Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Preparing for Birth: Resources

My how time flies.  I knew I wouldn’t be a good blogger.  Not only am I not 27 weeks pregnant anymore, but my son is now 22 weeks old.
Something I didn’t really talk about much on here while I was pregnant were my (tentative) plans for the birth.  I say tentative because I knew that ultimately the Lord was in control.  I determined to do what I could on my end (eating well, exercising, learning about birth, finding the right caregivers, etc) and then the rest was up to Him.  I also learned very early that it’s best not to tell people that you want to have a natural birth.  Plus, I had never had a baby so I didn’t know how things were going to go. 
HOWEVER, if you have an interest in natural birth and/or you are trying to avoid an unnecessary caesarean then I feel strongly that you must be educated on birth.  A lot happens to your body leading up to and on your baby’s birthday, and if you don’t know what’s happening or how to cope then you are probably going to be freaked out and/or afraid and those are not ideal emotions on baby day.  Plus, if you don’t know what’s happening, I imagine it’s going to be hard to make those decisions such as “Should we induce?”  “Should we augment labor?” “When should I consider an epidural?”  “When should I allow fetal monitoring?”  “Should I let them break my water?”  “Should I be checked for dilation?” (YES! You can decline all of these things!).
Please note, I am not advocating a distrust of wonderful physicians, nurses, midwives, etc.  But I am advocating you to trust your body.  Yes, we are living in a fallen world.  Yes, our bodies don’t always work the way we want them to.  But, the majority of women can birth a baby without any intervention.  And I rejoice knowing that the Lord made me to be able to do that!  I trusted that if He allowed me to get pregnant and things continued to go smoothly (which they did), then He would allow me to birth the baby that He gave me (which He did).
I have much more that I could say on this subject, but the purpose of this post is to point you to resources for learning about and preparing for birth. 
First, I devoured many books and websites on the subject of birth when I was pregnant.  Here are the books that I think are must-reads before you birth:
                1.  Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way by Susan McCutcheon-Rosegg
                2.  Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth* by Ina May Gaskin
                3.  Spiritual Midwifery* by Ina May Gaskin
                4.  The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer.
*Disclaimer: I don’t agree with Ina May’s “spirituality”.  She is a straight-up hippie.  But this woman knows birth and these books were invaluable in building my confidence for birth.
Along with these books, I recommend that you read lots of natural birth stories.  Actually, both of Ina May’s books are filled with birth stories, but a couple websites to check out include: and  I also found the Homebirth and NUCB (that’s Natural Unmedicated Childbirth) boards helpful on
In addition, I would recommend watching The Business of Being Born documentary.  Be forewarned that there is footage of many natural births on there.  But that’s the point!  You need to see what it looks like.  And your husband (or labor coach) also needs to see what it looks like.  Michael conceded to watching it with me (not without protest – love him!), and he admitted later, after our birth, that it was a good thing to watch because he knew what to expect.  (Note: He didn’t finish it J.  Apparently, watching the first 6 births were enough for him to get the gist of it! Ha!)
And lastly, but MOST IMPORTANT, I would highly recommend that you take a Bradley class.  “The Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth” was created by Dr. Robert Bradley, an OB/GYN in Colorado, in 1947.  Here’s a snippet from Wikipedia:  Bradley entered into obstetrics in 1947; at the time mothers were restrained in large cribs and wore protective helmets to protect their heads for hitting the sides of the crib due to the effect of the medication they were given.[3] Terming this era as "knock-em-out, drag-em-out obstetrics," when "twilight sleep" and general anesthesia were common in hospital deliveries, he decided to develop his own method. Having been raised on a farm and having witnessed many animal births as a part of farm life, Dr. Bradley believed that women, like the animals he had observed growing up, could give birth without drugs or distress. Based on observations of perspiring mammals during labor and birth, he developed a childbirth method to teach women to do the things that animal mothers do instinctively. Soon after starting to implement his new childbirth method with pregnant nurses as a trial, Dr. Bradley began to believe that the presence and support of the father during labor and birth was important to the mother's success in achieving a natural birth. He became a pioneer in including fathers in the birth process and eventually expanded his childbirth method to include extensive instruction of the father as labor coach.” 
Bradley teaches you and your husband (or other labor coach) what to do through each stage of labor.  There was never a time during my labor where either Michael or I were worried or anxious.  We had learned what birth looked like and we were prepared to see it through.  When things got tough, we knew it was a good sign, and Michael knew how to help me through it.  The main benefit of the class series for Michael was that it taught him all about birth (and some newborn care).  To be honest, I didn’t learn much that I didn’t already know in the classes because I had read so much beforehand.  But it was beneficial for me because Bradley doesn’t just give you head knowledge, it teaches you how to physically get ready for birth.  It’s a marathon and you have to be prepared!  I don’t think I would have been as diligent with my exercises/nutrition if I didn’t have the class instructor, Terri Berg, or Michael to hold me accountable.  It’s a time commitment (12 weeks), but very worth it.  Plus, it was a great time for Michael and I to hang out and spend time together before baby!
If you are in the Evansville tri-state area, I highly recommend taking a 12-week Bradley series with Terri Berg.  Her email is
Please let me know if you have any questions.  I’d love to talk to you about my experience or give you further resources.

