How to pursue a homebirth

So you want to have a homebirth but dont know where to start? Here a guideline to push you in the right direction.

  1. Find a midwife (or three) to talk to. Ask all your questions of what it will be like and make sure you voice any big fears you have. Your midwife will be used to talking through these with clients and may have a perspective that you haven’t even considered yet.
  2. Reserve your spot! Pay your deposit for the midwife you want to work with so your spot is held. Midwives have a small number of clients they can take each month and they usually book up far in advance. If you want in, then it makes sense to work fast.
  3. Read through all your paperwork, make sure you understand the expectations your midwife has of you and what you can expect from her. Write down important dates in your calendar.
  4. Stay invested in your care. Continue to eat and drink according to your midwives guidelines. Work to be informed about your care and ask all your questions as they come up.

I hope this is helpful for all you soon-to-be-pursuing-homebirth clients out there!

Creating your birth space

You probably know that you want to have a calming and relaxed environment for your birth. This is because your cervix is really quite demanding with it’s very own timetable of how quickly it wants to dilate. So bossy! But it only want to dilate in a space that feels safe and for your cervix, you’ll do anything so let’s get started.

You can create this space in lots of different ways and simply being in your own home is an excellent place to start! Bring enough of your own things and you can set up a hospital room to be very cozy too.

I like to think though all five of the senses when preparing a birth space. Let’s start with what you will see. Here is where birth affirmations come in, the low lighting (think lamps and candles),and a clean environment. During a natural birth, your eyes will be closed at least half the time, when they are open they won’t always be focused but every once in awhile, when you are focused, it would be great if see something encouraging and beautiful before you sink in again.

Next let’s do what you smell. Here is the essential oil diffuser, attendants who don’t smell like anything (no BO people!) and bland food. Fresh fruit, cheese and nuts work well. Fresh ice water is a must (okay, well I guess this covers what you will taste too).

How about what you hear. Heres your birth playlists which could be songs or the sound of waves. Voices around you should be soft, calm and encouraging. You could have a carpet on the floor too so the sound of steps is muffled.

Finally is what you will touch. This is where water shines! In the shower, bath or a birth tub all forms of water is soothing and when immersed, the weight of your own body is lighter so you can change positions without the groans.

So when your preparing your birth space, grab an aspect for each of your five senses, make it your own and give your cervix a place to do its thang.

Should I have my children at my homebirth?

Birth is beautiful and why wouldn’t you want to share it with your very favorite little people? Children can be great additions to a birth. I completely get it. Watching you give birth to their sibling will not only normalize natural birth to your child but could help them fully embrace the new baby. Sometimes moms feel comforted knowing their older children are all right there and taken care of. If they have little jobs to do, children are really helpful at labors. I’ve seen a 4 year old at her moms birth who silently and patiently poured water on her moms back for an hour until her sister was born. A child could also have the job of giving mom drinks of water or making sure music stays on.

Whether or not to have your children present at your homebirth is totally dependent on your relationship with your children and their personalities. It can be really good for all the reasons listed above or really bad. They can also be a big distraction. I’ve seen siblings yelling and running wild, consistently pulling their mom away from her labor. If your child likes to ask a lot of questions, and doesn’t know when to be quiet, you will probably get annoyed with the extra talking. If your child is very sensitive to your emotions, feeling them all with you, then labor may be completely overwhelming to them. If your child is very rambunctious, then they will probably be much happier at a park.

No matter what you choose make provisions for your children. Ensure that someone is with them who you completely trust so you won’t worry. With your children gone make sure the expectations are clear for what you want them to do, how long after the birth you may want them to stay and that it will be harder for you if they come home sugar crazed. With your children present make sure you have someone especially for them, so if the children need to leave at anytime, your partner isn’t pulled away too.

If you still feel confused then you can always play it by ear, but make sure no matter what, you have someone waiting to help with the kids if needed. Even if they are sleeping.

Comment below with great ideas, stories of children at births or questions for me.

Who should I invite to my birth?

A birth is one of those rare experiences in the client’s life where I am fully expecting her to be selfish. This birth is ALL about her.

