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.

Do Weekend Deliveries Pose Risks for Moms?

Do Weekend Deliveries Pose Risks for Moms?

Did you know that maternal mortality rates have more than doubled since 1990?  A recent study (presented at a conference in Las Vegas and soon to be published) looks at the rates of weekend deliveries and the increased risk of maternal death.  Steven Reinberg, HealthDay Reporter with  US News & World Report  summarizes the study:

For the study, researchers reviewed outcomes from more than 45 million pregnancies in the United States between 2004 and 2014. They found a slightly increased risk of death among mothers who delivered over the weekend — about 21 per 100,000 deliveries, compared with about 15 per 100,000 during the week.

The Baylor researchers also found that weekend deliveries were linked to the need for more maternal blood transfusions and more tearing in the area between the vagina and anus (perineum). In addition, neonatal intensive care unit admissions, neonatal seizures and antibiotic use all rose on weekends, compared with other times of the week, the study reported.

“There is clearly something different about the health care offered to women on the weekends,” Clark said.

Although the exact reasons for this weekend effect aren’t known, several factors may be in play, he speculated.

“It may be that there are less experienced people on weekend shifts,” Clark said. “That’s commonly seen in nursing and physician staffing. It may also be that people on those shifts are tired.”

Or, it may be that doctors are distracted, Clark said. “They may not be focused on patient care, but rather other things they want to do on the weekend,” he said. “Our data does not allow us to say which of these things is linked to worse care.”

Something about weekend care appears to need changing, Clark said. But because the reasons for these problems aren’t known, the changes needed aren’t clear, he said.

Dr. Mitchell Kramer, chairman of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwell Health’s Huntington Hospital in Huntington, N.Y., questioned the study’s findings.

“They are grasping at straws to explain why infant and maternal mortality rates increase on weekends,” Kramer said. “I think it’s more complex than what they say.”

Kramer said he found the notion that doctors are distracted and patients fare worse over the weekend “disturbing and insulting. That comment alone makes me very dubious about the results of this study,” he said.

“In my hospital, patients get the same care on weekends that they get during the week,” he said.

Clark, however, sees the weekend effect as one possible reason for the overall higher maternal mortality in the United States, compared with other countries.

Moreover, the rate of maternal death in the United States is increasing, Clark said. It’s more than double what it was in 1990, he said.

For more, read the entire discussion here.

For more information on deaths during childbirth, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

You didn’t fail at birth

You didn’t fail at birth

You didn’t fail at birth

June 9, 2016

HandsDear Mama,

I need you to know something.  You didn’t fail at birth.

That beautiful birth you planned at the hospital with your partner.  The one where you labored quickly and easily and then started pushing, reveling in that primal power unleashed by a woman giving birth.  The one where your baby’s heart rate started decelerating and wouldn’t recover.  The one where you were rushed to the OR for an unplanned emergency Cesarean.  The one where you met your baby in an operating room instead of catching her with your own hands like you’d dreamed of.

You didn’t fail at birth.

That unmedicated birth you planned at a birth center.  The one with your favorite midwife in the big room with the beautiful jetted tub and the baby footprints on the wall. The one where you labored for 24 hours and tried everything to get your baby to descend. The one where you finally agreed to transfer to the hospital for intervention. The one where you got an unplanned epidural. The one where you pushed out your baby on a hospital bed in a room full of people and lights and white walls that you never wanted.

You didn’t fail at birth.

That quiet, hypnotic birth you planned at home.  The one where you planned to close your eyes and sway and hum and breathe your baby out.  The one where you yelled and growled and cursed.  The one where you cried and begged the midwife to get the baby out.

You didn’t fail at birth.

That vaginal birth you planned after a Cesarean with your first child.  The one where you hired a midwife and a doula.  The one where you took all the childbirth preparation classes and read all of Ina May’s books. The one where you saw a therapist to release fears and process birth trauma.  The one where you tried everything and your body didn’t progress past seven centimeters and you birthed by Cesarean a second time.

You didn’t fail at birth.

That birth you tried not to plan.  The one where you didn’t care who the provider was or where you gave birth or how you gave birth, just as long as your baby came out healthy.  The one where your baby didn’t come out healthy.

