The very end of pregnancy

As I wait for this month-that-has-felt-unending to finally end, I have been thinking a lot about the last little while of pregnancy. It, too, can feel like it’s not going to end. But I promise you, it will!

First off, let’s talk about how to deal with those annoying people who keep asking you if you’ve had that baby YET!?!? I recommend when they ask, you just send them this link, without any commentary. Repeat as often as necessary.

Second, if you’re not at your due date yet, it might be helpful to be mindful of the things that are still happening and developing in your baby.

Baby shoes on a calendar with due date marked

If you are one of the many people to go past your due date, remember that “due date” is more accurately called the EDD, or Estimated Date of Delivery. It’s just a ball park guess, and you could deliver much earlier or much later. The variation can be as much as 5 weeks!

It may help to refresh your knowledge of what, exactly, it means to be “at term” as well.

It can be tempting to schedule an induction. Just to get it over with and end the suspense (and the backache, and insomnia, and heartburn…) already! Think carefully about that, and about the risks and benefits of letting labor start on it’s own.

So what can you so when you’re going crazy sitting around waiting for your baby to be ready to be born? Here are 101 ideas!

And finally, I really love the perspective on the last days of pregnancy in this article. I hope that your last days can be a time where you are able to find rest, patience and connection with your baby.

Relocating to a new city during pregnancy

I moved during one of my pregnancies. Or, more accurately, I *prepared* for a move during one of my pregnancies. The actual move took place on the day my daughter was born, after the main event was over and I went to the hospital from the old apartment and came home to the new one after I was released. It was not planned that way, just worked out that way. But it was HARD, and not recommended. And that was just a local move!

But sometimes, moving is unavoidable, or an opportunity too good to be passed up. I think it can work at most stages of pregnancy (though again, I really don’t recommend the same day as the birth!) and when you’re moving across the country or to another country or continent, there are a lot of things you can do to make the process smoother.

Throughout the process:

Don’t be afraid to accept help Gestation is hard work. Moving is hard work. If friends, family or neighbors offer to help or say “Is there anything I can do?” SAY YES.
Be gentle with your emotions Leaving your old home/city/friends and family could be hard, with varied emotions. Pregnancy has a way of magnifying everything and making them more evident. Those emotions are still completely valid, and it is okay to feel them. Give yourself space and grace to be emotional.
Communicate! Talk things over with your partner. Cut each other a lot of slack and be kind. Keep talking and working to understand.
Listen to your body and don’t overdo it The last thing you need in the middle of a move AND a pregnancy is a back injury! Take breaks, enlist help, and remember that it’s okay to have limits.

Before the move:

Start exploring the birth options in your new area as soon as you can This will help you find a care provider who is a good fit for you. You don’t have to have made a final decision before you leave, but it can be helpful to have a few names on hand so you’re not starting from scratch once you’re in the new area.
Find out the details on your insurance plan in the new area – This will simplify your search. Sometimes knowing the company isn’t enough.
Hire out as much of the moving as you can afford to! While this isn’t an option for everyone, this is definitely a time when it is worth the cost. If you’re moving for a new job, see if you can negotiate for the company to cover all or part of the cost.
Start building your community before you arrive – Talk to people you know in your current city to see if they have any connections in the new city. It’s a small world and could easily be the case. Join social media groups for parents in your area, and search the archives of the groups for information. When you feel ready to join the conversation, do it. You can also check to see if there are meetups in your new area for new moms, and also for any other interests or hobbies that can help you connect to people. If you like photography, join a group for photographers. Join neighborhood groups, see if anyone has a friend of a friend in the area.
Plan for a transfer of your records Talk to your current midwife or doctor and ask them how to best handle the transfer of your medical records. It may be easier to start the ball rolling when you are there in person.
Shop around, but wait to buy baby gear until after the move This will give you less to move, and yet you can have a plan for what do buy because you’ve already done the research.

After the move:

Explore your new city before baby comes Find out where the grocery store, bank, birth center or hospital, and clinics are. Try out new restaurants that have takeout options that could come in handy after the baby comes.
Use your nesting instincts to settle in Do as much as you can each day, and take advantage of those bursts of energy that are so common.
Order or go buy the baby stuff you chose I’m generally a fan of online shopping, but doing this in person will help you get familiar with the shops in your area.

If you’re reading this and are planning a cross country move to the Salt Lake City area, contact me and I’d be happy to spend a half hour or so on the phone to help you navigate your way in this area!

