Saturday, December 22, 2007

from The Coalition for Improving Maternity Services

Having a Baby? Ten Questions to Ask

Have you decided how to have your baby?

The choice is yours!

First, you should learn as much as you can about all your choices. There are many different ways of caring for a mother and her baby during labor and birth.

Birthing care that is better and healthier for mothers and babies is called "mother-friendly." Some birth places or settings are more mother-friendly than others.

A group of experts in birthing care came up with this list of 10 things to look for and ask about. Medical research supports all of these things. These are also the best ways to be mother-friendly.

When you are deciding where to have your baby, you'll probably be choosing from different places such as:

• birth center,
• hospital, or
• home birth service.

Here's what you should expect, and ask for, in your birth experience. Be sure to find out how the people you talk with handle these ten issues about caring for you and your baby. You may want to ask the questions below to help you learn more.

1. Ask, "Who can be with me during labor and birth?"

Mother-friendly birth centers, hospitals, and home birth services will let a birthing mother decide whom she wants to have with her during the birth. This includes fathers, partners, children, other family members, or friends.

They will also let a birthing mother have with her a person who has special training in helping women cope with labor and birth. This person is called a doula or labor support person. She never leaves the birthing mother alone. She encourages her, comforts her, and helps her understand what's happening to her.

They will have midwives as part of their staff so that a birthing mother can have a midwife with her if she wants to.

2. Ask, "What happens during a normal labor and birth in your setting?"

If they give mother-friendly care, they will tell you how they handle every part of the birthing process. For example, how often do they give the mother a drug to speed up the birth? Or do they let labor and birth usually happen on its own timing?

They will also tell you how often they do certain procedures. For example, they will have a record of the percentage of C-sections (Cesarean births) they do every year. If the number is too high, you'll want to consider having your baby in another place or with another doctor or midwife.

Here are some numbers we recommend you ask about.

  • They should not try to start labor for more than 1 in 10 women (10%).
  • They should not do an episiotomy (ee-pee-zee-AH-tummy) on more than 1 in 5 women (20%). They should be trying to bring that number down. (An episiotomy is a cut in the opening to the vagina to make it larger for birth. It is not necessary most of the time.)
  • They should not do C-sections on more than 1 in 10 women (10%) if it's a community hospital. The rate should be 15% or less in hospitals which care for many high-risk mothers and babies.

A C-section is a major operation in which a doctor cuts through the mother's stomach into her womb and removes the baby through the opening. Mothers who have had a C-section can often have future babies normally. Look for a birth place in which 6 out of 10 women (60%) or more of the mothers who have had C-sections go on to have their other babies through the birth canal.

3. Ask, "How do you allow for differences in culture and beliefs?"

Mother-friendly birth centers, hospitals, and home birth services are sensitive to the mother's culture. They know that mothers and families have differing beliefs, values, and customs.

For example, you may have a custom that only women may be with you during labor and birth. Or perhaps your beliefs include a religious ritual to be done after birth. There are many other examples that may be very important to you. If the place and the people are mother-friendly, they will support you in doing what you want to do. Before labor starts tell your doctor or midwife special things you want.

4. Ask, "Can I walk and move around during labor? What position do you suggest for birth?"

In mother-friendly settings, you can walk around and move about as you choose during labor. You can choose the positions that are most comfortable and work best for you during labor and birth. (There may be a medical reason for you to be in a certain position.) Mother-friendly settings almost never put a woman flat on her back with her legs up in stirrups for the birth.

5. Ask, "How do you make sure everything goes smoothly when my nurse, doctor, midwife, or agency need to work with each other?"

Ask, "Can my doctor or midwife come with me if I have to be moved to another place during labor? Can you help me find people or agencies in my community who can help me before and after the baby is born?"

Mother-friendly places and people will have a specific plan for keeping in touch with the other people who are caring for you. They will talk to others who give you birth care. They will help you find people or agencies in your community to help you. For example, they may put you in touch with someone who can help you with breastfeeding.

6. Ask, "What things do you normally do to a woman in labor?"

Experts say some methods of care during labor and birth are better and healthier for mothers and babies. Medical research shows us which methods of care are better and healthier. Mother-friendly settings only use methods that have been proven to be best by scientific evidence.

Sometimes birth centers, hospitals, and home birth services use methods that are not proven to be best for the mother or the baby. For example, research has shown it's usually not helpful to break the bag of waters.

