Just for Fun

Letter for labor partners, with partner providing hip pressure in background

Open letter to family supporting laboring moms

This letter was one I wrote to my brother-in-law when my sister was expecting her first baby over a decade ago. I recently found it saved on my computer and thought it would make an excellent blog post. It has tips that would help just about any friend or family member supporting a laboring mom as well. I’m posting it below without any editing.

Dear Jared-

I know you’re not the one birthing, but I feel pretty strongly that childbirth classes are for the dads as much as – if not more than – for the mom. After all, when she goes into labor, who is she going to turn to first? YOU. And so it is important for YOU to learn how to cope with labor as well. She will not likely be thinking rationally and logically in labor, so you will be the one to think of what to try next and how to help.

So I thought I’d write up my very own “Top Ten Ways to help a Laboring Woman” just for you.

Dad smiling while supporting mom
Not my brother in law, but this dad was an amazing birth partner!

10. Bring with you everything you’d pack for a quick overnight stay – toothbrush & paste, deodorant, change of clothes. Labor can be long, and laboring women are highly sensitive to smell. Plus, sometimes moms will pull a dad into the shower with them, or the mom’s water will break and they’ll be in the way, or something like that. It’s nice to have a change of clothes.

9. Keep an eye out to help her stay modest. Sometimes the nurses & doctors are not the greatest at making sure moms are covered up again after exams, etc. Or they leave the door open and the curtain pushed aside. Knowing her, she’ll appreciate it if you help with those things.

8. Try to stay calm. She’ll pick up on your tone, and she doesn’t need added stress from you. If you’re feeling anxious, talk to a nurse, the doctor, or even call me, anytime.

7. She’s queen of the room. If she wants the lights off – they are off. If she wants the TV off, it’s off. If she wants it on, SHE picks the channel. Even if it is Super Bowl Sunday, and she wants to watch Trading Spaces or something else.

6. Don’t rush her. Ignore the clock. Don’t complain about how long it is taking, how tired you are, or make predictions about when baby will come. Don’t go to the hospital too soon – it won’t make baby come faster. The time to go to the hospital is when she feels there isn’t time for a shower on the way.

5. Pay attention to the MOM, not the monitor! Too many dads make the bonehead mistake of saying “Honey, you’re having a contraction now!” when mom is struggling to cope. Or “This one doesn’t look like much on the monitor, why are you moaning for such a little one?” Or my favorite – one I’ve heard several dads say “Wow! This one’s off the charts! Does it hurt really bad?”

4. Take care of yourself – bring foods you can eat quickly and that won’t leave much smell behind. Scarf a granola bar while she’s in the bathroom, etc. Time bathroom trips so she’s not alone during a contraction.

Dad holding mom in a dangling squat during labor3. Follow her lead. If she’s laughing and cracking jokes herself – it is OK for you to do it, too. If she’s quiet and serious, you should be too.

2. Stay positive. Tell her she is doing well, even if you’re not so sure. Help her stay focused on the fact there is a baby coming. As unbelievable as it sounds, many women forget the whole point. Reminding her that soon she’ll be holding Vale, soon she can count fingers & toes, etc. can be very helpful.

1. Stay close to her. Be within arms reach as much as possible. This is especially important if she chooses to have an epidural. Many women feel abandoned after the epidural, as everyone tends to back off once she isn’t as needy. Affection & love go a long way to making a woman feel supported in labor, and that’s something only YOU can provide. The nurses, doctor, even a doula cannot do that for a laboring mom.

I hope this is helpful. I mean it when I say you can call me any time. I’ve included in this package a book that I think you should read. It is one specifically meant for birth partners. If you don’t crack any of the other books, read that one!

Call or e-mail me with any questions.


What Does a Contraction Feel Like?

I am so excited for this project! I’m compiling short videos of people describing what contractions feel like. The answer is going to vary widely from person to person, and I want to hear your personal experience Please share a one minute video with me describing what a contraction feels like to you HERE The password is: ContractionSensation
(Please note: if you are a doula, midwife, or other birth professional, please just describe your personal experience.)

CLICK HERE TO SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE The password is: ContractionSensation

My birth career is an adult!

