Thanksgiving – What am I grateful for?

I am grateful for:

  • My husband who supports me as I live a life with this passion for birth.聽 He didn’t mind that I was gone for 57 hours out of 62 consecutive hours 3 days last month, as a doula for 2 long induction births.聽 He listens to me talk about birth things all the time.聽 馃檪
  • Devon – my son who said, “I thought you worked part time” when he saw me after my 2 long births.聽
  • Carson – my first VBAC baby.聽 Such a sweet kid.
  • Bryson – his birth inspired me to become a doula and a Hypnobabies Instructor.聽 Who knew birth could be so enjoyable?聽 It can!
  • My friends – who help watch my kids while I am at births.聽
  • Hypnobabies聽– I love being able to teach such a wonderful, complete childbirth education program to moms.聽
  • I love all my students too!
  • The Hypnobabies Home Study program – I love that there is a complete home study program available for moms across the world, who don’t have instructors nearby.聽
  • All the moms on the Hypnobabies Yahoo Group聽who inpsire each other and me as they work towards having the most positive enjoyable births possible.
  • Independent Childbirth Educators Group, I have long looked for women who shared the same passion for educating women about birth.聽 I have found them here!
  • ICAN聽– International Cesarean Awareness Network – This is a wonderful group for moms in helping them with cesarean information… whether it be to avoid a primary cesarean, help them find support in their quest for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), and support for mom’s who need cesareans for medical reasons.聽

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday weekend!

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Review of a Perfect Pair of Books

聽聽聽聽 I do NOT recommend What to Expect When you are Expecting… this tells you everything that can go wrong and tells you to expect it.聽 I used to recommend Your Pregnancy Week by Week, because moms wanted a book to tell them how their baby was developing and have a reference to what may be happening to them during pregnancy.聽 Even this book is a bit too negative, but I didn鈥檛 know what else to suggest. I now have the best choices!

聽聽聽聽 I DO recommend this pair of books to have the best of both worlds.SEE how your baby is growing and learn the different developmental stages your baby is experiencing, plus have a great reference book on what is normal pregnancy like.

聽聽聽聽 The BABY-EGG Pregnancy Countdown Calendar is a wonderful visual of your growing baby and their development.聽 This is beautifully done and life size.聽A hook comes with the book so you can hang it on the wall and flip a page each week.It is especially wonderful for families who already have children.聽 So great to see and learn how the baby is growing.

聽聽聽聽 Pair that book with,聽Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn: The Complete Guide by Penny Simkin a wonderful reference book with聽complete pregnancy and birth information presented in a positive way.聽

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Hypnobabies Open House in Orange County, California

If you are interested in learning more about Hypnobabies.聽 You can come to an Open House on November 13th and meet moms who have had babies using Hypnobabies, hear their positive birth stories, learn about birth options in the area, meet area hypno-doulas聽and meet other expecting moms!聽 To learn more visit

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Cool Birth Movie "The First Cry" released in France

I learned about this on Rixa’s Blog.聽聽

Le Premier Cri聽looks (site is in French)聽like a film where they go to different countries and cultures and film different births.聽 It looks like it is GREAT!聽 I can’t wait until it comes out on DVD.聽 馃檪

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Help Your Doula Help You

Written by Dale Bernucca, Childbirth Educator and Doula,聽with input from other childbirth educators at Educators and Doulas have permission to share this article with their students/clients, as long as the author and website are cited.

Support: sup路port (s -p么rt , -p rt )

tr.v. sup路port路ed, sup路port路ing, sup路ports

To bear the weight of, especially from below; To hold in position so as to keep from falling, sinking, or slipping; To be capable of bearing; withstand; To keep from weakening or failing; strengthen; To provide for or maintain, by supplying with money or necessities; To furnish corroborating evidence for; To aid the cause, policy, or interests of, To argue in favor of; advocate; To endure; tolerate; To act in a secondary or subordinate role to (a leading performer). source: The Free Dictionary

Synonyms: uphold, back1, advocate, champion

uphold: maintain or affirm in the face of a challenge or strong opposition; back: material or moral support intended to contribute to or assure success; advocate: verbal support often in the form of pleading or arguing; champion: fight for one that is under attack or is unable to act in their own defense source: The Free Dictionary

It is natural to want to consider having a woman experienced in labor and birth with you when you are in labor. Women have birthed with women for centuries (midwife) and in many parts of the world including the USA women still bring a female relative or friend with them along with their partner when they go to their birth place or make a聽 conscientious choice to birth at home specifically because they desire the female presence to be primary.