Here is a list of things we recommend you ask about. They do not help and may hurt healthy mothers and babies. They are not proven to be best for the mother or baby and are not mother-friendly.

  • They should not keep track of the baby's heart rate all the time with a machine (called an electronic fetal monitor). Instead it is best to have your nurse or midwife listen to the baby's heart from time to time.
  • They should not break your bag of waters early in labor.
  • They should not use an IV (a needle put into your vein to give you fluids).
  • They should not tell you that you can't eat or drink during labor.
  • They should not shave you.
  • They should not give you an enema.

A birth center, hospital, or home birth service that does these things for most of the mothers is not mother-friendly. Remember, these should not be used without a special medical reason.

7. Ask, "How do you help mothers stay as comfortable as they can be? Besides drugs, how do you help mothers relieve the pain of labor?"

The people who care for you should know how to help you cope with labor. They should know about ways of dealing with your pain that don't use drugs. They should suggest such things as changing your position, relaxing in a warm bath, having a massage, and using music. These are called comfort measures.

Comfort measures help you handle your labor more easily and help you feel more in control. The people who care for you will not try to persuade you to use a drug for pain unless you need it to take care of a special medical problem. All drugs affect the baby.

8. Ask, "What if my baby is born early or has special problems?"

Mother-friendly places and people will encourage mothers and families to touch, hold, breastfeed, and care for their babies as much as they can. They will encourage this even if your baby is born early or has a medical problem at birth. (However, there may be a special medical reason you shouldn't hold and care for your baby.)

9. Ask, "Do you circumcise baby boys?"

Medical research does not show a need to circumcise baby boys. It is painful and risky. Mother-friendly birth places discourage circumcision unless it is for religious reasons.

10. Ask, "How do you help mothers who want to breastfeed?"

The World Health Organization made this list of ways birth services support breastfeeding.

  • They tell all pregnant mothers why and how to breastfeed.
  • They help you start breastfeeding within 1 hour after your baby is born.
  • They show you how to breastfeed. And they show you how to keep your milk coming in even if you have to be away from your baby for work or other reasons.
  • Newborns should have only breast milk. (However, there may be a medical reason they cannot have it right away.)
  • They encourage you and the baby to stay together all day and all night. This is called "rooming-in."
  • They encourage you to feed your baby whenever he or she wants to nurse, rather than at certain times.
  • They should not give pacifiers ("dummies" or "soothers") to breastfed babies.
  • They encourage you to join a group of mothers who breastfeed. They tell you how to contact a group near you.
  • They have a written policy on breastfeeding. All the employees know about and use the ideas in the policy.
  • They teach employees the skills they need to carry out these steps.

© 2000 by The Coalition for Improving Maternity Services (CIMS).

Permission granted to freely reproduce in whole or in part along with complete attribution

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Beautiful Birth Video!

This video is a picture of what birth can be if left to happen 
without unnecessary medical intervention.

It contains photos of actual births.

View this montage created at One True Media
Circle of Life Midwifery

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Birth Is Not an Illness- 16 Recommendations From the WHO

Birth is Not an Illness!
16 Recommendations from the World Health Organization

These 16 recommendations are based on the principle that each woman has a fundamental right to receive proper prenatal care: that the woman has a central role in all aspects of this care, including participation in the planning, carrying out and evaluation of the care: and that social, emotional and psychological factors are decisive in the understanding and implementation of proper prenatal care.

1. The whole community should be informed about the various procedures in birth care, to enable each woman to choose the type of birth care she prefers.

2. The training of professional midwives or birth attendants should be promoted. Care during normal pregnancy and birth and following birth should be the duty of this profession.

3. Information about birth practices in hospitals (rates of cesarean sections, etc.) should be given to the public served by the hospitals.

4. There is no justification in any specific geographic region to have more than 10-15% cesarean section births (the current US c-section rate is estimated to be about 30.2% in 2005- Virginia's 2005 rate was 31.4%).

5. There is no evidence that a cesarean section is required after a previous transverse low segment cesarean section birth. Vaginal deliveries after a cesarean should normally be encouraged wherever emergency surgical capacity is available.

6. There is no evidence that routine electronic fetal monitoring during labor has a positive effect on the outcome of pregnancy.

7. There is no indication for pubic shaving or a pre-delivery enema.

8. Pregnant women should not be put in a lithotomy (flat on the back)position during labor or delivery. They should be encouraged to walk during labor and each woman must freely decide which position to adopt during delivery.