Andrea in her early years of teachingAbout this time eighteen years ago, I finished teaching my very first childbirth class. Three couples, on my couch in my tiny little house. My friend Kristi helped me find the couples to teach, and I had a more experienced educator observing me and mentoring me. I was every bit as pregnant as the women in my class! Doula work would come a few years later as that baby grew, and birth photography about 10 years later. I’m not bored with births yet, and the love and emotion still get to me every single time. I’m so lucky to be a part of those precious moments for families, to see the amazing strength it takes to birth a baby, and to see parents fall in love with their babies!

In the eighteen years since then, I’ve seen quite a few changes in the birth world, most of them positive:

I’ve seen hospitals drop the mandatory nursery stay and keep moms and babies together in the immediate hours postpartum.

I’ve seen a Baby Friendly hospital come to my area, and other hospitals make changes to stay competitive

Andrea Lythgoe Utah DoulaI’ve seen the episiotomy rate drop – it used to be routine and nearly all moms got one, now care providers are providing individualized care and doing them on an as-needed basis. I’ve seen a corresponding increase in the number of OBs who are skilled at supporting the perineum.

I’ve seen home birth midwifery become expressly legal in my state, with optional licensure that includes prescriptive authority.

I’ve seen the creation and expansion of a new kind of birth center in my area. Small, single bed facilities that are becoming quite popular.

I’ve seen social media, smart phone apps and online information change how women get information about birth. This has been both good and bad. Women are more educated and taking charge of their health, but they’re also getting terrified by Dr. Google and getting bad advice from Dr. Facebook.

I’ve seen the rise of new methods of childbirth education, like HypnoBirthing, HypnoBabies and Birthing From Within.

I’d have the change to meet and get to know many of the great leaders who are working to improve childbirth!

Doula as a word in a gameI’ve seen public knowledge of doulas change dramatically. From the word “doula” being added to the dictionary, to seeing celebrities talk about (or even become) doulas, to seeing multiple doula organizations grow exponentially. When I first started attending births, I would tell women I was a doula and the response would be “You’re a WHAT?!?!?” – now when I tell women I am a doula, the response is much more likely to be “I love doulas! Used one with my births!” or “Oh, my sister had one of those and raved about it!”

I’ve seen the rates of VBAC rise dramatically, and then fall just as dramatically.

I’ve seen our local doula organization grow from about 25 members (we held our annual conference in someone’s living room one year!) to a large powerhouse of strong women influencing the birth culture in our area.

I’ve seen research change practice in all kinds of ways. More skin-to-skin (even in the OR!), delayed cord clamping, changes in epidurals, etc.

I’ve seen a rise in the number of care providers who are willing to let parents catch!

I’ve seen hundreds of families grow, partners who provide amazing support, siblings who squeal with delight, and mothers who realize their own strength in ways they never had before. I truly love my job and am looking forward to many more years serving birthing families. I also look forward to seeing many other changes for the better.

Andrea Teaching Childbirth ClassAndreaLythgoeDoula-web

Lamaze Conference Wrap Up 2015

LasVegasLamazeConference-3Last month I attended the Lamaze International and ICEA combined conference in Las Vegas. While I’m not a fan of The Strip *at all* I was able to have a fantastic time with hundreds of other birth professionals. So much to learn, so many great people to talk with!

The fun began Thursday morning when I met up with two other local birth professionals for the road trip there. It’s about a 6 hour drive and I enjoyed getting to know those two women better. We arrived just in time to check in to the hotel and make it to the opening session. Elan McAllister, a former Broadway producer, discussed her experiences working on the show “Rent” and how it’s song “No Day But Today” can remind us of the fantastic opportunities the current health care reformation is creating to make space for what birth professionals can do to ensure a better and safer experience for moms and babies. Her energy and enthusiasm was a great way to kick off the conference!

Mingling with other attendees and vendors at the opening reception and a quick dinner on the strip and we went back to our room to relax. Later that evening, we were invited up to the suite where Robin Elise Weiss, president of Lamaze International, was hosting an informal gathering. The view of the strip from there was amazing!


After breakfast the next morning, I chose to attend Pat Predmore’s session on building birth confidence. She discussed the idea of teaching about fears using the term “courageous birth” instead of “confident birth” – since courage is what is needed to conquer fears. She demonstrated several teaching ideas to address and work through fears. Having seen Pat at previous conferences, I knew her session would be fun and interactive.