I talk to every client about who she is thinking about having at her birth. Sometimes that discussion is really easy because she just wants her partner and one friend, who has seen multiple births, will do anything, and they are incredibly comfortable with. Other times it’s a situation where the mom has a whole list of people she’s thinking about. In that case we go through one by one and if she is at all unsure of someone then I ask her this simple question, “Does that person directly benefit YOU by being there?” A doula who you trust will support you well? Yes. A friend who is afraid of natural birth oh, that’s a no. Your mother-in-law whose super grounding to you, why yes! Someone who just wants to see a natural birth oh, sorry that’s a no, there’s plenty of YouTube videos for that. A sister who always knows what to say? Ummm, shes in. A friend or family member who doesn’t know when to be quiet? Sorry you’re out. You get the picture. Think critically and get comfortable with the idea of this being about Y-O-U. At the moment when your body is opening to allow your baby to come through, I promise you won’t regret it!

I Barter

If you’re a client who is looking at my fees and saying… woah! Then I’ve got an option for you. I don’t believe that I always have to be paid in money, sometimes clients have something even better to offer, a skill or product that I find just as valuable as you do. It’s just the best when I barter and both the client and myself feel like we’re getting the better end of the deal. Let’s see if we can work something out together.

Traditional Chinese or Raw Method for Placenta Encapsulation… You choose

I’ve began offering placenta encapsulation to clients in the greater Cincinnati area 8 years ago, when I was trained by a local home birth midwife. Since then I have undergone a more traditional weekend workshop on placenta encapsulation and I’ve learned tons through my personal experience.

I began by offering the raw method of placenta encapsulation because there’s a belief that none of the potential benefits of the placenta are cooked out. I am now also offering the Chinese traditional method.

I know that there are many reasons that clients might prefer this. Some of which may be because of their religious beliefs, that they want to share their placenta capsules with someone else, or they simply feel safer consuming a placenta that has been steamed. Either way feel free to tell me your preference when you book me. I’m happy to answer any questions you might have!

Here’s to a happier and more whole postpartum season!

Insurance and Doulas

I got the question recently from a new mom, asking if insurance covered birth doulas. The short answer is… probably not. If you’re a member of a health sharing company, then there’s a good chance that it would be covered, but under any traditional insurance the answer is no. If you know of one please comment below!

There’s tons of studies out showing how having a birth Doula lowers your chance of Labor interventions/ augmentations, lowers your chance of cesarean section and lowers the need for pain management. I would think that insurance companies would be excited to pay the small fee of a birth doula so they wouldn’t have to pay these much larger fees, but old systems Die Hard.

That all being said I’m happy to provide a payment plan that we both can agree on and I even have a sliding scale for my birth Doula work. If you’re interested in either of those options please just Reach Out.

Financial difference between home birth and Hospital birth

This question of how much it will be to have a home birth versus Hospital birth is really common and can get a little bit complicated, simply because insurance is complicated. I am in no way a Insurance expert so take this information as my personal experience in my years of doing birth work.

If you don’t have insurance the difference between a hospital birth and home birth cost is huge. Home birth is so much less than a hospital birth! Hospital birth can be anywhere from $15,000 to $50,000 and homebirth is $3,500. This homebirth cost is the cash discount. Hospitals usually have cash discounts as well and some sort of financial assistance for low-income patients and would need to be looked into with the individual hospital.

If you have insurance you won’t have a cost for your birth upfront at a hospital. You would get some sort of bill after your birth and it would depend on what services you required, copay and deductible, how much that bill would be. The more services you required the higher the bill will be. For example a C-section will be much more expensive than a vaginal birth. Epidural will be much more expensive than a natural birth etcetera. Clients with Medicaid usually don’t have a bill after their birth.

If you have insurance and are having a homebirth you will need to pay the cash discount price of $3,500 during your pregnancy. Insurance can be billed after your birth and it’s possible that you may get a reimbursement but it’s not something to be counted on.

As homebirth Midwifery does not have state license in Ohio, if your insurance were to reimburse, it would be as a out-of-network provider. If you would like to call your insurance company to get more information you could ask them what your co-payment percentage would be for an out-of-network birth and how much your deductible is, as well as how much of the deductible you have met for this year. Sometimes billing insurance is worth it in homebirth just to meet your deductible for the year, so that you can go get other services that you might have been waiting on. Like going to the dentist or getting your eyes checked Etc.

Please comment below or send me an email with additional questions or your experience. I know we are all constantly learning.

