Let's be honest. There's a lot written about birth - some good and some not worth wasting your time. So let's just cut to the chase and give you a good solid list of reading material.
The first chapter is about Dr. and Mrs. Sears' births and the contrast between their medicated and unmedicated births and their hospital births compared to their homebirths.
The second chapter is about the history of childbirth in America. This was life changing. I walked away feeling like we have been sold a lot of garbage about the birthing experience through the media and even baby showers. I knew I would have a different experience with my second baby. And I did.
2. There is a law against being a "birth junkie" and not recommending Ina May's Guide to Childbirth! But really, it's a fabulous book. The first half of the book is birth stories. This is so important. Hearing women tell their stories is truly empowering. Knowing labor was hard and exhilarating, as well as coping techniques that helped her through is a must.
The second half of the book is Ina May talking about various aspects of giving birth. For those of you who aren't familiar with Ina May Gaskin, I would describe her as reviving the midwifery profession after a very successful smear campaign against midwives that lasted decades.
(If you ever want to hear about the weekend I chauffeured Ina May around Ft. Worth, corner me at a Black Hills Birth Network meeting and I'll fill you in.)
3. My last birth book I recommend is a little book called Mind Over Labor by Carl Jones, originally published in the 1920s. I had a midwife say to me with my third birth that 90% of labor was in my head and 10% was physical. I've thought a lot about that statement over the years and do believe it's pretty accurate. At least 80/20!
What about all the books with statistics? While that stuff is important in building your birth team, understanding interventions, and knowing the right questions to ask, that is likely not what actually gets you through labor. In addition to taking a Birth Boot Camp class and hiring a Birth Boot Camp Doula, I believe the information in the three books mentioned here will help you achieve an amazing birth.
BHBBC: What type of birth were you hoping for? How did you prepare? Did you take a class?
Tiffany: I was hoping for a natural, unmedicated birth. I took the Black Hills Birth Boot Camp class from Donna Ryan. I tried to prepare by exercising throughout my pregnancy and practicing relaxation.
BHBBC: Tell us a bit about your pregnancy.
Tiffany: This was my 3rd and hardest pregnancy. I had a lot of lower back pain that made it hard to sleep and take care of my 2 older children. I was nauseous the 1st trimester and has heart burn the 3rd trimester.
BHBBC: How did labor begin? How many weeks were you?
Tiffany: Labor began spontaneously at 39 weeks.
BHBBC: What did contractions feel like?
Tiffany: Contractions started out feeling like Braxton-Hicks contractions where my stomach would tighten up. As labor progressed they became more painful and they eventually turned into back labor. The pain in my lower back was very intense and painful. The pain is hard describe. During contractions my lower back felt extremely stiff and like my spine was being squeezed.
BHBBC: What did you do during your labor?
Tiffany: In the beginning I tried to relax by listening to relaxation clips on Youtube. When that wasn't working anymore I walked circles in my living room. It really helped to just walk. Once we got to the hospital I tried to move around a lot. The laboring position that I liked the most was standing and swaying back and forth while leaning over the bed when contractions would come. My husband would rub my lower back and tried to apply counter pressure on my hips and lower back during contractions.
BHBBC: Tell us about your birth team. Did you have a doula?
Tiffany: No doula. My birth team was my husband Brian and the nurse. The nurse was very knowledgeable and helpful during labor.
BHBBC: What did you think about during labor? Was certain imagery helpful? What helped you cope?
Tiffany: It was hard not to focus on the pain. In the beginning of labor I was able to listen to relaxation clips on YouTube that helped me get through the discomfort of contractions. Towards the end of labor I was screaming out in pain, and Brian and the nurse would remind me to groan and make deep noises from my throat. That seemed to help and it helped me focus on groaning instead of the pain. Brian also reminded me that the pain had a purpose and we would be meeting our baby very soon.
BHBBC: How long was your labor? How long did you push?
Tiffany: Labor lasted about 8 hours and I pushed for about 5 minutes.
BHBBC: What will you do different if you have another baby?
Tiffany: Exercise more and be more consistent with practicing relaxation techniques.
BHBBC: What was your favorite thing about birth-day?
Tiffany: Holding my brand new baby!
BHBBC: What advice do you have for expectant parents?
Tiffany: It is very important for the father to be involved in preparing for labor and birth.