You didn’t fail at birth. 

It’s OK to cry.  It’s OK to grieve.  It’s OK to mourn the loss of this experience that was robbed of you.  But please, sweet mama, never doubt yourself.  Never feel like anything other than the warrior that you are. Allow yourself the same love and grace you will show your children. You are not a failure.

You didn’t fail at birth.


Diana Petersen received her journalism degree at the University of Arizona.  She is a DONA-certified doula and Lamaze-certified childbirth educator at Babymoon Inn, an accredited birth center in Phoenix, Arizona.  For more information about Babymoon Inn, please visit  To follow Babymoon Inn on Facebook, click here.

© 2016 Babymoon Inn.  All Rights Reserved.

8 Signs You Need a New Provider for Your Pregnancy

8 Signs You Need a New Provider for Your Pregnancy

Recently, a study was released that found women are more afraid of childbirth than previously thought.  As a doula and childbirth educator, I opened the linked article with interest, expecting to find that women were scared of pain or fearful that they or their babies may not be healthy.  Instead, their greatest fears included being abandoned by their provider or that their providers wouldn’t treat them with respect or listen to their concerns.  They also feared being “expected to bear the brunt of decision-making responsibility.”  The article called the findings “a lukewarm endorsement at best of the maternity care given to mothers in the United States.”

One of the first choices you will make when you become pregnant – before you find out the sex or choose the nursery theme or plan your shower or hire a maternity photographer – will be the care provider who sees you through your pregnancy.  Here’s a list of red flags that may indicate your provider is not the best fit for you.

