’d get a little bit of action at night, but during the day they’d fizzle out.  This can be pretty normal towards the end of pregnancy.

On Sunday, April 12th, I got a call from Sondra.  She thought she was in labor but just wasn’t sure.  I had to hold back a giggle because she was most definitely in labor.  She had a few contractions during our short that she had to focus on and was in complete  denial <— all my clients tells (along with giving a big middle finger to the world).  I asked her what she wanted to do and what she wanted me to do.  She said they were going to leave church and wanted me to meet them at the hospital.  I had been telling my husband for weeks that when she went into labor, she wasn’t going to be a client that I could take time and have some notice.  I would have to leave immediately. Sure enough, that’s what happened.  The kicker was I had a consult later that evening!  Do I call and cancel or see what happens?  I didn’t have time to decide, I just left.

I got a text at 12:13p that contractions were coming stronger and more regular.  They had just gotten to the house and they were “heading straight to the hospital”.  I let her know I was on my way.  It’s about a 35 minute drive on a good day, so I was praying for no traffic.  When I arrived, Sondra and Xavier were just getting wheeled back to their room, so I just followed along.  They wanted to make sure she was in labor before admitting, but it was clear a baby was coming.

When we got up to Sondras room the nurses were still trying to get a hold of her doctor, Dr. Dickerson (amazing local OB, opened the Birth Center of Baton Rouge and attends nearly all his patients deliveries). I think they knew it at the time, but didn’t want to worry Sondra.  His wife had a flat tire and he was trying to fix it before coming in, but he made it!  While I had heard wonderful things about Dr. Dickerson, I hadn’t worked with him before.  I think I had to pick my jaw up off the floor a few times from how hands off and observant he was with her birth.  He was patient and I don’t recall him touching Sondra until it was time to actually catch baby.

Back to Sondra.  She was laboring beautifully and quietly, but she did not hesitate to let anyone know what she did or did not want.  I loved that!  Her labor was progressing quickly and while I’d usually suggest position changes to clients, I wanted her to get rest and enjoy the experience.  I did recommend a positional change when she was experiencing some discomfort in her hip (that little girl needed to get out of her mama’s side).  Baby’s trip earthside was so quiet and calm into the world.  At 2:28p on April 12th, 2015, little Eleanor Zamora came into the world weighing 8lb 9oz, 20″ long with a full head of beautiful hair.

I am so grateful to have been hired as their doula and witness such a beautiful birth.  Thank you!

Oh, and I made it to the consult too 😉

The birth mom has, the birth dad is a part of, and the birth I witness will always be a different story.  Before any stories are shared from my perspective as their doula, the client and I have discussed their birth and are requested by the client when they are ready.  Clients always share their story first before I share from my experience.  It is important to not alter a woman’s perspective of her birth.  All clients see their blog post for approval prior to public posting.
World Doula Week 2015!

World Doula Week 2015!

world doula week

World Doula Week begins with World Doula Day on March 22nd and will go through March 28th annually.   March 22  was chosen because it is the spring equinox, which represents the return of fertility in countless cultures.  Read more here.
My journey as a birth professional began in 2010 as a birth photographer.  I absolutely LOVED my ‘job’, but I was lacking something.  Two wonderful and amazing doulas encouraged me to attend DONA training in 2013; I was hesitant but went and there was no turning back!  I’m now able to balance both hands on doula work or quietly documenting a clients beautiful birth.  
Because I am SO incredibly grateful to all my clients that allow me to do what I love – doula, photography, and encapsulation – I am giving away FOUR amazing prizes for #WorldDoulaWeek!  Enter for yourself, your friends or just support by sharing!  
Don’t forget to Pin and Share with #WorldDoulaWeek !  GOOD LUCK!!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Prizes include: 1 birth planning & comfort measures visit ($200 value); gift card towards one placenta encapsulation service ($225 value); gift card towards one fresh48 session ($500 value)

Terms
Winner must be delivering in the Baton Rouge area. Travel fees may apply for Birth Planning & Comfort Measures visit if outside of the Baton Rouge area. Prizes cannot be exchanged for monetary value.

Three winners will be chosen on 3/29/15 and announced on my blog and Facebook page.

This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. We hereby release Facebook of any liability. Winner(s) will be contacted by email 48 hours after the giveaway ends. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send us an email!