A special congratulations to the Farrers on your sweet baby girl!
Donna just started a new Comprehensive 10-week class last week. It's not too late to join. Make up the first class online and get in on the fun. Don't just hope for an amazing birth. Prepare for one!
Having a homebirth? Our 4-week Homebirth Class starts Tuesday, February 5, 2019. To register for either class, email email@example.com.
During my pregnancy with my first I did quite a bit to prepare for breastfeeding. I had always known that it was something I wanted to do for my babies. I had done reading on it prior to becoming pregnant and then during pregnancy I took a basic breastfeeding class. I felt pretty confident in my knowledge and was aware of issues that could arise... or so I thought.
Once my son was born things started off smooth while in the hospital. He was latching and feeding every 2 hours and had good diaper output so I felt confident as we left the hospital at 2 days old. As soon as we got home though it felt like everything changed. We started having latch issues, pain, constant feedings, and soon enough low diaper output all within 24hrs. Boy how things change fast in the first week! I knew that we were struggling, I was exhausted (as all new mamas are!) and my mind just kept running in circles constantly feeling like I was doing something wrong.
After 2 nights of this we went in for Adlers well baby check to see how things were going. This visit quickly confirmed my inklings on our struggles and we were met with an instant comment of "he's lost too much weight. It's time to start formula". I had always preached that "breast is best!" and here I was 4 days in and already "failing". I tried to keep it together but I won't lie, I left that appointment sobbing. It was then that my fiancé reminded me "hey babe, what about the lactation consultants at the hospital? you should call them before we do anything. See what they say." I am so appreciative of his support during that time.
In my new mom mindset (which lets face it... is pretty mindless when you are running on very little sleep) I completely forgot about the professionals that were just a phone call away. I called them as we drove home from the appointment. It was already 3pm on a Friday so getting an appointment seemed impossible. I talked with the LC on the phone and after listening and hearing me break down she squeezed us in within the hour. During that appointment she taught me so much about the nursing dynamic and we pinpointed our latching issues and she helped me feel confident again.
Over the weekend things were better but didn't seem 100%. He wasn't having any poopy diapers and we were still constantly feeding. By Monday when we returned to the LC we confirmed that my supply was taking a nose dive. She set me up with an SNS (supplemental nursing system) a device that holds formula/breast milk and clips to your shoulder strap with a small tube tapped to the nipple. It allows supplementation while providing stimulation to increase supply. This device and our LC is ultimately what saved us. After a week of use my supply came back! It took another week for Adler to reach and pass birth weight.
We didn't get out unscathed though.. While my supply was ok it was never restored completely and we were left supplementing 1 bottle a night for 6 months until the introduction of solids. We went on to nurse for 18 months.
Jump to baby number two
At this point I was starting my doula training and in that was Birth Boot Camps "Breastfeeding: The ultimate MRE" (offered in-person in the "homecoming life with a new recruit" and "10 week comprehensive course" or online) along with professional training in breastfeeding. I found it very eye opening into what really went wrong in the first 2 weeks with my son. This time around with more knowledge and knowing who to go to has helped us start off on the right foot. Right off the bat Mia was a little shark as we liked to say but that didn't mean it was all sunshine and rainbows. We had latch issues while in the hospital (I was there for 4 days this time) and I quickly developed blisters and scabbing. I knew it wasn't right and so the LC (who was the one that had helped with my son) stopped in and gave me a fresh set of eyes to determine the issues.
After addressing a shallow latch I healed up pretty quick and we have been doing great. Occasionally she tries to revert to poor latching so she is still learning but I now understand the early symptoms of issues and feel totally equipped to address it before my supply is effected.
The first weeks are crucial to your breastfeeding journey, I'm not saying that if you don't catch issues right away you are doomed or anything like that! there is always hope! But I will say that taking an in depth breastfeeding class in pregnancy and having in person professional support (a doula or IBCLC are great options) will prepare you for ultimate success.
As a doula I have training to help my clients establish breastfeeding in those first hours of life and I check in periodically during the crucial first weeks to make sure everything is going smoothly. I am always happy to visit in person to help pinpoint possible breastfeeding issues, having a second set of eyes is sometimes all you need. Every breastfeeding pairing is unique with its own challenges.