The fabulous Jen McLellan of Plus Size Birth taught the next session I attended. She discussed many of the challenges unique to plus size women, how to be a more plus size friendly professional, and gave idea for practical tips we can pass on to moms who need them.

Sharon and I at the conference
Sharon and I at the conference
It was a good thing I wanted to learn the material they were teaching, because no way was I going to pass up the opportunity to hear my friends Jeanette McCulloch and Sharon Muza present together! Their joint session on Getting on Google’s Good Side was both entertaining and informative. I really wished that there had been an advanced version and a basic version, as I was eating up the more advanced stuff and there were lots of questions that were very basic. Might need to bring those two here for an advanced training!

Thursday’s closing session was Dr. William Camann, director of obstetric anesthesia at Brigham and Women’s hospital in Boston. He discussed several of the advances in epidural anesthesia, nitrous oxide in birth, and what might be changing in the future. But the bulk of his talk was discussing ways to make cesarean births more family friendly. The trend towards skin to skin in the OR, having a second support person present, etc. is one I welcome!

That night I went to the Dine Arounds, where you can sign up to go out to eat with random people from the conference. I ended up at a Thai Seafood place that was YUMMY and getting to know a bunch of great educators who were from all over North America.

First thing Saturday I attended the Lamaze International membership meeting. Awards were given, election results tabulated, and a new crop of FCCEs were announced.

Now I need to back up here a bit. In 2013, I presented at the Lamaze conference in New Orleans. I wanted to attend Sharon Muza‘s “Cesarean Your Way” session then, but it was at the same time I was presenting. And to add insult to injury, it was right next door, where I could hear lots of laughter and fun! So when I saw it on the program again this year, I knew I had to go. And it was a lot of fun. I actually gave birth by cesarean during the session!

People, Planet and Profit were up next. Birth businesswomen Ana Paula Markel and Jessica English led this lively discussion on making a business that succeeds on the triple bottom lines: People, Planet and Profit. People and profit were covered quite well, I would have liked to be able to discuss the “planet” bottom line more.

The final session of the day was Joan Combellick discussing the neonatal biome. I’ll be honest, I struggled to get engaged with this session. Much of what she discussed was then dismissed as “not strong enough evidence” and there were lots of teasers that she was doing work that was showing great evidence and results, but she would not give any details.

Red Rock Canyon-1As soon as this session ended, a friend and I ran out to our car and got away from the strip for the evening. It was a lovely break from the hustle, bustle and grind of the strip. We drove out to Red Rock Canyon to enjoy the sunset. Felt great to be back in nature and to enjoy some quiet!

Sunday morning’s first session was Denise Hancock discussing the educational needs of Millennials. She did a great job of outlining the WHY behind the different ways Millennials interact with information, and how as educators we can adapt our teaching to ways that make sense for them. All without making a single comment or joke about smartphones!

The conference wrapped up with a rousing session from Jennie Joseph on how her clinic and program works to combat some of the racial and socioeconomic disparities that are out there. She was blunt, straightforward, and inspiring!

LasVegasLamazeConference-4At the end of the conference, Lamaze International President Robin Elise Weiss encouraged each of us to share with a neighbor our High/Low/A-ha! from the conference:

My high point: Talking with and rubbing shoulders with women I look up to and admire. Also a certain compliment from a certain person whose opinion means a lot to me.
My low point: Feeling drained by the atmosphere of the strip. Thankfully I was able to run away for a bit.
My A-HA! moment: So, so many! Probably the sessions on SEO and teaching Millennials had the most. I have a long list of things to implement from this conference, and I am energized to get them done now!

(And because we needed fuel for the drive home, our final stop in Vegas was Pink Box Donuts. YUM!)

You might be ready to be a doula if…..

Inspired by this parenting test, I set out to create a doula version. While this is complete parody and all done in good fun, there are some truths about life as a doula that would be good for prospective birth professionals to consider.

Test 1: The On Call Test

Step 1 – Pick a day when you have an important meeting, family gathering, or just a million places to be and a firm deadline.
Step 2 – Drop it all and leave for an unknown number of hours. You have 30 minutes to arrange child care and get all your obligations covered.
Step 3 – Ignore all calls from home begging you to fix the mess you left behind.