Why I Became a Doula | Baton Rouge, LA Birth Doula and Photographer

 Growing up, I wasn’t exposed to breastfeeding much, natural childbirth, healthy eating, anything you’d typically associate a doula with. My mother attempted to breastfeed myself and siblings, but due to misinformation and lack of support, she made the decision to formula feed us. I grew up in Section 8 housing, and I only remember two women breastfeeding out of all the families I knew. One, an immigrant from Ethiopia; the other a family who had lost everything in a fire and were living in our apartments temporarily.

Aside from all this, natural childbirth and breastfeeding was still something that was normal to me. I myself was a homebirth baby and I remember asking, my mother and father, questions about my birth. Why did they choose homebirth? What was the weather like?   Who attended my birth? I had meconium, but was fine, what did that mean? Why did my mom mention I was her Moonlight Lady ever time the song came on? I’d often listen to my birth that my parents had recorded on tape and browse birth books my mom had from her pregnancies.

At 4, I had attended hospital midwife visits with my mom and ultimately the birth of ‘my baby’. I don’t have too many natural memories, but I would routinely watch the video tape from his birth. When I was about 12, I attended our neighbor’s birth with my mother since she didn’t have any labor support. I don’t remember much, except for cutting the cord and looking at the baby on the warmer. While it was exciting, it was also calming and felt so natural. Yes, babies were exciting, but I didn’t understand the big deal (remember I was 12).

As I got older, birth continued to fascinate me, but other things in my life took priority. I was 16 when I found out I was pregnant. I was given a choice of an abortion or a girl’s home/shelter; I refused an abortion. The home I went to had good intentions, but their birth preparation and overall birth/ support was lacking. When I went into labor, I was undereducated and finding myself alone even though several people were in my room. Prodromal labor was induced at 36 weeks and after 24 hours of labor AROM and being 9.5cm, I was taken in for an ‘emergency’ cesarean. Postpartum, I found myself alone again, begging for help with the feelings I was experiencing, and receiving nothing in return. There had to be a better way to support mothers, young ones at that.

Fast forward ten years, I’m married with three beautiful VBAC children, and a birth photography business. At each birth I attended, my clients were starting to ask more questions and seeking guidance. I kept weighing the option of taking doula training, but I didn’t want to become another photographer that was adding doula to their resume for the sake of looking good. It needed to be for the right reasons. I feel women that have had a traumatic experience or an experience that wasn’t ideal with their original plan, need to process it in a similar manner to grief; Denial and Isolation, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. I needed to make sure I had processed my own births. I needed to make sure I had processed through those emotions, particularly anger. I see many women enter into birth work during this stage, and while there can be some benefits as an activist; it can be harmful as a doula, particularly new doulas.

After attending a documentary showing in 2013, a couple local doulas in my community strongly encouraged me to take a DONA training. I wasn’t 100% sure it was something I wanted to do, but I looked up when the next workshop with Tammy Ryan was going to be in town, and signed up. After attending my training, I knew this was what I was meant to do. It was what I had been missing for the three years of photographing births.

I often find myself being the odd man out in my current community of doulas, as many are strong in activism and creating change. It is greatly needed, however, my philosophy is focus on my client, happy mind, happy labor and K.I.S.S – Keep It Simple Silly.

I didn’t become a doula overnight after an epiphany of my own birth experiences, but believe it was something that had developed over my lifetime, possibly starting at my own birth, as corny as that sounds. I do not believe doula work is the end of my journey working with mothers and families, but only the beginning of what I’m meant to do.

My Baby Turned 2  |  Baton Rouge, LA Birth Doula and Photographer

My Baby Turned 2 | Baton Rouge, LA Birth Doula and Photographer

Demanding・Insistent・Stubborn・Bossy・Difficult・Challenging・Contrary・Rebellious・Defiant・Sweet・Loving・Kind・Silly・Nurturing

She just turned 2 and those are the words that describe her. She can be very opinionated and passionate in the things she wants. While it can be rough as a parent, I’m SO grateful for her strong spirit. I’m excited to see her develop and grow and I only hope I can positively guide her in the path she’s been given.

My baby turned 2 a  couple days ago and I cannot believe where the time has gone.  She is most likely the last baby I’ll be pregnant with.  The last baby I’ll nurse.  The last baby I’ll wrap up in a blanket.  The last baby I’ll wear.  And it’ makes me SAD!

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Here is my birth story:

One year ago today I was in labor and gave birth to our beautiful daughter at 6:23pm, on 11/17/12, weighing 7lbs 15oz, and 20.5″ long.