I will note that a doula is not a replacement for a certified lactation consultant but a doula can help you sort through what is normal but may need tweaking vs when there may be a bigger issue at hand and advice you to seek an LC before your supply is effected long term.
I am currently accepting clients for spring and summer 2019 so if you want to learn more about all the awesome benefits you get when you hire me as your doula I would love to discuss them with you!
Call or email me today!
I recently sat down with Cassie Applegate, Certified Nurse-Midwife, to ask her a few questions about her midwifery practice in the Black Hills region. As a childbirth educator and homebirth mom myself, I have found there to be a lot of misinformation within the media and general public surrounding the topic. Hopefully you'll find this post informative and possibly even inspiring. It's good to know all your options when it comes to the birth of your baby.
BHBBC: What inspired you to become a midwife?
BHBBC: Why do you practice out-of-hospital? Why homebirth?
Cassie: I love being out-of-hospital. I worked in the hospital for nearly 6.5 years, and while I believe you can have beautiful empowering births in the hospital, it can definitely be a lot harder. Being at a woman’s home you are an invited guest into their space. They get to be in control in their own environment, and usually labor and birth goes so much more smoothly without interruptions.
BHBBC: How long have you been a nurse-midwife?
Cassie: I have been a Certified Nurse Midwife for 4.5 years. I did my clinical rotation while getting my master’s in one freestanding birth center and several hospitals. After I received my Master’s of Science and passed my midwifery boards, I worked as a CNM (Certified Nurse-Midwife) in the hospital/private OB/midwife practice for 2 years prior to starting my homebirth practice 2.5 years ago.
BHBBC: How many births have you been to?
Cassie: Good question! As a CNM, I have attended approximately 200 births, and as an L&D nurse prior to that, I attended around 200 as well. So, 400 in total!
BHBBC: Do you have children? If so, were they born at home?
Cassie: Yes, I have two beautiful boys. Neither one of them were born at home! I wanted to have my first at home with a midwife, but could not find a homebirth midwife that “fit.” Instead we had him at a freestanding birth center in Denver. My second was a hospital waterbirth with a wonderful group of midwives.
BHBBC: Many people are afraid of the “what ifs” in regards to having a baby at home. What do you say to that? Is homebirth safe?
BHBBC: Do you work with the hospital and/or local OBs? If someone needs to transfer to the hospital, do you stay with them?
Cassie: Yes, we are working on building strong relationships with the hospital and local OBs. I have had great experiences thus far. I do not currently have privileges at the hospital, so if we need to transfer they will transfer to an on-call OB. I will call and give report, transfer records, and stay as long as my client wants me to.
BHBBC: Some people are afraid of homebirth because they want to be near a NICU. How do you handle emergencies with the baby?
BHBBC: Do you take insurance? How much does a homebirth cost?
Cassie: I am not currently in-network with insurance. Homebirth costs around $5,000 with payments made at each visit, if needed. After the birth, I can provide my families with an itemized statement if they would like to attempt reimbursement from their insurance company.
BHBBC: What is the biggest baby you’ve ever caught?
Cassie: 10 and a half pounds!
BHBBC: What is the craziest birth you’ve attended?
Cassie: I can’t think of the craziest birth I’ve ever attended, but the most beautiful birth was the first baby I caught as a student midwife. The baby was born en caul (with the amniotic sac intact) in a gentle waterbirth. Will never forget it!
BHBBC: If you could give just one bit of advice to an expecting couple, what would it be?
Cassie: Listen do your intuition. This is your baby and your birth. Do your research. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and don’t be afraid to transfer care if you do not feel supported.
We appreciate Cassie taking the time to share a bit about herself and her practice. If you have more questions about homebirth or Cassie's practice, she can be reached at Appletree Midwifery or on Facebook.
Birth Boot Camp teaches a childbirth class specific to couples planning a homebirth. The next 4-week series begins Tuesday, Feb 5, 2019. To register, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Outside In- this fabulous NEW indoor playground is a parent's dream. The whole place is set up just as the name alludes to, outside-in. There is an adorable mini camper playhouse where kids can pretend to camp plus “hills” created on the floor for kids to climb all over. The place has two distinct playgrounds. One is for the little toddlers, the other for 5 and up. I found that my son was perfectly fine on the “big kids” playground, but it all depends on your child's ability and your comfort level as a parent. The prices are fair for Outside In, plus your pass is good for the day so you can conceivably leave for nap, and then return later in the day if you wanted. I can't say enough good things about this place.