As we have moved further and further away from birth as a normal, organic process women find themselves intuitively feeling a sense of an incomplete birth setting as they near their due date. Some women are unable to define what is missing because they鈥檝e never witnessed a natural birth taking place where it began, in the home. Today the majority of births in America take place in hospitals and hospitals at one time denied women any family support in labor and birth. We are making progress as today many fathers want to be at their children鈥檚 births and most hospitals are beginning to outright protect a pregnant woman鈥檚 patient rights.1

Still, women find themselves desiring 鈥榤ore鈥. As birth educators, women who have experienced joyful births and as women who have been with women at birth can attest 鈥業 need something more鈥 is an oft repeated thought in the laboring woman鈥檚 mind. The 鈥榤ore鈥 that the laboring mother cannot define is the intangible that a clinical staff can rarely provide thoroughly if at all: physical, mental and emotional support. This lack can be attributed to many causes ranging from the clinical need to distance oneself emotionally in order to best assess and manage the medical case to never having聽 witnessed or experienced a spontaneous, unmedicated birth over an intact perineum.

After viewing, sharing and learning about natural childbirth without interventions you may find yourself realizing that you need something 鈥榤ore鈥 at your birth. Hopefully the 鈥榤ore鈥 will be a bit easier for you to define now that you know what your body is capable of doing and you鈥檝e explored where you are on your mental and emotional journey to your baby鈥檚 birth day.

Take a look at the definition of 鈥榮upport鈥 above. Right now you are your own best resource for planning your birth. You know yourself better than anyone else you鈥檝e met or will meet as you near the start of your labor. If there is something that you identify as needing bolstering in your labor now is the time to give serious consideration to mending it. For most women who understand the physical process of labor the 鈥榤ore鈥 that is needed is recognized immediately and it is easy for them to choose from the above list why they desire an extra female presence at their birth. If you don鈥檛 understand the process of birth then you are probably finding it more difficult to pinpoint exactly why you want a doula and that鈥檚 okay IF you let your doula know that. This will help her be at ease in opening herself up to you and exploring all avenues of support she is experienced in giving.

Your doula helps you best when you are proactive in learning about natural birth and all of your birth options. Many books, articles even doula certifying organizations themselves can put out messages about doula definitions. Some say that doulas provide only comfort measures. Some say that doulas are advocates. Some say that doulas cannot make decisions for you. Some say that doulas provide information. The truth is that doulas can be one or all of these things but what they are is dependent on the individual mother they are supporting at that one birth. A doula can play different roles for the same woman for different births. The greater the mutual exchange of insight ~ including setting聽 boundaries for your doula ~ the more positive your birth experience will be especially if you find yourself presented with a cesarean for true medical indications.

If you are hearing your intuitive voice say that you need something 鈥榤ore鈥 start thinking about what you know about natural birth, all birth options in your area from homebirth to hospital birth, what you know about yourself and what you know about who you currently have in mind to be at your birth.

If you are early in your pregnancy start with a comprehensive natural childbirth class. You will need time to:

Learn about keeping yourself low-risk and healthy so you can keep all of your options open

Learn about your local birth care options

How labor begins

Variations of normal first stage labor

Variations of normal second stage labor

Variations of normal third stage labor

Recognizing the true medical situation requiring medical intervention

How your baby鈥檚 health is affected by how you labor including,

Breastfeeding and how you and your baby鈥檚 breastfeeding relationship is affected by how you labor

Understand how your local birth care community affects your birth (you may decide it鈥檚 your聽careprovider that鈥檚 leaving you feeling less than fulfilled!)

Learn about your resources should you experience a traumatic

Process the information and make some informed decisions and birth planning including changing from your original careprovider and birth location if necessary

This is the knowledge foundation you need before interviewing doulas. You will be prepared to know exactly what you need. Using the same process you applied to identify the careprovider right for you,聽you鈥檒l be able to recognize the right doula for you. To be clear, your doula will never make decisions for you but she can be pivotal to your decision-making process as at this point you will know what real birth is and you鈥檒l be prepared with real options. Options that she can remind you or your partner about rather than try to educate you when you鈥檙e in no mental or emotional condition to think them through with the time and effort you and your baby deserve. She can provide the physical comfort you鈥檝e read about AND she can give you the mental and emotional support that comes from sharing her own birth experiences as well as those of women whom she has witnessed labor and birth. She can share the insight of births with unexpected outcomes, what may have contributed to them and put your decision in a educated perspective rather than being motivated by irrelevant external influences. These priceless experiences shared intuitively let your birth unfold as YOUR birth. The moment you鈥檝e waited a lifetime for.