9. The systematic use of episiotomy (incision to enlarge the vaginal opening) is not justified.

10. Birth should not be induced(started artificially) for convenience and the induction of labor should be reserved for specific medical indications. No geographic region should have rates of induced labor over 10%.

11. During delivery, the routine administration of analgesic or anesthetic drugs, that are not specifically required to correct or prevent a complication in delivery, should be avoided.

12. Artificial early rupture of the membranes, as a routine process, is not scientifically justified.

13. The healthy newborn must remain with the mother whenever both their conditions permit it. No process of observation of the healthy newborn justifies a separation from the mother.

14. The immediate beginning of breastfeeding should be promoted, even before the mother leaves the delivery room.

15. Obstetric care services that have critical attitudes towards technology and that have adopted an attitude of respect for the emotional, psychological and social aspects of birth should be identified. Such services should be encouraged and the processes that have led them to their position must be studied so that they can be used as models to foster similar attitudes in other centers and to influence obstetrical views nationwide.

16. Governments should consider developing regulations to permit the use of new birth technology only after adequate evaluation.

Compiled from Care in Normal Birth: report of a technical working group
1997 - WHO/FRH/MSM/96.24

Lending Library

As a birth education or doula client you will have access to the Eden's Garden Lending Library.

Up to 3 books may be checked out for 2 weeks at a time per client.
Please bring back books on time as other students may be waiting for the same book!
Late fees will be charged as follows:
$1/week for the first 4 weeks.
Full replacement cost of the book if 5 weeks late (and the book must be returned).

Library catalog:

A Child is Born by Lennart Nilsson

The Baby Book by William Sears, MD

Birthing From Within by Pam England

The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth by Sheila Kitzinger

The Discipline Book by William Sears, MD and Martha Sears

How to Raise a Healthy Child... In Site of Your Doctor by Robert Mendelsohn, MD
How Weaning Happens by Diane Bengson

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin

Natural Family Living by Peggy O'Mara
The Nursing Mother's Companion by Kathleen Huggins
Nursing Mother, Working Mother by Gale Pryor
Nutrition for a Healthy Pregnancy by Elizabeth Somer

Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin

Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler

Vaccinations: A Thoughtful Parent's Guide by Aviva Jill Romm 

Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year by Susun Weed
The Woman's Book of Yoga and Health by Linda Sparrowe

You are Your Child's First Teacher by Rahima Baldwin
Your Pregnancy Week by Week by Glade Curtis, MD

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Contact Information

Eden's Garden Birth Education and Labor Support
Amy Blake Rollogas
5255 Old Columbia Rd
Goochland, VA 23063


Required Reading

The book that we will be using as our main text for the An Informed Childbirth class is The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth by Sheila Kitzinger You will have weekly reading assignments from this book. Coming to class prepared will allow you to join in during our discussions.

The Kitzinger book is available locally at Barnes and Noble and can also be acquired from favorite online bookseller.

Sample Class Syllabus

An Informed Childbirth

I strive to meet your needs by tailoring each class to suit the individuals I am serving. We will engage in a lot of discussion. I want to meet you where you are! I recognize that this is a big event in a couple's life!

This is a sample 6 week class, covering a full selection of topics. If you need a more streamlined version, you may choose the topics most important to you from this list. I will put together a custom, 3-6 week class from your chosen topics (and any others I feel are foundational).

Class One- Birth Today
Birth in the media and cross-cultural influences
Technocratic and Holistic models of birth
Safety of birth
Consumerism (what can we, as health care consumers, do?)
The current state of birth in North America/ the rising cesarean rate and cesarean birth prevention

Class Two- Pregnancy: Growth and Decision-Making
Birth options and decision-making (place of birth, care provider, labor support, natural birth vs. medicated)
Nurturing yourself and your baby (fetal development, nutrition, prenatal care, comfort exercises)
Nurturing each other (increasing communication with your partner, enriching your relationship, emotional changes, sexuality)

Class Three- The Process of Birthing
Understanding the process of normal labor and birth
Practice using “tools” for labor and birth (relaxation, visualization, breathing, vocalization, communication and support)

Class Four- Creating Your Birth
Routine birth procedures and interventions
The “Domino Theory” of interventions
Medication options
Barriers to birth
Active birth
Communication and effective advocacy- Writing a Birth Plan

