Postpartum: New Life; New Baby

So often, when one becomes pregnant, a lot of the focus is on growing a human inside the womb, birthing that human, and then raising that human.  Sometimes we can forget that there is a transition period between birth and the new life with a baby. This period of time is called postpartum and it’s a transition for healing, adapting, and discovering your capabilities; learning to trust oneself in this role of motherhood.  As a Postpartum Doula, my job is to encourage women to do these things – to see their power, to know their body and their baby, and to trust their instincts. It’s an honor to be a part of this support that surrounds women during such a time when we are tired, hurting, and taking the time to take care of ourselves while also caring for a newborn.  Not all women want or need a doula, but for those of you that do, there are wonderful benefits in doing so. Could you share with me what some of the things you wish you had help with from a doula after you gave birth to your baby? What would you have appreciated as you transitioned and adapted to your new life with a new little person to care for? What is something you had that you are grateful for? I’d love to hear your experiences and thoughts as I prepare to begin doula work and find ways that truly benefit women.  Thank you so much for sharing your experiences via email (cornerpillarsofapalace), IG @cornerpillarsofapalace, facebook (, and here at this blog.

Take Action Accordingly

In a culture where birth has turned into something quite medicalized, every once in a while something will come along in my Facebook Newsfeed or someone will mention something in one of my Facebook groups that really just get me thinking about the information that is out there. During my research journey I learned a lot of things that have opened my eyes to how people tend to slide into tradition rather than really ponder what makes the most sense. That’s how it was for me during my first assisted pregnancy and birth. I did everything that I was told to do because I believed the doctor knew best and therefore I trusted everything they said as fact.

It was after I gave birth to my second child that I began learning things about the estimated due date (how pregnancies can go to 38- 46 weeks along depending and that 41 weeks is the mathematical average of how long a pregnancy is), induction (and how different a medically induced labor with synthetic Pitocin is in comparison to the hormone oxytocin that is released naturally by the body), uterine rupture (which I discovered can happen in a first time mother with no uterine scar from a prior c-section and the risk goes from 0.007% with no prior cesarean to 0.51% with one prior cesarean, but the risk remains the same at 1.85% with each subsequent cesarean), birthing positions (while laying flat on the back or resting on the tailbone while curled in a C shape are the more common birthing positions in hospitals, these positions can reduce the pelvic outlet up to 30% and therefore unless the woman feels led to be in such positions, it’s more ideal to be on all fours, squatting, standing, or in the lunge position which can help decrease risks of shoulder dystocia, as well as prolonged pushing phase, and tearing), and clamping the cord (where delaying the clamping of the cord has showed benefits for the baby to receive all the T-cells in the cord blood as well as oxygen as they transition to taking their first breath).

These are a few of the things I learned in just the first months of researching… so now, being 13 years later, I’ve only discovered so much more. Where is a great place to start? Start with finding answers to your questions… like, what if the baby is born and does not breath right away (because the thought of that can be scary). When you look for the answers, you will discover that knowledge and solutions can equip you to address fears, reduce panic, and create a proactive plan in how to move forward rather than getting paralyzed by the unknown. By the way, many babies take a moment to transition to take their first breath. Keeping the cord pulsing to allow the oxygenated blood to travel to the baby and rubbing their back while they lay on their belly is the first thing to do, clearing the airways by wiping down with a cloth from the nose and mouth, or if necessary using a suction device (an aspirator for instance). If the baby’s color starts to change, calling for help and performing Infant CPR are the next steps. From there, a paramedic can help.

So what is some bits of information you trusted until you learned more about it? What are some of the “what if” questions you have that spark fear in you, or used to until you researched it? Let’s quash the idea that labor and birth is a medical event and inherently dangerous. It’s empowering to have the knowledge of what is a true emergency and what is not so as to be able to take action accordingly.

Instinct-Led Freebirth

Inspired by a Facebook post by Mama Bird Doula, I wanted to share my experience with instinct-led freebirth. When I had my first freebirth, I guess you could say my eyes were opened to a new reality, but I can’t say I had read studies or looked at statistics. I had found a forum online that had a handful of active women who had given birth unassisted with several of their children. I asked some questions and learned some basic information, like the value of moving around during labor and the benefits of keeping the cord attached until it was done pulsating.
I talked with my husband about things I was learning, exclaiming things like, “Did you know that they originally started clamping the umbilical cord to avoid blood loss of the baby and to keep blood from dripping onto the bed linens? Since then, they’ve learned that clamping isn’t necessary, in fact, it’s beneficial for the baby to wait!”
When I was pregnant with our third child, we reached out to a couple of midwives to see about foregoing certain practices and limit prenatal care that I could do on my own. The midwives I spoke with shared what they’d feel comfortable doing and while I can understand liability concerns, I just couldn’t agree to doing several unnecessary things for a reason like that.
It was these types of things that led us to prepare for having our third child at home without the assistance of a medical attendant. Which was a good thing because I ended up having my son so quickly, I wouldn’t have made it to a medical facility nor would a midwife had made it to my home. I had been having prodromal labor for weeks. I could tell the contractions were changing so I was resting. They didn’t hurt, and were still 7-14mins apart. I had been dilating from 3-5cm and back to 3cm over the last couple days, so I determined labor could either taper off or be quite a while still before baby would be here.
Then I had two contractions that had me reminding myself to relax and then I felt the need to poo. When I sat down, I noticed my water break and from what I had read, determined that the baby would be here within the next 24hrs (based on what I understood about hospital policies – not physiological birth). However, I wouldn’t have the baby hours later… I’d have the baby within 30mins, but I still think I have to poo.
I then realized I’m pushing baby down the birth canal. lol
I call to my husband, he comes to help me, and I tell him I’m going to sit on the floor. Once I do, I feel the ring of fire and told myself to breath. So I did and within five minutes of realizing that the baby is coming, I breathed without pushing, and my son was born into my hands.
I did that. My body did that. My baby did that.
Since then, I’ve only learned more and more, especially from my next four freebirths. Freebirths that defied everything that I’d learned from the hospital childbirth class I was a part of, defied what I’d watched in every single episode of Birth Story on TLC, defied every book I had read like What to Expect When You’re Expecting and Mayo Clinic’s Complete Book of Pregnancy and Baby’s First Year.
My births have not been textbook… and I realized – it’s because birth isn’t. ❤
Quick snippets of my freebirth experiences (to read them in full, click the link):
<Baby#3> Contractions never got closer than 7mins apart, I was dilated at 3-5 for several days, I had two painful contractions, and I didn’t push my baby’s head or body out.
<Baby#4> Again, contractions never got closer than 7-10mins apart, baby was sideways and came spinning out the birth canal, and my water burst as she emerged which had meconium in it. Labor lasted 6 hours.
<Baby#5> Contractions did not get closer than 10mins apart, baby was stuck on my pelvis with chin down and posterior. My instincts were to get into the lunge position and push baby both with FER and using my hand on the outside of my bottom. Once her head was born, she began crying, even before her body was born. Labor lasted 4 hours.
<Baby#6> Contractions were 3mins apart, I did not dilate beyond 2cm nor did I efface, baby came through my cervix as if putting a turtle neck over his head, and his head reshaped itself to what looked like stairs in order to come through. When he came out, his head and body came in one swift push and his cord snapped. Labor was 3 hours.
<Baby#7> Contractions were 15mins apart. I had lots of amniotic fluid. I couldn’t reach my cervix to know dilation. When he was born, he was purple but pinked up quickly. He was 11lbs and I didn’t tear. I had a minor hemorrhage that didn’t require a transfer. Labor lasted 24hrs.