Water birth in Cincinnati

I am a big fan of using water to relax in labor, it relaxes clients when nothing else will, can speed up the labor process, allow the birther movement with less gravity, and is a gentle emergence for the baby.

Each of our local hospitals have at least one tub available for patients to use during their labor, but prohibit water births. The hospitals ask that you specifically request a room with a pool or that can house an inflatable pool when you are on your way so that the staff can prep it for you. From that point you can labor in the pool as you would like, making sure to get out if the water is slowing labor down and to change positions every hour to keep labor going. The babies heart rate can even be monitored in the pool with wireless monitors or a doppler so you can stay in the pool. Once you begin to push, the hospital staff will ask you to leave the pool so you can birth your baby outside of the water.

If this process of leaving the pool when you are ready to push sounds disruptive to you, your pregnancy is low risk and you want a waterbirth then there are a two options, both involving midwives!

First you can have your baby at Atrium Birth Center. Check out my blog post linked here to find out more about how to get involved with them. With Atrium you would have your baby in a birth center, connected to a hospital, under the care of Nurse Midwives.

Second you can find a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM), and have your baby in a borrowed pool in the comfort of your own home. A CPM is educated in low risk birth, brings the same types of tools available at a birth center and is well trained to handle any complication. If you are someone who wholeheartedly trusts the labor process, your bodies, and your midwife then homebirth may be for you. Reach out to me if you would like to be connected with a CPM, I know they can be hard to find.

Waterbirth in Cincinnati; Anna Taylor

How to Prevent Tearing During Birth: A Midwives Method

Almost every client is worried about tearing during the birth of her baby. Tearing is a real and legitimate fear women have and I am glad that I have the experience to address it! When I read blog posts I want writers to GET TO THE POINT so, I’ll go ahead and bullet out a midwives approach to preventing tears during birth now.

1. Slow down drastically at the birth of your babies head.

2. Support your tissues externally as they stretch during birth.

3. Get body work at term to keep you and your baby in an ideal position for birth.

For those of you who want more information about those bullets above I will go into detail now.

1. Slow down drastically at the birth of your babies head:

The whole purpose of this is to allow the vaginal tissues to stretch instead of popping open. (I know some of you just did a involuntary kegel with that word pop! Lol.) When a client reaches term, we discuss that when she feels a burning or stinging sensation during pushing (otherwise known as ‘the ring of fire’), she should communicate that to me. This is the point where the head is crowning, or where the largest portion of the head is at the vaginal opening. Its interesting to me that slowing down at crowning isn’t something that women naturally do. Its much more common for women to feel the intensity of crowning, think to themselves that they can finish the birth real quick and just blast the baby out. This is the point when your support people come in. When I see and hear that a woman is crowning I say a couple things. First, I ask her to take a breath, then open her eyes and tell her it’s time to slow down. Then we lock eyes and take a couple big breaths together. If she can just breathe through a couple contractions, allowing her uterus to push but not putting force behind it, that is usually all the stretching that the tissues need to be tear free!

2. Support your tissues externally as they stretch during birth:

Otherwise known as perineal support. See image below.

When I’m at a birth as a midwife, I use a folded washcloth to support the anus and perinuem as much a possible during every contraction once there is active head movement with pushing. This extra exterior support not only reminds mom to slow down but also holds the skin together to keep tearing from happening. Perineal Support is even more beneficial if the mom is providing it for herself because she can feel exactly where the support is needed, but alas, it’s difficult for her to reach! Providing perineal support can be discussed with your care provider to see what their practice is.

3. Get body work at term to keep you and your baby in an ideal position for birth:

An ideal baby position at birth will keep the diameter of the head the smallest it can be to lessen the likelihood or tearing. This means your babies chin will be well tucked and the babies back is towards your belly, on the left hand side. Body work can align YOU, so the baby is free to move to the best position. I always recommend a deep tissue massage therapist who is comfortable working on pregnant moms for body work.

Notes to know:

There are degrees of tear depth, that go anywhere from just a scratch all the way to through the anus. See the image below:

Questions? Feel free to contact me or comment below.

No, you’re not being silly if you want to be modest during your birth

Birth is a big deal and for some it becomes an even bigger deal knowing that other people are going to be looking straight at areas of your body that are the most sacred. I get it! I really do.