Class Five- When Birth Does Not Go the Way You Planned
Dealing with the unexpected
Addressing fears about birth and developing tools for dealing with them

Class Six- The Newborn, Postpartum and the Family
Welcoming the newborn (bonding)
Newborn exam
Concerns of the first week
Nurturing yourself (nutrition, exercise, emotions, getting help)
Nurturing each other (sexuality, psychological needs)
Parenting resources

Final wrap up/ Q&A

Labor and birth are intense, hard work and each is unique. Through these classes you will acquire the tools to work with your body and the process of giving birth, and you will leave class with the knowledge to make your own best choices at each point along the way.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Class Schedule 2013- 2014

An Informed Childbirth is now being offered through private classes!

Private instruction affords you the opportunity to customize instruction, get to know your instructor, explore fears, and dive deeper into topics that are pertinent to your unique situation.

I can work with your tricky work schedule, meet you at your home and customize a class that meets your needs exactly! See the Tuition Rates and Registration page for more information.

I would love to be a part of your childbirth experience! You can register on the sidebar, or by contacting me directly at (804)869-1225 or

Tuition Rates and Registration 2013- 2014

Labor Support Services are available beginning in January 2014!  
I will offer all the services found HERE at a rate of $500.  Scholarships may be available so don't let cost be a factor in contacting me. 

Private childbirth instruction is currently being offered for students in Richmond, VA and surrounding areas.

An Informed Childbirth classes are offered at the rate of $35 per 2 hour session, when at least 2 sessions are booked (4 - 6 sessions are usually required for a full and complete childbirth class). Your non-refundable $35 registration fee retains my services for instruction and is applicable toward your first week of class.

If you are interested in the topics covered in An Informed Childbirth, see the Sample Class Syllabus. We can cover all or some of those topics in your class!

If you have given birth before and are looking for a Labor Refresher class, I offer a one-time 2 1/2 hour refresher for $75.
I also offer a one-time, 2 1/2 hour Labor Basics class for $75.

Registration can be done through Paypal on the sidebar (see the Buy Now button) or by cash or check.

If you have any questions, call me!
Amy Blake Rollogas 804-869-1225

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Friday, September 14, 2007

Thanks Julie!

I just wanted to thank Julie Eastwood for the fabulous graphics!  She has been such a help at giving Eden's Garden an identity!  YOU ROCK, JULIE!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

ALACE CBE program

I wanted to share a little bit about what I am doing with ALACE. You can find this (and more) information at

What follows is an article written by Rahima Baldwin, the founder of ALACE.

Our Mission and A History of Childbirth Education
By Rahima Baldwin

ALACE is one of the four major childbirth education organizations which certifies childbirth educators throughout the US and Canada (and we also have teachers in more than 10 foreign countries). The following brief description will help familiarize you with the various approaches in North America today.

The most well-known method of natural childbirth in this country, "Lamaze," was developed around 1950 by Dr. Ferdinand Lamaze in France under the name "childbirth without pain." Lamaze had witnessed women in the Soviet Union giving birth without anesthesia after they had undergone Pavlovian conditioning to breathe and relax during contractions. These women were assisted by a trained "monitrice," whose voice was important in eliciting the conditioned responses. Lamaze further developed his own technique to include implementing the use of varying levels of shallow breathing, and staring at a fixed focal point. Marjorie Karmel journeyed to France to experience such an "awake and aware" birth and brought the movement back to America through her 1957 book Thank You, Dr. Lamaze. Her work was instrumental in founding the American Society for Psychoprophylaxis in Obstetrics (ASPO/Lamaze), the first such organization in America. Just as Kleenex has become nearly synonymous with tissue, Lamaze classes sometimes seem to be used as a generic term for childbirth preparation classes.

During the late 1940s and early 1950s, the influence of Dr. Grantly Dick-Read's pioneering work with natural childbirth in England was gaining a few adherents in America. Dick-Read had attended a woman in labor who refused his offer of chloroform. Afterward she sheepishly had asked, "It wasn't supposed to hurt, was it?" By emphasizing knowledge and relaxation, "childbirth without fear" became a way for women to give birth without being knocked out.

