Sticks and Stones


When we are pregnant we glow. We are a vessel of creation.

How awesome and a little terrifying.

We go through so many emotions during pregnancy, sometimes it’s hard to keep up . We often read books and watch movies about giving birth. We talk to their friends and relatives about the wishes and plans for childbirth and what kind of mother they hope they will become. We do all of this because we feel the need to connect to other women who have experienced this transformation, we look for guidance and support, we feel a little bit more vulnerable in our times of change. What happens when you talk to people around you, who are close to you, and they say things that are a little less than supportive? They might say things like, “You might want a natural birth, but when you feel those contractions you will change your mind, you will be begging for an epidural”, or “are you sure that’s what you want to do, you know they make drugs for that, right?”. That has happened to most of us, right?

It certainly happened to me. I was always left a little disappointed that the people I was reaching out to for support let me down.

Pregnant women deserve our best.

They deserve for us to be there for them and hold them up no matter what choices they make, especially when they are based on informed decision making. Birth is a natural physiological process that has been carried out since the beginning of time. It’s only been in the last hundred years that we’ve begun to lose support to birth without drugs.

Technology and medical interventions has saved the lives of mothers and babies, that’s the truth, it has, when it’s used in a responsible and needed way. Thousands of women end up with C-sections that weren’t done for medically indicated reasons, but for convenience of the care provider and sometimes the mother and they are left permanently scarred, physically and emotionally.

So when a women says to me that she wants to try to give birth without the use of medical interventions, unless medically indicated of course, I say go for it, and then I ask “who’s your doula?”. On the other hand, a woman does have the right to choose whether or not she wants to use pain medication, and given that she has received all of the current information regarding the risks vs. benefits of those drugs, that is her choice. The point is that we should stop wasting so much time judging one another.  It’s my opinion that we all need to work more on lifting each other up instead of bringing one another down. That’s what words can do that are a little less encouraging, when they come from the mouths of the people who love us and care about us it is even more so. We can all share our experiences with one another that doesn’t cause emotional upsets to the one beside us. If we have had less than positive experiences, we can talk about and learn from it. But please, let’s not use it to discourage others from trying something that might be a little outside of what our views are. Women are powerful beings that have the courage and strength inside of us to bring our babies into the world.

{Sometimes we need a lot loving words, support and guidance to get there, but we all deserve an empowering experience where the people who surround us truly believe in us.}

Doula what?

“If a doula were a drug it would be unethical not to use it.” Dr. John H. Kennel

The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning of “women who serve”. We use it now to refer to a woman who is trained to provide continuous physical, emotional and informational support throughout the labor process and the immediate postpartum period. Not to be confused with a midwife, doulas have no clinical training. They are meant to be a support person on your team in addition to your care provider and partner. They are also there to offer support to your partner and family as well. A doula will encourage your partner to participate in the birth on whatever level they feel comfortable. They are there to offer an objective viewpoint and help you and your partner gain access to the information you need to make the best choices for your family.

There have been quite a few studies done on the effects a doula has on laboring women. This information comes from Mothering the Mother by Kennel, Klaus and Kennel (1993).

Effects on Birth Outcomes:

  • Labors are 25% shorter.¹
  • There are fewer complications.
  • Cesarean rates are reduced by 50%.¹
  • There is 40% less need for oxytocin to speed up labor.¹
  • Need for forceps is reduced by 40%.¹
  • Women request 30% less pain medication and 60% fewer epidurals.¹

Effects on the Mother:

  • Greater satisfaction with their birth experience.
  • More positive assessments of their babies.
  • Less postpartum depression.

Effects on the Baby:

  • Babies have shorter hospital stays with fewer admissions to special care nurseries.
  • Babies breastfeed more easily.
  • Mothers are more affectionate to their babies postpartum.