1 Patient Rights Program, Health Law Department of the Boston University School of Public Health

Permission to reprint is hereby granted without further authorization as long as the text remains unedited and the author and source, Dale Bernucca for Enjoy Birth are properly cited and credited. Copyright 2007

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The problem with "great ideas"

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽They are not used wisely.聽聽 I thought of this when at the last birth I attended as a doula, the OB says, “You have fallen off the ‘curve’ of typical labor progression.聽”聽 Referring to the bell curve of the length of typical stages of birth, developed by Emanual Friedman.聽 He is horrified on how that information is used today.鈥淲e found an average.People think the average is what women should fall upon.That is clearly not true but rather a broad range of normality beyond which a potential abnormality may or may not exist.These abnormalities are not in themselves justification for forceps or cesarean鈥It doesn鈥檛鈥 mean she鈥檚 doing so badly that you have to do something terrible to her. That is being abused.鈥聽 (From the book Birth by Tina Cassidy, as seen in my review below)

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Now in this particular case the mom was exhausted and really wanted聽a cesarean.聽 The OB said, “Baby is fine and you are fine, so we can wait, but there is no guarantee you will continue to progress, or you will have the energy to push the baby out”聽聽 Mom chose cesarean and as she was SO tired, I don’t think she could have pushed the baby out if she was at 10cm at that moment, she feels good with her choice.聽 BUT, misuse of a “great idea”.聽

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Another “great idea” was Electronic Fetal Monitoring, which was supposed to help during birth, to monitor the baby and determine if their was problems.聽 This was in replacement of the care provider or nurse listening to the baby’s heartbeat on their own.聽 Today nurses don’t even have to be in the room with a birthing mother, instead they are at a desk outside their room, watching monitors of many women.聽 This has only made women feel more isolated and alone during their births.聽聽 The machine is the center of attention instead of the moms or even the babies (though it is monitoring the baby, the machine is where the focus is)聽聽

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Today intermittent fetal monitoring is standard in hospitals, where they monitor the baby for 15 minutes out of the hour.聽 This has been shown to be as effective as continuous monitoring in predicting problems.聽 Sadly because of litigation many hospitals now require continuous fetal monitoring.聽 So begins the cascade of interventions, where mom is strapped to a machine and unable to move.聽

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 How does one of the creators of Electronic Fetal Monitors feel about this great idea?聽聽 Well, it is another misused “tool” of the obstetrics world, leading to the increase in cesareans with no improvement of baby outcome.聽 Read an article about him in the Wall Street Journal here.聽

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Birth by Tina Cassidy

Birth by Tina Cassidy

Who is the intended audience of this book?Care providers of pregnant women鈥 if they actually take time to read it, the may learn something.Women of childbearing age or younger or anyone in their families鈥. DO NOT read this book

It is scary to read and starting with the first chapter, that alone will make you question mankind鈥檚 ability to still exist because of all the horrible things that can go wrong during birth.Most of these stories are from women who lived long ago and had Rickets, which caused bone softening and pelvic deformation.Luckily if you are reading this you most likely live in a society where Rickets no longer exists.But the fear and scariness doesn鈥檛 stop there.

As a Childbirth Educator and doula, I found it an interesting though disturbing read.It was one of those books where you are yelling at it at times.Partly because of the stupidity of what has gone on throughout the history of birth.But also party because I felt like it was SO negative.I just would NEVER let a pregnant women read it, she might go sign up for an Elective Cesarean, because the overall tone of the book is birth is scary鈥 complete with horrific stories (mostly due to Rickets which no longer exists in America) to demonstrate it.

I did enjoy the section on the Dawn of Doctors, where I learned more about some inspired care providers and their journeys.Grantly Dick-Read who wrote Childbirth Without Fear and Fernand Lamaze were of extra interest to me as a Hypnobabies Instructor, because I learned that their teachings included a lot of mind over body thinking, as well as the importance of hospital staff supporting and believing in the moms ability to have a comfortable birth.Having been a mom using hypnosis during my 2nd birth, totally comfortable and the nurses telling me at least 3 times, as soon as your water breaks it is going to hurt鈥 not surprisingly when my water broke it did start to hurt.When I had my 3rd baby, I used Hypnobabies and had a Bubble of Peace to protect me from the negativity of those around me, including the hospital staff.

I learned about Emanuel Friedman who watched birthing women and came up with the bell curve of the length of typical stages of birth.He is horrified on how that information is used today.鈥淲e found an average.People think the average is what women should fall upon.That is clearly not true but rather a broad range of normality beyond which a potential abnormality may or may not exist.These abnormalities are not in themselves justification for forceps or cesarean鈥It doesn鈥檛鈥 mean she鈥檚 doing so badly that you have to do something terrible to her. That is being abused.鈥

So this one chapter I found to be very informative and enjoyable to read.