2. Public Library- the downtown public library not only has a children's area with some toys and craft supplies, but they also have weekly story times on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Each story time only lasts a half hour, so it is well within the realm of toddler attention span. The “teacher” also sings songs and has props to help keep even the most active child's attention. After story time we usually stick around and play and visit with other moms in the kids area. I appreciate that they have craft supplies for the kids since my clean freak self cannot allow glue and glitter in my home.
3. Outdoor Campus West- This was a real gem when I first stumbled upon it. It is run by the South Dakota Games, Fish and Parks department. It's purpose is hands on nature education. Indoors they have taxidermy exhibits to teach about different habitats in South Dakota as well as a huge aquarium. As well as the exhibits, they have a play area with outdoorsy things. When the weather allows, they have hiking trails and outdoor classes to learn all about hunting, fishing and boating. Best part of this place? It's FREE. I couldn't believe that you can go play or attend the nature kids class for free. Blown away.
4. Rushmore Mall- when all else fails, the mall does have a play area for little kids. It's not my first pick place, but it works when you just have to get a change of scenery. The bonus is that I have never seen it busy, we are often the only people there, AND, it has a Starbucks close by. Who doesn't love a good latte while their kid gets some energy out??
Where do you go when you need to get out and the weather isn't cooperating? I'm always on the hunt for something fresh to explore. - Annika
Anyone in the birth world can tell you that no birth can be “perfectly planned”. We all have ideas for what we want our experience to be like and we may spend the whole pregnancy planning and preparing. Anyone who knows me knows that I enjoy planning and sticking to my plans. With my first birth I would say that things went almost exactly as planned minus that I didn’t prepare for complete back labor. I achieved my goals for a natural epidural free birth with the help of hypnosis and it was an amazing, empowering, life altering experience that really pushed my passion to become a birth worker.
Jump to baby number two… My plan that I came up with very early on was for it to “be like my first, but better!” I was going to trust my body and the process even more, I wasn’t going to waver at transition because I was going to know it was transition and how soon I would meet my baby, I would have my doula and amazing fiancé by my side who both knew how to support back labor, I had two options lined up to photograph the labor and birth, and I was going to rock it! It was going to be a truly beautiful experience.
Well fast forward to 37 weeks… I made a trip in to labor and delivery after an off feeling weekend. What I thought was blood pressure issues turned out my body was all out of sorts because baby decided she wasn’t going to be head down anymore and turned transverse and had her head and bottom wedged under my ribs. After that point she decided to turn head up. I was devastated that she would turn so late in the game but being a doula I knew the possibilities of babies turning even during labor and I knew of a lot of things to do to facilitate a turn. So I got to work. The next two weeks was spent doing everything I could think of. Webster certified chiropractic adjustments, spinning babies exercises, inversions, moxibustion, visualizations and swimming.
I pushed off talks of caesarean, I never even considered that as a possibility for my birth especially after having such a positive experience with my first. At 38 weeks we decided to try an ECV (external cephalic version) where the doctor tries to manually move the baby with the guidance of ultrasound. It took a lot for us to decide to try it as it does come with risks so I went without pain medications or muscle relaxants so that I would be able to say if it was too much on me or baby. We tried a front roll and a back roll, it was very intense to have my doctor and a male resident pressing and pushing on my stomach as hard as they could. I stayed relaxed and calm but sadly baby just didn’t want to turn. Later on talking to my doctor she said after they all left the room they just looked at each other and said “wow. She’s hardcore!” as it is rarely ever performed without an epidural.
After the failed ECV I realized I needed to start planning for all the possibilities. We don’t have any skilled providers in the area willing to deliver breech. The options that were running through my head were: sign paperwork saying we were going “against medical advice” and have an unskilled doctor catch our breech baby, go unassisted at home (that one didn’t stay in my head for too long), schedule a C-section or just play it by ear. I absolutely wasn’t going to give up hope on her turning so I continued all my efforts and added in a hypnosis track for turning a breech baby which I listened too multiple times every day and decided to just wait it out.
