Thursday, February 20, 2014

Labor and Birth Analogy

So I was in the shower this morning doing some thinking about the labor basics class I'm teaching this evening (I do all my best thinking in the shower, probably because that's the only place I'm ever alone since I'm a stay at home mom).  While in there, I thought up this analogy to help explain labor and birth for a first time mom.  So here it goes:

Childbirth is like your New Years fitness resolution.  You decide it's time to join a gym and get in shape. You have never really followed a fitness plan before so you join a gym with an educated and experienced personal trainer.  At your first training session, your personal trainer puts you on a treadmill and turns it on.  They don't tell you how long your training session is going to be, just that the treadmill will gradually increase in intensity and that you can't quit and get off the treadmill until it stops.  You've started off at a nice leisurely stroll so you think to yourself, "OK, I can do this, no big deal.".  After a couple of hours, you start to think, "Wow, this is getting kind of hard.  I'm really getting tired.  How much longer do I have to do this?".  After a few more hours you are thinking, "This is starting to really hurt.  I don't want to do this anymore.  Just make it stop!  Somebody HELP ME!".  After about 8 to 36-ish hours, when you are cursing your partner for even hinting at making a fitness New Years resolution and you think your legs are going to fall off, you're going to collapse from exhaustion, or die from a heart attack, your trainer comes back.  They abruptly stop the treadmill, slap a gold star sticker on your chest that says "I DID IT!" and shove a houseplant in your arms.  They tell you "CONGRATULATIONS!  YOU DID IT!  Now go rest on that cot in the corner for a bit then take this houseplant home and keep it alive for the next 18 years.  GOOD LUCK!"  Now wouldn't that have been a lot easier (and a whole lot less scarey) if you had a friend who has "been there and done that" by your side the whole time?  Someone to run on the treadmill beside yours and explain each increase in intensity, cheer you on, encourage you, tell you "You can do it!  You are doing amazing!  Focus on how strong your body is.  Relax your shoulders.  Let your body do it's work.  You are going to achieve your goal.  You will be so proud of yourself when you are done.".  Wouldn't it be great to have someone to acknowledge your weak and trembling body once the treadmill has stopped?  Wouldn't it be helpful to have someone who will hold your hand, explain what you are feeling, care for you and nourish you as you rest and regain your strength,  teach you how to feed and care for your new houseplant?

Ok, the analogy stops here.  This is what it is like to give birth as a first time mom.  This is why you deserve to have a doula.  Because you don't have to go through this experience alone.  A doula is someone who has felt a calling to "be your best friend on the treadmill next to yours", to guide you through this often scarey but amazing experience in your life, and help you realize that you can achieve your childbirth goals.

Friday, July 13, 2012

I've been gone for way too long!

I was posting a recipe on my personal blog today and realized that it was my first blog post for 2012.  Yikes!  Where have I been all year?  Then I peeked at this one and couldn't believe that I've been neglecting it for almost as long.  I will try to be better about posting more regularly but let's be honest, I've been so busy lately that blogging has taken a back seat.  I'm not complaining, being busy means that I'm helping plenty of mamas out there get the birthing experience they want and deserve.  I've recently been reading a book about hypnobirthing so maybe that will be my next blog post.  Oh, and I'm currently 14 weeks pregnant (forgot to mention that 14 weeks ago on here too!  Whoops!) so that could be another idea for a post.  Ok, so enough rambling and pretending that I'm actually posting something useful.  This is my heartfelt apology for not having entertained or informed anyone on anything childbirth related in the last 6 months.  I promise to try harder soon.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Power of the Shower in Labor

Alice Turner from Your Doula Bag has written a great blog post about using the shower as a pain coping method in labor.  I have seen laboring moms use the shower with great success in helping to deal with their pain from contractions and to relax during labor.

Although I never quite made it into the shower for my labor with my son, I am definitely going to try it for any future labors.  The shower is my go to remedy for anytime I have a migraine, back ache, or other illness so I fully believe in using it in labor.  You can read Alice's article on the topic HERE.

Monday, November 7, 2011

NBC 10 Placenta Encapsulation Interview

First I would like to thank Kathie McDermott, Health Producer for NBC 10 News for being open minded enough to take on a story on placenta encapsulation.  I think they did a great job of representing all sides of the debate.  If you would like more information on placenta encapsulation services, please visit my website at Jennifer Hendrickson Doula Services.

