Blog Archives

Share Your Birth Story on Mother’s Circle

January 10, 2016

Share Your Birth Story | MothersCircle.netMoms need to share their birth story, or stories, sometimes many times, as a part of the emotional work of integrating the birth.

There are so many valuable reasons to tell our stories, to share our births, and to find our strengths through the retelling.

We each make the best decisions for ourselves and our families with the information we have at any point in a labor or birth and we need to be kind in our judgments of ourselves as birthing women. Honor these moments that make us mothers.

Whether a first baby or fourth bundle, women remember the birth story for each of their babies throughout their lives. We carry those feelings of awe or disappointment, of bliss or worry, of empowerment or loss.

Readers, Twitter followers, and birth story junkies have reached out to me over the years which prompted me to post the stories of each of my very different births. A  hospital birth with epidural, episiotomy and even a vacuum extraction, a Cesarean section and a natural, unmedicated water birth.

Everything You Wanted to Know About Affirmations *

November 7, 2015

Everything You Wanted to Know About Affirmations | MothersCircle.net*But Were Afraid to Ask

Thank you to author and artist, Susan Singer, for this guest post on the power and use of affirmations.
Try them for birth, for your health, your mental state and well-being, and even for goal-setting and reaching your dreams.
Here, Susan walks us through the whys and how-tos of using affirmations.  

What is an affirmation?

An affirmation is a positive statement of belief. Ex:  I am happy and prosperous.

When did affirmations start?

Affirmations have been around for as long as people could speak – we all know people with sunny dispositions who tend to look on the bright side of life – but in 1952, affirmations became mainstream when Norman Vincent Peale published The Power of Positive Thinking.  It stayed on the New York Times bestseller list for 186 consecutive weeks and has since sold around five million copies.  This small book introduced affirmations and the power of thinking positively to millions of avid readers who were ready for a shift in their thinking.

In 1978, Louise Hay wrote Heal Your Body which began as a small pamphlet containing a list of different bodily ailments and their probable metaphysical causes. Her premise is that the way we think actually helps cause our physical ailments, and that if we examine those beliefs and work with affirmations to change them, we can heal ourselves.  Her pamphlet was later enlarged and extended into her book You Can Heal Your Life, published in 1984 and has since sold over 35 million copies.

One of my favorites of her affirmations is about urinary tract infections about which, she says:
Probable cause: Anxiety. Holding on to old ideas. Fear of letting go. Being pissed off.
New thought pattern: I comfortably and easily release the old and welcome the new in my life. I am safe.

What can affirmations do for me?

Pain to Power Online Childbirth Program

January 7, 2015

pain to power, online childbirth, debra pascali bonaro | MothersCircle.netI’m excited to introduce and support Pain to Power online childbirth program created by birth-powerhouse, Debra Pascali-Bonaro. Debra is a long time friend, mentor, and colleague, we worked together to revise and update Nurturing Beginnings, and I’m happy to share her latest project with you.

Debra is the Founder & President of Orgasmic Birth and creator of Orgasmic Birth: The Best-Kept Secret Documentary that explores the intimate nature of birth. She’s been a birth worker for over 30 years, helping new families all over the world unlock pleasure in birth and life.

Debra has trained thousands of doulas and birth professionals around the world in the practices of gentle birth support. And now, she’s bringing all of this knowledge to you through her latest creation.

Pain to Power, a 9-week online childbirth experience.Pain to Power with Debra Pascali Bonaro | MothersCircle.net

Ali’s Birth Story

December 16, 2014

Ali's Birth Story | MothersCircle.netIn writing and posting my kids’ birth stories, the youngest got to go first for a change. I wrote Anna’s birth story, a water birth, first, then Michael’s cesarean birth story second, now to honor our oldest, here is Ali’s birth story. She’s heard it every year for her birthday (click here for six birthday ideas for teen girls) so it’s not new to her, but sixteen years later, it’s time I wrote and shared it here.

Being pregnant with my first baby was truly my dream come true. I had always wanted to be a mother and I loved being pregnant. Every minute of being pregnant. I was ecstatic and I admit that, within the glow and growth, I was a bit of a looney first time mom in some ways.