  1. unspecified-4You have different goals for your birth. Are you planning to go into labor naturally? Find out your provider’s policies about induction.  Is a Cesarean birth something you want to avoid?  Inquire about your provider’s Cesarean rate and the reasons he/she most often performs this surgeryAre you planning an unmedicated birth?  Ask your provider what percentage of her patients birth without epidurals or narcotic pain relief.  This goes the other way too – I recently met a woman who planned an epidural, only to discover that her provider doesn’t “allow” them after a certain dilation (see number 2).  She was unaware of this policy until she was already in active labor.  She left the hospital traumatized by her birth.
  1. Your provider doesn’t practice client-centered care.  He may use words or phrases like “allow” or “try” or “we’ll see.” An ideal client-provider relationship will revolve around shared decision-making. Are you hoping for a VBAC with this new pregnancy?  How did your provider respond?  A supportive provider might say: “I’ve looked at your history and think you’re a great candidate for VBAC. I love supporting women seeking a VBAC, and my success rate is high.  Let’s do everything possible to help you reach your goal and still have a healthy mom and baby.”  Consider it a red flag if the response is something similar to, “Well… Let’s see how things go and perhaps I’ll let you try for a VBAC.” With a trusted provider, you will come to decisions together about what is best for your baby and for you.
  1. Short appointment times or lack of personalized care. Are you peeing in a cup, waiting for a nurse to take your vitals and weight, and then sitting in an exam room waiting again for a provider who then spends 5-10 minutes with you, checking items off a list on his or her computer?  Are you given the time to ask questions, to discuss concerns and fears, and to get to know your provider?  Do you feel rushed?  It is impossible to provide personalized care in such a short amount of time.  Avoid cookie-cutter care that is the same for every patient.
  1. Dismissive of your concerns. It is frighteningly common to hear about pregnant women who brought concerns to their providers, only to have them dismissed with the response, “Well, that’s normal.”  It’s true. Pregnancy DOES often bring with it a variety of odd ailments and afflictions.  They may in fact be “normal.”  But your concerns or discomfort should not be dismissed.  A supportive provider will take the time to explain why you are experiencing the symptom and help you find ways to alleviate it. When you ask questions, you shouldn’t feel demeaned or unintelligent.  The response should be in layman’s terms and absent of medical jargon. It should be compassionate. You should feel like you are being heard.
  1. Poor communication. Is it easy to reach your provider outside of your appointments when you have a concern? Is there an on-call number for you to reach him/her directly? If not, how quickly do you get a phone call back?  It should be easy to reach your provider 24 hours a day, and this communication should be welcome and encouraged.
  1. Lack of evidence-based care. Do you find yourself having to advocate for things you know are best practice?  For example, intuition and an overwhelming amount of evidence support the golden hour after birth (baby skin-to-skin with mom and no one but the parents touching baby).  Is this standard practice for your provider and hospital?  What about delayed cord clamping?  Intermittent monitoring?  Be wary of a provider who labels you as high-maintenance or even high-risk for questioning or declining certain practices and interventions.
  1. unspecified-6Bait-and-switch. This is the hardest one to prepare for, and the one that happens so heartbreakingly often.  Maybe you were told that your hospital has L&D rooms with beautiful tubs.  But you weren’t told that you can’t get in one if your membranes have ruptured.  Or that they don’t have waterproof monitoring and you will have to get out of the tub every time a nurse needs to check heart tones.  Or that you can’t actually birth your baby in the tub – it’s just for labor, not birth.  Or that only some of the rooms have tubs and there’s a chance you won’t even have one in yours.  Were you told intermittent monitoring is acceptable and available?  Does that mean the use of a wireless Doppler during contractions? Or does “intermittent” mean 20 minutes out of every hour spent on your back in bed with two bands around your belly while you are denied freedom of movement.  Were you promised a “birth center” and instead given a dressed-up hospital room with all of the same hospital protocols and interventions you were trying to avoid?  Did you choose a respected doctor who is an amazing surgeon but doesn’t support physiological birth?  Did you, looking for a natural approach, choose midwives but find that they aren’t practicing the true midwifery model?  That they order unnecessary tests and ultrasounds?  That they have a financial stake in your birth and it influences your care?  If you’ve experienced any of these red flags, consider looking for alternatives. Pregnancy, labor, and birth proceed best in a calm, peaceful, environment free of stress.  If you are entering your birth experience already on the defense, or you’re caught off-guard by surprises you weren’t prepared for, you’re creating stress hormones that will impede labor, opening the door to the cascade of interventions, poorer outcomes, and dissatisfaction with your birth experience as a whole.
  1. It doesn’t feel right. This is the last item on the list but arguably more important than all of the others combined. Trust. Your. Gut.  Do you feel anxious at appointments?  Does your provider use scare tactics? Do you dislike calling him or her because you feel like are being a bother? Did your provider call you by the wrong name or forget an important detail about you or your pregnancy?  It may not be quantifiable, but you know something doesn’t feel right.  Or… is the opposite true.  Do you look forward to prenatal appointments and get a warm, fuzzy feeling when you tell your friends about your provider?  Do you chat like old friends and hug at the end of appointments? Do you pop into the office just to say hi, greeted by smiling faces happy to see you?  Is the office staff pleasant on the phone and in person?  If all of these things are true, you likely have no need to worry about 1-7 above.  But if you sense something is off, or you sense you need more from your care, honor that instinct and explore other options.  It’s almost never too late to switch providers or birth locations and choose a provider who is on YOUR team.  Don’t take your chances and promise to do something differently “next time.”  This birth counts too.


Diana Petersen received her journalism degree at the University of Arizona.  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.  For more information about Babymoon Inn, please visit  To follow Babymoon Inn on Facebook, click here.

© 2016 Babymoon Inn.  All Rights Reserved.


Self-care is Health Care!

During the month of November, Babymoon is celebrating self-care and reminding parents to take some time for yourselves.  We have a host of activities planned, from mini-massages, to dress-down days, to body work sessions, to grilled cheese and tomato soup in the office.  Included in the festivities are mini-facials with Babymoon mommy and esthetician Victoria Bridgford!

Victoria has been married to her husband Kyle for six years and had her beautiful baby boy Kolten at Babymoon Inn last year.  Victoria is an Aveda Institute trained and licensed Esthetician who offers facials at the Nest at Babymoon Inn through her business, Touch of Radiance.  Victoria partnered with fellow Babymoon mommy and skin chemist Chelsea Cavender of Slather Lotions to create a custom line of products that are safe for both pregnancy and breastfeeding!