Flagstaff Medical Center had recently started allowing VBAC’s again in July 2012 and there hadn’t been too many VBAC’s between then and my birth.  I was an excellent candidate, having 2 previous VBAC’s without complication, but they were still following the repeat c-section rules of scheduling by 41 weeks that had been  imposed on them.  I wasn’t too happy with that, but after interviewing many providers in Phoenix and finally in Flagstaff, they were my best option.  We talked and they were fine with doing NST’s if we did get to the 41 week mark.  As bad as this may sound, they were very supportive and on board with my plan.  I also knew there may be more rules for me delivering at a hospital so new to providing VBAC’s to their patients, but I also knew I would have a successful delivery, and if I could add towards the hospitals number of positive VBAC’s  for future mamas, I was ok with that.  So I transferred my care from a local NP/CNM at 34 weeks (it’s never too late!!).

My last OB appointment at North Country Health Care was on November 16th at 39.3 weeks.  We drove the hour and forty-five minutes north to Flagstaff with everyone in tow (kids, my mom, Jay).  I had my typical prodromal  labor throughout my pregnancy, building up as I went, but this time I wasn’t dilating like I had with my previous pregnancies.  Was I really going to get to the point of needing NST’s and scheduling a repeat after all this?

Without being pushy, she asked if I wanted my membranes stripped, “Uh, I don’t care.  It never worked before, I doubt it will work this time.  She’s never going to come out, we might as well just schedule that section…”   I was 3cm, so she went ahead and did the strip and told me I needed the trifecta:  spicy food, sex, and walking.  So we left the appointment and headed to the Flagstaff mall around 11:00a waiting for a local Mexican food restaurant to open.  I was experiencing nothing!  After 20 minutes, I decided we just needed to go home, so we loaded up and I drove back while everyone else slept.  I had my typical contractions I’d get from every trip from the position I was sitting in and I just cried.  These weren’t real, they were just my ‘angry uterus’ acting up.

We got home around 1:00p and Jay headed out to work about 2:30p.  An hour after that I wanted to be alone.  Thankfully  my mom was in town and I was able to lock my door to do my own thing.  I also started to lose my plug but figured it was just from the membrane stripping and nothing special.  I piddled around, not doing much, having contractions, but nothing worth timing.  We ate dinner around 6:30p, put the boys to bed and I retreated back to my room.

Between 7:30p to 11:30p I caught up on my Hulu and bounced on the ball.  I was still having contractions and losing my plug, but NO regularity.  I  was super emotional and feeling discouraged, I didn’t think it was real labor.  I finally went to bed, but kept being woken up from the contractions.  I knew if I wasn’t truly in labor I wouldn’t be waking up like this but I was still in denial.  I finally got up to pee around 1:15a, having a few contractions and more discharge.  Nope, just a side effect from the stripping, she’s never coming out!

I sent Jay a text with an update as to what was going on and he told me to contact Melody, my midwife/doula.  (We hired her so she could monitor me at home and transfer to the hospital as my doula.  This saved us a TON of trips) So what do I do?  I send her a TEXT!  I tell all my birth clients to NEVER text me in the middle of the night, I won’t hear it, they must call!  Few minutes later I realized what I did and gave her a call, “Hey it’s Jen, this is what’s happening.  It’s nothing, but Jay wanted me to let you know anyway…ugh”  – “I’m getting my stuff and will be over in about 30 minutes”.  Both she and Jay got to the house at 1:45a and Melody checked me.  I was a stretchy 4cm.  Looking back, I should have just gone with what I knew and not gone to the hospital, but everyone was worried about the distance and the fact that this was my 4th delivery.  (for the future folks, my labors are 24 hrs, we have time).

I started waking up the boys and I’ll never forget what William did.  “What?!”  He started getting up and gathering his things (they each had a backpack and goody bag), and I needed him to get on his boots

“I just can’t”
“You can’t what?”
“I just can’t do this, I’m freaking out!”  as he flails his arms around…

We get on the road at 2:00a and I still had no regular consistency to my contractions.  I call the hospital to let us know we are on our way.  When we did our tour, they told us to use one entrance for normal business hours and another for after hours.  Of course I had no clue where to go.   They told us to park at the top of the parking structure and they’d be out to meet us.   We made it there at 3:00a, just an hour after leaving,  which was odd since Jay was not speeding at all and then took his sweet time navigating through Flagstaff.

Once inside, they hooked me up to the monitors to see what my contractions looked like and to make sure Little Miss was doing well.  I met the on-call doctors, doctors I had met in the office before, and we went over my wants/needs.

