Including Siblings in the Birth Experience

Including Siblings in the Birth Experience

Are you considering including your older child or children in the birth of their sibling? While not for everyone, having your other children present at the birth can be a great experience for all of you.  Still, there are a number of factors to consider when making this decision – your child’s age and temperament, the time of day you wind up going into labor, and where you are planning to give birth, to name a few.


If you and your children have mutually decided that they will be present at the birth, consider the following to make the birth a safe, happy, and memorable experience for all.

Follow the child’s lead at the birth. One of the many benefits of birth centers is the comfortable, home-like environment.  During labor, allow your older child to call the shots on where they would like to be.  They may wander in and out of the labor room, have a snack in the kitchen, or play games in the living room.  Honor their feelings and allow them the freedom to choose where they are most comfortable, which may or may not be in the birthing room itself.

ALWAYS bring someone aside from your birth partner to be the primary caregiver during labor and birth. For a number of reasons, it’s best if you bring someone who can be completely focused on your other children.  As the laboring person, you should be relaxed and focused on labor, and your birth partner should be focused on you.  It can be a difficult balance for the non-laboring parent to care for a child (who may be experiencing some big emotions) but also be fully present and able to support the person in labor.  Additionally, if labor takes an extended amount of time or there is an emergency or hospital transfer, it may be necessary for someone to take your other children home.

Talk about birth ahead of time. In terms that are appropriate for your child’s age, explain what may happen during labor and the basics of birth (where the baby comes out, what an umbilical cord is).

  • “Mommy may not seem very happy. She may seem sad and angry, or she may be very quiet.”
  • “Mommy might make some loud noises like this (insert grunts, groans, etc.).  It may sound strange or silly, but those sounds help mommy get the baby out!”
  • “If mommy is in the bath tub, it may turn a different color like pink or red when the baby is born.”
  • “When the baby is born, it may not look very clean! He may be slippery or be covered with white stuff or have blood on him, and that’s OK!”

Consider bringing your children to the birth center ahead of time and also to an appointment with the midwife so they feel included in the process and can ask questions of the midwife

Pack a bag for your child. In addition to basics like comfortable clothes, snacks, etc., pack some activities for your child and their designated caregiver.  For younger children especially, provide some new toys or art supplies they have never seen before.

Assign roles. For older children who have chosen to be present at the birth, talk ahead of time about what their role may be at the birth.  Do they wish to be in another room but present for the actual birth? Or the opposite? Some older children will happily and instinctively jump into a doula role, bringing you water, fanning you to keep you cool, holding your hand, and staying by your side.  If this is your child, talk ahead of time about how they can be helpful.  If this is not your child, have a conversation about what they are comfortable with and assure them whatever they decide is fine with you.

Did your older children attend your birth? What advice would you give other families? Tell us in the comments!

Diana Petersen M.Ed., LCCE

Diana Petersen M.Ed., LCCE

Director of Education, Babymoon Inn

Diana Petersen received her journalism degree at the University of Arizona and her Master’s degree in education at Northern Arizona University.  She is a DONA-certified doula and Lamaze-certified childbirth educator at Babymoon Inn, an accredited birth center and full-scope midwifery practice in Phoenix, Arizona.

Five Tips for Managing Labor Pain

Five Tips for Managing Labor Pain

When preparing for a natural birth, it’s common to be concerned about the discomforts of labor. In a country where the majority of vaginal births include epidural pain relief, and articles imploring women to “just get the epidural” are widespread, planning an unmedicated birth may seem intimidating.  But we promise it’s actually very achievable! Here are a few tips for managing a med-free labor. 

Give birth in an environment designed to support natural birth.  Labor is hard work (there’s a reason it’s called “labor!”). And yes, that hard work is accompanied by some pretty intense sensations. But having complete and total control over how you respond to those sensations is a game-changer. Provided you are healthy and low-risk, your place of birth and your birth team should provide total autonomy for you to eat, drink, move, and vocalize in whatever way feels best to you.  Consider seeing midwives and giving birth at a freestanding birth center or at home.

Pack some comfort tools in your labor bag.  Consider bringing a tennis ball, massage tools, rebozo, lip balm, reheatable rice sock, ice pack, wireless speaker, and essential oils to your birth.  Practice using these things and have your birth partner brush up on his or her massage skills. Choose a birth location with unrestricted access to a shower and bathtub so you can take full advantage of the benefits of hydrotherapy.  What brings you comfort and helps you relieve stress in your daily life? Apply these same philosophies to labor.

Take a class.  Unfortunately physiologic birth is no longer the norm and therefore pregnant women don’t always have the benefit of generations of women before them and a circle of women around them sharing stories of normal birth. Soooo much of what is shared about birth is fear-based. Taking independent (i.e. offered outside of a hospital), comprehensive childbirth classes will not only teach you strategies to manage pain but also help you reframe your thinking to not see labor pain as scary or harmful. Which bring us to…

Use this acronym to shift your mindset and remove negative associations with the word “pain.”