I held my breath while passing a smoker on my way to work in New York City or when a bus spewed exhaust in my direction. I was hyper-aware of everything that I put in my body and every bite I took was to nourish my baby.

I even recorded my daily servings of green vegetables, yellow vegetables, calcium and so on. Yes, I got teased about that – and still do by a few friends who were with me through it. I was in love with my baby from the moment the plus sign showed up on that stick and I devoured everything I could to learn about pregnancy, labor, and motherhood.

I had always trusted birth and believed in my body’s abilities.

It never dawned on me at that time to change providers, I just stayed with the doctor I’d been seeing for years, but as soon as Ali was born, I knew I’d made a mistake.

Michael’s Birth Story

January 31, 2014

michael's birth story, cesarean birth story, having a c section, c section birth story, birth stories, baby michael, pregnant belly, breech babyA birth story makes a mother. Or grows a mother along her motherhood journey. In honor of Michael’s birthday, here is his birth story.

Three days after my due date (aka “guess date”), I went in for an ultrasound. Nick and I told the technician, “We still don’t want to know the sex of the baby.” To which she replied, “The butt is down.”

My first thought was she was telling us that she couldn’t see the sex of the baby until it dawned on me what she was really saying: the baby was breech. She verified my realization saying, “You need a C-section.”

Somehow I’d had an inner wisdom that never reached my consciousness, because in hindsight, I realized that I had asked each doctor I saw for weeks, “Is the baby’s head down?” and I was reassured over and over that, yes, vertex baby. Poor kiddo, we kept rubbing his head, perching Ali or a bowl of ice cream there, and thinking it was his butt!

I tried not to cry, but the tears poured out. Right there, in the ultrasound room. Then we sat in my doctor’s office for a talk, he said because I was past my due date, because the placenta was anterior, baby smiling, crooked baby smile, baby boy, 3 month old boy, lamaze toybecause my fluid could be lower, they wouldn’t try to flip the baby with external version. I would’ve asked better questions if I knew what I know now, but I did ask about other options to turn him. None.

In those pre-internet-accessible days that are nearly impossible to imagine now, Nick and I went to the library and hunted for ways to turn a breech baby, searched for anything we could learn about breech babies at all. Besides one paragraph in the back on one book: Nothing. Crazy since now I have a list of things to give a mom to try to turn her baby, and Google turns up 69,900 results in .31 seconds.

So we waited out the weekend, my parents came down to be with us and to take care of Ali. We watched the Super Bowl together and when we headed to bed, I cried kissing my sleeping daughter, her last night as an only child. Those emotions of adding another child, of displacing the first while knowing you’re giving her the greatest gift of a sibling, overcame me. It was an odd sensation knowing the exact day, and even about what time, I would have my next baby.

Improving Birth – Rally for Change

September 2, 2013

improving birth rally labor dayCan you imagine going to a cancer doctor or a heart surgeon if only one third of their professional organization’s recommendations were based in scientific evidence? Yet that’s what’s going on in obstetrics in America.

A study showed that only one third (33%) of the recommendations put out by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) are based on “good and consistent evidence.” [See below for link to full article text] In looking at only obstetrics, that number falls to only one quarter (25%). Take action and join Improving Birth’s “National Rally for Change on Labor Day” as Empowered Birth Awareness Week kicks off.

Improving Birth held their first rally event in December, 2011 in San Diego and received local media coverage and affected real, evidence-based changes in the local hospital.

Blessingways for Moms-to-Be

June 27, 2013

flower wreath, flowers in hair, flower wreath for hair, white flower wreath, agroterra photography, lisa gendron photos, celebrating motherhood, ways to do a blessingwayA Blessingway is a special ritual which honors a woman during a time of transition or celebrates her in a new life journey. Blessingways for Moms-to-be create a beautiful circle of support and love around the expectant mama. Just as elephant mothers surround and protect another birthing elephant, so too, we encircle and offer support to a sister, friend, cousin who is becoming a mother for the first or fifth time.