An American obstetrician, Dr. Robert Bradley, was influenced by Dick-Read and came to feel that women who were awake and aware should be sharing this important time with their husbands. Through his influence, husbands started "coaching" their wives and being admitted to the delivery rooms when their wives had attended prepared childbirth classes. "The Bradley Method" and "Husband-Coached Childbirth" are registered trademarks of Bradley's approach, which is known for teaching slow, deep breathing for labor contractions and for their students consistently showing an excellent record of avoiding drugs and anesthesia in labor.

As the natural childbirth movement gained ground during the '60s, another national organization, ICEA (International Childbirth Education Association) was founded with a more eclectic approach to childbirth education than ASPO, drawing from the work of Dick-Read, Lamaze, Kitzinger and others. Unlike ASPO, which trains mostly nurses and physical therapists, ICEA does not have a credential or college requirement, recognizing that women who are mothers already have the proper "credentials" to train to be excellent childbirth educators.

The Association of Labor Assistants and Childbirth Educators (ALACE) is a nonprofit educational organization formed in 1995 to promote and support the professions of childbirth education and birth assisting. It trains and certifies both childbirth educators and birth assistants (doulas, monitrices) through the programs developed and previously offered by Informed Homebirth/Informed Birth & Parenting.

Informed Homebirth (IH) was founded by Rahima Baldwin Dancy in 1977 in response to the need for information on how to prepare for a safe delivery at home; the original childbirth educator training program was developed in 1978. While most of the early IH teachers came from a homebirth background, they soon found themselves teaching hospital-bound couples as well. In 1981 the second name "Informed Birth & Parenting" was added so that pregnant women and couples could more readily identify instructors as having the information they wanted to know, regardless of where they were giving birth. More than 2,500 women have enrolled in this training program since 1977.

The internationally-recognized series of weekly preparation classes were among the first to emphasize visualization and the psychological aspects of pregnancy, birth and parenting, and consistently take a woman-centered, consumer-oriented stand toward obtaining maternity care. Developed by a woman who is herself a mother and midwife, the classes don't teach any "method," but emphasize tools for working with the intensity of labor, and stress the knowledge and confidence necessary to help achieve relaxation and to help with the decisions which labor and delivery often involve. Recognizing that relaxation is the key to natural childbirth, only the slow, deep breathing of relaxation is emphasized. Communication skills are also practiced, because only the laboring woman can know what she is feeling or what she needs.

The present program was developed in 1993, having been completely revised by Rahima Baldwin Dancy and Catherine Stone, with input from other IH/IBP teachers as well. In 1995 ALACE was formed to promote the two programs formerly offered by IH/IBP, leaving Informed Homebirth free to concentrate on midwifery and birth at home and the annual Magical Years Conference on the young child.

The ALACE Childbirth Educator training program combines the important psychological perspectives on birth that have always distinguished Informed Birth & Parenting classes with insights into the far-reaching sociological and anthropological influences that shape women's experiences of birth in our culture. The goal of the classes is to empower women in this important area of their lives, so they have the tools and the confidence to actively give birth and make the choices that will lead to the best possible birth for themselves and their babies.

The prime emphasis of the program is for pregnant women to make active choices to create the best possible birth experience--whether it be in the hospital, at home or in a birth center.

Copyright © 1995-2004 ALACE

Birthing Eden

I am Amy Blake Rollogas and I am a childbirth educator. My training is with ALACE. ALACE is the Association of Labor Assistants and Childbirth Educators. They are a wonderful organization, and I chose to train with them because of their woman-centered approach to birth.

I wanted to give you a little bit of background on my own reasons for pursuing this certification. For those of you who know me well, or who are loyal readers of Life In Fife (all 2 of you!) some of this may be redundant. Feel free to skip the birth story if this is your 17th time reading it!

I am a nursing school dropout. I went to nursing school after a lifetime (read: childhood) of saying that is what I wanted to do. I didn't like it from the start. It was not a good fit for me. While I sometimes think I should have stuck it out long enough to finish, I have never wished I was a nurse!

While I was in nursing school, I had a wonderful OB clinical instructor. She was a Certified Nurse Midwife named Jessica Jordan. She opened my "medical" mind to how beautiful birth could (and should) be. It would be several years before I would birth my own daughter, but my thinking about pregnancy and birth had already been changed.

I began seeing Nadene Brunk, CNM for all my well woman care. When Brandon and I conceived in February of 2006, I continued seeing her for my prenatal care. We had a wonderful pregnancy. It was enhanced by the relationship we developed with Nadene. She supported me in my decision to pursue an unmedicated, low-intervention pregnancy and birth.