Effects on the Health Care System:

  • The cost of obstetrical care is dramatically reduced.
  • Women are pleased with the personalized care doulas offer.
  • The Benefit of continuous support in labor is recognized by:
    • The World Health Organization
    • The Medical Leadership Council (an organization of over 1200 U.S. hospitals)
    • The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada


12 ways to empower your birth

Birth in the United States is said to be in crisis.  Our cesarean rate is sky high with our national average being over 32% in 2008 and in areas it reaches over 50%. Being induced (artificially starting labor) and giving birth with an epidural is the cultural norm for most in our society. Women today have a greater chance of dying during childbirth than her mother and grandmother did. Yet we spend more money on birth than most industrialized nations, use more technology and 99% of our births occur in the hospital. This all sounds like we should be the best, right? Wrong. Mother nature has created us, women, to give birth. We are literally made for it.  Technology doesn’t give birth, we do. Now I’m not saying that all women who wish to have children are ready to give birth unassisted, at home in the bathtub with lit candles and sage burning in the background. Although that does sound nice. But there are things that we all can do to empower our births and become informed health care consumers. These aren’t in any specific order as I believe they are all equally important.

1. Find out who your local midwives/OB’s are and meet with them.

The midwifery model of care holds a high standard in maternity care. Unfortunately midwives aren’t available in all parts of the U.S. so when looking for a care provider ask lots of questions. Find someone that meets the needs of you and your family. Don’t hesitate to shop around. Even if it’s near the end of your pregnancy. It’s crucial that you feel 100% supported by your provider. If you are dissatisfied with the care you have been receiving let the appropriate people know. You are the consumer. Nothing will ever change unless we facilitate change.

2. Take childbirth classes.

“An informed woman is a powerful one.” A wise woman midwife.

A few well known childbirth classes are The Bradley Method, Lamaze, IBWP (formally known as ALACE). They will usually cost $200-$400 depending on your location and which one you choose but it’s well worth it. Most of us spend that much money on cribs, clothes and car seats by the time the baby comes. The confidence and connections you develop are priceless.

3. Become involved with your birth community.

Not to say that you can’t have a baby if you don’t have community but there’s so much to be said for having women who have experienced what you are experiencing being there when you need them. Find your local birth circles or La Leche League meetings and go to a few. It’s a great way to become informed and feel support during your transition into motherhood. Other moms love to share their own stories of triumph and empowerment, but also a place to process some of the realities of birth and new parenthood that aren’t talked about in open spaces.

4. Hire a doula.

A doula can offer emotional and physical support to you and your family. They typically attend anything from home births to planned C-sections. They can be an invaluable part of your support team and truly be a guide through your own empowering experience. Check out my blog post on Doulas here.

5. Take good care of yourself.

Eat well. Be well. Eat fresh, whole foods at home. Visit local farmer’s markets and produce stands. Become a part of a CSA. Drink LOTS of clean water and herbal teas. And for goodness sake, take a good, whole foods based prenatal vitamin.

6. Get fresh air everyday.

Go for long walks outside and bring plenty of water.

7. Join a prenatal exercise class.

Yoga, bellydance, pilates… the choices are endless, really. Not only does this provide exercise but can also alleviate some of the pain and discomforts associated with pregnancy. Check with your OB or Midwife before starting a new exercise regimen.

8. Meditate. Visualize. Relax. Let your mind rest.

Find a place that you can visit when are feeling the intense rush of your labor. Do it often so that you get into the habit of it. Start and end with a deep cleansing breath.

9. Rally your support team.

Be sure that the people who will be with you during the time of your birth are on the same page as you with what you want. Emotions from others on your team can effect the laboring women, whether they are positive or negative. So talk about your wishes and needs for labor openly with your support team, have them come with you to your appointments if you feel comfortable with that. Doulas can be invited too!

10. Create a birth plan.

A birth plan is a useful tool to let your care providers and support team know what your expectations are for your birth. It can cover a broad range of topics from dimmed lights, to pain meds to how your baby is cared for in the post-partum period after the birth.

11. READ, READ and READ some more.


In addition to taking childbirth education classes it is a good idea to read books that highlight the positive aspects of a normal birth. Books like Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn by Sheila Kitzenger and Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by midwife Ina May Gaskin. This sort of literature puts birth in a very positive light. It informs us that birth is to be respected and functions best when it is in the most natural and simple of forms.



Trust your body. Know that every women before you has stood where you stand. Be grateful for the miracle you are assisting and receiving.