Adjust your mindset.  Before giving birth, most people’s experiences with pain revolve around illness or injury. Generally, pain exists as a helpful and important warning sign to our brain that something is wrong. So our brains are hard-wired to overreact to pain! But the sensations of labor are purposeful and normal – a sign that things are right. They also play an important role in the oxytocin feedback cycle, causing contractions to intensify and labor to progress (which is what we want!). Practice breathing and relaxation techniques leading up to your birth and avoid the urge to tense up during contractions. Remind yourself that what you are feeling is purposeful and will result in the birth of your baby.

Hire a doula.  Every person should bring a doula to their birth, regardless of whether it’s natural or medicated, vaginal or surgical. But if you’re planning a natural birth, hiring a doula or having continuous labor support from someone other than your partner is a must.  These magical birth fairies know all the best tricks to keep the laboring person and their partner as calm and comfortable as possible. A doula knows exactly where to apply counterpressure to relieve that back labor, how to breathe with you to release tension, and exactly what to say if you’re feeling overwhelmed by labor. And if your plans for birth need to change, a doula can help you navigate any unexpected turns your labor might take.

We asked experienced mamas what helped them manage labor sensations – here’s what they had to say:

Instead of anticipating the next contraction, anticipating the break in between contractions helped me get through. The break is coming, my rest is coming.  – Aja R.

I knew the contractions were doing the hard work to open my cervix, so every time I had one, I literally visualized my cervix opening as a result and did my best to relax and think “open…open…open” until it was over. Not fighting those contractions, but instead working WITH them was key. – Tamara K.

Trusting that my body was in complete control of the labor and delivery process made it all bearable in the coolest way possible, but reminding myself that my mom, who is my biggest role model in life, and all my other female ancestors have done it too made me feel like a warrior. I can’t leave out my loving husband who was my rock during it all. – Michelle H.

With my third birth, I thought a lot about how the contraction was my body’s doing. It helped me view it less as pain…something we naturally fear. It is so different than pain being inflicted or felt in a negative way. There was nothing to fear because it was my body’s natural response. I remember saying in my head that “my body (the contractions) are powerful and I am strong.”  – Michelle R.

The phrase “fudgy monkey balls” got me through all those heinous contractions, as did being on all fours in a hot shower, counting backward from 100, and sitting backwards on the toilet. I wish I could explain the fudgy monkey balls….but it literally just came out of my mouth and it was the only thing I could say!  – Emily B.

It really helped me through being able to change positions. The most helpful thing for contraction pain was being able to sit on a yoga ball in the shower and using the rabozo(sp?) to apply counter pressure on my hips. That helped tremendously! – Megan E.

Diana Petersen M.Ed., LCCE

Diana Petersen M.Ed., LCCE

Director of Education, Babymoon Inn

Diana Petersen received her journalism degree at the University of Arizona and her Master’s degree in education at Northern Arizona University.  She is a DONA-certified doula and Lamaze-certified childbirth educator at Babymoon Inn, an accredited birth center and full-scope midwifery practice in Phoenix, Arizona.

Building Birth Centers and Community Support

Building Birth Centers and Community Support

Recently, we launched an Indiegogo campaign to help raise funds to support expansion to Tucson – a city of more than 500,000 people left without a freestanding birth center after the closure of the beloved El Rio Birth Center earlier this year. We heard and felt the heartbreak from the Tucson community upon suffering this loss and decided, after almost 10 years as a singular location in Phoenix, to expand to Tucson and fulfill the need for a freestanding birth center.

Anyone who has ever set foot in a birth center knows they are an integral part of communities. And they often rely on community support to be born and subsequently thrive. We see building a birth center as the modern-day equivalent of a barn-raising, where people come together to create something that is vital to their community. It truly takes a village, and we are grateful for the support in many forms that we have received thus far!

A few things to understand about birth centers and why we are asking for community support through a fundraising campaign to get Babymoon Inn of Tucson off the ground:

Birth center profits are lower than most healthcare organizations, including not-for-profit organizations. Most birth centers earn no profit for the first couple of years, and when a profit margin shows up, it almost always goes toward program development. In 2018, eight accredited birth centers in the United States closed. So far in 2019, eight more accredited birth centers have closed, with a ninth announcing their closure after 13 years in operation literally as we were writing this post.