After spending some time thinking and just connecting with baby I started feeling like somehow I caused her to turn breech. I also started contemplating my thoughts and feelings about C-sections and realized for being a birth worker I had some very negative thoughts and ideas about them and decided I needed to work through all that regardless of if I needed one or not. I booked an appointment with a reiki/energy healer and was given the advice to let go and go with the flow and surrender. Also as a side note I was told to be ready on Monday (the reading was on Friday December 7th).
I decided I needed to think about what a C-section would be like for me, what were my fears and what did I want to come of it. With that I wrote up a cesarean birth preferences and presented it to my doctor. Our biggest thing was needing to keep the environment calm for me as I had major anxieties about being out of control of my body. And then making sure that all steps were taken to preserve breastfeeding initiation. We were given the approval of all of our wishes but also left without making any plans. I wanted to start labor on my own and allow baby enough time to possibly flip since contractions sometimes are enough to turn them.
Sunday December 9th
Sunday night I decided to do more inversions but could tell baby was still breech. After dinner I started noticing a heavy feeling in my legs that slowly turned to being in my pelvis as the night went on. I went to bed about 11pm but I could tell something was changing in me. After a couple hours of very restless sleep by the whole house I knew %100 that my hormones were shifting to early labor inducing ones.
Monday December 10th
I was awoken at 2:30am with some contractions that were trying to turn baby, I accepted what my body was trying to do and went back to sleep until about 4:30am when I was awoken again but by more intense contractions. I decided to start listening to my hypnosis “turn your breech baby” track and try to rest in hands and knees positions to encourage her to turn. I found in those positions my contractions would stop but while walking around they were about 10 minutes apart. By 7am I started contacting family to set up arrangements to watch our older son that day. In the original plan my mom was going to be at the hospital with us while my mother in law watched our son but it didn’t work that way as my MIL was very sick with bronchitis, so my mom came over. We also learned our two photographer options weren’t going to pan out either as they both were sick as well. I decided to mosey around that morning, stopping every 5 minutes or so to breathe through contractions. I took a shower, finished packing up our stuff and loading up the car. Ate an egg and called my chiropractor who went in early just so we could stop by for an adjustment on our way to the hospital still in hopes to turn her.
Going to the hospital
As we walked in to the emergency department I noticed a couple behind us that looked like they were there to have a baby as well, I kept walking even though a contraction came on that could have stopped me, I didn’t want to lose our place in line! We got checked in and quickly went on our way to labor and delivery. At this point I didn’t think I was too far into labor as it was pretty manageable but we wanted to get there early on so we had time to figure out what we needed to do and if baby was still breech. I was still able to make contractions disappear in hands and knees positions so I felt good about our timing. My doctor was doing rounds when we got checked in so she popped in with an ultrasound to check on baby… she was still breech. I hadn’t felt her even trying to move positions at this point and just realized, she was not going to budge. 10:50am and it was time to call it for a cesarean section. The doctor said she had a couple right behind us that was there for a planned C-section so she wanted to check me to see if we could wait or needed to go first. Within a quick second she said “Oh! You’re going first! 6cm, 100% effaced!” We all were shocked to hear that, I even said frustratedly “but these contractions are so manageable!” everyone got a kick out of that as I’m sure that is a phrase that has never been uttered in labor and delivery. Things quickly picked up around us as doctors and nurses flew in and out asking lots of questions and getting prepared. I talked to the anesthesiologist about my fears with the spinal and he validated that there were risks but reassured me how they handled them and that they would watch everything very closely.
Surrender and accept
At that point I don’t know what came over me but I fully surrendered to the situation. I accepted that I was in fact getting a C-section. I tried everything possible in my power to prevent it but we couldn’t and that was ok. I had nurses coming and trying to set up my IV (which took 3 tries) and take blood and I can say I honestly didn’t feel a single poke. It was time to get wheeled back to the OR. Kevin waited outside the door while I got prepped with the spinal. It took two tries but they got it and I laid on the table. The anesthesiologist and my doctor did an amazing job keeping me informed and the environment relaxed and calm. Soon enough Kevin was allowed in and within moments I could tell they had started. They say you feel pressure during the procedure and that is a good example but the one I came up with was that it felt like half my body was deep in the sea. It felt like even pressure all over and then as they moved and tugged it felt like waves pulling me back and forth. It was an odd yet comforting feeling that helped keep my mind calm. Soon enough I hear them saying they see her feet and then trying to get her head to move down, I could tell it took quite a bit to get her out. It’s true she wouldn’t have budged had we progressed with labor. Soon enough she was out! 11:55am and we finally hear our baby girls’ first cry. Our doctor was amazing at honoring our wishes. We got delayed cord clamping and they worked quickly to get her initial stats and get her to me for skin to skin. 8lbs 15oz 19 ½ in long and apparently the only reason she was breech was because she ran out of room. There was no cord issues or entanglement just a stubborn baby girl!