The tools and fads chapter was an interesting look at the different ways people dealt with and currently deal with Childbirth.It was disappointing to me how in a chapter that could have had positive parts to it鈥 ie waterbirth, hypnosis etc, there was still an over all fear feeling to it.In the waterbirth section the main focus seemed to be on why it is fought against by many care providers, with of course stories of babies dying included.

Please if you are pregnant or ever will be do NOT read this book, it is too negative, with the exception of the Dawn of Doctors chapter, there was nothing positive I will take from this book.

I especially disliked the last 2 pages.The author looks back even after all she has learned she wouldn鈥檛 change anything about her birth鈥 sort of defeatist attitude.(She had a very medically managed birth ending up in a cesarean,) but does concede maybe she should have chosen a midwife and had a doula.

鈥淲omen will forever give birth in many different ways 鈥 either by design or through forces out of our control.As for the latter, we can only hope to be pleasantly surprised.鈥

Really, I guess one might believe this after reading the book.But knowing what I know as a childbirth educator and VBAC mom, the choices we make starting with our care provider down to positions we choose during birth can make a HUGE impact on our birth.

If you want to be empowered by books about birth, I suggest reading the following instead of this one.

The Thinking Women鈥檚 Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer

Ina May鈥檚 Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin

If you want a history about childbirth in the USA but would like to feel empowered by the knowledge rather than defeated try,

Born in the USA by Mardsen Wagner

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New Hypnobabies Class starting in Lake Forest, California

Classes start Monday November 19th 6:30-9:30.

Visit for more details on what the classes cover and to contact me for more information.

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Business of Being Born Movie Review

I was so excited to go to Belly Sprout, in Fullerton to see the Business of Being Born.I had heard good reviews of it and I love birth, so it seemed obvious I would love this film.Belly Sprout is a great little space, with natural items for babies and moms, with room in the back for classes or film screenings.It was fun meeting new people as we waited for the film to start.聽聽

聽聽聽 The film overall was enjoyable.The intention of the film seems to be showing how homebirth can be safer and better than hospital births.There were interesting interviews and quotes throughout the movie.Some wonderful home births were shown.They were empowering to me as a natural childbirth enthusiast.These same births could be seen as scary by moms who are afraid of the pain of birth.As a Hypnobabies instructor, I know birth can actually be comfortable and enjoyable if you have the right hypnosis tools, so I wish a Hypnobabies birth had been included.I worry that some moms might see the births in this film and say that is why I am going straight for the epidural.聽聽

聽聽聽聽 They did discuss some of the different problems that come up with hospital births.Including the cascade of interventions, though I wish they had been a little more explicit in that, because while as a childbirth educator I am well aware of what that entails, many women are not.It was fascinating to see OBs interviewed and when asked the question, 鈥淗ow often do you see a natural birth?鈥They were sitting there dumbfounded.The answer was basically never.My friend鈥檚 husband is doing his residency in Obstetrics and he agrees with this statement, they never see a normal, natural birth. They are taught not to be lifeguards, jumping in if something goes wrong, rather they are taught only how to actively manage birth, which leads to problems of their own.So how are they going to learn to support moms who want this?聽聽

聽聽聽聽 The ending of the film ruined the whole film for me.I think it was important to show that at times it is medically better to have a hospital birth (in this case the baby was preterm and breech).This birth would have been better towards the front of the film, I am thinking after the OB says 鈥95% of my job is boring, but then 5% is exciting/scary鈥Ok, show the scary birth at that point of the film, then spend the rest of the film showing the wonderful 95% that are safe at home.I think they were trying to have this moms story be one that wound its way throughout the film, but I really think its position in the movie undermines the whole purpose of the film.聽聽聽聽

聽聽聽聽 Since this mom did end up with a cesarean, PLEASE use this as a chance to talk about VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) and how next time this mom can have a vaginal birth and it would be ok.Tell the world about ICAN and how it is a wonderful organization to help moms avoid cesareans or recover from them if they have one.Let this film really educated and help the world in more ways than just homebirth.It would add maybe 1 minute to the film, but would have the potential of helping thousands of women.聽聽

聽聽聽聽 Overall I guess I would give the film 3 out of 5 stars.If they could edit it and change where the cesarean birth is in the film I would make it 4 out of 5.I would not recommend my Hypnobabies Moms watch it while pregnant, as I want only positive images in their mind as they prepare for their births.But I do think it would be a great film to show in a college class to help women think about births before they are in that stage of life.If we educate women earlier about their choices in birth and their power as women and mothers, we can change the world!

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Great article to read

about What Women Aren’t Told About Childbirth.

It is talking about all the information they gathered from the Listening to Mother’s Survey.聽聽聽 Enjoy!

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