A blessingway differs from a baby shower in that it focuses on the woman and her transformation into mother in a deeper way than at a party with a showering of gifts. Gifts may be included, but instead of practical items or pretty clothing, gifts are symbolic or carry special meaning, such as an heirloom being passed down, or the gift of a poem being read. A woman may have a traditional baby shower and also savor the ritual of a blessingway. These ceremonies welcome and honor a woman as she enters into the Mother’s Circle.

Blessingways for Moms-to-be celebrate women as they enter the sacred circle of motherhood. They should be planned and created with love in the details and should reflect a mother’s personal beliefs and values. Whether a mother is spiritual or not, a ceremony may be designed specifically to have deep meaning and importance to her by incorporating her individual practices and beliefs.red thread ceremony, red thread, matriarchal lineage, henna on belly, pregnant henna art, belly art, pregnancy belly art, blessingways for moms,

Some elements of blessingsways for moms-to-be could include a salt bowl in which each guest adds something to the Epsom salts, such as fragrant oils or dried flowers, and mixes it while saying a prayer or giving a special message to the mother. Another idea is to have a laying-on-of hands ritual in which trusted women gently hold their hands all at once on the mother, upon her head, shoulders, back or belly according to her comfort. Everyone sends thoughts and messages of love and peace to her as they quietly rest their outstretched palms and fingers.

Doulas and Dads

June 11, 2013

dads and doulas, doulas and dads, dad holding baby, fathers day, striped dress, supporting families at birth,

Doulas and Dads work together in a birth to support the Mama and after their baby comes home.

Without a real understanding of what a doula does, I sometimes hear a Dad’s hesitation in hiring a doula. He’s involved in the pregnancy, supportive of his wife/partner; he wants to be active and have a main role in the birth of his baby, so he’s thinking, “Why do we need her?”

As a doula, I can assure all Dads, that I am not there to replace them, but rather as a part of the birthing team, to help enhance their experience, and to support Dads, too, prenatally, during labor and postpartum. Often, after the birth, Dads are more appreciative of doula support than Moms. Doulas and Dads work together as complementary parts of the Mom’s birth team.

Our presence lets Dads support their loved ones in their own way without having to remember position changes or comfort dad supporting mom in labor, dad in bed with laboring mom, dad rubbing moms head, rubbing head in labor, doulas and dads, birth support, labor support, what is a doula, how do I hire a doulameasures, reminding her to empty her bladder or release her shoulders. To a Mom, her husband/partner’s reassurance and presence are invaluable, he is emotionally connected and invested in her and the birth. In labor, I see Dads lovingly rubbing backs, whispering in ears, encouraging and comforting, when they’re working so beautifully together, I can stand back, softly add a word of praise or a suggestion, add a touching hand and let the couple dance the labor dance together.

As labor progresses and becomes more intense, my role picks up, Dad and I are a team in supporting Mom. We may take turns squeezing her hips or being the leaning post for her swaying body. We find a rhythm that works. For some Dads who feel more uncertain or nervous, they can observe how I talk, touch, encourage and they can feel more comfortable in their actions.

How to Hire a Doula – International Doula Month

May 15, 2013

In celebration of International Doula Month, here are some tips for how to hire a doula.

1. Determine If You Want To Hire a Birth or Postpartum Doula, or Both

[caption id="attachment_2554" align="alignleft" width="229"]pospartum doula, hiring a doula, how to hire a doula, what is a doula, questions to ask a doula, DONA International, doula match, Enjoying a moment of baby-holding at a postpartum visit.[/caption]

There are two kinds of doulas: birth doulas and postpartum doulas. In a nutshell, birth doulas meet with you prenatally and are on call for you. When you go into labor, your doula can walk you through ideas and provide guidance via the phone for early labor. As labor progresses into active labor, we will meet you either at your home or at your place of birth to labor with you. A doula’s continued presence during labor has been proven to give many benefits such as reduced use of interventions and medications, lower incidence of cesarean section, higher breastfeeding success rates and reduction in postpartum depression.

Postpartum doulas step in once you bring your baby home. We support families in their home with the transition to parenthood (or the addition of another kiddo). Support includes emotional and practical aspects from assistance with nursing, infant care, and organizational tips to being sure Mom and anyone else in the home is fed, gets a chance to nap or shower. One of the biggest parts of my job as a postpartum doula is answering all those questions that arise that grandma doesn’t remember, friends don’t have time to help with, and it’s not quite the thing to call the pediatrician about. That’s where a doula comes in!