Brandon and I took natural childbirth classes with a local educator named Chris Prescott (who is no longer teaching). This class was wonderful. Chris did a fabulous job of helping us prepare physically and mentally for birth. I became convinced that good quality childbirth education is key to a positive birth experience. Brandon got even more out of our class than I did! As a voracious reader, there wasn't much factual information about birth I hadn't already read about. Brandon, on the other hand, got most of his info from this class. A well-prepared husband was a great asset during labor!

Toward the end of my pregnancy my blood pressure was a bit high. I was having it checked twice a week with a great desire to avoid being induced. Nadene was a great support as I approached 41 weeks pregnant. Every day past my November 1st "due date" was mentally grueling. I knew that the due date was just an estimate, but it had been the psychological "end" of my pregnancy.

Monday, November 6, 2006
After 3 weeks of sitting around the house waiting for baby, having tons of contractions every day and trying to keep my blood pressure down, I had gone 4 days past my due date. Brandon and I stayed home from church on Sunday because I thought that if I heard even one remark like, “You haven’t had that baby yet?” I might have an emotional breakdown.

Monday morning, one of the pastors from our church, Jim, called to check on me. He had been checking on us every few days, and had noticed that we weren’t in church. After talking with him for a few minutes, I had him assured that I was feeling great (I was!) and that we figured we would be waiting still a bit longer for our new little arrival. I hung up the phone and stood to let the dogs in the back door. Fortunately I was wearing sweatpants (very absorbent) because when I stood, my water broke! The elastic in the ankles of the sweatpants saved our brand new carpet from disaster! It was 9:30am.

Filled with butterflies of anticipation, I called Brandon to tell him to come home from work. He didn’t answer, so I left him a message. I still wasn’t having any “real” contractions, so I relayed that to his answering machine and got in the shower.

Once in the shower it was no time before I began having “real” contractions. They started in the front and wrapped around to my back. They were immediately more uncomfortable than the pre-labor I had been having for 3 weeks. I tried to be conscious of the energy of each contraction and rest in the knowledge that they were what was opening my cervix and bringing my baby to me. I had a great time in the shower! I prayed for a safe birth, sang to the baby and told it how I couldn’t wait to meet it, and fantasized a little about what the day would bring!

Brandon came home, and we set about getting our stuff together and readying the house for our friend Rebecca who would be coming to take care of the dogs for us. We made some phone calls and assured everyone that we would let them know when we had any news. During all of this I had to pause every 7 minutes or so to concentrate on my current contraction. They were becoming a bit more difficult to cope with and I was unable to continue any productive activity during them.

At 11:50am I called Shirley, my doula, to update her on our progress. I let her know that Brandon and I were enjoying laboring alone together for now and that we would like to be alone for a little while longer. I agreed to check back in with her in a little while to let her know when to come to the house. When I got off the phone, Brandon and I discussed how we would decide when to tell her to come. Nadene, my midwife, told me that morning to come to the hospital when my contractions were 5 minutes apart for an hour. I guess we figured we would call Shirley sometime during that “hour”. We called her, instead, around 12:05 when we realized that in the last 30 minutes I had gone from having contractions that were 7 minutes apart to 3 minutes apart and they were lasting 1 ½ to 2 minutes each. I never had 5 minute apart contractions.

By the time Shirley arrived, I was unable to talk through the contractions. If I happened to be standing during the “break” in between contractions, the onset of the next one would drive me to my knees.

I vomited a couple of times (surprisingly, it felt great), and the dogs became very attentive to me. I was vocalizing uncontrollably; kind-of a low-pitched moan. I coped well by getting louder and louder! I felt so powerful!

We continued to labor in my living room for about 30 minutes when I heard Shirley tell Brandon “If she does this a couple more times we need to go!” I didn’t really comprehend what she was saying, though. All I could think was “where did my break go?” Shirley and I were noticing the same thing… My contractions were now 2 minutes apart and lasting 2 minutes each! Literally, I took one breath after the contraction and the next one would start. Brandon told me later that I went through all of the Bradley Method “emotional signposts” in 20 minutes.

The next thing I remember was Shirley telling me to stand up and hug her. She would support me while we made our way to the car (only about 30 feet). Fortunately I got a few contractions with about a 30 second break in between, so it only took 2 to get me to the car! I prayed hard that I wouldn’t have any contractions in the car. Praise the Lord, I only had one on the 1 ½ mile trip to the hospital.