Cartoon woman holding sign that says No Thanks, with cartoon doctor in the background

If you don’t want it, just say no!

Vaginal exams in pregnancyWarning: Rant ahead! I wrote this years ago – the original version was a little more, um…passionate. I’ve just now toned it down to where I feel comfortable posting it. Still pretty opinionated. This rant doesn’t apply in the least to moms who want exams and get them. This rant is about moms who feel bullied into an exam they don’t want.

So three times in three places in the last 24 hours I have had people ask “Can I say no to a vaginal exam?” or “I really hate vaginal exams and wish I could say no.”

Can I just say that it really disturbs me that we live in a culture where women do not even KNOW that they can control what happens to their bodies? That they even think they do not have the power to prevent someone from sticking fingers into their vagina?

When will girls be taught that they are in charge of their own bodies? So that they grow up into women who know they are in charge of their bodies? My girls definitely know that, but so many others are being taught otherwise. It makes me sad.

NO ONE, not a doctor, not a midwife, not your partner, NO ONE BUT YOU gets any say about what does – or does not – happen to your body. Anyone who thinks they can override mom’s control over her body is crossing a scary line.

Why they suggest it:

To satisfy curiosity

What it tells you:
It tells you where things are right now.

What it can tell you about the future:
Absolutely NOTHING. I’ve worked with moms who walked around 5+ cm dilated for weeks. I’ve worked with moms who were emotionally devastated because the cervix was closed, firm and posterior at a prenatal, only to have a spontaneous labor and happy baby in their arms less than 24 hours later. There is absolutely no evidence that exams in late pregnancy have any benefit or predictive value.

What you can do if you don’t want one:

Take someone else with you to your appointment, and have them come in the exam room with you. It’s easier to say no when someone has your back.

Keep your pants on. It’s harder to say no when you’ve already disrobed from the exam.

If you’d like to learn more about creating positive and collaborative communication with your care provider, you can enroll in my complete online and personal childbirth classes where I teach some helpful communication skills!

Don’t plan your wedding!!!

Don't Plan BirthI’ve really gotten tired of it. Pregnant women who are planning for a specific kind of birth are told things like:

“You know what is so cute? You – when you’re pregnant and think you actually control how things go in the delivery room.” -ScaryMommy

“I encourage my clients to create “birth preferences” rather than a “birth plan.” In this case, semantics are important. By writing your preferences instead of a plan, you maintain the understanding that circumstances beyond your control may change and you’ll need to adapt your preferences accordingly.” -Fit Pregnancy

“Since you can’t plan how your labor and birth will unfold, I prefer to talk about your birth wishes or birth preferences than your birth plan.”

“If my births and every single birth story I’ve ever heard is any indication, birth follows anything but a plan.”

“The word “plan” in reference to normal, unmedicated birth is pretty silly, actually.” – Facebook post

Why is it that when it comes to birth, women are shamed and told they should not expect to have any control? Birth is life. Life is unpredictable, in any given day you may have “circumstances beyond your control may change and you’ll need to adapt” – but no one says that we should not take time to plan out our day to make things run smoothly and we don’t miss anything we need to do! When I am teaching about birth plans in my classes, I ask for a show of hands who in the class had some plan for their day when they woke up this morning. Nearly everyone raises their hand. I ask how many had their day go exactly as planned – and most (if not all) of the hands go down. And yet somehow, in pretty much every class, someone talks about how the plan helped them adapt and/or prioritize when things went wrong.

Think about another significant event in the growth of a family: A Wedding.

Would it ever be OK to tell a prospective bride something like:

“The word ‘plan’ in reference to a wedding is pretty silly actually. After all, things go wrong at weddings all the time!”

“If my wedding horror story, or the ones I’ve read online are any indication, weddings follow anything but a plan!”

“Since you can’t control the weather or the behavior of your guests, I think it’s better to think of it as ‘wedding wishes’ or ‘wedding preferences’ rather than a plan for your wedding.”

“As a wedding planner, I encourage brides to create ‘wedding preferences’ rather than a ‘wedding plan.’ In this case, semantics are important. By writing your preferences instead of a plan, you maintain the understanding that circumstances beyond your control may change how your wedding day will go and you’ll need to adapt your preferences accordingly”

“You know what is so cute? You – when you’re engaged and think you actually control how things go on your wedding day.”

PinterestWeddingI sincerely doubt anyone would dare tell a bride any of that. And yet, things go wrong at weddings all the time!