Variation: After completing steps 1-3, return home after an hour and tell your family “False Alarm!” They love that, especially since it means it can happen again at any moment.

Test 2: The Sleep Deprivation Test

Step 1 – Ask a friend to randomly call you in the middle of the night, at a time when you least expect it.
Step 2 – Starting from that phone call, remain awake, standing, and completely alert (while at the same time having a relaxing, calm demeanor) for approximately 28 hours.
Step 3 – If the 28 hours ends during the day, return to your life and complete all your normal daily tasks – and catch up from the day before – before getting any sleep. If the 28 hours ends during the night, you may sleep only until your usual daily waking time.

Test 3: The Cell Phone Test

Step 1 – Switch phone to the ON position.
Step 2 – NEVER turn it off.
Step 3 – At all times, keep it within arms reach. Never let your battery die. Never ignore a call or text. Always answer. Doesn’t matter if you are in the shower, arguing with a customer service rep, or having sex. Always answer.

Test 4: Physical Stamina

Step 1 – Stay on your feet for 6 hours, mostly in the same position. Every 2-3 minutes, hang a 50 pound weight from your shoulders while swaying and repeating “That’s it, calm and relaxed. Good.”
Step 2 – Any breaks must be quickly squeezed into the breaks between supporting the weight. You have 60 seconds to run down the hall, empty your bladder, wash your hands and get back.
Step 3 – Choose a new position and repeat the exercise for another 6 hours.

Test 5: Patience

Step 1 – Enlist the help of every pregnant woman you know.
Step 2 – Have them call you at random times around the clock with random pregnancy questions. They don’t have to be urgent questions, in fact for the purposes of this test it is best in the middle of the night questions are along the lines of “My leg hair is growing faster on my right side than my left side! What does this mean?”*

Test 6: Tenacity

Step 1 – Choose a day when you are experiencing the kind of weather that inspires weathermen to use the phrase “…of the century!”
Step 2 – Go out in the middle of it and drive to a birth center or hospital at least 30 miles away.

Test 7: Letting Go

Step 1 – Plan a big fancy milestone birthday party with someone. Make arrangements for food, entertainment, guests, the works. Whatever they want.
Step 2 – Just before the party, learn that the location has been double booked and is no longer available. The caterer has the flu, and the jugglers you booked have dropped the ball. The birthday girl is devastated.
Step 3 – Help her have a good birthday even if it looks nothing like what she wanted.

Variation: Just before the party, the birthday girl changes her mind and decides to go a different direction. Let her change all the plans. Attend the party, be fully supportive of the new party plan, and make it a great experience.

If you pass all these tests, you are ready to be a doula!

And once you are a doula, you know why it’s all worth is, and how amazing the job is!

* Actual question I got from a client in the middle of the night.

Rebozo Midwives

Childbirth Education in the media

Since I teach childbirth classes, and I have a sense of humor, I generally enjoy seeing childbirth classes in TV shows or movies. Here are some that made me laugh. What are your favorite depictions of childbirth classes in the media?

Northern Exposure:
Joel oversimplifies, Maggie does much better, and in the end, Joel’s oversimplification comes back literally in his face.

Baby Mama movie

SNL skit

Hollywood’s Guide to Childbirth
(as is typical for birth in the movies, contains strong language and excessive screaming)

60 Tips for Healthy Birth

60TipsForHealthyBirthLamaze International has been doing a fantastic series of posts on their Giving Birth With Confidence blog. They are all great, and I thought I’d share them here. As a Lamaze Educator, my classes support these 6 principles, and you’ll learn even more tips on achieving the healthy birth you want.

60 Tips for Healthy Birth

Part 1: Let Labor Begin on Its Own
Part 2: Walk, Move Around and Change Positions Throughout Labor
Part 3: Bring a Loved One, Friend, or Doula for Continuous Support
Part 4: Avoid Interventions that are Not Medically Necessary
Part 5: Avoid Giving Birth on Your Back and Follow Your Body’s Urges to Push
Part 6: Keep Mother and Baby Together

Fun At Lamaze! | Part 3

AndreaPresentingThe third and final day. After all the learning and all the fun, I am utterly exhausted. And yet I have to present again. First thing in the morning. This time my topic was “Out of the Bayou: Helping Families Navigate the Online Swamp” My roommate and friend was kind enough to attend my session and take a photo of me presenting.