As I write this we are now 2 ½ weeks post-partum and I can say there have been many things about our experience that were exponentially harder than having a natural birth. Recovery has been a feat with added issues but every day gets easier. And I am so grateful that I had time to mentally prepare for the C-section. Had I not had that time I know that I would have been left with a lot of mental anguish over the experience we missed out on. Every day I find more acceptance and love for our story. We joked before her birth that if I ended up with a C-section then its just the universes way of giving me another tool to help my future clients achieve an amazing birth and I definitely feel like our experience will have a profound effect moving forward. I plan on being on maternity leave until March and am happily accepting clients due this spring and summer!
If your Facebook newsfeed is anything like mine, it is flooded every week with couples revealing the gender of their baby. While I enjoy watching these, I have mixed feelings about this relatively new ritual. You probably have your own feelings and are invited to share them in the comments. Hear me out first.
With my last baby born in 2005, my children were all born before Facebook or social media was a thing. In fact, I didn't even own a cell phone when she was born, and it would be another couple of years before I would lay my eyes on an iPhone. My, how things have changed! I would have loved to have had an iPhone to catch pictures and videos of my babies and toddlers. Instead, I had to carry around a camera with film in it! This wasn't even that long ago! I would have a million more pictures captured if iPhones had only existed!
That being said, I am also grateful social media and iPhones weren't a part of my life when my children were small. I feel like I was able to live in the moment, really looking at my kids, instead of looking at a phone. I say this with confidence because I'm terrible with moderation. Some parents are very good about putting away their phones and only look at them at designated times. I'm not one of those people!
And the pressure! The pressure to appear to have a perfect life, perfect kids, and perfect home. I really feel for today's parents. It's easy to compare everyone's best with our worst when it's all out there on social media. This would have been difficult for me to not compare my children and my life with others.
With so many clever ways to reveal the gender, it just feels like more pressure on our already busy lives. On the one hand, there is this "simplify" message in the universe, but then we have things like this! People are spending crazy amounts of time and money creating ways to tell the world the gender of their baby. This wouldn't even be a thing if it weren't for social media. But it's become a letdown if people just announce it, rather than make a big show. It's hard to make everyone happy...
In my Birth Boot Camp childbirth classes, I'm seeing a new trend. Many parents are finding out the gender but not telling anyone, let alone putting it on social media. Is this in response to this movement? Are they sick of being "forced" into this time-sucking ritual? They are going the other extreme - instead of telling the world, they are telling nobody! Who can blame them? In this day and age, where we have little privacy and solitude, it's a special thing to have a baby growing in your belly and to be able to connect with him or her in an intimate, quiet way.
I have 4 children, and we knew what the first 3 were before the birth. What a special day with number 4, to have our family gathered around us for the birth, and to find out all together that we were getting another beautiful daughter. As a side note, our son had desperately hoped for a brother, so it was extra important that he had a real live baby to look at when he realized he was getting another sister.
Not to say that you shouldn't find out the gender (I'm a planner, I get it!), but to do things as you see fit. This is an important discussion as a couple. I've talked to couples over the last year or so that have felt pressure to do a creative gender reveal because it's what everyone else does. There are so many important things to spend time and money on when you are having a baby. (Of course, I'm a childbirth educator so I'm going to tell you the importance of childbirth classes and hiring a doula!)
If you think this ritual is fun and you look forward to it, knock yourself out. Just don't do it because you feel pressured into it by social media.
* Reboot Refresher Jan 25 (one spot left)
* 4 week Homebirth Series starts Feb 1.
1. Travel at night- This works best for driving longer distances. The drive from South Dakota to Michigan is 16 hours, so, if I can get my son in the car at bedtime and drive that gives me about 10 hours of quiet, stress-free driving. I make sure I have a coffee, water and plenty of trail mix within arms reach to keep me alert. Having someone who can take turns driving is also very helpful. When my toddler wakes up at sunrise, we get breakfast, run around a bit, change, then hit the road again.