Our Bradley class reunion after all our babies were born!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

27 weeks pregnant: Snapshots

I guess this is technically 27 1/2 weeks pregnant (but who's counting??).  This week marks the start of the 3rd trimester!

You can't really tell, but these are frozen grapes. I wouldn't call them a craving because I really haven't had any real food cravings, but they have been a healthy, satisfying snack over the past few weeks!

After doing a little research, I decided to start drinking this herbal tea daily.  Mainly for the Red Raspberry Leaf and the Nettle tea in it.  I'm supposed to have 4 cups each day, but I usually only get 2 in.

A co-worker and I walked the St. Mary's Mardi Gras 5K yesterday.  It took us a little under 45 minutes which I didn't think was too bad.  I figured I would have to slow down at some point because baby would get heavy, but we kept a pretty good pace!  Our goal for next year is to run it.

I finished up this book this week in preparation for our Bradley class which STARTS THIS WEEK!!  I am so looking forward to our class.  I read Husband-Coached Childbirth, but have to say that this book was much better and more informative.  I enjoyed the thorough explanations for the stages of labor and the emotional signposts - 2 things I know I'll be learning about in detail over the coming weeks.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Exercise During Pregnancy: Any Suggestions?

I'm looking for new exercise ideas.  What did you do during pregnancy?

I've been doing Lindsay Brin's fitness videos a few days each week.  My friend, Jessie, let me borrow the 1st Trimester video during my first couple weeks.  When I had any energy to workout (which was rare for awhile), I did that and really enjoyed it.  So much so that I bought the complete program for all 3 trimesters plus the Postnatal Boot Camp (let's hope this happens).  I rarely lifted weights before pregnancy, so it's been nice to add that in with the videos.  But I find that my heart rate isn't as high with these videos as when I'm walking/running so I've been missing that.  Also, I'm starting to get a little bored since I have been doing the same video for almost 14 weeks.

I have been walking a lot more instead of doing the videos the past few weeks.  Anyone have any other good videos they like to do during pregnancy?  It's been nice to have that as an option with the cold weather and the SUPER PACKED gym since it's January.  Seriously, I've been avoiding the gym like the plague.  Although, I am happy that people are exercising! :)

If anyone feels strongly about pre-natal yoga, please let me know.  The videos that I have include a 20-minute session, but I haven't really been doing it.  I know all that stretching would probably be beneficial for labor.  Someone talk me into it!

Lindsay Brin 2nd Trimester Pregnancy Fitness: Cardio, Toning PLUS Yoga

Monday, January 23, 2012

Due Date Debacle

Here's an interesting article on due dates for your reading pleasure...

I'm expecting baby to debut on or around June 4th since that will be 10 moons for this pregnancy.   :)

Due Date Debacle

Sunday, January 1, 2012

See What the Lord Has Done: It's a Boy!