This time around didn’t go quite as well – there were issues with the microphone that made loud popping noises and once startled me. I kept having to reboot the microphone. I lost my train of thought a few times, and I didn’t realize the correct end time and went over by about 10 minutes. Oops! Overall not so bad, but not as good as the day before, and nowhere near as good as I wanted it to be!

This was a shorter presentation, a split session with Debby Amis. She presented on making PowerPoint work for you, and spotlighted a new product from Lamaze – a PP that can help you teach the 6 Care Practices. It was an OK session, but I am not a fan of PP at all, didn’t use it for either of my presentations, and so I found it funny that I was paired with her for a split session.

(Once again I was bummed to be missing another of Sharon Muza’s sessions – this one on teaching about cesareans. We both presented twice, and neither of us could go see the other’s sessions!)

AmberMcCannClinicalThen it was time for the last session of the conference, a general session featuring Amber McCann: “Today’s Mothers are All Thumbs: Cultural Competency for Digital Motherhood”. She talked about how involved women of childbearing are are in social media and how we can reach them there. She discussed how moms are not searching the internet looking for your childbirth class, they are searching and looking for INFORMATION. Reaching them with that information can be a good way to get the other thing digital moms want: INTERACTION. I’ve highlighted two of my favorite quotes from her session in graphics for this article.


She discussed several of the more commonly used social media sites, giving a rundown of the basics and how it might be used professionally by childbirth educators. It was a great session and a nice end to the conference.

Overall, I loved the conference. I love being able to spend days focusing on a subject that still fascinates me. I love meeting new people. I enjoyed seeing old friends from previous conferences. I enjoyed presenting (mostly) the sessions I did. The food in New Orleans was fantastic!

After the conference was over, I had an afternoon and evening to myself before I flew home the next day. I was chatting in the lobby with another educator, and we came up with an idea and challenge for a future conference:

A PowerPoint Free conference!! No more sessions where the presenter just reads the slides to everyone. We are educators, and we can do better!! Let’s make EVERY session interactive. EVERY session be more proactive in getting participation. It can be done, and it would be an amazing conference!

I spent the afternoon and evening walking around the French Quarter and the waterfront. I visited Cafe Du Monde for some beignets. I strolled the waterfront. I watched the ships sail up the Mississippi. I watched the sun set over the river. Would have liked to visit the aquarium, but it was closed. As was the RiverWalk shopping area. When it got dark, I ate Gumbo and Shrimp with Grits. And then I packed up and went to bed so I could get up early and fly home. It was a great trip, even if it exhausted me!


Melinda Delisle teaching massage

Fun at Lamaze! | Part 2

Day 2 of the Lamaze International Conference started with the LONGEST 90 minute session, ever!


Yes, I presented a session first thing Saturday morning! My topic was “Studies, Stats and All That Jazz: Finding Your Research Rhythm for Safe and Healthy Birth” – I think it went well, we discussed different kinds of bias, ways to stay current on research, and I highlighted my “Dirty Dozen” favorite sites to find good evidence based info. People showed up, actually participated and asked great questions, the internet worked, and I am happy with how it went.

With that out of the way, I could relax and enjoy the remaining sessions. There were no general sessions on Saturday, it was a day of all breakouts. I really wanted to attend the presenation “Teaching to the Plugged In Mom: Using Today’s Digital Tools in the Classroom and Beyond” by my friend Sharon Muza and Jeanette McCulloch – a new friend I met at the conference. Unfortunately, they were presenting at the same time I was! However, I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek before the conference and give them feedback – and it was great!

iPad NotesI attended a split session that I had mixed feelings about. The first part was “Birthing Like the Stars” – all about how to use celebrity births in your classes. I’m not one to follow celebrities at all and don’t think I’ll use her ideas much. But the second half “Prenatal Education and the Flipped Classroom” really got ideas flowing for my private childbirth classes, and I am so excited to implement some of the ideas! (And no, I won’t tell you what they are until I get everything in place! But there is a shot of some of my iPad notes on the right…) Christine Maria Just did a fabulous job presenting what she is doing and how it could be implemented. I wish she could have had the full 90 minutes!