Instead brides are advised things like this:

Unexpected Wedding Disasters and How to Handle Them

Wedding Planner Disaster Stories – and How to Avoid Them

Top Wedding Disasters and How to Plan for Them

Not a single story I read on weddings mentioned avoiding planning as a way to make the day run smoothly. Huh.

They all mentioned planning well, carefully evaluating the people who you hire, having backup plans, and thoroughly evaluating your options.

Sounds like a Birth Plan of Action to me….

Go ahead and plan for your birth. Yes, PLAN. Not “Wishes” or “Preferences” but actually plan for and put your plan into action. No, it’s not a script or a guarantee, but it does significantly increase the chances of having the birth you want.

Wednesday Wrap Up January 20

WednesdayWrapUpAThis is so true, and something I have tried to convey to the women I work with. If you don’t like the care, and it’s not a good fit for what you want, move on. Take your health care dollars elsewhere!

Maybe I loved this so much because I can relate, but I really appreciated how this letter to the bloggers and writers who want to feature birth photography addressed the issues we face as birth photographers. I’ve been there, and it’s not fun.

There is some irony in the fact that this article is published….on the internet. But it’s a good one anyway: 4 Things You Can’t Learn About Birth On The Internet

I have explained this to so many parents, it’s a ridiculous conundrum. Why Most Private Practice IBCLCs Don’t Take Insurance (Hint: Probably better phrased as “How Most Insurance Companies Get Out of Paying for Mandated Breastfeeding Services”)

Great overview of why cesarean rates are high, and how they can be lowered. I found it really interesting to see what step had the biggest impact in this pilot program in Southern California.

Wednesday Wrap Up Sept 24

WednesdayWrapUpCSymphysis Pubis dysfunction is a painful (and surprisingly common) complication of pregnancy and can progress to a full on separation. One woman’s experience and some tips for working through that kind of pelvic instability are here. I would recommend a women’s health physical therapist as well as a chiropractor.

Fear of labor can be just a normal thing in pregnancy, but it also can escalate to a phobic level, and this article talks about why and how we can help.

ACOG, the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine, and the
Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine have issued new guidelines on estimating a due date in pregnancy. I’ve seen some crazy, crazy things happen when providers move around due dates as late as during labor. I love that they still call it “estimating” and that they discourage making small changes in the second & third trimester.

An interesting way to preserve and remember your breastfeeding experience. Would you do it?

14 ways to use the birth ball. Practice all of these and adjust/adapt to your own body and birth!

Here’s a great video on how to find and paint your baby’s position on your belly.

Wednesday Wrap Up July 30

WednesdayWrapUpNFor two out of my three pregnancies, I chose not to find out if my baby was a boy or a girl. I *loved* the anticipation of not knowing and the moment of surprise at the birth. (For the third, I let my husband get his way and find out. Naturally, he refused to believe it was another girl until she was born, despite making the guy go back and look again FIVE TIMES….) If you’re not sure you want to know, here are 8 reasons to not find out.

Fifteen things no one tells you about motherhood while you’re pregnant. There are a lot of lists like this out there, and I find that most of them are things people DO tell pregnant moms, but they are interesting anyway. I love the last one here.

Loved this explanation of how dads can bond with their baby.

5 Things NOT to say to a woman with postpartum depression – and what to say instead. There needs to be more articles like this. I have heard every single one of these said to or about moms struggling with depression.

Since I also do professional birth photography, I loved this short video on capturing this one of life’s poignant moments, from New Zealand birth photographer Keri-Anne Dilworth

Birth – First Light Birth Photography – Auckland, New Zealand from Keri-Anne Dilworth on Vimeo.

Wednesday Wrap Up 7/2

WednesdayWrapUpJIt’s not often talked about, but there are times when epidural anesthesia does not work. Here are 5 Things to Do When the Epidural Fails

An unusual birth story told with a sense of humor!

And another funny – big brother holding the new baby for the first time.

And to further make you laugh, a completely sarcastic set of instructions: How to Breastfeed Appropriately

A nice collection of videos on using the rebozo in labor.

Loved seeing a positive story about breastfeeding in public!

Great information on breastfeeding and medications, from the Centers for Disease Control.

Today’s video is Jimmy Kimmel going to a childbirth class with Jessica Alba. It’s overdramatized and overdone, but I can truthfully say I have had people like Jimmy in my classes. Many of the comments he made are comments I’ve had in class.