I wanted to share this as a testimony to the Lord, to His faithfulness and lovingkindness to His people.
Earlier this year (2011), we decided to start “trying” to have a baby.  I use “trying” loosely, because I wasn’t tracking ovulation.  If you don’t know what that is then you either have been blessed with excellent fertility or you may be in for a surprise when you do want to conceive.  The reason that I wasn’t tracking anything was because I had a strong personal conviction that I shouldn’t.  I know myself and I can over-analyze and work myself up over things (which I did even though I wasn’t counting days), and I felt like I was controlling a process which is clearly from the Lord.  Please don’t think that I believe that tracking ovulation is sinful – not at all!  I just felt like it wouldn’t be the best thing for me to do at the time, because I could already feel my heart trusting and hoping in creation rather than the Creator (Romans 1:25).  It truly was a heart issue for me.
A few months went by and I started to worry about whether I could get pregnant or not.  Even though I knew that the average time to conceive for first time moms is 6+ months, I did not think that would be me, mainly because I had never had any female issues and I had not been on any form of contraceptive pill/shot.  I should also probably mention that I had been waiting for my husband to decide that he was ready for children for over a year, so by the time we started “trying” I was READY and already felt like I had been waiting forever.  To be quite honest, those few months of hoping to get pregnant were difficult for me.  I think the most difficult thing was the unknown.  As in, “What if I can’t get pregnant at all and we have been putting this off for awhile and taking it for granted when it’s not even an option?”  
I know several couples who have experienced/are experiencing infertility and have been for months or years, so I knew it was absolutely possible that the Lord may have had other plans for us.  On the one hand, it was a strong desire of my heart to have my own children, yet I also knew that the Lord would work all things for good regardless of the situation (Romans 8:28).  So daily (and I mean daily), I would cling to the Lord and His sovereignty over every situation.  If we hadn’t gotten pregnant yet, then it was for our good and His glory and was part of His plan.  I was determined to praise the Lord regardless of my circumstances.  I would cry out to the Lord for strength and patience as we waited.  One of the principles of Scripture that was particularly encouraging during this time was that waiting on the Lord produces strength and endurance.  I think this is counter to what the world teaches.  Conventional thought is that having to wait for something that you want drags you down or embitters you, but Scripture teaches that our strength comes from waiting, not only in receiving.
“But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with    wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”  Isaiah 40:31
"More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”  Romans 5:3-5
“Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!”  Psalm 27:14
Of course, our one resounding hope is eternal life in Heaven, but I couldn’t help but be changed in my attitude toward waiting after reading these passages.  And I can’t help but praise the Lord for the life-changing lessons I learned as I waited, and I know that there will be many more times in my life that I will need to be reminded of this.
I would like to interject here and be the first to say that I did not have to wait long, as we conceived even before the 6 month average.  Many, many couples wait years and never have a baby of their own.  We are no different from them.  In fact, secondary infertility is also an issue that absolutely may be in our future as it is with others that we know.  However, what I felt during this time was authentic and I hope it can be used to encourage and strengthen others in some small way.  If you are a young husband or wife, I would encourage you to not take your fertility for granted.  Society and even most Christians teach that you need to finish a, b, and c, before having a baby, but women absolutely have a window of time in their lives when they are most able to get pregnant.  Unfortunately, more and more women are figuring this out at too late an age.  I would strongly recommend reading Start Your Family by Steve and Candice Watters to anyone considering children now or in the future.
Back to the story….So fast forward to July 2011.  Up until this point, we had been praying that the Lord would bless us with a child in his timing.  Earlier in the year, there had been a few things that I boldly asked the Lord for which He had not given us.  What He did give us was even better, but this led me to struggle with praying for specific things, because I only want the Lord’s will for my life and I obviously had been asking for things which were not His will for us.  Don’t misunderstand – I still believed in prayer but mainly prayed for whatever the Lord’s will was for us, instead of asking for things explicitly (I believe Scripture gives us instruction to do both of these things).  I know that God sees children as a blessing, but I did not know when, how, or if this would happen to us, yet I wanted to be faithful in waiting and trusting God to provide as He saw fit.  This was not easy for me as Michael can attest to.
As July came and went, I started to feel strongly that I needed to pray more specifically.  Namely, I prayed that we would conceive a son in August.  Michael also joined me in praying this.  To ask for a certain gender may seem extravagant to some, and honestly it is to me as well, having worked with so many sick children.  Asking for a specific gender almost seems like I’m asking for too much.  Truth be told, though, Michael and I were both hoping for a boy, and the Spirit was pressing on me to boldly put my request before the Lord:
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”  Hebrews 4:16
“Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.   Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.”  Psalm 37:4-5
“Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.  My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”  Psalm 73: 25-26  - This verse was one in particular that would go through my mind often.  I desired these things and wanted these things.  If I wasn’t asking for them from the Lord, who was I supposed to go to?  There is no other.
”Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”  Philippians 4:6
“Give ear to my words, O LORD; consider my groaning.  Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray.”  Psalm 5:1-2
August came…and no baby.  By God’s grace, I continued to pray as I had before: that we would conceive a son in August.  Then, in God’s glorious mercy, in mid-September we found out that we were having a baby!  As I tried to calculate back to figure out when I would have conceived, I estimated that I had conceived around Labor Day weekend in September.  When we went in for our first ultrasound, it was determined that I was off in my calculations and that the baby had been conceived August 31st or before.  Glory, glory!!  It was an absolute confirmation to both Michael and I that the Lord had heard our prayer and answered!  Michael even said, “There’s no way this baby is anything but a boy.”  We just KNEW that this was an act of God.
Fast forward to December 2011.  When you’re pregnant, everyone loves to guess what you’re having, and a few people will even tell you as fact what you’re having (I think this is strange but whatever).  Only 2 people ever guessed a boy.   Most people very confidently - and I mean VERY CONFIDENTLY - told me I was having a girl.  I even went in for a quick ultrasound at 14 weeks and the tech guessed girl (not any reflection of her ability – 14 weeks is usually too early to know for sure).  But the entire time I knew that it had to be a boy.  I would even refer to the baby as “he” and then catch myself and say “or she”.  I wanted to be prepared if the Lord had determined a girl for us – which we would have taken with rejoicing.  Of course there were times when I questioned it, but the Spirit kept telling me to trust that the Lord had provided all that we had asked.  I dared hope.  It was too much.  We weren’t deserving of such a direct answer.
And then, on December 27th at our anatomy scan, we finally saw our Baby BOY!
PRAISE HIS NAME!!!!  The LORD has heard our prayer!!  Oh what JOY and awe in what the Lord has done.  What a monumental moment for our faith. 
Please join us in praying that the Lord would continue to bless this baby, this pregnancy, and the delivery.  And more so that even now the Lord would give salvation to our son.  Not our will, Lord, but yours be done.  Both now and forevermore!
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.  
 Proverbs 13:12