Yes… it’s totally true that for most moms they’re going to hit a point in labor when people seeing their body is just not a worry to them anymore. They become more concerned with riding the waves of each contraction and how tight their clothes begin to feel that they just start tearing them off their body. Hint: Anything that has a waistband goes first. ; )

For some moms this just won’t happen. They will stay covered up and that’s fine. As long as they feel comfortable enough to roll with what their body is asking them to do in labor, there is no problem!

What I really want all moms who are struggling with this issue to remember is that this is their birth, no one else’s and they get to decide what they want to wear and when. It’s just that basic. Because #empoweredbirth

If you want to have a modest birth experience I would suggest that you have a few of the following items on hand…

-Nightgowns: ones that you think are beautiful, completly un-constricting, and dedicated to the birth so you won’t be disappointed if they get stained. You will want at least 2 in case one gets wet or dirty. At least knee length is ideal, calf length is better and sleeveless because labor is hard and sweaty work. Oh and I love cotton because it breaths. Make sure it’s not see through because that just defeats the purpose. Check out Latched Momma dresses, they will open easily for nursing and are my absolute favorite!

-Sportsbra: again at least 2 is ideal in case one gets wet. Nursing bras might be great too as it would open easily to do skin to skin with the baby afterwards.

Early labor clothes: these are the clothes that you love, are comfortable and make you feel safe and warm. #loveyourself

I would love to hear what you wore in labor and if you have any additional tips that readers might find helpful!

The hardest part of birth

There is no doubt that you will work hard during a natural birth. We all know it! Any of us who have done it have heard comments like, “I could never do that” and “You are way stronger than I am”. The thing is that those comments aren’t true and I think it gives the wrong idea to New Moms who are considering a natural birth. What really is the hardest part? It’s not that contractions are so incredibly painful, it’s that you have to LET GO. Some of you reading this will know exactly what I mean immediately but I’ll explain for the rest of you.

Letting go is a process that ideally you will begin at the beginning of your pregnancy and continue working on until your birth. It means letting go of expectations of exactly how your birth will go, letting go of fear, and allowing your body, heart, and mind to do exactly what millions of women’s before you have done. Allowing a baby to pass through you and out into the world. That’s the hardest part! Letting go and allowing trust of the process in.

Is homebirth messy? 

That homebirth is messy is a common thought for individuals who haven’t seen birth or a brand new to it. There’s an idea that fluids shoot out of the mother’s body followed quickly by fluids from the newborn’s, and soon enough there is blood dripping from the ceiling! Or wait… Maybe that was my idea when I first started going to births. I think that partly had to do with my fear that went hand-in-hand with thoughts of birth. The fear that mother’s bleed too much, there’s a whole lot of screaming and that women couldn’t do it without their doctors, preferably male at that. Oh how I’ve changed!

My fear has been replaced with reverence. My work at Birth is done with compassion and in awe of the power that we as women hold to produce and sustain life straight out of our bodies! It is fantastical! Okay I might have just made that word up but it fits perfectly. Can you imagine that one body produces another. So have I seen a mother Hemorrhage and bleed too much… Yes of course. Have I seen her leave little puddles behind her as she walks across the floor, yes of course. Have I seen her water burst, spraying the area around her, yes of course! And guess what? It’s all quickly wiped up. At most we have to use hydrogen peroxide to Bubble it out of the carpets, but I’m telling you it’s like the baby came from a stork by the time we leave. It’s that clean! Except for the fact that Mom is sore and exhausted from some of the hardest work she will ever do.

Free Postpartum Success plan 

I recently realized that I have something that others may not, when it comes to postpartum mood issues. I not only have personal experience and really understand it, I have tools that can help. I’m so passionate about this issue because I know how debilitating it can be not only for the mother but for her whole family. Therapists agree, that the mother and her child set the tone for their relationship within the first couple years of life and if that first year is wrought with postpartum depression it can be challenging to come back from.

I’m offering my community a free Postpartum Success Plan. It’s a plan to create with the support of your partner. I will be happy to pass it on to anyone who requests it.

Here’s to a blissful postpartum!

Doctors, nurses, partners, doula… Oh my! Theres a place for everyone?!