2. Ask Around for Recommendations

It goes without saying that not every doula is right for every family, but a good place to start your search is by asking friends, co-workers or even another pregnant mama in the grocery store line. Are you hiring a doula? Did you have a doula? Would you recommend her?

Anna’s Birth Story

May 6, 2013

38 weeks pregnant, picture of pregnant woman, anna's birth, birth story,

A birth story makes a mother. Or grows a mother along her motherhood journey. In honor of Mother’s Day and my baby Anna’s birthday, here is her birth story.

Anna’s birth story is of the birth I had envisioned, the birth I had tried to have twice prior. Anna’s birth story is of the birth I had always wanted. “Third time’s a charm,” they joked while I was still in the tub. She was my VBAC waterbirth.

I wasn’t due for two more weeks, I didn’t know about the changes in the hospital VBAC policies only a day before my water broke. When you hear about someone’s “water breaking” it’s the sitcom scenes we visualize – the embarrassing splash, the unmistakable gush – but more often it’s kind of a question mark. Did I just pee or did my water break? I’m old enough to know how to go to the bathroom, but what is this?

It was 12:30 am, I got up, went to the bathroom and got back into bed. As I settled in, I had a tiny, throat-clearing cough and that’s when I felt it. A little warm, a little wet. I got back up and went to the bathroom to test things out. Hmmm, I think my water broke. Even the third time around, there can be uncertainty, it hadn’t happened spontaneously with my first two births so I had no personal point of reference either. Excitedly, I put on a pad and climbed back in bed planning to get some sleep before things kicked in.

April is Cesarean Awareness Month

April 5, 2013

c section, image of c section, dad in c section, gentle c section, cesarean birth, cesarean picture, cesarean awarenessCesarean Awareness Month is sponsored by The International Cesarean Awareness Network. ICAN is a non profit whose mission is “to improve maternal-child health by preventing unnecessary cesareans through education, providing support for cesarean recovery, and promoting Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC).” Check back next week for a post on VBAC.

Cesarean section is a surgery that saves babies and mothers lives in special circumstances, however, the United States, along with many other countries, have rates that far exceed what has been determined as the ideal maximum rate. Currently, the U.S. cesarean rate is over 30%.

About one third of American babies are born surgically. No scientific basis justifies this rise. No change in women’s bodies or birthing abilities has driven the increase in cesareans.

In it’s 1985 recommendations, The World Health Organization recommended that the highest optimal rate of cesareans is 10-15% of births; in 2009, some discussion arose surrounding possible changes in WHO recommendations. Henci Goer, an award-winning author, speaker and leading expert in evidence-based maternity care, laid out the details in this 2009 Science and Sensibility article that reiterates the science behind the recommended optimal upper limit of a 15% cesarean rate for any country. Beyond that, it causes harm and increases disease and death in mothers and babies.

Young Women’s Birth Survey

March 18, 2013

If you’re a woman aged 18-26, click here to take the survey. Thank you!

mothers circle logo, birth survey, what do women fear about birth, college women and birth, birth questions, survey for young women, I have always trusted my body and trusted the process of birth even before I knew babies and mamas would be my profession. I’ve been in the birth world as a professional for over a decade, as a Mom for over fourteen years and it still saddens me to witness how much fear is tied up with birth.

As a doula* and childbirth educator, I work with families starting late in the second trimester, or later, more than midway through their pregnancy. I have found that the short time we work together is simply not long enough to reverse decades of fear a woman may carry. She may not even consciously realize her trepidation and angst, or its depth.

My motivation to conduct the Young Women’s Birth Survey sprouted at a conference with collegiate women in 2010. A group of young women asked what I do and after explaining what a doula is, I was shocked to hear the reactions of these young, healthy women who wanted to be mothers one day. They shared how afraid they were of pregnancy and birth. One young woman believed her body couldn’t hold a baby and another announced that she only wanted a C-section.