Melinda Delisle teaching massageAfter lunch and the Lamaze membership meeting was a session from Melinda Delisle, owner of Pocket Pregnancy. She spoke on “Attracting parents to Childbirth Classes in the Digital Age: What live classes can offer that online classes can’t” – she opened by asking those present why they came to the conference when they could just learn about these topics online. The answers – networking, community, hands on learning, connection to others facing similar challenges – were also many of the benefits of live childbirth classes! The barriers to attending a conference and attending CBE were also similar: time, cost, not valuing the benefits, etc.

Melinda discussed the results of a small survey she’s done on the topic and the results of the Listening to Mothers surveys over the years and the reported decline in attendance at live classes.

Then she spent some time teaching techniques that can only be done live and how to market them as the most valuable experience in the class.

Kim James’ presentation Evaluation Power! was a great one. You might think that evaluations are a boring topic, but Kim gave great information on how to write an evaluation that will bring you more useful feedback to improve your classes AND information you can use to market yourself as well. Kim was a rock star, as she’d planned a 45 minute presentation and arrived to find herself with a 90 minute slot. You couldn’t even tell she hadn’t planned it that way. I now want to completely rewrite the evaluations for my classes and for my doula clients!

The last session of the day was another split session, sort of. Meghan Henley and Jennifer Torres each presented a different area of the results from the Maternity Support Survey – a large scale survey that compares doulas, childbirth educators and labor & delivery nurses. Meghan discussed the results as they applied to labor and birth and Jennifer discussed the results as they applied to breastfeeding. Not surprisingly, CBEs and doulas attitudes are more closely related than L&D nurses, though overall, most were closer than I would have thought. Meghan and Jennifer led an interesting discussion asking class participants why they felt that might be. I did enjoy this session, but wished it had come earlier in the day when I didn’t have so much brain overload.

That evening, the conference organizers had arranged for us to parade down Bourbon St with a brass band all the way to Cafe Soule where we had Cajun food. I took a short video as we walked.

After the dinner, I met with a bunch of women for a “TweetUp” – these were all women who had been tweeting about the conference using the hashtag #Lamaze13 – it was a good group and we enjoyed talking until it was time for bed.

Lamaze TweetUp

Read the third and final installment here.

NOLA Skyline

Fun at Lamaze Part 1!

The Lamaze conference in New Orleans was a great experience for me, as always, I loved being a part of a large group of women who are all determined to help women have great births!

I flew out the day before and checked into the Astor Crowne Plaza, right on the corner of Bourbon St and Canal St. It was a fairly smooth direct flight, thankfully, and I arrived late evening. My poor friend and conference roommate, though, had a rough time getting there! My plane went around a huge line of thunderstorms, and her plane flew right THROUGH it! To give you an idea, here’s what I saw as we were flying around the storms:

Lamaze Conference New OrleansThe next morning, we had a few hours before the conference started. After a proper southern breakfast, we headed out to explore the city. We walked the length of Bourbon Street, cut over to St. Louis Cathedral, Jackson Square, and the Mississippi River. Grabbed some beignets to go and headed back to the opening session of the conference.

First up was a general session presented by Richard Waldman, former president of ACOG. He discussed a wide range of topics, everything from the Affordable Care Act and its impact on obstetrics to how midwives and OBs can work well together. He is married to a midwife and was instrumental in bringing midwifery care – independent midwives – to central NY. What I found most interesting was his discussion on the things that have impacted him both as a care provider and personally. He talked about training, he talked about peer pressure, he talked about keeping patients informed participants in their care. He spoke on a personal and emotional level about how lawsuits and the death of a patient impacted him. It was an interesting perspective.