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The anesthesiologist came in as a routine and he was pretty grumpy.  The policy was to allow laboring mothers to eat and drink as much as they wanted, even VBAC’s, but he didn’t seem too thrilled about this rule.  I could tell he was “old school”, so I just smiled and said ok.  The doctor that was on-call also “recommended” I not eat and she tried to convince me otherwise for quite some time.  I again politely declined and let her know I knew the risks.  She didn’t bother me after that.  Sometime after 6:00a we gave the boys their Big Brother bags that contained special shirts, and I ordered the famous breakfast burrito from the cafeteria and loved every minute of it.  The nurse even came in at one point asking if I had made sure to order a cinnamon roll “they are amazing!  You have to get one”

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By 9:00a, I sent my mom and the boys off to the hotel to get some rest.  I wanted the boys there for delivery (William was very interested in everything), but they didn’t need to hang out for the boring stuff.   Since Jay had only had a minimal amount of sleep Friday morning, Melody sent him into the rooms insanely large closet with the fold out bed.  She and I chatted for a majority of the time, I updated friends with my slow, but normal, progress.  Noon rolled around and I decided to utilize the bathtub for a little bit.  One minute I’m talking to Melody and the next thing I know I’m waking up.  I figured I had just gone to sleep for a quick 10 minute nap… nope, about 30 minutes or so.  Nice!

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 When I got out, I had progressed to 6cm and was 90%.  Melody and I hung out some more and I was starting to feel bad for her.  I wanted her to rest and eat, but she refused saying that wasn’t her job.

My contractions started intensifying, but still nothing I couldn’t handle, so I had Jay get up and shower.  After this, my sense of time gets a little fuzzy.    The doctor I had been seeing the most and was hoping would be at my delivery came in about 3:00p to check me, I was at 7cm, and we discussed breaking my water around 6:00p.  Both she and Melody agreed that I would probably deliver really fast afterwards if we did this (my water never breaks on it’s own and I usually deliver VERY fast after it’s broken).  Until then she encouraged me to move around, get in the tub, eat, drink, whatever I felt I needed to do.  With my contractions getting stronger and stronger, I got back on the ball with Jay and Melody alternating massage and counter pressure.  Jay and I walked the halls, but that just bored me, so we went back to my room.

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I sent a message to a group of friends that read:

Still hanging out, starting to not want food or water so it’ll be soon/next few hours. Just got off from sitting on the toilet backwards… Who knew lol. Any photog would be BORED at my labor. Literally sitting around chatting. I almost feel like an epi labor.  November 17, 2012 at 4:12pm

 

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At some point, maybe around 5 (??), I started telling Jay and Melody that they needed to call my mom, that I needed the boys there, I didn’t want them to miss it.  I knew I was heading into the serious part of transition and wanted to get in the bath just one last time to try and clear my mind and relax.  I was still in the tub when my mom and the boys got there, and Steven was very insistent on feeding me ice chips, the only thing I wanted at that point.

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I’m guessing I got out of the tub around 5:45p.  It was really difficult for me since my contractions were back to back without relief, the nurse and Melody were very helpful with getting me to the bed.

I was shaking pretty bad when Dr. Ray came in to check on me.  She asked me again if I wanted my water broken and knowing how my previous delivery was with Steven, I wanted it done.  I knew it would be quick with the way these contractions were coming along.  She broke my water at approximately 6:10pm, checked my dilation…. 7cm!  Are you kidding?!  I was in this much pain and still only at a 7?!  I arrived at the hospital with William and Steven at 8cm, this was nuts.  I broke down and Dr. Ray told me to get on my hands and knees to help with pain relief.  Almost immediately I remember telling whoever was listening that I needed to push.  I remember the nurse saying, “Jen, if you need to push you just go on ahe… ok, you’re pushing…”

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I had Melody telling me to slow down  my breathing because I was going to cause myself to hyperventilate,  Jay on my other side telling me I was doing a great job, my two nurses and Dr. Ray also encouraging me.  All the while I felt competently paralyzed.  I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t move.  I wanted off my hands and knees, I wanted all the lights on, I wanted to SEE what was going on.  Two contractions and 4 pushes later on  my hands and knees,  in a panic, I delivered little Emily at 6:23pm.  Dr. Ray was telling me to grab my baby.  How was I supposed to do that?!  I couldn’t move and she was slimy.  Someone, I’m guessing Dr. Ray and the nurse (since Melody didn’t have gloves) placed Emily under me for me to hold her. Waiting for the cord to stop pulsating, I finally said I wanted to flip over.  But not only did I want to flip over, I wanted them to take Emily to the warmer.  I was traumatizing her, I was in shock, I wasn’t ok to hold her.