When we got out of the car, I promptly had a contraction and vomited in the ER parking lot (in a small wastebasket I had brought with me). Looking back, I have to laugh at the show I must have put on for the folks in the ER waiting room. While waiting for someone to take me up to L&D, I had several very LOUD contractions. When we first walked into the waiting room, I was hit with a particularly “good” one. Shirley and Brandon were just far enough away that I couldn’t reach anyone to lean on, so I hit my knees and held on to a chair while I moaned loudly. When the contraction was done, I looked up to find a wheelchair and about 10 hospital staff-members standing around me. Apparently they were afraid I was going to birth the baby in the waiting room. Boy, the inhibitions you lose during labor!!

It took us a while to get up to L&D as I refused to sit in the wheelchair. The nurse led us up to the 3rd floor wheeling the empty chair and patiently waiting for me through each of my contractions. When we got to our room, I vomited. I spent a few minutes laboring on the floor.

The nurses, per hospital policy, had to get a 15 minute “strip” of the baby’s heartbeat, so I had to get into the bed for a little while. Because I had been vomiting, Nadene decided to give me some IV fluids. She promised she would run them in fast and unhook me. By the time they were done getting the baby’s heart rate on record, the IV was unhooked. In the meantime, Nadene checked me. I was 6 cm dilated, fully effaced, and the baby was at 0 station!

I had requested a room with a tub for pain management. When we arrived, though, there wasn’t one available. Nadene told me that they were cleaning one, and we could move as soon as it was ready. I wanted to be in hot water, though, so we decided I could wait out the cleaning staff in the shower. She said she was going to go see a couple of patients and would come check on me in about an hour. Once I reached 8 cm, she wouldn’t leave until after the baby was born.

I got into the shower; once again I was on my knees. The hot water felt amazing on my back! At one point I could feel the baby’s head turning in my pelvis. I heard my voice yelling “Stop!” It hurt, but I couldn’t express anything. All I could do was tell it to stop! I had another contraction and told Shirley that I needed to poop. She told me to go ahead because we were in the shower and it would just wash away. My next contraction, I was pushing! I couldn’t control the urge. The nurses called Nadene back to my room and helped me to the bed. I guess they didn’t want me to have the baby in the shower. I asked Brandon later how long I was in the shower. He said 10 minutes max! I went from 6 cm dilated to pushing in about 15 minutes!

I have heard that in a drug-free birth, you will prefer either contractions or pushing. I did
not prefer pushing. After I felt the “ring of fire”, I was ready to quit. I think I actually experienced a 10 on the pain scale. I had always thought that was reserved for ripping off an arm, or something. Fortunately, when I got to the bed and really started pushing, the baby was already crowning. The nurse got a mirror so I could see the head. It was good to take a peek, but there was no way I could watch myself give birth, so I had her take it away.

I pushed a few times half-heartedly. The nurse was having a very hard time finding the baby’s heartbeat. When she did, we realized the baby was having heart rate decelerations in the 80’s when I pushed and the heart rate was not going back up between contractions. Nadene made eye contact with me and told me I had to stop playing around and push the baby out NOW. So I pushed. Hard. I thought it felt better and better the harder I pushed. Nadene cut a small episiotomy, and the next thing I knew, the head was out. I pushed again and our baby was born. She came out with her hand by her face and the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck and her body. It was 2:51 pm. Less than 5 ½ hours from the time my water broke.

Brandon announced to me that we had given birth to a baby girl, and Nadene handed her to me.
We held her uninterrupted for more than an hour. The baby nurse then took her only five feet away to weigh, measure, and bathe her. She was 8 pounds 8 ½ ounces and 21 inches long. We named her Eden Blythe.

I could not have had a more wonderful, beautiful birth experience if I had written it myself. It was such a supernatural experience. Brandon said and did all of the right things at the right times. He was a wonderful coach and partner (and he still managed to take some fabulous photos!) My doula, Shirley, was great, as well. She really empowered me to trust my body during a very powerful event. My midwife, Nadene, just let me do my own thing and labor. She was exactly how I envisioned a midwife should be. When the situation became a bit more urgent, she was matter of fact and told me exactly what I had to do.

I praise the Lord for the miracle of life and for the way He allowed me to bring this new little one into the world. God is so good!

Eden's Garden offers Childbirth Education in Richmond, VA and the surrounding areas.