Baby Moon Education Getaway

December 22, 2012

Mystic, Connecticut
Friday evening, March 22 – Sunday evening, March 24, 2013

dad massages mom, pregnant couple, older couple expecting baby, pregnancy breathing, childbirth clases, mystic ct tourism, baby moon ideas, Join us in Mystic, Connecticut for a Baby Moon Education Retreat weekend of exploring, connecting, learning and enjoying. It’s a getaway with purpose – only 45 minutes from Providence, one hour from Hartford – but far enough to feel “away” while you connect with your loved one and continue your work to own your birth.

The term Baby Moon was coined first by Sheila Kitzinger to describe the time a family spends nestled together after the birth of their baby, paralleling a honeymoon taking place after the wedding. In years since, a Baby Moon has become the trendy pre-baby vacation.

If you’re envisioning a no or low-intervention birth, if you know that birth is a state of wellness and you desire to birth your baby(ies) normally, if you trust the birth process and want to honor your experience and protect your memory of your birth, this retreat is for you!

We will incorporate education on normal birth and it’s emotional and physical aspects. Between meals and outings, our time together will include discussions, group activities, demonstrations, videos, creative expressions, movement, time to experiment and continue to build your trust in birth and help you to make informed, evidence-based choices.

Between meals and childbirth education workshop time, you will enjoy free time to visit the Mystic Seaport

[caption id="attachment_1158" align="alignright" width="300"]mystic river, mystic seaport, drawbridge, sailboats, baby moon childbirth, full moon childbirth, Mystic River[/caption]

(you’ll receive two free tickets with your registration), Mystic Aquarium, Olde Mistick Village, hike local trails at the Nature Center, get a massage, take a swim (YMCA membership for the weekend is included in your registration) or check out Mohegan Sun or Foxwoods (about 1/2 hour from Mystic) and have time for a romantic dinner with your honey.

The Baby Moon Education Retreat weekend is now open for registration, escape the daily grind, enjoy time together before your baby arrives and get some sleep before the night feedings interrupt your zzz’s.

For more information or to register click HERE.

 

 

What is a Mother’s Circle?

November 8, 2012

I’ve always loved symbolism, something simple holding a greater, deeper meaning, and the circle, specifically, strikes me. It has a feeling to me, it feels whole and balanced, it feels like an embrace, inclusive. A circle is never-ending and strongly feminine, while also united with the masculine. I chose the name Mother’s Circle when I […]

Birth Like an Elephant

October 15, 2012

Birth your baby like an elephant births. Female elephants in the wild encircle a birthing mother and protect her within this ring. As human mammals, historically in the U.S. and as a continuing practice in more traditional cultures, we, too, should surround ourselves with strong, nurturing women to hold our birthing space for us. Birth […]

Freedom for Birth – Own Your Birth

September 20, 2012

Today, around the world, the important documentary Freedom for Birth will be premiered in over 1000 locations. This film shines a light on childbirth as a human rights issue and how our birthing systems worldwide so often fail and disrespect women. The time is now to stand up, speak out, and reclaim birth. I always […]

Improving Birth – Rally for Change

August 28, 2012

improving birth rally labor dayCan you imagine going to a cancer doctor or a heart surgeon if only one third of their professional organization’s recommendations were based in scientific evidence? Yet that’s what’s going on in obstetrics in America.

Birth Survey Guest Post

August 6, 2012

I’m happy to have been invited to share my Young Women’s Birth Survey and the motivations for doing this work on Birth Literacy. Please read my guest post and share it with women in the 18-26 year old age group who are eligible for the survey. Take the survey here This survey is intended to […]

Birth Literacy

July 26, 2012

Guest Post By Amy Dolgin   I am a mother, a nurse, a public health practitioner, and a blogger. I started my blog, Birth Literacy, to provide women and their families with evidence based information about pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period. Birth Literacy, is my own spin-off of health literacy, a public health concept that […]

Memory Scars

July 2, 2012

horseshoe crab, creating with horseshoe crab, creative bucket, homemade basket, boy on beach, blue shirt, carrying shells, beach treasuresScar. The word feels negative, ugly, damaged, but our scars tell stories of our lives, they mark our bodies with visible memories. The life events that engraved themselves upon us in scars are not usually positive and pretty, they can represent deep pain and profound endurance, but they can also remind us of our gifts, our strengths and our humanity.