NBC 10 Placenta Encapsulation Interview

Don't forget to watch me make my TV debut tonight at 11pm.  I gave an interview and demonstration on placenta encapsulation to Kathie McDermott, Medical Producer for NBC 10 News a few weeks ago and they are airing the news report tonight.  I am a little nervous to watch it because it's my first news interview and I have no clue what they are going to include in the actual story.  I will post more after I view the interview.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth Book Review

I've been reading a lot of childbirth related books lately, both on and off the recommended reading list for my doula certification, and have decided to start listing reviews here on my blog.  As much as I did my "homework" while pregnant, I can't help but feel like my own childbirth experience may have been different depending on the information that I was able to read during my pregnancy.  With that being said, here is the first of what will hopefully be many helpful reviews for expecting families.  (Yes dads, that means I expect you to be doing some reading too!)

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin

This book has so much information in it, it may make your head spin!  It starts off with real birth stories from Ina May's experiences as a midwife in rural Tennessee.  These birth stories made me laugh and cry as I pictured the experiences unfolding.  Some of the stories were very informative and I found myself wishing I wasn't reading a library book so that I could highlight parts for later referral.  (I will definitely be adding a copy of this book to my lending library as soon as possible.)

It is amazing how much knowledge Ina May has on childbirth and the functions of a woman's body during pregnancy and labor.  She is able to share her knowledge in a simple, easy to understand manner.  She goes into detail to explain what exactly happens to a woman's body during each stage and phase of labor as well as what a midwife vs. obstetrician can or will do to help things along.  The information that she gives on common hospital practices in labor and delivery is invaluable.  I kept finding myself thinking, so that's what they were doing when I was laboring with my son, or that's why my labor turned out the way it did.  If only I had read this book while I was still pregnant, I may have had the courage to advocate for better maternity care for myself.

Ina May gives women the knowledge and courage to trust their bodies to do the work they were born to do.  She shares with us not just that woman can give birth naturally and with little or no medical intervention, but also that it is the safest and most enjoyable way to give birth.  Who knew that by refusing medical intervention, we could choose our own destiny and have a much easier, less painful, and more rewarding birthing experience?  In the words of Ina May Gaskin, "Your body is not a lemon!"

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Rebozos: What are they and how do you use them?

I've recently been doing some research on Rebozos and how to use them to help women in labor.  This is one of the tools that I am including in my doula bag for labor.  Here is some of the information that I have found on Rebozos.

What is is a Rebozo?
A Rebozo is a long shawl used in Mexican culture (as well as others) for warmth, for assistance in pregnancy and labor, as a child carrier, and for carrying heavy loads.

How is a Rebozo used in pregnancy and labor?
Rebozos have multi-purpose functions as pregnancy and labor tools. They can be used to help support a very pregnant belly, as a massage tool for lower back pain, and help with changing the position of a posterior positioned or even a breech baby. During labor a Rebozo is more commonly known to be used during the second stage, helping the mother push effectively and be in a position that can widen the pelvis. In not so technical terms it is called the "tug-of-war" position.

 Using the Rebozo in Pregnancy and Labor:

Article on using Rebozo to turn a breech baby.

Pulling on a Rebozo to aid in pushing during delivery.

Using Rebozo to support belly and relieve back pain during pregnancy (can also be used for belly binding in the postpartum by wrapping directly over belly and hips):

"Sifting" with the Rebozo to move baby into an optimal position for delivery:

"Hip Squeeze" using the Rebozo as a comfort measure in labor:

Using the Rebozo for baby wearing:
The Rebozo is also often used in the postpartum as a baby carrier.  Below are a few instructional videos on useful ways to wrap the Rebozo for baby wearing.

Tying a Rebozo slip knot:

Basic baby carry using the Rebozo:

Hip carry for bigger kids using the Rebozo:

Newborn Front Cross Carry with Legs out:

Nursing Front Cross Cradle:

Nursing Upright Front Cross Carry:

Reinforced Rear Rebozo Rucksack Carry:

Additional ways to use the Rebozo for baby carrying can be found at

Share your favorite use for the Rebozo or link to a video or instructions for its use in the comments section.