Wednesday Wrap Up June 25

WednesdayWrapUpFThis post marks a year and a half I’ve been doing the Wednesday Wrap Up!

An interesting potential clue about what starts labor. I’ll be interested to see if this pans out and how it might increase our understanding of how labor begins.

A nice collection of links on being active in labor.

I liked this list of how to prepare for labor. Particularly #10. There’s no one way to birth, and moms get to figure out what works for them.

Want to know if your pediatrician is really breastfeeding friendly? These are great questions to ask – and the answers you want to look for.

An interesting debate going on about Natural Birth. This first link:

The Cult of Natural Childbirth Has Gone Too Far is what set it off. I think many people missed the point of the article, which is more about class distinctions and the idealization of something not available to many women.

This response, Natural Childbirth is Not a Cult, missed that point but does make some good points as well.

Today’s video is from Laura Paulescu of Crowned Photography in Seattle (formerly Denver). It shows a mom alternating movement and rest through her labor.

The birth of Naomi Yonina | Crowned Birth Photography from crownedbirthphotography on Vimeo.

Wednesday Wrap Up 4/30

Weekly Pregnancy and Birth LinksI’ve wondered for a long time if babies who lose a lot of weight in the first day after birth are just shedding extra water weight from IV fluids! Nice to see someone addressing it.

Good thing they reserved the right to overrule the internet.

The Words that Steal Our Birth Power An interesting look at the words we use when we talk about birth stories, and what that says about our culture.

One thing I have learned quite a bit about in the last year is infant loss. My volunteer work with Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep has brought me in contact with many families going through some very difficult circumstances. One resource I was completely unaware of during my first 16 years working in the birth field is perinatal hospice. These programs provide support and help for families who have a baby with a diagnosis that means the baby is not likely to live long past birth. They do wonderful work. Please learn more about perinatal hospice and see if there is a program in your area.

Today’s video is a recent one from Lamaze International. It goes over the facts about cesareans and VBACs in a quick few minutes, with some tips on how to find out if your provider is a good match for your desires. I thought it would be a fitting way to finish off Cesarean Awareness Month.

Wednesday Wrap Up 4/23

Wednesday Wrap-Up Graphic - Salt Lake City birth doulaA good summary of some of the cultural and societal reasons Why Women Don’t Breastfeed.

Spending time skin to skin with your baby is a pretty miraculous thing. I recently had a family with a baby in the NICU, and they were able to see some pretty dramatic positive results from having the baby skin to skin with dad in the NICU. There are lots of reasons skin to skin contact is good, but here are the top 6 Reasons to Be Skin to Skin With Your Baby

Often parents don’t want to think about bad things happening, but in my years as a mom, I’ve used 7 of these 10 First Aid Skills Every Parent Should Know

I have seen many partners help catch their baby in my years as a doula. For parents who want to be involved, it can be a fantastic experience and a good way to be connected to the birth. How Your Partner Can Catch Your Baby

I have loved seeing more emphasis on family connection and bonding in cesarean births over the last few years. This is a good list of options that you may be able to have during a cesarean birth if it becomes necessary. Planning a Family-Centered Cesarean

Today’s video shows a man in his 20s watching his own birth video with his mom. While I think many of his reactions are exaggerated for drama, and there is some strong language, it’s still fun to watch.

Wednesday Wrap Up 3/26

Web links for birthdayIt’s my birthday week, so my baby picture is making a comeback in the Wednesday Wrap Up graphic. I have been a doula for 15 year this summer, and I have always wanted to attend a birth on my birthday, so far no such luck! But tomorrow is the day so maybe this is my year?!?

This. This explains why I am a doula, even when it is hard. Hint: It’s not because I “love babies” like everyone thinks it is.

I loved this story about women supporting each other in feeding their child. A wonderful perspective from a mom who has both formula fed and breastfed.

Some ideas for nourishing foods to try in Pregnancy, Labor and Delivery. I’m a little curious about the groaning cake. Anyone want to bake me one? It *is* my birthday tomorrow…

A beautiful letter to an expectant first time mom.

I’ve always encouraged new parents to think carefully about who they invite to their birth. Because it can make a difference in their experience. Don’t let anybody bully you into having them there.

And to celebrate my birthday…this is the song that was at the top of the Billboard charts the week I was born. Interestingly enough, I did a birth almost two years ago where mom listened to this song on repeat the entire time, so it isn’t MY birth it reminds me of, it reminds me of that family and the little girl who came into this world hearing it!