2. Snacks!- Pack three times as many snacks as you think your child will usually eat. I once packed an entire case of fruit snacks for my son. My inner nutritionist shuddered. However, he was happy as could be with the endless buffet of fruit snacks being passed to him from the front seat.
3. Screen time free for all- I try to limit my son's screen time to an hour per day. Let's be real though, Trolls on the Kindle can be a lifesaver when all else is failing. When we drove from Michigan during our move to South Dakota my son watched Trolls about 12 times back to back. Oh well….
4. Leave room in the backseat- We have a small family sedan so when we travel, the car looks like we are the Beverly Hillbillies with items crammed in wherever they fit. My suggestion is to keep one seat open next to the car seat in back. This allows you to do diaper changes in the car if you don't want to haul your child into the gas station. It also is great if your child needs to see a familiar face. When my husband and I drove here the first time, I rode in the backseat with my son for a good 4 hours just so he would have someone to chat with and play silly games with. It got us through the vast tundra called Iowa quite nicely.
5. Be realistic- Long haul car travel is hard on everyone involved. Don't plan it thinking it will be all sunshine and rainbows. There will come a time when emotions get the best of everyone, toddler and adult. Keep in mind that this too shall pass and at least the other cars whizzing by you on the interstate can't hear all the crying coming from your car. Traveling with a toddler does not have to be a nightmare. Take a deep breath and enjoy the ride!
Happy trails, Annika
Before becoming a doula...
Before becoming a Doula in July 2018 I was a stay at home mom to my amazing 2 year old son. I have experience working in childcare, various healthcare settings, customer service and as a hobby photographer. My whole life I knew that I wanted to do something that involved children and motherhood, so when becoming a birth doula presented itself… It was a no brainer!
Growing up my mother always told us that natural birth was possible and she encouraged me and my sisters to try medication free with at least one of our children, as she was able to achieve this with all 4 of us. When it was my oldest sisters turn in 2010, she did just that! I was there with her thru her labor and found it a fascinating process. I would say that being a part of that experience jump started my passion for the subject. At only 16 I was fascinated to learn everything I could to help my sister with my niece. I went on to be a nanny for them as well.
Through the years I was happy to pick up any knowledge I could on the subject of birth, breastfeeding, and being a new parent. My passion was reignited in 2015 when a close friend learned she was expecting, I wanted to help her anyway possible so I started reading and researching everything I could. Come December of 2015 we learned that I too was expecting! It was such an exciting time and my research intensified and continued. My friend invited me to be there for her during her birth in January 2016. Being able to help her and witness birth for the first time was the most amazing thing I had ever been a part of and I knew I was hooked. For the next 8 months I studied all that I could get my hands on about pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.
I chose to use childbirth hypnosis for my pain management and studied it daily from 20 weeks until my son was born one day shy of his “due date”. My labor started with my water breaking at 10pm at night and we made our way to the hospital and waited for active labor to start 4 hours later. I soon realized that I would have complete back labor which I had not prepared to experience and my hypnosis was only half effective due to that and also nurses constantly interrupting my process. At transition I started bringing up pain medications, I got a dose of IV meds and had started mentioning an epidural. Luckily at that same time we realized I was complete and an epidural would have no time to work. The doctor re-broke my water as it had resealed and right after that I was ready to push. After being told not to push for 25 minutes (because suddenly there was no available doctors) our son was beyond ready to be born and flew out barely getting caught by any of the 3 doctors that suddenly surrounded me (they had all rushed to me when they realized there was no doctor in my room). He was born at 8:48am, only 6 ½ hours of active and intense back labor.
My take away and life as a new mom...
What my birth taught me and it’s definitely something I have taken with me as a doula is to prepare for every possible situation especially if you are trying to go for an un-medicated birth. I did not have a doula attend my birth and now knowing how one could have helped, I 100% would have! I wished that I had someone there who was trained in comfort measures and knew the ins and outs of birth and positioning. I really could have used a double hip squeeze, some tennis balls, position changes, someone to help my fiancé know how to support me and someone to tell me that I was in transition and would be meeting my baby very soon!