Growing up, we tritely feel and behave as if we’re indestructible, but as children, our scars teach us about our bodies in space: how high can we climb, when to release on a rope swing, the importance of knee pads. I have two skid marks 20 years after my first attempt at rollerblading. (Lessons: don’t wear roller blades 3 sizes too big and don’t ride through the sandy spots.)

My perfect little boy’s face has a small stripe across the bridge of his nose. In a creative spurt, I made a scavenger hunt for my daughter and son (then six and four) and while searching for a bug, they discovered a hidden shovel that a contractor had left behind. As I turned to look, I saw my daughter try to maneuver the too-big shovel, slip it off the hard ground and strike my son’s face as he leaned over inquisitively. (Lesson: hmmm, move fast if you see a small kid with a big shovel.) Michael’s nose scar is a part of him now, it’s more subtle as the years pass, but sometimes we remember the day when “Ali hit me with a shovel.”

cupcakes, blue and yellow cupcakes, flower cupcakes, flower baking, beautiful cupcakes

Dads and Doulas

June 17, 2012

dads and doulas, father's day, fathers and doulas, doulas from dads perspective

I sometimes hear a Dad’s hesitation in hiring a doula. He’s involved in the pregnancy, supportive of his wife/partner, wants to be active and have a main role in the birth of his baby, so he’s thinking, “Why do we need her?”

As a doula, I can assure all Dads, that I am not there to replace them, but rather as a part of the birthing team, to help enhance their experience, and to support Dads, too, prenatally, during labor and postpartum. Often, after the birth, Dads are more appreciative of doula support than Moms. Dads and doulas work together as complementary parts of the Mom’s birth team.

Our presence lets Dads support their loved ones in their own way without having to remember position changes or comfort measures, reminding her to empty her bladder or release her shoulders. To a Mom, her husband/partner’s reassurance and presence are invaluable, he is emotionally connected and invested in her and the birth. In labor, I see Dads lovingly rubbing backs,

Father supporting mother in labor, dads and doulas, doulas from dads point of view, doulas from dads perspective, doulas and partners, fathers day

whispering in ears, encouraging and comforting, when they’re working so beautifully together, I can stand back, softly add a word of praise or a suggestion, add a touching hand and let the couple dance the labor dance together.

Composing Your Birth Wishes: aka Birth Plan

June 12, 2012

birth wishes, birth plans, writing a birth plan, Since you can’t plan how your labor and birth will unfold, I prefer to talk about your birth wishes or birth preferences than your birth plan. Honestly, I feel the biggest value in writing this document, is not in the end product, but in the process.

Prenatally, it’s important for both Mom and Dad/partner (and anyone who will be attending the birth) to be involved in this exploratory journey. As you learn about and research possible interventions and hospital protocols, you can get an understanding of how you feel about things in a non-labor state of mind. You have the luxury of time to evaluate and prioritize your desires.

As the vision your birth comes into focus, you’ll find there are things you want to really insist upon and things you don’t care about either way. You’ll learn about your options in birth (medications, music, med students, artificial rupture of membranes, hep-lock, etc.) and the immediate postpartum period (delayed cord clamping, infant eye ointment, skin-to-skin, etc.)birth plans, birth options, birth preferences, natural birth in the hospital, planning for birth, labor plans, birth wishes, writing a birth plan,

Choose Trust Not Fear

June 29, 2010

kids art, rainbow art, trusting birth, college women and labor, childbirth and labor, color wheelI just spent four days at a convention with women of all ages and I had the opportunity to spend some time talking with groups of college women. What struck me about my conversations with these young women was their unanimous and overarching fear of pregnancy and childbirth. I wanted to implore them to trust not fear birth.

It saddens me that the sole message these women have received is one of anxiousness, fright and actual terror. In many ways it is no surprise given the culture of childbirth in the U.S. today, the media portrayals and the widely held belief that giving birth is dangerous and miserable.

These future mothers did not have a sense of joy or a confidence in themselves or their bodies to grow and nurture a baby let alone to deliver it! One young woman confessed that she does not think her body can hold a baby while another announced she wanted nothing but a Cesarean. Where is the other side of this story?

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