Victoria is getting RAVE reviews for her facials, and we wanted to learn more about her and the services she offers.

What made you want to be an esthetician?

I wanted to become an Esthetician so that I could make people feel beautiful. I started out with my focus in makeup and then while I was in school I fell in love with skin care. This shift occurred when I realized the problems people were covering with makeup could be fixed! Helping people to heal their skin and gain their confidence is incredibly rewarding.

How did you start your business, Touch of Radiance?

The idea to start Touch of Radiance began while I was working in a corporate esthetics environment. When I got pregnant I became hyper aware of what I was putting on my skin and the products I was using. Also, I wanted to continuing getting facials, but I was concerned about the safety of the products used in those treatments! I started Touch of Radiance to fill the need for a safe environment for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers to relax and refresh their skin without concern. It has been amazing to be able to operate my business out of The Nest at Babymoon Inn where we are a part of such a supportive community!

What services do you offer?

Right now I offer a Custom Facial that is tailored to the needs of the my guest. There are several services in the works to be added in the future, but for now I offer a simple and relaxing treatment that can work for anyone.

tor_marketing_wb46of84What takes place during a facial?

During the consultation at the beginning of the treatment I give clients a quick foot bath so they can relax into the space. Next I do a breathing routine to help connect them to the treatment and allow them to leave their worries outside the door. I move into a double cleanse and tone followed by a skin analysis so I can see how we can customize the facial to their specific skincare needs and goals. The first mask applied will even tone and draw out oil under steam to help detox and prepare the pores for extractions. While the mask works on the face I do a foot massage so the client has a head-to-toe relaxing experience. I do all of my removals with hot towels to help increase circulation and nourish the skin cells. Then I do gentle extractions followed by a face and décolleté massage. While the second mask is working on the skin to provide deep hydration and healing antioxidants, I do a hand and arm massage. After the mask is removed with a hot towel, I do an moisture application of eye cream and moisturizer.

All of my treatments include consultations and recommendations to help maintain the integrity of the skin. Educating my clients on how to build a home care routine that works for their schedules and for the benefit of their skin is an important element of my job. I particularly love to empower my clients to take the health of their skin into their own hands by encouraging them to learn the ingredients in their products and how their skin can reap the benefits of those ingredients.

tor_marketing_wb1of84What is unique about your services or products?

My services are unique because they take a gentle approach, allowing your skin to respond to the products and not forcing results before the skin is prepared. I use all natural products from a local small business, Slather lotions, that have been created specifically for these treatments. I was able to consult on the creation of these products to make sure the ingredients are pregnancy safe, breastfeeding safe and plant based while be effective. I mix my own masks during the facial with high quality oils, mechanical exfoliants, a hydrating base and concentrated add-ins rich in plant extracts to make sure the treatment is specific to the client’s needs and focus.

Can one get a facial while pregnant or breastfeeding?

Yes! The treatments we do are safe for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, but there are definitely questions you should ask before visiting your local spa. Always make sure that the Esthetician you are visiting has an adjustable table so that you don’t have to lie flat for too long, that the products being used are gentle and that the techniques and treatments aren’t too aggressive.

How often do you recommend your clients get facials?

Depending on the state of your skin, it can take around four weeks for your skin cells to turn over and be ready for another facial. There may be circumstances that require more frequent visits, but about a month is standard for most clients. A monthly treatment paired with a consistent home care routine and a good diet can provide the skin with everything it needs to be healthy and happy.

Anything else you want to share about yourself or your business?

Through December 25, you can purchase two gift certificates for $10 off or three gift certificates for $20 off!  Gift certificates are good for a 60-minute Custom Radiance Facial at The Nest At Babymoon Inn! Visit: to purchase your holiday gift certificates today! #givethegiftofwellness

Facials cost $60 and I have a no-tip policy.  Babymoon clients can choose to receive either a complimentary massage from Babymoon’s massage therapist or a complimentary facial with Touch of Radiance!

Also, I’ve streamlined my booking to be as simple as possible and I’ve adjusted my hours to include later Friday appointments and some Saturdays. You can see my availability and book online at, you can email me at or book through Babymoon Inn!

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