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We did the normal routine after that, the nurse encouraged me to take Emily back and she nursed for about 40 minutes.  The boys got to say hi to their new little sister, Melody left, and Jay headed out to take my mom and the boys back to the hotel and to get me food.  My nurse got me up and into the shower, the best shower of your life(!), and I started feeling a bit better about holding Emily.  

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I am still pretty bummed that I wasn’t able to find a birth photographer like I was with Steven,  but I’m so grateful for the snapshots Melody and my mom were able to grab.

After nearly a year am I finally starting to accept my birth, write about it, and look at the photos.  I know so many having hospital deliveries would love to deliver the way I did, I had an ideal birth for many, but it wasn’t MY ideal birth.  Looking back I probably had a few things going on emotionally that I thought I had over come.   I also over prepared for this birth.  With my previous labors, I dealt with my contractions very well, I listened to my body, I was able to focus.  This time, I was so focused on making hypnobabies work, that I felt as if I was failing when it wasn’t working.  I should have kept to my normal routine and kept it simple.

Find what works for you.  Try and learn different coping mechanisms.  Mourn your birth if you need to, but don’t forget to enjoy your new baby and the now.   Recognize the amazing job you just did regardless of the outcome and give yourself a hug!  You just created and delivered a life, a human being!!

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Pesky Prodromal Labor | Baton Rouge, LA Doula & Birth Photographer

Pesky Prodromal Labor | Baton Rouge, LA Doula & Birth Photographer

Disclaimer:  All information expressed on this site is not to be taken as medical advice.  Please consult with your provider for more information.

I’ve been having contractions for weeks now, I’m dilated, I’m exhausted, but this baby isn’t coming!

Did you experience prodromal labor? Did you feel pressure from the outside world to have baby?  Prodromal labor, aka “False Labor”, can be very confusing!

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Here are some ways to determine if you are experiencing  prodromal labor:

1.  Last for hours, days, or weeks (yes) before active labor begins.
2.  May feel like braxton hicks contractions but sometimes they can be much stronger.
3. Irregular in duration, length and intensity.  May seem regular up to a few hours, but fizzle out.
4.  May have a pattern and show up about the same time every day or night.
5.  Will usually stop after a few hours.
6.  May or may not be affected by your daily activity level.
7.  Your cervix may begin to dilate, and efface and you may lose your mucous plug.
8.  When in doubt, call your provider!


 

Prodromal labor contractions condition the uterus, and prepare the cervix for dilation and effacement and in some cases (like mine!) the cervix may even dilate and efface as a result. Many women head to the hospital only to find out after a few hours that it was ‘false labor’. In other words, the contractions stopped or are not progressing anything significantly. Being sent home can be emotionally confusing. You are left to wonder how you will know when it is the real thing. You might feel frustration going back to the hospital the next time, and then you wonder about giving birth on the side of the road!

Why am I getting “false contractions”?

This is a great question for your provider.  I don’t have an answer as to why, but can I share my personal experiences. I had prodromal labor with Every. Single. Pregnancy.  I was miserable, but finally by baby number 4, I figured out it’s just the way my body works!  I experience braxton hicks starting around week 16-20, this is pretty common for many moms, but at times they become ‘regular’ for hours on end, progressing nothing.  When I hit 34-36 weeks, I look like I’m in active labor, dilate to 3-4 cm, efface to 80-90% and everything STOPS.  I typically have a few more ‘episodes’ before true labor begins and then it’s a good 24 hours until I meet my little one.

Sometimes prodromal labor is being prolonged by mom herself.  Fears or anxieties , perhaps the fear connection is coincidental. It may also be that our bodies are just revving up for the big day, and needs a few practice sessions first. It may even be that baby is malpositioned, with his little head cocked slightly to the side (acynclitic head) or a posterior baby.

How do I stop these?  

Braxton hicks contractions will usually dissipate with the different things such as rest, changing your position, increasing water, and making sure your bladder is empty.  However, the problem with prodromal labor is that sometimes these things can make irritable contractions go away, but unfortunately there’s a good chance they will just keep coming.  You should always have an idea in an hour or two, most women do not have labors that fast, and if they do, there is no question that what they are experiencing is the real deal!

Tip!  Try some hands & knees positions and keep your hips tilted forward while you sit or stand.

Click here to check out the Miles Circuit!  

As hard as it is, the best thing you can try and do is relax and go with the flow. Utilize this time to practice your different coping methods you plan to use in labor.

Another excellent resource: http://spinningbabies.com/more-info/in-labor/362-starter-broken-when-early-labor-lingers-or-starts-and-stops