Obtaining funding for birth centers is difficult. We are not attractive to private investors for start-up money because we are too small, don’t have rapid growth opportunities, are not quickly scalable, and are not a well-understood service or industry. (How many of you struggled to get your friends or family to understand why you chose a birth center? Now try explaining it to them and asking them to invest money on top it! 😂)

Birth centers provide extensive community support and services, much of which is provided at no charge to the clients and solely at the expense of the birth center.  At Babymoon, we frequently discount, extend payment plans, and provide pro bono services for families with financial hardship.  These services are not subsidized by grants or foundations who support our organization. They come directly out of our bottom line.  This philosophy is shared by every member of our team, who frequently volunteer their time and talents to serve our community – offering free classes, providing pro bono doula services, speaking in high school and college classes, making meals for new or bereaved parents, and donating their time in countless other ways.

While some birth centers have chosen to be not-for-profit entities, Babymoon has not. This was a well-researched and thoughtfully made choice upon our opening in 2010. Non-profit organizations are governed by a Board of Directors who retain ultimate decision-making power. If profit margins are too low or consistently in the negative, the board may choose to shut the business down. This has happened to many, many not-for-profit birth centers. Babymoon’s founders didn’t and don’t want to put control of so many people’s care into someone else’s hands. Deciding against being a non-profit was a purposeful choice that doesn’t prevent or stop our desire to help underserved populations and make birth center and midwifery care attainable for all.

We wish people were lining up in droves to open birth centers all over the country. And we wish investors were pounding on our doors wanting to help fund them! The reality is that freestanding birth centers are usually created and staffed by people who are simply passionate about the model of care and willing to work twice as hard for a lesser profit margin.

We hope you will join us in our “barn-raising” and help bring a freestanding birth center back to Tucson! If you would like to contribute, please find our Indiegogo link here. To join our mailing list, please click here.

Thank you for your support!

Diana Petersen M.Ed., LCCE

Diana Petersen M.Ed., LCCE

Director of Education, Babymoon Inn

Diana Petersen received her journalism degree at the University of Arizona and her Master’s degree in education at Northern Arizona University.  She is a DONA-certified doula and Lamaze-certified childbirth educator at Babymoon Inn, an accredited birth center and full-scope midwifery practice in Phoenix, Arizona.

Kangaroo Care Helps Preemies And Full Term Babies, Too

Kangaroo Care Helps Preemies And Full Term Babies, Too

Kangaroo care has long been used for premature babies but has become popular for full-term babies as well.  Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center regularly practices kangaroo care, and UCLA OB-GYN Dr. Lydia Kyung-Min Lee and pediatrician Dr. Larry Gray discuss is many benefits in this NPR article.

Story by Patti Neighmond, January 23, 2017, NPR

Photo by Morgan Walker

The benefits are many, according to Dr. Lydia Kyung-Min Lee, an ob-gyn at UCLA. Not only is the baby happier, she says, but his or her vitals are more stable. Body temperature, heart and breathing rate normalize more quickly. The close contact also allows the baby to be exposed to the same bacteria as the mother, which can protect against allergies and infection in the future. Infants who receive kangaroo care breast feed more easily, Lee says, and their mothers tend to breast feed for longer periods of time, which is “all good.”

Babies also seem to suffer less pain. Almost 20 years ago, Gray studied how babies respond to a heel prick to draw blood, a procedure that screens newborns for genetic disorders. He found that when healthy newborns had kangaroo care, there was less facial grimacing and crying suggesting pain, compared to babies who had been swaddled and had the procedure in their bassinets, “sort of alone.”

 

Read more here.

Get your craft on

Get your craft on

IMG_0109Every month, members of the Nest at Babymoon Inn gather for Crafty Mamas.  Coffee, crafting, cuddly babies, and chatting with other mamas…  What more could you ask for?

A month ago, “Tree of Life” breastfeeding selfies went viral, and our Babymoon community quickly jumped on the trend, sharing their own gorgeous photos in our Facebook group.  One Babymoon mama suggested getting together to create painted versions, and thus our January Crafty Mamas was born!

It was an overcast, chilly day today – perfect weather to meet up with friends for some painting.  More than 15 mamas (and their babies) arrived at The Nest.  Some chose to use graphite paper to transfer their photo to canvas and paint with acryclics.  Others opted for water colors, gel pens, or sharpies on cardstock, and others used acrylic paint on a color version of the photo to add depth and texture.  As usual, the array of creativity an artistic ability was quite impressive.IMG_4646

As with any Inn Mommies meet-up, there were babies nursing, babies sleeping, babies in slings and wraps and car seats.  Some mamas painted while simultaneously wearing or feeding babies, and others painted in between tending to their little ones.  The room was full of laughter and talking – a staple of any Babymoon gathering.  The beauty of Crafty Mamas is that there isn’t any need to finish anything or meet an expectation.  It’s about the process, not the product!

Thank you to all of the mamas who attended today!  We are looking forward to next month’s Crafty Mamas.  Have an idea for Crafty Mamas?  Be sure to share it with us!

 

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