Lamaze Conference MaterialsNext was a breakout session on “Memorable Class Moments” led by Victora Deer – I chose this session because I always try to go to sessions that will not involve PowerPoint, and I was not disappointed! When I first walked in and sat down, I knew this would be a different kind of session, as there were lots of craft materials waiting at each spot. The first thing she had us do was put on a pair of head bopper headbands that had light bulbs representing all the ideas we could get if we allow ourselves creative freedom. Victoria showed us some of the fun things she does in class, but she also talked about how YOU can create your own fun ideas. She presented 5 steps:
1. Imagination and brainstorming
2. Creativity – changing, molding, adapting to what you want to teach
3. Innovation – applying and integrating into your classes
4. Test and evaluate – actually do the activity in your class
5. Accept/refine or reject

Victoria had a lot of great ideas and was not the least bit shy about doing goofy things like dressing up as “Operawoman” and singing birthy parody songs, jumping like a cheerleader, or mimicking Katie Perry!

That night was the Dine Arounds, basically an activity where the conference organizers make a bunch of reservations at area restaurants and you can join a group to go out together. My roommate Elizabeth and I met up with Melinda Delisle, who we had met at another conference, and two new women I hadn’t met before, Alicia (didn’t catch her last name or snag a business card…) and Tamara Hawkins. We went to Galvez, a Spanish restaurant right on the Mississippi. I had my first paella – YUM! and once again, Liz and I got a real character waiting on us. (We’ll never forget Mary in Milwaukee!) – didn’t catch this waiter’s name but he was an interesting fellow with an interesting accent that shifted from Spanish to French and back again. After we finished with our meal, the owner took us outside on a balcony overlooking the river and the skyline of downtown NOLA.

NOLA Lamaze
NOLA Skyline

And then we headed home and to try and get to bed early. That’s kind of a joke – we ended up talking until pretty late!

Read about the next day here.

(All the photos in this post are from my phone, I promise I’ll post some nicer ones from my “real” camera later!)

Birth and pregnancy apps for smartphones and tablets

Best Apps for Pregnancy, Birth and Parenthood

Birth and pregnancy apps for smartphones and tabletsThese days, a smartphone or an iPad gives you lots of information literally in the palm of your hand. Cutting through the fluff to find the really useful stuff can be a real pain! I’ve found a few apps to be really useful to me in my birth work:

iBirth If you only get one app, this should be the one! This app has a contraction timer, information about nutrition, tips and lists, and my personal favorite: the VIDEOS! It includes many short videos of labor skills. I often open this up on my phone or iPad to show a client exactly what I’d like them to do.

Kindle App I use this all the time just for reading, but at births, I love to have reference books available. My favorites I have loaded in my Kindle app are The Birth Partner (Recommend for parents) Deliver! A concise guide to helping the woman you love through labor (also for parents) and The Labor Progress Handbook (recommended for birth professionals)

LactMed This free app is a fantastic resource for information on drugs and breastfeeding!

Bishop’s Score Calc This is a good one for moms considering an induction. You can tap in the information and it gives you valuable information in return, including an estimated cesarean rate for inductions in those circumstances. It doesn’t factor in complications that may make induction a good idea anyway, but it can be a useful tool for those thinking about induction for non-medical reasons.

Blausen Reproductive Atlas
This cool app has videos showing various things about the anatomy and physiology of pregnancy and birth, as well as common medical procedures.

What are your favorite apps for pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and postpartum? I’d love to hear from both moms and birth professionals!

Fun Pregnancy Announcements

These days the old “call mom and dad and tell them we are expecting” is boring and lame, I guess. Even though it worked perfectly for me three times, it seems to be so much more fun to do it differently and record the reaction.

There are so many fun and creative ways to make the announcement, I pulled a few of the more creative ones out to share:

During a game of Mad Gab:

Movie Trailer Style:

With older siblings:

Creative Video Facebook Pregnancy Announcement surprise from Stephen C. Pickering on Vimeo.

Secretly record telling all the relatives and friends:

Pregnancy Announcement! from Rachel Wood on Vimeo.

This one, well….. it starts out “Beauty and the Beast” meets “Miracle of Life” and ends up….very different. Count the movie references!

Pregnancy Announcement from Tim Stafford on Vimeo.

Using pictures from a Photo Booth of the older siblings:

Surprise pregnancy announcement from Christina C on Vimeo.

Create a book to share the news!

Lowell & Julie Pregnancy Announcement Book from Lowell & Julie on Vimeo.

And finally, sometimes the response just isn’t what you’d hoped for:

And NO! I am not looking to make an announcement of my own!! (You know you wondered…)