It does seem like a lot doesn’t it?! Plus laboring mom that’s five people right there! It feels like too many to be watching you push a head that feels SO big, right out of you. I know, and it might be if everyone stayed there staring at you the whole time. But while your working your baby down and out, theres all of labor to go through beforehand. Though everyone will be there at the very end, I promise, you won’t care!  

Let’s break it down. First of all, you should know that your doctor plans to only be in the room with you for the very last moments of your birth.  Like, once they  can see the head, they will be there with you and stay until the birth of the placenta. And then they are saying, “Congratulations!” and are out the door. Its not that they dont care about you,  its just that they don’t want to be a disruption. So they do their work and wait to be summoned by the nurses.  At the very end, it’s very exciting, you can feel how close you are and the doctor flies in like a burst of light! They catch your beautiful baby and then is gone to let you mask in the glow of the sweetest baby you have ever seen!

The nurses are in and out of the room.  There’s no way to tell who you will get, and shifts change whether you want them to or not.  They are smiling at you while they monitor you and the baby.  They do vitals, listening to the babies heartrate and charting everything.  If you need ice chips or more pillows, they will be happy to grab them for you.  They are so sweet but usually have other moms to help too.

Your partner is your rock.  They arent leaving your side and are supporting you though every contraction. They are encouraging you,  massaging you and sneaking you honey straws. Your partner is a dream until they don’t know what to do anymore.  Here’s where the doula cones in. 

The doula is the gap filler, the runner, the second support to the partner and laboring mom. It can get tribal during labors, it hurts! Mom can get interrupted, loose her flow and start getting anxious or scared,  feeling out of control. The doula is there to help know what to say, what positions to try next. To remind everyone that this is normal, that we can continue to say yes to the process, and that this is the feeling of your baby getting closer to meeting you! She will also do little things like making sure your cup is full, you are emptying your bladder and that your partner doesn’t need anything. 

Laboring mom, partner and doula are the three constants in the room. While nurses and doctors come in and out, the partner and doula are charged with maintaining a calm and supportive atmosphere, your doula especially is a sponge of things that could effect the couple.  Simple questions, comments, opened curtains are no match for her! 

Really, with a role for everyone, it works together really nicely. You can even add a photographer in there or best friend who’s only job is to hold your hand and it would be great.  

Role of a midwife at an uncomplicated homebirth

Hello! I’ve been asked recently what you can expect from a home birth midwife and I think that’s something that I can talk about… at least as it pertains to expectations of me and the midwives that I directly work with here in Cincinnati.

 It all starts with prenatal care! You can expect a normal scheduling of visits, each prenatal will last about an hour and they will be monthly until your 28 weeks, bi-weekly until you’re 36 weeks and then weekly until you have your baby. Prepare to go deeper in these prenatals then you would with your local obstetrician. This is an opportunity to delve into not only about what is physically and clinically happening with your body but also what is emotionally and psychologically happening in your pregnancies process. Personally this is one of my very favorite parts of midwifery care! 

Once it comes to the day of your birth you can expect that your Midwife will be present with you from active labor on. 

When your midwife arrives she will begin by washing her hands, quietly saying hello and then having a good long listen to your baby using the handheld fetal doppler.  She will then do frequent listens throughout your labor, at least once an hour, remind you to eat, drink, empty your bladder and try to encourage your individual process as much as possible. 

Once it’s time for you to begin pushing she will remain watchful and calmly and quietly await the arrival of your baby. Once she can see your babies head, she will encourage you to reach down and feel your baby, so you can be even more connected to the process. 

As long as everything is progressing really smoothly, the midwife can coach anyone to which the mother agrees to catch her baby. The baby will immediately be brought to the mothers chest and should remain there if at all possible throughout the immediate postpartum period. We leave the cord intact for a minimum of 30 minutes.

The midwife will be closely monitoring from the background. She will deliver the placenta and then again assist the mom to eat,  drink and empty her bladder. She will tuck mom into bed and allow her to enjoy these first impressions of her new baby.  

After the birth team has cleaned up the birth space, it will be time for the newborn exam, clamping and cutting the cord, examining the placenta with the family and processing the labor and birth.  

Finally the midwife will go over postpartum instructions, when to call and set up a time in the next 48 hours that she will return with instructions to contact her if anything were to arise before then. 

Homebirth is really a peaceful and intimate, life changing experience.