Our first months adjusting to life with a newborn were amazing but not without struggles. We had a lot of nursing complications which proved to be a huge test to my commitment to breastfeed. With the help of an amazing lactation consultant, a little supplementation, and a very supportive family we achieved our breastfeeding goals and my son went on to nurse for 18 months.
Becoming a doula...
The struggles I encountered along the way really made me want to spread the word that with proper preparation, education, and support you can achieve your birth and breastfeeding goals. In 2017 I learned what a doula really was and knew it was what I have been looking for all of these years. The opportunity to train with Birth Boot Camp presented itself in a way that it truly just felt like fate, so I jumped in and haven’t looked back!
I am very excited for what the future has in store for me as we are eagerly (but not yet impatiently) awaiting the birth of our second baby. This time around with more childbirth education under our belts (thanks to Birth Boot Camp) and a Birth Boot Camp certified doula I hope…and plan to achieve an amazing birth. Stay tuned to hear how it all plays out!
I will be taking maternity leave until March 2019, and am currently accepting clients due after that point! While on maternity leave I still plan to be active in the birth community and available to my clients via phone. To me this “work” isn’t just a job… It is my true passion and I am always excited to talk pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and everything related to becoming a new parent!
Are you expecting and due after March 2019 and looking for a Certified Doula? Contact me today to schedule a free consultation and reserve your spot!
I have been married to the love of my life since New Year's Eve, 1994. We have four children with four very different birth experiences.
MY BIRTH EXPERIENCES:
Very briefly, I was scared to death when I had my first baby and opted for the epidural almost at the first contraction. I experienced that cascade of intervention we discuss in class and was minutes from a cesarean section. I narrowly escaped a surgical birth because I had a doula. True story.
I had an amazing unmedicated birth in a hospital with a Certified Nurse-Midwife with my second baby. Immediately after that birth, I exclaimed, "I can't wait to do that again!"
With our 3rd baby, we discovered at 33 weeks we wouldn't be allowed to videotape the birth. We scrambled and hired a homebirth midwife who specialized in water birth (it was 2001), so that's what we did! I didn't prepare for that birth like I had with my second, and it was pretty rough, to say the least.
Our fourth was also born at home, but was a land birth. It was Easter Sunday and was the sweetest experience. Our other three children were present, and everyone was in love with this little girl from her very first breath.
My degree is in Broadcasting, but I’ve been a Childbirth Educator a good portion of my adult life. They say if you are passionate about what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. I can testify that is true - I love my job! I’ve taught hundreds of couples over the years, both live and online.
I founded a chapter of Birth Network National in the Fort Worth area with a couple of other birth professionals, and we grew it to be the largest chapter of Birth Network National in the country. I also served on the Birth Network National Board for one year. I currently serve on the Black Hills Birth Network Board with several other passionate women.
After teaching childbirth education for nearly a decade, I founded Birth Boot Camp in 2012. We span North America and continue to grow.
In addition to all that, I was one of the first “birth bloggers” writing Banned From Baby Showers since 2008.
I love US geography and weather. As a result, I will always want to know where YOU are from, and I can give you the weekly forecast, pretty much, at any given moment.
I’ve seen Tim McGraw in concert 18 times and have been a proud member of the fan club since 1999. With a degree in broadcasting, the first job I landed out of college was as a DJ for a country station in Muleshoe, TX. You can’t make this stuff up!
I love to snow ski, and even at nearly 48, it’s my favorite thing to do in the winter. While I loved Texas, I am thrilled to have snow and hill to ski! I'm at Terry Peak just about every week. See you on the slopes!
MY FAVORITE THING ABOUT TEACHING CHILDBIRTH CLASSES:
In nearly 16 years of teaching, I love witnessing people (often, dads) have those light bulb moments in class. They take the information gathered, communicate with their partner and care provider, make informed decisions, and, regardless of how their birth plays out, are empowered by the experience.
DON'T JUST HOPE FOR AN AMAZING BIRTH, PREPARE FOR ONE. I CAN HELP.
To reach me, email or text is best. I look forward to connecting.
This blog is written by Mallory and Donna - at Black Hills Birth Boot Camp. Expect birthy topics, parenting triumphs and trials, and community resources and interviews. Have a topic idea you’d like us to address? Drop us a note!