Births that make me smile...


There are some births I have that I can’t help smiling throughout the entire labor. I had one of those births the other night. The mother came in with her second baby already in what I call fast and furious labor. She had a birth plan, requesting an unmedicated, non-intervention birth with skin to skin contact immediately after birth, delayed cord clamping, basically what as midwives we do anyway whenever possible. 

What I loved about her birth was that she was CLEAR about her needs. She verbalized, sometimes vehemently to her husband, her mother, the nurse, and me what she needed. She was not apologetic or polite. It was awesome!  When her mother kept talking, she asked her clearly to please stop talking. She and her husband were working through each contraction with a system that worked for them as a couple. He would say, relax your belly, relax your chest, relax your back, and she would breathe deeply and focus. At one point when he strayed from her side, she told him clearly I need you here. While these points of reference would not work for most women, it worked for her. Then when the nurse kept talking about IV placement, she told her, "I don’t care! Just do it."   I know from years of experience that when a women is clear about her needs, sometimes impolite that she will birth her baby. It makes me smile to myself and congratulate her in my mind.

When it came time to push, she loudly welcomed her baby into the world. Some people would call it screaming but I just thought to myself, "Yes, go for it!"  When someone is letting their air out through moaning and yelling I know it works because they are allowing the baby’s head to be born slowly. You can’t push as hard when you are letting all your air out through vocalizing.

After the birth she apologized to me for screaming and I told her, "No, you did great! That’s what I wanted."  We usually try to have women blow as the head is being born to minimize or prevent tearing, but yelling also works. No one said birth should be quiet! You are welcoming a new soul into this world. Celebrate it any way that works for you!

It was a beautiful birth, this mother embodied everything I know about childbirth. She was unrestricted and unencumbered and welcomed  her daughter with everything she had. 

With love,



It is hard to be an expectant mother today.

It is hard to be an expectant mother today. It is more challenging and demanding than when I was having my children or when my mother birthed me.  I always apologize to mothers with their first prenatal visit with me because I have to list all the possible things that could be wrong with their baby, all the tests available to ensure the perfect outcome, and what foods and substances are “dangerous." Then, if they decline this testing I  have to repeat the warning on the next visit because what if something goes wrong and they didn’t hear me the first time. Sigh. Actually what I want to say is trust your body, trust your instincts, trust the universe to give you what you need and enjoy this new life growing inside of you.  The medical model of birth does everything to make women fearful of  what could go wrong.

Furthermore, pregnant moms today are all expected to look like every cover model on pregnancy magazines, perfectly dressed, manicured, made up, not swollen, and of course... fit and toned. There are no allowances for the difference in women's bodies during this short time. Some women  need to gain more weight, have other priorites, or responsibilities than going to the gym. Some are just more tired.

Then there is  social media, where women can look and see every horror story that people post about labor or birth or see only perfect looking pictures of their pregnant friends and perfect families.

Finally there is the baby registry. Women are told they need everything  marketed to ensure a healthy happy newborn. Swaddles, chairs that vibrate and rock, suits that immobilize your baby to help them sleep, nursing cover ups, etc . The sheer  volume of choosing can be overwhelming.

Nobody says that all you need is your arms, time, patience, and love.  I tell all new mothers that they will know their baby better than anyone. Trust your instincts! This is why I teach yoga, hoping to combat society’s message of fear and perfection by encouraging mothers to trust their intuition, their bodies, and their own innate knowing. 

   “Birth is not only  about making babies, Birth is about making mothers:

        Strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves

         And know their inner strength.” – Barbra Katz



Supporting Birth

My primary goal as a midwife is to support women to birth their babies in whichever way it feels right for them. I am often known to say that I cannot control how your birth progresses, but I can control that you feel supported during the process. Sometimes being an advocate for birthing women can be challenging. There are times when I don’t agree with their detailed birth plans and unwillingness to accept my very experienced advice.  Most of the time I end up being right with my suggestions and the birth ends up in the exact way I anticipated, usually with the mother learning to surrender to a greater force and let go of her detailed birth plan.

However, and I would say thankfully, I often find myself surprised in her adherence to her plan and the revelation that it works! This week I had 10 births and 8 progressed as I anticipated and 2 did not. One mother came in birthing her first child at full dilatation and informed me she would only push if she felt like she needed to.  I thought to myself, ok we’ll see, but to my humility 3 hours laters with minimal pushing, she was crowning and 4 hours later birthed her baby without ever breaking a sweat. It was awesome and made me realize once again that we really don’t understand all the component parts of birth. There is the physical, clearly. The shape of the mother’s pelvis, the size of the baby, the position of  the baby, the diameter of the baby’s head, etc.  But there is the emotional and mental component of birth that propels labor or inhibits it. I have observed after 30 years of birthing babies that women rarely deliver their babies on high holy days or holidays. There is a strong emotional component which we cannot treat with an herb or a medication. Women do birth as they live. 

The second labor surprise came from a woman also birthing her first baby.  She arrived at 9 cm dilated and also did not feel she needed to push. She was moving with her body, rocking, squatting, lunging with each contraction. I thought, great, let her be, she will get to fully dilated and start spontaneously pushing. Wrong again. When she actually started pushing, she became so agitated, she completely kicked her sympathetic nervous system into action and we could not get her to focus or breathe. End result:  She got an epidural at 10 cm as a last resort.  It worked and after 1 more hour of pushing she delivered her baby.

I love observing  women in their power demanding their caregivers respect their wishes.  I love watching women succeed in their strength, and as always I am always humbled by their power.